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The Pandemic Response as Contemporary Imperialism

Left Lockdown Sceptics

August 16, 2021

By Addison Reeves

 

August 22, 2021: Police fire rubber bullets at protesters near Victoria Market. Sydney, Australia

The almost uniform support for totalitarian lock-down measures and mandates from those on the left has been shocking to see and has resulted in a feeling of political homelessness for those whose leftist values are what lead them to view the response to the pandemic with a sharp critical eye. This article shows that the reason why so many on the left have abandoned the values of freedom of speech and movement, bodily autonomy, and economic justice is because those people belong to the ideology of progressivism, which exists outside the left-right dichotomy.

Progressivism is an ideology that champions limitless growth, unbridled use of technology and the control of nature over any intrinsic sense of worth or fulfillment. We all get dragged along on the march of ‘progress’ because progressives assume any deviance from their values is inferior and because they tend to control the world’s resources. Progress under this model is linear; the future is always an improvement on the past, and any attempt to resist change or divert course is seen as regressive and unscientific.

Progressives often engage in leftist rhetoric, but their proposals always result in strengthening and expanding the existing, inequitable system and further entrenching the current, elite class. Progressives propose superficial policies rather than measures that would truly allow citizens to become more self-sufficient or otherwise reduce inequality because that would undermine their primary goal of unlimited growth. That is why progressives increasingly take refuge in identity politics; it allows them to talk about changing the system without actually having to challenge the exploitative aspects of society that they rely on for profit and growth. They then blame the increasing disparities on their opponents for resisting ‘progress’.

Progressivism is the direct descendant of the imperialism that dominated much of Western history for centuries. While the common narrative of modern history would have us believe that imperialism faded away in the 20th century as military aggression was replaced with international, economic cooperation and democratic revolutions, imperialism never died. In the United States and other countries there has always been a championing of Enlightenment ideals of liberty and equality alongside the denial of these same values to other groups who were conquered, exploited, or oppressed for imperialist goals of expansion and profit. The legacy of imperialism is just as deeply imprinted on the minds of Americans as liberalism is.

 

 

August 8, 2021: “Firefighters Lead Protests Ahead of Vaccine Passports Being Required in France [Source: Newsweek]

Progressivism = imperialism

Imperialism is the practice of one group of people forcibly subjecting other groups of people to its authority and control for its own benefit, though the imperialists often rationalize their actions as an attempt to save or improve its victims. The history of imperialism in the United States has lent certain traits to its successor progressivism: an extractive belief system, an antipathy towards the natural world, a rigidly prescriptive mindset, and a pathological feeling of supremacy.

Progressivism, like imperialism, is built on the depletion of natural resources, with little concern for sustainability. This attitude extends not just to the plants, animals, and minerals we consume, but to humans (‘human resources’ or ‘human capital’) as well. Thus, the extractive belief system is evident in the slave and sweatshop labor that has and continues to subsidize the economy as well as the rapacious attitude towards nature. As an acquisition-focused philosophy, progressivism treats humans as objects to be possessed and controlled, especially for financial profit. Progressives show no qualms about manipulating people or depriving them of freedom or livelihood to coerce them into compliance because they have no respect for personal agency, seeing other humans as just another resource to be mined.

Progressives view humans as separate from the natural environment, treating nature as something merely to be tamed and conquered. Nature is treated as inherently flawed and in need of improvement by humans. Human solutions, especially technological solutions, are always seen as better than letting nature run its course even when the problems are man-made ones.

Progressives are obsessed with using data, technocracy, and standardization to create a false veneer of objectivity that they use to reinforce the belief in the supremacy of their ideas and to discount the viewpoints that are discordant with progressive ideology, often disdaining opposition as unscientific and false. This is true even where the dissent is unfalsifiable, like satire or an opinion. Progressive imperialists see their own opinions as absolute truth and fail to recognize their own biases and implicit assumptions, just like how early American imperialists deemed their own racialized worldview as scientific and used whatever differences they could quantify between whites and blacks as further evidence of their own supremacy.

Imperialists’ belief that they have ownership of truth fuels their belief in their own supremacy in a circular manner. They believe they are better and smarter than everyone else and therefore that their beliefs are also superior. Deviants and dissenters are perceived as inferior just by virtue of their deviance from the dogma of progressivism. Like the imperialists before them, progressives’ belief in their own superiority is what is used to justify forcing their will on everyone else. They see no problem with censoring criticism, depriving individuals of freedom, and forcing lifestyle choices on others.

Domestic imperialism today

August 21, 2021. Montreal, Canada, Italy, Holland, Australia… resistance against draconian lock-downs and vaccine passports continue. Working class resistance continues against vaccine passports. In France, 220 demonstrations took place nationwide 220 for the sixth consecutive weekend, including Paris. Video: Amsterdam Protests, August 21, 2021, Source: Wytse Koetse
 

One can recognize progressive imperialists because they are the ones who think their own beliefs are facts and those of the opposition are misinformation to be censored. They may pay lip service to freedom of choice, but upon further questioning you will find that that they also believe that people who make a choice in contradiction of progressive orthodoxy should be punished for exercising that ‘freedom’. They are the ones who increasingly believe that people on the wrong side of progressivism should lose their livelihoods or be excluded from society. They are the ones who believe they are morally justified in forcing other autonomous humans to bend to their will.

The phrase ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is characteristic of progressive imperialism today. The term is a propagandistic tool to pathologize non-compliance with an imperialist vision. Notably, the term implies that there can be no choice on the matter, that it is only a matter of time until everyone gets the vaccine. The entire discussion has been framed in starkly imperialist terms—asking how the state can overcome people’s objections and force compliance—rather than in the liberal terms of personal sovereignty and pluralism (acknowledging that different viewpoints are equally valid and that the decision should be based on personal choice).

Johannesburg, South Africa, July 1, 2020. JOHANNESBURG — “Anti-vaccine sentiment in Africa is ‘the worst I’ve ever seen,’ the CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, Seth Berkley, told an African Union vaccine conference last week.” [Source: PBS] REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Some will protest that the sacrifice of individual autonomy and the state coercion of vaccination is morally defensible because the intention is ostensibly to save lives. That very response is a perfect illustration of the uniquely imperialist mindset. That certainty that one’s position is objectively, morally right; that there can be no room for diversity on the matter; and that one’s superiority of belief is so obvious that it justifies forcing other individuals to submit their very bodies (and, in the case of those who may suffer fatal reactions, possibly their lives) is the epitome of imperialism, the basis from which much oppression has been borne. The assumption of infallibility and the feeling of entitlement to play God with someone else’s health is pure colonization of other human beings. The tendency to assume that someone else’s personal choices about his or her own life should be subordinate to your beliefs is the essence of imperialism. It is an expectation that one can and should dominate others.  Such a person is carrying on the storied legacy of the numerous imperialists before them. Every generation has them, and these people are this era’s imperialist oppressors, though of course, like all imperialists, they see themselves as heroes.

This is particularly salient when you consider the racial dynamics at play with regard to ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ with reluctance to take the vaccine being higher among blacks and other people of color. What could be a more striking example of domestic imperialism than today’s white elites assuming that the reluctance of people of color (as well as non-compliant whites) to take the vaccine is invalid and ignorant and must be overturned? The means that they are employing to entice these communities to comply—using everything from free fast food to hip hop videos—suggests that progressives do not think people of color are capable of having intellectual and philosophical rationales behind their decisions to opt-out. Consequently, progressives rely on cheap attempts to manipulate them emotionally, such as by producing a hip hop video telling people to get vaccinated. It is the kind of patronizing appeal that could only come from people who already assume they are superior and have no respect for the intelligence of any groups they seek to control.

Once again, we see the privileged white upper class acting as missionaries to spread their beliefs as absolute truth to classes of people they deem inferior to themselves, the modern-day savages whom they must tame, control, and manipulate in service of their supposedly objective worldview.

 

Ama Attaa Aidoo, Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, 1987: “You brought us tuberculosis – we didn’t have this big cough until white people came here.” [Source: @alikoto_roller]

And like the missionaries of old, progressives rationalize their tyranny by claiming that they are doing it for the good of their victims and society. But the end-goal is their own progressive cause. That is why, despite claiming that their desires for vaccine mandates are about saving lives, progressives express little concern for the lives of those people who died after getting these novel technological interventions. Those people died in service of progressive goals so their deaths do not matter. To a progressive imperialist, every such death is a righteous one because humans are just another tool to fulfill progressive ends.

The topic also highlights the progressive loathing of nature. The idea of reliance on natural immunity—what humans have relied on for the maintenance of health since the dawn of human history—rather than on a completely novel technology is disdained by progressives as ignorant and pseudo-scientific. We are no longer permitted to live as human beings have lived for millennia because progressives have decided that such ways of life are outdated and wrong. We cannot opt out of new technologies.

Never mind the fact that proof of natural immunity has been the consensus in the scientific community until last year when progressives censored any scientists that failed to corroborate their directives. Progressives hate nature and refuse to respect its laws. We must all fear nature and live in disharmony with it. Progressives will not allow any other philosophy of living but their own. Yet, for all this faith in technology, the fact that people can still get and transmit the virus after getting the vaccine makes it in fact little more than a superstitious ritual that we all must observe as unwilling participants in the religion of progressivism. It, along with the rest of the hygiene and distancing theater, is an example of how adept imperialists are at transforming their own neuroses and self-interest into moral imperatives for everyone else.

The supremacy attitude and the entitlement to control others and deprive them of rights and privileges are the hallmarks of imperialism, the same qualities that have under-girded all the major human atrocities of the past and those underway and to come.

 

 

[Addison Reeves is a lawyer, political scientist, philosopher, and civil rights and civil liberties advocate based in New York. Addison critiques modern culture from a radical, leftist perspective at ModernHeretic.com or you can follow her on Telegram or Twitter.]

 

Further reading:

Vaccination: Most Deceptive Tool of Imperialism


https://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2020/04/15/vaccination-most-deceptive-tool-of-imperialism/


Defending Latin America’s Resistance Axis

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2021

By Stephen Sefton

 

Early in July this year Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke to a conference in which he outlined the main elements of the region’s Resistance Axis’ media and communications strategy. He stressed the rightness of the Resistance cause challenging Western imperialism, in particular Israel’s genocidal, colonialist settler occupation of Palestine. He pointed out the strength, unity and resilience of the Axis, led by Iran and Syria, but including Hezbollah itself and allied movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen. Nasrallah also emphasized the importance of the Resistance Axis leadership’s determination to report the facts of events in the region truthfully with rigorously honesty when offering analysis.

Together moral right and political strength, truthful reporting and analytic honesty have created and nurtured deep, broadly based, committed support across the region. Few observers doubt that the Resistance cause will ultimately triumph in Syria and Palestine, given the relentless relative decline of US and allied imperial power relative to Russia and China and the steadfastness of Iran and Syria. The formidable unity and solidarity of the movements successfully challenging the US and Israel in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen offer lessons essential for their resistance counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s remarks have particular relevance to the Resistance Axis composed of the ALBA countries led by Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela whose governments all strongly support Iran and Syria. In varying degrees, these countries have also long suffered relentless aggression from the United States, its allies and regional proxies, in Cuba’s case for over sixty years. Nasrallah’s criteria defnitely apply to the experience of this bloc of resistance to US and allied imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The moral right of these countries is founded on their historic struggle against imperial domination and on the fundamental principles of modern international law, namely, non-aggression and the right to self determination. To circumvent that profund moral right the US and its allies seek to apply their own illegal “rules based order” applying all kinds of aggression on the basis of false accusations of human rights violations processed through the corrupt institutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. As in the case of Palestine and wider West Asia, this genocidal Western aggression is driven by profound nostalgia for the era of unlimited colonial and neocolonial domination.

The moral right of the ALBA countries to their resistance is undeniable and so too is the formidable political strength, unity and resilience they have mobilized to defend their cause against relentless economic, diplomatic, media and psychological warfare, domestic terror and even military attack. Over centuries, all these countries’ peoples have resisted foreign domination. Cuba’s Revolution triumphed in 1959 and has resisted Yankee and allied onslaught and destabilization for over 60 years. Likewise, Venezuela since Comandante Chávez became president in 1998 and Bolivia since Evo Morales was elected president in 2006, have also endured relentless US and allied hostility and aggression. Nicaragua has been the target of US intervention ever since the Sandinista Front for National Liberation overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Despite everything the US and its allies have attempted in recent years, these countries have stood firm in defense of their right to self-determination. In their case too, the combination of moral right, political strength and unity, truthful reporting and honest analysis has consolidated not only solid domestic support to resist US and allied aggression, but also national consensus rejecting neoliberal policies promoting corporate greed, in favor of socialist development programs focused on the needs of the human person. The frustration and desperation of the US, its allies and their regional mercenaries and proxies will certainly intensify as their efforts continue failing to break down broad popular support for the ALBA countries’s governments. All four governments are now well aware of the methods deployed by the US and its allies to carry out their wildly misnamed “soft coups”.

To expose, disarm and defeat the increasingly desperate imperialist campaigns of aggression effectively, the Resistance Axis led by Iran and Syria has shown the importance of ever closer unity and coordination between governments, popular movements, media outlets and all expressions of popular consciousness and awareness. Nicaragua has not suffered the same economic and military aggression as Cuba and Venezuela, but its leadership, especially Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, have been subjected to perhaps an even more systematic and comprehensive campaign of demonization, as intense as that against Muammar al Gaddhafi prior to and during the destruction of Libya. In fact, most progressive and even anti-imperialist media outlets and intellectuals tended to accept at face value the false imperialist media account of the failed coup attempt in 2018.

