Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a world in which individuals were judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. This is a demand for each person to enjoy equal treatment—at least treatment blind to race. You are to get no more or no less on account of your race. That’s fairness. That’s justice. It’s also good for society.
However, while a colorblind society maybe a colorful one, this outcome is not guaranteed. It depends on what individuals put into it. Group inequality is not necessarily explained by racism. Those who claim that it is bear a burden to show this is true. What they are telling you today is that racial disparity is racism. Ideology usually works in circularities.
There are those who will tell you that sacrificing colorblindness for colorfulness by substituting for the goal of equality the cosmetic of diversity constitutes a form of justice, what they call “social justice.” But this is not true. If, on the basis of his skin color, an individual is passed over for an opportunity he has earned, he is being punished for what those in power have judged a physical stigma or some attribute they suppose attaches to that stigma that in some way disqualifies him. This is the diametric opposite of justice, social or otherwise. If this practice is based on skin color, it is race discrimination.
Those in power are playing a trick on you. Elites promote diversity over merit to prevent equality. They have become so confident they even changed the goals from equality to equity. But it is not which races are being discriminated against that determines whether the practice of discrimination is right or wrong. At different times, the elite privilege and scapegoat different groups to prevent movements for equality from forming or achieving any substantive success.
This is an ancient strategy. In establishing hegemony, the king selected and privileged members of the various tribes in order to control the tribes through collaborators and convey in the diversity of the institutions under his control a spirit of benevolence. One could look at the powers-that-be and see fellow tribesmen there and feel that the order of things was fair. This trick depends on seeing oneself as a member of a tribe.
In societies where individuals are not alienated by tribal identity, they can see together their common class position. In the case of the monarchy, their common position is as subjects under the rule of a king. Seeing collective oppression in togetherness rather than apartness is the sort of consciousness that threatens the king. And that’s the sort of consciousness than threatens elites of any age. And so they keep us separated by tribalizing us and sowing division and resentment.
You would think that after thousands of years of this trick being pulled on us we’d have wised up. Tragically, we have not. Indeed, it’s working about as well as it ever has. Shame on us.
NPR carried a story yesterday, “Teachers Say Laws Banning Critical Race Theory Are Putting A Chill On Their Lessons.” The framing: “critical race theory, an academic approach that examines how race and racism function in law and society.” So what if CRT is advanced by (some) academics?
Critical race theory judges individuals based on membership in abstract categories based on race. In other words, there are academics who teach their students to stereotype others. They are imparting an irrational preachment. How could that give public school teachers permission to teach children to stereotype and judge others based on race?
If you don’t know, critical race theory—and this is the core of its argument—teaches that western jurisprudence, our rational system of individual justice, with its emphases on equal treatment, presumption of innocence, reasonable standards of action and doubt, and burden of proof and adversarial adjudication of fact, etc., is a catalog of mechanisms designed to perpetuate the oppression of blacks and advance white privilege. They literally call this the “perpetrator’s perspective.”
They advocate instead for a system that presumes racial disparity is racism and that all whites are the perpetrators of racism. This is not a straw man. And this ideology should be taught to our children?
Ask yourself why teachers would complain about laws saving them from having to teach black children that they’re all victims—and depict white children as perpetrators? Why wouldn’t they have instead take a stand against racism and tell administrators they they’re not going to teach this ideology?
This is not about academic freedom. Teachers aren’t allowed to teach creationism in public schools. No teacher would be allowed to teach kids that white people are racially superior to black people. Critical race theory is in that family of crackpot ideas.
Our kids have already lost a year because of these ridiculous lockdowns. Don’t waste anymore of their time teaching them to thinking in racial terms.
In this blog, I overview of the character of various law enforcements in Western history in order to dispel the myth that one can trace modern policing to the slave patrols of the US south. I also dispel the myth that the penitentiary system represents, in Michelle Alexander’s words, a “new Jim Crow.” Before getting to that history, I spend some time clarifying the assumptions that form the basis for the antiracist arguments that lie in back of these and other myths; antiracism is a much larger project with much bigger goals. As those familiar with my blog know, I regard antiracism as constituting a quasi-religion. Applying my irreligious method of debunking, I bring the reader to the obvious conclusion.
Those who regularly read Freedom and Reason, or who have taken any of my college courses over the years (Freedom and Social Control, Criminal Justice Process, Criminology, Power and Change, etc.), know that, among other things, I’m a libertarian (see “The Philosophical Principles that Shape My Standpoint”). Skeptical of power, opposed to unjustified coercion, it follows I would be a critic of law enforcement.
Indeed, I am. As an exponent of US Bill of Rights, I advocate for sharply limiting police powers and strict adherence to due process in the criminal justice system (see “Dealing with the Police”). I have conducted workshops teaching young people how to safely assert their constitutional rights when interacting with law enforcement. My humanist and liberal commitments find our prisons too many and too big and doing a poor job of rehabilitating those who break our laws.
At the same time, that same research finds that the modern policing apparatus and the penitentiary system are necessary institutions for enhancing public safety in a democratic republic. Among advanced industrial democracies, the United States is remarkable for its extraordinarily high rates of crime and violence, especially in the central cities of our densely-populated urban areas.
The current situation is dire. After several decades of declining rates of crime and violence (attributable in part to a vast expansion of the criminal justice system beginning in the 1960s), criminal violence is on the rise. John Roman, criminal justice expert at the University of Chicago, told Vox that the increase in homicide in 2020 “is the largest increase in violence we’ve seen since 1960, when we started collecting formal crime statistics.” He added, “We’ve never seen a year-over-year increase even approaching this magnitude.”
At the end of 2020, police recording 322 homicides, Los Angeles saw a 30 percent increase over the previous year. There were 437 homicides in New York City year-end 2020, nearly 40 percent more than in 2019. Chicago police reported more than 750 murders, representing a more than 50 percent increase over the previous year. The situation is not abating in 2021. Cities in my adopted state of Wisconsin have also seen a drastic rise in murders.
As progressives tell us that there are too many police, they also tell us that there are too many prisons. As John Pfaff has noted in his Locked In, although America could reduce the size of its prison and jail populations by decriminalizing drugs and ending the drug war, a reform I am completely behind, it would reduce them by only a small amount. We would still have prisons full of people who pose serious threats to the lives and wellbeing of others. More than half of those incarcerated in our state prisons are there for violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery). If we want fewer police and fewer prisons, then we will need fewer criminals.
