FUCK NEOLIBERALISM

The following is a guest column by Australian academic Simon Springer, a geographer/anarchist. The title of the essay leaves little doubt about his attitude towards the pseudo-progressive ideology that currently infects the Democratic Party and which, under different disguises, is rapidly enslaving much of the world. It is not too much to say that unless the Democratic Party purges itself of this malicious Corporatist infection, it is likely to go the way of the Whig Party; hopefully some party which is truly on the side of working men and women will replace it. We don’t need two parties dedicated to enriching the 1% at the expense of the rest of the country; in the best of all scenarios, the GOP would also wither away and be replaced by a party more in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln. This essay does not discuss Neo-Liberalism’s evil twin, Neo-Conservatism, but I gather from his other published works that professor Springer is not a fan of that poison apple either. This essay is republished through Creative Common license and I claim no ownership or copyright of it. I do not necessarily agree with all the author’s opinions, but I believe his views are worth airing on as many forums as possible. You can contact the author through the Academia.edu portal or via his website.  

Fuck Neoliberalism

Simon Springer

Department of Geography, University of Victoria simonspringer@gmail.com
Abstract: Yep, fuck it. Neoliberalism sucks. We don’t need it.
Keywords: fuck neoliberalism; fuck it to hell

Fuck Neoliberalism. That’s my blunt message. I could probably end my discussion at this point and it wouldn’t really matter. My position is clear and you likely already get the gist of what I want to say. I have nothing positive to add to the discussion about neoliberalism, and to be perfectly honest, I’m quite sick of having to think about it. I’ve simply had enough. For a time I had considered calling this paper ‘Forget Neoliberalism’ instead, as in some ways that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve been writing on the subject for many years (Springer 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015; Springer et al. 2016) and I came to a point where I just didn’t want to commit any more energy to this endeavor for fear that continuing to work around this idea was functioning to perpetuate its hold. On further reflection I also recognize that as a political maneuver it is potentially quite dangerous to simply stick our heads in the sand and collectively ignore a phenomenon that has had such devastating and debilitating effects on our shared world. There is an ongoing power to neoliberalism that is difficult to deny and I’m not convinced that a strategy of ignorance is actually the right approach (Springer 2016a). So my exact thoughts were, ‘well fuck it then’, and while a quieter and gentler name for this paper could tone down the potential offence that might come with the title I’ve chosen, I subsequently reconsidered. Why should we be more worried about using profanity than we are about the actual vile discourse of neoliberalism itself? I decided that I wanted to transgress, to upset, and to offend, precisely because we ought to be offended by neoliberalism, it is entirely upsetting, and therefore we should ultimately be seeking to transgress it. Wouldn’t softening the title be making yet another concession to the power of neoliberalism? I initially worried what such a title might mean in terms of my reputation. Would it hinder future promotion or job offers should I want to maintain my mobility as an academic, either upwardly or to a new location? This felt like conceding personal defeat to neoliberal disciplining. Fuck that.

It also felt as though I was making an admission that there is no colloquial response that could appropriately be offered to counter the discourse of neoliberalism. As though we can only respond in an academic format using complex geographical theories of variegation, hybridity, and mutation to weaken its edifice. This seemed disempowering, and although I have myself contributed to the articulation of some of these theories (Springer 2010), I often feel that this sort of framing works against the type of argument I actually want to make. It is precisely in the everyday, the ordinary, the unremarkable, and the mundane that I think a politics of refusal must be located. And so I settled on ‘Fuck Neoliberalism’ because I think it conveys most of what I actually want to say. The argument I want to make is slightly more nuanced than that, which had me thinking more about the term ‘fuck’ than I probably have at any other time in my life. What a fantastically colorful word! It works as a noun or a verb, and as an adjective it is perhaps the most used point of exclamation in the English language. It can be employed to express anger, contempt, annoyance, indifference, surprise, impatience, or even as a meaningless emphasis because it just rolls off of the tongue. You can ‘fuck something up’, ‘fuck someone over’, ‘fuck around’, ‘not give a fuck’, and there is a decidedly geographical point of reference to the word insofar as you can be instructed to ‘go fuck yourself’. At this point you might even be thinking ‘ok, but who gives a fuck?’ Well, I do, and if you’re interested in ending neoliberalism so should you. The powerful capacities that come with the word offer a potential challenge to neoliberalism. To dig down and unpack these abilities we need to appreciate the nuances of what could be meant by the phrase ‘fuck neoliberalism’. Yet at the same time, fuck nuance. As Kieran Healy (2016: 1) has recently argued, it “typically obstructs the development of theory that is intellectually interesting, empirically generative, or practically successful”. So without fetishizing nuance let’s quickly work through what I think we should be prioritizing in fucking up neoliberalism.

The first sense is perhaps the most obvious. By saying ‘fuck neoliberalism’ we can express our rage against the neoliberal machine. It is an indication of our anger, our desire to shout our resentment, to spew venom back in the face of the noxious malice that has been shown to all of us. This can come in the form of mobilizing more protests against neoliberalism or in writing more papers and books critiquing its influence. The latter preaches to the converted, and the former hopes that the already perverted will be willing to change their ways. I don’t discount that these methods are important tactics in our resistance, but I’m also quite sure that they’ll never actually be enough to turn the tide against neoliberalism and in our favour. In making grand public gestures of defiance we attempt to draw powerful actors into a conversation, mistakenly believing that they might listen and begin to accommodate the popular voice of refusal (Graeber 2009). Shouldn’t we instead be done talking? Here is the second sense of ‘fuck neoliberalism’, which is found in the notion of rejection. This would be to advocate for the end of neoliberalism (as we knew it) in a fashion advanced by J.K. GibsonGraham (1996) where we simply stop talking about it. Scholars in particular would discontinue prioritizing it as the focus of their studies. Maybe not completely forget about it or ignore neoliberalism altogether, which I’ve already identified as problematic, but to instead set about getting on with our writing about other things. Once again this is a crucially important point of contact for us as we work beyond the neoliberal worldview, but here too I’m not entirely convinced that this is enough. As Mark Purcell (2016: 620) argues, “We need to turn away from neoliberalism and towards ourselves, to begin the difficult – but also joyous – work of managing our affairs for ourselves”. While negation, protest and critique are necessary, we also need to think about actively fucking up neoliberalism by doing things outside of its reach.

Direct action beyond neoliberalism speaks to a prefigurative politics (Maeckelbergh 2011), which is the third and most important sense of what I think we should be focusing on when we invoke the idea ‘fuck neoliberalism’. To prefigure is to reject the centrism, hierarchy, and authority that come with representative politics by emphasizing the embodied practice of enacting horizontal relationships and forms of organization that strive to reflect the future society being sought (Boggs 1977). Beyond being ‘done talking’, prefiguration and direct action contend that there was never a conversation to be had anyway, recognizing that whatever it is we want to do, we can just do it ourselves. Nonetheless, there has been significant attention to the ways in which neoliberalism is able to capture and appropriate all manner of political discourse and imperatives (Barnett 2005; Birch 2015; Lewis 2009; Ong 2007). For critics like David Harvey (2015) only another dose of the state can solve the neoliberal question, where in particular he is quick to dismiss non-hierarchical organization and horizontal politics as greasing the rails for an assured neoliberal future. Yet in his pessimism he entirely misunderstands prefigurative politics, which are a means not to an end, but only to future means (Springer 2012). In other words, there is a constant and continual vigilance already built into prefigurative politics so that the actual practice of prefiguration cannot be coopted. It is reflexive and attentive but always with a view towards production, invention, and creation as the satisfaction of the desire of community. In this way prefigurative politics are explicitly anti-neoliberal. They are a seizing of the means as our means, a means without end. To prefigure is to embrace the conviviality and joy that comes with being together as radical equals, not as vanguards and proletariat on the path towards the transcendental empty promise of utopia or ‘no place’, but as the grounded immanence of the here and now of actually making a new world ‘in the shell of the old’ and the perpetual hard work and reaffirmation that this requires (Ince 2012).