However, by telling the truth honestly in the most determined way, Nicaragua’s government has largely overcome the concerted psychological warfare campaign deployed against it, preserving and reinforcing support and solidarity where it is most needed, both among Nicaragua’s people and internationally in bodies like the Foro Sao Paulo. The government’s dignified, forceful and persistent presentation of the country’s reality at a diplomatic level has successfully defeated efforts by the US and its allies to isolate the country. Similarly, good faith reporting by international organizations, like the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Panamerican Health Organization, UNESCO, or even the World Bank, on their work with Nicaragua consistently contradicts claims by the corrupt human rights organizations of the UN and the OAS that the country’s government is a repressive dictatorship denying basic rights to its people.

The failed coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, the coup in Bolivia in 2019, continuing constant aggression of all kinds against Venezuela and, most recently, the US organized and funded protests in Cuba and the accompanying intensification of the blockade, are all part of what Stella Calloni and other writers have identified as the new Plan Condor. This reality is very well understood by now, both across the region and increasingly among the anti-imperialist movements in North America and Europe. As Sayyed Nasrallah has explained in the context of occupied Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, by persistently reporting events in the region truthfully and analyzing them honestly our governments and popular movements can build and consolidate the moral and political strength and unity necessary to overcome the US and its allies and achieve the definitive Second Independence of Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

 

We Are Many.  The Oppressors Are Not.

We Are Many. The Oppressors Are Not.

August 3, 2021

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

Kadhim Hayder (1932-1985), title unknown, Iraq

 

I remember chatting with a man from Iraq in 2016.  He was driving a taxi in Germany.  I wrote about him in one of my essays [1]:

“Last month, I was chatting with an Iraqi taxi driver in Berlin. My 12 year old son and I took a cab from the Museum for Contemporary Art to our hotel. I couldn’t help but ask the cab driver why he ended up in Berlin. He said it was something to do with the availability of the visa. He stressed that he had to leave because he didn’t like Islam. He said Muslims were killing each other.

 

I felt very slightly sad because he sounded like he had to say that to prove that he wasn’t a “terrorist”. I told him that it was the US that supported Saddam when it was convenient. Then, the US flipped, changing its policy, as doing so became more convenient. I asked him, Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, same old story, no?

 

Then he said something unexpected. He said it was a “people’s revolution”. “We stood against Saddam”.  He was referring to the first gulf war in 1991. He went on to describe how it didn’t go as people wished, and it brought about the devastating trade embargo, more war, ISIS and so on.  His voice was passionate.  I felt the anger and frustration against war and imperialism that I also feel myself, in his voice.”

The imperial war against countries that defy the US hegemonic imperatives involves a few steps.  The target population is deprived of their basic necessities by economic embargo, trade sanctions, travel restrictions and demonization of its leader.  The society is destabilized by the lack of resources and economic activities.  The opposing forces in the country are generously funded by the empire to build a momentum against the defying “regime” in the name of “revolution,” “democracy,” “freedom” and etc. The communities are divided.  The institutions are compromised to serve capital, adding more confusions and predicaments to the population.

Quite often this is sufficient enough to silence those who defy such interventions and it results in an overthrow of the existing order.  The society is transformed to suit the colonial policies concocted by western industries, which result in resource extraction, privatization, financialization, exploitation of cheap labor, construction of US military bases and so on.

Quite a few middle eastern countries have defied such interventions resulting in proxy wars and western military interventions.

That was the war on terror which continues to this day as the US forces are freely employed against the world according to its “war on terror legal framework,” while its measures are still in place as restrictions against our legal rights as well as restrictions at airports and so on.

Many of us raised our voices against the obvious crime of invading other countries, colonizing them and subjugating them.  To my surprise there were people who objected to our assertion saying that if we didn’t invade them, they would have invaded us, they were “terrorists,” and so on.

Enormous profits were generated by this huge public project, war, at the expense of the people in the war torn countries as well as oppressed people in some of the richest countries of the world. No one was held accountable for deaths and destruction.  The war to save people from terrorists was a huge capitalist project to expand the power and wealth of hardened criminals who call themselves politicians, philanthropists, businessmen, intellectuals, patriots, academics, and so on.

Clockwork eyes by Mick Ryan

The underlining mentality of neocolonial violence is based on prejudice against the peoples of the targeted countries.  Those peoples, who reside within countries governed by “leaders” who have sworn to obey imperial policies, are subjected to tighter measures of exploitation and subjugation in order to serve the interests of the imperial institutions. The predicaments of the subject population—poverty, social unrest, and corruption, which stem from the economic subjugation, justify the mental superiority among westerners, falsely proving the inferiority of the “barbaric” population which must be “assisted” by westerners.  If the leader of a colonized country attempts to amend the unfair situation by implementing policies that serve that country’s own people, the western authority would mobilize policies to remove such an element.  The policies are firmly backed by the prejudice amongst the imperial population.  Simple slogans and key words such as “he is killing his own people,” “save the children,” “regime,” “dictatorship” and “genocide” can trigger the colonial mentality as well as the white savior mentality in the imperial population.

“In the cage there is food. Not much, but there is food. Outside are only great stretches of freedom. Nicanor Parra Bird Nightmare by Mick Ryan”

Fast forward to 2021–the era of war on virus. We are experiencing a massive wealth transfer to the rich and powerful, which can be best described by Jeff Bezos thanking his workers and customers for his rocket ride. [2] The cynical exploitative violence inflicted against workers is found in all sectors across the country, creating destruction of small community businesses, massive homelessness, suicide surge, spike in drug related deaths.  Lockdown measures are wreaking havoc in vital social relations, which must now be reorganized.

The virus event has turned the dwindling healthcare system into mask wearing, social distancing and getting injected with extremely lucrative experimental genetic modification drugs—which are surrounded by  unprecedented numbers of injuries and deaths, far surpassing all combined prior vaccine injury and death reports to the CDC reporting system VAERS.  The lockdown measures and profit oriented measures against the virus further narrowed the capacity of the general healthcare system, resolution in huge numbers of patients without vital care for their urgent conditions. Destroying the healthcare system for the sake of saving lives is only an aspect of the current mobilization.  The education system, which has been under attack for generations by corporate forces, has received a blank check to fire faculties, turn classes into online tutorials, and pursue a new mission to create obedient workers for the Forth Industrial Revolution.  The financial institution has accelerated its herding of the population into the digital realm where people are conditioned, commodified, and exploited as data.  In every industry, a massive restructuring process for profit is occurring in the name of Covid measures.

Now, I understand that respiratory illnesses can be very dangerous.  If you look up articles from pre-Covid time, you find desperate calls from healthcare professionals screaming about the risk of flu epidemics due to the lack of facilities and resources. This has become reality after Covid, as massive death tolls have resulted from nursing home lockdowns.  Profit oriented treatment options have been promoted while effective options were restricted, resulting in yet even more deaths and hospitalizations.  But statistically, all these deaths in the US had not exceeded the range of year to year variation in death rate.  This crucial fact has been observed in various countries.  The Covid situation, if anything, is very much a man-made event. It can not be described as a deadly pandemic comparable to the bubonic plague. This should shatter virus event narratives propped up by “cases“ concocted by unreliable PCR tests—its inaccuracy has been highly criticized by many scientists—including the inventor of the PCR test himself–due to its arbitrary results depending on the degree of amplification in search of the targeted DNA fragments. [3][4]

The above observation is strictly based on the opinions of numerous healthcare professionals, doctors, and scientists across the globe. At the very least, it must be recognized that there are significant disagreements within the field of science on every aspect of Covid-19, its treatments, and lockdown measures. [5][6]

However, none of those are examined in a serious manner by the establishment.  In fact there are many instances of healthcare professionals being disciplined for reporting cases of vaccine injury, speaking against the treatment policies, and questioning the prevalent assumptions regarding the virus.  Healthcare professionals are actively forced to play along with the official Covid narrative.

For the general public the mixed emotions over the contradictions have turned to frustration, and the frustration has turned anger as if we are stuck in a pressure cooker made with official narratives and structural impediments of lockdowns and forced vaccine injection.  The heat and pressure have broken down the social fabric as our daily routines are dictated by “new normal.”

So many things have happened since last year.  But somehow things don’t seem to fit in right places in our heads.

We mark our sense of time and space with traditional events, daily routines and our common knowledge.  When we lose those, we are left with a series of elements and dynamics without those markers.

But alternate markers have been provided by those who have deprived us of the markers.  Our lives are marked with lockdowns, masks and social distancing–the “new normal”.

Now we mark our lives with it.

We are told that there is a deadly disease out there and the only solution is to vaccinate.  Our life and death are determined by one of the largest corporate entities, the medical industrial complex.

Just as the war on terror was described as a “crusade”—legitimizing the twisted religious and cultural superiority of the colonizers, disguising white man’s burden as humanitarian obligation —  the war on virus crowns “science” as its guiding force.  However, needless to say, the credibility of the “science” is proportional to the accompanying might of wealth and power—just as the facts of war are bought and sold as “journalism”. Propaganda lies fill the air as those who oppose are marked as “others” who  deserve to be castigated as being outside of the protection of the gated community.

This way of framing—the medical industrial complex—is useful in understanding the dynamics within the capitalist hegemony.  However, such an entity is also a part of the media industrial complex, non profit industrial complex, political industrial complex, and of course military industrial complex.  In short, our lives are dictated by multiple dynamic forces of oligarchs, orchestrating a “reality” which firmly manifests as a capitalist framework—a cage to condition our lives based on its imperatives.

Patrice Letarnec’s Human Zoo project

As the current virus mobilization reframes our society, obliterating existing values, norms and beliefs, the corporate institutions and their owners are consecrated as absolute beings which determine our life and death. This is why decrees legitimated by the “emergency”  are acceptable political means now.  This is why large corporations have gained enormous wealth.  This is why our lives are herded into the digital realm where we are commodified, conditioned to be exploited, and truncated to be stripped of the mystery of life and the unknown.

But where do the anger and frustration go?

The US establishment is well aware of the boiling anger and frustration over the situation.  The momentum of anger is cultivated and it is being shaped to put the people against each other—an old corporate duopoly trick, which has grown steadily as a dynamic tool of social engineering in the US.  The ghosts of the Civil War still determine the means of enslavement, while allowing the ruling class to preside over the theater of “democracy,” “freedom” and “humanity”—a manufactured “reality.”  Individualism, self-determination and a sense of freedom based on the sacrifices of many oppressed people are a privilege only allowed to people with economic security.  This is a part of the reason why the resistance against the Covid lockdown measures encompasses a reactionary element.  In particular, erroneously defining the trajectory as “socialism” or “communism”.  This ironic twist, the capitalist oppression being blamed on the enemy of capitalists, once again reveals the mechanism of the imperial duopoly as well as the expansion of the exploitative violence against a formerly economically secure segment of the population, which will require tighter measures of draconian restrictions.

It is not a coincidence that the red states have embraced the opposing positions while the blue states firmly adhere to the official narratives on vaccines and lockdown measures.  The subject populations are allowed to choose the mode of enslavement, but the slight differences in the choice are big enough to activate colonial hatred toward each other.  The unresolved historical pain, emotion and grudge have found urgent expression against “enemies” among us.  A fight between teeth baring wolves and cunning foxes, as Malcolm X would call it, channels the anger and frustration safely within the capitalist framework.  The media, politicians and major institutions carefully instigate conflicts among the people by demonizing opponents over vaccines and lockdown measures, while protecting “pandemic” narratives one way or the other.

Some people might think that things must get worse before it gets better. Things can certainly get worse but it looks like it only means more fragmentation of communities and destabilization of institutions, which allows further erosion of people’s interests by the capitalist domination along with justifications for its draconian measures.  This probably gives a comfortable feeling for those privileged ones in gated communities. This also accompanies the exacerbation of fascist momentum, which always justifies the forces of western imperial hegemony—remember how the Trump phenomenon pushed neoliberal policies, which are embraced by the both corporate parties, while justifying anything else to oppose Donald Trump, who was largely perceived as an obvious caricature of the narcissistic failing empire?  The US capitalism moves forward while oscillating left and right within the acceptable spectrum of imperialism.

In short, everything is under control according to those who destroyed the middle eastern countries.  The only difference is that now the target is us. We are under attack.  Some of us are demonized by the establishment to play the role of scapegoats.  Some of us are praised as heroes saving lives and sacrificing themselves. Our communities are being destroyed to be further consumed by the colonizers of humanity and nature.

Crying tree – Ontario, Canada, 2021

The war on virus is meant as a crucial background of destabilization and fear which helps extract huge amount of public spending in the name of saving lives, saving environment and saving people’s livelihoods—which are all under attack by the savagery of the very capitalist domination.   Since the war on virus is largely targeting the public money, we are bombarded with an unprecedented amount of wholesale propaganda narratives, as if we are thrown into the process of corporate electoral process—we are supposed to vote yes to those lucrative capitalist fixes for the capitalist problems by going along with the narratives.  Public outcries against the policies are safely consumed among the populations as people are forced to fight among themselves.  Moreover, the war on virus is meant to be a perpetual war.  Inconceivable “mistakes” will be made, victories would be declared here and there, facts will be revealed when convenient, while much of the facts are distorted to prop up the pretense of this vast protection racket scheme by the oligarchs.  One step forward, and one step backward, our lives swirl within the torturous theater of the “medical crisis,” but the real solution is never to be found within it.  The empire can not lose the war but the empire has no intention of winning the war either, for the winning can destroy the domesticated momentum of the in-fighting among the people, as well as an assortment of “activism” backed by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, which effectively drives capitalist agendas in the name of “our democracy”.  After all, we are many.  The oppressors are not.  The mechanism of the domestication must be kept in place to tame the masses within the feudal hierarchy of money and violence.  Meanwhile, fear, doubt and real threat against our livelihood in the form of economic strangulation continue to force us to swallow the protection racket deal with the criminal enterprise.

