Reflections on our Tortured Political Realities

It’s 2022.  February. 

The world is (as has come to be the norm) on the brink of war, with many small conflagrations keeping munitions industry investors busy counting their profits.  Massive demonstrations lauded by the corporate media from January of 2017 until January of 2021 are now anathema, despicable and unjustifiable traitorous insurrections.  Those who believe that abortion is a right because our bodies are ours to do with as we will now demand that others consume medications they oppose, … well, just because.  Political incoherence reigns; truth is irrelevant, hypocrisy has become an art form.  In the United States we are more polarized than at any time since the Civil War.  The Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” is clearly in place.

But: … who are we and how did we get where we find ourselves?  Who or what is responsible?  How likely are we to survive as a civil society?

A fundamental analysis may be a good place to start answering these existential questions.  As a political analyst, writer, academic and historian, it seems to me that a starting point is exploring the fundamental philosophical tensions that impact our sociopolitical decision making process and that starts with the dual nature each of us shares: we are both individuals and members of concentric rings of collectives, and the stress we place on one or the other of such natures is a dividing point.  It seems obvious that reconciliation of both aspects of our nature, when possible, is the best policy.  Both our autonomy as individuals and the collaboration required to participate in groups need to be respected in order for collaborative concepts such as the economy, the family, government, religion, education, etc. to function.  But what happens when one or the other aspects of our nature conflict in a manner that cannot be resolved and one has to be prioritized over the other?

To collectivists on what has arbitrarily come to be defined as the left wing of the political spectrum, as the fictional character Spock noted, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few); individualists on the right disagree by favoring individual rights.  Of course, there are those who react rather than philosophize and to whom logical consistency is irrelevant.  Some of those can be classified as a center comprised of a conglomeration of the apathetic and those who have no fixed values but are conflict averse (a good thing).  Unfortunately; a dangerous second group, a tiny minority, is comprised of a non-ideological but immensely powerful social cancer that has come to be referred to as a Deep State. 

One form of Deep State or another exists everywhere and has probably always existed.  There is a political theory that posits that humans are always ruled by an elite minority.  Elite theory is superficially dealt with in Wikipedia where, in very general terms, it is defined as: “… a theory of the state that … posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections.”  As with most articles in Wikipedia, it is subject to manipulation and its accuracy is not assured, but as a broad outline and starting point for research, it is at least adequate.  In essence, Elite Theory claims that democracy is at best an illusion and a tool used by elites to manipulate the vast majority into actions of benefit primarily to the small group of dedicated individuals, families and professions who have attained and will not relinquish economic, social and political power.  That certainly seems to the society in which we find ourselves; however, because it is so one sided that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is increasing exponentially (see Piketty, Tomas [2013, English translation 2014], “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674430006), a populist counter reaction has been building and had a very direct impact on the United States presidential election in 2016, from both the left (the Democratic Party’s so called Sanderistas) and on the right (the GOP’s Tea Party).  The right wing populist victory threw the Deep State into a panic, forcing it to reveal itself in order to stage a “soft coup” with the assistance of the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans, the corporate media and the newly emergent elite controlled social media platforms, and to impose authoritarian methods in the United States and elsewhere, including large scale censorship in order to prevent a recurrence.  Left wing populists, led, in the Democratic Party by Tulsi Gabbard, were successfully contained with the assistance of perceived populist leaders like Bernie sanders and Elizabeth Warren who proved all too willing to work with Deep State elites to derail their own populist revolt.

With the essential assistance of the corporate media and social media platform censorship, Deep State elitists were able to manipulate the Covid 19 pandemic to assume unprecedented control by strategically sabotaging the world economy through socioeconomic lockdowns and medical mandates as well as by divisive social polarization that set the population to bickering over historical events rather than populist solutions to current socioeconomic crises, with race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and religion all used to distract the electorate while concurrently, protecting elite investments in the profitable armaments industry by aggravating international tensions keeping the world on the brink of war, both is a series of local conflicts and the threat of major power nuclear confrontation.  But right wing populist resistance, overcome in the United States through media control and electoral gimmicks during the 2018 and 2020 elections, seems to have recovered enough to significantly impact United States congressional elections set for November of this year.  Left wing populists, on the other hand, with the exception of followers of Tulsi Gabbard and perhaps Dennis Kucinich, seem quiescent, and are being driven by elitist manipulation into support of the Deep State, of censorship and of restraints on civil liberties, all policies which they have traditionally opposed and abhorred.  They are now the “woke”, Cancel Culture warriors, the thought police of whom George Orwell wrote in the late 1940s.  Ironically, the elites’ best friends.

