The Enduring Panic Over SARS-2

In this blog entry, I cover several items concerning the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Even as the virus fades, the panic endures. I first clarify the distinction between cases and infection rates, then I make some observations about the global and regional patterns of community spread, describe the character of the virus and its mode of operation, critique social media framing of frontline doctors and therapeutics, and criticize the recent vote in my city of Green Bay to start schools in virtual mode. As I have argued in past blog posts, we are in the midst of an unprecedented moral panic, one that is destroying the American way of life.

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People continue to mix up infection rates with case frequencies. As a scientist, I confess this drives me up the wall. Rate and frequencies are not the same things. We see a similar confusion when trying to grasp COVID-19 deaths. People say there is a high death rate without distinguishing the case fatality rate (CFR) from the infection fatality rate (IFR). (I have discussed this on my blog before. See, for example, Hunkering Down for No Reason.) We need to correct this misunderstanding because without properly grasping the difference between these statistics we cannot proceed on the basis of rational risk assessment. Without rational risk assessment we cannot go back to a normal life. And we have to get back to normality. Not a “new normal.” The old normal.

The infection rate has to be estimated because not everybody who is infected is tested. This is also true for calculating death rates; historically, not all viral deaths are identified by testing. The CDC does this with influenza every year. So, this year (October 1-April 4), the CDC estimates between 39 and 56 million flu illnesses, with between 24 and 62 thousand deaths (that’s a lot of death the media failed to tell you about). In contrast, the case rate is determined by the number of positive tests. Authorities don’t estimate that; they count positive tests results. Thus, case frequency is a function of testing. President Trump has been criticized for pointing out this fact. But he is right about this. It is not a technicality. It matters a lot.

Positivity rates represent the fraction of tests that come back positive, calculated by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of tests (you can in turn calculate these in terms of population). The President is interested in this number and so should you be. A large proportion of the population can be infected but the number of cases low because they have not been detected through testing. This was the situation back in March and April. More testing will raise the number of cases while the infection rate may be falling, rising, or stable. Moreover, the positivity rate can be high because there is a greater likelihood of detecting cases if a larger proportion of the population is infected. At the same time, the IFR hasn’t changed much during the entire period, as I have shown on my blog in numerous entries. This virus is deadly, but not particularly deadly. Hopefully, the evidence suggests that it is less deadly than it was at first.

It is helpful to clarify several things at this point. First, testing positive does not mean the person is ill. There is a distinction between SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease. For example, children test positive for the virus but are rarely ill. Second, viral tests are different from antibody tests. A person can test negative for the virus and positive for the antibody. This is because he either had the virus (and even the disease) and now longer does, or he was exposed to one or more coronavirus in the past. Third, a person who has tested positive for the virus may not test positive for the antibody, which does not necessarily mean the person has no immunity to the virus. T-cells may develop a memory of a particular virus or viral group. Remember, if the body can produce no immune response to this virus, then a vaccine for this virus is not possible (propagandists talk out of both sides of their mouth on this point). Generally speaking, declining positivity rate with the same amount of testing means the infection rate is falling. Crucially, a declining positivity rate can occur even while the total number of cases is greater because of a greater number of positive tests. In other words, more cases does not necessarily mean the rate of infection is increasing.

I am a criminologist, so I find a similar problem in determining the “dark figure” of crime—that is, how much crime is there really? We can never know for sure, but we do know to be very careful with the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) published by the FBI. The UCR is compiled from crime reports submitted by thousands of law enforcement agencies across the nation. The more crime police detect the more cases of crime they can report (they may also report more arrests and greater clearance rates). This does not necessarily mean there is more crime (or that they will report more crime). The Justice Department publishes a different measure, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The NCVS draws population inferences using probability sampling. Both use rates, but I trust you see the difference. What we know is that, for some years, the rate of crime in the NCVS goes down while the rate of crime in the UCR goes up because the police report more cases, which can be a function of community awareness and engagement, public fear, better trained officers and more diligent record-keeping, not an actual rise in crime.

President Trump’s complaint is not that testing causes infections (he’s not stupid). His point is that, instead of focusing on declining positivity rates, even when the number of cases is rising, because there is more testing, the media’s focus on the total number of cases misleads the public. Heads up, progressives: a lot people know Trump is right about this and you are antagonizing them. They also understand why the media is misleading the public. For the same reason, the media has shifted its attention from deaths to case frequencies. The declining positivity and IFR rates do not fit the narrative the media pushes. One has to be willfully ignorant of reality to pretend that the establishment media is not hellbent on destroying the Trump presidency. Accurate observation of reality should not depend on whether you are a Trump supporter.

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When looking at COVID-19 patterns, regionally and globally, one may draw an inference that lockdowns and masks reduce community spread. If there is an effect, this is likely due mostly to lock downs, that is the practice of quarantining healthy people, albeit it depends on how persons are locked down. However, to the extent that these practices are effective, they appear only to have delayed community spread, not prevented it. I recognize that this is a funny way of putting it but the nature of herd immunity makes the virus appear to want to run its course. If this is true, then the sooner we establish herd immunity, the quicker we can get over this pandemic, and it doesn’t look like we will get there with lockdowns and masks. Rather we get there with a significant portion of the population getting this virus and developing an immunity to it. This is why H1N1 and H3N2 strains of influenza, which were markedly more deadly in the past than COVID-19, remain present in the annual viral mix without the same death rates, albeit continuing to kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Fortunately, for the same reason H3N2 influenza type is not as deadly as it was in early periods (recall the Shanghai flu and the Hong Kong flu), community spread of SARS-CoV-2 is naturally limited by the fact that coronaviruses have always (or at least for decades) been with us and, for many of us, our immune system recognizes the generic type. For those who are infected, most present without or with very mild systems and subsequently develop some degree of immunity from it (again, otherwise vaccines wouldn’t be a possibility—which also means, at the same time, vaccination is not really necessary for healthy people albeit potentially harmful for unhealthy people). When herd immunity is established in a country or a region, buttressed by previous exposure to coronaviruses, community spread slows and eventually the virus loses its foothold (but remains in the viral mix). Remember, folks, you immune system is always your first and best protection from pathogens.

This is why those countries and regions that did not lock down or wear masks, assuming these work to some extent, until after there were a significant number of cases are now seeing declining cases and deaths, whereas those countries and regions that locked down early but have now lifted their lockdowns are seeing a rise in cases and deaths (although not nearly at the rate seen in early spring). For example, and this is not something Cuomo can take credit for, because New York was hit early and hard, the virus burned through the population and now is at low levels. By the time New York locked down, the virus had already done its damage. (Sweden did this on purpose and they had zero deaths on August 11). The midwestern, southern, and western states that locked down early at best delayed community spread. They are no seeing rising rates (without the corresponding frequencies of deaths). Might we have already been through the pandemic if these states had let the population get the virus? If so, locking down was a mistake.

Locking down was a mistake for another reason. The virus does not do well in heat and sunlight. It’s hot and bright in the South. The consequence of sending people into enclosed spaces with drawn curtains and air conditioning should be obvious. But science and common sense have been tossed to one side in the context of mass hysteria.

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What are people dying of really? Influenza and other viruses kill a lot of older people, people with cancer, etc. But when a person with cancer dies from a rhinovirus, this isn’t the sole cause of death—or even the listed cause of death. Consider the individual at the end of his days in a case where influenza plays a proximate role in his death. His grandkids visited him one weekend and he picked up H1N1 from them. He never had it before. His immune system if failing. He underwent chemotherapy to combat his stage IV cancer. If he were younger and healthier, then influenza probably wouldn’t kill him. Indeed, very likely he would have survived as most people do. To say that he died from influenza when it’s age or health conditions that made him susceptible to dying from influenza or some other pathogen (bacterium, fungus, etc.) misleads younger and healthier people into believing the virus is lethal to them in the same way. This creates unreasonable fear. Healthy children and adults under 60 are very unlikely to be affected by SARS-CoV-2—in fact influenza is more dangerous to children than is coronavirus. But this low-level risk becomes obscured by the myopic and sledgehammer focus on official death without qualification—and a media that feeds on sensationalism.

A useful analogy here is the AIDS epidemic. Persons with AIDS may die from many things. Pneumonia is a common condition. Pneumonia in turn has many causes (viral, bacterial, fungal). Is it not AIDS that underlies the many possible proximate causes of death that ultimately kills the person? Perhaps this is a subtle ontological problem, but if we don’t talk about the risks associated with AIDS then we are not being honest with the public about this disease. A death certificate that says a person died from pneumonia doesn’t tell us why pneumonia was able to invade and ravage this person’s body so easily. Yet, with SARS-CoV-2, children are being traumatized and shut off from others over a virus that is very unlikely to harm them. We don’t do that with most other pathogens. And there is nothing particularly remarkable about SARS-CoV-2 beyond possibly pathogenic priming (and this is not the only virus capable of autoimmunity). More on this in the next section.