There is nothing about neoliberalism that is deserving of our respect, and so in concert with a prefigurative politics of creation, my message is quite simply ‘fuck it’. Fuck the hold that it has on our political imaginations. Fuck the violence it engenders. Fuck the inequality it extols as a virtue. Fuck the way it has ravaged the environment. Fuck the endless cycle of accumulation and the cult of growth. Fuck the Mont Pelerin society and all the think tanks that continue to prop it up and promote it. Fuck Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman for saddling us with their ideas. Fuck the Thatchers, the Reagans, and all the cowardly, self-interested politicians who seek only to scratch the back of avarice. Fuck the fear-mongering exclusion that sees ‘others’ as worthy of cleaning our toilets and mopping our floors, but not as members of our communities. Fuck the ever-intensifying move towards metrics and the failure to appreciate that not everything that counts can be counted. Fuck the desire for profit over the needs of community. Fuck absolutely everything neoliberalism stands for, and fuck the Trojan horse that it rode in on! For far too long we’ve been told that ‘there is no alternative’, that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, that we live in a Darwinian nightmare world of all against all ‘survival of the fittest’. We’ve swallowed the idea of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ hook, line and sinker; when in reality this is a ruse that actually reflects the ‘tragedy of capitalism’ and its endless wars of plunder (Le Billon 2012). Garrett Hardin’s (1968) Achilles’ heel was that he never stopped to think about how grazing cattle were already privately owned. What might happen when we reconvene an actual commons as a commons without presuppositions of private ownership (Jeppesen et al. 2014)? What might happen when we start to pay closer attention to the prefiguration of alternatives that are already happening and privileging these experiences as the most important forms of organization (White and Williams 2012)? What might happen when instead of swallowing the bitter pills of competition and merit we instead focus our energies not on medicating ourselves with neoliberal prescriptions, but on the deeper healing that comes with cooperation and mutual aid (Heckert 2010)?

Jamie Peck (2004: 403) once called neoliberalism a ‘radical political slogan’, but it is no longer enough to dwell within the realm of critique. Many years have passed since we first identified the enemy and from that time we have come to know it well through our writing and protests. But even when we are certain of its defeat, as in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent Occupy Movement, it continues to gasp for air and reanimate itself in a more powerful zombified form (Crouch 2011; Peck 2010). Japhy Wilson (2016) calls this ongoing power the ‘neoliberal gothic’, and I’m convinced that in order to overcome this horror show we must move our politics into the realm of the enactive (Rollo 2016). What if ‘fuck neoliberalism’ were to become a mantra for a new kind of politics? An enabling phrase that spoke not only to action, but to the reclamation of our lives in the spaces and moments in which we actively live them?

What if every time we used this phrase we recognized that it meant a call for enactive agency that went beyond mere words, combining theory and practice into the beautiful praxis of prefiguration? We must take a multipronged approach in our rejection of neoliberalism. While we can’t entirely ignore or forget it, we can actively work against it in ways that extend beyond the performance of rhetoric and the rhetoric of performance. By all means let’s advance a new radical political slogan. Use a hashtag (#fuckneoliberalism) and make our contempt go viral! But we have to do more than express our indignation. We have to enact our resolve and realize our hope as the immanence of our embodied experiences in the here and now (Springer 2016a). We need to remake the world ourselves, a process that cannot be postponed.

We’ve willfully deluded and disempowered ourselves by continuing to appeal to the existing political arrangement of representation. Our blind faith has us waiting endlessly for a savior to drop from the sky. The system has proven itself to be thoroughly corrupt, where time and time again our next great political candidate proves to be a failure. In this neoliberal moment it’s not a case of mere problematic individuals being in power. Instead, it is our very belief in the system itself that epitomizes the core of the problem. We produce and enable the institutional conditions for ‘the Lucifer effect’ to play itself out (Zimbardo 2007). ‘The banality of evil’ is such that these politicians are just doing their jobs in a system that rewards perversions of power because it is all designed to serve the laws of capitalism (Arendt 1971). But we don’t have to obey. We’re not beholden to this order. Through our direct action and the organization of alternatives we can indict the entire structure and break this vicious cycle of abuse. When the political system is defined by, conditioned for, enmeshed within, and derived from capitalism, it can never represent our ways of knowing and being in the world, and so we need to take charge of these lifeways and reclaim our collective agency. We must start to become enactive in our politics and begin embracing a more relational sense of solidarity that recognizes that the subjugation and suffering of one is in fact indicative of the oppression of all (Shannon and Rouge 2009; Springer 2014). We can start living into other possible worlds through a renewed commitment to the practices of mutual aid, fellowship, reciprocity, and non-hierarchical forms of organization that reconvene democracy in its etymological sense of power to the people. Ultimately neoliberalism is a particularly foul idea that comes with a whole host of vulgar outcomes and crass assumptions. In response, it deserves to be met with equally offensive language and action. Our community, our cooperation, and our care for one another are all loathsome to neoliberalism. It hates that which we celebrate. So when we say ‘fuck neoliberalism’ let it mean more that just words, let it be an enactment of our commitment to each other. Say it loud, say it with me, and say it to anyone who will listen, but most of all mean it as a clarion call to action and as the embodiment of our prefigurative power to change the fucking world. Fuck Neoliberalism!

 Acknowledgements

I owe my title to Jack Tsonis. He wrote me a wonderful email in early 2015 to introduce himself with this message as the subject line. Blunt and to the point. He told me about his precarious position at the University of Western Sydney where he was trapped in sessional hell. Fuck neoliberalism indeed. Jack informs me that he has since gained employment that is less precarious, but seeing the beast up close has made him more disgusted and repulsed than ever. Thanks for the inspiration mate! I’m also grateful to Kean Birch and Toby Rollo who listened to my ideas and laughed along with me. Mark Purcell motivated greatly with his brilliant delight in thinking beyond neoliberalism. Thanks to Levi Gahman whose playful spirit and support demonstrated an actual prefiguration of the kinds of ideas I discuss here (“Listen Neoliberalism!” A Personal Response to Simon Springer’s “Fuck Neoliberalism”). Peer reviews from Farhang Rouhani, Patrick Huff and Rhon Teruelle demonstrated tremendous unanimity giving me reason to believe that there is still some fight left in the academy! Special thanks to the translators Xaranta Baksh (Spanish), Jai Kaushal and Dhiraj Barman (Hindi), Ursula Brandt (German), Fabrizio Eva (Italian), anonymous contributor (French), Eduardo Tomazine (Portuguese), Haris Tsavdaroglou (Greek), Sayuri Watanabe (Japanese) and Gürçim Yılmaz (Turkish), as well as Marcelo Lopes de Souza, Myriam Houssay-Holzschuch, Ulrich Best, and Adam Goodwin for helping to organize the translations. Finally, thanks to the many people who so kindly took the time to write to me about this essay and express their solidarity after I first uploaded it to the Internet. I’m both humbled and hopeful that so many people share the same sentiment. We will win!