Ultimately, the trajectory points to a complete domestication of our species through management of all means of production, its products, and the distribution system.  As the peoples become products themselves with biotech procedures, the social relations within the digital realm seamlessly merge with the fabricated reality, virtually cementing the feudal hierarchy of the absolute power.

As we operate within social media outlets, as we present our identities within their frameworks, and as we are injected with genetic modification  drugs to modify our physical response to the natural world, we have already stepped into a dangerous stage which might very well spell the end of our species as we know it.

The Arsenal, 1928, Diego Rivera

What could Iraqis do as they suffered the deadly embargo and invasions?  The question is ours now.  Unfortunately, many of those who stood with the empire are still insisting on fighting the imperial war as we have become the targets of the war, demonizing our community members as enemies, repeating slogans and talking points to justify the imperial restructuring, as our communities fall apart to be devoured by the colonizers.  It is no coincidence that those who oppose the current mobilization are accused of being racists, conspiracy theorists, or fascist worshipers—just as not agreeing with bombing brown people would be accused of letting brown children die by the hand of a “dictator.”

Our real enemy is not the “antivaxxers,” or the gullible people swallowing the corporate propaganda.  The real enemy is the imperial oligarchs who are shaping our society in order to continue their ways of exploitation and subjugation.  They are shaping the capitalist cage to squeeze the last remnants of our imagination and our connection to humanity and nature.  How can we defy the colonization of humanity and nature?  How can we be a part of the resistance against the criminal pyramid scheme which is bound to implode with its destructive nature?  How can we build our ways to be in harmony with ourselves, with each other and with nature?  We are a part of the countless people who have held the dream of such a harmony.  We stand strong with them in solidarity.  We are many. The oppressors are not.

 

[1] Hiroyuki Hamada, How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together? September 23, 2016

[2] Lauren Elizabeth, Jeff Bezos Made Some Revealing Comments After His Trip into Space. July 20, 2021

[3] Apoorva Mandavilli Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be.  August 29, 2020

[4] International Consortium of Scientists External peer review of the RTPCR test to detect SARS-CoV-2 reveals 10 major scientific flaws at the molecular and methodological level: consequences for false positive results.  November 27, 2020

[5] Off Guardian 12 Experts Questioning the Coronavirus Panic March 24, 2020

[6] Dr. Mike Yeadon Bitchute MICHAEL YEADON – HELA INTERVJUN – [SVENSK UNDERTEXT] June 8, 2021

 

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

The Mechanism of Invisible Hand, Invisible Cage, and Invisible Empire over Humanity and Nature

Dissident Voice

February 9, 2021

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

 

When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become kings and queens of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as  the monstrous imaginations of the deranged ruling class devour humanity and nature.

The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid.  Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The? pain of “others” becomes your gain.  The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the kings and queens.

But? such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.

The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. This has been shown over and over: colonization of natives by Europeans, enslavement of African people, genocides of many sorts.

But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us today:  homelessness, deaths by treatable diseases, hunger, deaths by substance abuse, suicide, poverty, refugees, mass incarceration, state violence, the psychological torture of alienation.  The kings and queens don’t recognize those as issues to be solved with their resources.  Instead those issues represent forms of punishment for those who fail to secure viable positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The fear of the punishment and the fear of the authority work together to lock us in positions in the hierarchy, forcing us to protect our positions which systemically and structurally threaten our well-being 24/7; we live in a system of structural extortion.

As we have become free-range people in the “divine farm” of modern-day kings and queens, we have lost our access to the fundamental material reality. A sterile cage with screens, mandatory injections, electronic tracking within the invisible fence; human mice for profits, feed for data harvesting, an ever greater degree of spiritual death. It is not hard to start connecting the dots to see how things can lead into a grim future.

But what does such a fear do to the population, which has tolerated an assortment of abuses as their “punishment”? To those who manage to ignore their fellow humans living on the streets as invisible beings or fail to feel the pain of those being cornered into substance use and desperate acts of self-destruction?

Would they believe the words of those who question, or the words of the ruling class promising a glorious future of AI, green capitalism, genetic engineering, digitization and financialization?

And before we ask such a question, one must wonder if such a question is even allowed when the socioeconomic/political trajectory of the empire has been firmly within the imperial framework of the two capitalist political parties.

The capitalist hierarchy absorbs what it needs by allocating special positions within it:  Natural resources, narratives, facts, history, people, political ideologies or anything that sits in time and space.  The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve.  Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.

Meanwhile such a process occurs in layers and layers, projecting myths, exploitative narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.

The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy.  Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy. Kings and queens find themselves to be worthy rulers of the universe, while the masses see themselves as freedom loving people who do their best in a world of opportunities.

In such an equation authoritarianism presents itself as a swinging pendulum between fascism and social democracy as it moves forward on the capitalist path in space and time.  The carrot and stick carefully manage projected images to stay within the capitalist framework of acceptable ideas. Corporate politics and corporate activism play crucial roles in making the pendulum swing, therefore ensuring that the capitalist interests always go forward while appearing to be “democratic”.

Those who rely on terrorist tactics of various sorts attempt to resist the system by attacking the valuable, captured elements that work for the system.  The damage compromises social dynamics in ways that deprive those who are already deprived, while dividing the population that should be uniting to dismantle the oppressive system.

Guided by agent provocateurs and corporate NGOs, righteous anger against oppressors turns into a justification for draconian measures, destruction of communities for urban renewal, and a catalyst for new projects of exploitation.

As a set of capitalist imperatives pushes the capitalist contradiction to the limit, completely depriving people’s ability to reconcile the false perceptions and the material reality, it is time for an urgent mobilization to change the trajectory of exploitation into a new field with a new set of rules.  We are told that enemies are coming, a natural disaster is coming or a disease is coming, forcing us to mobilize ourselves to adjust to a new path of plundering for the kings and queens.

Any crisis, real or not, against the backdrop of a hierarchical structure imposes two sets of momentum that keep us within the capitalist farm.   The first set has to do with fear of the authority, which keeps our frustration directed against ourselves, each other and oppressed “others”, while firmly gripping the destabilized psyche of the population—creating an ironic psychology of supporting oppressive authority against our own interests.   The second set has to do with the material constraints imposed by the particular crisis—we become enemies to each other fighting amongst ourselves to survive.   We are put in the capitalist cage.   And we are forced to protect our cage, which is constructed with vertical strength to withstand fear of the authority, horizontal strength to withstand   attacks by competitors, and a solid floor to prevent one from falling down from the position in the hierarchy. The whole structure is held together with violent force of exploitation and subjugation.

“The Great Reset”

“The Great Reset” is packaged as a “great solution”.  Just like how the ruling class has marketed “green capitalism”—carbon trading, carbon capture, reforestation, and other resource exhausting green schemes and technologies for profit, it’s designed to prop up capitalism but it is also intended to transform capitalism to have more effective control of social relations while keeping the capitalist hierarchy intact.  Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted.  Just as “green capitalism” has destroyed real environmentalism in the name of saving the planet, it is designed to destroy anti-capitalist activism in the name of “revolution”.

One of the prominent leftist tools under a capitalist framework has been grass roots activism to affect state regulations and state guidelines to contain momentums of exploitation and subjugation created by Wall Street as well as capitalist social institutions.  The stock market guided economy (falsely advertised as the only system that works) allows the ruling class to dominate social policies according to their interests; it prioritizes ruling class wealth accumulation while sacrificing social relations among the general population; it is extremely inefficient, unstable and economically unjust. The capitalist state has been a great tool in ensuring the interests of the ruling class to be a priority. The socialist revolution takes over the capitalist state, it nationalizes corporate entities and sets up the economy, education and the rest of social institutions and social relations to be guided by people’s interests.  Various incarnations of the above strategies to counter capitalist exploitation and encroaching imperial hegemony have attempted to do two major things. First, they have prioritized people’s interests by emphasizing projects that benefit the general population while providing social safety nets, infrastructure for the people, environmental regulations and so on. Second, they have allowed economic activities based on people’s needs which can grow organic community dynamics based on humanity and nature.

“The Great Reset,” on the other hand, is a project of the ruling class meant to take away those measures from the people and utilize them to further solidify their dominance over the people.  Since the owners of the farm are plenty rich already, they won’t need a big farm. Their social engineering skills as well as the greater control over the economy will be put to a test in building a sustainable farming business with a smaller herd.

This is why it seems that all activism has turned into enforcing or defying the various virus lockdown measures which have been instrumental in enforcing the trajectory of “The Great Reset.” Remember how all environmental activism was swallowed by the single idea of reducing carbon emission? Fearmongering slogans of apocalyptic narratives involving climate change, strong NGO guided activism, and corporate science emphasizing the topic of global warming have created the huge snowballing momentum to fight climate change at all costs, sidelining and co-opting all other important environmental activism. This has also contributed to the idea that it is no longer relevant to insist on being a part of systematic efforts in dismantling the capitalist system and building an alternate system which allows humanity and nature to prevail in harmony;  we are told that we don’t have time to build socialism anymore. We are encouraged to be a part of green solutions by the capitalists as a result.

We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”.  But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand.” We are told that we should be provided with universal basic income, free housing and other social services as long as we follow the regulations and policies of public-private partnership.  What sort of conditioning will we be subjected to after being deprived of our inherent relationships to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to nature, forced to be a part of destructive industrial farming, digitalization of everything with massive resource extraction, colonization of our communities with multinational franchises and enslavement of our souls in the invisible cage of indoctrination and propaganda?  We already have such a system in the US—it’s called mass incarceration in the private prison system.  We are being told that the economy must not be merely guided by growth and it must be replaced by a sustainable one.  However, coming from those who have greatly restricted meaningful economic growth among the general population in order to subject livelihoods to the brutal capitalist framework, what they really mean is to restrict productive social relations among the people so that they must subsist with bare minimum requirements, eventually cornered to be a smaller herd, more manageable with less resources—an economic solution which can only be conceived by criminal minds. Who knows what role vaccines will play in it.  Who knows what sort of living hell people will be subjected to as our lives are treated like numbers in high frequency trading, or our entire lives are put on hold by AI customer representatives.

Note how the policies will be designed to be achieved by co-opting leftist agendas.  The invisible hand has been busy building a brand new invisible cage to perpetuate the violent reign of kings and queens in the name of “revolution”—a fascist revolution that is.

Now, I would like to emphasize that these trajectories are not set in stone. The problem is that those possibilities are highly unlikely to be examined by concerned people within the capitalist framework. There is a structural problem in the system. Let me go back to the pendulum.  Just like any other capitalist social institution, the capitalist political institution serves the ruling class;  it can serve as a crime laundering devise. As soon as a topic involving criminal activities is destined to be “political”—it dissociates itself from criminal elements and becomes “legitimate”. Various social institutions kick in to support such a view since they are all funded by the ruling class—media presents it as such, legislature codifies it as such, executive branch executes it as such, judicial branch judges it as such, academics support it as such, educational institution cements it as such and so on. It becomes normalized to be a part of social policies. Once the topic is on the political table embellished with a glorious history and myths of the nationhood of the United States of America, the topic becomes officially “political”, not criminal, and it is now safely and generously handled by the corporate entities.

The rendered topic floats in an artificial realm of political myths, tradition, and the gladiator battle culture of political authorities as a commodified symbol representing a fictitious version of the actual topic. Ordinary people can’t approach it coherently for what it is anymore unless they are rich and influential enough to access all moneyed social institutions.  Moreover, all the criminal records of officials are discarded, forgiven and forgotten as a new regime comes in every four years.

This is how destructive foreign policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, and exploitative predatory domestic policies of all sorts have been implemented against people in the name of freedom, justice and humanity.  This is how environmental concerns have turned into “green capitalism”.  This is how we are being mobilized today under the guise of virus lockdowns.

People watch and cheer the pendulum swing between political extremes within the capitalist framework.  Bits and pieces of awareness beyond the imperial framework can only be perceived with tools approved by the framework, effectively keeping those with the awareness within the ideas of the ruling class.  If you hold a world view that does not fit in it, you end up being categorized as a supporter of a political villain or simply labeled as “fascist”, “communist” and so on.  Needless to say those terms are solely defined by acceptable ideas, acceptable history and acceptable myths of the capitalist hegemony.  The fact that the US government has supported fascist regimes across the globe while brutally intervening against socialist countries across the globe won’t be admitted for instance.

How Capitalist Hierarchy Shapes Ideas

If one holds a view that defies the prevalent narrative, the individual can become a target of the authority as well as a target of multiple political extremes within the capitalist hegemony.  For instance, if you oppose Israeli war crimes from an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist position, you can be persecuted as a dissident by the establishment, while being labeled as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israeli policies. (You may also be labeled a Zionist shill by those who believe that Jews are taking over the world and so on).  The position that points out that Israel is a crucial part of the imperial structure, serving the imperial hierarchy while benefiting from its generous support, cannot be fully discussed due to how narratives are formed by the network of the imperial institutions.

The political pendulum doesn’t only create an illusion of “democracy”, it also defines what is acceptable while tearing communities apart. It utilizes its violence as a springboard to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the exploited. That’s why the living hell for Palestinian people keeps functioning as a devise for imperialism—the more Palestinians suffer, the more anti-Semitic sentiment emerges, which in turn justifies Israeli violence, which in turn serves the imperial agendas. That’s why victims of Katarina had to be victimized by “urban renewal” after going through the gravely tragic event. Capitalist hegemony does not allow an honest discussion because imperialism is kept invisible by default, the capitalist cage is invisible and the guiding hand of capitalists is invisible. The capitalist framework simply corners people into having dead-end arguments. Period.