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The novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, is an RNA virus. It appears to be a modified version of SARS-CoV, which appeared in 2002. (When I say modified, I do not necessarily mean engineered by man. But given the reality of gain-of-function experiments, it is possible that this virus was engineered.) RNA, like DNA, is genetic material carrying instructions for the unfolding of living things. Viruses cannot reproduce on their own. They must break into cells and hijack their gene-replicating machinery.

A feature of all coronaviruses are protein spikes on their surface that activate ACE2 receptors. ACE2 receptors are doors that open the cell. The protein spikes pry open the doors and the virus enters the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 virus first enters the cells of the nose and throat. ACE2 receptors are present in other organs (the digestive system, circulatory system, etc.). The male sex hormone testosterone may increase the number of ACE2 receptors. This may explain why men are more affected by this disease than women and why children, especially young children, are rarely affected by it. 

SARS-CoV-2 is less deadly than its predecessor SARS but replicates more rapidly. Its lower level of lethality is related to its success, since living hosts enable community spread. Viruses that quickly kill a large proportion of their hosts may be self-defeating. Indeed, with SARS-CoV-2, infection is usually so mild that most infected people won’t feel sick at all. According to University of California—San Francisco researchers, more than half of infected persons examined never experienced or showed signs of any symptoms at all.

Monica Gandhi, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco, recently punctuated the significance of asymptomatic cases: “If we did a mass testing campaign on 300 million Americans right now, I think the rate of asymptomatic infection would be somewhere between 50 percent and 80 percent of cases.” Data show that only one in five persons showing up to the hospital described or presented with cold-like symptoms. Sulggi Lee, another UCSF professor, concludes: “The majority of people who have COVID-19 are out in the community, and they are either asymptomatic or only mildly ill.”

While SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to be unusually cytopathic (it is not particularly aggressive—influenza is far more so), it does appear to affect the immune system in a novel way in that the immune system mobilizes more aggressively against SARS-CoV-2 than against influenza. The immune response may go awry provoking the development of a severe pneumonia known as acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. Treatment of ARDS requires therapies that subdue an overactive immune system. Too much immune suppression, however, could make it difficult for the patient to clear the infection. It is unclear whether this is a feature of the virus, the result of pathogenic priming from vaccination, autoimmunity from whatever source, or a combination of all of these (the phenomenon is seen in other viruses and vaccines).

At any rate, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has unique properties that make it the ideal drug for treating SARS-CoV-2. HCQ has well-known antiviral properties. But it is also widely used for the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder. The same mechanisms that tames while not over-suppressing the immune response in arthritis patients, appears to allow HCQ to better strike the balance that prevents cytokine storm that occurs from an overreaction of the immune system while allowing the patient to develop an immune response to the virus. Whatever one thinks of their politics (it was a diverse group), the doctors whose video was taken down on social media (“America’s Frontline Doctors”) were merely confirming clinical and scientific findings showing the efficacy and safety of HCQ, a decades old medicine with wide therapeutic applicability. That explains the effort to discredit them—that and the fact the Trump promoted them. We have to ask ourselves: Is Facebook going to take down posts sharing an article by a professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health? “I am usually accustomed to advocating for positions within the mainstream of medicine, so have been flummoxed to find that, in the midst of a crisis, I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines,” writes Harvey A. Risch, Professor of Epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health (see Newsweek). “As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily.”

In June, Trump’s doctor prescribed the President hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis. That same month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an organization long ago having become the poster child for regulatory capture, revoked emergency authorization for the drug for Covid-19 patients claiming that it was “unlikely to be effective” and carried “potential risks.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) halted clinical trials of the drug. The CCP-controlled WHO pushed the same anti-HCQ line. Progressives, as they always do, came out in force in support of restrictions of the drug, repeating industry propaganda. This is the big flaw of progressivism: adherents accept corporate governance and bend institutions to its logic. In the typical ad hominem fashion, the professional (pseudo)skeptics picked on one doctor in particular, pediatrician and Christian minister Stella Immanuel, who has said some rather bizarre things (albeit not bizarre to anybody who believes in angels) to distract from the fact that thousands of people have died who wouldn’t have had the industry adopted HCQ (along with azithromycin, or doxycycline, and zinc) at the beginning of the pandemic. (For an example of professional skepticism see Science-Based Medicine, an organization run by, among others, corporate shills and disciples of James Randi Steven Novella and David Gorski.)

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a big problem in our country with folks with limited understanding of science approaching corporate science—what I call the medical-industrial complex—with wide-eyed religious-like faith. This is a near-universal feature of progressivism. You see it in the hysteria over healthy people refusing to stay home, wear masks, or vaccinate their children. These would-be tyrants want the government to force people to be jabbed by government agents or to exclude and stigmatize those who refuse to be jabbed. They seem to express a deep desire to reduce humans to disease vectors. These zealots are effectively uncompensated shills for the pharmaceutical industry. They efforts are not without their rewards, though. Their compensation is the attention and strokes they receive on social media from their fellow woke scolds. And getting off on lecturing people for free thinking. It’s a psychological wage. They even manufactured the mythic creature “Karen” to distract the public from their pathological busybodyism.

This is where we find ourselves. People who oppose the use of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients and as a prophylaxis to slow community spread are supporting government policy and industry action that are sickening and killing people with risk factors that heighten the lethality of this virus. A piece to this is of course what people are calling Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS. Because Trump advocates effective and safe pharmaceutical interventions, said interventions are judged unfit for human consumption. If widespread use of drugs Trump endorses substantially reduce death, if they allow us to go back to school and work, if open society gets the economy back on track (and under the current administration it was humming), then Trump may look good just around the time the public votes for President. For many people, the singular focus of contemporary politics is vaqnguishing Big Orange Man to the netherworld. They’re sidin’ with Biden.

There are those who will claim to stand outside infantile politics. They push back against the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine by citing studies that do not show a statistically significant difference between treatment and control groups. Their argument is deceptive. It depends on when and how the medicine is administered. Therein lies the tragedy of industry and corporate media propaganda against HCQ. If you wait until the patient is very sick, then HCQ won’t help very much. Early administration of HCQ is highly effective—with studies of early administration showing reductions in mortality by half or more—as well as HCQ being an effective prophylaxis. In other words, industry opposition to off-label prescribing of this drug is killing people. And they’re doing it for the sake of profit. Why should this surprise people? They do the same thing when they poison the environment.

My critique goes for the reluctance of staff and teachers to go back to school in a normal way, which I focus on in the next section. The disregard for the emotional and psychological health of children and their proper social development among public employees charged with such matters ought to disturb all of us. I know some will take umbrage at this, but the abuse of parents and other staff and teachers who want to return to normality ought to be what upsets folks. I have been patient in watching the hateful rhetoric and emotional blackmail coming from those whose livelihood depends on my taxes. Frankly, I feel some shame for helping legitimize some of the voices dominating the discourse out there in the past. People have to become more vocal against this countermovement against liberty and democracy. Crazy can become tyranny in the face of silence.

(Note: the website of pediatrician and Christian minister Stella Immanuel offers a prayer to remove a generational curse originally received from an ancestor but transmitted through the placenta. Do you think this prayer also works to remove the generational curse of white privilege that I have been afflicted with by the deeds of my ancestors?)

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I am a teacher and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. I hold degrees in psychology and sociology, including degrees at the masters and doctoral levels. My areas of expertise are criminology and political economy. Among the skills sets associated with these areas of expertise is working knowledge of demography and the logic of epidemiology. I tout my areas of expertise to let readers know that I am capable of reviewing the scientific literature on the current pandemic across a wide range of disciplines. I have reviewed the literature and determined that returning to as much of normal life as possible—and probably no walk of life is more relevant to this case than the experience of public school—is not only reasonable but vital to our future.

It is of course no problem to cherry pick studies that contradict the consensus. I don’t mean here the faux-consensus surrounding the narrative the teachers unions peddle with their talking points. I mean then consensus that emerges from the literature that hardly anybody cares to read. It’s not as if teachers haven’t had a lot of time on their hands lately or lack access to the Internet. However, cherry picking doesn’t help us make the right decision. Indeed, it’s a tactic in confusing rational judgment.

When I consume science, I look for evidence that allows me to develop if possible critical assessments of the stories people are telling. This is so I can weigh the arguments and information in order to determine the voracity of these stories. I need to constantly challenge what I think I know or what I am being told is the consensus opinion. I also have the need to constantly challenge what you think you know or are being told is the consensus opinion. To be sure, when you understand how religious-like thinking works you also understand why it’s so difficult to break through false narratives that sweep up people and carry them into the currents of mass hysteria, for example over COVID-19 (or the moral panic surrounding systemic racism). Some might give up in the face of the intensity of faith belief. But I have been critical of religion my whole life knowing that I won’t be able stop religious thinking. That I can’t change most people’s minds doesn’t mean I haven’t changed any minds. If I persuade one person to change his mind, then there is value in the exercise. And I know I have changed minds.

When I listened to the voices from my community during a recent school board listening session on how to go back to schools (shamefully, the board voted to start the semester virtually), I was delighted to see parents and professionals using critical thinking and independent judgment to arrive at reasonable conclusions. I thank them for momentarily pulling me back from the brink of misanthropy (I am still teetering). But I also heard spokespersons for the teachers union repeating talking points with which I was already quite familiar and that are cringingly unscientific and religious-like. I know the strategy deployed on that side. I know about how the line was organized. It was propaganda. Straight up. So, while I have changed some minds about this, I have clearly not changed enough minds.

