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.
Revising policies and forms, such as AF Form 2030 Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificates (or equal) and Standard Form 86 Background Investigation Questionnaire (or equal), relating to questions about cannabis use asked by the federal government (notably the Department of Defense, Office of Personnel Management, etc.) and its contractors.
Providing supporting arguments for how cannabis revenues are a force-multiplier that supports National Security.
Uncovering possible racial disparity in grants of Security Clearances.
Short Title: Revising forms relating to questions involving cannabis and how cannabis is a force-multiplier for National Security
Contractor in this letter is meant to be any business, corporation, self-proprietor, etc., who has received federal funds, thus creating a legal contract between contractor and government, to perform work, services, construction, and/or to provide equipment or materials to the Federal Government, and/or any business, corporation, self-proprietor, etc., who is a part of the Federal Procurement Data Systems (FPDS) and/or registered or having been registered in systems such as the Systems for Award Management (SAM.gov), Central Contractor Registration (CCR), Online Representations and Certification Application (ORCA), etc.
Marijuana or Cannabis (genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae) used throughout this letter are meant to be interchangeable but also include any other word or variant of Marijuana such as Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Salvia, CBD (Cannabidiol), Pot, Hemp, Hash, Hashish, Kief, Keef, Ganja, etc.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Images & Figures 1
Abstract & Highlights 2
Section I – Revising Forms and Policies Relating to Marijuana Questions, etc. 5
Section II – The State Argument, Increases in Cannabis Lobbying, Decreases in Prison Lobbying 10
Section III – Our Canadian Allies 12
Section IV – Veteran Support of Cannabis 13
Section V – Current Pro-Cannabis Legislation & Section 528 of the NDAA FY20 14
Section VI – Other Supporting Arguments (the right to not Self-Incriminate) 16
Section VII – Possible hypocrisies Section 16
Section VIII – Cannabis a Force Multiplier, National Guard Argument 19
Section IX – Welfare Argument 24
Section X – Ideas and Arguments Continued 24
24 Section XI – Race and Civil Rights 26
Images & Figures:
Figure 1 – AF Form 2030 Section II Question Relating to Marijuana ………………………. p. 6
Figure 2 – SF 86 Section 23 Question Relating to Marijuana……………………… …………p. 8
Figure 3 – Center for Responsive Politics estimates of Pro-Cannabis Lobbying Funds….…. p. 11
Figure 4 – Section 528 of the National Defense Reauthorization Act……………………….. p. 15
Figure 5 – Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board Annual Fiscal Report (2019) ….. p. 21
Methodology: This paper uses a qualitative approach of searching various online sources for supporting facts, but also utilizes quantitative data pulled from publications, reports, etc.
Abstract & Highlights:
There is no value added in asking for use of marijuana not attached to criminal convictions such as on AF Force Form 2030 Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificates (or equal across the Service Branches), relating to entry or re-entry into the Armed Services, seeking employment with a federal contractor (such as those attached to the Department of Defense), or when a recruit/employee/potential employee either of the federal government or a federal contractor is seeking a Security Clearance (Standard Form 86).
There might exist a disparity regarding rejection of Security Clearances between minorities and white federal employees, contractors, and military service members, relating to criminally charged marijuana offenses or admission of marijuana use not attached to criminal charges. White Americans report a higher lifetime use of marijuana, but black people make up a higher percentage of arrests cases (ACLU, 2020) and this disparity can lead to rejection of security clearances/loss of employment/rejection of employment, thus resulting in lower levels of minority representation, which thus violates the vision of the Civil Rights Act despite many states finding marijuana to be a commodity with economic, medicinal, and therapeutic properties. My claim is supported by a Department of the Air Force Inspector General (DAF IG) Report (December 2020), titled: Report of Inquiry (S8918P) -Independent Racial Disparity Review (No. S8918P).
Pro-Marijuana Lobbying Funding saw an estimated increase of 16,357.1% from 2011 to 2020, meaning supporting Pro-Marijuana policies is great for re-election campaigns.
According to Pew Research, Americans favor cannabis legalization at 67% (Daniller, 2019).
In states where marijuana is legal and taxed, these marijuana taxes might be funding the Total Force Structure of the United States military, thus making marijuana revenues a force multiplier for National Security, such as construction/infrastructure projects funded by state-accounts or social programs (e.g., educational programs which produce component recruits or officers, facilities used by Active Duty Troops utilizing Tuition Assistance, or educational facilities which house Reserve Officer Training Corps, i.e., ROTC units), which directly & indirectly supports the overall Department of Defense. State National Guard Units are de-facto a part of the federal military due to the Montgomery Amendment, because of Perpich v. Department of Defense, 496 U.S. 334 (1990). Taxation of state legal cannabis is having a positive economic and social effect on the military despite the military’s antiquated stance on marijuana.
Marijuana offers the potential to be a positive external variable towards force multiplication that can help pay for military equipment, etc., where force multiplication is defined in Joint Publication (JP) 3-05.1 (published 26 April 2007) as a capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force, and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment (p. 394).
US States such as Washington State collected a total of $395.5 million in legal marijuana income and license fees in fiscal year 2019 up from 2018 numbers (Washington State Treasury, 2020). California has possibly generated $1 Billion since January 2018 (Staggs, 2020). Wall Street analysts estimate cannabis could become an $85 billion industry by 2030 (Business Insider Prime, 2020).
When thinking about aircraft for example when compared to Washington State’s 2019 fiscal year cannabis revenues of $395.5 million.
The F-35A by Lockheed Martin – the most common variant of the weapon system – has/will have a cost of $82.4 million in 2020, $79.17 million in 2021 and $77.9 million in 2022 (Stone, 2019). Dividing WA State Marijuana Revenues by the F-35A cost, we get 4.79 aircraft (FY20), 4.89 aircraft (FY21), and 5.07 aircraft (FY22). In other words, 4 aircraft with $65.1 Million remaining FY20 (.79 or 79% of 1 aircraft cost is the remaining value), 4 aircraft with $73.36 Million remaining in FY21 (.89 or 89% of 1 aircraft cost is the remaining value), 5 aircraft with $5.54 Million remaining in FY22 (.07 or 7% 1 aircraft cost is the remaining value). That is 13 theoretical F-35A aircraft, or (1) F-35A squadron (12 aircraft is a squadron) plus one funded by marijuana tax revenues. Total residual (remaining) balance across the three fiscal years is $144 Million ($48 Million per year), which can lead to additional aircraft purchases, spare part Purchase Orders, sustainment contracts, calibration/maintenance, fueling, training, etc. Granted this is theoretical since most of the marijuana tax revenues goes to education, public health, law enforcement (ironic), etc. However, it is possible that marijuana tax revenue can support the military mission, particularly with Federal Fiscal concerns relating to the debt ceiling, risk of sequestration (government shutdowns, compensation payments to contractors), etc. Essentially the states raising revenue from marijuana for the public good is a cost savings to the Federal government since the states might ask for less money from agencies such as the Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, etc.
Interestingly, according to Losey (2020) of the Air Force Times, the State of Oregon where marijuana is fully legal, two bases in Oregon — Kingsley Field and Portland Air National Guard Base — will be among the first to host the F-15EX, the updated and upgraded version of the Strike Eagle now under production. Losey (2020) also states that Jacksonville Air National Guard Base in Florida will receive the F-35A in 2024, the guard said in an Aug. 14 release (end quote). Florida has decriminalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
There is no substantial evidence that use of marijuana makes it harder for military recruits or people wishing re-entry into the Armed Forces from learning their job specialty, nor is there any evidence proving that use of marijuana not connected with criminal charges or connected with criminal charges possess a security risk, since moderate or casual alcohol use has no proof of increasing security risks. Troops are tested at MEPs, randomly tested while serving, and in lockdown during Basic Military Training.
Waivers for Marijuana use not attached to criminal convictions should not be needed and the requirement for waivers connected to criminal charges tied to marijuana use, should be loosened, especially if a member with charges was charged in a state where marijuana is now legal.
Many states including our largest states have legal marijuana, and these states hold strong Electoral College and Popular Vote power.
Forward: I understand that making bills is not an easy task, but the idea which I am presenting and arguing for in this letter/paper, I feel should follow the strategy of the successful passage of Section 528 within the current year National Defense Authorization Act (in which I feel Section 528 does not do enough but it is a great step in the right direction). I understand that bills must be drafted, be recommended to committees, may require Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimates, be voted for upon the floor, and then be passed by the United Senates before signature by the President (although, if he or she doesn’t sign within 10 days of receipt and Congress does not “sine die”, i.e., for good, adjourn prior to the 10-day limit, the bill becomes law, alleviating the “pocket veto” scenario, i.e., the bill was on his or her desk, while Congress was open, thus the bill becomes law after 10 days). However, I do know that certain sections of laws do not seem to require as much groundwork to be inserted into legislation.
Also, with soon-to-be out of office, President Donald J. Trump, vetoing the upcoming NDAA, this might be a convenient time to insert my idea. If not, my idea could also influence an Executive Order of the upcoming Biden Harris Administration while the legislative process works itself out. Yet, with the Supreme Court majority conservative, the time to act is now. Yet, I think I have a good idea and make decent arguments. For example, marijuana is a cash commodity that helps states generate tax revenues which goes to public works, education, law enforcement, etc., and in direct and indirect ways, legal marijuana tax revenues are supporting the Total Force Structure of the US Department of Defense (Federal Force, State National Guard, etc.). Further, since our laws create disparity among the races and ethnicities of the United States, I feel that the current federal criminalization of marijuana has led to increased administrative burdens since waivers are required for military entry/re-entry, but also possible disparities in the granting of Security Clearances.
Disclaimer: I respect you. I respect our country. I respect authority. I respect the military. Yet, I also consider myself a Progressive. I am a Progressive Veteran and Patriot. I support unwavering defense for the USA and its allies, but I believe in progressive social policy, inclusion, diversity, and welfare that enables people to have a fair shot. So, nothing in this is letter/paper is intended to be perceived as a personal attack to you at all.
Purpose: I am writing you this letter to offer what I consider is a good idea which should be easy to pass until more legislation on progressive policies on marijuana are passed or an Executive Order reflecting pro-marijuana policies is signed by the President. My idea is inspired to (A) continue to support our Government and its Armed Forces (and its prime contractors) by ensuring we have a large selection pool of diverse people with a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy concerning marijuana use not attached to criminal convictions for new recruits, members who wish to seek re-entry to the Armed forces, or external/internal applicants of federal contractors, thus not requiring waivers and not requiring admissions of use not attached to criminal charges on Federal Background Checks, (B) to reform recruiting/hiring policies relating to marijuana use not attached to criminal charges, (C) to show how marijuana tax revenues are a force multiplier that helps National Defense and Security, and (D) to hopefully raise the current minimum in Section 528 of the current NDAA so that more than one criminal charge for marijuana use isn’t a disqualifier for entry or re-entry into the Armed Services.
Section I – Revising Forms and Policies Relating to Marijuana Questions on the SF86, etc. I feel that Congress should pass an amendment or bill, or, the Executive Branch should sign an Executive Order until legislation is signed (or bring back Coles Memo of the Obama Administration with new caveats based on points I am presenting), which will revise military forms, e.g., Air Force Form 2030 Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificate (and any equivalent forms among military Sister Branches, including the United States Coast Guard which falls under Homeland Security, the U.S Merchant Marines under the Department of the Navy & Department of Transportation, etc.); revise questionnaires regarding questions asking about marijuana use not attached to criminal convictions; revise recruiting questions regarding marijuana use not attached to criminal convictions that are given either verbally, electronically, and/or written either by contractors working for recruiters, i.e., call center personnel, or actual recruiters/volunteer recruiters of the Armed Services, and revise questions asked on SF86 Background Investigation Questionnaires OMB No. 32006 0005 (or equal), so that only criminal convictions relating to marijuana is asked rather than the current policy of simply asking for “use”.
As you can see above in AF Form 2030, AF Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificate, Section II, the question asks for “use not attached to criminal charges”, but instead states, “have you ever used or experimented with marijuana?”, yet, it has a caveat stating, “prior marijuana use is not a disqualifying for enlistment or appointment, unless you are determined to be a chronic user or psychologically dependent….”, and further it states, “Preservice marijuana use may render you ineligible for certain skills.”.
The question should be revised to only state, “Do you have any criminal convictions related to marijuana, please do not state use not attached to documented criminal charges.”, and there should be special instructions for recruits who are from/have lived in States or municipalities where marijuana is legal and/or decriminalized.
Further, it states a person can be disqualified if determined to be a chronic user or psychologically dependent, which to me seems subjective, because how the Air Force determines this is not stated in the form; studies to determine if marijuana is an addictive substance that is somehow worst than legal Schedule II or III drugs are debatable or non-existent due to federal restrictions on further studies; many States have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes (some of our largest states as far as population, Electoral College Power, economic output, etc.), and most Americans favor cannabis legalization at 67% (Daniller, 2019) meaning the general public deems marijuana to be acceptable.
Further, the statement “Preservice marijuana use may render your ineligible for certain skills”, is an “interesting” statement to put into the form. This question seems to dissuade recruits and seems to state that the Department of Defense is not entirely confident in its abilities to reshape and reform individuals who come from diverse backgrounds, unique life situations, etc. Even if there are limited peer-reviewed studies relating to the effects of chronic marijuana use which might insinuate fractions of a percentage loss in IQ levels, the thing is that the military requires aptitude testing prior to even going to MEPS (Medical Examination Processing Stations) and Basic Training such as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), Officer Aptitude Rating Test (OAR Test) of the US Marine Corps, US Navy, and United States Coast Guard, or the AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualification Test). Thus, cannabis use – not attached to criminal charges or attached to charges – cannot realistically be used to disqualify a person from a certain job specialty when the military gauges mental competency with the ASVAB (or equivalent), and even if the military were to make the argument that cannabis has long-term detrimental cognitive side-effects, the Federal Government has limited the possibilities of expanded research, and the same arguments could be made for environment, educational funding, poverty, income level, etc. Yet, we rightfully do not disqualify candidates because of economic origins, income levels, if they were born in an area with underfunded schools, etc.
When a recruit attends Basic Military Training (BMT), Basic Combat Training (BCT), Officer Candidate School (OCS), Officer Training School (OTS), or equivalent, recruits are often not learning any skills related to their future job skill or specialty. Rather, they are undergoing intensive physical training and learning basic military culture and protocol.
According to Military.com (2019), the timespans of military trainings are 9 weeks (2 months and 1 week) for the US Army, 10 weeks for the US Air Force (it was 8 weeks but an additional 2 weeks were added on), the US Navy is 8 Weeks (technically 7 weeks but it includes an additional week, typically referred to in military culture as Zero Week), the US Marine Corps is 12 Weeks (3 months, not including 4-days of in-processing time), and the US Coast Guard is 7.5 Weeks (a little less than 2 months).
These training times do not include the date a recruit or candidate seeking entry goes to MEPS (Military Examination Processing Station) and travels to Basic Military Training (or equal), etc. So, for 2-months to 3-months, plus the time from MEPS to Training, the recruit is not learning a skill attached to their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty Code) for the US Army and US Marine Corps, AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) for the United States Air Force or Space Force, or Job Category as Listed in Rating Systems in the case of the US Navy or US Coast Guard.
Basic Military Training (or equal) is effectively a time for rehabilitation and to insinuate that use of marijuana not attached to criminal charges or even attached to criminal charges, especially when recruits are tested for aptitude prior to going to Basic Training, will somehow make a recruit ineligible for a skill is debatable, and it is on the Service Branches to justify with evidence and proof of such a claim. The statement provided in the AF Form 2030 (or equal) seems highly subjective, judgmental, biased, and grandfathered into the present day. For example, the stigma around marijuana is being dictated by older people in higher ranks, e.g., roughly 30% in 1989 supported legal cannabis versus 67% support for legal cannabis in 2019 (Daniller, 2019), in which marijuana was demonized or turned into a drug of caricature, i.e., Cheech and Chong culture, Dazed and Confused imagery, etc. Further, there could possibly be a sense of generational disdain or envy considering older generations who typically see younger generations as “weaker”, might simply be barring access to entry because of their own personal beliefs/experiences which are not backed by science, facts, and the current political realities of the day, but rather propaganda attached to political agendas. While in BMT, I can attest that I did not drink caffeine (which is a stimulant with addictive properties, and is a Schedule III drug that is common for workers, troops, etc., to assist with job performance, studying, etc.), had little to no sugar (no Gatorade, juice, etc.), was forbade from tobacco, etc. BMT was a total mind and body restructuring, so to assume that previous marijuana use either attached or not attached to criminal charges, somehow makes a person ineligible for entry and unable to learn a job specialty is highly debatable. Our Canadian allies permit marijuana use with pilots included (Burns, 2018). I am not saying that US troops should be smoking marijuana (until policy can change after laws are reformed), but forms such as the AF Form 2030 Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificate need to be reformed based on the logic I am presenting.
Above you can see the question within the Standard Form 86 (SF86) which is the Federal Background Check or Investigation Questionnaire, which can be found online at (https://nbib.opm.gov/e-qip-background-investigations/) and this form is used for granting Security Clearances. Since marijuana (cannabis) is legal and/or decriminalized in many states, cities, municipalities, and even allied nations to the United States, asking for “use not attached to criminal charges” has no value.
For example, what about Canadian troops (our allies going back as far as the World Wars in which Canada under Major General Rod Keller bravely sacrificed themselves at Juno Beach to achieve Allied objectives at Normandy) who are currently permitted to use marijuana (which is good policy in my opinion), happened to work on a Joint Force effort with the United States, but they require a Security Clearances and Canada defends the sovereign rights of its own citizens?
Regardless, what is one really gaining from knowing a person has used marijuana, especially when it is not attached to criminal charges? Criminally charged use of marijuana might help make better Security Clearance determinations, for any array of reasons (which in themselves could be argued as debatable), because it could insinuate a problem with law enforcement or criminal activity with a gang (which in many communities people are forced to be in as a means of surviving), but if there is no recorded criminal use for marijuana, which restated is legal in many places (some of the most economically powerful places in the United States who also have strong military/federal presences), then this question has no value. I can understand keeping the other drugs on the questionnaire (until policy reform occurs), yet, for marijuana which is helping to fund the public good (education, infrastructure, law enforcement, etc.), it is time to reform or remove this question. There is no proof to my knowledge of someone smoking marijuana becoming a security risk, no different than legal alcohol used moderately as not posing a risk. A Myers-Briggs personality test might have better insight as to whether a person “will spill the beans”, rather than asking for use of a substance that many states find to be acceptable.