It remains to be seen whether those on the “center” will prove as gullible as those on the populist left, as gullible as Abraham Lincoln once noted when he reflected that “you can fool all of the People some of the time and some of the People all of the time” or, whether even the apathetic center is fed up enough to bring the third part of that quotation into play: “but you can’t fool all of the People all of the time”.

It is interesting that right wing and left wing populists, while disagreeing as to policies, have a great deal in common and have usually been able to coexist, with the assistance of the apathetic and disinterested center.  But not now, not today.  Not when orchestrated polarization by Deep State elites have manipulated them into dysfunction through use of illusory issues, especially abortion and gun control now supplemented by racism, xenophobia and misogyny, issues not meant to be solved but rather, exacerbated for fun and profit.  That is where we stand today, a day in February 2022. 

Assuming that the electoral process has not been completely compromised through legislation and rules designed to facilitate electoral fraud, perhaps we may once again catch a glimpse of a populist wave this November.  Unfortunately, one thing seems sure, elitist Deep Staters will not just sit back and watch, and in the long term, their faith in the usual disinterest of the vast majority of the citizenry in political matters which keeps them from participating as candidates and from even voting, is likely to return the elites to power (should it again be temporarily wrested from them), keeping the rest of us in chains, sometimes velvet but all too often in shades of stainless steel. 

Exactly what happened with the socioeconomic revolts in 1776, 1789, 1848 and of course, in the nineteen-sixties!

Most children have beautiful smiles, at least until they are taught to hate.  I wonder what kind of people the children born since 2019 will grow into given that hate has been converted into a virtue, given that they have experienced their socially formative years, in large part, in politically imposed isolation, with education limited, with playgrounds closed?

Children tend to be resilient, after all, they survive, even in Yemen and Afghanistan, at least if they’re not killed by drones.  Will humankind perhaps have learned that calumny and ridicule and censorship do not change hearts, by the time they’re grown?
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com

So, … Just Which Lives Matter and Why?

Echoes of Cassandra, and of Huxley and Orwell, and of Heinlein as well.  The counterintuitive blues.  Perhaps our hidden pandemic.  The real plague among us.  Our mirrors don’t seem to work anymore.  Narrative is all that counts.  “Resistance is futile”!

As so often happens, diverse parts of the world are being stricken by social convulsions, spontaneity now become a carefully organized production.  Good causes immediately perverted into evil.  Sauron wins again.  At least for now.  As usual, the United States is the focal point, the catalyst, and then, the betrayer.

Although denominated “Black Lives Matter”, the movement convulsing the United States and resonating around the world would be better described as “Criminal Lives Matter”, at least if facts mattered.  And they do.  Both criminal lives and facts.  And they should.  And they must in a system that seeks to reflect the values to which most societies aspire.  But it seems to me that there are three very different issues at play that are being hysterically conflated in the United States into only one for no purpose other than to attain political advantages in upcoming elections.  They involve: (1) the problems of police impunity and corruption; (2) the reality that too many of our citizens find themselves immersed in a life of violent crime; and, (3) the accelerating polarization of our society that increasingly divides us by race, nationality, religion and gender.  Black lives matter.  All lives matter (strange that this statement is now considered racist).  Human dignity matters.  Equity matters.  Equality matters. 

Criminal lives matter but police lives matter just as much.  In each case, both the victims and the perpetrators are human beings.  They are parents and siblings and sons and daughters, cousins and uncles and aunts.  Friends.  They are us, … but for fate and blind fortune, as Joan Baez sang so long ago.  And we probably all agree, regardless of how the corporate media and Deep State seek to confuse and divide us.