I noted the night before on my Facebook page—I was anticipating the process and the outcome—that propaganda illustrates a story that we believe we already know or what somebody wants us to believe we already know. Propagandists do not want people to consult information that calls into question the story they want others to believe. Hence the lockstep narrative, the repetition of points, and the mocking and ridiculing of alternative interpretations and their bearers. As an active citizen, a teacher, and a husband to a district paraprofessional—and a degreed psychologist—I had a front seat to the formation of a faux consensus. I make this point based on information that goes beyond what I heard at that school board meeting. I’m plugged into the discourse in our district in intimate ways. I know how the union works to exclude and marginalize non-union voices.

Given what I have been reading and hearing from this group of staff and teachers, I confess that I am deeply concerned about the future of public education. I am losing confidence in an enterprise that I have been supporting with my money and my time and energy. I have trust this system with my children. It won’t take much pondering before other people start to consider that a great deal of money may be bound up in the wrong place. If children can be properly educated by sitting in front of a screen all day, then why do we need public education? All this money going to buildings and people who don’t do what they were built and hired to do—shouldn’t the government instead invest in the construction of apparatuses that ensure that children are in their seats at home receiving their daily programming? Let’s extend the surveillance system into our abodes. Maybe the government should give the public back its taxes so it can invest in home educational systems or spend the money instead in private systems prepared to do what educational system are supposed to do. Yes, I hear the rebuttal: “Well, this is just a temporary situation because of the coronavirus.” But this line only highlights the irrational thinking behind the shuttering of our institutions.

This argument I hear teachers making about how just one death is one death too many therefore we cannot return to school until COVID-19 is over applies equally to influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.” Sounds like COVID-19. Then the CDC tells you that “you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others.”

Why haven’t we been wearing masks for years? How could we have been so irresponsible? We know that influenza is more lethal to children and adults under 60 than COVID-19. Yet, we’re shutting down schools for COVID-19, but not for influenza. Given that influenza rages through the population every year (tens of millions of infections), and vaccines have only some efficacy in controlling community spread (some years much less than others), and given that influenza kills many people every year (tens of thousands) how can we ever go back to school? Why didn’t we stop going to school years ago given the fact that at least one person has died every year from influenza? Why is this connection is never made. Are we going to be consistent? This also applies to adenoviruses and rhinoviruses (yes, those are deadly viruses, too). And to bacteria and fungi.

It’s as if teachers suddenly discovered that the viruses that constitute the annual mix of pathogens (coronaviruses are not novel) carry lethal potential. Viruses have always carried this potential. Teachers have always been at risk of contracting a virus and spreading a virus that could kill them or others. In fact, this has already happened. Every year it happens. Children bring home pathogens that kill relatives and they have been doing this long before this particular coronavirus came on the scene. That the grim mantra of death is repeated over and over again by teachers tells us that either common sense is being suppressed for some ends or that the capacity for seeing the obvious has gone missing. Either way, how can we trust the judgment here? No. You can’t. They’re irrational. They are lost in fear.

Here’s another absurd argument we hear all the time: Expecting public schools to be open and educating children as part of the institutional frame that allows parents to go to work to financially support their families, that prepares children for productive lives in an advanced economy, and that facilitates the normal socialization of humans in mass society equates public education to daycare or treats it like babysitting. Teachers delegitimize their profession and undermine their esteem by comparing themselves to daycare employees and babysitters (no offense to daycare workers and babysitters, who also perform a vital role in a complex society). The school board should not enable such self-sabotaging rhetoric. But it did.

A popular post shared on Facebook by Alan Moore “Teachers for Justice” (his page glorifying anarchistic violence against the republic) contains a list helping teachers rationalize their desire not to do their jobs anymore. “You are not hurting children by wanting the safest possible school arrangement for students and their families. That is a healthy sense of caring for the wellbeing of others,” one items goes. This item follows: “You are not leaving working parents with no options by asking to teach from home. That is setting healthy boundaries between problems that are your responsibility and problems that are government/society’s responsibility.” Do I need to spend any time pointing out the massive contradiction between these two affirmations/rationalizations with respect to harm and safety? Or how teachers are in fact leaving working parents with no options by asking to teach from home? How about the next item: “You are not ignoring children’s mental health, nutrition, and special service needs by insisting on safety. That is, again, setting healthy boundaries between problems that are your responsibility and problems that are government/society’s responsibility.” In case you missed the contradiction, Moore makes sure you finally get it. The list, which has been shared about three dozen times, has one comment thanking Moore for recognizing the problem of “emotional blackmail.” Ironic. The list is a paradigm of emotional blackmail.

I believe that teachers, like everybody else, should enjoy the right to speak their minds and participate in decision making. I am a democrat. Of course I believe this. But teachers are also public servants who are ultimately answerable to a public who pays their salaries and trusts them with their children. Teachers should not have an outsized role in determining how we proceed. There is no contradiction in giving public workers a voice and expecting them to serve the public. The respectable occupation of garbage collection must of course allow workers the right to speak up about their occupation. But the garbage must nonetheless be collected. And roads laid and potholes filled. And bridges suspended and repaired.

The presentation of the conditions in the schools—the strict adherence to the absurd CDC guidelines—gave the game away (all this was virtual, of course), it was so obviously orchestrated to shame and scare parents who want to go back to face-to-face instruction. If I were one to have faith in people, I would have lost it on this night. Right from the git-go, it was theater. Just as the dissemination of images of teachers in masks, goggles, and shields, these images were designed with this purpose in mind. Many of these precautions are so unnecessary that, if you know the science, the presentation insulted. These were panic tactics. I was infuriated by the petty elitism expressed in the contrived commentary—it was so contemptuous of the values of democratic republicanism. If one ever wanted an illustration of small-scale technocracy, they found it here. Pubic health officials and experts have presumed to be our unelected rulers. And a panicked public has coronated their rule.

The school board should have acted in the best interests of the community. That would mean going back to physical school and in as normal way as possible. But it didn’t. Everybody who voted for virtual education can expect no support from me in the future. They not only let down our children, they also failed our democracy. The public poll showing parents overwhelmingly wanted to return to in-class instruction was dismissed as “out of date.” There was no effort to conduct a new poll. This is—at least it used to be—an open society that uses evidence in a pragmatic fashion to develop public policy that advances the common interests of the families that comprise it. What I saw that night was an insular and misinformed professional class proceeding on technocratic notions of how policy should be formulated, a petty elite delegitimizing their own profession—worse, undermining one of the most important institutions of modern society: public education.

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I was told the other evening that we aren’t making enough of a big deal about SARS-CoV-2. Really? I have kids and my friends have kids and the constant reporting about the dangers of this virus is terrifying them. We’re seeing a great deal of emotional and psychological difficulties in beings designed by nature to be free and social. The consequences of shuttering society and teaching people to see other people as disease vectors are terrible. It’s not disease and death that are novel. That’s the human experience. It’s the concrete societal reaction that is novel here. I’m 58 and we never responded to a virus like this in my lifetime. We never quarantined healthy people. We never forced people into masks—or goggles? face shields? What’s next? Mandatory vaccination? (Nuremberg, anyone?)

In 1968-69 the Hong Kong flu killed 100 thousand people in a population of 200 million. That’s proportionally a lot more deaths than what we’re currently experiencing. Did we lock down then? What I remember from the summer of 1969 was not doom and gloom amid a welter of constant reporting of unqualified official death from H3N2, but Americans landing on the moon and me and my sister playing with our friends. No, we didn’t lock down. When H3N2 came around the planet in 1957-58 it killed around 120 thousand in a population of 170 million. Did they lock down then? No, they didn’t. My father’s cohort enjoyed a normal senior year of high school.

We are experiencing a classic moral panic around a new focal point, but the dynamic is the same: people giving in to unreasonable fear and insisting others be paralyzed alongside them—and it’s wrecking the future of people who have a lot of future still in front of them. Thank goodness there are young people out there resisting this and getting on with their lives. I saw a young man in Walgreens yesterday violating the stand mandate to wear masks inside buildings. Nobody is saying you and I should join him. I am saying: let him live. Aren’t you wearing a mask? I was. I don’t want to pay the fine.

The political consequences of this hysteria are frightening. We are seeing the emergence of rule by public health, officials with their models and patents focused on one aspect of human life: merely a beating heart. We are becoming a corporatist technocracy in which all qualitative factors are being pushed to the margins. Animals don’t do well in cages. Meanwhile our people are being denied therapies shown to work throughout much of the developing world. Populations are being denied strategies that have allowed other populations to achieve heard immunity and get on with their lives. People are making a fetish of SARS-CoV-2, treating it as if it’s Michael Crichton’s Andromeda strain. While obeying certain experts, since they dint care to know for themselves what’s really going on. But they know Trump has to go.

Panic is a different kind of virus. It’s a virus of the mind. Is there a limit to the spread or duration of this one?