Powell (2020) of the Harvard Gazette interviewed Kevin Hill, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and regarding marijuana (cannabis), he stated, “It’s less addictive than alcohol, less addictive than opioids, but just because it’s less addictive doesn’t mean that it’s not addictive.” Further. Dr. Hill in the Powell (2020) interview in the Harvard Gazette stated, “Schedule 1 really means two things. Number one, does it have addictive potential? Cannabis does, clearly. But it also means that there is no medical value. I think you are hard-pressed at this point to say that cannabis and cannabinoids have no medical value. So, I do not think it should be a Schedule 1 substance and changing that really would make it a lot easier to study. Funding is a bigger barrier.”
Further, a question asking for marijuana use not attached to criminal charges, especially when many states – some of our most economically dynamic states and largest as far as population – deem marijuana to be legal and socially acceptable, when the Department of Defense, Office of Personnel Management, etc., asks a person about use not attached to criminal charges, yet, makes determinations about a person which insinuates they are possibly a criminal, this seems a violation of Constitutional Rights of a person. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution allows people to not self-incriminate themselves and further parts of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has similar protections, so asking for use of marijuana not attached to criminal charges, especially when a person who is seeking entry into the military (when they will be tested anyways at MEPs and randomly and/or routinely while in service), re-entry into the military, or seeking employment with a federal contractor (especially if the position requires a Security Clearance), seems a casual violation of a person’s privacy and their ability to not self-incriminate under The United States Constitution. I repeat this is only for marijuana because the many of the States have expressed legality of the drug.
I am only saying marijuana largely since as a nation founded on federalism (a balance between centralized and decentralized authorities, i.e., the Federal Government and States), which is a reason why we have Representatives and Senators, marijuana is fully legal (decriminalized) in more than a dozen states and growing. Currently only six (6) states have marijuana as fully illegal (criminalized), i.e., only 12% of the States. According to DISA Global Solutions (2020), fifteen (15) states (and the District of Columbia where our laws are created & the where the Pentagon is housed) have full decriminalization for recreational and medicinal use (end quote). Guam and the Northern Marina Islands also have full legalization for recreational use. Additionally, out of these 15 states, California has 55 Electoral College votes, New York has 29 Electoral College Votes, Illinois has 20 Electoral College Votes, Michigan has 16 Electoral College Votes, and states such as Nevada and Arizona helped to swing the 2020 Presidential Election, insinuating the momentum for marijuana legalization is gaining more traction.
Even the states with mixed approaches such as Pennsylvania (20 Electoral College Votes) and even the conservative-leaning state of Georgia (16 Electoral College Votes. Note: The City of Atlanta decriminalized under one ounce of cannabis, Source: Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers, n.d.) are playing a major role in current 2020 politics, with Georgia going so far as resulting in two Congressional Senate Run-Off elections, meaning in the case of The State of Georgia (an agricultural state), that voting for conservative anti-marijuana politicians is no longer a given, i.e., times are changing. Many of these states are the largest economies of our nation and they hold most of the electoral college votes and provide the bulk of the popular vote due to population, e.g., California (39,512,223 people est.), Florida (21,477,737 people est.), New York (19,453,561 people est.), Illinois (12,671,821 people est.), etc. Thus, the politicians who support marijuana reform, have a higher chance of re-election for a multitude of reasons.
In 2011 according to the Center for Responsive Politics (2020), pro-cannabis lobbying was only a marginal $35,000.00 USD but in 2020 it was estimated the total of pro-cannabis lobbying investments increased to $5,760,000.00 USD, which is a 16,357.1% increase. When compared to lobbying funds for controversial private prisons, according to Center for Responsive Politics (2020), in 2019 total spend was estimated at $4.3 Million and $3.2 Million in 2020. CoreCivic Group contributed $1,310,000.00, GEO Group contributed $1,100,000 etc., to politicians for private prisons (Center for Responsive Politics, 2020). In these Center for Responsive Politics (2020) findings, 19 out of 20 reported politicians (Donald Trump included as well as Georgia Senator David Perdue who is facing a Senate run-off election race) accepted funds from private prisons. 19 politicians were Republicans with only 1 being Democrat (from the State of Texas).
Despite the unfortunate existence of private prisons, the 2020 estimated lobbying donations for this industry amount to $3.2 Million which is 44% less than the $5.76 Million that went to the cannabis industry in 2020. This means that it is less lucrative to take money from an industry (prisons) which tries to further enrich itself by arresting/fining people (resulting in loss of employment, displacement, increased risks of disease and STD transmission, strain on single parents, and inflated costs in poorly audited and administered contracts), than it is to support a growing industry of marijuana which produces jobs, taxes, reduces black market crime, etc. Supporting marijuana is pragmatic, progressive and realist politics.
My idea can be quite simple to do and have bipartisan support, e.g., leveraging Republican support from former House Speaker and House Minority Leader John Boehner, who currently is chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable, an organization which spent $428,000 on pro-cannabis lobbying efforts in Fiscal Year 2020 (Center for Responsive Politics, 2020.). Also, there is former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld who sits on Acreage Holding’s board with John Boehner which is a marijuana investment company which has helped create jobs in Flint, Michigan, according to Breana Noble, Detroit Times (2018). Current Republicans in Congress who supported cannabis legalization are Matt Gaetz (Fla.) — the only GOP co-sponsor on the MORE Act —, Denver Riggleman (Va.) who stated he voted for it because his brother was jailed for a marijuana offense, Don Young (Alaska), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Brian Mast (Fla.) according to Julie-Grace Brufke (2020) of The Hill. There are also more Republicans as well (see page 17, para 2).
Further, our neighbor to the North in Canada, which is a NATO (North American Treaty Organization), NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), Five Eyes Partner (intelligence gathering) and AFNORTH/USNORTHCOM member, has full legalization of cannabis across the board and Canadian cannabis firms can be sold on stock exchanges such as Toronto Stock Exchange (which can be sold legally in the United States on exchanges such as E-Trade, owned by Morgan Stanley, by way of the Over-the-Counter Market). On October 17, 2018, Canada passed Bill C-45, which made recreational use of marijuana (cannabis) totally legal (Kestler-D’Amours, 2018). Relating to passage of Canada’s Bill C-45, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau established a Task Force to pave the way for cannabis legalization and used US States such as Colorado and Washington State as a model (Kestler-D’Amours, 2018).
Think about that, Canada, our military ally, a member of the prestigious NATO Alliance, legalized weed by basing their policy on Washington State and Colorado’s pro-cannabis policies, and these US States have a strong military presence ranging from Joint Base Fort Lewis – McChord (JBLM); Camp Murray National Guard Center; Fairchild Air Force Base; Everett Naval Base; Naval Air Station Whidbey Island; Bremerton Naval Base and Submarine Base; the Western Air Defense Sector (WADS); Fort Carson; Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station; Peterson Air Force Base (Home to the US Space Command, i.e., the predecessor of the newly created United States Space Force); Schriever Air Force Base and Buckley Air Force Base.
Relating to Peterson-Schriever Garrison (P-S GAR) in Colorado (where cannabis is legal), the United States Space Command (formerly the United States Air Force Space Command) operates Geographically Separated Units (GSUs) such as New Boston Air (Space) Force Station in New Hampshire (where cannabis is decriminalized); Cape Code Air (Space) Force Station (where in Massachusetts, cannabis is fully legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes); Kaena Point Air (Space) Force Station (where in Hawaii marijuana is decriminalized in a mixed approach); Clear Air (Space) Force Station (where in Alaska, marijuana is fully decriminalized) [Clear Air Force (Space) Station also houses Royal Canadian Air Force Units, where Canadian forces are legally allowed to use marijuana], and Cavalier Air (Space) Force Station (where in North Dakota, cannabis is decriminalized and able to be used for medicinal purposes), etc.
Burns (2018) wrote an article about how the Government of Canada (or, Gouvernement du Canada in French) issued a directive, Defence (the British/Canadian spelling) Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) – 9000, which permits Canadian military service members to use marijuana, i.e., cannabis. Under the new policy, members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be prohibited from using recreational cannabis within eight hours of a duty shift, and within 24 hours of work that involves operating weapons or vehicles (Burns, 2018). Cannabis use will additionally be barred within 28 days of duty that includes service on a military aircraft, operation in a hyperbaric environment, or high-altitude parachuting (Burns, 2018). Somewhat understandably, service members will not be allowed to use recreational cannabis during work hours or carry it with them on international operations, either (Burns, 2018). Effectively, Canadian troops are safely allowed to use marijuana within the time stipulations listed above but most likely in the safe zone while on leave or Rest and Relaxation (R&R), so they do not violate the time minimums listed above.
According to the Veterans Cannabis Project (n.d.), 34 States Allow Medical Marijuana, 83% of Veterans support Medical Marijuana Programs, yet 0% of Veteran Administration facilities provide medical cannabis (though HR712 or the separate MORE Act might and should correct this fact).
Further, According to DiGiovanni (2018) decorated veterans are supporting the legalization of marijuana efforts such as retired Lieutenant Colonel Todd Scattini, i.e., The Hemp Colonel, who is a United States West Point Academy graduate, and is the current CEO of Harvest 360 and the European representative of CW Hemp. According to the article by the DiGiovanni (2018) on the Veterans Cannabis Project’s website, Scattini served in combat arms roles, including Tank & Scout platoon leader and Cavalry troop commander. His language skills and passion for foreign service led to positions overseas, including at the US Embassies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia (DiGiovanni, 2018). But it was his assignment in 2011, as a senior advisor to the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, that opened his eyes to the both the opportunity of hemp and the healing power of medical cannabis (DiGiovanni, 2018).
Current pro-cannabis legalization laws of recent that I have read into are the SAFE Banking Act (S. 1200), sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), which strives to improve safety for cannabis businesses, employees, and consumers by prohibiting a federal banking regulator from penalizing a depository institution for providing banking services to a legitimate marijuana-related business (Status: Senate – 04/11/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs); Small Business Tax Equity Act (H.R.1118 & S.422), sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) which would allow compliant, tax-paying cannabis businesses to deduct normal business expenses and access tax credits that are available to other lawful businesses (Status: Senate – 02/07/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance); Marijuana Justice Act(S. 597 & H.R. 1456), sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee (D-California-13th District) strives to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and expunging the convictions of those who have served federal time for marijuana use and possession offenses (Status: House – 04/08/2019 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security); Realizing Equitable & Sustainable Participation in Emerging Cannabis Trades (RESPECT) Resolution (H.Res.163), sponsored by Representative Barbara Lee (D-California-13th District), offers best practices and recommended steps for states and localities to reduce financial barriers to entry relating to cannabis businesses, eliminate constrained licensing frameworks that perpetuate disadvantages relating to cannabis businesses, encourages automated expungement and resentencing for prior cannabis offenses (Status: House – 03/25/2019 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security); Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act(H.R. 3884. S. 2227), sponsored by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10th District), is bipartisan legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies (Status: Senate – 12/07/2020 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance), and HR712 VA (Veterans Administration) Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019, sponsored by Representative Luis J. Correa (D-CA-46th District) which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a clinical trial of the effects of cannabis on certain health outcomes of adults with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and for other purposes (Status: House – 03/12/2020 Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote).
Relating to H.R. 712, the Congressional Budget Office as ordered by the House Committee on Veteran Affairs on March 12, 2020 (The United States Congress, n.d.), issued a Cost Estimate by Ann E. Futrell on April 13, 2020. On February 1, 2019, VA began a 5-year research study at its medical center in San Diego, California, to evaluate effects of the use of medical cannabis among 136 participants with PTSD and other health conditions (Futrell, 2020). The department plans to spend $1 million to conduct the study (Futrell, 2020). CBO expects that trial would satisfy the bill’s requirement for research. Satisfying the reporting requirement would cost less than $500,000 over the 2020-2025 period, CBO estimates (Futrell, 2020). That spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds (Futrell, 2020). Ms. Futrell’s Cost Estimate was reviewed by Leo Lex, Deputy Director of Budget Analysis.
Further, we have 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Sec. 528. Reenlistment waivers for persons separated from the Armed Forces who commit one misdemeanor cannabis offense. This is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough, yet, what I am arguing in this paper is for the federal government (and its contractors) to not ask about use not attached to federal charges, but also, the minimum threshold as specified in Section 528 must be raised considering the relationship of states to the federal government.
Section 528 which was helped passed by House Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona’s 7th Congressional District (a US Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq) is great and a proper step forward, yet I feel it doesn’t go far enough (e.g., a misdemeanor can be very marginal), because the military (and its contractors where workers often have to do SF 86 Background Investigation Questionnaires) are still asking if new recruits, former military members who wish to rejoin, or applicants for employment with federal contracts, if they have used marijuana even if it is not attached to any criminal conviction. It seems the military’s forms such AF Form 2030 or equal (and Standard Form 86 or any other agency equivalent) are still asking these statements to new recruits/members who seek re-entry, employees of federal contractors. Regarding, the military it is still requiring waivers (or possible rejections of clearances relating to contractors or troops).
Based on my ideas and evidence presented so far, the military/federal government should not be asking for marijuana use that is not attached to criminal charges, largely (but not limited to the fact) that Section 528 of the FY20 NDAA, it only speaks to convictions by a court of a competent jurisdiction. Considering that the Office of Personnel Management via its e-QIP System which does background checks for the government and its contractors, I feel the question on the SF 86 relating to marijuana use not relating to criminally convicted charges in courts of competent jurisdiction should be removed from the questionnaire since its relevance is waning. Further, people who do have criminal convictions relating to marijuana such a possession should not fear having a clearance revoked.
There does not seem to be coherent and publicly published logic that is readily available to the public and published in a way which is palpable for the general public to understand that details how the OPM or equivalent makes it security clearance determinations, thus preventing the person who may have had their clearances revoked or employment terminated, from having all the cognizant facts to utilize their constitutional right to challenge such determinations, e.g., obtain legal representation, appeal, etc.
Further, since the vast array of questions on Background Checks can incidentally lead to subjective determinations, many good people have possibly suffered simply because of human bias which is not an exceptional look for the Federal Government; however, I am sure investigators do their jobs to the best of their abilities. For example, if a highly paid non-elected GS Civil Servant has had three DUIs, missed alimony payments, has domestic dispute charges, has had frequent travel outside of the United States, and has a higher debt-to-asset ratio (insinuating higher risk of financial default, i.e., bankruptcy), but they get to keep their job and/or get a Security Clearance. Why should a person, such as a recently college graduate, person who has been seeking employment, person from an underrepresented group and/or low-income area, or your average worker have to admit use of marijuana use not attached to criminal charges, when stating use not attached to criminal convictions, could possibly result in getting a Security Clearance revoked, which could mean loss of employment, having to seek another internal opportunity, increased unemployment insurance registration, destitution, falling behind on bills, etc.?
That is why the SF86 must be reformed. SF86 questions relating to marijuana should be changed to only ask about cannabis use for convicted charges, yet, convicted charges should not be a barrier to employment or gaining a clearance, due to 1) the general shift of perception within the public that supports legalization of cannabis, 2) there is no proof that marijuana/cannabis use leads to any sort of Security Breaches, 3) many States where it is legal have a strong federal employment and military presence, etc.I am not saying the Federal Agencies including the Department of Defense or its contractors cannot test for marijuana (until policy shifts), but rather asking for use not attached to criminal charges does not provide any value.
To reiterate, my idea is that the Department of Defense, Office of Personnel Management (who manages the SF86 Screening Process), or any other agency, or contractor to the federal government, can only ask for use for marijuana related to criminal offenses, and not just “use”. Further, recruiters, contractors who work with recruiters (such as call center staff), and the Human Resource Departments of federal contractors should be educated that they legally can only ask for criminally charged marijuana convictions and not simple use, and any statement made voluntarily of use, either in the past or present, that is not attached to a criminal conviction cannot be used against a military recruit, person who wishes to re-enter the military, or applicant to the federal government or its contractors. Further, if a person has had their record cleared, sometimes charges can still show up on background checks and such charges should not be asked for either.
Once a law, amendment to a law (or revision that expands upon Section 528), or Executive Order based on my idea is approved, I also feel it should be retroactively applied to anyone who was rejected for entry or re-entry into the military (or disqualified for a Security Clearance), or disbarred from employment either as federal civil servant or contractor, so when they try again, they do not have to say anything about use not attached to criminal convictions (even if they admitted on a previous government form), and if even they do admit use voluntarily, it does not matter, because…the military (or employer) will test you regardless upon entry or re-entry and while serving (or working) [until policy changes such as full legalization of cannabis]. It as if it did not happen.
Relating to military recruitment, there should be no requirement of a military waiver for marijuana use not attached to criminal charges and any waivers that are on record for people who admitted marijuana use not attached to criminal charges before active duty or even after active duty who wish to rejoin (regardless if they used within the inactive portion of their Military Service Obligation which aligns to Section 528 of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act, considering the section insinuates that waivers are only needed for “active duty”, i.e., not “inactive duty”), should be expunged immediately.
I added on, “within the inactive portion of their Military Service Obligation” is because once a person separates from active-duty service, they are not getting active-duty benefits, they typically fall under Non-Participating Inactive Reserve Status which is effectively back to Selective Service status of the general public, they receive no BAH (Housing Allowance) from the military, no BAS (Sustenance or Food Allowance) from the military, no uniform stipend from the military, perform no military Physical Tests (PT) or Fitness Tests, likely do not receive Tri-Care Health Insurance from the military, and most fall under the jurisdiction of the Veterans Administration, i.e., once you start drawing Veteran Benefits you can’t receive active-duty benefits.
Further, my idea is good, because The United States only has roughly 300 to 330 Million people; however, we have vast responsibilities covering the globe spanning Eurasia, Eastern Europe, the South China Sea, etc., where our adversaries have populations of 1 Billion and that is not including their own allies. So, to limit the candidate pool because of stigma over something that many states deem to be acceptable, same as many people serving in Congress find it to be acceptable, is simply bad policy of an antiquated time that has systemically embedded itself into negative stereotypes, mass arrests, ruined lives, administrative burdens, and ruined futures, etc.
I see no value to the military (Department of Defense), federal contractors, or the taxpayers who fund the military in asking military recruits, people who wish to seek re-entry into the military, civilian federal employees, or employees of federal contractors, if they have used marijuana, especially if it not attached to any recorded criminal conviction.
For now, the military should only care about criminal charges relating to marijuana – until Congress can reschedule cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act and/or pass legislation such as the MORE Act or equivalent – since criminal charges could possibly create liability issues, e.g., possible outstanding warrants. Criminal convictions pose more of a constraint on logistics and planning for the military, e.g., dates in which recruits can go to Basic Military Training, Officer Training/Candidate School, etc. However, even criminal convictions do not disqualify a person from service (which is good since the military can reshape lives), but simply asking for use without any criminal record has no value and should require no waiver.
