An Objective Rant Pertaining to Abortion and other Issues

Word games are tempting in a world fraught with apparently imminent disaster (or is that eminent), but they’re not productive by themselves, not if problem resolution is the goal.  Unfortunately, the only problem that really concerns our corporate media and political “leaders” is the maintenance of power, and that requires that polarization be heightened, which in turn requires the “creation” and maintenance of polarizing issues, not their resolution.

Abortion is a great example right now, given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (No. 19-1392, 597 U.S. ___ [2022]).  The underlying issue seems to me to be irresolvable morally or ethically because it involves the clash of two fundamental social premises (not rights, the concept of rights is incoherent).  First, the purported sanctity of life (notwithstanding our addiction to perpetual wars and the death penalty); and second, the right of humans to control their own bodies (notwithstanding government interference in diverse health related issues, including recent pandemic oriented mandatory measures).  Law, however, is notwithstanding platitudes to the contrary, not bound to moral or ethical factors.  It merely involves the exercise of raw power over individuals based on collective decisions, though it is usually justified using arguments disguised as morality, ethics, justice, equity or pragmatism.  In reality, in fact, a great deal of law involves norms imposed in order to maintain a parasitic minority in permanent power.

For about half a century, the availability of optional abortion in order to eradicate errors of judgment by women was protected by the United States Supreme Court through usurpation of constitutional and legislative powers.  Not a rarity, unfortunately. Men, on the other hand, did not enjoy a related privilege in conjunction with support related obligations based on their own errors of judgment, and of course, embryos, well what the hell are they anyway but inchoate child rearing problems and drains on our personal economy, especially now that the family has broken down and there is no real tradition of progeny caring for their forbearers in old age.  Well, that’s one perspective.  The other focuses on the incoherence of state mandated reproduction without shared responsibility for the consequences, responsibilities such as guaranteeing sustenance, housing, education, freedom from violence and adequate employment.

That abortion was rendered conditionally immune from state imposed prescriptions by inappropriate judicial action did not impact the reality of the important social issues involved.  They should have been dealt with by the People through their representatives; through exercise of constitutional and legislative duties unfortunately abdicated based on fears of ballot box consequences.  They should have been dealt with through constitutional means at the federal level, or constitutional or legislative means at the state level.  Unfortunately, notwithstanding emotional angst and hyperbolic outbursts, those responsibilities were ignored and proponents of abortion on demand were too lazy to undertake the social campaign required to condition society to accept their sociopolitical premises, instead, they resorted to the antithesis of democracy, the unelected, life tenured judiciary to come up with an arbitrary solution.  But recourse to such strategy inherently involved the probability that the judicially crafted solution to a social and constitutional issue, a political issue, would eventually be undone by a future judicial coup de’ grâce, also circumventing democratic institutions and requirements.

The foregoing is problematic but not malevolent, it is merely lazy and inept.  What is malevolent is the use of an issue as important as abortion for purposes of political polarization, specifically, keeping it in constant play as a means to secure political fundraising and political power by those on both sides of the debate, rather than resolving it through democratic decision making.  The recent United States Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, while constitutionally sound, does nothing to resolve the issue, nor do purported opponents of the decision appear interested in taking any meaningful actions to legally resolve it in their favor.  Rather, they are merely using the case in order to salvage the disaster that seemed to await the political party that has made them its captives, its tools, in this autumn’s Congressional elections. 

A lot of noise and fury has been generated, albeit most demanding a continuation in power of a political party that traditionally betrays those who vote in its favor, and protests, a bit of violence and threats of violence, have been omnipresent.  However, no tangible efforts to legally and constitutionally attain that which they claim to be essential are being undertaken.  That would require reconciling diverse societal perspectives and convincing adversaries through education and logic, but we have come to perceive logic as a disease that afflicts an imaginary race we refer to as Vulcans, and education requires empathy, takes too long, and does not yield immediate and ongoing political dividends.  So, riots it is, perhaps with a bit of arson and mayhem thrown in, notwithstanding the platitudes and hypocrisy on display in the so called January 6 Congressional hearings.

And the purported victims?  The women who may be unable to obtain abortions and the unwanted children they will be forced to bear and perhaps raise?  Why, in an exact analogy to what is occurring to the populace and infrastructure of the Ukraine and the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics, they’re being efficiently used and abused for tawdry political purposes by politicians with nothing but disdain for ethics, morality, legality, democracy or constitutional government, caring only for the acquisition, maintenance and abuse of political power.