Marxian Nationalism and the Globalist Threat

In 1779, an artisan named Ned Ludd is supposed to have smashed stocking frames he believed undermined his craft. Ludd becomes the inspiration of British textile workers and weavers who see their livelihoods being undermined by knitting frames and mechanized looms. Almost a hundred years later, in 1870, Karl Marx observes that the English bourgeoisie imported cheap Irish labor to England to undermine wages and morale and disrupt solidarity of English proletarians. Marx observes that globalization and cheap immigrant labor is the capitalists’ secret weapon in maintaining class hegemony. Yet there are those claiming to be “on the left” who condemn “luddites” and “nativists,” rejecting creative endeavors and eschewing class struggling while rioting for a world where the worth of each human shall be determined not by his individual personality but by the color of his skin. They have become destructive force laboring (many unwittingly) for corporate power.

What are the consequences of the first development? If pushed far enough the system will crash, as Ernest Mandel noted in his 1967 An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory. Automated systems (robots and the like—Fordism, Taylorism) don’t buy things. By replacing flesh-and-blood workers, they reduce effective demand. Rising organic composition of capital (OCC) thus renders labor redundant, increasing unemployment, reducing effective demand, preparing a realization crisis, where there are more commodities than customers and the economy contracts in its wake (see Late Capitalism). At least with immigrants the economy enjoys consumers. But then it doesn’t have much of a national culture or potential for worker solidarity. Moreover, immigration drives down wages and standards of living across the occupational structure, as well as disrupts neighborhoods and burdens public infrastructure and services.

Thus the immigration question is as important as the rising OCC problem in capitalism. I have written about this rather extensively on this blog, Freedom and Reason: A Path Through Law Capitalism (I make references to some of my writings throughout the essay). In the present essay, I focus on Marx’s understanding of the problem in the context of British imperialism because New Left ideology distorts this history and Marx’s arguments. For example, when Marx ponders restrictions or amnesty in the Irish immigration question, amnesty is the narrow political question. Marx has something more grand in mind: Irish self-government (i.e. Irish nationalism)—that is independence from England with agrarian land reform, returning the land to the Irish farmer, and ending the source of the surplus people exploited by the English bourgeoisie to hammer the English proletariat. He also argues for protective tariffs against the British government. It’s all very obviously nationalist politics. One can disagree with Marx, of course, but one should not twist the argument in order to preserve an appeal to the power of Marxian thought.

Karl Marx: His Life and Work
Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx

The tenor of Marx’s favored points clearly issue from his critical political economic standpoint. We know from the evidence of history that immigration restrictions are highly beneficial not only for employment and wages for native born but also for class solidarity and political organizing. United States history testifies to this (see The Immigration Situation). This is why Marx and Engels argue that the class struggle—as Marxists should today—is a nationalist struggle. This is not a matter of interpretation. The distortion I am critiquing is a matter of the New Left overthrowing Marxism in favor of Third Worldism. The problem is neo-Marxism. Marx is explicit in saying that it is immigration that undermines English working class solidarity.

Readers should not misunderstand. Marx’s politics are obviously not an expression of bourgeois nationalism, what we today call “multiculturalism.” He explicitly condemns bourgeois nationalist politics as divisive. “This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization,” Marx writes. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.Rather, his vision is proletarians wresting power from the national bourgeoisie and establishing worker states. Indeed, his hope is that Irish nationalism will spark a string of revolutionary moments across the nation-states of Europe. He is hopeful that the Civil War in the United States, in unifying America, will do the same (unfortunately, the ramping up of mass immigration in the post-war period stalled out that possibility in the United States).

It is Marx’s belief that restricting immigration through delinking national economies will permit the development of both Irish and English working class consciousness. In 1870, he argues that “the decisive blow against the English ruling classes (and it will be decisive for the workers’ movement all over the world) cannot be delivered in England but only in Ireland.” Marx regarded as the most serious issues the fact that “Ireland constantly sends her own surplus to the English labour market, and thus forces down wages and lowers the material and moral position of the English working class.” As a consequence, “every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians.” This is not a subtle analysis.

It is well understood by objective observers that immigration is a tool capitalist use to undermine wages and consciousness. This is also popularly understood. Immigration restrictions in the United States in the late-19th and early-20th centuries were driven by rank-and-file workers over the objection of cosmopolitan urban elites pushing multiculturalism and their own labor leaders pushing crude internationalism (see The Need for Limits). The charge of “nativism” was a pejorative to delegitimize the left populist movements against immigration (see Smearing Labor as Racist: The Globalist Project to Discredit the Working Class). It still is. The cultural left is making the charge today, throwing in “racism” and “xenophobia” for good measure (see Secularism, Nationalism, and Nativism). Admittedly, shameless self-attacking by members of the working class is a spectacular propaganda achievement.

The analysis presented here is hardly novel. For example, in a 1983 article by Ellen Hazelkorn in Saothar, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Irish Labor History Society (as many of my readers will know, Marx’s arguments are very important to left-wing nationalism in Ireland and, obviously, to the enterprise of Irish Marxism), the following summary of Marx’s argument is made: “Independence, Marx argues, would have a dynamic impact on capitalist expansion in England. By destroying the economic links between the two islands, it would force the development of an indigenous and self-reliant capitalist economy in Ireland while simultaneously depriving English capital of a vital source of labour, capital and markets.” Marx wanted to deprive the English capitalist of access to cheap Irish labor, as he believed this was a major reason for the strength of capitalism in England. He wanted the withdrawal of the English from Ireland which he believed would trigger an agrarian revolution.

Marx was anti-globalist. He and Engels make it very clear in the Communist Manifesto that the struggle for socialism occurs in the national context—republican political and legal machinery must be preserved in order to build the worker state. Without juridical, legal, and political machinery, there are no levers to pull against global capitalism. Moreover, Marx and Engels were aware of the conditions necessary for worker solidarity. They operate in the framework of nation-states, including nation in the ethnic sense (common language, common culture, common law, etc.), which carries a powerful detribalizing force, producing individuals who are incorporated into a national ethos. Via the development of the nation-state, capitalism forges the national proletariat and gives rise to its collective consciousness. Globalism and multiculturalism are strategies used to undermine proletarian consciousness and undermine democratic-republican machinery, which corporations in a transnational system no longer need. Globalization is an inevitable feature of world human development. Globalism is a political-ideological strategy used by big capital.

Marx is a democratic-republican. This standpoint holds that government should be in charge, not capitalist firms. The problem is that the working class is not in charge of the government, not that government is the problem. It follows that Marx wants Ireland to have an independent nation in order to develop consciousness and struggle for socialism and not have Irish workers disrupting the development of socialist consciousness among English proletarians. But that’s not the argument coming from the New Left—who are folded into progressivism in late capitalism. They argue for open borders to wash out nationalist and republican commitments, which in turn strengthens corporate power over against the world class everywhere. Academic elites have been quite successful in coopting the emancipatory language of Marxism to undermine the development of socialist consciousness via multiculturalism. The fashionable theory of intersectionality has replaced class analysis with this result: the left has become regressive and even reactionary. (See Corporations Own the Left. Black Lives Matter Proves it; What’s Really Going On with #BlackLivesMatter; Dividing Americans by Race to Keep America From Democracy;

From where does this corruption of Marxian thought hail? This is the infantilism of Third Worldism, the ham-handed interpretation of Marx in light of New Left ideology, an amalgam of Mao Zedong and postmodernist thought. The current crop of New Left types seem unaware of the fact that Marx and Engels argue in their most famous work that ”the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation.” The revolutionary program in the Communist Manifesto argues for the establishment of a national bank. Hard to do without a nation! Revolutionary politics from Marx and Engels’ standpoint requires the organization of diverse groups into a national proletariat for “one national struggle between classes.” Marx and Engels contend that “the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation.” Which is why they stress that “the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie.”

I suppose all this is too obvious. The New Left types need to twist Marxist thought to fit their identitarian narrative. The new story is that Marx and Engels are all about race consciousness not class struggle (ironically, this is the same interpretation of Marx and Engels as that presented by Jordan Peterson). Warped by Third Worldism, the attitude becomes authoritarian and destructive. Cultural revolution, not a proletarian revolution. Knee-jerk illiberalism, not socialist consciousness. The point of socialist revolution is to realize humanist and liberal values for everyone, but so-called revolutionaries in the West today seek to tear down humanist and liberal culture. Look around at the results of illiberal thinking. See China. See the city streets of major cities in the West.

The Paradox of Racial Caste

Interesting story in The Hill today. There, in the context of Oprah Winfrey’s new talk show, Emmanuel Acho is found declaring that white people “run American.”

This sounds a lot like a conspiracy theory I have heard before. The CEOs and Fortune 500 companies that comprise collective white rule, aren’t these disproportionately run by Jews? Isn’t the conspiracy that Jews and their gentile white allies run America? This is Louis Farrakhan’s thesis (Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam). Dressing it up in the pseudo-intellectualism of woke social science doesn’t make it any better.

