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Counterpunch is a alternative news site that I’ve followed for many years. I have often picked up on an essay that I found there and added my critique or opinion on the matter. Recently I critiqued a piece that was – ideologically speaking – over the top and I had to give it the Red Pen of Justice treatment. The lambasting was due as the claims made could only hold up in a proper collectivist utopia.  When I saw that one of their hardcore left ideologues, Paul Street had mentioned the ‘woke politic’ I was expecting more fodder for the mill of insane leftist politics to criticize.

They’ve set the bar for what passes as journalism pretty low as of late so I was prepared for the worst.  And…  was pleasantly surprised.  Apparently there are limits for some people as to how much cringe-woke insanity they can stomach.  The title of the subsection jarred my consciousness :

“Erasing Women and Girls with “Woke” Idiocy”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Strap in folks, this is going to be a ride.

  “And then there’s the hyper- and fake-“woke” identitarian idiocy that pervades and cripples US social movements on the ground. I will never forget the time (in the summer of 2014) I politely corrected a Black Lives speaker who said that the killing of a Black person by “could even happen here in Iowa City” by pointing out that Iowa City had been the site of an incident in which a white police officer had murdered a Black man – the killing of John Deng by a Johnson County Sheriff in July of 2009. A white female graduate student lectured me on how “white men have nothing to say at racial justice rallies.” Six years later on the South Side of Chicago, Black Lives activists would not listen to information I had on the potential to powerfully link up two separate racial justice marches (both protesting Kentucky’s decision not to prosecute the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor) because of my race and gender.”

Paul Street at least aware of what can happen when the what your group looks like is more important the the content of your character.  It’s a really quite a shit way to view the world and it bites even most rabid proponents when they do not follow the rules.

“(Idiotic standpoint identititarianism is deeply embedded in the American psyche. Recently I participated with some other white folks in the stoppage of traffic on a major thoroughfare and on behalf of women’s abortions rights in Chicago. Two Black men got out of their cars and attacked us claiming that we would not be stopping traffic for Black people. I informed these gentlemen that we had all been in the streets for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Justin Blake and, before that, for Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Chicago’s own Laquan McDonald. After hearing this, one of the two assailants asked me, “so are you saying that you have experienced all the same micro-aggressions and prejudice that I have and go through every day of my life”? I said, “no I don’t think that. I’m not an idiot and I’d have to be an idiot to think that.” He went back to his car before I could tell him that the repeal of abortion rights will inflict special and disproportionate harm on the Black community and Black women.)”

If Paul Street can see the bullshit that is is standpoint epistemology/identitiarianism you know it has to be a problem.  For the uninitiated: “standpoint epistemology (and related identity-based epistemologies) are a complicated and widely discredited way to create and justify a kind of gnosticism around critical conceptions of identity and the relevant power dynamics in society. In practice, this typically means it is yet another justification within Theory for only people who agree with Theory to be considered knowledgeable authorities […].”

It’s being used in the leftist activist all the time and it contributes to the inefficiency and infighting that mars all identitarian movements.

  “I have recently been confronted by destructive uber-“woke” folly in the form of the loony yet cocksure charge that it is “trans-exclusive” and transphobic to specify females as the target of the war on abortion rights. As a friend writes me, some transgender activists “really believe it’s exclusionary and reactionary to dare to talk about ‘forced motherhood’ and ‘women’s oppression.’ Such madness actually happens.”

This is sheer village idiocy. The Christian fascist war on abortion rights is quintessentially about the patriarchal control and oppression of women and girls. The Republifascist enemy is not remotely thinking about transgender folks when it goes after abortion. Calling activists “trans-phobic” and anti-trans for defending “women’s abortion rights” is reactionary madness. The demand that activist language be changed to “people’s abortion rights” is to erase women in the name of “inclusion.” This is like calling for Black Lives Matter to be changed to “All Lives Matter.”

Wow, you know you’ve gone to far when Street calls you out (rightly) on your bullshit.  Of course transgender queer activism has no limits and no sanity.  Everything – absolutely everything – is about their oppression and their plight.  Those damn females talking about their rights in society are oppressors using their privilege to further marginalize queer trans voices who are *obviously* way more oppressed than those women fighting for their rights to basis reproductive healthcare in society.