The foregoing is true regardless of which side of the abortion debate you call your own.  And the same is true with respect to the Second Amendment and gun rights; with respect to superiority hypotheses based on race, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identification, nationality, religion, ethnicity, age, etc.; indeed with any of the emotionally polarizing issues used by our unethical and ruthless elites and their minions to keep us divided and docile, too confused by our emotions (especially fear and hate) to defend ourselves from their predations.  The foregoing is true whether you’re a liberal, a progressive, a conservative, a libertarian or addicted to any other ideology.

The real issue today, as it has been through most of history, is the struggle between elite minorities who use their designees to abuse the concept of popular governance for their own greedy ends (today generically identified as “deep states”), and populists on every part of the political spectrum who seek liberation from those ubiquitous predatory parasites by eliminating their monopoly on political power.  Unfortunately, like addicts of all kinds, we are drawn to the issues that most effectively polarize us and are all too easily distracted from those that we really need to address, those issues involving real democratization of our political systems and processes and replacement of the political vultures who inhabit all current major political parties.  Issues we need to address so that we can civilly and efficiently resolve the policies that divide us, and, recognizing that our society is dynamic and our values variable, develop the ongoing mechanisms necessary for us to justly and equitable govern ourselves, permitting us each, individually and collectively, to realize our best potential.

Freed of our predatory political masters, perhaps empathy (the opposite of polarization) could again become a viable attribute in our political discourse and we could disagree without ridiculing and belittling each other and our respective belief’s, and perhaps we could, in good faith, understand that we all have valid points, and that legitimate democratic governance involves finding those perspectives we share, and granting our government the right to regulate them, but retaining individual autonomy with respect to those areas where a reasonable consensus is unattainable, rather than feeling compelled to always have our own way on every issue.  Perhaps someday, hopefully soon, we’ll awake from our induced traces and take our political responsibilities (they’re much more than mere illusory rights) seriously and vote for things in which we believe, rather than against illusory straw arguments crafted to confuse us; vote in favor of candidates in whom we believe rather than against those we’re manipulated into despising, and perhaps then we can cast “lesser evils” into the hells where they belong.  We would make mistakes and not always get our way, but at least it would be, “We the People”, governing ourselves.  We could not do any worse than the deep states that rule us now.

Something to at least think about.
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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 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 https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Observations on the Supreme Court’s Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

In the cases of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), the United States Supreme Court rendered ill-considered decisions that have polarized the United States electorate for half a century.  They involved lazy, ill-conceived and hasty jurisprudence designed to address important moral questions through legal rather than philosophical or religious channels at a time when a national consensus had not been attained.  The underlying moral and ethical issues have always remained unresolved and, perhaps, that is appropriate.  To an objective and honest person, the concept of abortion would seem to involve irreconcilable issues, the right to life on the one hand, versus the right of women to make fundamental decisions involving their health and welfare on the other.  A third element is rarely considered although it may be equally important, and that involves the right of a man to participate in a decision that materially impacts his financial and moral obligations.  A critical element in all three is the concept of what constitutes a right in the first place, and a second related and more tangible issue involves the appropriate scope of governmental authority within the context of a constitutional system and in this case, specifically, the United States Constitution, as amended to date.  A third element involves the concept of federalism in the United States context and a fourth, the doctrine of separation of powers.

The third, which is probably the best starting point for an analysis of the issues involved, would seem to turn on the usually ignored ninth and tenth amendments to the United States Constitution which provide as follows:

The Ninth Amendment says, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People”.

The Tenth Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the People”.

The United States are an experiment in shared and fragmented sovereignty on both geographical and thematic bases with the principal role of the Constitution being identification of the frontiers of the complex jurisdictional boundaries thus created.  In essence, all governmental power is retained by the People except such as is specifically allocated by them to the various states, and, of the power allocated by the People to the various states, such as is allocated by them to the federal government.  The idea was that a competition among the various states for differing schemes of governance would identify those most beneficent and lead to their being adopted elsewhere, a process expected to be dynamic in order to deal with changing values and problems.  It was an interesting, percolate from below, concept contrasting with the traditional perspective that government was imposed from above, either from deities or humans endowed for one reason or another, either individually or collectively, with sovereignty superior in authority to individual autonomy.  The concept has never really worked, although politicians, lawyers, journalists and philosophers use tortured reasoning and rhetoric to make it seem otherwise, in order to impose their values over those which we, as a collective, are willing to accept, or might be willing to reject, but for compulsive coercion from those who deem themselves more morally and ethically suited to make our decisions, or, just much more powerful.