With the virus situation, we are told that there are good people who wear masks and stay home and bad people who selfishly defy the rules and spread “conspiracy theories”.  The dynamics among acceptable narratives within the capitalist framework create the circular arguments of a screaming match. These dynamics exclude and belittle any understanding which goes beyond the artificial range of ideas created by the capitalist institutions:  you are fake news, you are a denier, you are a conspiracy theorist, you are a grandma killer, communists are taking over and so on. Without recognizing this mechanism, any attempt to unify the momentums will result in a populism which emulates the existing social structure—another reactionary revolution at best, but more likely it will create more divisions and destabilization among the people, resulting in perpetuation of the capitalist hierarchy. This is why there is no discussion of accountability for the death and suffering created by lockdown measures and there is no discussion about the meaning of why we are going through a structural shift.  And when the deaths and sufferings will be put on the political table, financial vultures will devour them in the emerging social impact bond markets (see studies by Wrench in the Gears).

The invisible hand that is supposed to guide us to freedom, justice and humanity has created an empire ruled by the unprecedented accumulation of power for the few.  The invisible hand has created an invisible cage over us, and it has been blinding us and dividing us, allowing the ruling class to exploit us and subjugate us.

Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is. The newly built cage hasn’t been built, but if we fail to see it for what it is in its context, we will simply be forced to embrace some version of it as one of the “legitimate” capitalist trajectories. That’s how it works when our society is a theater of absurdity.

I want to live a life that breaks open the invisible cage and firmly shake hands with nature and humanity.  If you have stuck around this far with me, I trust that you feel the same…or not. Either way, we must start our conversations.

Further Readings

Wrong Kind of Green Website

John Steppling Website

Winter Oak Website

Wrench in the Gear Website

 

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

WATCH: Zero Days [U.S. & Israel Attack on Iran via Cyberwarefare, 2016 Documentary]

November 28, 2020

 

 

“What does it mean to be anti-imperialist? It means supporting nations under attack by empire even when or if it is opportunistically inconvenient. It means to stand with all nations under attack, without prejudice, without wavering, and to never serve interests of empire – even if it means you sacrifice popularity or lose social media followers.”

 

Alexandra Valiente, Internationalist360

 

 

“A black ops cyber-attack launched by the U.S. and Israel on an Iranian nuclear facility unleashed malware with unforeseen consequences. The Stuxnet virus infiltrated its pre-determined target only to spread its infection outward, ultimately exposing systemic vulnerabilities that threatened the very safety of the planet. Delve deep into the burgeoning world of digital warfare in this documentary thriller from Academy Award® winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.

 

[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by Alex Gibney are those of the filmmaker’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of WKOG. Any thoughts in the following interview contrary to WKOG’s expressed opinions are not intended to malign any region, group, country or people.]

 

DIRECTORS STATEMENT ALEX GIBNEY

What do you do when your government launches a global war and keeps it a secret?

That’s the question that haunted me when making “Zero Days,” a film about the spectre of a new generation of classified cyber weapons.

I started out making a small film investigating “Stuxnet,” the self-replicating computer virus invented by the US and Israel to infiltrate and sabotage the Iranian nuclear centrifuges at Natanz.   What I discovered was a massive clandestine operation involving the CIA, the NSA, the US military and Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad to build and launch secret cyber “bombs” that could plunge the world into a devastating series of criss-crossing attacks on critical infrastructure, shutting down electricity, poisoning water supplies and turning cars, trains and planes into deadly weapons.  Even more terrifying, this science fiction scenario, possibly resulting in the loss of millions of lives, could happen without anyone – including our own government – knowing who is responsible.

In the words of David Byrne, You may ask yourself: How did we get here?  

When I started, I knew that the Stuxnet worm (a self-replicating virus) had spread all over the world.  The secrecy of the operation was blown.  But every US official I asked about the operation either refused to talk about it or even admit that it happened.

Everyone justified their silence with claims of national security.  As Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the NSA, told me, a covert operation “automatically goes into the do-not-talk-about-it box.”

But Stuxnet wasn’t just another covert op.  It represented a fundamental change in the threat landscape.  For the first time in history, a computer virus crossed the threshold from the virtual reality of 1s and 0s to the physical world.  Stuxnet took control of machines and commanded them to destroy themselves.  Then the code leaked all over the world so that it could be re-purposed by other nations, criminals and terrorists.

Keeping that secret was like saying, after Hiroshima, “what bomb?”

And it reached the height of absurdity when I learned that the Department of Homeland Security triggered a high alert to protect the US from Stuxnet, since the NSA never let the other branches of government know that the weapon we launched was now attacking the homeland.  We had met the enemy and it was us.

Since government officials were trying to hide the dangers they had caused, my team and I reached out to others.  We first contacted the cyber detectives, Liam O’Murchu and Eric Chien, from the anti-virus company Symantec, who were the first ones to discover the purpose of Stuxnet.  They took apart the weapon for us so that we could understand both its delivery system and payload.

Then we traveled to Moscow – the capital of cyber crime and headquarters for Russia’s cyber weapons units – and to Israel, the key partner for the US in the development of Stuxnet.  What we discovered in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, by talking to politicians, journalists and – on background – agents for Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, was that “Stuxnet” was not a technical computer story at all.  Rather, it was part of a much larger operation which involved the Mossad, the CIA, the US military unit, Cyber Command, and included covert operations – sometimes directed at American companies, like Microsoft – the assassination of Iranian scientists, and weapons of cyber mass destruction that made “Stuxnet” look like a computer game.

Armed with this level of detail, we returned to the United States and were able to persuade some people inside the NSA and the CIA to talk to us provided we kept their identities a secret.  By now, it’s well known that the Obama Administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined.  So we had to take careful precautions to protect our sources.

We recorded interviews on audio recorders with no wifi capability, transcribed them on electric typewriters and then destroyed the data cards.  We used a system of codes to identify the sources and then integrated their testimony in a “script” that was factually accurate but which masked phrases that could lead investigators to identify our witnesses.   Then we used a system called “Depthkit,” to photograph our “essential source” via a 3-D video capture device that allowed us to break down a human face into separate fields of flesh, dots and lines.  In final post, we recombined those elements with new computer tilts and pans to portray a cyber whistleblower whose “hacked” look harmonized with the film’s animation of the actual Stuxnet code.

(Note: in the code animation sequences we only used excerpts of the Stuxnet code, which would not allow anyone reconstitute the weapon.  That said, our co-producer, Javier Botero, didn’t have much difficulty obtaining the entire code, something that makes the government secrecy about it all the more absurd.)

Our whistleblowers were able to give us an entirely new perspective on the Stuxnet operation, known inside the government as “Olympic Games,” and the new world of cyber weapons.   Among the key elements of information in “Zero Days” that have been revealed in the popular media for the first time are:

-The US, as a matter of policy, has not dedicated sufficient resources to cyber defense. Instead, it is focusing on cyber offense, and hoping that the threat of counterattack will prevent our enemies from launching cyber weapons against us.  So far, that strategy has failed.  Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all launched limited cyber attacks against us and likely hidden thousands of backdoors to computer networks that have the potential of damaging key portions of our critical infrastructure: power grids, water filtration plants, transportation systems, heat, air conditioning, etc

-While “Olympic Games” was a joint operation between the US and Israel, each country had the ability to modify and deploy the OG cyber weapons in ways they wished. This caused animosity and tension, when the Mossad – pressured by an impatient Bibi Netanyahu – launched, without consultation with the US, a virulent version of the virus that spread all over the world.  This raises very difficult questions about the nature of our relationship with Israel.

-Following “Olympic Games,” the NSA developed far more powerful cyber weapons. One operation involving those weapons, named “Nitro Zeus” (disclosed for the first time in “Zero Days”) had the capacity to jam all of Iran’s air defenses and to shut down many of the key power grids in Iran.  As one of our sources told us, “the science fiction cyber war scenario is here.”

-Department of Defense officials in US Cyber Command showed a remarkable lack of sophistication or concern about the amount of destruction that these weapons could cause. As one source noted, when key power plants are shut down, they don’t just “pop back up.  It’s more like Humpty Dumpty…lots of people die.”  In discussing targets in Iran, State Department lawyers objected to the fact that US cyber attacks would shut down hospitals causing large numbers of fatalities.  The Department of Defense overruled those objections.

-“Olympic Games” was a CIA-led operation. For every attack, an officer from the CIA had to stand behind NSA computer operators and give them attack commands.

-When Iran, in retaliation for Stuxnet, launched a cyber attack on US banks, the US government was aware that the attacks were coming from Iran but did not counterattack because the the computers controlling the “botnet” (a network of private computers infected with malicious software)was in another country and the US State Department was concerned that a US attack might involve a friendly nation in a growing cyber conflict.  This highlights one of the dilemmas of cyber war: attribution is very difficult, raising the spectre of “false flags” and mistaken counterattacks that could lead to a cyber world war.

-The “Stuxnet” virus was autonomous. No operator commanded it to attack.  Once Stuxnet found its target inside Natanz, it was programmed to launch its attack on its own, without human intervention.  An increasing number of  cyber weapons share this characteristic.

-The secrecy over offensive cyberweapons and their capability is not only impeding democratic debate but also making us less safe. Indeed, our sources came forward because they believe that secrecy itself is putting us all at enormous, possibly existential, risk.

-The revelation of “Nitro Zeus” sheds new light on the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. While many critics have suggested that Obama was negotiating from a position of weakness, it is likely – given “Nitro Zeus” – that he was negotiating from a position of strength, knowing that the US could virtually shut down the entire country in the event that Iran cheated on the deal.

-Our sources have confirmed that, since the launch of Stuxnet, offensive cyber operations – conducted by nation states – are an every day occurrence. (O’Muchu and Chien from Symantec have confirmed that the number of nation state attacks have increased exponentially in the last few years.) Government secrecy and the inability of the media to report on this story is the only reason we don’t know more about cyberweapons. They are being launched – by and against us – every day.

 

Alex Gibney, April 2016 – New York City

 

Being Made Invisible

Being Made Invisible

Tortilla con Sal,

October 7, 2020

By Stephen Sefton

 

 

Over thirty years ago, the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre* noted that an inability to engage competing rationalities critically disables the proponents of the moral and intellectual tradition failing to do so. That kind of fundamental, banal critical failure has always characterized the societies of the Western imperialist powers, in every sphere of intellectual and moral life. It may have been less noticeable before the current advent of a challenging multi-polar world, but the resulting crisis of Western elites’ power and prestige has highlighted their innate moral and intellectual bankruptcy as never before.

 

Anyone challenging the moral and intellectual bad faith of entrenched corporate elite interests gets attacked or ignored. Various otherwise quite well-known figures defending Julian Assange against US and allied NATO country governments’ efforts to destroy him, have experienced this, finding themselves attacked or marginalized even more than usual. Slightly different, but ultimately just as sinister, has been the treatment of dozens of very eminent scientists questioning received wisdom about the current COVID-19 outbreak. In both cases, justice and freedom of speech are important underlying motifs.

Few are surprised that defenders of Julian Assange against the UK injustice system are misrepresented or excluded by imperialist country governments supported by all the disinformation outlets their countries’ oligarchs control. However, scientists questioning public policy on COVID-19 find themselves marginalized not only by dominant liberal opinion but also by majority progressive opinion too. Eminent scientists like John Ioannides, Sunetra Gupta, Sucharit Bhakdi, Alexander Kekulé, Dolores Cahill and dozens of others find themselves in effect, if not disappeared, certainly generally excluded from public discussion.

Julian Assange

Overall, Western liberals and progressives have failed to engage, let alone credibly refute, the arguments of this very significant, unquestionably well-qualified body of scientific opinion. Nor do they engage  the savage class attack enacted as public policy on COVID-19 to impose a corporate capitalist economic reset on the peoples of North America and Europe.  In a similar way, the West’s disinformation lynch media have misrepresented the case against Julian Assange, lying about the facts and unjustly smearing him at every turn while also burying the massive attack on free speech his probable extradition to the US represents.

In general, prescribed untruths are propagated and imposed not just via corporate news and entertainment media, but also by almost all the main international information sources. These include practically all the high profile international non governmental organizations and practically every international institution in the United Nations system, the European Union or the Organization of American States. Sincere witnesses to truth have little to no chance of surviving uncompromised in these morally and intellectually corrupt organizations and systems.


Leonard Peltier, Ana Belén Montes, Mumia Abu Jamal

 

Sinister political power and corporate money smother and suffocate efforts to challenge the cynical, mendacious status quo. Extreme historical examples in the US include the murders of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and the subsequent persecution of the Black Panther movement. A great number of anti-imperialist heroes like Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ana Belen Montes or Simon Trinidad, among many others, remain unjustly imprisoned. Among current examples of Western information perfidy, the Assange show trial, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons scandal and the prolonged Russiagate farce stand out.

Everyone will have their own experience of this reality. For example, efforts to suppress the “Planet of the Humans” film highlighted how corporate money moulds, manipulates and corrals opinion in favor of a phony Green New Deal which environmentalists like Cory Morningstar have challenged for years against systematic suppression of their arguments. Liberal and progressive environmentalists mostly exclude incisive class-conscious analysis while celebrating pseudo-progressive, corporate-friendly pap. Across the board, systematic disinformation deliberately negates democratic process by denying people fair access to vitally relevant factual appraisal and analysis. Knowledgeable people presenting well attested evidence find themselves effectively disappeared.