    “Such hyper-identitarian irrationality has worked its way all the way up to Planned Parenthood (PP). Eager to mess with radical abortions rights activism in accord with its shameful advance surrender to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, PP is down with the preposterous claim that the call for women’s right to an abortion is repressively “gendered” language that oppresses trans people. See this shamelessly stupid PP post on how activists should replace “women” with “people” abortion rights discourse.

In a shameless and transparent hit-job on the radical anti-fascist feminist group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights’ (RU4AR) recent successful actions at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, Dodgers’ Stadium in Los Angeles, and Joel Osteen’s right-wing megachurch in Houston, the liberal zine Jezebel displays extreme identitarian wokeness to rationalize its advance capitulation to the Supreme Court assault on Roe. Jezebel’s Emily Leibert childishly claims that RU4AR’s use of the phrase “female enslavement” is “inappropriate given that the leaders of this group are not Black” (has Emily Leibert ever heard of the great abolitionist leader John Brown?). Leibert says that RU4AR’s “repeated usage of gendered terms …excludes trans and nonbinary pregnant people who need abortion access and care.”

And what are those “gendered” terms, specifically? Answer: “women” and “girls,” half of humanity (!), and “patriarchy,” a supremely significant (to say the least) and longstanding oppression system defense and advance of which is at the very heart of the war on abortion rights.”

Street is quite done with the fuckery on display, but is it too late for him to preserve the brand of activism he supports?  Because this sort of identity politics nonsense is what rules the roost in leftist circles.  It cares not for the reality of any situation, but rather the power dynamic and the relationship to power to which best interpolate the amount of oppression a group experiences and thus how much ‘authenticity’ said group has when speaking on the issue.

Apparently women (adult human females) do not have enough ‘authenticity’ to speak on the issue of abortion and reproductive healthcare.

“Some anarchists fall for this women-erasing tripe. See this depressing It’s Going Down post, which glories in the replacement of the RU4AR slogan “Not the Church, Not the State, Women Must Decide Our Fate” with “Fuck the Church, Fuck the State, Only We Decide Our Fate.” Reflecting on this article, whose anarchist author digs how his/her/their allies chided a “Maoist” for using the bourgeois word “women,” Chris C of the Communist Workers Group (CWG) writes the following: “I don’t know how any ‘Leftist’ can write an article on abortion and reproductive rights and only mention ‘women’ once. Kind of difficult to organize and mobilize for women’s liberation if one cannot even use the term.”

Well Mr.Street, by saying these words you’ve joined the “far-right” TERF crew who believe that women are adult human females and inhabit a category of human beings that are distinct from men and have their own unique set of issues and concerns when it comes to society.

Welcome.  Let’s hope now that you will apply some of your revolutionary zeal to combat the rise of woke identity politics and the cancer that it represents for society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article is written by Nicky Reid who in her first sentence declares their identity as a “Queer pro-lie anarchist”.  I think that if you happen to be writing an piece to be published, wouldn’t it be better to let your thoughts and ideas carry your message rather than stating which camp you happen to belong to?

I’m surprised/not-surprised that Counterpunch would publish this person’s work, but there was a time when CP was about giving a voice to intelligent authors who had serious arguments that added breadth and depth to many an important topic.  Instead what we are presented with is scattered unhinged whinging about how terrible everything is and that the only solution is burning it all down.  A small sample:

“Me too. I say that Queer people and our allies on the left start putting our priorities into challenging these scumbags to put up or shut up by thinking big, acting small, and weaponizing our own communities against their institutions.

The best revenge against judicial tyranny is secession and we’ve seen this theory wielded with fantastic results in the form of sanctuary states and sanctuary cities. Local governments who simply refuse to comply with the feds on issues as far-ranging as gun rights and marijuana have exposed their powers for the hopped-up illusions that they really are and rendered them totally impotent in the face of communities who quite simply resist being governed by any authority figure they didn’t vote for.

Let’s take this ethic to the next level by organizing intentional communities across the map around shared ideals like communes and gayborhoods and turning them into sanctuaries from any power that exists outside them. Let’s create a quilt work of Queer autonomous zones and feminist autonomous zones and Black Power autonomous zones and Boogaloo autonomous zones and polygamist autonomous zones and tweaker autonomous zones.”