In real life, is it not actually the case that capitalists and their functionaries run America? Isn’t this a capitalist society? We don’t live in an apartheid system. Any privileges white people enjoyed were abolished more than half a century ago. How does the out-of-work white coal miner in West Virginia living in a trailer addicted to fentanyl made in China and carried into the United States by Mexican cartels enabled by lax border controls figure into the white ruling caste? I’m asking as a plain Marxist. I am trying to understand the logic of this vast white conspiracy to run America.

Oprah Winfrey Honors Breonna Taylor with Historic Magazine Cover ...
Acho’s comments were made on Winfrey’s new interview show “The Oprah Conversation.”

If whites run America how did Oprah Winfrey get to be so filthy rich? And she’s not the only one. What about Herman Cain? To be sure, progressives mocked him for dying from COVID-19 (because they are so full of empathy), but he was a highly successful black businessman.

I could go on all day giving examples of prominent and wealthy black men and women. One of them served two terms as president and remains wildly popular. Are prominent and successful blacks like Winfrey and Obama part of the white cabal to run the world? Or is Winfrey a capitalist and Obama a functionary for the capitalist class like so many wealthy white people are?

I hope my comrades can see what is going on here. Capitalists sow racial division to disrupt proletarian consciousness. They’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. At different moments in history the system of racial antagonisms gets tweaked for effectiveness. The contemporary version is the rhetoric of “white privilege.”

Winfrey is part of the prevailing hegemony that has taken up the language of “fragility” and “caste” to perpetuate the system of class privilege—a privilege she enjoys.

I am reminded by (black political economist) Adolph Reed, Jr.’s observations sitting in a room from of prominent and successful blacks talking about white privilege and white racial oppression. I don’t think I even need to repeat those observations here. The paradox is obvious.

Disappearing the White Victims of Lethal Police Violence

From The New York Times Magazine: America’s Enduring Caste System:

“We saw a man face down on the pavement, pinned beneath a car, and above him another man, a man in uniform, his skin lighter than the man on the ground, and the lighter man was bearing down on the darker man, his knee boring into the neck of the darker man, the lighter man’s hands at his sides, in his pockets — could it be that his hands were so nonchalantly in his pockets? — such was the ease and casual calm, the confidence of embedded entitlement with which he was able to lord over the darker man.

“We heard the man on the ground pleading with the man above him, saw the terror in his face, heard his gasps for air, heard the anguished cries of an unseen chorus, begging the lighter man to stop. But the lighter man, the dominant man, looked straight at the bystanders, into the camera, and thus at all of us around the world who would later bear witness and, instead of heeding the cries of the chorus, pressed his knee deeper into the darker man’s neck as was the perceived right granted him in the hierarchy. The man on the ground went silent, drained of breath. A clear liquid crept down the pavement. We saw a man die before our very eyes.

“What we did not see, not immediately anyway, was the invisible scaffolding, a caste system with ancient rules and assumptions that made such a horror possible, that held each actor in that scene in its grip. Off camera, two other men in uniform, who looked like the lighter man, were holding down the darker man from the other side of the police car as dusk approached in Minneapolis. Yet another man in uniform, of Asian descent and thus not in the dominant caste, stood near, watching, immobilized, it seemed, at a remove from his own humanity and potential common cause, as the darker man slipped out of consciousness. We soon learned that the man on the ground, George Floyd, had been accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, and, like uncountable Black men over the centuries, lost his life over what might have been a mere citation for people in the dominant caste.”

Isabel Wilkerson: Bestselling, Diversity, & Journalism Author ...
Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste.

Dear Isabel Wilkerson,

Have you heard of Tony Timpa? White man. Cops suffocated him. He begged for air. And his mother. Look into it. Then get back to us with your wise answer to this question: What is the “invisible scaffolding” that causes cops to kill roughly twice as many white males than black males each year? What are the “ancient rules” at work here? And the tell us why you and others keep perpetuating a myth about systemic racism in policing. I think I know why, but it would be nice to hear it from you.

The Danger of Good White People

CNN’s “How ‘good White people’ derail racial progress,” by John Blake, is typically of contemporary antiracist discourse.

CNN Profiles - John Blake - CNN Enterprise writer/producer - CNN
John Blake, CNN’s Enterprise writer/producer

Blake consults The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) for this statistics: less than 13 percent of white students attend a school where a majority of students are black.

Stop and reflect on the absurdity of this factoid. Blacks are only around 13 percent of the US population. How would one propose substantially raising the percentage of whites going to majority black schools when blacks are not even the largest minority in America? Go ahead. Try to work out the math in your head.

Speaking of minorities, perhaps blacks might ask how it came to pass that they were demoted from the largest minority in America—while disproportionally relegated to impoverished neighborhoods in progressive-run cities. Maybe they should look into why the jobs blacks used to do are now occupied by members of the new largest minority. Whose policies accomplished that? (Hints: New Deal, Great Society).

CNN is all in on painting whites as racists, describing even white liberals as “dangerous” (we know they have assumed all along that conservatives are). Are whites dangerous because the neighborhoods where they are the majority do better on such key social metrics as education, health and well being, crime and violence, and entrepreneurial activities?

Why is the situation of racial inequality always pitched as a zero-sum game? “Unless more White people are willing to give up something to change the racial makeup of where they live and send their children to school, there will be no true racial awakening in America.” Give up what?

Civil War, Reconstruction, Civil Rights—these weren’t moments of “true racial awakening”? Who sneaked those three Amendments into the Constitution? How did the Civil Rights Act of 1964 happen? Did it happen?

Once more we see the work of antiracist ideology in erasing collective memory of American progress in race relations.

Why, if we are promoting racially-integrated communities and schools, do progressives push divisive identity politics? Who is it that teaches our children and tells their parents to see race first and persons second? Who is it that defines? (See the chart below.) Western norms and values, individualism and industriousness, as “white culture”? Who is it that systemically glosses over the chief determinant of life chances—social class.

Smithsonian Aspects of White Culture
Chart appearing on the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, subsequently taken down after a query from Newsweek.

If we want integration (and, of course, we do), then we need to get back to the ethics of humanism and the politics of social class. Stop saying colorblindness is “racist.” Stop demanding group rights over individual rights. Stop perpetuating the myth that individuals are meaningfully subdivided by race. Stop racially essentializing culture.

There are no laws stopping black people from living in majority white neighborhoods and sending their children to majority white schools. So knock off this nonsense about white people having to give up something for the sake of justice as if they are the cause of inequality and poverty in America.

Look instead at the structure of capital ownership and control. Determine which group actually controls the way life happens in a society run by corporations.

White people don’t run things. That’s not how it works. This is not an apartheid system. We got rid of that more than fifty years ago.

The “Fascist” and “Racist” President Trump

Welcome to “Double Throw Down Thursday” (not really a thing, but for today’s blog, what the hell). Trump has managed to get the establishment twice worked up in a week. First, HUD Secretary of Ben Carson is changing housing policy and Trump likes it. Then Trump suggests delaying the 2020 election. The latter tweet comes just in time to distract the public over the shit show put on by House Democrats during the testimony of Attorney General William Barr. Sometimes Trump can’t get out his own way. Okay, a lot of times he can’t get out of his own way. Let’s begin with the “call” to postpone the 2020 presidential election.

Media darling Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recently said that we could get back to some normalcy by the end of the year. He’s excited about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that uses novel technology to (hopefully—profitably) provoke immunity in people against a virus that well more than 99 percent of people survive. In his tweet, amid the constraints of a pandemic, Trump is asking a question about timing. I don’t agree with delaying the election. I do have a problem with universal mail-in voting. But I remind readers that, when Wisconsin governor Tony Evers actually called for a delay in voting (I opposed this move, for the record), progressives lined up behind him. Then they hurled insults at Republicans for rebuffing Evers’ call.

The spate of news stories about Trump wondering out loud whether a delay in the election should be considered given the pandemic and the problems with universal mail-in voting (loss of national solidarity, not being able to conduct on-the-spot exit polling useful for detecting voter fraud, and other things—see NPR’s recent article on how mail-in voting is fraught with problems) are written in a sensationalistic manner to leave the impression that the president aims to establish a fascist dictatorship. My Facebook newsfeed is chockfull of panic over Trump’s pending fascist dictatorship. Mission accomplished.

Here’s the BBC’s take. I should say “takes.” Note the different headlines. The BBC changed the headline after at first “misrepresenting” the president’s tweet. That the BBC did this is important since its reach is global. Bring on the panic.

The BBC’s edited headline

The BBC headline before it was edited

Here’s more fake news from CNN: “Trump Floats Delaying Election Despite Lack of Authority to Do So.” Maybe this is just a badly worded headline. Is it referring to Trump’s lack of authority to delay the election or his lack of authority to ask whether the nation ought to consider a delay given the pandemic? But can we really be charitable with CNN given its clearly established pattern of Trump-bashing?

According to the story, “Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Lawmakers from both parties said almost immediately there was no likelihood the election would be delayed.” There you go. As CNN itself notes, Congress sets the vote. This is a constitutional republic that has stood for more than two centuries. It has survived civil war and world war. Republicans quickly pushed back against the idea. No problem. We can move on.