Think of it as the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regarding Marijuana use for initial entry or re-entry into the Armed Forces (or even relating to Security Clearances for troops and contractors). “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was acceptable for decades, but we finally progressed passed that, and now it is time for marijuana, which is a commodity which is traded on stock market via the Over-the-Counter Market which is readily available on commercial exchanges such as E-Trade (owned my Morgan Stanley), taxed by states, creates jobs, reduces black-market crime and trafficking, and was legal for most of our nation’s history. In other words, The Founding Fathers and Revolutionaries had more leeway than people in 2020.
According to Booker (2018) of NPR (National Public Radio), “For the first time in what historians say could be centuries, hemp has been grown and harvested at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic estate. In the 1760s, Washington predicted that hemp could be a more profitable crop than tobacco and grew it across his farm. At the time, hemp was abundant in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S. This summer, horticulturists at Mount Vernon partnered with the University of Virginia and planted hemp once again. “To bring this crop back it just really helps complete our agricultural story,” says Dean Norton, the director of horticulture at the estate. The push to bring back hemp came from a Charlottesville, Va., farmer, Brian Walden, who considers himself a “hemp patriot.””.
Regarding that fact about Mount Vernon, Virginia, i.e., George and Martha Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon is registered with the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, U.S. National Historic Landmarks, and Virginia Landmarks Register. The U.S. National Register of Historic Places is operated by the National Park Service which falls under the Department of Interior, giving further support to the fact that Federal Government does support the growth of marijuana, which in this case, has historical basis considering cannabis was legal for most of the United States’ history.
It is… useless to ask for “use” of marijuana. The military should care for criminal convictions (which is debatable in itself) for cannabis (until the United States reschedules cannabis) because A) the military should only care for use while in Active Status – emphasis on active status – due to readiness, investment, troops get paid, etc., B) the military test randomly all the time such as at MEPS and during active service C) asking for use not tied to criminal convictions encourages people to shy away from the military, and D) the trend of legalization is already here in which many states have full decriminalization for recreational and medicinal use.
For example, if a person lives or has lived in a state, city, locality, municipality, etc., where cannabis (marijuana) is legal and/or decriminalized, but they end up wanting to serve the United States in the military or as a civil servant or contractor, or a former member wants to come back and serve some more, why would a person need a waiver or be asked about “use not attached to criminal convictions”, especially when many states say it is legal and these states contribute to the Total Force Structure of the Department of Defense via the National Guard?
Part of the military is state driven; thus, part of the military is de-facto sovereign (despite the controversial Montgomery Amendment) where the State Governor is Commander-in-Chief (unless under federal orders). Many states with these National Guard Units are fine with marijuana thus meaning the Commander-in-Chief is fine with marijuana; taxes from marijuana might be directly and indirectly funding National Guard units such as roads, air strips, utilities, etc.; state marijuana tax revenues free up federal funds (less money states request from the federal government), and marijuana taxes fund social programs such as education. State marijuana tax revenues thus supports the overall Total Force Structure of the Department of Defense in direct and indirect ways.
States that tax marijuana and distribute funds throughout their state support the Total Force Structure of the military both federally and at the state level (National Guard). Many states with legal marijuana use that money to fund educational programs such as colleges which house ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) units. Since marijuana tax revenue is going to education, this possibly increases the cognitive competencies of workers and potential recruits or service-member who wish to seek re-entry.
A state might fund a community college system with marijuana tax revenues (or, by other means enabled by diverting funds from elsewhere only made possible by marijuana taxes), but a troop using Tuition Assistance might be taking classes at that facility.
A state library system might be sharing resources with a military base library.
A State University system by expanding construction projects produces direct benefits for ROTC units, such expanded fitness facilities, classrooms, etc.
Further, marijuana tax revenue is going to fund law enforcement in these states and local law enforcement works in unison with the military and Military Police when it comes to legal matters such as responding to emergencies. In addition, marijuana tax revenue is going towards public health efforts which also helps to protect the military, civil servants, and workers for federal contractors. Public Health has always been a concern of the military going back as far as the military educating troops about diseases such as a Syphilis during the World Wars. By states increasing public health funding, enabling testing services, providing contraception, tracking viral outbreaks, offering clean needle exchanges, providing family planning services, etc., this provides an extra level of protection to service members, civil servants, and federal contractors.
Further, many Air National Guard Units are cohabiting with civilian airports which are used as runways, and I am confident that tax revenues from marijuana is helping to fund infrastructure which supports the State National Guard Units but also upstream to the Federal forces of the Department of Defense and Pentagon. In support of this claim, Washington State Treasury (2020), led by Duane A. Davidson who reports to Washington State’s Governor and National Guard Commander-in-Chief, Jay Inslee (Democrat), referenced statistics from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board’s Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report. Statistics provided by the Washington State Treasury (2020) included that fact that Washington State collected a total of $395.5 million in legal marijuana income and license fees in fiscal year 2019, all but $5.2 million of it from the state’s marijuana excise, or sales tax. Further Washington State Treasury (2020) stated that the report also shows that the marijuana revenues were $172 million more than that of liquor, and that the marijuana tax income of the state for fiscal year 2019 of $395.5 million grew by slightly more than $28 million from the prior fiscal year. Lastly, based on the statistics provided by the Washington State Treasurer (2020) the General Fund received $116.5 million.
Marijuana tax allocation to public services in Washington State has a positive social benefit, particularly for a state which lacks a state income tax. Relating to how Washington State distributes its revenues generated from taxation on marijuana, in RCW (Revised Code of Washington) 69.50.540, Titled: Dedicated marijuana account—Appropriations, per section (g), at the end of each fiscal year, the treasurer must transfer any amounts in the dedicated marijuana account that are not appropriated pursuant to subsection (1) of this section and this subsection (2) into the general fund. Later sections of RCW 69.50.540 states that revenues that go into the general funds are distributed to counties, cities, and towns where licensed marijuana retailers are physically located, etc.
Speaking back to the $116.5 million in Washington State’s General Fund which was funded by taxation on legal marijuana per RCW 69.50.540 Section (g), I went to Washington States Office of Financial Management which published the Governor Inslee’s 2019-2021 Proposed Biennial Budget. The Military Department (which includes the Air and Army National Guard Units of Washington State) was allocated $14.7 Million in which $5 Million goes to Shake-Alert Monitoring System for the procurement of seismic monitoring stations and global navigation satellite systems which integrates with the overall Shake-Alert System; $928,000 for Tsunami Sirens for Coast Cities which involves the procurement of sixteen (16 each) All-Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) Systems; $750,000 to National Guard Wildfire Pay which pays State Active Duty Wages for service members with firefighter certifications to that of their civilian counter-parts, etc.
Further, while I was searching Washington State’s Office of Financial Management’s website relating to General Fund allocations (which seems to align with marijuana tax revenues allocated through RCW 69.50.540 Section (g)), I found a document Titled: Agency Information Technology Budget Detail, authorized by RCW 43.88.092, Appendix A – IT Projects with OCIO Oversight: Completed for Fiscal Year 2018, where on page 47 of this Appendix, the Military Department (National Guard, etc.) received or will receive a new contract for Next Generation 911 (NG911) Emergency Services IP Network Re-procurement since the current CenturyLink contract is due to expire or has expired. The CenturyLink contract was a transitional system that was awarded before national-standards were implemented and the new NG911 System provides complete call-maker to call-taker Turn-Key services that meets the national standard. [Source: Washington State Office of Financial Management (2019)].
Looking elsewhere on the Office of Financial Management’s website, I found Transportation Projects that directly tied to the U.S. Military, and we can assume that marijuana tax revenues in one shape or another directly or indirectly helps fund these projects.
For Example, per Washington State’s Office of Financial Management’s (2019) documented, titled: OFM Transportation Document 19GOV001 as developed December 10, 2018 – Hwy Mgmt. & Facilities Program (D), one project listed was the I-5 JBLM (Joint Base Lewis McChord) Corridor Improvements under Project No. M00100R.
Further, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management (2019), on their website in a section titled, 2019-21Governor’s proposed budgets, 2019-29 capital plan, Agency capital project detail, Military Department, I also found National Guard construction projects issued by the Washington State Military Department based out of Camp Murray under RFP-19-GS-006 which was funded by the State Building Construction Account such as $75,000.00 going towards Project No. 40000004 (per the Office of Financial Management) for Anacortes Readiness Center Major Renovation, where the Readiness Center is a National Guard Center that was badly in need of upgrades. Per the Office of Financial Management (2019), The Anacortes Readiness Center is one of the smallest facilities in the Washington National Guard inventory. It has no female restrooms, showers, and locker rooms; lacks office space and classrooms for training purposes; has an inadequate supply room for necessary equipment; and is not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. This project will perform predesign for an ADA compliant facility, which will add 6,000 square feet of new space; renovate offices, classrooms, the kitchen, and supply and storage areas; and create a new locker room, restrooms, and showers for female members.
Lastly, at the Washington State Office of Financial Management (2019) 2019-21Governor’s proposed budgets, 2019-29 capital plan, Agency capital project detail, Military Department, I found Camp Murray Building 33 Addition/Alteration funded by the State Building Construction Account funded at an amount of $1,000,000 to $4,000,000.00. Camp Murray is the National Guard Center for the Washington State National Guard and is right across I-5 from Joint Base Lewis McChord, which is a place I am familiar with since I lived in Fort Lewis and DuPont, WA as a pre-teen.
Looking at these projects I noticed some were listed as federal funded whereas others were listed as state funded, meaning that state marijuana tax revenues which affect the state fund (either directly, or indirectly, i.e., freed up funds from one account made possible by marijuana taxes) for construction projects might be helping to fund military infrastructure.
According to a report titled, Oregon Marijuana Tax Statistics: Accounting Information by Oregon.gov (2020), the State of Oregon as of September 2020 collected $15,765,218 of state taxes and $2,445,050 from local taxes, yet only some local marijuana taxes are collected by the state; those collected locally are not counted here. Actual state and local amounts will be known when quarterly tax returns are filed.
So, based on the report listed above, the total of marijuana tax revenues is $18,210,268.00, yet, on the same Oregon.gov website, there is another report titled, Oregon Marijuana Tax: Distribution Information, which calculated a total of $29,832,637 in which 40% went to the State School Fund, 20% Mental Health, Alcoholism, and Drug Services, Oregon State Police (15%), Oregon Health Authority, for Drug Treatment and Prevention (5%), and 20% went back to the City and Local Governments.
Staggs (2020) of the Orange County Register stated that California has raised $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue since the industry kicked into gear in January 2018, according to figures recently released by the state. The bulk of that $1.03 billion in tax money, after covering regulatory costs, has been spent on programs such as childcare for low-income families, cannabis research, public safety grants and cleaning up public lands harmed by illegal marijuana grows (Staggs, 2020). Yet, for concrete numbers, the State of California Department of Tax and Fee Administration issued a public news release by Wells (2020) which stated that total tax revenue reported by the cannabis industry is $172.7 million for 4th quarter returns due by January 31, 2020 and this does not include tax revenue collected by each jurisdiction.
Section IX – Welfare Argument
Speaking to the Stagg (2020) article, in which he speaks of programs for low-income families, I am confident that some troops, especially lower enlisted troops, might be using State Welfare programs to help supplement income, such as WIC (Women, Infant, and Children Special Nutritional Supplemental programs), childcare support services, etc. These programs are sustaining themselves in part with marijuana tax revenues.
The data shows that during the 2018-19 school year, a third of children at DOD-run schools on military bases in the United States — more than 6,500 children — were eligible for free or reduced lunches. At one base — Georgia’s Fort Stewart — 65 percent were eligible (McFadden, Romo, & Abou-Sabe, 2019).
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office published a report recommending that the Defense Department start tracking data on service members’ and their families’ use of food assistance programs such as SNAP and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, but aid groups and lawmakers question whether the department is collecting meaningful data (McFadden, Romo, & Abou-Sabe, 2019).
Section X – Ideas and Arguments Continued
It serves no use to ask for use of marijuana not attached to criminal convictions for new recruits, people who wish to re-enter the military, federal contractors seeking employment, federal civil servants seeking employment, etc. I do respect that the military can test while on active duty considering the importance of the mission, but it is time to progress.
Here is another argument for my idea. For example, does the military ask if you have ever had a beer or glass of wine when wanting to serve? No, they do not, even though alcoholism and social drinking are a part of military life (I grew up around it), even though the reported statistics likely do not state that, because many troops likely do not state the accurate facts for fear of having marks on their record (which might not to be actual policy) or being sent to rehabilitation, which could (even though it is not stated) influence a troop in thinking they might not be successful at promotion levels where character & social politics plays an important role in interviews at board selection committees. Does the military ask if a recruit or person who wishes to seek re-entry ever touched a person in an inappropriate manner? No, they do not, even though – lets be frank – the military does not have the best track record with assault, despite its efforts to combat it. So, we make a big deal about marijuana use not attached to criminal charges, even though prior service or out-of-service marijuana use does not create a bruised eye for the military, yet we do not ask questions or require waivers that relate to alcohol use that is not tied to criminal charges, nor does the military have means to search for improper sexual misconduct that is not reported, etc.
Regarding marijuana, there are stereotypes and stigmas, and even if there were studies, they are likely are so antiquated and outdated, that their relevancy has no sway considering such studies were most likely highly biased based on the times (such as previous times being more racist such as against African Americans and Hispanics, most notably Mexican Americans – note: Hispanic participation in the military is growing and African Americans have served in each conflict of the United States).
Further, stigma in part comes from the social change in the 1960s and 1970s in which the outcome of the Vietnam War was likely blamed in the social consciousness on drug use to hide the mismanagement of the Nixon and Johnson Administrations. The War on Drugs was arguably a strategy to quell the anti-Vietnam War and pro-Civil Rights efforts, even though the real drug culprit was opium, not marijuana, yet, ironically, for nearly two decades we had a legal opium market via prescription drugs (in which company stock were common in every-day Americans 401ks, possibly even military or government Thrift Savings Plans (TSP), i.e., the American public profited from opium addiction which is far more dangerous than marijuana).
The only reason why marijuana is considered a “gateway drug” as you know is because our policies push people to the gatekeepers, i.e., drug dealers (traditionally speaking, since many states with decriminalization efforts have functional, safe, and regulated commercial enterprises where people do not have to go into the black market for cannabis).
Even, Republicans such as former House Speaker and House Minority Leader, John Boehner is profiting from it and that is fine. Are people really going to convince me that he or people associated with him have lost Security Clearances or do not grant commission to Service Academies, or write recommendations, etc.? Presidents from both major parties have admitted using marijuana. Think about that. Our Commander-in-Chiefs have used marijuana but also ironically incarcerated others for it or have disbarred or rejected people because of marijuana. Note: I understand that politics is not easy, but still, there is the moral behind what I am saying.
I am not stating that active-duty troops should be using marijuana until policy changes occurs (which could be modeled on the Canadian model which in itself is based in part from American States where marijuana is legal) but asking newcomers to the military, people who rotated into civilian life and wish to serve again, civil servants or employees of federal contractors, etc., if they’ve use marijuana when there is no criminal record of it is a waste of time. Time is money. Only worry about criminal charges, yet even criminal charges are debatable because of disparities along racial, ethnic, and income lines. To my analogy of alcohol or sexual content, there is plenty of abuse of alcohol at all ranks and there has been plenty of sexual predators who have slipped through the cracks who have no record, but irresponsible alcohol use and assault of any kind, but particularly that of a sexual nature, are way more of a threat than marijuana ever could be, especially since many states have made cannabis legal (and these states have Guard Units that are a part of the Total Force Structure which supports the Department of Defense).
A measure which reforms military Drug and Alcohol Abuse Certificates (or equivalent) across the Sister Service Branches of the Department of Defense for entry or re-entry into the military and which revises forms (questions asked on applications, Standard Form 86s, etc.) of Federal contractors to only ask for criminal convictions relating to marijuana until an Executive Order from the President and/or legislation from the Congress relating to legalization and/or rescheduling of marijuana to a decriminalized category is needed. The measure will reform forms and practices for the federal government and its contractors to only ask for use relating to recorded convictions, rather than asking any question relating to simple “use”. Candidates, recruits, applicants, etc., do not have to state whether they have used marijuana if not attached to criminal convictions, considering the government and many companies have robust drug testing policies.
Asking for marijuana use not attached to criminal charges on forms such as AF Form 2030 Drug and Alcohol Abuse Forms (or equal across Sister Service Branches) and SF 86, are also systemically racist, even if incidental by nature, and thus violates the goals of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which has provisions such as Title VII which strives on increase minority and woman representation within government. Title VII provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are expressed in Federal Acquisition Regulation Clause FAR 52.222-25 Affirmative Action Compliance, meaning that federal contractors must follow this clause, which further means that asking questions about marijuana use not attached to criminal charges increasingly violates the goals of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Effectively the Controlled Substance Act is hampering Civil Rights, particularly through the judicial system via policing policies, etc.
According the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) website section, titled: Marijuana Arrest by Numbers, 52% of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana, and that most people that people are arresting are not kingpins but rather people with small amounts of pot (end quote). Further, the ACLU (2020) issued a more recent report, titled: Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform, which details marijuana arrests from 2010 to 2018 and examines racial disparities at the national, state, and county levels. Two key findings that I will point out in the ACLU (2020) report is that Marijuana Arrests Decreased after Legalization or Decriminalization, yet Racial Disparities in Arrests Persist Even in States That Legalized or Decriminalized Marijuana. Many of these states (which some are the whitest states in America) also have a strong military presence. For example, F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Hill AFB in Utah, Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, Minot or Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota, Offutt AFB in Nebraska, etc. These states in our current political environment are not immune to the national debates, especially those relating to race, so being an African American or Hispanic American (or, any minority group), it is my impression that troops of
Figure 8 – Use of Marijuana Between Blacks and Whites for Ages 12+ (2018)
color, or civil servants or federal contractors, can be singled out or targeted, thus increasing risk of judicial punishment (thus, loss of security clearances). For example, there is an intersection between Blue Lives Matters and the fringes of the Alternative Right.
There might exist a disparity regarding rejections of Security Clearances between minorities and white federal employees and military service members, relating to criminally charged marijuana offenses or admission of marijuana use not attached to criminal charges. White Americans report a higher use of marijuana over a lifetime as compared to blacks at 50.7% white versus 42.4% black (ACLU, 2020, p. 30), but black people make up a higher percentage of arrests cases and this disparity can lead to rejection of security clearances/loss of employment/rejection of employment, thus resulting in lower levels of minority representation, which thus violates the vision of the Civil Rights Act considering many states find marijuana to be a commodity with economic, medicinal, and therapeutic properties.