References

Arendt, H. (1971). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Viking Press.
Barnett, C. (2005). The consolations of ‘neoliberalism’. Geoforum, 36(1), 7-12.
Birch, K. (2015). We Have Never Been Neoliberal: A Manifesto for a Doomed Youth. Alresford: Zero Books.
Boggs, C. (1977). Marxism, prefigurative communism, and the problem of workers’ control. Radical America, 11(6), 99-122.
Crouch, C. (2011). The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism. Malden, MA: Polity Press
Gibson-Graham, J. K. (1996). The End of Capitalism (as We Knew It): A Feminist
Critique of Political Economy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Graeber, D. (2009). Direct Action: An Ethnography. Oakland: AK Press.
Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162(3859), 1243-1248.
Harvey, D. (2015). “Listen, Anarchist!” A personal response to Simon Springer’s “Why a radical geography must be anarchist”. DavidHarvey.org. http://davidharvey.org/2015/06/listen-anarchist-by-david-harvey/
Healy, K. (2016) Fuck nuance. Sociological Theory.
https://kieranhealy.org/files/papers/fuck-nuance.pdf
Heckert, J. (2010). Listening, caring, becoming: anarchism as an ethics of direct relationships. In Franks, B. (ed.). Anarchism and Moral Philosophy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 186-207.
Ince, A. (2012). In the shell of the old: Anarchist geographies of territorialisation. Antipode, 44(5), 1645-1666.
Jeppesen, S., Kruzynski, A., Sarrasin, R., & Breton, É. (2014). The anarchist commons. Ephemera, 14(4), 879-900.
Le Billon, P. (2012). Wars of Plunder: Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources. New York: Columbia University Press.
Lewis, N. (2009). Progressive spaces of neoliberalism?. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 50(2), 113-119.
Maeckelbergh, M. (2011). Doing is believing: Prefiguration as strategic practice in the alterglobalization movement. Social Movement Studies, 10(1), 1-20.
Ong, A. (2007). Neoliberalism as a mobile technology. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32(1), 3-8.
Peck, J. (2004). Geography and public policy: constructions of neoliberalism. Progress in Human Geography, 28(3), 392-405.
Peck, J. (2010). Zombie neoliberalism and the ambidextrous state. Theoretical Criminology, 14(1), 104-110.
Purcell, M. (2016). Our new arms. In Springer, S., Birch, K. and MacLeavy, J.
(eds.). The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge, pp. 613-622.
Rollo, T. (2016). Democracy, agency and radical children’s geographies. In White, R. J., Springer, S. and Souza, M. L. de. (eds.). The Practice of Freedom: Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt. Lanham, MD: Rowman &
Littlefield.
Shannon, D. and Rouge, J. (2009) Refusing to wait: anarchism and tntersectionality. Anarkismo. http://anarkismo.net/article/14923
Springer, S. (2008). The nonillusory effects of neoliberalisation: Linking geographies of poverty, inequality, and violence. Geoforum, 39(4), 15201525.
Springer, S. (2009). Renewed authoritarianism in Southeast Asia: undermining democracy through neoliberal reform. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 50(3), 271276.
Springer, S. (2010). Neoliberalism and geography: Expansions, variegations, formations. Geography Compass, 4(8), 1025-1038.
Springer, S. (2011). Articulated neoliberalism: the specificity of patronage, kleptocracy, and violence in Cambodia’s neoliberalization. Environment and Planning A, 43(11), 2554-2570.
Springer, S. (2012). Anarchism! What geography still ought to be. Antipode, 44(5), 1605-1624.
Springer, S. (2013). Neoliberalism. The Ashgate Research Companion to Critical Geopolitics. Eds. K. Dodds, M. Kuus, and J. Sharp. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, pp. 147-164.
Springer, S. (2014). War and pieces. Space and Polity, 18(1), 85-96.
Springer, S. (2015). Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse and Dispossession in Cambodia. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Springer, S. (2016 a) The Anarchist Roots of Geography: Toward Spatial Emancipation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Springer, S. (2016 b) The Discourse of Neoliberalism: An Anatomy of a Powerful Idea. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Springer, S., Birch, K. and MacLeavy, J. (2016) An introduction to neoliberalism. In Springer, S., Birch, K. and MacLeavy, J. (eds.). The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-14.
White, R. J., and Williams, C. C. (2012). The pervasive nature of heterodox economic spaces at a time of neoliberal crisis: towards a “postneoliberal” anarchist future. Antipode, 44(5), 1625-1644.
Wilson, J. (2016). Neoliberal gothic. In Springer, S., Birch, K. and MacLeavy, J.
(eds.). The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge, pp. 592-602.
Zimbardo, P. (2007). The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. New York: Random House.

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Is CBS in Trouble For Savaging Star Trek AXANAR? If So MOONVES Is To BLAME

Star_Trek_Discovery_logo.svg

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” General Obi-Wan Kenobi, (Ret.)

For many devoted fans of Star Trek (not Star Wars) something terrible HAS happened.  Since upstart Producer Alec Peters surrendered to the Klingon Empiresorry, I mean CBS–there has been a disturbance in the fan film Force that continues to reverberate. Peters, of course, had little choice, given that CBS’s deep corporate pockets had the ability to pursue the lawsuit to infinity–and beyond–regardless of its merits.  This is how big business crushes opposition, real or imagined, and Alec Peters little project was obviously viewed as a threat, ostensibly because it was, “too good.”

 

330px-Les_Moonves_at_the_2009_Tribeca_Film_Festival via wkikipedia

Chairman and CEO of CBS. Les Moonves has taken a direct hand in the upcoming Star Trek Discovery TV series.

 

So, for now, CBS President, CEO and God-Emperor Les Moonves is triumphant and the imagined threat to CBS has been crushed like a bug.  More ominously, CBS and Moonves have established a strong precedent that can be used as a legal club to crush any and all fan films that dare aspire to do anything of quality based on the Sci-Fi world created by the late Gene Roddenberry.

For now, then, Les Moonves is reveling in his role as Ming the Merciless of the Star Trek TV franchise universe (Paramount has the movie half of that universe, but more of that another time).  CEO Moonves now, seemingly, wields absolute power over Star Trek fans and their puny earthling attempts at emulating their mentor and founder Roddenberry. But let me suggest that this triumph is illusory and that what Moonves and his army of corporate lawyers and television hacks have done is sown the wind of discord which may yet net them a whirlwind of fan animosity and financial disaster for CBS. If that does indeed come to pass, the blame should be lain squarely at the feet of the Media Mogul/Emperor Palpatine himself.

This is not the first time that Moonves has come down like a ton of bricks on someone whom he deemed to have defied his Imperial dignity.  In 2006, Moonves ordered his minions at CBS to file a $500 million lawsuit against shock jock Howard Stern for breach of contract.  Stern had been negotiating a deal with Sirius Satellite Radio and failed to properly notify his lord and master, or so CBS claimed.  Unlike Peters, however, Stern was not one to be bullied so easily.  Stern lawyered up and went on the offensive, even to the point of going on CBS’s own Late Show with David Letterman, where he wore a shirt mocking Moonves.  Eventually, the two parties settled: Howard and Sirius obtained exclusive rights to over twenty years of Stern’s radio shows, while CBS was paid $2 million for the tapes, a far cry from the $500 they initially asked for.  All in all, Stern emerged smelling like roses and CBS, well, CBS could hardly have claimed victory, given the circumstances.