Not so fast. “Trump’s message provides an opening—long feared by Democrats—that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the presidential results.” Only Democrats are allowed to refuse to accept the results of a presidential election (see Gore v Bush 2000). But wait, what does this have to do with delaying an election? When Evers called for postponing the election in Wisconsin, did that tell us that he was prepared to refuse to accept the results of the election when it was actually held? (See also Republicans openly challenge Trump’s tweet on delaying election.)

The frenzy over Trump’s tweet is nothing new. The hysteria began the day Trump was elected. Today’s freak-out is yet another instantiation of the globalist-corporatist effort pushed by the establishment media and the Democratic Party to undermine the legitimacy of a democratically-elected presidency by spreading fear, ginning up public outrage, and fomenting “popular” resistance to imaginary and misrepresented things. The panic presumes Trump is a fascist. The panic reinforces that presumption.

Round and round we go. Chicken Littles are running amok on my Facebook newsfeed. A segment of the population has become addicted to cortisol. And I am trying very hard to not to slide into misanthropy. But I digress….

This is a not merely a double standard on the progressive side. Progressives are projecting onto Trump their irrational beliefs about this president and the current situation. At the same time, many of the same people who think Trump will postpone an election—or refuse to accept the results of the election—in order to establish a fascist dictatorship embrace a regressive tribalist countermovement endeavoring to undermine democratic-republican institutions and restrict civil liberties and rights. The real extremism in America today is Antifa and Black Lives Matter, groups tearing down and blowing up stuff to convince Americans to abolish the police and dismantle the nuclear family.

I get why marketers use social media to determine attitude and desire. As a sociologist, I have before me a detailed ethnographic record from which I can distill worldviews. After more than a decade of observation, I conclude that the people who think Trump is a fascist are mostly the same people who think that the chaos in our cities is “peaceful protest,” equate speech and even silence to “violence,” while opposing the deployment of law enforcement to quell actual violence, call for the shuttering businesses and forcing everybody into PPE, clamor to see everybody by force or shame jabbed with vaccines using novel technology, reject therapeutics not endorsed by big pharmaceutical companies who have captured our regulatory agencies, call for keeping our children homebound and away from their peers and teachers, and push globalization and mass immigration at the expense of American families (who should be dismantled anyway along with their “privileges”).

If you examine these attitudes closely you, too, will probably see an overarching ideology at work. Progressives express a loss of faith in the institutions of Western civilization that they themselves have sown with their rhetoric and actions. We are seeing a self-fulfilling prophecy at work. Progressives sow discord over imaginary or hyped up threats and then cry “fascism” when patriots stand up to them and rise to defend the republic. All this is managed by a vast propaganda apparatus. It’s a project.

* * *

We see more of this in the fallout over the resent HUD decision. Grace Panetta, columnist for The Business Insider (and granddaughter of life-long Democratic operative Leon Panetta), put the spin on this one to make Trump out to be a white supremacist stoking racist fears.

Last Thursday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson (himself a frequent target of outrage and ridicule by progressives) announced that his office would rescind the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation that required state and local governments seeking federal housing funding to collect data on demographics and living conditions and, importantly, to show that they were not perpetuating racial discrimination. Trump voiced support for the change in the tweets above.

Housing advocates immediate criticized the rule change claiming that it would allow discriminatory housing practices. For example, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said the rule change “represents a complete retreat from efforts to undo historic, government-driven patterns of housing discrimination and segregation throughout the US” and would “allow communities to ignore the essential racial desegregation obligations of fair housing law.”

Panetta writes, “Wednesday’s tweets were among Trump’s most explicit overtures to white fear and grievance in his bid to win back suburban voters who have been staunchly repudiating the GOP since he took office.” This move comes, she notes, amid evidence that Biden is beating Trump among white, college-educated, and suburban voters. Trump’s alleged strategy is to scare white voters over Biden’s housing plans, namely that said policies would make their neighborhoods less safe and desirable. Panetta cites this tweet in support of her accusation:

Panetta tells the readers of Business Insider that many observers find Trump’s references to “suburban housewives” and his linking Biden with crime and disorder in the suburbs “appear to stem from an outdated view of suburbs as almost completely occupied by wealthy white people who are fearful of crime and distrustful of diversity in their communities.” The article points to a PEW survey indicating that “today’s suburbs are far more racially and economically diverse than those of the mid-to-late 20th century, when ‘white flight’ propelled many white Americans to flee urban areas for suburbs.” (You can read about these developments here, as well.)

Why does Panetta and her ilk assume Trump is playing to white suburban fears of yesteryear rather than to the diverse suburban fears that exist today? Are black and brown suburbanites unconcerned about the effect of low income housing on property values and the problems of crime? (There is, after all, an association.) Or is it only white people who are concerned about property values and crime? Remember, Trump is making a major play for black and brown votes in his reelection strategies. Panetta is not only making assumptions about Trump’s intent; she is assuming that low income housing and criminality is a function of black and brown people and she does this in the face of the PEW survey she has right in front of her.

When Panetta quotes Paul Waldman’s July 21 op-ed in The Washington Post that “the idea that Biden wants to ‘destroy the suburbs’ makes no sense,” that this idea is “only coherent if you think that an increase in racial diversity would ‘destroy’ the suburbs, which means that the suburbs only exist if they’re all-white,” she is along with Waldman assuming Trump is talking about the problem of racial diversity and not about the impact of low income housing on property values and the problem of criminality. Again, why assume this? Why assume that the only threat to property and person in suburbs is from racial minorities—many of whom now live in the suburbs?

Waldman calls Trump’s rhetoric race-baiting. But who is actually doing the race-baiting? Why does low income housing and crime always have to be about black and brown people? Why is concern for these problems only to be found among whites who are then accused of racism for expressing it? Could the concern be about social class and economics?

Panetta and Waldman and others feel comfortable broadly generalizing about race relations while avoiding the class question because they operate from the premise that the president is a white supremacist and that fear of crime can be reduced to race. They are in the media elite bubble. Indeed, they are so committed to the presumptions of the hegemony in which they imbibe that, without any reflection or self-doubt, and without any evidence, they attribute to the president motives that are not apparent.

* * *

People really have to stop freaking out every time Trump tweets something. Folks are being played. Not by Trump. By the people who want you to panic over populism. How would it be possible that Trump could just stay in office beyond his term or bend the Constitution to his ends? It’s incredible that he’s stayed in office this long given the efforts of the deep state to drive him out. Law enforcement would walk into the White House and perp walk the man out. There’s no Mussolini or Hitler moment in our future. Not from Trump, at least.

If you want to understand the real power dynamics in the world read C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite, Sheldon Wolin’s Democracy, Inc., David Korten’s When Corporations Rule the Earth, Bill Robinson’s Promoting Polyarchy, Joel Kotkin’s The Coming of Neo-Feudalism.

Trump and the populists worldwide are outsiders to the globalist-corporatist order. We should be so lucky that they could have a lasting impact of things (we might get back our republic and our liberties). Indeed, why you are conditioned to freak out about Trump is to push you into the arms of the nexus of world historical power: the network of transnational corporations working hand in hand with the Chinese Communist Party.

You are being played and I only wish you’d feel a bit more shame about that instead of the self-righteous bullshit you keep slinging.

The Establishment Push to Derail Trump’s Re-election

The conservatism before Donald Trump was neoliberal and neoconservative. The New Right forged under Reagan fell away very quickly (and was really ever only strategic and largely cosmetic). Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are subservient to corporate governance and transnationalism. This explains the remarkable continuity from George H.W. Bush through Barack Obama—privatization, regime change and endless wars, the trade deals, enabling CCP imperialism, the woke progressive takeover of the culture industry and administrative state apparatus, mass immigration. The two-party system has operated during this people via the social logic of globalist-corporatism.

In opposition to the politics and policies of establishment Republicans, Trump—and one sees this, as well, in Great Britain with Brexit and the recent blowout of Labor by Conservatives—represents a return to nationalist populism, reflecting the yearning of working people in the US and the UK to get the keys to their country back. Populism has the potential to bring working people of all stripes together to blunt the effects of globalization. It has already achieved quite a bit.

Its success is why we see an unprecedented effort, facilitated by neoconservatives in the Republican establishment, for example John Bolton, whose philosophy roots in Cold War progressivism, to delegitimize a sitting president. Trump represents a real problem to the denationalizing project that progressives and globalists have been pushing for decades. If Trump is turned out of office, the establishment believes, it will be able to get the project back on track. As I have blogged about, this explains Russiagate and the impeachment over the Ukraine affair.

Biden and the return of the neoliberal/neoconservative establishment to full power would be very bad news for working people and the future of liberal democracy across the trans-Atlantic system. On the other hand, it would be very good news for the Party of Davos and the Chinese Communist Party. These are the forces that are feeding Antifa and Black Lives Matter with both money and ideas. Western civilization is at a crossroads. The establishment project to do in Trump and populism should deeply concern rank-and-file conservatives. But really it should concern all of us who care about liberty and democracy.