* * *
Both modern policing and the penitentiary emerge in urban areas across the trans-Atlantic system during the latter eighteenth century as instruments to manage changed conditions resulting from the transition from feudalism and the overthrow of the ancien régime to the capitalist mode of production and the bureaucratic state. More than any other mode of production, due to the degree of inequality, proliferation of commodities, culture of desire, and disruption of traditional norms and values, capitalism is associated with a greater criminogenesis. The modern police accompany the appearance and development of industrial capitalism as an apparatus functioning to control the discontented and discipline labor beyond the structure of legitimate employment. Penitentiaries are erected to contain and correct the demoralized and the recalcitrant.
Despite a clear history of the origins and evolution of modern law enforcement and the penitentiary, there are those also critical of the police and prisons who present a false narrative about their origins. In particular, there is a claim that, if we are properly oriented in our critique of power, we can see a direct line from police to slave patrols. This claim comes alongside the claim that the criminogenic conditions that disorganize our neighborhoods and imperil the safety of our citizens are a type of racist libel, that the statistical profile of those most likely to harm others is a racist construction designed to bring into disrepute an entire community. When social scientists speak frankly about the problem of black crime, they risk the accusation of anti-black racism.
Not a benign obscurantism, the false narrative obscures the class character of the criminal justice system by shifting public attention to a history of racism and the alleged persistence of force behind it, namely white supremacy. Accusations of racism amid frank talk is a tactic to derail scientific understanding of the character of crime in the West. An agenda appears to be at work here. Indeed, the deadly consequences of delegitimizing public safety must have powerful interests in back of it. The lives of thousands of people are sacrificed annually for these interests.
In criminology, we have a name for those who treat the criminal law and its enforcement as the imposition of social constructions serving the narrow interests of elites—we call them “left-idealists.” Historically, left-idealists have paid attention to the problem of the capitalist state at the expense of proletarian crime. This species of Marxist-inspired though emerged on the grounds of an amalgam of critical theory and postmodernist thought taken up by the New Left. Critical criminologists, such as Richard Quinney, William Chambliss, and Stephen Spitzer, advanced the thesis that crime was a social construct legitimizing asymmetrical power relations. Quinney’s 1970 The Social Reality of Crime arguably defined the genre. “Crime,” Quinney writes, “is a definition of human conduct in a politically organized society.”
To differentiate those of us who work from a materialist conception of history from the idealists, we claim the label “left-realism” (see my “Demoralization and the Ferguson Effect”; see also my “Marxist Theories of Criminal Justice and Criminogenesis”). We do so to signal the difference in focus while declaring our continuing commitment to proletarian politics. Realists stress the points that concern for the disorganizing effects of crime, as well as the victims of crime, does not signal conservative or right-wing politics. We don’t deny crime and violence, but instead identify perpetrator and victim, while rooting crime and violence in the chaos of capitalist accumulation and exploitation. Unlike left-idealists, we neither treat criminals as heroes nor sacrifice their victims upon the altar of anti-capitalism. To put this another way, we eschew ideology.
When realism returned to the left in the 1980s (see Ian Taylor’s 1982 Law and Order: Arguments for Socialism, Jock Young and John Lea’s 1984 What is to Be Done About Law and Order, and Richard Kinsey et al’s 1986 Losing the Fight Against Crime), there was hope that the left would veer away from the New Left corruption of Marxist thought and back towards scientific foundations of historical materialism. But the realists were up against a force that appeared to have more behind than working class energy. As critical theory was mainstreamed and institutionalized in the academy, especially in the development of critical race studies in the 1990s, left-idealism mutated into a style of Hegelianism where it is theorized that white racial desire constructed a system to systematically privilege white people. This ideology was further mainstreamed and institutionalized across America’s institutions.
Those who “center race,” academese for shifting the focus from class (or everything else) to racial identity, push idealism on the left even farther away from a critique of capitalism and thus understanding of the criminogenic forces that lie at the heart of this mode of production. As a species of Hegelianism, critical race theory commits a double error: it flips base and superstructure, and, to the extent its conclusions shape policy (and it’s clear that they do), it makes life for working people—and black people in particular—more difficult. And markedly more dangerous, as the drastic rise in murder indicates.
* * *
Dwelling on the intellectual problems of leftwing idealism generates a discourse that waxes rather esoteric. But there is a political reality confronting us all: the myth that modern policing grew out of southern slave patrols has an ideological function; it means to delegitimize the apparatus of policing by associating it with a slaveocracy enabled by racial hierarchy. This move ties it to the greater false narrative: that the history of the United States, not just the history of policing, can best be or even only understood as the history of racism, with every transformation that another narrative might portray as overcoming an oppressive structuring portrayed instead as the deft reconfiguration of society in such a way as to perpetuate and even deepen white supremacy. According to popular antiracism, we now live in a society where white power is so deep and concealed that a special theoretical and conceptual language must be taken up to make it apparent in order to continue the struggle against it. That is the language of antiracism.
In its claim to have revealed unseen forces operating behind the seen, antiracism resembles a religious ideology, where those who rehearse scriptures may behold a truth unknown to infidels. Its formulas call into being a reality that serves the immediate interests of its moral entrepreneurs and long-range goals of it benefactors. The world it calls into existence is one corrupted by racism without racists. A world that is institutionally racist without any racist institutions. A world that is systemically racist despite the absence of a racist system. Only the antiracists can see the sin that pollutes western civilization. Only the antiracists can exorcise the devils of racism.
You know the way religion works: one is either inside (here, the antiracist) or outside of the church. You are either in (antiracist) or out (racist), as Ibram X Kendi tells us. That there is no existence beyond the binary tells us that those who advance the scheme mean to include everybody in it, as if their unscientific worldview determines the truth for all of us. So the racist infidels stand outside the church and define themselves as such for denying or rejecting the truth. (Me, I am an apostate in this religion. A recovering antiracist.)