The ACLU (2020) issued a report titled, Tale Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform, in which the ACLU presented data sourced from Uniform Crime Reporting Data (p. 15), the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, i.e., NACJD (p.15) and the US Census Bureau (p. 15) proving disparity between white versus black arrests regarding marijuana, and the findings still found a higher level of arrests for African Americans even in states where it is legal. Further, the report stated that its focus was primarily on African Americans in relation to White Americans, and per the report ,the ACLU (2020) were not able to compare marijuana for the Latin (Latinx) community since the FBI Uniform Criminal Reporting system (UCR) does not racially categorize the Latin (Latinx) community since it is comprised of different races, making it impossible to distinguish between Latinx and non-Latinx individuals in the Black and white populations arrest rates for Latinx individuals the report (ACLU, 2020, p. 11). However, the report by the ACLU (2020) does state that it is critical to continue examining the extent of racial bias in the enforcement of marijuana laws, specifically against Black and Latinx populations, but also that of Native and Indigenous populations, Arab and Middle Eastern populations, Asian populations, Pacific Islander populations, and those with multiple racial/ethnic identities (e.g., biracial populations) (p. 30).
Further, ACLU (2020) stated that The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, conducts nationally representative annual surveys of marijuana use over respondents’ lifetime, over the past year, and over the past month. SAMSHA survey data consistently finds that rates of ever use and recent use by race do not significantly differ between Black and white populations (ACLU, 2020, p. 31, para 2). Therefore, the wide racial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates cannot be explained by differences in marijuana usage rates between Black and white people (ACLU, 2020, p. 31, para 2). In other words, there is something else going on.
In 2018, there were almost 700,000 marijuana arrests, which accounted for more than 43% of all drug arrests (ACLU, 2020, p 7). In fact, in 2018, police made more marijuana arrests than for all violent crimes combined, according to the FBI. Further, it is not clear that marijuana arrests are trending down—they have actually risen in the past few years, with almost 100,000 more arrests in 2018 than 2015 (ACLU, 2020, p 7). On average, a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates (ACLU, 2020, p 7). Black people are still more likely to be arrested for possession than white people (ACLU, 2020, p 10). (See Next Page)
Figure 10 – Figure 12 within the ACLU (2020) Report (p. 33), titled: A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform.
How do the facts presented by the ACLU (2020) affect the United States Military, federal government, or government contractors, particularly relating to Security Clearances, employment, recruitment, etc.?
Dickstein (2020) of Stars and Stripes presented a story on how African American troops in the United States Air Force and Space Force are not treated the same as white troops based on a four-month investigation by the Department of the Air Force Inspector General (DAF IG), Lt. General Sami Said. Based on data presented in DAF IG Lt. General Sami Said’s 150-page report, which is careful to note that the identification of racial disparity does not automatically mean racial bias or racism is present, Dickstein (2020) extracted the below bullet-points for his Stars and Stripes article:
Enlisted Black airmen and guardians were 72% more likely than whites to be punished through the Uniform Code of Military Justice or through nonjudicial punishment measures. (Dickstein, 2020).
Enlisted Black airmen and guardians were 57% more likely than whites to face a court-martial. (Dickstein, 2020).
Black junior enlisted Air Force and Space Force troops are twice as likely to be involuntarily discharged for misconduct than white troops. (Dickstein, 2020).
Black Air Force and Space Force service members are 1.64 times more likely to be named suspects in Air Force Office of Special Investigations criminal cases than white service members. (Dickstein, 2020).
Black airmen and guardians are twice as likely be apprehended by Air Force security forces than white airmen and guardians. (Dickstein, 2020).
Black officers are less likely than white officers to be designated to attend professional military education courses. (Dickstein, 2020). ** Note: This bullet is interesting because it doesn’t seem attached to crime, suspicion of crime, or punishment, but rather perception regarding race, yet, the DAF IG is saying that the data doesn’t mean that there is racism?”
Looking at the report myself, although there is an up to 2% racial disparity in overall testing rate for black service members from 2015 to 2019, when broken down by rank, the numbers show black E1-E4s are underrepresented in random testing when compared to their white peers, which indicates there was no inappropriate targeting of young black enlisted members for drug testing. Overall, this report revealed enlisted members were tested at a higher rate than officers consistently from 2015 to 2019, as depicted below (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p. 13).
The Inspector General Department of the Air Force (2020) states, objective investigation data from OSI and Security Forces indicate some of the disparity in NJP (Non-Judicial Punishment) results from a disparity in behavior rather than race (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p. 11). Accessions data show that members who joined the service with moral waivers are more likely to receive military discipline during their time in service (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p. 11). Finally, the disparity in population numbers between demographic groups disproportionally impacts the RPT (Rates Per Thousand) data (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p. 11). Because there are fewer black service members than white service members (ratio of about 1:5 overall and 1:13 for officers), even one additional individual disciplinary action will have a far greater impact on the RPT for black service members (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p. 11).
Racial disparities in military justice actions against black service members is a complex issue that has been reviewed in-depth by the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps (AFJAG) (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p. 11). A 20-year analysis of Air Force NJP data and courts-martial revealed the following: For every single year between 1999 and 2019, black Airmen were more likely to receive NJP than white service members, in terms of RPT. Black service members were 1.74 times more likely than white service members to receive NJP (Non-Judicial Punishment) and 1.60 times more likely than white service members to be court-martialed (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p.11). For every single year, black service members were more likely to face courts-martial than white service members. Black service members were court-martialed at an average RPT of 3.39, compared with white service members at an average RPT of 2.12. This data reveals that black Airmen were 60% more likely to face court-martial than white service members (The Department of the Air Force Inspector General, p.11).
The report released by the Department of the Air Force (2020), i.e., DAF IG (2020) relating to racial disparity in Air Force disciplinary action, got me thinking because the DAF IG (2020) talks about “behavior”. What are they really saying with this statement? Is this statement a sort of passive way of insinuating that African Americans have issues? And, if so, are we being sympathetic to the struggles of the African American community and its history, but also the current realities, in which there is a historic and present condition of oppression, imprisonment, laws created to explicitly target African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Indigenous Native Americans (First Peoples), etc.? However, I am not saying the Air Force is not taking the proper steps forward to address racial disparity issues, but one thing they could do is the ideas I am presenting through this paper. Also, they might have to better weigh where they are stationing troops of color by establishing some sort of index which accounts for local hate crimes, political atmosphere, demography, etc. Being a veteran of the United States Air Force, I can attest that most of my experience were positive and I received no disciplinary action (no UCMJ Court Martial, no Non-Judicial Punishments, etc.). I walked a straight line. Yet, I can also attest that the general culture of America where dealing with militarism is largely still dictated and catered to the majority (white) class of the United States. There is an intersectionality between country culture, Republicanism, YouTube military videos, trucks, guns, Soldier of Fortune culture, police, etc. In a way, militarism can be co-opted to be a force for silent white supremacy. When is the last time you have seen an authentic Hollywood blockbuster that showed minorities in a patriotic light while factoring in their pre-military living situations, the social pressures they face both external and internal, the systemic oppression external to the military, etc.?
Yet, I assume that a disparity exists because of marijuana in part, though not entirely (reducing the African American experience to marijuana would be stereotypical in itself). To my understanding, alcohol culture is very Eurocentric whereas cannabis smoking is not (though stats prove otherwise), thus, our nation’s view of alcohol is largely dictated by ethnocentrism, supremacy, etc. However, facts provided by the ACLU (2020) shows that white America consumes the same amount, if not more, cannabis than African Americans do, despite the imagery or stereotypes we see on television.
So, where is this disparity, such as that of the DAF IG (2020) coming from? Likely from a combination of factors, such as what I call “amplification”, i.e., minorities stand out, whereas the majority ironically fades into the background. The DAF IG (2020) did mention the same concept. Further, our there is our criminal justice system. Being a teenager from highly policed urban area is much different than a white teenager from a rural, exurban, or suburban environment.
This got me thinking further. Black Americans, i.e., African Americans, did not have fair voting rights for 77% of the time the United States has been in existence as an officially independent nation. In other words, African Americans were disbarred from law creation, and these laws in many ways have had negative consequences on the community, i.e., African Americans were unable to put their cultural viewpoint or how they view certain issues or substances, on the table. Transatlantic Slavery existed from the late fifteen-hundreds to the late eighteen-hundreds (not including the continuation of sharecropping policies, Jim Crow Apartheid Policies, etc.). 2020 to 1776 (Independence Day) is 244 years. 1776 to 1964 (Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed on July 2, 1964) is 188 years. 188/244 is 0.77 or 77%, i.e., African Americans did not have full Civil Rights protections for 77% of the time since the United States declared independence.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed on August 6, 1965 which means 189 years since 1776, i.e., 189/244 is 0.774 or 77.4%. African Americans did not have full Voting or Civil Rights protections for 77%-77.4% of the time the United States has officially been in existence.
The first record black African slaves were brought to what is now the United States of America, to Jamestown Colony on August 20, 1619 after being kidnapped from Angola (History Channel.com Editors, 2020).
2020 from 1619 is 401 years. 1619 to 1964 (the year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed) is 345 years. 345/401 is .86%. 1619 to 1965 (the year the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed) is 346 years. 346/401 is 86.2%. So, the from the time the first Africans stepped foot on US soil (that is officially recorded), descendants of black African slaves have not had full civil or voting rights protections for 86-86.2% of the time from colonial America to the modern era.
1965 to 2020 is 55 years and 1964 to 2020 is 56 years. Many if not most Black Baby Boomers were born without having Civil or Voting Rights, i.e., my father was born in 1959, meaning his developmental years were formed in a segregated environment, i.e., Southern Georgia.
Think about that,86-77% of Black America’s existence, we were disenfranchised without Civil or Voting Rights protections, and by the time we had full legal protections, most of the economic wealth was already consolidated, such as during the eighteen-hundreds. From 1860 to 1900, the wealthiest 2% of American households owned more than a third (33%) of the nation’s wealth, while the top 10% owned roughly three quarters (75%) of it (Tindall & Shi, 2012, p. 589). The bottom 40% had no wealth at all (Fraser, 2015, p. 66).
So, 1619 to 1900 is 281 years and 1776 to 1900 is 124 years. 281/401 (70%) and 124/401 (30.9%), meaning that from the first time a recorded African stepped foot on what is now the United States or from the later date of American Independence, African Americans by the 1900s were excluded from wealth creation for 70% of the time, later down to 30% of the time, and it would take 64 to 65 additional years to even be granted the Civil and Voting Rights protections they were disbarred from for 86-77% of the time of the United States’ existence.
To amplify the levels of oppression, we must realize that African Americans, according to Bennett, Martin, & Debarros (1993) of the US Census Bureau noted that in 1900, African Americans only made up 11.6% of the population (p.4), and by 1910, 90% of African Americans lived in the Southern United States (p. 4), i.e., the worst place for African Americans to live (though after the Great Migrations, the North proved it was not a good place either, and the West Coast was being settled by many ex-Confederates). Our law policy (drug policy included) is inseparable from race in this county unless we do something about it.
A population making up 11.6-13% of the United States population, has not had Voting or Civil Rights protections for 86-77% of the time the US (and its predecessor colonies) have been in existence, and further, this 11.6-13% was disbarred from the largest centralization of wealth from Founding to the Gilded Age (70-30% of the time since the Colonial Era and Independence), and the bulk of this population (90%) by the early twentieth century still lived in the American South, and on average, per the ACLU (2020) a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though black and white people use marijuana at similar rates.
African Americans, similarly, to Hispanic Americans (which is an ethnicity with a racial spectrum, so some get labeled as “white” whereas others not), Indigenous Native Americans (First Peoples), etc., need help, though we have this notion of “we are all equal”, yet I would argue that a stark view of equality is an inequality, because a moral view of equality does not make up for the real lack of equality (structural, legal, perceptual, etc.) that exists.
A bill, amendment to a bill, rider amendment, or Executive Order should be passed which states that Federal Agencies (the Department of Defense included) should reform forms such as AF Form 2030 (or an equivalent among current or previous Sister Service Branches) and forms such as Standard Form 86 for Federal Background Checks, so that these forms only ask for marijuana use attached to criminal charges (though criminal charges for marijuana should not be ranked as a high disqualifying factor), rather than the current policy of asking for use not attached to criminal charges. This should be done immediately and applied retroactively to any person who was denied entry into the military, denied re-entry into the military, denied employment by for a civil servant position, denied employment by a federal contractor, or denied a Security Clearance regardless if for military employment, federal civilian employment, or employment within a federal contractor.
Bennett, C. E., Martin, B. M., & Debarros, K. (1993, September). We the Americans: Blacks [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics & Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/prod/cen1990/wepeople/we-1.pdf
Fraser, S. (2015). The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power (Edition Unstated ed.). Little, Brown, and Company
Futrell, A. E. (2020, April). Congressional Budget Office, Cost Estimate: H.R. 712, a bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a clinical trial of the effects of cannabis on certain health outcomes of adults with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and for other purposes, As ordered reported by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on March 12, 2020 (No. 56329). Congressional Budget Office. https://www.cbo.gov/publication/56329
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The “industry” since it can’t control everyone has to continue inclusion training and talks etc. Background checks, etc. I’m sure there’s many good people in the majority in that industry. It also highlights that adult content creators should be donating some of their income to progressive causes to hedge the possibility that bad actors might be using revenues for things that endanger the public.
Yet, Is democratized pornography funding parts of domestic terrorism? Maybe, Vice Media can pick up on this to do more research because I don’t have the time. Maybe if something were to come out about how a minuscule fraction of Only Fans or Camsoda or whatever are using profits to fund international or domestic terror, it would be silenced, because 1) who wants to kill the party for the millions of law-abiding people who use porn as a means of relieving stress from a world bent on “lean productivity” and hyper change, and 2) businesses won’t want their traffic hampered (governments might also like having the ability to “peek into personal behavior as well”, i.e., metadata being filtered my Mormons at NSA Utah Data Centers). The question of “Can domestic adult content fund domestic terror” isn’t out of the question, considering in earlier decades of adult content the mafia did have ties, meaning, also, that government snoops also had ties. Are we in an era where the pleasure and flashing lights of the industry has hidden the possibility that there is a small underworld where criminals (and, possibly even government agents) are involved in porn with the criminals using the easy money (relatively speaking) to fund various operations, and/or government investigators coming to investigate those criminals, yet, as we know in cases relating to “state evidence” that investigations can turn into decades long infiltration projects where the “Feds” cut deals with dangerous people on the hopes of capturing “more dangerous people”?
It would be stupid to attempt to fund domestic terror or international terror with pornography because the IP trail, payments, etc., yet, some goof balls might be tempted. However, one cannot control what one does with the money they make from employment.
Anyways, a Neo Nazi and porn actor, real name Paul Kryscuk, porn alias Pauley Harker, who has slept with women of all colors and religions (for titles such as Abuse Her, Facial Abuse, Latina Abuse, Arab Street Hookers, Ghetto Gaggers, etc., according to IAFD.com), sometimes in the most disparaging ways for fetish-oriented content, was arrested for interstate gun trafficking and for planning to murder protestors. He seems like just another idiot casualty of the post-Federal Reserve “ZOG” YouTube conspiracy universe, compounded by Ancient Alien History Channel grooming, sprinkling in some Vikings “badassery” (tying into the whole European “West is the Best” thing as a psy op) etc. Another, “conservative woke” guy who blames the Jews for everything, yet, while also having sex with Jewish women… Hm. Confusing. Not only does this event show an “anything goes” mentality regarding who is in the pornography industry (as long as you can “perform”), even though I am confident that gossip is a good way at vetting out bad actors, but it does sadly show that money takes more precedent than doing the right thing. Many people need the money (something I sympathize with); however, this article is not to shame sexual feminism or sex workers of any gender, but when our reality (paradigm – way of thinking) boils down to pure transactions, I can see how bad ideologies can feed off “the industry” (porn). But, before we got into this story, let me start with my beginning thoughts. As a disclaimer, this is not an indictment of the traditional adult entertainment industry which seems to be a very professional enterprise (finances, real estate, property, top audiovisual equipment, marketing, distribution, warehousing, costumes, hair stylists, make up, special effects, IT, website creation, award ceremonies, Halls of Fame, health testing, etc.) which has improved over time from something seedy (past tendencies of letting in drug abusers, outbreaks) into something also corporate/safe, nor a criticism of independent content creators.
His fellow performers probably had no idea about his beliefs. As far as they were concerned it was just another day at work, even though some of those days involved dog bowls, spitting in women’s faces, and general (well advanced level) jerk behavior. There’s also no way of knowing of when Mr. Harker’s beliefs changed, yet, there is the possibility he was a sociopath the entire time, living a secret life on set, but elsewhere bragging about this escapades those to want to see the collapse of civilization for some sort of “racial hierarchy paradise”. In a two party system, who do you think he voted for? Trump is the answer. Ding ding ding.
But, porn isn’t the issue. At this point of Hot Girls Wanted culture, porn seems also collegiate with schedules, testing, work, furnished apartments, chaperones etc. It’s really just some bad individuals I’m sure. Be they closeted Neo Nazis from God Knows Where (Orange County, Bakersfield, the Antelope Valley etc), to Crips or Bloods, to bikers, to even remnants of the mob, to even Zionists, or sprinkle in some Jihadist. Traditionally there’s money to be made in server hosting, pushing traffic, leasing mansions, payment systems, etc. But Only Fans has made it easier for predominately good people with some bad ones to make money.
I am not writing to judge people within sex work or kink but particularly for this paper, my focus is the pornography industry. I feel old. Sex, insecurity about sex, the alleged hipness of sexual experiences, years of bombardment of sexually charged content from 1990s wet t-shirt beer commercials, MTV Spring Break bikini dance contests hosted by Pauly Shore or Ed Lover, nineteen-eighties hair metal videos by Motely Crew with women in cages, gangster rap, to porn itself, to the punk rebelliousness of sexual feminism as it tries to achieve equality while chipping away at the “Id” of phallic patriarchy (seems like they won that war already in the West – just being honesty – I could be wrong), the existential crisis that sexually explicit content can cause – for better or worse, I prefer to say better – as it erodes and reshapes one’s preconceived notions of morality, are nothing new to me. Ok, people like to f-ck. Ok, there is a media or art form relating to sexuality to fulfill a human desire. Ok.
If anything, I am over it. There is nothing “kinky” or “he-he-he” about it. Yawn. Sex. Yawn. At this point the true “porn” is something that most people are lacking, i.e., a true human connection, stability, commitment. Yet, from the obscenest gonzo (well, what is available on Hub sites), to the most passionate plot centered porn, I feel society is so used to it that it’s not something “groundbreaking”, though I admit that being older I am trapped in my nostalgic era, i.e., I do not really follow new entertainers (I was the last generation of the DVD) and I have my “go to favorites” and favorite actresses. Typically, ladies from the nineteen nineties to the early two-thousands typically fading away after Sasha Grey (who I was not much of a fan of, to be honest, though I do value her role as a symbolic figure who really inserted the “nihilistic rebellion” of female sexuality more so into mainstream pornography, thus being a catalyst for women’s empowerment to arguable degrees).