There is a rhetoric advanced by establishment Republicans and their rank-and-file supporters that attempts to isolate Trump, painting as a demagogue who stands alone against reason. This rhetoric is profoundly elitist. We see it in the claims that Trump makes policy with an eye towards reelection, as if doing what the people would deem worthy of casting a vote for a sitting president is somehow contrary to the national interest. In fact, it is contrary to the interests of the globalists who can’t wait to get back in the drivers seat. The elite are attempting to disappear tens of millions of people. The “deplorables” Clinton dismissively called them. That’s what they elite think of workers in the heartland.

Those of us on the left shouldn’t speak that way about working people not because it’s condescending (it is), but because it denies reality. The states Trump took from the Democrat column were blue collar states. Voters knew what they were doing: they were rejecting the neoliberalism and neoconservatism that degraded their communities and undermined their livelihoods and squandered and spilled treasure and blood. Workers in Great Britain knew what they were doing when they voted in the Conservatives.

There was bound to be a reckoning between local and global forces for the control of the destinies of nations. Illustration: Craig Stephens
Illustration: Craig Stephens

Workers and small business owners knew what they were doing when they rejected all those many establishment Republicans who tried to take down Trump during the primaries. There was a reason he blew away the entire field: he made an argument that resonated with the people. He didn’t regurgitate establishment talking points or hesitate before fear of media framing. He spoke frankly about the decline of America and, in unapologetic terms, about its greatness.

For those who say Trump stands for nothing but himself, I have followed Trump’s career for decades and he definitely stands for something other than himself. He has been remarkably consistent in what he stands for, in fact. He and those around him present a coherent set of policies and offer a clear direction for America to move in. They mean to—and already have on many fronts—re-shore industry, end regime change and endless wars, restore public order and economic security to working class communities, and marginalize the People’s Republic of China. Trump’s personal interests and his vision of the national interests coincide. He doesn’t stand up there alone. This is a movement. And it’s trans-Atlantic in character. We see populism on the rise throughout the Western hemisphere. It’s catching fire in China, as well. All of this has the globalists terrified.

People are distracted by the tweeting. I get it. Trump says outlandish things. He trolls people. I don’t pay attention to all that, frankly. One has to look for the signal in the noise, as Steven Bannon is fond of saying.

In the final analysis, you don’t judge persons, policies, or nations by what they think or say of themselves. You judge them by what they do and what they accomplish. The neoliberal/neoconservative consensus had its chance. We saw what the managed decline of the American republic and Western civilization has wrought for the people. The people won’t long survive more of that.

I am not a Trump supporter. I am a supporter of the populist mood that has swept hundreds of millions of people across the world into an emerging resistance movement against the transnational project to denationalize the West and replace Enlightenment values of liberty and democracy with those of bureaucracy and technocracy. Trump did not start the resistance movement. He is a manifestation of it. It will survive his presidency. At the same time, his administration has become something of a bulwark against the forces of globalization. I do not, therefore, dread his reelection.

Returning to Woke Progressive Education—A Threat Greater than COVID-19?

I want public schools to reopen. There are real emotional and psychological costs to children stuck at home and in front of screens. Opportunities to acquire crucial knowledge and skill sets are being cut off—knowledge and skills that cannot be transmitted virtually. Social interactions necessary for normal cognitive and personal development are constrained, indeed deformed, by remote learning. We are told that a novel virus presents a challenge to reopening. Otherwise, it would be business-as-usual.

The Rise of Woke Classrooms | City Journal

But business-as-usual is a problem in itself. Indeed, more concerning than the effects of COVID-19 is the degree of wokeness in progressive social programming and the expectation that children and young adults, as well as staff and teachers, will embrace social justice doctrines surrounding race and gender. Children and young adults are conditioned to be hyper-judgmental and hyper-sensitive. Others are ostracized for being born a certain way and on that account taught to self-loathe, to feel ashamed for things they could not possibly have done, to apologize for the wrongdoings of others, even including corpses.

Indoctrinating youth with the language of theoretical antagonisms developed by cloistered academics, limited by disciplinary matrices, moving in abstract conceptual worlds, and justified in their motivation by artificial entitlement and esteem, antagonisms pushed by an odious grievance industry grasping for unearned things, a sophisticated language painting some children and young adults as racist and sexist on the basis of color of their skin and their anatomy, while teaching others that they are the victims of oppression and trauma and deserving of special rights on account of these, all the while nourishing the worst personality disorders of narcissism and sociopathy, the fruits of which we are seeing playing out on the city streets of America and Europe today—the consequences of all this will in the long run prove far worse than any wrought by SARS-CoV-2.

I am sympathetic to those parents who are reluctant or who refuse to send their children into a totalizing environment that commands their attention for the better part of their waking hours five days a week and sometimes more. I oppose in principle vouchers for religious schools, but at the same time I can see that it is unfair to allow some parents with means to shield their children from progressive indoctrination while effectively compelling those with little ability to exercise choice to send their children back into this environment. I am sympathetic with taxpayers who wonder why their resources are being marshaled to fund programming that runs down the very culture that has allowed so many of them to have a good life.

For those of us who do continue to allow these institutions access to our children, we need to do a better job of arming students emotionally and intellectually to resist indoctrination and to challenge teachers on the things they say—and to not permit the exercise of disagreeable speech to be suppressed under the guise of discipline. Parents should periodically debrief their children to learn what it is that they’re “learning” and to address teachers and administrators directly with their concerns.

How did this happen? That is a long story beef the scope of this essay. But the bottom line is that schools should not be teaching quasi-religious notions. It is not the place of administrators, staff, and teachers to disseminate social justice doctrine. As a parent, I would never tell the children of other parents how their children are supposed to think of themselves or think of others beyond treating persons as individuals and on the basis of behavior and character. To be sure, I have a problem with parents who fill their children’s heads with such hateful and divisive nonsense. Teaching children to judge people on the basis of race and gender under cover of such progressive rhetoric as “antiracism” is insidious. I would never presume to humiliate or shame a child or a young adult because of her or his phenotypic characteristics. But to have partisan interests reflected in public education in order to reinforce the obnoxious teachings of a segment of the population only doubles down on the problem.

I see the effects of the programming in the acquiescence of my colleagues in higher education to ideological struggle sessions cloaked in such Orwellian language as “diversity and equity training,” their equanimity prepared by their socialization in the institution of public education. As part of this structure, I feel a special burden to speak up about the direction it has taken. I am moreover, as a sociologist, acutely aware of the subtle forces that coerce education professionals to participate in reproducing that structure.

Public education is shot through with subversive political projects of this sort. Public schools should not, for example, insist that children and young adults tolerate exclusive and oppressive religious doctrines, such as those teachings imposing modesty dress on girls or condemning homosexuality, as merely “other cultural practices.” It is not the purpose of public education to validate any given ideology or deform a person’s ability to distinguish right from wrong by invalidating ordinary moral judgment as “ethnocentric.” In cultural terms, public schools have only to uphold the liberal values of autonomy, creativity, equality, free thought and expression, humanism, individualism, and secularism to do the right thing. For these are the values that allow persons the chance to manifest more fully the human right to self-actualization.

I expect some will find this essay insulting. Offense-taking does not negate facts and experiences. I remind the audience that I am the son of teachers and a teacher myself. I have children in public schools. My wife is a education professional. I study pedagogy and have reviewed the curricular materials of public schools and, more than once, spoken up about them. I confess, I should speak up more frequently and more vociferously than I have. So here we are. (Moreover, it is a shame that the best criticisms of the problem come not from the left but from the right. See There Is No Apolitical Classroom, The Silence of the School Reformers, and Woke History Is Making Big Inroads in America’s High Schools.)

I recognize that many teachers disseminate propaganda handed down to them from on high. But here staff and teachers have an important role to play by challenging their administration over content or in practice avoiding transmitting the worst aspects of woke programming. Teachers should not wait for parents to probe their children for information in order to intervene. Teachers know better than anyone how reluctant parents can be to challenge authority. Teachers have a responsibility to not harm children with programming that can cause distress, engender guilt, or stigmatize.

The problem of indoctrination in education runs deep. The unraveling of the Enlightenment that woke ideology advances (postmodernism, poststructuralism, and all the rest of it) is part of a project reflecting decades of managed decline of Western civilization by corporate power and its functionaries in the culture industry and the administrative apparatus. These insidious notions are the result of a long march through our institutions by those who mean to undermine the values of personal and popular sovereignty that mark Western civilization as the pinnacle of world-historical development.

The goal of the project is obvious in its effects. And that’s why we have to confront the problem. And why we have to confront it now. We risk losing everything that has made our societies just and successful. Those who desire to fundamentally change Western society know how important it is to get at our children. It is our civic duty to protect them from it.

Reparations and Blood Guilt

Early in the interview shared below, Coleman Hughes notes the huge wealth gap between Jews and Protestants and the fact that hardly anybody is interested in that matter. Indeed, if a person is interested in the wealth gap between Jews and Protestants he is viewed with suspicion. Is there not at least a whiff of antisemitism when a Protestant is interested in why Jews as a group do so much better than Protestants do as a group?

Coleman Hughes a fellow and contributing editor at City Journal.