There is nothing in Western civilization that CRT doctrine doesn’t seek to draw within its scope (even epidemiology). Most insidious is its goal of transforming the foundation of Western jurisprudence into a system of race-based equity in which whites are targeted for special control (“Race-Based Discrimination as a Model for Social Justice”; “Human Rights versus Group Rights in Law and Reason: Checking Postmodern Creep”). According to CRT, the system of individual justice, with its emphases on equal treatment, presumption of innocence, rational adjudication of fact, reasonable standards of action and doubt, and state burden of proof, is a catalog of mechanisms designed for perpetuating the oppression of blacks and advancing white privilege.
The New Left idealism reifies groups based on phenotypic characteristics and ancestry and pushes a new normative system to replace such oppressive ideas and practices as individualism and human rights based upon the scientific awareness of species being. This is an extremist ideology.
* * *
The facts ascertained through standard historiography tell a very different story about the history of policing from the one antiracists are telling. With our feet on the ground we see that the modern police emerged in urban areas under the influence of those organic intellectuals animated by the same Enlightenment values that separated church and state, promoted free speech and assembly, abolished the slave trade and, eventually slavery, affirmed the right of women to participate in politics, and dismantled Jim Crow segregation. The same humanist and liberal values that discovered human rights also established the ideals of the modern justice system. The slave patrols simply do not present with the character of the rational bureaucratic organization that distinguishes modern policing from its predecessors, but rather resemble instead the civilian watch organizations organized by the lords on the estates during feudalism.
In early Anglo-Saxon times, the frankpledge burdened adult males, drawn from families in the area and organized into small groups, to watch and protect the community from disorder and violence. They were ordered into tithings under the command of a tithingman. Tithings were in turn integrated into larger structures known as hundreds each under the authority of a hundredman. The hundreds were organized as shires under the authority of shire-reeves. (To the extent that the institution of the sheriff derives its name from the shire-reeve, the modern sheriff’s office is bureaucratically aligned with the discipline and procedures of modern policing.)
Like the frankpledge system, slave patrols, founded in the early eighteenth century, were civilian in character and recruited adult males from the community to watch and protect. To be sure, the fact of racialized chattel slavery compared to the character of serfdom of medieval England makes a difference, but the agrarian context of both the southern plantation and feudal estate systems differentiate both frankpledge (and later the principle of posse comitatus) and slave patrols from modern law enforcement.
The slave patrols were abolished with the Civil War and the logic of modern policing, its organizational structure and disciplinary protocols, was imposed on the South during reconstruction and industrialization. However much the police were called upon to enforce the laws of Jim Crow segregation (police officers are obligated to enforce all law), with corruption and excesses acknowledged, the logic of the slave patrols were not taken up by the modern policing apparatus. There really is no direct line between civilian patrols and today’s professional law enforcements. The Civil War was a disjunctural moment in American history. In its aftermath, modern policing become the dominant form of official coercive social control in the south and followed the discipline of its northeastern origin.
This is not a history “that does make us feel bad,” as Connie Hassett-Walker recently put it in an article for the American Bar Association. This is history untwisted by an agenda to delegitimize the institution of policing.
What about prisons? The penitentiary system developed in tandem with modern policing. The northeast was industrialist and mirrored the social logic of urbanizing Europe under capitalism. George Rushe and Otto Kirchheimer document this history in their landmark Punishment and Social Structure, published in 1939. They show that the penitentiary and modern penology are born and move in tandem with the rhythms of the capitalist mode of production in its industrialist phase of exploitation. Policing and prisons in the US context mirrored the modern control apparatus of the advanced nations of Europe. The development is nearly simultaneous owing to the shared culture of the trans-Atlantic sphere.
In an important continuation of Rusche and Kirchheimer’s thesis, Christopher Adamson, in his 1984 “Toward a Marxian Theory of Penology: Captive Criminal Populations as Economic Threats and Resources,” published in Social Problems, looks at penology in the United States during the nineteenth century in light of the business cycle and labor supply. “A systematic theory of the economic functions of imprisonment can be constructed with reference to the interaction between the crime- and class-control strategies of prison reformers, prison administrators, and government officials, and their financial and industrial goals,” he concludes. Using the model, Adamson is able to show that “changes in business conditions and labor supply coincided with identifiable stages in the development of penology.”
Thus a body of materialist scholarship shows that Modern policing emerges to manage the lumpenproletariat, those displaced during the enclosure movement, as well as thrown into the industrial reserve. The prisons were developed as a class-based system of incapacitation, management, and rehabilitation. The entire system was wrapped in the rational language of deterrence and crime control.
Acknowledging the power of Rusche and Kirchheimer’s thesis in explaining the development of the modern carceral system, Michael Foucault observes in Discipline and Punish that “forced labor and the prison factory appear with the development of the mercantile economy. But the industrial system requires a free market in labour and, in the nineteenth century, the role of forced labor in the mechanisms of punishment diminishes accordingly and ‘corrective’ detention takes its place.” Race plays a peripheral role in the development of modern punishment. Shifting the analysis from class to race distorts this history.
Virginia excepted, thanks to Thomas Jefferson’s fascination with the architecture of discipline and surveillance, prisons did not exist in the South. Prisons were unnecessary in the context of agrarian capitalism based on slave labor, just as they were unnecessary during feudalism, as the serfs were controlled by the lords and the tithing system. As Rusche and Kirchheimer document, in serfdom and slavery, punitive mechanisms ruling the labor force were corporal in character, focused, Foucault emphasizes, on the body, since, in most cases, the body was “the only property accessible.” What existed instead of highly organized law enforcements were civilian patrols appropriate to the open spaces of rural life.
The south was agrarian capital with a political-cultural apparatus analogous to the system of estates in feudal Europe. Because of this, even for some time after abolition, convict leasing, and later the chain gang, to be sure forms of penal labor not unknown in the northeast and the west, were the major forms of carceral control in the south, and the burden of the system fell disproportionally upon blacks in the south as black were overrepresented among the reserve army of labor in the wake of the collapse of the plantation system.
The development of the modern criminal justice system and the rhythms of the last century and a half (at least) were not shaped by the dynamics of agrarian capitalism, but by the chaotic business cycles and the longer waves of industrial capitalism. This force explains the bob swinging above the point between retribution and rehabilitation. As the industrial reserve shrinks and swells with the expansion and contractions of industrial capitalism, so the value of labor increases and decreases, the value of labor determining the worth and the fate of those proletariat—failing to resist the temptation to harm members of their class, and taking up the techniques of neutralization that allow them to rationalize immoral action, what Marx and Engels call “primitive rebellion”—unfortunate enough to move in criminogenic conditions.