Really?  Because the public good is well served by the destruction of the institutions that maintain the public good?  Because creating ‘autonomous zones’ isn’t a recipe for chaos and lawlessness that will hurt everyone not ready to go all in on the “bloody tooth and nail” routine?

Tearing all of society down because *you* inside your bullshit queerness are having an ‘unhappy’ is insanity. Calm the fuck down.

The same goes for you Counterpunch, calm down and stop printing such aggressively stupid articles.

US commentators still seem to be mulling the prospects of how close, or how far they came to living in an authoritarian fascist state under Donald Trump.  It is interesting how little air time the States dances with fascism get in the media today.

The liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put things well on the morning of January 7, 2021, in a column titled “Appeasement Got Us Where We Are”:

‘So, is it finally OK to use the F-word? One shouldn’t use the term “fascist” lightly…Donald Trump, however, is indeed a fascist — an authoritarian willing to use violence to achieve his racial nationalist goals. So are many of his supporters. If you had any doubts about that, Wednesday’s attack on Congress should have ended them.’

Observing the events one day before, when Donald Trump instigated an attempted putsch meant to overthrow previously normative bourgeois electoral democracy and constitutional rule of law, the esteemed veteran historian Robert Paxton, author of the classic volume The Anatomy of Fascism, finally relented. He had to admit that he’d been wrong on Trump and that the 45th US president was in fact what Krugman said – and what many of us on the margins had been saying from the start.

Paxton was one of a bevy of “fascism experts” who had been proclaiming that Trump didn’t qualify for “the F-word.” This august list of Trump fascism-deniers included an impressive roster of 20th Century European historians who were hopelessly out of their depth when it came to analyzing 21st century US society and politics: Paxton, Stanley Payne (emeritus at the University of Wisconsin), Roger Griffin (Oxford), Richard Evans (Cambridge), and Samuel Moyn (Yale) (also meriting mention here is Japanese historian Gary Leupp [Tuft’]s). But field specialization and professional immersion in the previous century was no excuse for other deniers: NYU law professor Bruce Neuborne and the political scientists and government professors Sheri Berman, Cory Robin, Eric de Bruin, and Jason Brownlee. The heights of denialist comedy were scaled by Neuborne, who couldn’t put “the F-word” in his text or index in a book that discovered no less than twenty common themes, tactics, and policies that Trump as president was “copying from the early Hitler government” while “following Hitler’s playbook” and “letting Hitler’s genies out of the bottle”: holding power without winning majority support; finding and using direct lines of communication with their base; blaming others and dividing along racial lines; relentlessly demonizing opponents; constantly attacking objective truth; relentlessly attacking mainstream media; assaulting science; cultivating a fawning alternative media to spread lies; regular orchestrated mass hate-rallies; extreme nationalism; closing borders; embracing mass detention and deportation; using borders to protect selected industries; embedding authoritarian rule by rewarding capitalist elites; rejecting international norms; attacking domestic democratic processes; attacking courts and the rule of law; glorifying the military and demanding loyalty oaths; proclaiming unchecked power; relegating women to subordinate roles[1].

When asked about parallels with Trump and the Trump presidency, the “fascism experts” engaged in straw-dog reasoning by ticking off numerous and obvious ways in which the 45th United States president and the United States during the Trump years fell short of the committed doctrinal fascism of Mussolini and Hitler and the fully consolidated fascist regimes of interwar and WWII Europe. Nothing less than Classic Coke passed muster for these sweet-rooted connoisseurs of pure historical fascism, who chattered about the absence of “real fascism” in Trump and Trumpism as they missed and/or unduly downplayed remarkable political, rhetorical, ideological, and movement continuities between fascism old and new while failing to grasp contemporary US and global fascism as a movement and politics – a movement and politics with a very real (if clumsy and more “instinctive” than doctrinal) fascist cult leader in the most powerful job of the most powerful nation in world history from January 20, 2017 through January 20, 2021.

The next presidential election in the US should be very telling as the populace will once again have to choose between the ribald Republican strongman and some hapless Democrat empty suit.