Impunity is a poison that leads to corruption and needs to be eliminated, not expanded to criminals as well.  The United States, indeed the world, is full of African American and minority heroes, real role models.  Role models like Mandela and King, and a bit east, like Gandhi.  And their modern variants are myriad and exist at every social level and in most political and social movements.  But career criminals, injured or killed resisting otherwise lawful arrest, do not fit that bill unless what we want to create are more violent criminals resisting arrest.  Role models are people we hold up to emulate, those in whose footsteps we want our children to follow.  But during this past century that role has been perverted.  Our role models are now too often selfish athletes, or selfish singers, or selfish actors, or selfish plutocrats.  And now, seemingly, selfish violent criminals resisting arrest.  Still, notwithstanding that violent criminals ought not to be our role models, extrajudicial killing ought not to be accepted and much less justified.  Criminal lives matter and police impunity deprives the state of the justification for its monopoly on the use of force.  That is the real issue tearing the United States apart, and now the very real issue spreading throughout the world.

As should be the case with public servants across the board (especially those holding higher office), police should be held to higher standards of conduct and perhaps, conviction for misconduct should involve a lower threshold of proof given how easy it is to hide official wrongdoing, and more serious punishment.  But with reference to public servants of whom we demand that they place their lives at risk in order to protect us and our property, that reality also needs to be taken into account.  A complex conundrum not attained through politically expedient, simplistic solutions designed to appeal to emotions of the moment rather than to reason and logic.  The same is true of our military.  In each case we teach that killing and risking our lives are acceptable options, then, after those dehumanizing lessons have been inculcated, we seek to bind the resulting impulses with rules of engagement that are all too frequently impossible to analyze in the split seconds available.  And when the predictable consequences take place, we seek to wash our bloody hands and blame them, and only them.  We fulminate and excoriate and make ludicrous suggestions in lieu of solutions and we do so because their crimes are ours as well.  And that, we prefer to ignore.  If the violators of the public trust are depraved and sick human beings, it is the depraved society that we not only tolerate, but which we select at the polls, that is ultimately responsible.  When war abroad make killing and mayhem quotidian events (a price to be paid only in collateral consequences), how can we be surprised when it comes home to roost?

But what of criminals? 

Well they obviously should not resist arrest!  But then, they should not have been criminals in the first place.  The reality is that most criminals did not chose to be criminals for the fun of it.  Some are subject to mental aberrations but many have been drawn to crime by opportunity-denied generationally.  By failure assured.  And the resulting self-loathing is relieved and hidden only under layers of readily available psychotropic drugs.  Those responsible for the evolution of a society where such problems are festering social wounds are much more to blame than are aberrant policemen and women.  In that regard, the Clinton administration with its lurch to the right to attain power at any cost may be the most to blame.  Its penal and welfare “reforms” are what most exacerbated an already seriously unfair economic system whose primary victims were African Americans and Latinos.  “Reforms” that led to the incarceration of a higher percentage of our residents than are incarcerated anywhere else in the world; worse than Russia or China, worse than our allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel.  “Reforms” that destroyed the nucleus of the Black family with males driven out so that welfare benefits might alleviate the existing abject poverty.  Reforms responsible for the fact that African Americans are responsible for more violent crime than any ethnic group despite being a minority of the population.  Odd that African Americans adopted President Clinton as one of their own but then, they don’t call him “Slick Willy” for nothing; feminists have done the same thing. 

As in the case of all aspects of terrorism (and violent crime is just that, whether perpetrated by criminals or rogue police officers), it will not be minimized by eliminating those who engage in terrorist tactics but by minimizing the social factors that maximize inequity and injustice.  Palestinian lives matter but we did not care and the Israeli tactics designed to permanently eliminate the reminders of their own “peculiar institution” have been imported by police departments all over the United States, now forming an integral part of domestic police practices.  Iraqi lives matter but we murdered hundreds of thousands of them, a price Madeline Albright found acceptable.  Afghan lives matter but we murdered tens of thousands of them, a price Bush II, Obama, Clinton and Biden found acceptable.  Libyan and Syrian and Honduran and Ukrainian and Yemeni lives matter too, but every one of our major political leaders in both major political parties have found the price acceptable.  And we, the voters, especially those willing to settle for lesser evils, are personally responsible.