Penitentiaries grow up with industrialization and urbanization, as those displaced by the rationalization of agricultural production, the fracturing of landed power, and the enclosure of the commons (or the collapse of the planation economy), enter cities and towns looking for employment or, when employment not forthcoming, resorting to innovative means for obtaining needed or desired goals.
Why the overrepresentation of blacks in arrests and prisons? I provide a detailed explanation of this in a recent FAR Podcast. To summarize here, blacks, having migrated from agrarian areas to urban ones with the transformation of the United States in the wake of the Civil War, became concentrated in disorganized urban areas and thus more susceptible to the ideology of primitive rebellion, exacerbated by the shift in consciousness from class to race antagonisms. This development was further exacerbated by the fracturing of the black family and the return of mass immigration in the wake of the successes of civil rights in the 1960s.
These developments, and the government response to the drastic rise of crime and violence that followed them, explain the overrepresentation of blacks in serious street crime. To state matters bluntly, black overrepresentation in serious street crime explains black overrepresentation in the carceral system. Racial disparities in this area are not a product of systemic racism in the criminal justice process. We have known this for decades.
* * *
A shift in analysis from class to race in the CRT species of left-idealism conceals the true underpinnings of mass incarceration. The true underpinnings of mass incarceration are found in the denationalization project pushed by globalizing elites, a project enabled by the social disorganization and multiculturalism that destabilizes urban neighborhoods. This is not the first time the United States has experienced a crime wave in its urban centers. Mass immigration in the late-nineteenth century and the early twentieth century produced a similar explosion in crime and violence. Mass immigration and its rationalization cultural pluralism is industrial capitalism unchained. We are seeing European cities currently disorganized by the same processes.
The wilding of industrial capitalism and corporate power disorders communities, which sets the criminogenic conditions that provoke the criminal justice response. CRT obscures this dynamic by leveraging the Hegelian method of starting from the surface and rationalizing its structure and history for ideological reasons that are not in the material interests of the proletariat. Rather than starting with an objective analysis of the structure, found in the organization of social forces and relations inhering in the mode of production, that explains the surface in terms of those material interests, i.e., capitalist interests, in jockeying for power it starts from the point of view of grievances already addressed and dresses its politics in academic and social justice clothing.
CNBC reports today that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration says “there’s growing circumstantial evidence that Covid may have originated in a lab.” This is news? I was talking about this over a year ago. I was alerting Freedom and Reason readers to gain-of-function research in Wuhan in early May 2020 (“Science and Conspiracy: COVID-19 and the New Religion”).
Why did establishment media hide what those of us who understand science and are prepared to look honestly at evidence—and brave enough to face ridicule in order to speak truth to power—knew back then? Why were our Facebook and Twitter posts labeled as false or misleading and so many of us deplatformed? The corporate media knew what the science and the evidence showed. Were they lying?
The answer is simple: the establishment wanted Trump out of office so they could get back to the project to denationalize the planet, and as long as they could keep the origins of the virus secret, and not allow mass attention to shift focus to China, the public could be led to blame Trump for the pandemic. When Trump told us to look at China, because he knew what was going on, the media could accuse Trump of racism and conspiracism. Even today, they try to blame Trump for anti-Asian hate crimes (“The Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes. Trump-inspired? Not Quite”).
The establishment used the pandemic to change the rules of the election without having to tell us that SARS-CoV-2 was a lab-enhanced coronavirus unleashed on the world by the Chinese Communist Party. All this hype over Trump and Putin? What we really needed to worry about all along was Biden and the Chinese Communist Party. Biden bragged about his more than 25 hours of one-on-one meeting with Xi Jinping—General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and President of the People’s Republic of China (“‘Dear Hitler’ or Joe Biden is the Neville Chamberlain of Our Time”). What is more, they knew Fauci and his agency was in back of the research.
A Ministry of Truth, operated by transnational corporate power, has constructed a hyperreality for us to live in. Progressives eagerly signed up. But the information flow has too many channels, and too many people, however much they enjoy suspending their disbelief to consume fantasy and science fiction, don’t want to live forever in the Matrix.
For the twentieth century and much of the twenty-first, there was no alternative to the establishment propaganda system. But the Internet is too anarchic to contain, and anti-establishment voices are multiplying. Having conditioned the populous to hear alongside such venerable terms as “nationalists,” “patriots,” and “populists,” other less honorable names, such as “nativism,” “racism,” and “xenophobia,” the power elite have been desperately trying to keep people from the truth by smearing those who point their audiences in the right direction. But the people are wising up to that, too.
There is a massive grassroots rebellion brewing. The two big issues: the lies told to us about this virus and the constant dissembling over the 2020 presidential election. The elite are are terrified that, not only will the truth come out, but that they will be exposed as liars. They go on about the legitimacy of American democracy. Far more important to the ruling class is the legitimacy of the establishment propaganda apparatus.
It used to take us years and even decades to find out about their lies (the Gulf of Tonkin, the bombing of inner Cambodia, COINTELPRO, Carter and Afghanistan, WMD). We are close to finding the truth in real time thanks to the anarchy of the Internet. For many items, we already are finding the truth in real time.
Expect in the very near future a ramping up of the effort to tightly regulate the Internet, to stand up paywalls and social credit schemes in front of everything. Watch the global rollout of vaccine passports. The elite will not stand by and watch more than a century of world planning go down the tubes. You stand between them and liberty. Pay attention.
Yesterday, CBS News published an article. “Israel-Gaza cease-fire holds, but it’s a fragile peace as both sides dubiously claim success.” The author or authors (the article is anonymous, opened this way: “A cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas was holding on Friday morning after taking effect overnight. The truce brought a much-needed reprieve after 11 days of devastating airstrikes on the Gaza Strip by Israel’s military, and the reciprocal, ceaseless barrage of rocket fire unleashed by Hamas and its allies.”
Whatever one thinks about the Israeli-Palestinian situation (one might sense CBS News implying something), there’s an argument I am hearing that doesn’t work. It’s an argument that presumes death counts in war should determine or at least shape one’s choice of comrades. In Gaza, more than 230 people have been killed in airstrikes. In Israel, twelve people have been killed in rocket attacks. We see that number and hear something about “proportionality.”