If I am following someone new it is typically the safe (and sensual) category of the “MILF”, because I think mature women are attractive. Yet, I am a straight guy, so… I accept porn as a part of life. A public utility. The right to get off, to get a dopamine or serotonin hit, to fantasize. Though the medium is argued as crude, such as what I’m reading in Angela Carter’s The Sadien Woman and the Ideology of Pornography, there is something philosophical about porn and I am not being purposely erudite (high-brow) by staying that. You can consider the act of watching porn as a type of therapy. A mediation between self, the content, and questions pertaining of gender and society at large (not to forget all the various intersections or race, culture, income, class, etc.). I can easily see how pornography could be some topic of a French Philosopher analyzing semiotics, objects in relation to other objects and how meanings are derived, hyper-reality, etc. Don DeLillo said it best in his 1985 work, White Noise, in which he stated, if my memory is correct, “that technology is lust removed from nature”. Porn is a part of the human species. From Stone Age carvings of voluptuous women as virility fetishes found in European cave dwellings such as the Venus of Willendorf, to Japanese elaborate paintings of Geisha (awkwardly engaging in acts with squids), to Greek tapestries with women dancing with dildos, porn has always been with us and will always be. To me shame, is childish. Shame is barbaric. Shame is a way of control for people to make it appear as if their self-ascribed morality is somehow higher than that of others, or a way to even guilt trip another. The sinister impression in which mainstream media tries to push relating to pornography as something sinister in nature, something to make one feel queasy (what I call the Cohen Brother’s aura, i.e., that strange feeling you get watching their films where you feel helpless) as preconceived notions are challenged, is so tiring to me. We’ve been through this. Grow up.
I support the idea of pornography because I figure so many bodies have been thrown at the medium that to reverse course would mean to bound the species into repeating what has already been done. Every set, every actor, and every release has a story – some good, some bad. Each person has a story with some being traumatic leading to catastrophe while others are inspiring and empowering. To erase all that would be erasing our growth at articulating and understanding pornography, and thus at understanding our species in how we cognitively process sex, insecurity, fear, gender dynamics, etc. From an American standpoint we’re already at point of “being over the hump”. We’re past the Brady Bunch fear. What comes around, goes around. Rome gave way to the Dark Ages and Christendom, and that led to the modernity, and then so forth, so forth, so forth, so why erase and start over just to erase what can be learned from all that has been done? I totally reject the Puritanical view to sex (though emotions and fidelity do matter and are important) and if anything, the Puritanical unrealistic view to understanding human nature, while also not creating healthy outlets for sex (with a gender equal viewpoint), created the problems their ideological “Moral Right” descendants still preach. Yet, isn’t it ironic that the Right Wing preaches all this morality, yet, on its fringes lies a regressive, violent, fascist element, where some, as in the case of Pauley Harker engage in porn?
If anything, porn has been a tool for progressive change such as forcing reflection regarding the patriarchal ego to accept that women can willingly and voluntarily participate in acts that are contrary to one’s own moral beliefs, to showcasing the reality that people of different races have always been sexual with each other, or there is the fact that pornography is parallel to mainstream culture in that pornography’s various eras memorialize music, fashion, politics, etc. Pornography is like a cartoonish, visceral, hardcore, Precambrian mirror image of what is pent up on the surface above. It is similar to the medium of comedy in that comedy points out things that are obvious or analyzes possibilities which might not be so obvious, yet either/or, shocks the standard discourse, thus generating laughter, i.e., comedy like pornography, shocks us into our realness, hence once could say both have slight nihilistic tendencies, yet, what one calls nihilism, once can also argue as being something to nirvana (embracing impermanence, so we value our temporary time here in the living realm).
The urges that humans feel is eternal and complex. I would be lying to you if I did not state that I have not enjoyed watching pornography and I know quite a bit about it, similarly to how some people know about baseball statistics. It’s not a revolution thing to say. It’s casual sometimes, yet, a private thing. The history of porn in the USA spans from the seedy nickelodeons of the early twentieth century, to the stag films or post-war soft BDSM of Betty Paige in the forties and nineteen fifties, to New York amateur films of nineteen seventies New York, to the birth of the Hollywood-like productions of the seventies to the eighties (Deep Throat, The Devil In Miss Jones), to the invention of gonzo in the early nineties by John Stalgiano, to mid to late nineteen nineties “shock” Jerry Springer-esque Baywatch knock off exploitation genre such as that of JM Productions (always with a golem of a man bedding a double D platinum blonde model for the construction crew construct of American masculinity), to the zenith of the Golden Era with models like Jenna Jameson or Brianna Banks, to the early two-thousands Jackass-like WWE sex-competition style of porn with young women raised on Britney Spears (the hubris of unfettered capitalism of the early Bush Era translating into the proletariat aspiring for a better life in the shadows of the Hollywood Hills and Paris Hilton), to the quasi avant-garde movement with Sasha Grey’s reading of existentialism coinciding with a generation of millennials – the first generation raised with social media – free from college and living in cities during a Recession (living their own HBO drama series), to the Alt Witchy scene of Joanna Angel, to the acceptance of BDSM after the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey (popularizing sites such as Kink), to the full actualization of democratized pornography with the invention of Hubs, Only Fans, “Link in Bio” within Instagram pages, etc., I’ve seen it all.
It is a personal and entertaining thing that people watch for an array of reasons from dealing with stress, dealing with horniness, boredom, curiosity, etc. Yet, America does still have a childish Brady Bunch morality relating to it, which is hypocritical considering the “mainstream economy” has used sexuality to push products for the capitalist machine. If anything conservatism is highly lowkey sexual, I mean just see all the IG bikini cowgirl models with Bible quotes shooting guns and still hung up that Obama won and who praise Trump.
I can honestly state that pornography helped me grow, but I do respect and like that it is “over there”, i.e., it’s not something I’m in but somewhere that I can travel to. Raised a Christian Protestant and made to feel guilty about sexual urges for fear damnation, to overcoming my young twenty’s feelings of misogyny as I learned to appreciate feminism (non-cringe), to simply learning to mind my own business and understand that people have their own preferences which might not be mine (yet, I have my own) but if there’s consent, safety, and pleasure, then go at it, have fun.
There are many strong women in the porn industry I respect such as legendary Nina Hartley, Joanna Angel, Ginger Lynn (who overcame a lot of personal trauma), etc. The types I would like to talk to about life in general rather that turning them into a sexual object. Women are more than sex, but sex being a straight male from them, is a joy. A real man accepts and acknowledges this. Yet, it seems that sex, being something that all humans crave, typically drowns out the more pressing issues at hand regarding feminism on an international scale, e.g., with the internet being global, the Western viewpoint of pornography which might be more nuanced, might not translate well to developing nations under the yoke of patriarchy which does use violence. For example, what a Western woman might find appealing might be helping to oppress women in developing nations living under older notions of gender roles, yet, this is not the Western woman’s fault, but just a reality of the complexity of the diverse world we live in.
But to the point of this paper. I was reading the news and saw a curious case about a male porn star who was caught in a gun running Neo Nazi ring in which this ring was plotting to kill Black Lives Matter protestors. Even if you do not personally agree with BLM (why you would not is beyond me), we must remember that Nazism is not only racist towards anyone not white (it’s pretty brutal towards white people as well considering the Nazis murdered plenty Germans and other Europeans) but is also sexist/misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-free speech, anti-art, etc.
According to Joseph Wilkerson (2021) of New York Daily News, Paul Kryscuk, a male pornstar was arrested on interstate gun trafficking charges in a ring with three US Marines, in which Kryscuk, held video tapped training sessions near his Boise, Idaho home depicting themselves saying “Heil Hitler” under a Black Sun flag. I heard this story when it came out, but it faded away, but surfing around online, I stumbled upon a video by a site called “Abuse Her”. Not my type of stuff. It is pretty messed up content to be honest and I am surprised it is online. Women are spit upon, gagged, throw up in dog bowls, inserted roughly, slapped, choked, cry, etc.
Seeing people broken is not pleasurable. It is sadistic. Yet, has sadism from males become this sort of “top shelf” drug for some females? One way domination is not too appealing, personally. Sex is a symbiosis; however, I do feel that being men, there is a psychological satisfaction in slight dominance, i.e., leading the way. This site is like another borderline illegal series called Slap Happy featuring Brandon Irons who was known for his indifference and misogynistic comments. The genre of “revenge porn” is not something that I never got into, though I understand it has a following across genders. Morals aside, it is not my thing. Even the simulation of assault is unacceptable. To me, the angry “revenge” notion of porn is something a guy might go through in his twenties as he tries to succeed with the opposite sex (and fails), but it is something that one should grow out of, but even so, this level of content is unacceptable. It might also be something that women desire because the arena of pornography being a controlled spaces, lets women simulate something in a controllable way, they fear they might be exposed to without consent.
What is sad about Abuse Her is… these actresses, who are of all races and religions, probably had no clue about Paul Kryscuk political beliefs, and honestly were probably indifferent to varying degree, since pornography is about money mostly. Being a guy, I know the spectrum of men and there are a lot of dirt-bags out there, ladies. Straight up. Men who simply hate, mock, and disrespect women. However, I do understand that getting experiences is a part of the formula. But Paul Kryscuk not only performed with the stereotypical “fresh off the bus” type of model new to Los Angeles, but he worked with veteran actresses such as Nina Hartley who is Jewish.
But a Neo Nazi roughly having anal sex and ejaculating on women’s faces, particularly in content that is depicting male dominance and shaming women… is just sad, honestly. It is easy to blame the men collectively as being soulless, and for those with “souls” to be “simps” “betas”, etc., but f-cking ex-convicts with some skills at video editing (with notable spider web tattoos over their elbows), shows how indifferent people are, including the women. It would be easy to say this is all an example of patriarchy, but we must remember that these women voluntarily participated in this content, knowing the impact on the perception of females, feminism, etc. This is where the curiosity comes from, I believe when many people watch porn, but I am speaking for myself (but maybe you can relate). They (I) are asking themselves (myself) why? They ask themselves this to understand to toughen their mindset from chaos. Sure, not every woman has to be a feminist if she does not want to. Sure, actors are not responsible for the political beliefs of content creators or consumers, but still… at the end of the day, these men, particularly this Neo Nazi was able continue old legacy of white supremacy, i.e., white male entitlement regardless of how regressive their beliefs are, to have the pleasure of women of all races without criticism (though if people of other colors do the same thing the behavior is stigmatized), while also making most of the profits. These profits in this case likely were going towards supporting an underground economy of illegal guns meant for the purpose of killing liberals, progressives, leftists, minorities, etc. It sounds like Zoolander, but this is no laughing matter. It reminds me of the action movie Heat in which a character who is a Neo Nazi, murders a black sex worker after having sex with her.
Paul Kryscuk is the epitome of white supremacy, white cynicism, and white privilege, and he was able to be in an industry that attracts many young women – for various reasons, e.g., economic reasons, life experiences, etc., – on the notion of sexual feminism. Is sexual feminism exposing the people it claims to be supporting to mockery at the hands of people who outside of porn want to commit racial, sexual, religious, and gender-oriented violence? Granted, I do understand that I am attacking a broad concept by calling out sexual feminism in this specific regard. Many sex-positive feminists are adamant about self-respect. So, who I am angry at here?
I think it is more so anger at our society at large with it being a capitalist system that breeds disparity but also breeds insecurity as people are brainwashed into conspicuous consumption, seeing it as a gauge of economic mobility, yet this same capitalist system appropriates concepts like sexual feminism (of any counter culture) to hide its inherently exploitative core. I am sure there are many people who would do sex work for free, but to be honest, most do it for money. Money that is going towards expensive college education in a system where Big Business requires people to obtain it without Big Business offering much assistance. The money is going towards inflated real estate prices propped up by Central Banks, speculators, and gentrification. The money is going towards helping loved ones who might not have great healthcare insurance. The money is going towards feeding children in which women and/or couples (including men) do not have access to reproductive health/family planning services. But the money is also going to waste. Waste on items that lose value the moment they are purchased and in many cases were created from exploited labor elsewhere.
But, as a reminder, I am not shaming women.
Have we become so nihilistic and indifferent as a society that actors like Kryscuk can snake their way into arenas perceived as more liberal in nature and exploit others? I hate to write this as if I am shaming women, but women are past the point of ignorance or “I just didn’t know”. Kryscuk and his gang were spotted observing Black Lives Matter protests in Boise and this was during a time in the nation when extremist groups such as Boogaloo murdered two law enforcement officers, a militia in Michigan attempted a kidnapping on the female Governor, rising levels of hate crimes, etc. It seems our hyper capitalist, overly cerebral, interconnected reality has created something akin to the sinister tone underneath the seemingly comedic vibe of a postmodern author. We live in complete chaos, yet it is a chaos of necessity, in that people are doing what they have to do to survive in constructed systems built on exploiting us all. Humans laboring to survive in an indifferent world who barter our own integrity to get by in a country of abhorrent wealth disparity, corporatism, draconian law and order, gentrification, etc., but it all distills in culture wars, thus disuniting the proletariat. I do not blame women, but I do admit that it is incredibly sad.
But what I mean by sadness is not some emotion response, but rather something that reminds me at least that we truly are in a void. Some sort of plane between things that is beyond our mental comprehension. “Meat puppets”, biological robots, with the capacity to feel, who might back to the conclusion that we aren’t simply slaves to ourselves in a cold vast universe, feeding off each other’s energy, because we’re “sad”. Something I feel Rush Cohle from True Detective might muse on.
I see Abuse Her.com as a detriment to women’s empowerment, all the hard work, etc. There is this notion that fantasy is not reality, but the truth is fantasy is inescapable from reality. No matter how existential, angry, nihilistic, empowered a person is on their ‘do what thy whilst’ journey, the individual, in this case the performer regardless of gender or orientation, has no control over how people will see them and usurp their value for their own purposes. A person can literally be masturbating to a woman for free and still vote for initiatives that enslaves her.
Yet, what I have come to realize is that women to an extent see such degrading content as…empowering. Some sort of challenge against their worst fear, their philosophical and ideological antagonist. It’s not only a challenge but also a reverse sort of psychological warfare through a moral dilemma back into the face of those who watch it.
To be honest one reason I watch porn is to toughen myself up. But I do consider it as art whether it be a fun film set on some B-cult classic knock off or sci-fi oriented movie, to something that is truly well-written and thought provoking. Something private. Something for adults that adults can handle. It is odd I know to admit this, but to me it is as if I like to ponder that a person, I see on screen could be any person walking by me in the real world. What is funny is, this is the case. There is something empowering and progressive to know that this person on film is a person elsewhere. They have dreams, goals, aspirations. They are more dimensional than just a sex object, and as a result it humanizes the experience for me. I empathize and respect. Part of me wants to say to a female performer, is “I don’t judge you. If anything, you helped me grow”.
But what this Neo Nazi situation means to me is that the sex industry needs to be normalized. The more normalized it becomes the safer of a space it becomes. People can be better vetted for their personal beliefs. Revenues can be better taxed to help society. I have heard stories from strippers saying they cannot buy a house since banks want to see pay stubs and many establishments do not give checks, but it is all cash. This is a problem. Considering taxpayers bailed out banks but banks oddly still shame sex workers on the lowkey. Hub sites should pay performers for residuals. If a million people even pay one penny for a watch, and that video gets a million views, that could translate to income for past performers at $10,000.00. The imagine investing that money in a trust fund with compound interest. The industry should have criminal background investigations (I am sure the standard studios do), on top of contract agreements where racism, sexism, etc., are banned and violation means disbarment from work, and such individuals would be ousted though the social grapevine. Yet, for modern content creators out there, I want to say that I do respect you, but you do have great power, so protect yourself and vet those who give the privilege of your bodies.
Understanding issues facing African American Owned Businesses from Brand-Image to the Supply Chain
Applying Quality Management to African American Businesses
MGMT 691 Graduate Capstone Proposal
By Quinton M. Mitchell
M.S. Management (Operations Management) 2018
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Worldwide Campus)
The purpose of this research paper is to (1) Explore any limitations to branding products or services created by African Americans as Black-Owned by conducting a literature review which analyzes scholars who argue for and against segregated economies, i.e., protected enclaves; (2) Understand consumer behavior differences between African Americans and other groups by understanding theories such as the Customized Communication Incongruity Theory by Arora & Wu (2012) and Socialization Theory by Ward (1987); (3) Explore how marketing and advertising affects African Americans and how diverse/positive marketing campaigns improves black success; (4) To show positive gains within the African American community but also to explore the hindrances to African American economic productivity such as higher insurance costs, lack of capital markets, sensitivity to economic conditions, etc., and (5) Discuss Supply Chain issues in African American businesses by using black-owned breweries for a test industry to implement concepts just as strategic alliances, best practices and/or to emulate practices such as those used by Japanese Keiretsu.
Table of Contents
Managerial Problem stated as a Research Question…………………………….…….5
To open the community or to close off the community?……………………………7-10
The underlying psychology of branding and marketing pertaining to African Americans…………………………………………………………………….10-12
Disparities between African American Owned Business and White Owned Businesses……………………………………………………………………12-16
How African Americans respond to brand image & issues regarding advertising and media portrayals…………………………………………………………………………….16-20
African Americans in the Supply Chain & the need for Strategic Alliances or Joint Ventures………………………………………………………………………………20-32
Is the Japanese Keiretsu model appropriate for African American Breweries? ….33-39
Figure 1. 2017 Top Black Owned Businesses by Black Enterprises…………….22
Figure 2. Michael Porter’s (1979) Five Force of Competition…….………………32
Figure 3. Zaibatsu vs Keiretsu by Yonekura (1985), cited by Grabowiecki (2012) …………33
Figure 4. Theoretical Model for African American Brewery Consolidation………36
Keywords: African American, #business, #behavior
Managerial Problem stated as a Research Question:
Does the resurgence of labeling products as “Black Owned” has its limitations? Should African American owned businesses think bigger and take a risk by creating brand campaigns that targets a larger non-race specific consumer base? Should smaller African American owned firms join forces through concepts such as strategic alliances, joint-ventures, or even the Japanese concept of Keiretsu? Is it safe to view the black community as a singular entity, or does a complex intersectionality exists within the black-community, and, if so, which ideology, or which marriage of ideologies, is more effective at achieving sustained success for African Americans? In addition, can the establishment of a supply-chain network between African American owned businesses help improve visibility of brands, maximize economies-of-scale, improve service/item quality or value, and increase profitability?