The very last thing we need in the world is a military conflict with China, David Vine writes in Counterpunch about the folly of taking the Cold War path again.

 

“The Biden administration and the United States must do better than resuscitate the strategies of the nineteenth century and the Cold War era. Rather than further fueling a regional arms race with yet more bases and weapons development in Australia, U.S. officials could help lower tensions between Taiwan and mainland China, while working to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea. In the wake of the Afghan War, President Biden could commit the United States to a foreign policy of diplomacy, peace-building, and opposition to war rather than one of endless conflict and preparations for more of the same. AUKUS’s initial 18-month consultation period offers a chance to reverse course.

Recent polling suggests such moves would be popular. More than three times as many in the U.S. would like to see an increase, rather than a decrease, in diplomatic engagement in the world, according to the nonprofit Eurasia Group Foundation. Most surveyed would also like to see fewer troop deployments overseas. Twice as many want to decrease the military budget as want to increase it.

The world barely survived the original Cold War, which was anything but cold for the millions of people who lived through or died in the era’s proxy wars in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Can we really risk another version of the same, this time possibly with Russia as well as China? Do we want an arms race and competing military buildups that would divert trillions of dollars more from pressing human needs while filling the coffers of arms manufacturers? Do we really want to risk triggering a military clash between the United States and China, accidental or otherwise, that could easily spin out of control and become a hot, possibly nuclear, war in which the death and destruction of the last 20 years of “forever wars” would look small by comparison.

That thought alone should be chilling. That thought alone should be enough to stop another Cold War before it’s too late.”

 

The massive disparity between the social classes in the US make it difficult to find the equality as set down by their law, in their society.

“1. The United States, by the way, is fundamentally unjust. Even before the Trump Virus sparked a depression and corporate bailout that deepened inequality in the U.S., the three wealthiest Americans’ combined wealth already exceeded that of the nation’s bottom 50 percent. The top tenth of the upper U.S. One Percent already had a shared net worth greater than that of the nation’s bottom 90 percent and median Black household wealth amounted to 6 cents on the white median household dollar. The nation has long been riddled by massive, interrelated disparities of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and power that make an abject mockery of its claim to represent democracy and equality before the law. Exhaustive empirical research shows that progressive majority public opinion is close to irrelevant in the making of “public” policy, which consistently reflects the preferences of the wealthy Few and their giant corporations and financial institutions. You can learn all about this from mainstream researchers and journalists who never identify with “ideologies such as Marxism” or acknowledge that significant socioeconomic disparity and top-down class rule are inherent to the profits system.”

 

The US would do well to start to manage the current distribution of wealth.  A country that is run for the benefit of a small elite is a society that is doomed to fail.

 

 

It seems like William Greider was frighteningly correct with the thesis of his book from 1997. This snippet from Counterpunch has raised my curiousity enough to make it point to borrow or buy the book.

“Back in 1997, Greider wrote a book, One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, which warned that competition from the developing world would put downward pressure on the wages of manufacturing workers and that large trade deficits could lead to serious shortfalls in aggregate demand, meaning weak growth and high unemployment. The book was widely trashed by economists, including the leading liberals of the day. In particular, they ridiculed the idea that trade deficits could lead to unemployment, after all, the Fed could just lower interest rates to make up any shortfall in demand.

Two decades later, most of the mainstream of the profession accepts the idea of “secular stagnation,” meaning a sustained shortfall in demand that leaves the economy operating well below its potential level of output. With interest rates having bottomed out at zero following the Great Recession, most economists would concede that the Fed does not have the ability to boost the economy back to full employment, or at least not with its traditional tool of lowering the federal funds rate.

While economists generally do not like to talk about the trade deficit as a cause of secular stagnation, fans of logic and arithmetic point out that if we had balanced trade rather than a deficit of 3.0 percent of GDP, it would provide the same boost to the economy as an increase in government spending of 3.0 percent of GDP or roughly $650 billion a year in today’s economy. There is little doubt that would be a huge boost to demand and would have gone far towards ending the problem of secular stagnation. (There is no magic to balanced trade. I only use it as a point of reference.)