However, relative death counts don’t tell us who’s good and bad, right or wrong. It is possible that the aggressors in war all lose their lives, while those exercising their right to self defense lose no lives at all. But you can’t pile bodies on a scale, weigh the carnage, and claim that the party losing fewer people is in the wrong. It does not follow from this that Israel is the bad actor.
Why is Israel losing so few people? Remember when Democrats and the corporate media mocked Ronald Reagan for “Star Wars”? Turns out that the technology President Reagan imagined for his Strategic Defense Initiative works. Really well. From May 10-18, Hamas and other terrorist organizations fired more than 3,440 rockets at Ashdod, Ashkelon, Jerusalem, Sderot, and other population centers in Israel. More than 90 percent of those rockets that made it out of Gaza were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.
Those rockets that got through Israels middle defense system killed ten Jews. Imagine if Israel’s missile defense system didn’t work. Imagine those rockets hitting their intended targets. Amid dismal failure, Hamas still managed to kill a lot of people in that window. Maybe the rockets Palestinians meant to kill Jews don’t hit densely-populated areas. But suppose some did.
The CDC’s new advisory recommending school children wear masks moved me to revisit the CDC data on COVID-19, deaths and demographics. I found some interesting things. Governments have been thinking about this thing all wrong.
So far, throughout the entire period of COVID-19, 287 people aged 0-17 have died where COVID-19 was listed on the death certificate. For those aged 18-29, 2,162 have died officially from COVID-19. Those deaths are tragic. But there were other conditions associated with many of these cases. The question is always whether a person dies from SARS-CoV-2 versus with SARS-CoV-2.
For example, for those aged 0-24, 36 of them were hypertensive, 108 were diabetic and 222 were obese. Add another 326, 512, and 913 respectively for those aged 25-34. For these two age categories combined, 309 died of injury, poisoning, or other adverse event. They also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. That means, all combined, half of those who died from COVID-19 also had contributing conditions not caused by COVID-19, conditions that put them at greater risk of death when infected by COVID-19. There is good news here: It is rare for children and younger adults who do not also suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or obesity to die from COVID-19.
There’s more. Of the 4,902 persons whose death certificate listed COVID-19 as a cause for those aged 0-34, 2,153 also listed influenza and pneumonia on the death certificate. That’s and not or. Has the CDC recommended people wear masks to avoid influenza and pneumonia in the past? I thought there was little or no influenza this year. Something about viruses take turns.
To be sure, there is some overlap in these statistics. A person could die COVID-19 while also suffering from influenza, pneumonia, diabetes, and obesity. But when you start adding up the numbers, excluding the myriad other conditions associated with COVID-19, it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 is playing a very large role in the deaths of younger Americans.
Yet the CDC tells those in public schools to continue wearing masks until they get vaccinated. “Get vaxxed or stay masked” is the slogan. But why hasn’t this been the case for influenza all these years? Moreover, how do we know it wasn’t influenza that killed hundreds of people and not COVID-19? All those people whose deaths were attributed to influenza or pneumonia in past years—tens if not hundreds of thousands over the last decade or so—were they tested for SARS-CoV-2? No? How do we know they didn’t have a coronavirus? As I reported here last year at the beginning for the pandemic, coronaviruses aren’t new. They circulate every year.
There’s more, of the 566,114 persons whose death certificate listed COVID-19 as a cause, for 259,793 of them, were other conditions listed as contributing to death? Yes. Influenza and pneumonia. In other words, 45 percent of those reported to have died from COVID-19 also died from influenza and pneumonia. Why aren’t those classified as such? Add hypertension, diabetes, and obesity and you begin to see that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t kill a lot of healthy people.
Consider those 55+ years of age: 238,878 who died with COVID-19 also had influenza and pneumonia, and 105,372 were hypertensive, 82,385 were diabetic, and 15,621 were obese. Again, there is overlap, but comorbidities were present nonetheless, and, in most of these cases, these conditions are avoidable. People live unhealthy lifestyles and the state believes this justifies limiting the freedom of healthy individuals, shuttering business, undermining education, and damaging emotions and psyches.
Children rarely get sick and die from COVID-19 and the state compels those in public school buildings to wear masks. Influenza kills more children than COVID-19 every year, but children and teachers are never required to wear masks during flu season. We watch scores of people die from viruses over the years and yet governments have not required masks, lockdowns, and social distancing.
Yea, I know, don’t give them any ideas. But where in the hell did they get the ones they’re working with now?
Coming on the heels of an April 21 letter addressed to French president Emmanuel Macron, signed by round a 1,000 servicemen, including some 20 retired generals, blaming “fanatic partisans” for creating divisions between communities, warning that Islamists are taking over whole parts of the nation’s territory, and that civil war is brewing, is a similar-in-spirit “Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals,”penned by prominent US military leaders. During the 2020 election an “Open Letter from Senior Military Leaders,” signed by more than three hundred retired US Generals and Admirals, warned: “With the Democrat Party welcoming Socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.” Their new letter laments: “Unfortunately, that statement’s truth was quickly revealed, beginning with the election process itself.”
There is a lot in the letter to applaud, especially the call for patriots to get engaged in local politics and run for local office, including their school boards. This is the spirit of democratic-republicanism, civic nationalism, and populist politics, the norms and values that made the United States the greatest nation in world history, a nation that abolished the millennia-long abomination of slavery, emancipated women from patriarchal controls, and defeated attempts by fascists and communists to enslave the world. Americans have to stand up against the elitism and technocracy that robs our citizens of our individual freedom and degrades the ethics of republican democracy, the integrity of the nation-state, and the primacy of the US Constitution and its Bill of Rights or we will lose this country. We stand at the edge of a precipice.
However, there is a monumental, and frankly embarrassing error in the letter in identifying the character of the moment that might make it more difficulty to reclaim our country from the technocratic elite. The United States is not facing a socialist or Marxist threat. That’s not what progressivism, the Democratic Party, Black Lives Matters, Antifa, and the lot of them, this menagerie of neoliberal centrists and New Left hacks and ideologues, represent. Critical race theory, the cause célèbre, is not Marxist. Quite the contrary.