In the system of governance adopted in the Constitution but never really implemented, if social norms were not addressed in the federal Constitution, they were beyond the federal government’s power to regulate, but the federal Constitution could be amended by three quarters of the states in order to devolve additional powers, powers within the states’ competence, to the federal government, just as state constitutions could be amended by the People, to devolve additional powers to the states.

The fourth factor referenced above (important only because we as a People purportedly decided that it was), involved division of legislative, executive and judicial powers among separate branches based on the determination that government efficiency was much less important than preservation of the autonomy that liberty guaranteed.  As in the former case, it is a theory that has never really worked as the allocation of power in the Constitution itself violated the doctrine through the contemporaneous contrary doctrine of checks and balances.  The judiciary further eroded separation of powers when, in the Supreme Court case of Marbury versus Madison, it usurped the power of constitutional control (in a decision as unartfully reasoned as were those in Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey).  That decision eviscerated the concept of democracy, concurrently rendering the Constitution virtually moot, as the Constitution, and hence the entire artfully crafted scheme of governance designed for the allocation of governmental authority among the United States, came to be whatever, at any given moment, a majority of the unelected and life tenured members of the Supreme Court thought it should be, regardless of the perception of the Congress, or the President, or the People, or all three.  And thus we inevitably faced situations such as those decided in Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, as well as that now decided in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

But, for the sake of argument, assuming the schemes of governance reflected in the Constitution, as amended, were to apply, what would the correct decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization be?  Well, first, we need to clarify, correct in what context because, if the answer is in a legal and constitutional context, the answer might be different than if the context were socio-moral, the latter being the context in which policies should be designed and implemented.  But perhaps a more important question would be, is there a rational means to help resolve the quandary in which this issue has placed us.

In the first instance, the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization seems sound.  There is no debate that neither the Constitution nor the 14th amendment to the Constitution nor any other amendment thereto in any manner refers to abortion in any manner, thus, at best, it is an issue reserved to the states, assuming that the People in any state have conferred such issue for determination at a state level, and if not, it is left to the individual consciences of the people involved.  That is what federalism is all about.  In the latter case, no state in which the power to regulate abortion has not been constitutionally delegated by the People to that state would seem to have authority to prohibit it.  An interesting logical situation which the Supreme Court, were logic an important element in its decisions, might have considered way back in 1972.  Thus, it could be argued that while there is no right to abort, states have no power to regulate the issue, absent specific state constitutional authorization.

In the absence of a nationwide constitutional “right” vested in women to an abortion, proponents could develop such a right, even if none now exists, by first creating it at a state constitutional levels which might thereafter permit the states, by a three fourths majority, to amend the federal Constitution to incorporate such right there.  Case closed.  In such a context, perhaps serious discussions and research could precede such policy determinations leading to a reasonable balancing of interests embodied in a rational policy that could take into account the rights of unborn children, the rights of women, but also the rights of men (who might be forced to support a child they do not want).  Conversely, perhaps, in states that decline to accept a woman’s right to abort at will, policies might also consider what role such state should bear with respect to the financial and custodial responsibility for the resulting progeny.  Those kinds of decisions are not, however, the province of the judiciary but rather, of the electorate and of its legislatures.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization should not be the final word on point.  The issue requires rational, not just legalistic resolution, and the citizenry has the constitutional tools at state and federal levels to meet that responsibility.  Unfortunately, the issue has, during the past half century, as in the case of the purported right to bear arms, been too appetizing a political tool for political fund raising and appeals to emotion rather than good sense and logic.  Hence it is more politically pragmatic to leave the issue unresolved regardless of how much suffering it causes children and women and men; and how much it polarizes our society.

Some concluding thoughts:

The issue of abortion is too serious an issue to ignore or to leave to unelected, all too frequently jaded elites, responsible to no one but their whims of the moment.  Perhaps the answer ought to follow the federalist ideal, with different states having different rules, and people free to live in those states that best reflect their values, but perhaps it really may prove, after serious deliberation and serious, well thought out and good faith proposals, to rise to something involving rights, either for the unborn, for women, and even, perhaps, for men.