Significantly, back in 2006, Stern claimed that Moonves shies away from standing up for CBS’s own corporate interests, but instead, said Stern, “I’ll tell you who Les Moonves sues and goes after: talent!  Because he thinks we’re easy targets.” Dan Rather has also had some choice things to say about Moonves and his corporate leadership as well.

Presumably, Moonves and CBS going postal over Scot Peters’ Star Trek Axanar project was due to their concerns over the new Star Trek Discovery series set to premiere on CBS’s new pay to play service.  It does not say good things about the new TV show that a major television network views a fan film as a potential threat to their professional production.  But, then, judging from the rumors emanating from the Discovery set, and fans criticisms of what CBS has released about it so far, maybe Moonves and CBS are right to be afraid.

Initially, the untold legions of Star Trek fans were overjoyed at the announcement that CBS would be coming out with a new iteration of the venerable Star Trek franchise.  Better still, they were told, this new series would be set in the original time-line, nowadays referred to as the TOS Universe, the one which the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager (and Enterprise) were all set, not the newer “Kelvin Time-Line” universe of the Paramount movies produced by J. J. Abrams.  While the two initial offerings of Abrams’ re-imagining of the Star Trek movie franchise were well received, the latest offering, Star Trek Beyond, only managed to squeak out a profit through its sales overseas; domestic sales of this big-budget film were less than expected.

Bit by bit, however, the enthusiasm over Star Trek Discovery has waned the more fans learn about the new series. Some critics have said that if CBS really believed in the show, they would put it on the network in prime time instead of relegating it to their “all access” (sic) streaming service that will cost fans money to see. The first view of the new starship Discovery, was first unveiled at the 2016 COMICON fan convention to much hype.  But fans were less than pleased with the look of the new ship and, for a ship supposedly set in a period ten years before the time of the original Captain Kirk Star Trek show, it seemed oddly anachronistic, not to say even garish. The pilot episode was originally scheduled to premiere in January of 2017, but since the initial announcement date at COMICON, the start date keeps getting pushed back farther and farther, supposedly in order to ‘get it right.’

 

Bryan_Fuller Discovery initial producer via Wikipedia

Bryan Fuller was the initial Showrunner for Star Trek Discovery, but parted ways with CBS and Moonves over creative differences.

 

More seriously, hints of creative differences between the show’s initial producer, Bryan Fuller, and CBS Chairman/CEO Moonves started to surface.  Fuller was the ideal choice to produce the show: he was a dyed in the wool “Trekkie,” who started out as a writer on Deep Space 9, and since has gone on to produce a number of successful television shows. Fuller has publicly made it known since 2009 that he would love to produce another Star Trek show and on one occasion said he would “drop everything” to produce a Trek TV show.  But, after taking the helm as Show-Runner, in October of 2016 he abruptly stepped down from his pet project. CBS, in its official press release, claimed Fuller was too busy with “other projects” to oversee Discovery, but said he would stay on as Executive Producer; later statements by Fuller himself made it clear he was completely out of the picture with regard Discovery.

Rumors from insiders continue to seep out from the set of Star Trek Discovery, and none of it sounds good.  To start with, Moonves was the one who decided to put the show on All Access instead of on the prime time network, hoping to thereby force fans to pay cash to see their favorite show and thereby bail out CBS’s failing streaming service.  In truth, Netflix has paid most of the money to produce the show, in return for exclusive rights to overseas distribution.  Despite this, Bryan Fuller would have been well able to produce a show that met fans high expectations, until, it is said, Moonves started to try to micro-manage the show.

 Insiders claim that Moonves wanted to “sex up” the look of the show, to make it look and feel more like the J. J. Abrams movies, forgetting that the show is supposed to be in the world of the original TV shows, NOT the “Kelvin” one. He wanted to make the ships, the uniforms and the aliens unlike anything that had ever been seen before despite Fuller’s warning that fans would revolt if the new show deviated too far from the established Star Trek cannon. Insiders claim that Moonves has no interest or understanding of Sci Fi in general and can barely tell the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. The latest trailer, which gives us a first look at the completed pilot for the series, seems to confirm this as it looks like a mish-mosh  For example, the opening to the trailer states that it takes place “ten years before Kirk, Spock and the Enterprise” (sic) which indicates that no one on the new series bothered to check back and look at the original series to learn that Spock had been first officer to Captain Archer aboard the Enterprise during this same period! It is an obvious gaff and an inconsistency so glaring that it shows how careless the new showrunners are being in producing the new series.

Moonves and his minions seem to have forgotten a fundamental fact about Star Trek: what has made Star Trek the overwhelming success that it has become is due ENTIRELY to the devotion of fans.  The original series was canceled after only three seasons; nonetheless, fans flocked to watch the re-runs for years afterwards, until eventually Hollywood saw the light–or dollar signs–and began churning out film versions of the original show.  Fan loyalty–fan fanaticism is more accurate–is what has sustained these films and all the subsequent television shows.  Nor is Star Trek unique in this regard: fan loyalty drives success in many other media: the reason the Beatles became so big, for example, was initially due to the devotion of their fan base, first in the UK and then in the US.  A handful of other musical groups, such as the Grateful Dead, have also enjoyed steady success for decades–and this in an industry know for the short shelf life of its products.

 

Gene_Roddenberry_crop

The late Gene Roddenberry was the creative genius behind the original Star Trek series and guided its sequels for many years.  His creative oversight is sorely missed.

 

Star Trek fans will put up with quite a bit in their loyalty to the universe that Gene Roddenberry created and, over the years, numerous fan films of varying quality and length have been produced.  In fact, whole series of fan TV shows have been made, sometimes featuring professional actors reprising their characters’ roles from either the original series or its sequels, all with nary a peep, either from Roddenberry or his successors until now.  If anything, these fan films and fan series have sustained fan’s enthusiasm for Star Trek and been the engine which has driven Hollywood’s fat box office and advertising profits.

 

Perhaps Star Trek Discovery can overcome the bad juju that Moonves and CBS have generated with its suppression of the Axanar feature film.  Certainly, most Star Trek fans want the show to succeed.  But if the rumors are right about Moonves’ contempt for the Star Trek canon and the new show turns out to be a garish mish-mosh as some claim, the blame will fall squarely on the shoulders of one person–Les Moonves.  If that happens, heads may roll at CBS, especially if it results in the failure of the network’s streaming service; if so, I doubt whether Howard Stern, Dan Rather or Bryan Fuller will shed a tear at the result.  As for Alec Peters, David may not have slain Goliath, but the fact that CBS sweated bullets, based only on a twenty minute short he produced, bodes well for his future career as a producer of (hopefully) major Hollywood films.

 

800px-Gene_Roddenberry_-_Star_for_TV

A star that will never fade from Heaven

 

Posted in Axanar lawsuit, CBS ALL ACCESS, Leslie Moonves Chairman & CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS, Scot Peters, Producer, Star Trek Axanar, Star Trek Discovery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ambrose Bierce on Immigration

Ambrose-Bierce

Ambrose Bierce.  Cynic, observer of the human condition, disappointed idealist.