A true Marxist would never put race at the center of any analysis. For a Marxist, racism, like religion, is a psychological wage, an alienating ideology consoling some while marginalizing others, a strategy to divide the proletarian, to set worker against worker by teaching him to focus on what is superficially different—skin color, hair styles, etc.—instead of what is essentially common: his location relative to the means of production, i.e., his social class, and his intrinsic comradeship with humanity, i.e., his species-being. A true Marxist would never advocate restructuring society along racial lines, for this would only intensity man’s estrangement from man and from the historic mission of the working class: the win the world for the people. Indeed, Marxists could be described as “antiracist” except that we all know what the antiracism of the moment really represents: anti-white prejudice. The same is true for the New Left’s embrace of Islam. Anybody who knows anything about Marx knows that such an embrace immediate marks the embracer as reactionary. Clerical fascism is a species of fascism.
No, the threat America, the Westphalian system (the interstate system), and Western civilization—with all its Enlightenment values of civil rights, equal treatment, human rights (humanism), individualism, liberalism, and secularism—is facing today is the totalitarian menace of transnational corporatism, the thugs of world finance, and the specter of global neofeudalism.
The admirals and generals’ confusion comes from two sources. The first, which I sketched above, is the false belief, present on much of the left and the right, that the aping of neo-Marxish-sounding rhetoric by Antifa and Black Lives Matters is an admission of the Marxist character and socialist intent of its advocates. Neo-Marxism of the critical theory/postmodernist synthesis variety, from which all of this nihilistic and reactionary sentiment and philosophical hocus-pocus hails, moves too far from the materialist conception of history to properly be classified as a species of Marxist thinking. Whatever is camouflage, it’s a different animal.
But ideas aside, think about the concrete situation: Antifa and BLM enjoy the financial and moral support of corporate power, progressive ideologues, and the Democratic Party. These elites are institutionalizing critical race theory logic and norms across American institutions. This is happening across the trans-Atlantic system. This is not a socialist tendency but an aggressive all-levels movement of a capitalist class fraction, namely the transnationalist fraction of corporate power. So you can spot it, the characteristics of this fraction are corporate governance, state monopoly capitalism, and progressive policymakers emphasizing deference to selected elites, and regulatory and technocratic control. This is no conspiracy. I am merely describing the situation.
The second is the erroneous characterization of the People’s Republic of China as a communist or socialist entity. Thinkers on the political right, loath to criticize capitalism, and not grasping the myriad forms the capitalist mode of production takes, see the Chinese Communist Party as embodying the socialist threat to the capitalist world system and its bourgeoisie values. To be sure, the CCP is a threat to both, but not in the way the political right thinks.
The CCP, working in tandem with the transnational corporate powers of the West, a fact since the 1970s, means to dismantle liberal capitalism with its captains of industry and stand in its stead a new aristocracy that will transition the capitalist world system from one founded in competitive markets in interstate commerce to one based on managed denationalized populations, transforming citizens of nations into serfs of global estates. An instance of bureaucratic collectivism rooted in the superexploitation of human labor, the PRC is not communist but state monopoly capitalist. The PRC model is authoritarian and illiberal—indeed, totalitarian—representing more than any system in history the nightmare world Orwell presents in his haunting Nineteen Eighty-Four—with techniques of Huxley’s Brave New World tacked on for better management. This is the model the transnationalists wish to impose upon the world.
In the end, this intervention by US admirals and generals may serve some positive function in the sense that, even if those who oppose antidemocratic and illiberal developments on the imaginary ground of mistaken notions, nonetheless manifest resistance on the concrete grounds of effective action. But there is a risk here: the anticommunist right itself possesses reactionary tendencies. There are among their ranks, however much their presence is exaggerated by centrists and leftists as a delegitimizing function, white nationalists. But much more troubling than racists are those Christianists who do not have the finer points of Christianity in mind—the finer points of the sanctity of the individual, his right to personal sovereignty, and respect for his born independence from any particular religion or any particular religion at all. These finer points are not cosmetic. They are the reason Western civilization is worth saving.
For decades, the left rightly promoted family planning in order to not overrun land and resources with people. As confirmed by the 2000 census, this is a nation of at least 331 million people. There are likely tens of millions more here illegally who escaped the attention of the census taker. Vox says we are not full. We are, indeed, full. The United States is the third largest country in the world. Massive numbers of of our species stress public infrastructure, exhaust public services, disorganize communities, and endanger the myriad other animal species who live in North America. This is a quality of life issue. This is an equality of opportunity issue. This is an ecological issue. (See “The Urgency of Population Control and Appreciating the Accomplishments of the Developed World”; “The Good News: Millennials and Fertility”; “PBS and Immigration Apologetics,” particularly apologetic #4
Suppose we did need more people. Why, then, are we told, instead of “Have more babies, America,” let’s open the borders and let in foreigners from Third World countries? Why, if you object to immigration, are you then smeared as “nativist,” “racist,” or “xenophobe” (sometimes all three). Why would the encouragement be in such an aggressive way in the direction of promoting immigration to meet the alleged population need (always ask: Who needs it?) and not in the direction of having more black, brown, and white American babies? But we don’t need more babies. As I will discuss in a moment, we have millions of Americans who need jobs.
There’s a reason why capitalists want more people. They know that falling fertility means fewer workers, now and in the future—and fewer workers translates to rising wages, as labor becomes scarce and therefore more valuable. Supply and demand is a well known dynamic and is particularly consequential for labor markets. The elite promote immigration for, among other things, cheapening labor across the wage system by increasing the supply of labor. They seek to expand the supply of cheap labor to drive down wages for low-skilled labor-intensive and high-skilled capital-intensive workers.
Keeping the focus on labor markets, then, the motivation to promote open borders is twofold: (1) foreign labor is cheap and drives down the wages of native workers through competition; (2) immigration drives down wages for all workers by expanding labor supply. Today, the official number of unemployed Americas exceeds ten million, and that is certainly a severe undercount. Why import labor when millions of Americans need work?
The response that, while there is a surplus of unskilled domestic labor, skilled foreign labor is needed because of domestic shortages for capitalist-intensive sectors, is not a serious argument for an obvious reason: low skilled labor is not discouraged to migrate to the United States, but aggressively courted by a range of organizations, public and private. The message has been: “You’re welcome in Biden’s America!” There’s another reason. Why are investments in raising the skill level of native workers so impoverished if there’s a known domestic shortage of skilled labor? I have heard this argument for years, so it’s not like the powers-that-be didn’t know. Powerful forces can work to import skilled labor but not to raise the skills of domestic workers?