For people in countries targeted by the North American and European imperialist powers none of this is new. In most Western foreign affairs reporting on countries from Russia and China, to Iran and Syria, to Venezuela and Cuba, intellectual and moral honesty are almost entirely absent. In the majority world, this experience of being practically invisible extends to whole peoples. Most people in North America and Europe could hardly care less about people far away in distant, usually culturally very different countries. Very few people know enough to be able to effectively challenge the unending deceit of most official Western accounts of events in those countries targeted by North American and European oligarchies and the governments they direct.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Haiti is perhaps the most egregious example, or maybe Honduras, or perhaps Bolivia… Unquestionable though, is the vicious, psychopathic hatred propagated by Western media, NGOs and institutions against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. These are the last three revolutionary governments in Latin America left standing after the wave of US and EU promoted coups and lawfare offensives of the last fifteen years. In Cuba’s case, the hatred is occasionally dressed up as grudging recognition of the Cuban Revolution’s great example of international solidarity and love between peoples, embodied in so many ways, but above all by its unparalleled international assistance during the ebola and COVID-19 outbreaks.

If influential media outlets, NGOs and international institutions in the West really admired Cuba’s infinitely-far-beyond-their-reach example of human love and solidarity , they would campaign relentlessly demanding an end to the criminal US coercive measures attacking Cuba’s people’s basic well-being. Of course they do not, because they are cynical hypocrites who detest Cuba’s revolutionary commitment to and defence of the human person as the centre and focus of the country’s national development. The same is true of Venezuela and Nicaragua. On these two countries, Western disinformation media, NGOs and institutions have sunk to previously unplumbed depths of in-your-face criminality and odious falsehood.

Despite everything, Venezuela continues resisting outright violation of basic UN principles by North American and European elites who have directed their countries’ regimes and institutions to steal Venezuela’s wealth and attack the country’s people, just as they did successfully to Ivory Coast and Libya up to and including 2011. They have attempted to do the same to Iran, without success. Despite every indication to the contrary, they believe the delusion that by destroying Venezuela they stand a better chance of overthrowing the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions and crushing the nationalist revolutionary impulse in the region for good. They can barely tolerate even the social democrat versions of that impulse in Mexico and Argentina.

Nicaragua is still in the early stages of Western attempts to attack its people so as to weaken support for the country’s Sandinista government led by President Daniel Ortega. That is likely to change through 2021, which is an election year here in Nicaragua. In Nicaragua’s case, the big lie is that the country is a brutal dictatorship that has failed to protect its people from COVID-19. Precisely the opposite is true. Nicaragua has been the most successful country in Latin America and the Caribbean in protecting both its people’s health and their economic well being during the international COVID-19 crisis. Similarly, it is the country’s political opposition, bankrolled, trained and organized by the US government and its European Union allies, which has brutally attacked Nicaragua’s people. They did so using armed violence in 2018 and they have done so by demanding more and more illegal coercive economic measures against their own country from both the US and the EU. Likewise, they promote an endless international disinformation war.

Not one international human rights NGO or any international human rights institution has researched the experience of the thousands of victims of Nicaragua’s opposition violence in 2018. Not Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch nor the International Federation for Human Rights nor the Inter-American Human Rights Commission nor the Office of the UN High Commisioner for Human rights, nor any European Union institution, none of them have. To do so would reveal the big lie that the opposition protests were peaceful. Every single one of those institutions has falsely claimed the Nicaraguan government brutally repressed peaceful demonstrations in 2018. All the Western corporate media and alternative information outlets covering international affairs have parroted that lie. The truth about Nicaragua and the events of 2018 is available in independently produced texts, audio visual material and testimonies like these:

So far, virtually none of this substantial material or other available material has been publicly addressed or seriously analyzed by any academic, anywhere, comparing, contrasting and appraising official accounts, witness testimony and audio-visual and documentary evidence. Practically every single academic writing on Nicaragua has been content to regurgitate the same lies and misrepresentations spread about by all Western media, NGOs and institutions who have relied absolutely exclusively on US government funded opposition sources. None of them have done genuine original honest research on the issue of opposition violence. Not one. All the abundant material documenting the truth of what happened in Nicaragua in 2018 is invisible.

Being made invisible by Western media, NGOs and academics is nothing new. It just means becoming subsumed in the anonymous masses of the majority world whom the Western elites have always looted, murdered and abused. Despite this reality, the overwhelming majority of people in North America and Europe hold the irrational, ultimately self-destructive belief that their rationality is morally superior to their rivals’. To make sure they hold on to that demented false belief, their ruling classes have to disappear the truth, whether it’s to do with an individual like Julian Assange or a whole country, like Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela.

* “Whose Justice? Which rationality?” (PDF 21Mb)

 

WATCH: The Afterlife of Slavery: Markets, Property & Race [Cheryl Harris]

WATCH: The Afterlife of Slavery: Markets, Property & Race [Cheryl Harris]

January 19, 2016 lecture

 

“The walls talk to me. The dust on the floors write me messages. I’m in the vents. I’m in the bulletin boards. I’m in the chipped paint. Ain’t nobody can slip through the cracks past me up in here.”

 

– MONOLOGUES FROM SKELETON CREW by DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU

 

“Despite efforts to obscure slavery and indigenous dispossession in the genealogy and narrative of American nationhood, these realities remain deeply embedded in the relationship between race and markets where in fact race and economic domination are fused. Racial hierarchy is continually replenished through the market, while the market encodes property in accord with racial regimes. For example, “black” spaces are forever unstable, subprime, and “waste,” making them always available for (re) appropriation through various technologies such as debt, (de)regulation, and development.”

– Cheryl I. Harris

“In conjunction with Cameron Rowland’s exhibition 91020000, Artists Space presents a talk by Cheryl I. Harris, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at UCLA School of Law. Harris is the author of key texts in the field of critical race theory including “Whiteness as Property” (1993) and “Equal Treatment and the Reproduction of Inequality” (2001).” [Source: Artists Space]

 

WATCH: Ella Baker: “The Fight for Freedom Every Day”

WATCH: Ella Baker: “The Fight for Freedom Every Day”

“Life-long human rights activist and movement organizer, Ella Baker, addresses 1974 Puerto Rico solidarity rally about the need for every person to make the struggle for human dignity and freedom every day.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Friends, brothers, and sisters in the struggle for human dignity and freedom. I am here to represent the struggle that has gone on for three-hundred or more years — a struggle to be recognized as citizens in a country in which we were born. I have had about forty or fifty years of struggle, ever since a little boy on the streets of Norfolk called me a nigger. I struck him back. And then I had to learn that hitting back with my fists one individual was not enough. It takes organization. It takes dedication. It takes the willingness to stand by and do what has to be done, when it has to be done.

A nice gathering like today is not enough. You have to go back and reach out to your neighbors who don’t speak to you. And you have to reach out to your friends who think they are making it good. And get them to understand that they–as well as you and I–cannot be free in America or anywhere else where there is capitalism and imperialism. Until we can get people to recognize that they themselves have to make the struggle and have to make the fight for freedom every day in the year, every year until they win it.”

[Source: Peaceable Power”]

Vaccination: Most Deceptive Tool of Imperialism

Bulatlat, Journalism for People

October 12, 2019

By Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Video still: “A Public Eye report leads to the Philippines, to people who have worked with the highly toxic pesticide Paraquat for years, without training and without being aware of the dangers. The Filipino doctor and activist Dr. Romeo Quijano speaks about the consequences for the health and the responsibility of the Swiss group Syngenta” [Source]

Vaccination is probably the most deceptive tool of imperialism that even anti-imperialists often fail to recognize. It displays a humanitarian face but has the soul of a beast. Its true character is that of a deceptive agent of imperialism. The romanticism of western medicine has masked the true nature and ethos of vaccination. However, using the anti-imperialist tool, pedagogy of the oppressed (1), a diligent and deeper study of the history of vaccination and the socio-political and cultural context of that history would reveal the true character of vaccination.

Vaccination is the process of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific infectious organism. It is not the same as immunization (which has been mistakenly used interchangeably with vaccination), which is the process of conferring immunity, not necessarily through vaccination. Immunity is the capacity of the body to protect itself from the development of a disease due to exposure to an infectious organism. Imperialism is usually defined as expansion of economic activities, especially investment, sales, extraction of raw materials, and use of labor to produce commodities and services beyond national boundaries, as well as the social, political, and economic effects of this expansion. I would define Imperialism as: Intervention of Monopolistic Power Exploiting the Resources of Impoverished Areas Leading to Increased Social Misery (I-M-P-E-R-I-A-L-I-S-M).

If we look carefully into the history of vaccination, we will find that the development of vaccination coincided with the development of imperialism. Medicine and public health have played important roles in imperialism. With the emergence of the United States as an imperial power in the early twentieth century, interlinkages between imperialism, the business elite, public health, and health institutions were forged through several key mediating institutions. Philanthropic organizations sought to use public health initiatives to address several challenges faced by expanding capitalist enterprises: labor productivity, safety for investors and managers, and the costs of care (2).

In the early 1900s, the capitalist magnate Rockefeller already had a hand in the development of smallpox vaccine. Rockefeller’s pioneering virologist Tom Rivers (1888-1962) undertook to develop a safer vaccine by growing the virus in tissue culture. The result was an attenuated strain of virus that was better than the earlier vaccines produced in England. It was the first vaccine used in humans to be grown in tissue culture. Rivers’ interaction with Rockefeller Foundation scientists, who were then working to make a yellow fever vaccine in Foundation laboratories on the Rockefeller Institute campus, influenced Max Theiler to create an attenuated virus vaccine. Theiler later won a Nobel Prize for this work (3). Parke-Davis also was a pioneer in vaccine production. The company set up shop in 1907 in Rochester hills, Michigan, pitching a circus tent to house horses and constructing a vaccine-propagating building, a sterilizing room and a water tank(4). Parke-Davis was once America’s oldest and largest drug maker. It was acquired by Warner Lambert company in 1970, which in turn was acquired in 2000 by Pfizer, which is now the largest pharmaceutical company in the world(5,6). Pfizer claims that it was involved in the commercial production of a smallpox vaccine in the early 1900s, that it was the first to develop a heat-stable, freeze-dried smallpox vaccine as well as the bifurcated needle, the first to introduce a combined vaccine for preventing diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and had produced more than 600 million doses of the first live trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (7). These medical advances coincided with the emergence of what has been called “New Imperialism” when European states established vast empires mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East (8) and almost at the same period, the United States colonized the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Kingdom of Hawaii, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and for short periods, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Cuba (9, 10).

Imperialism is driven by the pressure of capital for external fields of investment. The recurrent crises of overproduction and subsequent diminution of profits and stagnation of capital leads to ever-increasing pressure to expand markets and territories. The tendency for investors to work towards the political annexation of countries which contain their more speculative investments is very powerful. Imperialism is seen as a necessity by the capitalists so they can continue to accumulate wealth. Capitalist greed was hidden behind the curtain of “manifest destiny” and “mission to civilize colonized people”. It was the Robber Barons of the time, the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Cooke, Shwab, Fisk, Harriman and their ilk who actually needed Imperialism and who were fastening it upon the shoulders of the government. They used the public resources of their country for their capitalist expansion (11). Imperialism, therefore, was adopted as a political policy and practice by the government which was controlled by the business elite. The Government and private corporations sought ways to maximize profits. Economic expansion demanded cheap labor, access to or control of markets to sell or buy products, and extraction of natural resources. They met these demands through plunder and tyrannical rule.

However, the imperialists experienced excess diseases and deaths among their troops, civil servants and traders. They had to do something about it. With the advent of the “Germ Theory” of disease, it was believed that these diseases and deaths were caused by infectious organisms. This belief led to the development of drugs and vaccines that the colonial powers wholeheartedly embraced. That was the beginning of Big Pharma. Initially the advances in medicine were introduced for the protection of colonial troops and civil servants, then for the local people working for the colonial power and eventually for the whole population. Improved health care was also included with the provision of hospitals and, as for the other measures, these were initially for the military, then for expatriates and finally for the local people (12). The pioneer pharmaceutical companies of that time and the financial elite clearly saw the huge profits to be made from vaccination and the provision of pharmaceuticals. Among the most cited justification for colonial rule is the introduction of “modern health care” to the subjugated people. Thus, health became an instrument of pacification of the oppressed and the people were made to believe that colonialism was good for them. However, the introduction of health care technologies like vaccines and drugs are really not out of altruistic intentions of the colonial power but more for the satisfaction of the imperialist’s plunderous desires. In fact, systematic public health regimes originated as military programs in support of imperialist expansion. Private charities entered the field as colonial conquests were consolidated. The colonizer was more concerned with maximizing the exploitation of imperialized labor and extraction of the natural resources of the conquered people.

Since then, the elimination or control of disease in tropical countries became a driving force for all colonial powers. In the colonized world, public health measures encouraged by Rockefeller’s International Health Commission yielded increases in profit extraction, as each worker could now be paid less per unit of work, “but with increased strength was able to work harder and longer and received more money in his pay envelope”. Rockefeller’s research programs promised greater scope for future US military adventures in the Global South, where occupying armies had often been hamstrung by tropical diseases (13). The Rockefeller programs did not concern themselves with workers’ physical productivity alone. They were also intended to reduce the cultural resistance of “backward” and “uncivilized” peoples to the domination of their lives and societies by industrial capitalism. The Rockefeller Foundation discovered that medicine was an almost irresistible force in the colonization of non-industrialized countries. During the US occupation of the Philippines, Rockefeller Foundation president George Vincent was quite frank in saying, “Dispensaries and physicians have of late been peacefully penetrating areas of the Philippine Islands and demonstrating the fact that for purposes of placating primitive and suspicious peoples medicine has some advantages over machine guns” (14).