This is who we have become thanks to the bellicose oligarchs we permit to dominate us (and the current president is far from the worst among them; not exactly a tribute).  The Obama-Clinton-Biden triad happily led us into Libya and Syria and Yemen and Honduras and the Ukraine.  And current GOP allies of the Biden presidential campaign such as the Bush family and Colin Powell, and numerous generals and admirals and intelligence officials, current and former, etc., led us into the continuing Iraqi and Afghan quagmires.  So for all the noise and blunder, for all the protests and riots, for all the looting and arson, we keep headed in the same direction.  Not the blind leading the blind but lemmings following bloody murderers to the polls to vote for the same old options.  To vote for evil in the name of lesser evil, but with the same results.

Is America Headed for a Race War” is the headline in an article published on RT by Robert Bridge, an American writer and journalist and the author of Midnight in the American Empire.  The law of unintended consequences strikes hardest when long and intermediate term consequences are ignored in favor of immediate goals such as victory in a single election.  Hopefully Mr. Bridge’s article is hyperbolic as its conclusion ought to be unthinkable.  But it raises valid points.  Points we should consider.  Unfortunately, Mr. Bridge continues to associate the left with the Democratic Party as though they were synonyms, which they are not.  While some leftists are indeed trapped in the Democratic Party, leftists I admire like Tulsi Gabbard and Dennis Kucinich, and others are seduced by fantasies of a shortcut to attaining power by capturing one of the two existing major political parties (but will more likely become what they believe they are fighting), the Democratic Party is utterly controlled by neoliberal, neoconservatives.  One need only consider who their candidates for president and vice president are.  The truth is that rather than being “leftist”, the Democratic Party does not even qualify as center right.  Furthermore many of today’s rioters (as distinct from protesters, two very different social roles) are anarchists rather than socialists, and anarchists are not leftist either; they are far to the right of libertarians in the individual-to-collective spectrum. 

The United States is obsessed with hyperbolic labels (seemingly more now than ever).  Republicans falsely equate the Democratic Party with communists and Democrats return the favor, associating the GOP with fascism.  Neither cares for the truth, only for power.  Something most voters understand but feel incapable of correcting because, this time, the election really is existential  This time one opponent or the other must be stopped, even if evil will win again, as it has for most of the “democratic” elections during our lifetimes.  Perhaps, due to our political apathy coupled with the naivety of too many of us, we’re receiving just what we deserve. 

But does our progeny deserve it as well? 

Perhaps it is their lives that ought to matter most.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Guillermo Calvo Mahé
Image for post

Boycotts may be the only way to attain change in a world controlled by the billionaire elite. Whether your political leanings are in favor of the Democratic Party, the GOP, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the diverse socialist, conservative or special issue parties, etc., or independent, it seems that the only way your voice will be heard (certainly given the lack of options that won’t be at the polls) is by withholding your hard earned money from those who will spend it on causes in which you do not believe. Abandon them not, just until they change (they’ll change back when your back is turned), but forever.

We will need constantly updated data bases, and they are certain to be hijacked by the same-old-same- olds, but we’ll just keep generating new ones distributing the information we need. In fact, much of the date we can obtain ourselves. For example, if there are professional athletes or entertainers whose views or actions you loath, boycott their sponsors forever (e.g., Nike, Coca Cola, Pepsi, etc.) as well as advertisers in their events (e.g., the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA, etc.). If you feel the Washington Post is a disgrace, boycott Amazon and all advertisers in that publication. The New York Times? Boycott Carlos Slim’s companies (e.g., TracFone, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Coffee Factory) and products and all advertisers in that publication. Fox News? The same.

The most interesting and difficult part will be to develop and update national, regional, state and local websites that include local alternatives for the products boycotted. That would probably be great for the local economy. The big boys will, of course, try and sabotage the effort, co-opting the websites, using algorithms to censor the data, having their paid tools in the legislature pass laws making the boycott illegal, filing lawsuits for slander or defamation, but properly structured and monitored, we can fight back. And politically, we’ll know that those who oppose will never receive our votes, nor will their party.

A real solution for a sick time. A peaceful, non-violent rebellion of which Gandhi and Mandela and King would be proud.

Let’s make this proposal viral but even more importantly, let’s make it a reality. Start now, on your own. If we have thousands of sites on the Internet providing the information we need to both boycott and purchase, we will be that much more difficult to destroy.

Something not only about which to think but on which to act, … and to act now.

Lesser evils? Not anymore!!! Direct action is the way to go.
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© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.