 

“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.  And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Robert Fulghum

It seems like some issues in American politics never go away, they just change their context.  One such issue is the question of Immigration Policy.

This election year we hear the Republican candidate spewing racial stereotypes and absurd solutions to the problem of illegal immigration.  While members of his own party have condemned his statements, the truth is that for the last eight years their own stand on illegal immigrants has not been that much different than his.  Before the Great Recession of 2008, moreover, they positively welcomed “undocumented” immigrants because, they said, “we can’t get Americans to do hard work” and similar excuses for allowing cheap unskilled labor to undercut the American worker.

Conversely, the Democratic Party has embraced illegal immigrants–supposedly–even as President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors combined.  To be sure, some humane immigration policies have been temporarily put in place by the present POTUS, but this is like putting a topical anesthetic on the skin to cure an internal tumor.

The truth is, many American blue collar workers have seen their good paying jobs disappear over the years, only to be replaced by low wage, no benefit jobs.  Americans are not lazy, nor they unwilling to do hard work; they simply want to be paid a decent wage, something the multinational corporations who run our government and who are writing the international “Free” Trade deals that continue to ship whole factories overseas don’t want.  What most working class Americans don’t understand is that each wave of illegal immigrants flooding into our country are the byproducts of these phony trade deals, which are neither free, nor even much about trade.  NAFTA spurred a flood of illegal Mexican workers, displaced by the deal, who came north seeking work; CAFTA did the same thing to Central Americans, also desperate for work at any price.  Nothing spurs ethnic animosity like the perception that these new arrivals are here to take your already substandard paying job.

The moral philosopher and humorist, Robert Fulghum, once observed that “All I Really Need to Know, I learned in Kindergarten.”  Consider, if you will, the game of Musical Chairs; every time the music stops, everyone scrambles for a chair and someone ALWAYS LOSES. Then another chair is taken away and the music starts again;  again and again, the music stops and another chair is taken away, until only one person wins.  Do you all remember how many fights and arguments broke out over that game?  I do.  Our “rigged” economy is very much like that game of Musical Chairs.  So, yes, a lot of working class Americans are bigoted against immigrants, legal or illegal, because they blame them for the loss of their once prosperous and affluent lifestyle, without ever stopping to think who it is that is really manipulating the music and the chairs.

What has all this got to do with Ambrose Bierce?  Actually, precious little; but in the late nineteenth century many “real Americans” were also concerned about immigration and worried that the furriners were going to ruin our country. Having delved into Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce’s life and works for over six years as I worked on my current book, whenever I see a current political issue heatedly debated, it naturally reminds me of something Bierce said or did.  For you edification, therefore, I present Bierce’s take on immigration:

“America has issued a general invitation. Whether that may have been judicious or not is not for them to say who have accepted it. If we keep open house, we do not need, neither will we tolerate, an intimation from a guest that the company is not sufficiently select.” In other words, only Native Americans have a right to complain about more recent immigrants.”  AGB

Things have changed greatly from the day Bierce uttered his observation, but I would aver that his words still contain much wisdom.

 

Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife cover

Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife, due out in 2016 and available at all the better bookstores.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2016, American History, Corporatism, Dog Whistle Politics, Economics, Immigration, Republicans | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HILLARY’S INDICTABLE OFFENSES

A good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich”

–Saul Wachler  

BILL & HILL MAKE BONNIE & CLYDE LOOK LIKE PENNYANTE CROOKS

HILL & BILL THE NEW UNTOUCHABLES

 

 

By now the dust has settled from FBI Director’s half-hearted whitewash of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server instead of following established protocols which have been in place for over a decade and which were required by law.  As even many mainstream media pundits have observed, even though Comey ostensibly said “no reasonable prosecutor would indict her” based on the evidence, he followed that patently false claim by citing the numerous things she did which WOULD have gotten any other citizen of the United States sent away for a long time. 

 However, Comey did give Clinton enough of a “get out of jail” card that Hillary shills have subsequently descended on the media to spin the “non-indictment” as an exoneration.  It was not, and as several jurists have gone on various media outlets to proclaim, there are numerous statutes, serious offenses under Federal law, which a “reasonable” prosecutor would indeed have indicted her on and, all things being equal, easily obtain a conviction on.  However, when formerly respected Senator Clair McCaskill went on MSNBC, looked into the camera and lied straight faced to the nation that Hillary “did not break the law” and was absolved of any charges and that, in effect, we can all just move on.  Any lifelong Democrat should understand that Claire McCaskill is a liar and that she is covering for a modern day “Untouchable”—Hillary Clinton. 

 Of course, this is an election year, so independents and Democrats, who are used to tuning out the usual Republican hyperbole and just plain fabrication may assume the comments about Clinton culpability regarding her abuse of her office with regard to the private email servers is just part and parcel of election year bullshit.  Unfortunately, this is a classic case of “crying wolf.”  The GOP shills have fabricated so many non-scandals for the last eight years to cover their own egregious bungling and criminality during the Oh-Oh Decade, that it is easy to assume that the calls for Hillary’s indictment by the Repugnicans is part and parcel with that. 

 Moreover, the GOP’s leading goon/buffoon Donald Trump’s modus operandi is to engage in name calling without backing up his insults with facts.  Mere repetition of “Crooked Hillary” over and over, without explaining WHY she is crooked, is not only juvenile, it causes both independent non-Republicans and honest Democrats alike to tune it out as just so much Trumpiness. 

hillary_prison

 This is most unfortunate, since there are quite concrete reasons why former Secretary of State Clinton SHOULD be indicted and, by extension, why she should never EVER be considered for the highest political office in the land; hell, she can’t be trusted with being elected dogcatcher without turning it into some kind of shady operation.  Be that as it may, rather than just engage in one liners and epithets, American voters need to understand exactly what crimes Hillary Clinton committed while in office and the serious nature of her offenses.  What follows, therefore, is a brief summary of the criminal offenses she committed as Secretary of State, especially with regard to her use of a private, unsecured, email server.  It is by now means an exhaustive list and I have tried to restrict it to just her actions with regard to the abuse of emails and not the other, far more extensive, criminal actions she committed while in office.  So here goes:

 18 USC Code § 1924: Prohibits putting Classified information into a non-Classified setting.  Her private servers (she used several, it turns out, not just one) were at no time approved for the use of Classified documents.  Worse still, FBI Director Comey characterized her private email system as being less secure than a standard gmail account!  Not only were Classified documents so transferred, Top Secret and SAP information was also put on this “leaky sieve” private system.  This was not accidental, it was not unintentional and it certainly wasn’t convenient for anyone concerned, including HRC. 

Another count on 18 USC 1924 makes the very act of transferring information to a private server (or rather servers) located in her home, or any other location not within an authorized Federal facility was, by its very act, a crime.  This is, on a much smaller scale, is what General Petraeus did with just one document; he was convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor, and while he got very lenient treatment, no one contests his guilt.  Hillary Clinton did this on a massive scale.  18 USC 1924

 An additional count under this same law also applies to her use of an unsecured Blackberry mobile phone, from which she texted and phoned ALL of her official business.  She was offered a secure government Blackberry which had special encrypted software built into it but she refused.  Because the floor of the State Department which her office was on has heavy anti-hacking and cyber security protection, Hillary Clinton had to actually go downstairs to an unsecured area to receive all her calls—if that doesn’t sound like willful flaunting of basic security protocols, I don’t what does.  I suspect a first year law student could prove intent on this count alone.