Mass vaccination emerged as a major imperialist program, notwithstanding the erroneous, reductionist concept behind it and despite the utter lack of proper safety and efficacy studies. Vaccination was hailed as the savior of colonized people from infectious disease despite clear evidence of adverse effects worse than the original disease. Many of these forced mass vaccination campaigns resulted in disastrous results. For example, in the Philippines, prior to U.S. takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was about 10%. In 1905, following the commencement of systematic vaccination enforced by the U.S. government, an epidemic occurred where the case mortality ranged from 25% to 50% in different parts of the islands. In 1918-1919 with over 95 percent of the population vaccinated, the worst epidemic in the Philippines’ history occurred resulting in a case mortality of 65 percent. The lowest percentage occurred in Mindanao, the least vaccinated place, owing to religious prejudices. Dr. V. de Jesus, Director of Health, stated that the 1918-1919 smallpox epidemic resulted in 60,855 deaths. In Japan, after compulsory vaccination was mandated, there were 171,611 smallpox cases with 47,919 deaths recorded between 1889 and 1908, a case mortality of 30 percent, exceeding the smallpox death rate of the pre-vaccination period. At about the same time, in Australia, one of the least-vaccinated countries in the world for smallpox, had only three smallpox cases in 15 years. In England and Wales, between 1934 and 1961, not one death from natural smallpox infection was recorded, and yet during this same period, 115 children under 5 years of age died as a result of the smallpox vaccination. The situation was just as bad in the USA where 300 children died from the complications of smallpox vaccine from 1948 to 1969. Yet during that same period there was not one reported case of smallpox in the country (15).

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Similar disastrous results also happened with the polio vaccine. The majority of polio cases actually do not cause symptoms in those who are infected. Symptoms occur in only approximately 5 percent of infections (16) with a case fatality rate of only about 0.4%. Even during the peak epidemics, poliovirus infection resulting in long-term paralysis, was a low-incidence disease that was falsely represented as a rampant and violent paralytic disease by fund raising advertising campaigns to fast track development and approval and release of the Salk vaccine with Rockefeller as the key supporter. Because of outside pressure, the US licensing committee in charge of approving the vaccine did so after deliberating for only two hours without first having read the full research (17). This hasty approval led to the infamous “Cutter disaster”, the poliomyelitis epidemic that was initiated by the use of the Salk vaccine produced by Cutter vaccine company. In the end, at least 220,000 people were infected with live polio virus contained in the Cutter’s vaccine; 70,000 developed muscle weakness, 164 were severely paralyzed, 10 were killed. Seventy five percent of Cutter’s victims were paralyzed for the rest of their lives (18). When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole (19). Wyeth was also found much later to have produced a paralyzing vaccine. All other manufacturers’ vaccines released in the 1950s were sold and injected into America’s children and millions of vaccines were also exported all around the world (17). The “eradication” of smallpox and the seemingly dramatic decline of polio cannot be largely attributed to the vaccines. There never was valid scientific study that supported the claim that the vaccines caused the decline of the disease. The combined effects of social and environmental determinants of what was poliomyelitis at that time were the most likely reasons for the decline. The polio vaccine was propelled more into widespread use by economic, political and personal interests of imperialists rather than by science and public health interests. It is well established scientifically that the decline in mortality rates of infectious diseases was due largely to socio-economic determinants (improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, etc.) and the strengthening of natural immunity. Medical intervention using vaccines and antibiotics was late in coming and whatever contribution it made in the overall decline of mortality over time was miniscule at best. In fact, there is a large body of scientific and narrative evidence that the vaccines cause various acute and chronic adverse effects and likely resulted in delaying the decline of infectious diseases to a relatively insignificant and naturally manageable health problem. Vaccination, an invasive and un-natural induction of immune response, which was largely inappropriate, did not really help but instead, created more problems, among which is the emergence of highly virulent strains of microorganisms. One un-anticipated potentially disastrous adverse effect of vaccination is the disruption of natural immunity among the people in communities. Nevertheless, despite overwhelming contrary scientific evidence, the overwhelming power of the ruling elite successfully implanted the entrenched belief that vaccination had eradicated smallpox and dramatically reduced deaths from polio and other infectious diseases. This widely held belief allowed the global ruling class to hide behind humanitarian posturing and mask their true agenda of global dominance and maximizing profits for Big Business.

After World War II, public health philanthropy became closely aligned with US foreign policy as neocolonialism thrust “development” on Third World nations. The major foundations collaborated with USAID and allied agencies in support of interventions aimed at increasing production of raw materials while creating new markets for Western manufactured goods. The concept of “global health governance” (GHG) arose in the early 1990s, reflecting US confidence that the fall of the Soviet Union would usher in a unipolar world dominated by American interests. This was a vision of diffuse, omnipresent power to be exercised collaboratively by the institutions of global capitalism and guaranteed, in the last resort, by the US military. The Alma Ata principles became moot as structural adjustment programs decimated Third World government investments in public health. Corporate globalization intensified with neoliberal imposition of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The new global health governance regime systematically bypassed or compromised national health ministries via “public-private partnerships” and similar schemes. To soften the resistance against imperialist interventions in health, “emerging infections” were hyped as inevitable and potentially catastrophic and the global health governance scheme was framed within the larger discourse of “security” that arose in the wake of the dubious 9/11 event. Worldwide alarm about bioterrorism provided an opportunity to link together health and national/international security. Not only would health-care workers open the funds for a medical front in the War on Terror, but also military forces would routinely be mobilized as a response to health disasters. Imperial interventions in the health field began to be justified in the same terms as recent “humanitarian” military interventions. Some analysts denounced the militarization of public health as worryingly authoritarian and strategically counterproductive, but to Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man, it was a welcome development. Gates’ endorsement was especially significant because his foundation had become the leading exemplar of philanthropy in the era of global health governance (13).

Parents of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia attend a Senate hearing in the Philippines.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now by far the world’s largest private foundation; with more than $50 billion in assets. The bulk of its activities are directed at the people of the imperialized world, where its ostensible mission involves providing birth control and combatting infectious diseases. BMGF exercises power not only by means of its own spending but also through steering an elaborate network of “partner organizations” including nonprofits, government agencies, and private corporations. As the second largest donor to the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), it is a dominant player in the formation of global health policy. It orchestrates elaborate public-private partnerships and is the chief funder and prime mover behind the Vaccine Alliance (formerly GAVI), a public-private partnership between the World Health Organization and the vaccine industry. The chief beneficiary of BMGF’s activities is not the people of the Global South but the Western pharmaceutical industry. The Gates Foundation’s ties with the pharmaceutical and vaccine making industry are intimate, complex, and long-standing. Soon after its founding, BMGF invested $205 million to purchase stakes in major pharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline. BMGF’s interventions are designed to create lucrative markets for surplus pharmaceutical products, especially vaccines (13, 20).

The vaccine producing companies belong to the largest interlocking corporations controlled directly or indirectly by a few highly secretive business and power elite who effectively rule the world and impose imperialist policies. Large corporations have become more and more interrelated through shared directors and common institutional investors. In 2004, A team of Swiss systems theorists, utilizing a database of 37 million companies and investors worldwide, studied the share ownerships linking over 43,000 transnational corporations. They found that a core 1,318 companies, representing 20 percent of global operating revenues, “appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues”. When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group (21). These business elite is intimately linked to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR, founded in 1921, is a United States think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. The CFR runs the Rockefeller Studies Program and convenes government officials, global business leaders and prominent members of the intelligence and foreign-policy community to discuss international issues and make recommendations to the presidential administration and the diplomatic community (22). Some critics and political analysts have called the Council for Foreign Relations the “Shadow Government” (US) that is pulling the strings behind the scene.

The Vaccination Trojan Horse of Imperialism in recent years has become much bigger with the growing power of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is the main driver of global health policy. It is now the second biggest donor to WHO. With the USA as the biggest donor, US imperialism’s hold over WHO has become almost absolute. Bill Gates is the first private individual to keynote WHO’s general assembly of member countries. One delegate remarked: “He is treated liked a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20” (23). BMGF has been compared to “a massive, vertically integrated multinational corporation (MNC), controlling every step in a supply chain that reaches from its Seattle-based boardroom, through various stages of procurement, production, and distribution, to millions of nameless, impoverished ‘end-users’ in the villages of Africa and South Asia”. It has a functional monopoly in the field of public health. In the words of one NGO official: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation” (13).

With his unprecedented power, Bill Gates was able to initiate an elaborate neoliberal financing scheme for vaccines that inevitably transfers public funds to private coffers. Ostensibly, the scheme is designed to help developing countries to fund their vaccination programs but in reality, these countries are caught in a debt-trap. This so-called “innovative development financing” is a debt-based mechanism that taps capital markets to subsidize vaccine buyers and manufacturers through an intermediary, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm). GAVI floats bonds which are secured by the promise of government donors to buy millions of doses of vaccines at a set price over periods as long as 20 years. Capitalists take a cut at every stage of the value chain while poor countries are supposed to benefit from access to vaccines that might not otherwise be affordable. Bondholders receive a tax-free guaranteed return on investment, suited to an era of ultra-low interest rates. Pharmaceutical firms, meanwhile, are able to peddle expensive vaccines at subsidized prices in a cash-poor but vast and risk-free market. By creating a predictable demand pull, IFFIm addresses a major constraint to immunization scale-up: the scarcity of stable, predictable, and coordinated cash flows for an extended period. (13,24). Recent BMGF/GAVI activities in Sri Lanka offer a virtual case study in what has been called “pharmaceutical colonialism.” GAVI targeted the country in 2002, offering to subsidize a high priced, patented pentavalent DtwP-hepB-Hib vaccine. In exchange for GAVI’s support, the country agreed to add the vaccine to its national immunization schedule. Within three months of the vaccine’s introduction, 24 adverse reactions including 4 deaths were reported, leading Sri Lanka to suspend use of the vaccine. Subsequently, 21 infants died from adverse reactions in India (13).

The real underlying cause of deaths in epidemics is the dysfunctional health care system brought about by chronic socio-economic underdevelopment characteristic of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society victimized by imperialism, not the loss of vaccine confidence due to the “Dengvaxia scare”. Corporate hijacking of the health care system with the complicity of government, international institutions, mainstream medicine and various cohorts deprived the people of their right to health. Profit has become the primary driving factor in addressing a public health problem, not public welfare. Deregulation, privatization and liberalization, the hallmarks of corporate globalization, the new face of imperialism, have practically wiped-out whatever remaining affordable basic needs and social services, especially health services, are available to the majority of the population. Worse, under the guise of economic development, big business juggernaut in mining, plantations, coal, dams and other environmentally destructive and socially disruptive mega-projects have devastated community-empowering and truly sustainable, poverty alleviating, health promoting and climate resilient initiatives. The concomitant and worsening assaults (including extrajudicial killings) on fundamental human rights have subjected marginalized people to extreme physical, biological, psychological and social stress and have repeatedly been forced to be displaced from their land, homes, crops and other means of survival. Under these circumstances, infectious disease epidemics and other serious health problems are bound to arise and worsen. The root cause of epidemics in this country is imperialism. Liberation is the answer, not vaccination.

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

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HYPERLINK “http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Council_on_Foreign_Relations” \l “/Membership”www.wikiwand.com/en/Council_on_Foreign_Relations#/Membership
23. Huet, N. and Paun, P., Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates influence.
HYPERLINK “https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/”https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/
24. Atun, R., et al. Innovative financing for health: What is truly innovative?
Lancet, 380(9858), 2044–2048,2012.

 

The Apparatus

The Apparatus

John Steppling

December 29, 2019

 

 

Jose Luis Cuevas, photography.

“First, at an ideological level, any movement away from social explanations, particularly wider economic and political ones, moved the debate away from looking for causes and solutions, particularly revolutionary political ones, in that area. Economic and political solutions, it could be argued, were not relevant where the problem is biological and individual weakness.{ } Second, the biological approach elevated the status of doctors and chemists as authorities and experts and undermined the standing of sociologists, psychologists, journalists and others with a more social and less individual approach. At the same time, doctors and chemists were just what the rising industrial power of Big Pharma, the major drug companies, needed to develop, test, trial and prescribe their drugs.”

 

Peadar O’Grady (Stop Making Sense, Alienation and Mental Health)

 

“The empire relies on its organs—popular media that includes but is not limited to print, broadcast, and online newspapers, the Hollywood entertainment industry, and generally the policies of the handful of companies that own all media in the world. These organs continually repeat discourses to incite fear, such as the use of chemical weapons. Control of discourses is crucial, which is why US policing apparatuses like the NSA must monitor, retrieve, and store all personalized electronic communication.”

 

Geoffrey Skoll (The Globalization of American Fear Culture)

 

“…according to one meta-analysis, you are seven times more likely than the general population to be diagnosed with schizophrenia if you are born from a deprived economic background, and four times more likely with regards non-schizotypal disorders.”

Peter Sedgewick (Psychopolitics)

 

“Americans have come to believe that science is capable of almost everything.”

 

Dr. Louis M. Orr (J. Young, The Medical Messiahs)

 

“…the meaning of fairy tales can only be fully grasped if the magic spell of commodity production is broken.”

 

Jack Zipes (Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales)

Giuseppe Penone

It is increasingly important to breakdown and examine the elements of delusion and irrationality that seem ubiquitous today in the West. To do that, however, requires a clear picture or historical frame for how the U.S. became the global Imperialist power and how it sustains that role.