African-American in business have a long history in the United States ranging from entrepreneurs or CEOs who have gone to build empires or sustain already established business empires; to running established firms who have made catered services and products towards African-Americans and the world at large, and the number of African-Americans winning managerial positions in name-brand American firms since the Civil Rights movement. Yet, Black-Owned businesses faces a plethora of issues ranging from access to credit, the risk-reward aspect of certain industries, and the fact that African-Americans, as with most Americans, have benefited positively from, while also being negatively impacted by the effects of globalism, the loss of labor protection, the hyper-competition of corporate multi-national companies.
In addition, Gillian B. White (2017) wrote an article that noted black CEO representation peaked in 2007 but has been slowly dwindling due to removal or retirement. As a result, I am arguing that black-owned businesses who market their products as “black owned” instead should market their products towards all consumers, regardless of the self-empowered notion of supporting black-owned businesses, because the level of product visibility and profitability will increase. Essentially, be black-owned, sure, and be proud of that, but market and win customers regardless of who they are. However, this paper is not an indictment of Black-Owned branding, but rather an argument that the call for branding products as such should of course be from a sense of empowerment, but not to the extreme of exclusivity which could have detrimental effects on capital accumulation and distribution of profits amongst the community. Why have one market, when you can compete with larger companies in multiple markets? To support Black-owned businesses and possibly improve the quality-of-life of certain African American communities, thinking bigger and expanding consumer bases can increase African American economic prosperity. For example, we know that Toyota is a brand of cars that is obviously made in Japan, and the brand is synonymous with quality, but the Japanese benefit from a clever branding strategy where the products does the talking for the culture. The goal of this paper is to provide recommendations to assist black-owned businesses, not from a stance of exclusion, but rather to further normalize products for all consumers regardless of race.
II. Research Activity:
A brief background into African American business ownership from a historical perspective will be presented. In addition, a historical view of race-centric marketing will be presented to strengthen the premise that race and marketing are often in unison. This historical perspective will lead up to my initial business problems facing the community and then I will follow up on conceptual ideas that could generate benefits. Giving dues when needed to the current landscape, I will then offer my recommendation for focusing on brand-image marketed towards a diverse consumer base, which in my opinion, can increase black economic output without labeling itself as “black-owned”, but if a firm decides to brand themselves as black-owned, which is justified considering the complex history of the United States, then there needs to be a strategic re-training of the thought process to challenge oneself to expand what new markets black Americans can or should participate in. Qualitative research will then be discussed to link the marketing of brands to the importance of the supply-chain.
Finally, a summary of the supply-chain as far as key aspects will be discussed and then I will construct a conceptual supply-chain or strategic alliance theory in which an African American business owner could formulate strategic ideas. The goal of this project is to emphasis strategic-thinking while loosely threading upon the quality management philosophies of early scholars such as Deming, Juran, and Crosby, to get Black-owned business owners to think more expansionist-minded, while simultaneously being inclusive towards all communities.
IV. Literature Review
A. To open the community or to close off the community?
Cummings (1999) presents a study comparing African American entrepreneurs conducting business in the ghetto’s protected- market versus the suburbs or larger Metropolitan Statistical Areas and argues that African American firms outperform when operating in larger non-segregated environments. Cummings (1999) provides a qualitative and quantitative study regarding the flaws of racially-segregated economies by touching upon the enclave-theory and protected market theory by referencing researchers such as Drake & Clayton (1945), Cummings (1980), and Light & Rosenthein (1995). In the study, Cummings (1999) states, “Although racial segregation may be a prime factor promoting ethnic and enclave enterprise, it simultaneously undermines business growth and development”. In addition, Cummings (1999) shares findings from Brimmer and Terrell (1971) who states that African American entrepreneurs who depend upon a segregated-protected market have high potential for failure. Moreover, when faced with desegregation and group dispersion, businesses that depend exclusively upon an enclave market are likely to fail (Brimmer and Terrell, 1971).
Rueben & Queen (2015) studied how African American owned businesses suffer adversely from unequal access to capital markets and the prevalence of institutional barriers. Although not universally appreciated, African Americans have a long history of entrepreneurial achievements against odds. African Americans are more likely to start a business, yet, are less likely to succeed (Rueben & Queen 2015). Rueben & Queen (2015) stated that the success of minority businesses to employ more workers and raise the productivity of workers is essential to U.S. economic growth, considering the U.S. labor forecasts (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012, as cited by Rueben & Queen 2015), the 2025– 2050 outlook on the U.S. labor market is expected to grow slowly with most of growth coming from 55 million by minorities and immigrant workers. Further, despite these increases in the number of African American owned firms, African American entrepreneurs tend to participate in industry sectors with less capital requirements for start-up and expansion. However, some of these industries have lower revenue streams. Yet, when African American entrepreneurs operate in high revenue generating industries, their average annual revenue and average annual payroll per employee are significantly lower than their white counterparts (Rueben & Queen 2015).
The yearning to empower black businesses has led to a conflict in policy ideologies as presented by Cummings (1999). The enclave economy theory alludes to the positive outcomes associated with racially or ethnically segregated communities, but considering the criticisms presented by Tabb (1970) such as (1) smaller markets, (2) lower income consumers, (3) higher insurance rates, (4) inability to access credit, (5) higher rates of theft, and (6) limited access to capital, there are parties at be that wish to open the black community to larger markets but from the stance of community re-invigoration, yet not entirely from a segregated mentality. According to Cummings (1999), community-based development initiatives are activities inspired by or aimed at service social groups in a locality. In addition, community-based development initiatives also refer to those efforts organized by people who share a common urban geography (Blakely 1994).
Strategies that come from inwardly focused values and not economic realities are likely not going to make a competitive advantage (Barney & Hesterly, 2015, p 6). This touches upon my argument regarding the general trend in the growth – as far as a calling or social justice movement – of marketing products or services as Black-owned. There is nothing wrong with this, yet there are many assumptions and a diversity of ulterior motives that can occur when there is a calling for a segregate mentality. Such as, considering the social nature of human beings when classified, there can be a limit on the expressive modes – which can be profitable – that a group feels they can participate in. I call this a “culture-trap”, in which the standard or traditional culture is such a firm aspect of identity, that deviating to innovate for an individual, can have detrimental social and psychological effects. In addition, this “culture-trap” not only limits innovation, it can lead to issues such as brain-drain (when intellectuals leave the community in order to associate themselves with more supportive individuals), attrition (leaving the community), and the recycling effect of standard discourses when relating to issues effecting a community. Also, there have been clear examples of black-on-black business crimes or political corruption, in which the culprits have often used the calling for black segregation for their own financial and personal gains.
There seems to be a standard agreed upon set of values for African-Americans when consciously entering the business arena, i.e., a sense of liberation and self-empowerment, and although these yearnings are noble and arguably justified considering the sociopolitical and economic truths of African-American culture (slavery, segregation, red-lining, police profiling, etc.), yet the ultimate goal is, of course, to empower the group, yet it has to be based inevitably on an open-market, non-exclusive long-term agenda – with active but non-exclusive black participation – where products or services are focused on the bottom-line of profitability, penetrating new markets (both physical, i.e., foreign countries, but also unrealized cultural markets, i.e., cultural facets of American culture with black participation but that aren’t associated with black cultural as a whole) and the realization of a multicultural globalist reality based on a post-racialist idea or aspiration.
However, the claims provided by Cummings (1999), Rueben and Queen (2015), and Tabb (1970) are rebutted by Chaplain (2012) who argues that integration has destroyed the black economy. The black community lacked the requisite socio-cultural characteristics to develop a robust entrepreneurial tradition and, second, that integration, as an independent variable, destroyed black-owned business. Chapin (2012) studies the affects of government regulations which highly curtailed African American business growth and this provides more historical background on my study. Since insurance is a major part of entrepreneurship and running a business, Chapin (2012) study can shed light on the emotional reasons many African Americans are compelled to market their goods as black-owned and might give credence to the calling for black separatism. Yet, a major focus for business ownership growth and development in the African American community must be on the strategic expansion of the employer firms (Rueben & Queen 2015).
Chaplin (2012) seems to be of the vein of intellectuals who argue segregation as a benefit to African-Americans; however, Chaplin (2012) is sensitive to history, and only seems to be basing his premise on the fact that systemic injustice such as a society built on “white Affirmative-Action” had a detrimental effect on blacks, even though black communities formulated under this system and showed signs of progress. Yet, Cummings (1999) study on the undermining of business growth and Rueben & Queen (2015) study which shed light on the future growth of minority groups in the United States, I feel that there is a calling for creating a black-owned business mentality, yet, there is also the need for it not be exclusive. Essentially, we need more entrepreneurs and businesses owners, but the underlying motivation must be global and catering towards all people.
B. The underlying psychology of branding and marketing pertaining to African Americans
Jeffrey Steven Padoshen (2008) presents a compelling study into how African Americans value and apprise goods based off unique characteristics of their community. As “minority” groups such as African Americans and Latinos grow in overall proportion to America as a whole, particular attention must be placed on the understanding of their consumption characteristics (Padoshen, 2008). Padoshen (2008) presents a study that investigates word-of-mouth and brand loyalty within the context of durable-goods purchases in the African American community to see if there are effects on purchase decisions when a supplier was at one time linked to the slave trade, and if there’s a preference for purchasing products which come from black-owned companies. Padoshen (2008) provides a historical background into African American communication by referencing Thorp & Williams (2001) who argued that African American uprooting from their African homeland destroyed the means of communication. Further, Padoshen (2008) references Harris-Lacwell (2004) & Gothard (2001) who argued that oral-storytellers remedied these severed means of communications (Thorp &Williams, 2001) within the black community. Padoshen (2008) references Gothard (2001), Thorp & Williams (2001), & Harris-Lacwell (2004), & Miller & Kemp (2005) many times throughout his insightful study. Both Gothard (2001) and Miller & Kemp (2005) defined word-of-mouth communication within the context of the African American community – a major part of African American culture – as having four (4) distinct elements, which is trust, respect, open-voice, and black-to-black communication.
According to Padoshen (2008), African American culture is one in which greater distinctions are made between outsiders and insiders compared to Anglo-American culture (de Mooij, 1998) and significant weight is attached to personal qualities. For many African Americans, premium brand names and symbols are mechanisms that reflect the hard and long portrayal of higher aspirations (Miller and Kemp, 2005). Further, Miller & Kemp (2005) speaks into how African-Americans favor brand-names because it is reflecting a “badge” or “badge of honor”, particularly for a group who was largely relegated to be an outsider, thus, wearing brand-names helps to include these people into the overall larger culture. In addition, Padoshen (2008) states that African Americans have indicated that when purchasing automobiles, brand nameplate, looks and style are more important in their purchase decision than safety when compared to Anglo Americans (Packaged Facts, 2006).
Padoshen (2008) references one of his prior studies (Padoshen & Hunt, 2006) to support his claim that historical treatment of African Americans, similar that of Jews who suffered under the Holocaust, can have generational effects when buying products from sources who are equates with supporting or benefiting from the systemic injustices that kept that their people subjugated. The most important finding of Padoshen (2008) finding is that, African Americans indicate that they are no more trusting of the advice they receive in comparison with that of Anglo Americans. Padoshen (2008) research is an exceptional example of the dilemma facing most African Americans in my opinion, which is that studies – even if objective without any sort of racial bias – assumes a distinct racial and sociopolitical characteristic than that from the larger culture they are technically a part of. This bias, even if assumed on noble grounds to prevent an issue such as systemic injustice, can never lead to a full understanding of human nature. Essentially, we can define a group up to a point, but can never fully know a group, or even a group understanding itself entirely, which isn’t a bad thing – from a business perspective, this is new unrealized markets and ways towards profitability.
C. Disparities between African American Owned Business and White Owned Businesses
Tang & Smith (2013) conducted a study that researched African American business disparity in comparison with White-owned businesses regarding market segmentation, product differentiation, and competition, but their findings suggested that the difference was not statistically significant. Tang & Smith (2013) studied the largest African-American owned employer firms from 1998-2008, as published in Black Enterprise Magazine, in which businesses on the list must be at least 51 percent African American-owned if a private company, or African Americans must own at least 51 percent of the controlling shares if the company is publicly traded and be willing to voluntarily provide financial data. Yet, Tang & Smith (2013) admits a bias in their research as far as selection of candidates from the Black Enterprise Magazine, in that some of the firms on the list may be “front companies”, in that they are non-African American owned but registered as such and that certain actual African-American owned firms may not have given up financial data to maintain a non-disclosure position. From personal experience in government and corporate procurement, where seeking minority, woman-owned, or general small (no-racial assignment) businesses is a goal, I have found this misrepresentation of classification as something endemic in the procurement field.
Tang & Smith (2013) utilized a contingency (environmental)-view to study Black business disparity when compared to White-owned businesses, in which they cite Aldrich’s (1979) definition of a contingency-view as explaining variations in firm performance from the interaction of the organization and environment, in which environments affect firms through the process of making or withholding resources, and the top three environmental contingencies are complexity, volatility, and munificence. Munificence is defined as very liberal in giving or bestowing or characterized by great liberality or generosity (Munificent, n.d.). Tang & Smith (2013), summarizes their utilization of the contingency (environmental influenced)-view, by saying, “When the rest of America catches a cold, Black America gets the flu. In other words, declines and dips in environmental variables like income, GDP, and labor supply will have a greater negative impact on black businesses. The number and type of contingent environmental factors able to influence the performance of established African American firms is undoubtedly numerous.”
A large motivator in conducting their research, Tang & Smith (2013) cited Fairlie & Robb (2012) who stated that it is estimated that closing the revenue gap between minority and non-minority owned businesses would add $2.5 trillion to the US economic output, creating 11.8 more jobs in America; Fairlie & Robb (2008) who stated that performance disparity might stem from issues of start-up capital, owner’s education level, and prior business experience, and Keollinger et al (2007) who stated that African-Americans have lower personal wealth, greater difficulty in obtaining financing, less education, and lack of entrepreneurial legacy. Further, Tang & Smith (2013) cited research by Puryear et al. (2001) which found that African-American owned businesses were the only minority group to report medium gross sales significantly lower than their white comparison sample, and African-American businesses where the least success as rated by their owners. In addition, Tang & Smith (2013) states that some of the studies pertaining to performance disparity between African-American and majority-owned firms, focus almost exclusively on sale proprietors or entrepreneurial firms undergoing the start-up stage (e.g. Buckley, 2002; Puryear et al, 2001; Richtermeyer, 2002); However, the focus on more established business will likely shift from overcoming liability of newness and survivability to concepts such as market segmentation, product differentiation, and competition as the business moves through the typical life-cycle (Hofer, 1975 – as cited by Tang & Smith, 2013).
Overall, Tang & Smith (2013) concluded that (1) the complexity and volatility associated with one of the most difficult US business environments since the 1940s (the Global Recession, in my own words) may increase the performance disparity between established African American and White-owned firms; (2) that existing knowledge about African American entrepreneurial firm performance may not transfer to larger, more established African American businesses; (3) their findings do not suggest that emerging African American firms should avoid entering complex and volatile industries;(4) emerging African American businesses often operate in industries that are more favorable, marked by less complexity and volatility such as construction, wholesale trade, and manufacturing (US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, 2011), but these industries are characterized as relatively low growth industries (Tang & Smith, 2013); (5) a “strategic choice” approach would imply that despite unfavorable industry characteristics, African American businesses may be able to actively shape their future and control their environment (Child, 1972), responding to threats and opportunities created by environmental change by altering organizational strategies in ways that enhance performance (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978; Porter, 1980). The task for African American businesses then becomes developing the capabilities or distinctive competencies needed to overcome isolating mechanisms and mitigate industry conditions (Tang & Smith, 2013).
It is on black community-leaders to be open-minded (challenging the culture-trap I referred to earlier and opening new ways of thinking, while community member simultaneously keep open-minds as to not be lead to narratives which might not account for the entire truth) considering Thorps & Williams (2001) claim that authentic leaders who “tell it like it is” have strong community influence as cited by Padoshen (2006); in the African-American community, greater distinctions are made between outsiders and insiders with weight attached to personal qualities (de Mooji, 1998 – as cited by Padoshen, 2008); brand names and symbols are signifiers of higher aspirations and are considered badges-of-honor (Miller & Kemp, 2005 – as cited by Padoshen, 2008), so much so that safety – at least relating to automobile purchases – is largely a non-impactful decision (Packaged Facts, 2006 – as cited by Padoshen, 2008); African-Americans are no more trusting than Anglo-Americans (Padoshen, 2008); closing the revenue-gap between whites and blacks would add $2.5 trillion to the US economic output (Fairlie & Robb, 2012 – as cited by Tang &Smith, 2013); African-Americans have lower personal wealth, greater difficulty in obtaining financing, less education, and lack of entrepreneurial legacy (Keollinger et al, 2007 – as cited by Tang & Smith, 2013); more established firms will shift from survivability and newness to market segmentation, product differentiation, and competitions (Hofer, 1975 – as cited by Tang & Smith, 2013); information on African-American start-up and entrepreneurial performance many not reach established African-American firms, the Global Recession had a negative impact on the African-American community, and African-American firms often operate in less volatile or complex industries with relatively slow growth (Tang & Smith, 2013; US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, 2011), yet, these unfavorable characteristics – speaking to volatile and complex markets – may be able to actively shape African-Americans futures (Childs, 1972 – as cited by Tang & Smith); the black church, barber-shop and beauty salons and other informal settings fosters open interaction (Gothard, 2001; Harris-Lacewell, 2004 & Miller & Kemp, 2004 – as cited by Padoshen, 2006 and 2008).
V. How African Americans respond to brand image & issues regarding advertising and media portrayals
Kristen Bialik (2018) of the Pew Research Center, noted that (1) more than 40 million blacks live in the United States, making up around 13% of the nation’s population according to 2016 Census Bureau estimates (US Census Bureau, 2016); (2) The share of blacks ages 25 and older who have completed four years of college or more has also roughly doubled during that span, from 12% in 1993 to 24% in 2017 (United States Census Bureau, 2017); (3) There were 4.2 million black immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, up from 816,000 in 1980, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data, and recent growth in the black immigrant population has been fueled by African migration at 39% of the overall black immigrant population in 2016, up from 24% in 2000, but about half of all foreign-born blacks (49%) living in the U.S. in 2016 were from the Caribbean (Lopez & Radford, 2017, as cited by Bialik, 2018); (4) the wealth gap between blacks and whites decreased among lower-income families but increased among middle-income families. The Great Recession of 2007-2009 triggered a stark decline in wealth for U.S. families and further widened the already large wealth gap between white and black households (Konchhar & Cilluffo, 2017); (5) There has been a steady increase in the share of Americans who view racism as a big problem in the U.S. – especially among African Americans since 2009, when Barack Obama was elected. In 2017, about eight-in-ten blacks (81%) said racism is a big problem in society today, up from 44% eight years prior. By comparison, about half of whites (52%) said racism is a big problem in our society, up from 22% in 2009 (Neal, 2017), and (6) An overwhelming majority of blacks (92%) say whites benefit at least a fair amount from advantages that blacks do not have. This includes nearly seven-in-ten blacks (68%) who say whites benefit a great deal. By comparison, 46% of whites say whites benefit at least a fair amount from advantages in society that blacks do not have, with just 16% saying whites benefit a great deal (Oliphant, 2017).
Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010) conducted a study based off a survey sample pool from an online panel of more than three million consumers in the U.S. where the pool was stated as being generally reflective of the overall American consumer base – seeking equal representation among factors such as gender equality and educational attainment, although the sample relating to African Americans had more African American female respondents and when relating to Hispanic Americans had more younger male Hispanic respondents. Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010) then compared global brand recognition among diverse ethnic groups by basing their main concerns on Phinney’s (1996) definition of ethnicity and his first aspect of ethnicity which is cultural values, attitudes, and behaviors of groups.
Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010) drew conclusions based from survey data analysis and a structural equation model which suggests that associations with global brands as a general category vary across ethnic groups, such as Caucasian consumers showing less of an appreciation of global brands, whereas African Americans and Hispanics show similar patterns to those of prior research such as that of O’Hara (1987) who suggests African Americans & Hispanics have more similarities to markets in lesser developed nations; the research of Alden, Steenfamp, and Batra (1999) who posited that most global brand findings are based on cross-national samples and that the global brand effect is particularly strong in less developed countries, and the research of Darley & Johnson (1993) who presented that African American marketplace behavior and attitudes toward advertising reflect those observed in less developed countries in Africa and Asia, including more positive attitude towards globalization. Furthermore, Dimofte, Johansoon, Bagozzi (2010), states, “U.S. consumers tend to be more diverse than in most mature market economies, with large ethnic-based market segments”, thus enabling Dimofte, Johansoon & Bagozzi (2010) to identify potential differences between Caucasian Americans and ethnic minority market segments.
Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010), understanding the complex issues with gathering, organizing, defining, and measuring global brand research, admits that research on global brands is more limited (Keller, 2007). Minority groups are young on average than the rest of the U.S. population and thus are more attractive to marketers (Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi 2010). Further, O’Hara (1987) & Pitts et al. (1989) as cited by Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010) states that African American segment has long been of special interest to marketers, with products adapted for their special needs, especially in cosmetics, personal care products, food, and print media.
Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010) indicates that it is generally accepted that consumption behavior, especially a conspicuous brand choice, is to some extent reflective of individual identity and social aspirations, thus, choice of brand especially for product categories with social visibility, constitutes an expression of identity and achievement, or, in other words, self-expressive markers and identity forgers considering global-brands are well-known and widely recognized, which thus makes them more adept and effective at service a social function. Overall, Dimofte, Johansoon, & Bagozzi (2010) summarizes African American and Hispanics generally favored globalization; Caucasians did not think that global brands had higher quality, but Caucasians did feel global brands had consistent quality; African Americans and Hispanics perceive the prices of global brands as higher, but all three groups show a cognitive consistency that global brand is a relevant attribute, and that African Americans and Hispanics favor higher quality although the sale of higher quality goods are best marketed when the aspiration-factor is implied and not emphasized.
Arora & Wu (2012) conducted a study that researched how positive and negative stereotypes were found to impact ad-evoked feeling and brand equity, by theorizing that stereotypes through print advertising generates Customized Communication Incongruity. The results of the study conducted by Arora & Wu (2012) concluded that for positive stereotypes, both males and females prefer positive stereotypes, and positive stereotypes influenced ad-evoked feelings that influenced brand equity for both genders. Further, the Arora & Wu (2012) study concluded that brand loyalty and perceived quality dimensions of consumer-based brand equity were not significantly impacted by negative ad-evoked feelings, with males more agreeable of negative stereotype advertising than females, but both genders still generated negative ad-evoked feelings. The simplest way to summarize Arora & Wu’s (2012) theory of Customized Communication Incongruity, is when an individual sees an advertising that results in a mismatch or distortion of values or expectations. Thus, their study relating to racial stereotype-based advertising is meant to study how people react to media that is arguably stereotypical, and whether this response has effects on brand-value.
The Customized Communication Incongruity Theory by Arora & Wu (2012) builds off schema-based research provided Leoff (2002) who suggested that ads that do no match advertising expectations are more likely to draw consumers’ attention and proceed more extensively than ads that match advertising expectations, thus providing a way for brands to stand out. Advertisers have a strong influence on shaping consumer perceptions as advertisements can either help eradicate the negative perceptions of African Americans, or they can facilitate pervasive stereotypes, which may increase racism (Arora & Wu, 2012). In other words, ad campaigns that break stereotypes can spur continued interests. Arora & Wu (2012) cited Stevenson & Swayne (2011) whose research suggested that as of the late 90s, there were a small percentage of black models used in in magazine advertisements when compared to the general population. Further, Arora & Wu (2012) cites Cohen & Garcia (2005) who suggested that application of negative stereotypes of a racial group, with media as a reinforcement tool, brings discrimination and stigmatizations to the front, and media when based on stereotypes can have adverse effects to self-esteem, self-efficacy, and even level of achievements.
Fortenberry & McGoldrick (2011) conducted a study on outdoor advertising regarding African Americans and found that there are differences between white and black consumers’ receptiveness to outdoor billboard advertising. These differences are highly significant across each of the items within the scale of receptiveness, measuring awareness, influence on patronage, information conveyance, and overall attitude toward the medium. The receptiveness difference is at least in part a function of education and income, and the differences lose their significance only at the highest levels of both. Maybe surprisingly, the affluent black consumers without college education show higher levels of receptiveness (Fortenberry & McGoldrick 2011).
Yet, Fortenberry & McGoldrick (2011) cites Ward’s (1987) socialization theory, in order to find reasons for why college-educated affluent blacks mimic less receptiveness to billboards similar to that of their white counterparts and concluded that education socializes people to be more critical away from family and personal social bonds, and that the increased income generated by furthering education helps people migrate to areas where billboard advertising isn’t as common or accepted. Lastly, Fortenberry & McGoldrick (2011) cites Morris (1993) and Yoon (1995) who summarized that Black Americans demonstrated a greater degree of openness in discussing the influence of billboards within their society and supported the views that they have strong interest in material possessions.
Yuki Fujikoa (1999) conducted a study to show the effects of vicarious contact via television on stereotypes of African Americans among White and Japanese college students, in which the study provided some evidence that television messages had a significant impact on viewers’ perceptions when first-hand information was lacking. The study suggests that perceived positive portrayals of African Americans on television are effective in reducing negativity (Fujikoa 1999). It is more effective to reduce negative stereotypes of African Americans when we interact with many different African Americans who display counter-stereotypical behavior than when we interact with intimate African American friends (Fujikoa 1999). Since television can show a variety of positive African American models to a relatively large audience, television seems to have a great potential for stereotype reduction. Fujikoa (1999) cites Berg (1990) who stated that stereotypes are not necessarily negative, but they can destructive or bad when used by the dominant group to underscore majority-minority differences or to make some other (e.g. ethnic minority) groups inferior. Further, Fujikoa (1999) cites Berg (1990) who stated that interracial contact helps develop a mutual relationship between members of the two ethnic groups (e.g. White and African Americans), and we may expect an improvement in racial attitudes.
VI. African Americans in the Supply Chain & the need for Strategic Alliances or Joint Ventures
Yet, to reiterate, Rueben & Queen (2015) more than half of the 106,566 African-American (AA) owned employer firms (67,665 or 63.5 %) participate in only 5 of the 22 major North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) sectors: (1) Health Care/Social Assistance, (2) Professional/Scientific/Technical Services, (3) Retail Trade, (4) Administrative Support/Waste Management, and (5) Construction, yet these 5 industries are included in the top 10 revenue generating industries for all firms.
Black Enterprise Research (2016), of the organization Black Enterprise, which defines itself as a total media firm whose goal is providing premier business, investing, and wealth-building resources for African Americans, presented the following list of top-performing African-American firms.
According to the United States Census Bureau (2012) the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. NAICS was developed under the auspices of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and adopted in 1997 to replace the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). NAICS codes from personal experience are important because from a government procurement standpoint, many solicitations are issued based on NAICS codes, so the more a firm has diverse NAICS codes, the more chance they have at being discovered by government contracting agencies, but also the higher possibility of the firm relating their company’s unique products of services to that of government issued solicitations. For example, while in the United States Air Force, while serving with the 325th Contracting Squadron at Tyndall Air Force, Florida, when soliciting for commercial items, equipment, commercial construction, IT products etc., I was required to find sources based on NAICS codes. If a firm didn’t have a NAICS code listed under their profile either in the Government-Point-of-Entry called Federal Business Opportunities or through another market research tool such as the Small Business Administration’s Dynamic Business Search (http://dsbs.sba.gov/dsbs/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm), then than firm might be overlooked.
A brief skim over the top twenty firms as provided by Black Enterprise Research (2016), it seems to align to the research provided by Rueben & Queen (2015) with Health Care/Social Assistance, Professional/Scientific/Technical Services, and Retail Trade (which I will caveat as including automotive parts sales and food services) being represented. Yet, from the view of any onlooker in this paper, there is something missing: there are no actual large name, visible brand names, or brand-name manufacturers on the list, i.e., Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Starbucks, etc.
This leads back to issues facing African-American firms such as (1) unequal access to capital markets and the prevalence of institutional barriers (Rueben & Queen, 2015), (2) issues of start-up capital, owner’s education level, and prior business experience (Fairlie & Robb, 8008 – as cited by Tang & Smith, 2013), and the reality of a historical treatment in which African-Americans entered the business arena when the United States was already on its way to de-industrialization and globalization, i.e., the cost and liability of being a large manufacturer were disadvantageous to African-Americans. So, it seems that African American firms are highly active either as suppliers within already established supply-chains that supplements larger manufacturers – either as multi-year contract suppliers through agreements with larger firms, or as stand-alone units that are smaller than more visible corporate entities such as Fortune 500 companies. African-American firms can generate profits, but as far as dominating markets in comparison with standard Fortune or S&P 500 firms, it seems that African-American firms are used by these firms to maintain smaller demographic specific markets (for example, Johnson and Johnson owing a firm that sells black hair-care products) or helping achieve their larger strategic-goals by making including them as suppliers within their supply-chains.
This insinuates that (1) winning long-term contracts with larger firms is vital and (2) overcoming capital-constraints and operating in a globalist reality is something that needs to be realized by Black business owners. The second statement, can be fulfilled either through government financing programs, such as grants, loans, or obtaining government contracts; private financing from large banks who have a goal of supporting minority-owned business; private financing through black-owned banks, such as Carver Federal Savings Bank (https://www.carverbank.com/), who theoretically can target or work with viable black-owned firms to issue credit for start-up firms or established firms while simultaneously expanding their reserves, and/or luring in foreign-direct investment through acceptable financial institutions, particularly in developing regions such as Africa in which the majority of black immigration to the United States are coming from.
Whitfield & Farrell (2010) conducted a study that suggested that African American executives were less likely to perceived constructive dimensions of organizational culture. Whitfield & Farrell (2010) references Gomez-Mejia & Palich (1999) who stated that a diversity inclusive corporate culture is said to improve innovation and adaptiveness in heterogeneous market segments faced by international companies, and Crook et al (2008) who stated that building diverse supply-chains is seen as an additional effective means of increasing a firm’s performance similar to employer diversity. Additionally, Whitfield & Farrell (2010) references the United States Small Business Association (2001) who stated that minority-owned businesses have been a growing segment of the U.S. economy, nearly doubling as a percentage of the economy from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, and Eroglu, Green Thornton, & Bellenger (2001) who stated that this growth has become a business necessity.
Whitefield & Farrell (2010), concludes their research by stating, “There is some cause for optimism among these findings of perceptual differences. Between the non-minority buyers and the African American supplier CEOs the significant difference is that these suppliers see the buyer culture as less constructive. The African American CEOs see less passive defensiveness and less aggressive defensiveness than the buyers. For the African American, the views are different from Caucasians but not extreme or opposite. The Hispanic minority CEOs perceptions are more divergent from the perceptions of Caucasian buyers. For the Hispanic supplier CEOs, the buying organization culture appears defensive to cultural diversity.” In summary, regardless of what color the supplier or buyer is, when purchasing firms that are white-owned or black-owned, or for suppliers who are black-owned or white-owned, there is an easier framework to conduct business.
Selecting a specific industry and developing a specific-supply chain model for a firm is theoretical for this paper. Speaking for the need to implement standard Supply-Chain concepts such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems (SAP, Peoplesoft, Oracle), utilizing third-party logistic firms, speaking to supply-chain concepts such as Statistical Delivery rates or Quality control, or issues of warehousing, doesn’t necessarily offer coherent strategies for improving African-American firms. Instead, the research I have pulled insinuates that African-American firms are profitable yet tend to operate in the role of supplier to larger firms, considering the capital constraints are often to daunting to be an effective large scale manufacturer or conglomerate, and/or African-American firms tend to operate as stand-alone entities functioning within the larger economy and catering towards customers either on a non-exclusive first-come first-serve basis regarding their products (restaurants, logistics companies, healthcare services, or IT services), or operation on an exclusive-basis in which products or services are catered towards unique cultural taste such as barbershops, cosmetics, etc.
For African-American owned firm to reach economies-of-scale – considering the institutional barriers, capital constraints and business realities – strategies such as strategic alliances or joint-ventures between African-American owned firms could be implemented to join forces thus facilitate maximizing economies-of-scale. This strategy could reconcile the realities of the modern American business environment which is defined by expensive labor costs, the potentiality of collective-bargaining or unionism, and free-trade in a globalist reality. By developing strategic alliances or joint-ventures between African-African firms, even if firms are unrelated to each other as far as the products or services they offer, this could help pool human and financial capital, limit tactic knowledge, facilitate mutual marketing of each other’s products, etc. Essentially, since African-Americans were introduced to the free-market of the mid-to-late twentieth century, when being a stand-alone manufacturer was becoming a more daunting task, African-American firms can combine forces, under single incorporation, in order to have more a visible and real impact on the economy. Former separate CEOs could then serve as board-members and by pooling together each other’s profitability under one roof this could help this theoretical firm get public financing which would then create more capital to expand into Afro-centric markets but also markets that aren’t racially exclusive. This compounding effect would not only have a social effect on the general public because people would be able to associate a large-scale firm with African-American success but could help create capital that could be targeted on innovation that would otherwise be non-existent if firms operated as stand-alone units.
For African American firms to reach the level of profitability that can have a global effect but also a community-empowering effect, the goal must be about winning a competitive advantage. A firm has a competitive advantage when it can create more economic value than rival firms (Barney & Hesterly, 2013, p 8). In addition, Barney & Hesterly (2013) states that competitive advantage is when a firm creates more economic value than rival firms, and economic value is simply the difference between the perceived benefits gained by a customer that purchases a firm’s products or services and that full economic cost of these products of services. In order words, the customer must think a product or service has more value (Benefits > Cost = Value) than that of competitors, but the firm is liable of sustaining this perception of higher value by providing quality services or products.
To achieve competitive advantages, not at the expense of other Black-owned businesses, African American firms may benefit through strategic alliances, joint-ventures, or the Japanese concept called Keiretsu. In a joint venture, the companies start and invest in a new company that is jointly owned by both parent companies (Marzec, 2016). A strategic alliance is a legal agreement between two or more companies to share access to their technology, trademarks, or other assets. A strategic alliance does not create a new company (Marzec, 2016).
Regarding the concept of Keiretsu, Minor, Patrick, & Wu (1995) referenced both The Economist (1991) which stated that the most inclusive definition for keiretsu is that they are families of firms with interlocking stakes in one another, and Cohen (1985) who stated that keiretsu were encouraged by guidance, tax incentives, financial guarantees, direct subsidies, and protection from foreign competition. Further, Minor, Patrick, & Wu (1995) explains that keiretsu were the descendants of the pre-war zaibatsu, which were vast mining-to-manufacturing conglomerates based on the banking system, but the zaibatsu were disbanded, yet restriction on cross-shareholding were lifted; One of the unique aspects of keiretsu is that from 20 per cent to 40 per cent of stock is owned by member companies of its own keiretsu, and 60-80 per cent of the keiretsu stock is never traded; Horizontal, or bank-centered, keiretsu bring companies together to work on long-term projects that would be financially impossible for a single firm. These projects often turn out to be highly profitable because foreign competitors cannot take advantage of such partnerships where antitrust laws are more stringent (Boarman, 1993), and the vertical, or supplier keiretsu, forms when major manufacturers, such as an automobile maker or manufacturer of household electrical appliances, contract with suppliers for sole sourcing in exchange for production agreements excluding other buyers. Japan’s keiretsu, Korea’s chaebol, and Mexico’s grupos have played an important role in their countries’ development since the Second World War. These industrial conglomerates, bound by family ties, long-standing friendships, common ownerships and interlocking directories, and closely allied with their national governments, have spawned and linked industrial clusters in agriculture, minerals, basic industry and manufacturing – raising national productivity and their nation’s international competitiveness (Minor, Patrick & Wu, 1991).
Regardless of the organizational structure of Black-owned firms there always needs to be an emphasis on quality. High-quality goods and services can provide an organization with a competitive advantage (Evans & Lindsay, 2014, p 4). Further, Evans & Lindsay (2014) summarizes the Three Gurus of Quality Management – Deming, Juran, and Crosby – by saying, “Despite their significant differences to implementing organizational change, the philosophies of Deming, Juran, and Crosby are more alike than different. Each view quality as imperative in the future competitiveness in global markets; makes top management commitment an absolute necessity; demonstrates that quality management practices will save, not cost money; places responsibility for quality on management, not workers; stresses the need for continuous, never-ending improvement; acknowledges the importance of the customer and strong management/worker partnerships; and recognizes the need for the difficulties associated with change the organizational culture” (p. 64).
Many of the African American firms on the Black Enterprise Research list, such as automotive parts suppliers, can be defined as contract manufacturers. According to Evans & Lindsey (2014) a contract manufacturer is an organization that performs manufacturing and/or purchasing and/or pushing need to produce a product or device not for itself, but as a service to another (Evans & Lindsay, 2014, p 43). This segment could be a good test to try out a strategic alliance, or, on a grander scale, a Keiretsu. Yet, in my own research, in I attempted to build an Excel spreadsheet based on the Black Enterprise Research (2016), to organize the data to find similar African American owned automotive part businesses. I did online searches into the businesses and conducted System for Award Management searches of the particular businesses’ registration and NAICS codes, but I felt the data of Black Enterprise Research (2016) wasn’t that viable for my model, however, it is valuable for basic information purposes.