To return to the question of population, over which the Vox piece frets, what is especially disturbing about the advocacy of family planning at home is the fact that its most aggressive when it comes to poor and disproportionately native black and brown demographics. Whereas, since the late 1970s, white fertility has stabilized (and even increased—and is projected to grow in the coming decades), nonwhite fertility has declined rather drastically. This is why the accusation of racism behind the concern expressed by the replacement thesis misses the mark (it’s propaganda)—to wit, those being replaced are black and brown workers. (See “The ‘Great Replacement’ as Antiracist Propaganda.”)
Have the readers of the blog noticed that all the jobs blacks used to do foreigners now do? I don’t mean blacks have been replaced by brown native workers. These are brown foreigners. Before mass immigration, the unemployment rates for whites and blacks, while still apart, wasn’t nearly as apart as they would become after the borders were opened in the mid 1960s.
It didn’t take long to devastate the opportunities for black workers. By 1980, black unemployment exceeded 20 percent of that demographic. To be sure, that was in a recession period, but it wasn’t much better during periods of economic expansion. This period coincides with unprecedented levels of criminal violence and the concomitant expansion of policing and mass incarceration, as well as the fracturing of the black family (see The FAR Podcast: Explaining the Overrepresentation of Blacks in Crime).
When Trump restricted immigration, wages rose faster and unemployment fell more rapidly for blacks than any time since we’ve been keeping records. Why? Again, supply and demand (see “The Rate Of Exploitation Under Trump”). And the result was criminal justice reform across the United States. All this has been reversed in short order. Who led the way? Ponder that question.
And ponder this nagging and related question: Why are progressives, given the intensity of their “black lives matter” enthusiasm, and in the face of the black economic disparities and social strife, so aggressive in pushing open borders? For me, immigration has nothing to do with race. Immigration is a question for labor. But for progressives, immigration seems to have everything do with race. Perhaps we should start asking why.
My dissertation, Caste, Class, and Justice: Segregation, Accumulation, and Criminalization in the United States, was a two-volume 800-plus-page, that I intended to turn into a book after securing tenure. In that work, I was very critical of the criminal justice system. However, since then, a wealth of research has accumulated that shows that many of the things that criminologists believed in the 1990s about this system, especially with respect to race (beliefs that have become commonplace today), are false or undetermined. As this evidence began to accumulate, It became necessary to put that book project on hold. It has been over two decades now. An entirely new picture of the facts has emerged, so the subject matter must be reassessed. I review those facts on Freedom and Reason in numerous entries (I include a few of them in this entry).
It often the case that popular understandings always lag behind science, which is especially unfortunate in today’s climate, since false and misleading claims are influencing tens of millions of well-meaning people to believe and act in ways that are divisive and destructive. Black Lives Matter is the paradigm. As a criminologist, as an intellectual matter, it is distressing for me to see the amount of misinformation there is out there about this topic and the resistance to facts I routinely encounter. The purpose of this particular entry is to review those facts while avoiding the thickets of detailed empirical analysis. Again, there is plenty of detailed analysis on Freedom and Reason. I will deal with two areas here: (1) prison demographics and (2) lethal civilian-officer encounters.
Prison Demographicsand Demographics of Criminality
In presenting facts about the demographic profile of US prisons, one might get the impression that the criminal justice system is racist in who it convicts and sends to prison. The outstanding fact is that black males, who comprise around six percent of the general population, make up between 36-38 percent of the prison population.
It is a shocking statistic that critical racist theorists take this as prima facia evidence of systemic racism. But that obscures the causal force behind the statistic. More than 50 percent of all homicides and robberies, and a third of aggravated assaults, are perpetrated by black males. Taking all violence crimes together, roughly 36-38 percent of them are committed by black males. Consider that more than half of all those in prison are there for violent offenses. What is more is that around a third of burglaries are committed by black males. Roughly half of nonviolent prisoners were convicted of serious property crimes, of which burglary is the most serious. (Only around 15 percent of prisoners are drug offenders.) Therefore, when one accounts for demographic overrepresentation in serious criminality, the demographic overrepresentation of black men in prison is explained. (See Mapping the Junctures of Social Class and Racial Caste: An Analytical Model for Theorizing Crime and Punishment in US History.)
I want to emphasize to readers that overrepresentation of black men in serious crimes does not mean that most black men engage in criminal activity. Most black men, in fact, do not engage in serious crime. The same is true for poverty and many other statistics where blacks are overrepresented. Most blacks are not poor. Most blacks are not jobless. Overrepresentation means that, in relation to demographic groupings, there is a higher rate of crime, poverty, and joblessness. It is important to always remember this when consuming statistical claims. Moreover, even though a majority of murders and a majority of robberies are perpetrated by black men, only a minority of black men are murderers and robbers.
Lethal Civilian-Officer Encounters and Unarmed Black Men
To take another example, when controlling for demographic overrepresentation in serious criminality, as well as contextual factors, the only studies that find racial disparities in lethal civilian-officer encounters, of which there are approximately one thousand annually, find white police officers are more reluctant to use deadly force when the suspect is black compared to when the suspect is white. In other words, the scientific literature on these encounters, which is extensive and deep, does not support the claim of systemic racism in police shootings. The media does not tell its audience that twice as many white men are killed by the police every year than black men. Or that the overrepresentation of blacks in police shootings is explained by crime and context. (See Manufacturing the Illusion of White Supremacy. See also The Myth of Systemic Racism in Lethal Police-Civilian Encounters. Here’s the FAR Podcast version with notes.)
The perception that large numbers of unarmed black men die at the hands of the police every year is also false. The misperception is not merely substantial, but astonishing. A recent study found that a plurality of those who watch mainstream media believe the police shoot around a thousand unarmed black men—and a quarter of those polled believe that around 10,000 or more unarmed blacks are killed by the police annually. The number is actually around a dozen unarmed black men shot by the police in 2019, as typical year. It is worth noting that just because somebody is unarmed does not mean they do not present a danger to civilians or officers. Hands, feet, and automobiles are also deadly weapons. (See More on the Remarkable Ignorance of Progressive Democrats.)