“The United States relied on local elites for day to-day control after military pacification had ended armed resistance. US companies used the Philippines to gain a commercial foothold in the western Pacific. The islands also provided a station for US naval forces. To the degree that pacification was needed shows that the Philippine War was a less successful imperial enterprise than US imperialism elsewhere, especially in its own hemisphere, where only occasional displays of force have been applied in Latin America to keep those countries in line. The Philippine War is understandable as the first model of the United States beginning to take over from Britain as the lead governmental administrator of world capitalism.”

 

Geoffrey Skoll (Ibid)

Today, discussion, especially on the left, seem to exhibit near total amnesia regards the employment of comprador assistance and native elites who are exhibited by mainstream (corporate, ruling class) media. Think of Syria, of the DPRK, or Iran. Think Venezuela and Bolivia and Brazil. If there are Syrian voices denouncing Assad, you can bet your pink slip that they are western educated and members of an affluent class.

Ziad Antar, photography (Mecca).

“In the Reich everything could be interrogated for its propaganda potential, every surface inscribed with polemical meaning, every building block of public consciousness from typeface and newsprint to the expression of military communique?s to the architecture to the very design and deployment of weapons themselves. Every medium carried the propaganda, not just art or film.”

 

Nicholas O’Shaughnessy (Selling Hitler, Propaganda and the Nazi Brand)

So much like the Nazis, the contemporary West (by which I mean the ruling class and its organs of mass communication) cannot create anything that is not propaganda, even if they tried. Not every surface is an advert, but most are, and even if some of this commodification or marketing is actually unintentional, the result is largely the same.

In Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic (mental illness) he sites a statistic …. for Schizophrenia the number of patients in 1955, in mental hospitals, was 28,482. In 1987 the number was 267,603. The same enormous leap in manic depressive cases. I want to return to this, but it is worth keeping in mind just how dramatic that leap in mental illness was. And Whitaker goes to pains to make clear it is not simply a matter of labeling or definition or access to treatment, because its not. Then of course from 1987 till today there is an even more dramatic increase in the numbers of mentally ill, and the numbers being treated with SSRI drugs or the like. These are pretty well known numbers.

Francesco Vezzoli

But before breaking those numbers down more I want to return to the ideas of propaganda and how they work.When Adam Curtis made Century of the Self, it created a good deal of discussion in educated circles. And that was fair, and it was a pretty singular piece of filmmaking, Today it doesn’t look or feel nearly as good. And his later work is paleo-conservative rubbish. But the point is that film made a good many people aware, or more aware of the concept of marketing. Of persuasion. And the real serious first wave of advertising employing Edward Bernays theories occurred after WW2. And on into the early and mid fifties. In other words, in a simplistic sense, the marked increase in mental illness diagnosis coincided with the rise in advertising and then marketing.

Geoffrey Skoll in his book (Globalization of American Fear Culture) notes (and quotes others observing the same thing) that 1968 (really 64 through 70) a significant turning point in western culture. In what C.Wright Mills called the cultural apparatus (Skoll quotes Mills). And I have written before not dissimilar things about the *sixties*. There was a conscious concerted counter revolution against that apparatus. It was the ruling class, essentially, redirecting ideology. But not just the ruling class, per se. There was already the built in tendencies of American history and capitalism, and a movement toward destroying unions and crushing dissent. The working class were already indoctrinated by the apparatus. After the Chicago 68 Democratic Convention there were polls taken that indicated nearly 60% of Americans approved of Mayor Daley’s handling of the protest. The police actions were approved, and validated. The backlash against the sixties social revolution was already in place.

Nixon and Elvis, Dec 1970.

When Reagan became president the counter revolution began to globalize. Now U.S. foreign policy was already operating at a global level, but under Reagan, as Skoll notes, the actions were really no longer secret. Partly this is connected to the evolution of the marketing/cultural apparatus. And Hollywood was already playing a significant part in this propaganda effort.

“During the 1980s the Reagan administration oversaw three innovations in imperial control: counterinsurgency warfare; a shrinking national military with increased reliance on mercenaries and increased dependence on technology to replace military personnel; and application of a broad-spectrum public relations campaign to transform the cultural outlook of national populations. These three innovations developed at different rates, but by the twenty-first century they converged to form the main enforcement apparatus for the new empire.”

Geoffrey Skoll (ibid)

Among the top grossing films of the 1980s were Sixteen Candles, The Terminator, Die Hard, The Breakfast Club, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you look at the most popular films of the 1970s there is an evident shift. The 70s saw Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Rocky, Serpico, Five Easy Pieces, Three Days of the Condor, Annie Hall, Being There, and The Conversation. It may well be that the pivotal moment for Hollywood was the failure of William Friedkin’s Sorcerer (1977). Released the same week as Star Wars. The Friedkin film, a remake of Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) and its lack of box office signaled the end of studio willingness to back auteur projects. The George Lucas stamp bled into everything in the 80s.

Matthias Bitzer

The Friedkin film remains a singular achievement however, and an epitaph on serious work from Hollywood. It was much like Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982). Perhaps what Friedkin lacked was a Klaus Kinski, but in any event the bloated budgets and tortured location filming, all in developing countries (all Latin American) suggests something additional, as well. These were the guilt films of European and North American imperialism.

The rise of neo-liberalism is worth a footnote of sorts here and Skoll devotes an entire chapter to it. The key element for the purposes of this post is that it formally introduced that Ayn Randian version of individualism into the bureaucratic and institutional sphere.

“An interesting aspect of neoliberalism is its connection with philosophical individualism (sometimes called methodological individualism). What makes the connection interesting is how this philosophy sustains scientific public relations and professional advertising. It is also linked to political and legal theories via the works of Gary S. Becker (1974) and Richard A. Posner (1981) who combine methodological individualism with marginal utility theory. What they all have in common is the positing of an abstract homo economicus as an eminently rational actor who makes decisions about how to spend money, what politics to support, and the degree to which s/he follows the law according to strictly rational calculations. Of course such people do not exist, but their importance lies not in their correspondence to reality, but to their atomism.”

 

Geoffrey Skoll (ibid)

Rafael Coronel

Neo liberalism, or neo-conservatism essentially ratify inequality as natural. It is also the purest expression of instrumental thinking. And that hyper rationality that not only influenced institutional thinking but infected western consciousness and the cultural apparatus. So, one relationship worth looking at is between this neo-conservative ideology and a cultural apparatus infused with, saturated with (by the 80s) marketing. The individualism of the Ayn Randian neo con and the individualism of the Puritan and frontiersman, and the individualism of the savvy consumer all merged.

The 80s saw the dramatic increase in diagnosis of mental illness. The Prozac generation was sitting down to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Terminator, and trusting in the Reagan dream. The individualism of the consumer. An individualism that carries with it the residue of the frontiersman and the Randian selfish businessman (business man of action).

Henry Kissinger and Shah of Iran, Zurich Hotel.

The 80s was also the escalation of the war on drugs. And a globalization of that war and a refinement of the propaganda terminology (the appearance of “narcoterrorism”).

“That is, the new fascism is not confined to a few centers of capital, as it was in post–First World War Europe, but to the entire world system. It is this world systemic fascism that the globalization of fear culture supports and represents in symbolic form.”

 

Geoffrey Skoll (ibid)

A quick survey of 80s TV shows reinforces that sense of a shift: Dallas, The A-Team, Cagney & Lacey, The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss, The Wonder Years, Family Ties, Cheers, and Magnum P.I. There is a profoundly reactionary core to all of this stuff. Much of that reaction traffics in a nostalgia for fantasy landscapes of the American dream. It also marks the beginning of a pronounced growth of infantalism. And the signal event that gave birth to this was the fall of the Soviet Union. It is interesting how the U.S.S.R. worked as a defense against a wholesale unregulated violence of capitalism, but also against the intensification of racism and xenophobia seen since that time. The fall of the U.S.S.R. also opened the flood gates to the new infantilism. It was the fall of seriousness in a sense.

Aguirre, The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog dr. With Klaus Kinski). 1972.

The counter-revolution that began in the 60s was complete by the beginning of the 1990s. The cultural apparatus was now devoted to a new level of jingoism (which also spiked, rather obviously, after 9/11) and a new version of rank sentimentalism. The sentimentalism of a Norman Rockwell was repurposed and expressed in a post modern style code. This new post modern sentimentalism was also increasingly infantile. And here one runs into the promotion of the apolitical solipsistic theory of writers like Derrida, and Lyotard. But this is not a simple equation at all. The salient point is that most radical French theorists (and there were good ones in this period) self identified as left wing, but were nothing of the sort. This led the way toward the ultimate embodiment of the new fascist posing as socialist in the figure of Zizek.

But not to get ahead of myself here. The Hollywood product of the 80s was the real watershed for the cultural apparatus. The best films out of Hollywood in the preceding twenty years were now impossible to get made (think Boreman’s Point Blank, Penn’s Nightmoves, Karel Reisz’s Who’ll Stop the Rain). It is worth noting that in American TV the counter-revolution was underway already in the 1960s. The half hour dramas of the 1950s (some of them taped live) were replaced with network kitsch. Film caught up with this counterrevolution in the 80s. And the post modernist theory went along in subtle ways (and sometimes obvious ways) to reinforce this and to validate a camp aesthetic that overvalued junk, an exaggerated appreciation of the bad.

Tomma Abts

The problem with much of the anti-post modern critics is that they end up both exhibiting a tacit anti-intellectualism and a deep strain of conservatism. It is why Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment remains so useful and important. It is also problematic that while Foucault was indeed, in the end, reactionary, he was also often not, and often very insightful. Baudrillard was mostly rather good, I think. But what haunts all of them in a sense is the spectre of Nietzsche and even more that of Heidegger.

The additional problem is that the critics of post modernism are almost unfailingly ignorant of Marxism. There is never a class analysis to their complaints about post modernism. Helen Pluckrose wrote a much circulated piece at Aero that derides Edward Said’s Orientalism and then quotes Andrew Sullivan. Pluckrose is a moron, essentially. Maybe we should leave it at that. But the important and relevant factor here is that the CIA was clocking and following French theory and saw it as a way (correctly or not) to get students to stop reading Marx and Gramsci, and hence to stop thinking in terms of revolution. To stop thinking in anti Imperialist ways. But much like the exaggerated CIA attempt to co-opt Abstract Expressionism (which I have written about twice on this blog)

http://john-steppling.com/2014/04/revisiting-the-new-york-school/
http://john-steppling.com/2018/05/the-dying-light/

Esther Bubley, photography. (Greyhound Bus Station, 1940s).

This didn’t necessarily invalidate the work. It certainly didn’t with Ab-Ex. But it no doubt had an effect. I suspect there were a whole array of other factors that contributed to the popularity of post modern French thought. Students were already not reading Marx, and in fact were already not reading — not as they had twenty years earlier. But French theory can also be set against this backdrop of counterrevolution in the apparatus. It was both effected by it and part of it. The influence of Heidegger was unquestionably pernicious.

Gabrial Rockhill wrote about this (the CIA and French theory), too, at the LA Review of Books (which might suggest the first problem) and it contains some useful info on the cultural encouragement given to anti Soviet interest and by extension anti Marxist thought by what undercover operatives were about. However one tweezes this apart the effect of the worst of Post Modernism was only part of a general propaganda effort to demonize socialism (something that had gone on for forty years already) and stigmatize dissent overall. The problem again is that most of the criticisms of French Theory is itself either reactionary or just bad and ill informed. And the reflexive embrace (uncritical embrace) of science (and again by extension instrumental thought and positivism) is unfortunate but blends seamlessly with the ascension of the unserious and the applause and valorizing of kitsch and camp. To explain this, at least in a short hand manner here, requires a quick trip back to the German Positivist dispute of the 1960s. One cannot give it too short a treatment however, for that is the problem itself — the tendency to short coded equations or formula. But the Karl Popper side of the dispute is, in a sense, the precursor for a kind of neutralizing rationality in later politics. The lesser evilism of the Democratic Party liberal is directly connected to Popper and to ‘critical rationalism’ (in opposition to Adorno and the Frankfurt School and critical theory). But that lesser evilism is also connected to the psychology of adjustment (and resentment) that fuels the personality disorders of advanced capitalism. The notion of maturity is one that is guarded and reactive, it is unyielding (in a Reichian sense) and it is anal sadistic in extreme cases. The clear political expression of the positivist rationale is that of incremental reformoism. Popper himself was not really a positivist (he certainly denied being one) but his position was one closely tied into instrumental thinking, and was at pains throughout his life to conflate fascism and communism.

Eko Nugroho, installation, various media.

“The French social sciences we are familiar with now were thus a postwar invention, and in all aspects of French modernization after the war their ascendency bore some relation to U.S. economic intervention. To a certain extent the turn to this kind of study was funded and facilitated by the United States in a kind of Marshall Plan for intellectuals. A review of the literature makes a convincing case that the foremost American export of the period was not Coca-Cola or movies but the supremacy of the social sciences. { } A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1947 helped finance the founding of the VI section of the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes under the directorship of historian Lucien Febvre, who had seized the initiative from a rival group of sociologists headed by Georges Gurvitch. Home to Fransois Furet in the early 1960s, this institution would be central to the future of the social sciences in France: in 1962, when Febve’s successor Fernand Braudel gathered all the various research laboratories scattered around the Latin Quarter and housed them in a single building on the Boulevard Raspaid, the Maison des sciences de l‘homme, the Ford Foundation helped finance the operation.”