We can push Hughes’ premise a bit more. If the person interested in the question argues that the reason there is such a gap is because the Jews have organized a system of institutions and organizations and occupy influential positions within this system that allows them as a group to amass privilege over time and accumulate a disproportionate share of the wealth, what social scientists call “cumulative advantages,” then the suggestion becomes an indication of antisemitism. Sounds conspiratorial, no? Does the explanation have the Jewish plan of control in hand? Are there laws on the books that protect and advance the ability of Jews to manipulate society in such a fashion? No? It’s just the way the system works? Jewish power is built into the DNA of society, is that the claim?

An imaginative Protestant seeking to blame Jews for his situation could certainly construct an elaborate theory about dynamics and structures in Western history that explain this disparity. Social science provides jargon for the construction of all manner of abstract things and “social facts” supposed to work forces on people. But I think we all know what that theory would be called in this case and what would happen to the person who advanced it.

It would remove all doubt about the question of antisemitism if the person pushing the theory of Jewish privilege and supremacy demands on the basis of his theory the reorganization of society to redistribute the wealth held by Jews to Protestants.

Yet it is not merely okay for blacks and their “allies” to blame whites for the wealth gap between their respective groups; it is expected. Those who object to antiracism are treated with the same scorn as a Protestant who wonders why Jews as a group are so much better off are than Protestants. Ibram X Kendi, Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, whose theory of “antiracism” makes all whites who do not agree with him racist, tells us that it is racist to oppose reparations. Kendi is celebrated on the left and by the establishment media.

Ibram X. Kendi Launches New Center For Antiracist Research At ...
Ibram X Kendi, Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research

The antiracist standpoints normalizes anti-white racism. Whereas a Protestant runs the risk of being accused of antisemitism for asking why Jews are so well off as a group, the black person demanding reparations from white people for something their distant ancestors may or may not have done is bravely seeking the justice due him. This expression is given a lot of leeway. Some black nationalists even pull Jews into the scope of their theory of the black-white wealth gap and, unlike the white Protestant who would be crucified for doing such a thing, are able to maintain associations with groups like Black Lives Matter, darlings of the establishment, without much scrutiny. How dare white people tell black people which oracles to consult, right? As if criticizing rabid antisemites like Louis Farrakhan should be avoided because some black people wish to sidestep vile and potentially embarrassing and hypocritical associations.

Even though the demand for reparations is made in a society that abolished slavery more than 150 years ago—even though the demand is made for blacks whose ancestors were never exploited and oppressed by the structures theorized to still disadvantage blacks after so many decades—even though some who will get reparations are descended from tribes who sold the ancestors of other black people into slavery—the characterization of all whites as privileged and collectively profiting from skin color and guilty of an intergenerational sin is viewed as a noble cause. White privilege rhetoric blames an entire race of people for the situation of blacks as a group. Blood guilt, rightly never tolerated in explanations of Jewish affluence and status, has become the prevailing theory of racial disparities and, moreover, the policy ground upon which racial equity is to be achieved.

To be sure, there was racial slavery in the United States. This is a historical fact. And that fact does have something to do with the development of post-slavery America. If you feel the need to point that out (which in my experience many people do), then you are missing Hughes’ point. Hughes need not ponder the substance of the Jewish question for a second for his point to work. One does not need to spend any time working out odious theories about Jewish affluence. It is for this reason that reparations is such an unhealthy obsession: it is driven by race prejudice. The hatred and loathing of white people has become so severe—paradoxically increasing in the wake of the elimination of actual structures privileging white people—that whites are now expected to self-hate and self-loathe in ritual confession. The truth is the opposite of what Kendi writes in his Atlantic article: it is advocacy for reparations that is racist. This should be obvious. But we are in an era where people are easily manipulated by feelings of guilt installed by antiracist programming. One cannot safely assume people see through the deception.

A Dark and Authoritarian Path is Paved by Pathologizing Humanity

More than 150 medical experts, nurses, scientists, and teachers have signed a letter to political leaders urging them to shut down society and start over to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The letter was organized by PRIG, or the Public Interest Research Group, a network of non-profit organizations with the goal of politically change American in a progressive direction. Envisioned by that notorious scold Ralph Nader in 1971, PRIG recruits its activist army mostly from colleges and universities.

“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st,” the letter asserts, “Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities.”

Of course, all the “normal” and “pleasant” activities people engage are essential for the survival of the bars, hair salons, restaurants, tattoo parlors, and all the other businesses that make our communities vibrant and prosperous and the dreams of entrepreneurs come true. The “normal” and the “pleasant” are also essential for health emotional and psychological states, access to which is rapidly dwindling for our children.

“Continuing on the path we’re on now will result in widespread suffering and death,” the letter warns on apocalyptic tones. “And for what?” For all those things that PRIG designates “nonessential.” And for more than that. To not sink the economy even deeper into depression and all the suffering that calamity entails. For the sake of the “normal” and the “pleasant.”

What the letter signers recommend is insanity. They demand enough daily testing to tag everyone with flu-like symptoms and an army of contact tracers to track all current cases. They demand the shuttering of all nonessential businesses. Restaurants should only provide take-out service. People should only leave their apartments and houses to obtain food and medicine or fresh air and exercise. Governments should mandate masks in all situations and ban interstate travel. 

In other words, society should not longer be free and open and citizens should be forced into strict rules of obedience to demands articulated in a letter by medical experts, nurses, scientists, and teachers with the correct opinion.

Opinion | His Face Is Unmistakable. It Is the Face of Protest ...
The Authoritarian Revolution

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Last night, I listened to a virtual debate about mandatory masks at the board of supervisors in the country where I live. It became obvious early on that the logic given to rationalize mandatory mask wearing to combat the coronavirus could be easily retooled to rationalize mandatory vaccination. “We do this not for our own protection, which is admittedly a personal choice,” the argument went, “but for the protection of others.” The same argument could also be marshaled for rationalizing the same mandates for combatting the spread of influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, and other coronaviruses, all of which are lethal and crippling.

But if we apply the logic of masks and vaccines and quarantine for SARS-CoV-2 to other things—and people should wonder why we don’t—then the good life will be increasingly difficult to come by. And that’s just fine in the opinion of an increasing number of our fellow countrymen.

What the scolds don’t tell you is that tens of thousands of people die every week from all sorts of causes. They die from heart attacks, strokes, chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, automobile accident, alcoholism, drug overdoses—it is a list too long to review here. Normal weekly deaths in the United States average around 60,000. That is a lot of death. And a lot of that death is preventable. If we shut down society, banned cars, forced people to eat only certain foods, banned a range of chemicals, strictly prohibited alcohol and drugs, etcetera, we could drastically reduce the rates of death and disease. Of course, we don’t do a lot that. We determined a long time ago that the good life comes with risks. But for how long?

We are on a dark path towards an authoritarian society. Our governments are normalizing germophobia—the pathological fear of microbes. Authorities and activists are pathologizing healthy people, teaching citizens that their fellow humans are by default diseased and dangerous. Creating fear and suspicious are important elements in establishing an authoritarian order. The panicked animal seeks the sheltering arms of the parens patriae. While this doctrine has its place—most obviously in the necessity of public safety—a new attitude seeks the totalitarian expansion of state power to curtail the “normal” and “pleasant” activities of healthy people.

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The pandemic is occurring at the same time pundits and politicians are telling us that white people are racist and that their racism infects Western culture and law. Indeed, racism is in the Western DNA. Paradoxically, the free people of the West are told they have no right to except to be safe from criminals in their homes and their communities. Public safety is a racial privilege, a luxury white people do not deserve (black and brown people are collateral damage). Of course, the police will enforce the mask mandate—and the vaccine mandate when it’s finally handed down. Civilians throwing avocados at fellow shoppers without masks won’t get the job done. The contradiction is understood in light of a new ethic: criminal deviancy is allowed, even encouraged, while liberty is criminalized.

What explains this contradiction? Western culture is the source of democracy, humanism, individualism, liberalism, republicanism, and secularism. The ethics of civil liberties and human rights began there and spread throughout the world—where they are met with resistance from authoritarian forces. Now the West must resist its diminishment at the hands of a new authoritarian force: corporate power.

By reducing the West to white supremacy and rejecting it on this basis, under the cover of mass hysteria and for the sake of personal and exclusive opulence, a global power elite is dismantling the foundations of freedom, progress, and justice. They are removing the obstacles to total control of human life. The People’s Republic of China and the Islamic sharia are not condemned for their totalitarianisms, but held up as solutions to the problems of the free and open society. Democratic systems, with their respect for personal sovereignty and choice, are in decline everywhere. Manufactured crisis is a gun to put a wounded Enlightenment out of its misery.

What lies at the end of this dark authoritarian path is global neofeudalism. Western values emancipated large segments of humanity from the old feudalism, elevating individuals from the lowly status of serf, servant, slave, and subject to that of citizen. Freed from the oppressions of the tribe and traditional social arrangements, autonomous persons constituted a sovereign people granted control over their destinies and expected to take responsibility for their actions. Western man now find himself being retribalized and returned to serfdom—a new serfdom with a new king: the transnational corporation.

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