As a result, I decided to propose an idea about what a black-owned Keiretsu in the brewing industry would look like. So, let’s talk about beer and wine – a favorite subject to many, even though there are other far more intensive fields (engineering, sciences, technology, high finances) that could have an impact, yet, I don’t have the technical acumen on these subjects, so any suggestions would be theoretical.
Brewers Association (2017) conducted a study that was based on two national surveys conducted by the Brewers Association on two national surveys: the annual Beer Industry Production Survey (BIPS) and the Brewery Operations Benchmarking Survey (BOS). The Craft Brewing Industry Contributed $67.8 Billion to the U.S. Economy in 2016, more than 456,000 Jobs
Small and independent American craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016. The figure is derived from the total impact of beer brewed by craft brewers as it moves through the three-tier system (breweries, wholesalers and retailers), as well as all non-beer products like food and merchandise that brewpub restaurants and brewery taprooms sell. The industry also provided more than 456,000 full-time equivalent jobs, with more than 128,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs (Brewers Association, 2017).
Mark Snider (2016) of the USA Today did an article about the advancement of African Americans in craft brewing. Snider (2016) interviewed Kevin Blodger, of the Brewers Association, who chairs a diversity association at the organization, who stated, “While the numbers aren’t huge, I think there are more people of color starting to own breweries, work at breweries and be part of breweries. – there is not much advertising budget. It is a word of mouth thing, and if you look at the people that were originally involved in craft beer, it was white men. And we tend to associate with people that look like us.” Appealing to minorities will help sustain craft beer’s double-digit growth, which for several years has outpaced the comparatively flat overall U.S. beer market. Sales of craft beer rose 10%, or $23.5 billion, in 2016, amounting to a 21.9% share of the total market, the association says (Snider, 2016). Further, more blacks are imbibing craft beer. In 2016, African Americans made up 12% of weekly craft beer drinkers, up from 10% the year before, according to the Yankelovich Monitor survey (Snider, 2016). Interesting in the same article by Snider (2016), Garrett Oliver, an African American brew-master at the Brooklyn Brewery, stated, “why is craft brewing such a monoculture?”, yet, in the same article, Mark and Sharon Ridely – African American owners of Brass Tap Brewery (in predominately black Prince George County, Maryland – states that their brewery attracts a majority of out-of-town white customers from the nearby convention center but they do see a good minority population.
I personally feel that this all goes back to my argument of a “culture trap”. The overall culture of African Americans has not been exposed to the potential profitability of the craft-beer market. So, Mr. Garrett’s frustration might not be a systemic issue as far as blatant discrimination or disallowing black beer-brands, but more so traditional marketing towards African Americans has led them away from the industry. This possibility is both an internal and external issue that cannot be easily boiled down as discrimination, considering consumers are largely responsible for driving sales. Essentially, if they don’t know, they simply don’t know, or if it’s not popular – considering the arguments from researchers presented earlier in this paper – they may not choose to participate or buy craft-beers because it’s not seen as a status-symbol, etc.
Anheuser Busch InBev NV (AB InBev) is a Belgium-based company engaged in the brewers’ industry. The Company owns a portfolio of over 200 beer brands. The Company’s brand portfolio includes global brands, such as Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois; international brands, including Beck’s, Leffe and Hoegaarden, and local champions, such as Bud Light, Skol, Brahma, Antarctica, Quilmes, Victoria, Modelo Especial, Michelob Ultra, Harbin, Sedrin, Klinskoye, Sibirskaya Korona, Chernigivske, Cass and Jupiler. The Company’s soft drinks business consists of both its own production and agreements with PepsiCo related to bottling and distribution arrangements between its various subsidiaries and PepsiCo. Ambev, which is a subsidiary of the Company, is a PepsiCo bottler. Brands that are distributed under these agreements are Pepsi, 7UP and Gatorade (Reuters, n.d.).
After reading that last paragraph, it easy to see the sheer reach of AB InBev from shelf-space to what we see every single day, from daily sports games to major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, NASCAR, Stanley Cup, PGA master’s Tour, NBA Finals, etc. With rise of the Hispanic population in the United States – which a great thing that helps fulfill the American Dream – I have noticed a rise in beer sales catered towards Hispanic-Americans from Modelo, Pacifico, and Tecate. This is great, but I do notice that it might be another example of a missed opportunity for African-Americans who either assume themselves entirely to be represented within the larger context of society, or to simply not think that this market is for them. Owning a space within the beer industry can have a positive economic effect not only on the black community, largely considering that to many black leaders in urban communities that alcohol or other products are sold within the community by outsiders.
Yet, based on the example of Anheuser Busch InBev NV (AB InBev), the sheer scale of large corporations makes it harder for smaller businesses, i.e., corporations can prevent new entrants into markets with new entrants being a concept presented by Michael Porter (1979). The five forces of competition by Porter (1979) include (1) Threats of new entrants, (2) Bargaining power of suppliers, (3) Bargaining power of customers, (4) Threats of substitute products or services, and (5) Jockeying for position among current competitors in the industry under question. According to Porter (1979) the weaker the forces collectively, however, the greater the opportunity for superior performance. Further, Porter (1979) states, the seriousness of the threat of entry depends on the barriers present and on the reaction from existing competitors that entrants can expect.
If barriers to entry are high and newcomers can expect sharp retaliation from the entrenched competitors, obviously the newcomers will not pose a serious threat of entering (Porter, 1979). Regarding barriers of entry which relates to the threat of new entrants (which would be a consolidated black brewing business for my model), Porter (1979) provides six major sources for barrier of entry which are (1) Economies of Scale, (2) Product Differentiation, (3) Capital Requirements, (4) Cost disadvantages independent of size, (5) Access to distribution channels, and (6) Government Policy. Interestingly, the second major source for barriers of entry as provided by Porter (1979) which is Productive Differentiation relates to the beer industry, with Porter (1979) stating, it is perhaps the most important entry barrier in soft drinks, over-the-counter drugs, cosmetics, investment banking, and public accounting. To create high fences around their businesses, brewers couple brand identification with economies of scale in production, distribution, and marketing (Porter, 1979).
The Porter’s (1979) theory relates to the Tabb (1970) statement regarding African American businesses in which Tabb (1970) stated inability to access credit and limited access to capital as being a hindrances. Capital Requirements are Porter’s (1979) third major source of barrier to entry. Essentially, African American breweries must hurdle over larger firms’ brand-identification that is bolstered by their economies of scale, distribution, and marketing, but also African American firms need better access to capital. However, Porter’s (1979) sixth major source of barrier of entry which is Government Policy, might be to the advantage of African American owned firms (breweries within my example), by utilizing Equal Opportunity regulations under the Civil Rights Act to challenge practices in retailing such as “pay-to-play rules”, which can help African American firms fight for shelf space which is vital in brand identification. Further, Government Policy such as Small Business Administration loans might be an asset to minority ran businesses or breweries.
Bray (2016) stated that shareholders of SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev on Wednesday approved a deal valued at more than $100 billion to create a giant in the beer industry that would control some of the world’s best-known brands, including Budweiser, Corona, Hoegaarden, Leffe and Stella Artois. The takeover of SABMiller by its larger rival, Anheuser-Busch InBev, was approved by shareholders despite objections from some SABMiller investors. The combined company would account for 27 percent of beer sales worldwide and would have annual revenue of about $55 billion. The deal would also give Anheuser-Busch InBev, already the world’s largest brewer, a substantial operation in Africa, where it has little presence, and greater dominance in Latin America (Bray, 2016).
VII. Is the Japanese Keiretsu model appropriate for African American Breweries?
The beer market, as pertaining to African Americans could benefits from a Keiretsu model. If there are already large corporations – arguable white-owned – even though the intention of these large partnerships, strategic alliances, or corporations built on buyouts exists, then maybe African American owned breweries should join forces to compete. Imagine a scenario where black-owned breweries, self-made home-brewers (who could be outlets for market research by testing their beer directly with the public, friends, or even at church festivities), and bottlers came together, either by combining forces, by mergers and acquisitions thus alleviating Economics of Scale and possibility limitations to Capital Requirements as provided by Porter (1979), etc. On top of this, imagine these firms coordinating over warehousing space (which feeds into the supply-chain concept of Just-In-Time ordering and 3PLs – Third Party Logistic companies), entering into joint contracts with bottling companies where they could possibly get advantageous pricing for buying more volume, entering into future’s contracts with hops or grain suppliers, sharing workers from brewers or people in offices who do administration work, but, most importantly – yet, not essential – is all of this were coordinated through a black-owned bank who could issue loans and help expand reserves. Yet, even though I do feel this idea could work, yet, when regarding matters of black-owned banking as unifying factor to issue new debt or underwrite equity on the investment side of things, there are some concerns, which are presented below.
Grabowiecki (2019) provides information relating to keiretsu by mentioning that there are two types of keiretsu with the first being horizontal (Kinyu, i.e., financial based), non-hierarchical types (descending from prewar zaibatsu and generally associated with trading houses, e.g., Sogo Shosha), less tightly coordinated, which are connected by credit relations with a common bank and give preferential treatment to partners or joint ventures. Further Grabowiecki (2019) states that Vertical (Shihon, i.e., capital) keiretsu, on the other hand, are networks of subsidiaries operating within large corporations and subordinated to them by means of capital and long-term production-distribution relations (Grabowiecki, p. 182); has a pyramidal structure of shareholding and of personnel transfers (from core company to first-tier suppliers, from first-tier to second-tier, and so on) (Grabowiecki, p. 183) and clearly centralized executive managers (Grabowiecki, p. 186, para. 3).
Further, Grabowiecki (2019) references Gerlach & Lincoln (2004) and Flath (2005) by stating where the vertical keiretsu operates within an industry, broadly defined, the horizontal keiretsu consists of firms from virtually every major industry in the economy, with especially strong representation in the key industries of the postwar high-growth period that was the era of its greatest strength (heavy industry, petrochemicals, materials processing, and banking and trading (p. 182). There are only six horizontal keiretsu which are Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Fuji, Sanwa, and Dai-Ichi Kangyo (Grabowiecki, p. 182-183 who cites Lynn & Rao, 1995).
In other words, a horizontal keiretsu is a type of conglomerate or a large business who has their hands within many industries, sometimes unrelated industries, and the first firm, personally, that comes to mind is General Electric. General Electric has multiple business-lines ranging from traditional lighting, healthcare, aviation, power, and renewable energy. General Electric (GE) is an example of a firm pursuing an unrelated diversification strategy, in which Barney & Hesterly (2016) states that when less than seventy percent of a firm’s revenues are generated in a single-product market and when a firm’s businesses share few, if any, common attributes, then that firm is pursuing a strategy of unrelated corporate diversification.
Yet, since most African American owned breweries likely lack equity or the presence of underwritten shares (stock, bonds, commercial paper, notes, debentures), the concept of keiretsu, specifically that of a vertical capital driven type, would not work. However, the keiretsu precursor in the zaibatsu would. Keiretsu, formal joint ventures, and strategic alliances seem more in line with larger more established firms, but a “micro-zaibatsu” could prove promising. Interestingly, a horizontal keiretsu on a micro-scale would work better where now separate African American owned breweries would form a “family”, zaibatsu, or “cartel”, set up a holding company in a state such as Delaware for tax-purposes, but the parent company would do coordination of operations, supplier relations, marketing, wholesaling, advertising, etc. The profits from retail would flow into in the holding company.
Sharon Nunn (2017) stated that the number of black-owned banks operating in the U.S. has been dropping steadily for the past 15 years and fell to 23 this year, the lowest level in recent history, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That has left many African American communities short of access to capital and traditional financial services, according to some banking experts. The 2008 recession hit the black banking sector especially hard, and if the current rate of closures of about two a year, as well as the industry-wide reluctance or inability to start banks, continues, black-owned banks could disappear entirely within the next eight to 12 years. Such banks comprise just a sliver of the overall U.S. financial sector, with collective assets of $5.5 billion, versus $16.3 trillion in the industry overall (Nunn, 2017). Yet, Nicholas Lash, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago, emphasized the decline of black-owned banks as being slightly insignificant presented by Nunn (2017), stated, “Size-wise they’ve been small. – So, their total impact on black communities cannot be very, very large.”. I find these last set of statements interesting but true. Let’s be honest, most Black Americans bank at everyday – white, if you wish to call them that – banks, which is also indicative of how much embedded African-Americans are already into the standard way of American life, from student loans, mortgages, investment banking, credit cards, etc.
This further calls the argument for black separatism into question, with the largest argument being that African Americans are already…Americans embedded with in a system, as with many others regardless of group. Yet, like my argument about furthering strategic-alliances, joint-ventures, or, in my opinion of Keiretsu, it also seems that black-owned banks need to join forces considering the completing fact stated by Nunn (2017), which is, “A prolonged period of low interest rates and intense competition, as bigger banks slowly move into under-served areas, have combined to contribute to the black banking sector’s decline, even after the recession’s end.”
Tanasia Kenney (2016), of Atlanta Black Star, presented five black breweries: (1) Black Frog Brewery of Toledo, Ohio, founded by United States Armed Services veteran, Chris Harris – which has marketability across racial spectrums considering the military veteran status, [http://www.blackfrogbrewery.com/]; (2) Cajun Fire Brewing Company of New Orleans, [http://www.drinkcajunfire.com/home.html]; (3) Harlem Brewing Company, [http://www.harlembrewing.com/]; (4) Harlem Blue Brewery [http://www.harlemblue.com], and (5) 18th Street Brewery of Gary, Indiana [http://www.18thstreetbrewery.com/]. Further, as detailed by Snider (2018), there is Brass Trap Brewery of Prince George County, Maryland, the Brooklyn Brewery, and Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewery. In addition, there is a black-owned winery based out of the famous Napa Valley, California, called the Brown Estate.
Higgins, Toms, & Uddin (2016) presented a study into the British beer industry regarding the industry’s usage of tie-arrangements, and the effects of risks and allocation of surplus between brewer and tenant. Further, Higgin, Toms, & Uddin (2016) studied how the British employed a model in the 1990s that was defined by vertical integration controlled by larger brewers over estates of tenants or directly-manage pubs, where the manger is technically an employee of the brewer and is only salary but does not incur most of the risk, however, doesn’t benefit from most of the profits. Yet, this model was challenged by regulators and brewers had to divest portions of their “tied estates” aka pubs or retailers. The new model brought a hybrid-systems where tenants managed pubs and licensees were paid based on percentages of property owned and beer sales margins (Higgins, Toms & Uddin, 2016). In other words, pubs, and retailers instead of being direct fronts from brewers at the end of their value or supply chain, instead gained a level of autonomy, to win more profits, but also, they incurred more the possibility of risk which could hurt profits.
Hybrids facilitate cooperation and reduces transaction cost (Higgins, Toms, & Uddins, 2016). Long-term inter-dependencies and relations contracting occurs in hybrid contexts that are neither hierarchical nor purely market based; personal relationships, reputation, and trust can also be important and counteract the purely cost driven motives that might underpin network governance (Higgins, Toms, & Uddins, 2016). Lastly, Higgins, Toms & Uddins (2016) states that sharing human capital binds networks together and improves their performance, as does the products technical specifications, thereby creating process improvements, and product development opportunities.
Imagine if these companies somehow worked together, while simultaneously operating like a Keiretsu (entering mutual contracts as far as marketing, distribution, bottling, information sharing, and warehousing), but having their finances controlled – at least partially at first – by a black-owned bank. Imagine a beer and wine conglomerate called…John Henry Beverages Global, which is a beer conglomerate, founded by black entrepreneurs, with initial funding and underwriting performed by a black-bank with supplementary financing from traditional banks (Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase – who would only be willing to voucher for debt only after profitability forecast are shown – but who could benefit on assisting a minority firm). A collective of breweries who hold cross-shares in each other but is marketed as an all-inclusive beer and wine holdings group that caters to all Americans (marketing itself upon on the Black American experience that inspired the nation as a whole – i.e., the Legend of John Henry which has an aura of hard-work in the face of adversity). Additionally, products can be sold in emerging markets, such as Africa where in certain nations beer is popular and sports such as soccer has a large following which offers an advertising and sponsorship opportunity.
According to Maureen O’Hare (2017), Nigeria overtook Ireland as the world’s second largest Guinness market, and Cameroon is the fourth-biggest market for Guinness and the beer is also brewed in Kenya, Uganda, and Namibia. Africa, with its $13 billion beer market, is the biggest source of beer sales for the owners of Guinness, the British multinational Diageo.
Labeling a business as black-owned is not a bad move at all, considering the historical plight against African Americans. For example, African Americans did not have fair voting rights for 77% of the time the USA has been an officially independent nation. Trans-Atlantic slavery existed from the late fifteen-hundreds to the late eighteen-hundreds. 1776 (though September 17, 1787 was the official signing of the Constitution) to 2020 is 244 years. 1776 to 1965 (the year the Civil Rights Act was signed) is 189 years. 189/244 is .7745 or 77.45%, meaning African Americans since a declaration of American independence did not have voting rights for almost 80% of the time we have been officially in existence. Yet, the first recorded African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 after being abducted from Angola (The History Channel, an A&E Network, 2020). 2020 from 1619 is 401 years and 1619 to 1965 is 346 years. 346/401 is .862 or 86.2%. Thus, for only 55 years since 1965 (my father was born in 1959), African Americans have been able to have a political say in the 401-year history of what we become the official United States of America. You can further add weight to these numbers/percentages by adding this following fact by O’Donnell (2019) who stated that by 1890, the top 1 percent of the U.S. population owned 51 percent of all wealth. The top 12 percent owned an astounding 86 percent. The lower 44 percent of U.S. population—almost half the country—owned just 1.2 percent (O’Donnell, 2019). The sheer weight of not having voting rights mixed with the sheer volume of wealth owned by a few white hands, and adding on additional European immigration (Hispanic included depending on how they identify) and brutal Jim Crow Laws has resulted in the African American community statistically being left behind, and, sadly social ostracized for it. Lastly, add the fact that African Americans since the 1900 to 1990 only made up 11.6 to 12.1% of the population, yet, in 1910 – the Jim Crow Era – 90% of African Americans lived in the American South (Bennet, Martin & Debarros, 1993, Census.gov, p.2).
Yet, even when facing the residual effects of the past which still lingers on, the ability for the African American community to incubate wealth and prosperity is a noble task which must be taken seriously, e.g., promoting self-confidence in academic environments which values African American history/achievement and continuing to support Civil Rights legislation over fair access to federal contracts, minority small business set-asides, and equal opportunity regarding employment/job recruitment. However, the black community must not only incubate wealth, but it must also have an open-economy model which continues to gain loyal consumers across racial lines, national boundaries, etc. The claims that segregation was better for African Americans might have some truth to it but the economic scale I would argue would always be limited with that approach.
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