 

Kristin Ross (Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture)

Torkwase Dyson

Without belabouring this point, one needs to note that Ross herself is part of the counterrevolution — is a part of the anti-communist agenda launched directly after WW2. It is subtle, in a sense, but her critique is by clear implication anti-Marxist and anti-communist. Michael Barker wrote a piece at Counterpunch that touches on something perhaps even more to the point here. Discussing John Krige’s book American Hegemony and the Postwar Reconstruction of Science in Europe and the role of the Rockefeller Foundation in shaping post war French thought and science…

“…and the foundation were not simply interested in supporting good science and new directions in France. They wanted to use their financial leverage to steer French scientists along quite definite lines. Weaver in particular believed that the French were parochial and inward-looking. He wanted to transform them into outward-looking, “international” researchers, using techniques and tackling questions that were current above all in the United States. It was a vision inspired by the conviction that, without a radical remodeling of the French scientific community on American lines and the determined marginalization of Communist scientists in the field of biology, the country could never hope to play again a major role in the advancement of science.”

 

John Krige (ibid) { quoted by Michael Barker, Counterpunch 2017}

Jane Alexander

What seems more important here is that the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation very consciously worked to undermine any working class unity, both nationally and internationally. It also marked the beginning of ruling class purchases of media. And the consequent erasure of leftist voices in that same media. The apparatus was being intentionally shaped to discredit communism and the working class itself.

It is important to note the co-opting of French science. I say this because of the direction taken by the climate discourse today. There is a countless appeal to the authority of “science”. The idea that somehow, in this landscape created by the apparatus, science exists in a pure clear plastic bubble that is unaffected by the events of the world around it. Science is never simply science. And the positivist debate in Germany in the 60s is, at least symbolically, a pivotal moment in the critique of society — the defining of the word “society” and the (then) growing mystification of class, technology, and those loaded words “democracy” and “freedom”. The Frankfurt School critique of the Enlightenment, and especially in their critique of the Odyssey, remains stunningly relevant today.

One could spend some time untying the various and myriad knots of influence in philosophy that would give birth to an Agamben (Italian), who is close to fascist once one looks more closely. Or to publications such as Jacobin that are the step children of Rockefeller Foundation influence, or the Grand Mufti of post modern fascist thought, Slavoj Zizek. And the manufactured culture wars and media hype that give us the preposterous figure of a Jordan Peterson. Such things are not accidental. Nobody who suddenly appears in mainstream media, which is ruling class media, is there by accident. Nobody is there who is not vetted, as it were. Just as nobody becomes a well funded Presidential candidate without vetting, or becomes Pope.

Audrey Casalis

But back to life under the sign of the apparatus.

“Phenothiazines had first been synthesized in 1883 for use as chemical dyes, and Rhône-Poulenc’s scientists were trying to synthesize phenothiazines that were toxic to the microbes that caused malaria, African sleeping sickness, and worm-borne illnesses. Although that research didn’t pan out, they did discover in 1946 that one of their phenothiazines, promethazine, had antihistaminic properties, which suggested it “might have use in surgery. The body releases histamine in response to wounds, allergies, and a range of other conditions, and if this histaminic response is too strong, it can lead to a precipitous drop in blood pressure, which at the time occasionally proved fatal to surgical patients. In 1949, a thirty-five-year-old surgeon in the French Navy, Henri Laborit, gave promethazine to several of his patients at the Maritime Hospital at Bizerte in Tunisia, and he discovered that in addition to its antihistaminic properties, it induced a “euphoric quietude…. Patients are calm and somnolent, with a relaxed and detached expression.”

 

Robert Whitaker (ibid)

This marked the birth of today’s chemical warehousing. What the surgeon discovered subsequently was that promethazine disconnected different parts of the brain from each other. It also partially inhibited memory, and most importantly, the patient felt no anxiety. The patient was tranquil, slightly dim and slow to respond, but mostly content. Viola!! The potential was immediately apparent. One doctor at the time described it as a medicinal lobotomy. Clearly it would inhibit a good deal of mobilization, initiative, and impulses to organize. In a sense it was the indifference drug.

Reagan and Donald Trump, 1987.

I have written before, several times in fact, on the evolution of psychoanalysis and psychiatry once they crossed the Atlantic to the U.S. That psychiatry saw potential in Thorazine and soon after a host of other related drugs, is telling. This might, they thought, be useful for depressive patients. But think on that a moment. The very idea of a cure for depression is diabolical, and is something that might only make sense in the shadow of the apparatus.

Whitaker’s chapter on the history of schizophrenia is particularly good, and it is useful today because of the role eugenics played. That eugenics has never left the contemporary Imperialist mind set has to be pretty obvious by now, but the story of pharmacological treatment of mental “illness” is something from which it cannot be separated.

“According to the conventional wisdom, it was Thorazine that made it possible for people with schizophrenia to live in the community. But what we find is that the majority of people admitted for a first episode of schizophrenia during the late 1940s and early 1950s recovered to the point that within the first twelve months, they could return to the community. By the end of three years, that was true for 75 percent of the patients. Only a small percentage—20 percent or so—needed to be continuously hospitalized. Moreover, those returning to the community weren’t living in shelters and group homes, as facilities of that sort didn’t yet exist. They were not receiving federal disability payments, as the SSI and SSDI programs had yet to be established. Those discharged from hospitals were mostly returning to their families, and judging by the social recovery data, many were working. All in all, there was reason for people diagnosed with schizophrenia during that postwar period to be optimistic that they could get better and function fairly well in the community. It is also important to note that the arrival of Thorazine did not improve discharge rates in the 1950s for people[…]“get better and function fairly well in the community. It is also important to note that the arrival of Thorazine did not improve discharge rates in the 1950s for people newly diagnosed with schizophrenia, nor did its arrival trigger the release of chronic patients. { } “The discharge of chronic schizophrenia patients from state mental hospitals—and thus the beginning of deinstitutionalization—got under way in 1965 with the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid. In 1955, there were 267,000 schizophrenia patients in state and county mental hospitals, and eight years later, this number had barely budged. There were still 253,000 schizophrenics residing in the hospitals.9 But then the economics of caring for the mentally ill changed”

 

Robert Whitaker (ibid)

There was money to be made by keeping people sick, and keeping them in hospitals. That’s the short version but it pretty well sums things up. And this is to not even mention that defining schizophrenia is perhaps impossible.

So how do all these threads connect. Fascism, Imperialism, the anti communist ruling class reshaping of western culture and mental health and mental illness? I want to suggest that the shift seen in popular entertainment, mostly from Hollywood, is actually a sort of key to reading the apparatus.

“Judged overall, however, the current expansion of private therapeutic practices, although often framed within a non-medical or even anti-medical rationale, amounts to a trend very similar to that contained in privatised, fee-for-service medicine itself; it funnels money, skills and careers away from the severe and the chronic personal problems of the lower socio-economic orders (who cannot foot the bill or speak the language of the more affluent private sector) and into the less chronic, less severe but financially rewarding and culturally voguish difficulties of the well-heeled.”

 

Peter Sedgwick (ibid)

The shift in entertainment narratives to stuff like Sixteen Candles ushered in the post modern Rockwellian kitsch ethos. It was infantile, intentionally so, trivial and sentimental. It was also broadly applauded and reviews were almost unanimously positive. The flip side of this was The Terminator. Equally childish but more narrowly targeting a specific audience; young white (mostly) males. It got a good deal of white feminist (mainstream version) affirmation because of the ‘bad ass’ Linda Hamilton, but overall it was another cartoon, but one in which a great deal of money was spent. Unlike Sorcerer or Fitzcarraldo, this was studio product. Cameron is the anti-auteur. It was paint by the numbers calculation. But the point here is that the 80s saw the front wave, in diluted form, of the later and far more acute jingoism of the 2000s. Today there is almost not a single TV drama (sic) that is not overtly an advertisement for the military. But not only that. It’s something else, something more complex and illusive. The military advert aspect is even weirder than earlier versions of the same. It is now strangely infused with a sacrificial nihilism, a glamorous mutilation awaits.That the child of a Nazi policeman and a body builder was the star of Terminator only adds to the overall fabric of uncanniness here. All of these films, the studio work of the 80s (and TV) are representing an ersatz reality but one with almost hidden embedded elements. And these elements are almost the unintended uncanny, the spillage from the marketed message, an unconscious remnant from the half-life of capital.

Boris Kossoy, photography. (Brazil, 1970 State of Sao Paulo).

The films of the 80s were very markedly different than those of the 70s, or before. And perhaps this has to do with the absence of personality of the mise en scene. Look at Yates Bullit, from 68, or Friedkin’s French Connection (which now seems far better than it did upon release, though it looked good even then) from 72, or Don Siegal’s Dirty Harry from 71. The fingerprints of the director (or whoever the real author was …though usually the director) are inseparable from the overall experience. Friedkin was one of the most visibly suffering filmmakers of his era. Yates was a UK product dissecting American culture and style, and a style that contained an always latent violence, and Siegal as the mouthpiece for Eastwoodian fascism. But each was authored. The films of the 80s are not, largely, personal. By the 90s Hollywood stopped pretending films were anything other than the creation of robots.

The mass shootings that are so astoundingly common now feel increasingly like small media narratives that combine in their total exposure to feel as if meant for aesthetic appreciation. The number one cause of gun death in the U.S. is suicide. Mass shooting account for only ten percent or something, depending how you count. And mass shootings in public spaces account for even less. Most of these shooters are young and white (the curious case of Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter and the one responsible for more deaths than any other was in his 60s) and a good many are on anti-depressants. The causality here is by necessity, I think, muddy. People with histories of violent fantasies and anti social behaviour tend to get prescribed medication. But I’m not sure that solves the question. One of the problems with such discussions is that of defining many of these terms. What does ‘doing better at work’ actually mean? Just as the U.S. government finds new euphemisms to describe invasion and occupation (humanitarian intervention, et al) the mental health industry seems to work to mystify the parameters of what success or failure mean in terms of treatment.

Ed Atkins

“Antidepressant drugs in depression might be beneficial in the short term, but worsen the progression of the disease in the long term, by increasing the biochemical vulnerability to depression…. Use of antidepressant drugs may propel the illness to a more malignant and treatment unresponsive course.”

 

Giovanni Fava (Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, quoted in Whitaker, ibid)

Anti depressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines all cause permanent changes to the brain. The longer they are used, the more acute the depression and psychosis when they are stopped. So, with all the available treatments today one has to ask why more people are diagnosed with depression?

Lives led in an ocean of propaganda, in a culture mired in screen habituation, with information streamed to the brain pretty much constantly, and with a growing economic precarity, the effects of a adumbrated narrative system, a system that is increasingly impersonal, childish, and artificial (see CGI as an example) the loss of a sense of humanness has reached a critical state.

Celso Brandao, photography.

“To many people the theory of alienation is still unfamiliar (Marx ironically also called it the ‘estrangement’ of labour). While our lack of control over work is arguably the most important social factor in the cause of human misery it is also the most potentially politically explosive and therefore suppressed. It is remarkable how, when financial worries are ranked the most common; and workplace stress is also very common and distressing; and that stressed parents are such an important factor in mediating fear and mental health problems in children; we hear so little of work as the cause of mental illness and distress but often hear of the concern of the effect of mental health problems on someone’s ability to work (it is possible even to view the choice of use of stimulating or sedating drugs as reflecting whether or not there is pressure on a person to go to work or not). Even though effects on ‘Social and occupational function’ are a defining feature of mental illness in official classifications, most discussion is on immediate social relations but very little if any thing is said about wider social, economic and political factors in causing mental illness.”

 

Peadar O’Grady (ibid)

Alienation today includes an alienation from meaning. It is said that when Confucius was asked what he would do if he were a governor, he responded “I would rectify the meaning of names”. This has been translated different ways but the point remains. In a society of severe insecurity, of mass surveillance and increasing privitazation of everything, the loss of meaning is the final piece of the puzzle for ruling class ownership of the planet. The transference of wealth is nearly complete now anyway. The 1% own most everything and now have near complete control of information and image circulation. One has to ponder if mental health is to be defined by adjustment to this system of what now resembles a new feudalism. The counterrevolution in culture began in earnest in the 1980s, and is now at a point where diminishing returns have set in for the owners of the apparatus. The inability to read even simple narrative has created an acute state of anxiety. But it also has not reached everyone. And one feels it is possible that resistance to the apparatus is increasing. That resistance is being disciplined, punished, and made invisible (when possible). But that resistance is beginning to be collective. The climate crisis is being commodified and co-opted and nature is being bought (as Cory Morningstar keeps pointing out). It is the final bastion of ruling class control and it has taken advantage of the latent desires for escape from the apparatus. Hence the cultic thinking and reflexive responses of a new class of true believer. And the selling of urgency, or emergency even, is being dispensed by the climate clergy. These are the new Vichy green *experts*. My final thought at the end of this decade is that anyone denying skepticism is to be distrusted and called out. To not distrust corporate media is suspect and a sign of one form or another of this cult like thought. The climb back to autonomy is not going to be easy or quick, but it is not impossible.

 

[John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwrighting. He’s had plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. He has taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. Plays include The Shaper, Dream Coast, Standard of the Breed, The Thrill, Wheel of Fortune, Dogmouth, and Phantom Luck, which won the 2010 LA Award for best play. Film credits include 52 Pick-up (directed by John Frankenheimer, 1985) and Animal Factory (directed by Steve Buscemi, 1999). A collection of his plays was published in 1999 by Sun & Moon Press as Sea of Cortez and Other Plays. He lives with wife Gunnhild Skrodal Steppling; they divide their time between Norway and the high desert of southern California. He is artistic director of the theatre collective Gunfighter Nation.]