There were certainly things that Greider got wrong in One World, Ready or Not, as he did in his other economic writings. He was a journalist not an economist. Still, as one great economist commented, it is better to be approximately right than exactly wrong, a position that described many of his economist critics.”

 

The book, read now, will probably read like a fairly large “I told you so”, but I think it would be interesting to see what evidence he used to make the assertion.

 

 

The conclusion of Paul Street’s essay is important in naming the situation the US currently inhabits.  “You cannot maintain democracy at home while conducting an authoritarian empire abroad” is the idea that lies at the bottom of the problems plaguing the United States.  The notion that there are people, by default, undeserving of the same rights you grant to your citizenry, who don’t deserve the access to the rights/responsibilities (liberty, equalty, happiness) is eroding those very same ideals within the United States itself.

 

What Goes Around: “Trampling on the Helpless Abroad” Comes Home

     A final matter concerns the problem of imperial chickens coming home to roost. Liberals don’t like to hear it, but the ugly, richly documented historical fact of the matter is that their party of binary and tribal choice has long joined Republicans in backing and indeed crafting a U.S. foreign policy that has imposed authoritarian regimes (and profoundly undemocratic interventions including invasions and occupations) the world over. The roster of authoritarian and often-mass murderous governments the U.S. military and CIA and allied transnational business interests have backed, sometimes even helped create, with richly bipartisan support, is long indeed.

     Last fall, Illinois Green Party leader Mike Whitney ran some fascinating numbers on the 49 nation-states that the right-wing “human rights” organization Freedom House identified as “dictatorships” in 2016. Leaving aside Freedom House’s problematic inclusion of Russia, Cuba, and Iran on its list, the most remarkable thing about Whitney’s research was his finding that the U.S. offered military assistance to 76 percent of these governments. (The only exceptions were Belarus, China, Central African Republic, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.). “Most politically aware people,” Whitney wrote:

     “know of some of the more highly publicized instances examples of [U.S. support for foreign dictatorships], such as the tens of billions of dollars’ worth of US military assistance provided to the beheading capital of the world, the misogynistic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the repressive military dictatorship now in power in Egypt… apologists for our nation’s imperialistic foreign policy…try to rationalize such support, arguing that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are exceptions to the rule.  But my survey…demonstrates that our government’s support for Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not exceptions to the rule at all. They are the rule.”

     The Pentagon and State Department data Whitney used came from Fiscal Year 2015.  It dated from the next-to-last year of the Obama administration, for which so many liberals recall with misplaced nostalgia. Freedom House’s list should have included Honduras, ruled by a vicious right-wing government that Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped install in a June 2009 military coup.

     The problem here isn’t just liberal hypocrisy and double standards. The deeper issue is that, as the great American iconoclast Mark Twain knew, you cannot maintain democracy at home while conducting an authoritarian empire abroad.  During the United States’ blood-soaked invasion and occupation of the Philippines, Twain penned an imaginary history of the twentieth-century United States. “It was impossible,” Twain wrote, “to save the Great Republic.  She was rotten to the heart.  Lust of conquest had long ago done its work; trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home.”

     “Just a decade after Twain wrote those prophetic words,” the historian Alfred W. McCoy has observed, “colonial police methods came home to serve as a template for the creation of an American internal security apparatus in wartime.” The nation’s first Red Scare, which crushed left and labor movements during and after World War One, drew heavily on the lessons and practices of colonial suppression in the Philippines and Cuba. As McCoy shows in his latest book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,the same basic process – internal U.S. repression informed and shaped by authoritarian and imperial practices abroad and justified by alleged external threats to the “homeland” – has recurred ever since.  Today, the rise of an unprecedented global surveillance state overseen by the National Security Agency has cost the US the trust of many of its top global allies (under Bush43 and Obama44, not just under Trump45) while undermining civil liberties and democracy within as beyond the U.S.

    “The fetters imposed on liberty at home,” James Madison wrote in 1799, “have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers abroad.” Those are wise words well worth revisiting amidst the current endless Russiagate madness, calculated among other things to tell us that the FBI, the CIA, and the rest of the nation’s vast and ever more ubiquitous intelligence and surveillance state are on our side.

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