18 USC Code § 793 “Gathering, transmitting or losing Defense Information.” Felony. Says you cannot expose National Secrets through gross negligence.  Whether Hillary Clinton INTENDED to expose State Department and other Classified and Top Secret documents to being hacked is irrelevant; her “carelessness” in and of itself is an indictable offense. It calls for ten years jail time. Again, let me repeat, intent is not necessary to prove guilt.  Comey lied.   18USC 793

18 USC Code § 2071: This law stipulates that you cannot destroy government information. Felony.  Does anybody seriously believe that over HALF of the 60,000 emails Hillary Clinton had on her private server were about Yoga classes and how to cookie recipes? Yet she deleted over half her emails without any oversight on the part of any official government agency or previous inspection by either the FBI, the CIA or even the State Department. 18 USC 2071

 18 USC Code § 1519 Obstruction of Justice/Tampering with Evidence.  Felony.  Once the Benghazi Committee subpoenaed her emails, they should all have been turned over to the government and it was up to the FBI to determine what was and was not relevant.  To delete more than 30,000 emails, whatever their content, in the knowledge that they had been subpoenaed is, IN AND OF ITSELF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.  Moreover, Clinton and her lackeys did not just erase the emails the servers were wiped clean in a manner so as to make any of their contents irretrievable; that takes a helluva lot of intent to do that.  18 USC Code 1519

 As it turns out, copies of some of those emails did surface and many, if not most, that survived were not “private” had to do with government business—or at the least mixing government business with personal gain—which brings us to:

 44 USC § 3101 The Federal Records Act of 1950, which makes the Secretary of State responsible for “making and preserving” State Department Records.  When HRC took office in January of 2009 she was made aware of all the rules regarding preservation of official records; moreover, a few months later the rules were updated, which stipulated that if someone used a non-agency email, any documents received via that means must also be preserved: OFR 1236.2244USC 3101 and 36 CFR 1236.22

18 USC § 1001 Making false statements before Congress.  The whole private email scandal became public in the first place because, while testifying before the Benghazi Commission, knowledge of her using a private server first surfaced.  In any case, nine days after the Benghazi attack Congress officially requested all—ALL—information related to the attack in possession of Hillary Clinton or the State Department.  Nothing was handed over; multiple Freedom of Information lawsuits were filed by various parties and Hillary and the State Department deny there was anything to provide.  Congress filed a subpoena, Clinton denied receiving it; moreover her denial of having any documents related to Libya were shown to be a lie by a photo taken of her using her personal Blackberry while on the way to Libya after the attack.  When Sidney Blumenthal was force to turn over his documents about Benghazi, a number of the documents were from Hillary Clinton—proof that she LIED to Congress.  The whole story of her stonewalling Congress and denying having any documents related to the whole affair is far more convoluted than I summarize her; but the main point is, that on multiple occasions she lied to Congress.  18 USC 1001

18 USC § 798 Making Classified information available to a person not entitled to receive it.  This is a Class A Felony.  Huma Abedin, was at one and the same time a paid employee of the State Department, an employee of a private Clinton-connected firm and a member of the Clinton Foundation.  The legality of this triple dipping aside, and the motives behind it, it is clear that Huma Abedin routinely had access to the highest level intelligence, all at Clinton’s behest.  Being an employee of a private company and a non governmental organization clearly disqualified her from having access to any kind of secure information; again, Hillary Clinton knowingly violated the law.  This is a Class A Felony.  18 USC 798

 

 There is one known occasion when one of Clinton’s minions was trying to fax a top secret document to SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED and it wouldn’t go through, because the government machine was programmed not to transmit anything marked Top Secret to an unsecure destination.  Clinton personally ordered the document stripped of its Top Secret markings so it would go through. The document in question had the locations of spy satellites and drones crucial to the government’s war on terrorism. I would say that was pretty clear intent, it was also reckless and that one act alone could well have endangered national security. 

Because of Hillary Clinton’s wanton disregard for the law and putting private gain over National Security, it is clear that she endangered public safety and National security on numerous occasions.  Moreover, although Comey hedged and equivocated whether National Security was in fact breached, there is abundant evidence it was, and on multiple occasions.  First, and most publicly, was the Romanian hacker Guccifer, (or Guccifer 1) whom the FBI went to great lengths to have extradited to the US.

Unofficially, it is widely known that the Russians hacked into Hillary’s private server as well, although they obviously aren’t admitting anything.  Putin, it is reported, is looking at ways to leak her deleted documents in a way that doesn’t directly implicate Russian intelligence. So expect at least some of those “private” emails to begin bubbling up during Her Majesty’s election campaign and even more so if she gets elected. 

Chinese intelligence, who have multiple teams devoted to nothing but hacking into US government computer systems, has undoubtedly also read Clinton’s State Department secrets; there is even a more than even chance that ISIS and other terrorist organizations also accessed her State Department communiqués via her unsecure private server. 

Again, as Director Comey noted, she would have better cyber security had she just used a gmail account.  I can’t begin to count the number of violations of the Espionage Act she violated as a result, but I would warrant even a half baked prosecutor could make a credible enough case.

As for FBI Director Comey’s assertion that there were no precedents for prosecuting Clinton for her wanton disregard of American security, this too is a bald faced lie.  Without going into details, but besides General Petraeus, a number of individuals have been prosecuted and convicted for doing far less than what Hillary Clinton did: Major Jason Brezler; Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning; Naval Reservist Bryan H, Mishimura; CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou; the list goes on and on; but in all cases, their alleged offenses were far less and in most case motivated by patriotism.  Hillary Clinton’s motives are entirely different issue, but suffice it to say, she was motivated more by self interest than public interest.

The above is just a brief summary, and only related to her Email criminality.  In truth, Emailgate is but the tip of Clinton criminal enterprises, most of which spread, like a vast international spider-web, from the Clinton Foundation.  I don’t know what blackmail Bill Clinton used against the Obama Administration and Attorney General Lynch, but apparently it was enough to make them shit themselves in their efforts to obstruct bringing a serial criminal to justice.

hillary Clinton Email

NOMINATE HER NOW; IMPEACH HER LATER

Posted in 2012 Election News, 2016 Presidential Race, CLINTON EMAIL SCANDAL, Crooked Hillary, Donald Trump, FBI Criminal Investigation of Hillary Clinton, FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY, Hillary Clinton, Libya, Middle Eastern Affairs, President Obama | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Comey Conned the Cons

“A good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich” Sol Wachtler

Hillary Dumpty

Imagine you are James Comey and you are told by your superiors (in this case the Attorney General Loretta Lynch) in no uncertain terms that you are not to recommend an indictment of Hillary Clinton.  The fix is in, the case is rigged; the system is corrupt.  We all know this by now, unless you are a driveling idiot or some dumb-ass pseudo-Progressive with head in the sand who supports Hillary Clinton.  You have spent the last year or so carefully building and ironclad case.  What do you do?

There were two options: one, to do the right thing; defy your superiors and hand them a recommendation to indict the most corrupt Secretary of State in American History.  This would cause Hillary Clinton to bow out of the Presidential race and Bernie Sanders becomes nominated the Democratic Presidential candidate.  The other is, you do as told, betray all professional integrity and allow the equivalent of a Mafia Don to run for the most powerful political position in the world. We now know that Comey took the second course, paving the way for Crooked Hillary to be the “presumptive” nominee.  The 94 dollar question is: why?