To give you a sense of how far off the facts are those who describe themselves as very liberal or progressive, around 5,000 blacks, mostly men, were killed during the entire period of lynching in the United States—half as many as very liberal or progressive respondents suppose police kill every year in the United States. The misperception works out to about 27 unarmed black men killed every day in America. Is it any wonder why so many people are frightened of the police?
I argue that the reason why it is so easy to believe that the police are more likely to kill black people is because there is faith in the proposition that the United States is systemically racist. This faith belief sets up an expectation that makes the receiver of information more likely to uncritically accept that information and its biased frame.
Let’s suppose I tell you that well over 95 percent of those killed by the cops are men. Since you do not believe that there is systemic sexism against men in US society, you do not accept this statistic as evidence that police are targeting men. You believe instead (correctly, it turns out) that men are overrepresented in the types of serious criminal offending that increase the likelihood that they will encounter police officers in deadly interactions. (See: The Police are Sexist, too.)
Ideology and Propaganda
One of the frustrations I experience as a criminologist who studies and lectures on the criminal justice system is the way the establishment media, whose journalists surely know better, are more interested in promoting propaganda of a particular political persuasion (corporatist and progressive) that ramps up division and discontent in our society instead of reporting the good news that the US criminal justice system, as the rest of America’s institutions, have never been less racist. To be sure, they seem bent on changing that. The corporate media system is a public relations apparatus serving the interests of the rich and powerful.
Is it possible that the power elite ask us to focus on race in order to distract us from the problem of social class? Just imagine how much a threat the working masses would represent to the ruling corporate class if they came together across the objective lines of class rather than dwelling in imaginary communities of racial division. Is there not an interest in the rich and powerful preventing that from happening? Have they not used racial division all these centuries to this effect? A lot of the activism out there in the streets sounds radical. But how radical can it really be when corporations back it, the mainstream media push it, and the government schools teach it?
Epistemic Commitments and Fallacious Reasoning
For the record, scientifically-speaking, I am Marxian in orientation. I tell my audiences about my epistemic commitments because my comments often strike them as conservative and rightwing. I assure you, I am neither conservative nor rightwing. I am pretty certain that I am to the left of most of the population. I tell readers this, because I want them to know that there are not only two sides to an argument. There are many sides. The operative question going forward is this: which argument has the facts on its side? Always stay true to the facts and the scientific requirement to adjudicate them independent of any given political ideology.
Critical race theory sets up people to ignore and misinterpret facts and to draw wrong conclusions because of the illogic of social justice. With respect to questions of individual versus social justice, we differentiate individual or liberal style justice, with its norms and values of civil rights, equality before the law, presumption of innocence, and rational adjudication of fact, from the style supposed by critical race theory, which emphasizes group rights organized around race, equity in outcome (members of different groups should be held to different standards), presumption of guilt (members of one group are by definition “perpetrators,” while another are by definition “victims”), and treating disparities in outcomes as prima facia evidence of injustice (dispensing with cause and effect). As one can see, the latter commits numerous fallacies—ecological, reification, and self-confirming.
First the people in the streets (des gilets jaunes—the French deplorables), then generals and officers in a letter to Macron demanding he get shit clear in his head, and now the organized populous in a second letter to Macron. Populism is on the rise in the trans-Atlantic realm. Breaking news: Trumpism isn’t a cult of personality.
What’s driving the populist-nationalist spirit of our time? Nothing could be more obvious in the experience of history that cultural pluralism is a disastrous attitude and policy, not only for the host countries, but for the new arrivals who suffer in ethic ghettos maintained by those who wish to control them (the clerics and the patriarchs) and, ultimately, the host society. Cultural pluralism promotes the retribalization of nations on all sides. Islamization will in the end ruin Europe. It is ruining Europe as I write this.
It is not up to the French or the Swedish or the English to accommodate Islamic culture. It is for Muslims integrate with the values of modernity. To be sure, the great barrier is the refusal of Islam to accept secularism as a condition of modern existence. Irrationalist postmodernist sensibilities support such tyrannical notions. But there is no compromise on this point. It simply cannot be tolerated the establishment of a theocracy within the nations of the West. This is no more acceptable than allowing Christians to do the same (thankfully, Christianity comes with the ethic of secularism).
This is not a call to abolish religion or even multiculturalism. People must be free to believe in whatever illusion makes them happy. But they cannot be free to force the rest of us into their illusion. And, while music and food and literature from others cultures may enrich the West, the state and law and the language cannot be plural. All must exist under the overarching national culture. No, this is a call to recommit the West to the values that liberated the individual from destructive tribalism of the ancient world.
Three steps must immediately be taken: (1) end or sharply restrict immigration from Islamic countries (slow the flow sufficient to facilitate successful integration with the norms and values of the West); (2) institute a policy of assimilation that at its core compels the integration of new arrivals with national culture and language with the explicit raison d’étatto save western civilization from barbarism; (3) end or sharply limit the transnationalization of capital—which means ending corporate governance, open borders, globalization, and regionalization.
The only hope for a peaceful and just future for all human beings is to bring a halt to the denationalization of Europe while pursuing the aggressive implementation of policies that detribalize civil society through the reinstitution of a civic nationalization that insists on borders and human rights. What’s true for Europe is true for America. The United States liberated the West from fascism once before. The United States can lead the way in liberating the West from clerical fascism. We cannot do this with the Democratic Party at the helm and corporatists and progressives commanding our institutions. Reform must be sought here, as well.
Human rights comes from the realization of our species-being and the establishment of structures that foster the self-actualization of each individual in a culture of tolerance. This can only happen in nation-states embedded in an international system of law that respects national sovereignty based on democratic-republican, humanist, liberal, and secular values.
Free states of existence can only be realized by liberating individuals from imagined communities or at least guaranteeing the conditions that allow people to confront false consciousness and give them the freedom to decide whether their personalities shall remain limited by backwards culture-ideology or whether they will escape from their cultural cage and enter the greater freedom of modernity and reason. This requires the modern, rational nation-state.
For those who refuse to come out of the darkness, perhaps they would be happier back home with their fellow fanatics. France and Sweden and England should actively encourage the recalcitrant to escape from freedom. The focus should be on the men. I do not wish this fate on women and children.