BILL & HILL MAKE BONNIE & CLYDE LOOK LIKE PENNYANTE CROOKS

Several answers come to mind.  First, you want to retain your job and would prefer not to end it prematurely, even if you do it by blackening your own reputation in the law enforcement world.  The last time someone stuck by their prosecutorial guns was during Watergate, the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre” when the Special Prosecutor investigating Nixon’s wrong-doing got too close to the truth and Nixon ordered him fired: the Attorney General refused and he was fired as well.  But for all his wrongdoing, President Nixon was not 1/100th as corrupt as Hillary Clinton, nor as rich, nor as powerful. It is also possible that Slick Willie at that airport meeting threatened Loretta Lynch with some juicy blackmail if his boss Hillary didn’t get off; the blackmail certainly extended throughout the Obama administration and perhaps to the FBI as well.

Secondly, Comey, if you do do the right thing and recommend prosecution, you, a Republican, will have just handed the Presidency to the Democrats.  Hillary Clinton, who is so incompetent she couldn’t even type a simple email without violating the Espionage Act, has only managed to stay ahead of outsider Sanders in the primaries by outrageously overt cheating that a first grader could recognize.  Unfortunately, these days we have reporters who do a worse job of reporting the news than a first grader could do.

Handing the nomination to an HONEST Democratic candidate like Sanders will mean Bozo the Billionaire Trump’s candidacy will go down in flames, and as much as the GOP hates him, they lust after power more.  So give the fools in the DNC and the White House what they want: Hillary gets a pass, a get out of jail free card, and the Republicans will likely win the White House.

BILL & HILL CON ARTISTS

But notice what Comey did, that devious little devil: he prefaced his whitewash with a virtual catalog of all the indictable offenses Hillary committed with regard to the Private Email servers.  Comey did not recommend prosecution, true, but he made it clear to anyone who is not a Hillary troll that she was GUILTY AS HELL.  Now, if the Democratic Party had an ounce of integrity left–Hell, an ounce of common sense left–they would dump Hillary Clinton at the Convention on July 25 and go with the one man who represents all the things the Democratic Party stood for before the Clintons and the NeoLiberals corrupted it–the FDR New Deal programs that made postwar America the most powerful, most prosperous nation on earth.  So Hillary gets her nomination and will struggle to stay even with Trump the Billionaire Buffoon; and if the polls go too far in her favor, Comey’s people have a mountain of incriminating documents ready to leak to the press at any time.

Moreover, if by some miracle Hillary, the Capo di Tutti Capi, does win the Presidency, everyone seems to have forgotten the reason Hillary put all her communications on the Private Server to start with: to hide the BILLIONS of dollars worth of graft that she funneled through the CLINTON FOUNDATION.  The reason the FBI criminal investigation has taken so long is that they have been following all the threads of corruption outward from the emails to the pay for play graft that Hillary was at the center of.

Clinton Inauguration Day

The Emails are like the tip of an ice-burg visible above the waterline; the bulk of her illegal activities have been hidden in that pseudo nonprofit and they all revolve around the complex money laundering schemes of the Clinton Foundation. My guess is that not only the Clinton Crime Family will go down once the Foundation’s crooked dealings are exposed, but most of the Party Establishment as well.  If Hillary gets into office, the hearings and investigations leading to her impeachment will make Watergate look tame by comparison.

Convict Hillary

There is a Chinese proverb: be careful of what you wish for; you just may get it.  FBI Director Comey has given the corrupt Democratic Party Establishment exactly what they wanted: now watch them choke on it.

Hillary_Queen_Peasants_C4P

 

Posted in 2016 Election, 2016 Presidential Race, Bernie Sanders, Breaking News, CLINTON EMAIL SCANDAL, Clinton Machine, Donald Trump, FBI Criminal Investigation of Hillary Clinton, FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY, Hillary Clinton, Joe Scarborough, President Obama, Voting Fraud | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brexit: Why Brits Made the Right Choice

EU Democracy

Metternich would be proud of you.

As the Corporate (actually Corporatist) Media goes into Chicken Little mode after smugly assuming for weeks that the citizens of the sovereign state of the United Kingdom would “do the right thing” and reject separation from the European Union, I thought it timely to provide a contrarian view of what is clearly a major political and economic world event.

Before I expound my own views on the subject, however, let me address the foremost objection a European reader might have to what I may say: being on the other side of the Big Muddy, I have no deep knowledge of the situation in the Euro Zone.  There is a grain of truth in this criticism, but only a grain.  True, American media has virtually ignored the issue, with the exception of BBC America and a few alternate media sites on the internet, even as it been the subject of intense discussion in Britain.  But I would argue that one can be too caught up in the minutiae of an issue to assess it properly, especially if one is firmly aligned in what has clearly been a partisan political event.  It is easy to be myopic in one’s outlook and overlook broader aspects of the vote.  Distance gives one perspective and that I humbly provide in the following paragraphs.

BREXIT FLAG

One headline in this morning’s news suffices to point out all that is wrong with the European Union, as it is presently constituted.  The headline this morning–quickly taken down because it was apparently too honest–had German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying “We must save our European Union.” The headline, if accurate, is very telling: save the European Union, but from whom?  The citizens of its constituent nations? Apparently Herr Steinmeier and a select circle of EU oligarchs are greatly afraid of similar referendums in other Euro Zone countries, where a popular vote by the majority of the nation’s citizens may also go against the supra national–and, apparently, in many ways undemocratic–EU government apparatus.  Is Herr Steinmeier’s possessive “our European Union” referring to the select circle of EU officials who make economic decisions which can–and have–adversely affected millions of average European citizens?

Brexit-Grexit-EU-Cartoon.jpg

Since Steinmeier’s inadvertent honesty, pronouncements emanating from him have been more diplomatic in tone but also edged with a coercive subtext: he and fellow EU patricians have stated that they want Britain gone as quickly as possible and that Prime Minister Cameron needs to be pressured to begin the process immediately, if not sooner.  Cameron, who opposed the exit, has already announced his intention to step down as head of the Conservative Party in October and, quite rightly, expressed the opinion that it should be up to his successor to carry out the process of separation.  The Lisbon accords, which created the EU, allowed for its constituent members to leave and provided for up to two years for an orderly withdrawal.  Apparently some of the EU oligarchs officials want a speedy divorce and some have even talked about making it as punitive as possible to Britain, as an object lesson to other nations whose citizens may also be unhappy with the way the EU is being run.

Wisely, Chancellor Angela Merkel was not among those wanting a nasty “divorce.”  Apparently talking in opposition to her foreign minister, the Chancellor opined that the European Union has “no need to be particularly nasty in any way” in the negotiations with Britain about its exit from the Union and called for an orderly separation.  Britain had previously opted out of surrendering its own currency to the Euro and instead recognized both currencies as legal tender, a prescient move in light of what the EU did to Greece when it dared to assert its own autonomy a little while back.

It should be remembered that the Euro Banksters–who colluded with Wall Street in bringing the world to the brink of fiscal collapse in 2008 by selling worthless paper and then providing easy credit to buy their worthless paper–when their self created bubble collapsed, demanded their pound of flesh from Greece and others nations who fell for their deceit. Greece was then forced into enacting programs detrimental to its own economic self interest; the EU colluded with the banks and forced upon a nation which could ill afford it crippling interest rates and counterproductive economic measures.  In this scenario the banks may be seen as Mafia Dons, acting as loan sharks, while the EU served as their “enforcer” ready to (figuratively) break the bones of Greece, or any other nation of the EU that dared defy them.

It should be borne in mind that during this same time frame, “Austerity” was not pushed on the American economy by the Obama Administration as it had been by the EU and their bankster colleagues, and while the American recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and uneven, with the top 1% benefitting most from a rigged economy and the rest of us only benefitting marginally, the US, unlike Cameron’s Britain, did not suffer any subsequent recessions, still less than Southern Europe, which remains nearly as bad off as it was in 2008.

Greece, after it had endured all it could from the Euro Bankster imposed Austerity, rebelled against its economic exploitation by the EU, in response to which the EU abruptly cut off the money supply.  It was an object lesson designed, not only to punish Greece, but to intimidate all other southern European countries to remain subservient to the EU or else suffer a similar fate.  Because Greece had surrendered its own currency when it joined the Union and relied solely on the Euro for its money, Greek banks were forced to shut down and those in Greece still with jobs not destroyed by Austerity went unpaid.  Finally, the reformist Greek government was forced to surrender to the economic imperialism of the EU.

Brexit-Inspiration-copy

By comparison, Britain is far better off, not only by wisely retaining its own currency, but also because it possesses a stronger industrial base better able to weather the ill effects and bad economics of Austerity.  Hopefully, with David Cameron’s departure the counter-productive doctrine of Austerity will also be gone–and that can only be a good thing for Great Britain.

The idea of European unity is fundamentally a good idea; Europeans not murdering each other in local wars that mutate into world wars is also a GOOD THING.  Likewise, the European Common Market, as originally formulated, made a great deal of sense when it promoted trade that was both fair and equitable across national borders.  Similarly, the idea that neighboring countries, living on good terms with one another and sharing a common cultural heritage should having relatively easy transit of people back and forth, also makes a great deal of sense.  But when a handful of bankers and powerful but unscrupulous trans-national corporations, hiding behind the curtain of European Union, adversely control the lives of millions of people and coerce punitive economic agreements from their national governments against their own citizens best interests and their nation’s economic well-being, that is neither democratic nor fair, nor just.

Britain was certainly a beneficiary in many aspects of the European Union; it may seem to many on the continent that the UK’s action was precipitous and unjustified.  But the Brits are not the only voices of dissent in the EU; there are similar voices of dissent in the Netherlands, Italy and France.  In Spain, in the wake of the Bankster created Great Recession, hundreds of thousands of families were evicted from their homes. In 2013, for example, firefighters in Coruña were called on to break down the door of an 86-year-old woman who was to be evicted; in that case they refused to do the bidding of the Banksters. But in the majority of cases the banks have had their way and the EU has been there all through it to make sure that their will is obeyed without question.

In the EU, vulnerable nations like Greece have been forced to eliminate jobs, cut pensions and privatize, privatize, privatize. Who benefits from all this?  Certainly not the citizens of the countries coerced into such policies.  The Euro bankers, like their Wall Street counterparts, reap in massive profits at the expense of individuals, cities and whole states.  Spain, in particular, is a prime example of the adversity imposed from above by the EU and the bankers who run it behind the scenes.  Eight years after the beginning of the Great Recession, Spain’s unemployment remains at over 20% nationwide, while the unemployment rate for those under the age of twenty-five is a whopping 45%!  Explain to me how Spain being in the EU has benefitted its citizens?  Could they be any worse off if they were independent?  Perhaps, if it did not have to follow the dictates of a remote, undemocratic, essentially oligarchic entity for the supposed benefit of European unity, the Spanish people might have been free to pursue other solutions better suited to their individual needs.

The United States would be in the same situation if, in 2008, our nation had been in the control of the Republican Party who, no sooner were they out of power suddenly preached balanced budgets and smaller government.  This is the same political party that spent like a drunken sailor for eight years, cut taxes for the ultra rich and got the nation involved in an unprovoked war in Iraq which added trillions to the deficit.  Yes, it is a good thing to maintain a balanced budget and pay your bills on time; in prosperous times a nation should maintain a healthy economic balance and even accumulate a “rainy day” fund.  But when one has a severe economic downturn, that is the absolute worst time to demand a balanced budget; still less do you go about laying off thousands or millions of people to adhere to a theoretical economic dogma.

Europe during this same period has been in the thrall of economic oligarchs, who used the shield of the EU to impose “Austerity” as a solution to the same economic downturn.  The net effects of this dogma have been devastating and have retarded most of Europe’s recovery unnecessarily.  Behind the smokescreen of this supposed solution to the Great Recession lies a hidden agenda.  The banksters have used the dogma of Austerity as an excuse to roll back long established social benefits and economic rights, many of which Americans would envy if they could but experience them even for a short time.  The Banksters have also used Austerity as an excuse to privatize publicly owned institutions for their own personal gain; they have similarly hidden behind the shield of the EU to engage in myriad other actions designed to enrich a junta of international banks and corporations.

Since the 1990’s in the United States, one after another so-called “Free Trade” agreement has been pushed through by politicians who touted its economic benefits to an uniformed public.  Without exception, these agreements have resulted in millions of good paying jobs leaving the United States to impoverished third world nations, often controlled by military dictatorships.  Ironically, these same impoverished nations have not benefitted from the influx of manufacturing jobs; rather, waves of immigration ensue, as local economies are also disrupted by these same “Free Trade” deals.  NAFTA, CAFTA and now the TPP, are not about trade at all, much less are they free; they are about a handful of trans-national corporations acting in collusion to adversely control the economic resources of nations and subordinate those nations’ sovereignty to the will of a Corporatist oligarchy.

Lest Europeans think they are immune to this type of corporate economic imperialism, just remember that after the oligarchs have rammed the Trans Pacific Partnership through a corrupt lame-duck session of our Congress, they are coming after Europe with the TTIP to do the same to you.  When they promise economic prosperity and jobs creation as its benefit, remember that the U.S. has suffered over twenty years of these empty promises and now Americans on both the right and left are wise to the lies.

At the present time, Europeans may be upset with the British for wanting to retain their own economic and political sovereignty; some Brits may be upset at their fellow nationals for what they perceive as being against “progress” or guilty of a perceived xenophobia. Perhaps they may be right in some regard.  In the greater scheme of things, maybe the wiser course would have been for Britain to stay within EU and pull the fangs of the oligarchs and banksters who have been manipulating things behind the scenes, and make it more responsive to the will of the citizens of its constituent countries.

Instead of blaming the bearers of bad tidings, however, the citizens of those nations which remain in the EU should take stock of the situation and demand real reforms to an organization which has proven to be unresponsive to the needs of many of its constitutents. The voters of these same nations should also reflect on the nature of the leadership of the EU, whose first instinct is to punish any nation that may wish to emulate Brtain.  Remember what the EU did to Greece; then reflect on whether the Brits were totally unjustified in the course they laid.

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Do I have to choose? — Prog Chik

I’ve never voted Green Party, and I was never on the Jill Stein, Howard Dean, or Ralph Nader bandwagon. Why not? I agree with the Green Party’s viewpoints, but perhaps I was still too naive in my 20s or plain politically ignorant–I would have stared blankly had you asked me to explain Neo-liberalism, couldn’t have […]

via Do I have to choose? — Prog Chik

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