Things to consider as the United States is once again thrown into politically opportunistic bedlam.
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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 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 https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Absence of Systemic Faith in Democracy:

The Colombian and United States Experiences

Faith in democracy is at a nadir.  And with good reason.  Democracy today is at best dysfunctional, in large part, because of voter participatory apathy.  Perhaps it always has been.  

Widespread complaints? Absolutely.  But participation?  It’s subject to the same excuses an attractive woman makes to an undesirable suitor: “my hair, I need to wash it, … again; my period; my great aunt died again, … really”.  But systemic faith is something else.  It’s usually been reasonably strong, albeit deluded.  Perhaps we are just more aware today that electoral fraud of one kind or another is probable.  Gone are the days such as the fall of 1961 when Richard Nixon lost, because most of the dead in Chicago voted for his adversary, but declined to challenge the results for the good of the country, something the media and historians both studiously ignore, except perhaps, for good old Theodore White in his Making of a President series.  But if some of us are more aware nowadays, hypocrisy is still King.

In many parts of the world, a significant segment of the electorate does not believe in the reliability of their systems, either due to perceived ineptitude or, more frequently, a belief that it is manipulable and corrupt.  And for good reason, it all too frequently has been.  In the past though, there was a semblance of media objectivity that at least seemed to align it with vigilance over possible governmental improprieties.  That is no longer really the case.  Perhaps it never has been.  Especially in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  Actually, in much of the so called Western World.  The past two presidential elections in the United States are particularly instructive.

But first, a bit of good news, perhaps great news.  The Republic of Colombia just held presidential elections and despite a massive effort by the traditional elite, the corporate media, all traditional political parties and United States intelligence agencies, for the first time in Colombian history, an outsider won.  A Latin American trend continued.  For a while it seemed as though, the election might be “stolen, as has occurred on a number of occasions, especially during 1970.  The head of the electoral commission refused to permit an audit of the electoral software, as mandated by law, and the director of the national police warned that it would be out in force to deal with any post-election protests, an indicia that there might well be something about which to protest, but, despite such warning signs, the election went off without a hitch.  As in most of the world (except perhaps the United States), there are safeguards in place to minimize electoral fraud (given human nature, it can never really be eliminated): official, government issued identification including a photograph, fingerprint and signature is required to vote, with ballots issued at polling places directly to the voter, who must immediately complete them in a private booth, and then deposit them in a box in front of electoral witnesses representing the candidates.  Contrast that with the United States where, in too many states, ballots are mailed en mass, without required identification and returned by whoever wants to assume the task for deposit in unsupervised “boxes”.  That, my friends, is an electoral fraudster’s dream, but to approximately 40% of the voters in the United States, totally acceptable.  It should be.  It helps them magically morph into a majority should they decide that such sleight of hand is called for.  But if you dare to realize that, you are in big doo-doo.  That would make you a seditious, antidemocratic racist, or worse.  Seems strange to Colombians.  Actually, many all over the world refuse to believe that to be true, but, then again, the same can be said for many United States voters, even if they participate in elections under those strange parameters.

Anyway, now for a not-so-positive history lesson a bit to the north of Colombia’s borders. 

In 2016, despite an all-out media blitz and electoral shenanigans in favor of the pre-crowned favorite of the United States’ bureaucracy, especially the intelligence community, the financial community, the corporate media and of course, their masters, the billionaire class (popularly referred to collectively as the “deep state”), a blitz that steam rolled over the left’s popular favorite, Bernie Sanders, an irascible and improbable right wing anti-establishment populist won.  One who, of all things, had been induced to run as a straw candidate by his opponent’s husband.  The deep state was shocked but not immobilized.  A myth explaining the defeat was immediately concocted, paid for and set in motion: the election “had been stolen”, the loss was not legitimate, it would not be tolerated, the Russians were at fault and a resistance movement was immediately organized, set in place and mobilized!  A myth that the victorious GOP would eagerly bite into as they could always be counted on to fall in line behind anything anti-Russian (who knows why but that’s the way it is).  A putsch you might ask?  Of course, perhaps even a sort of “soft coup”.  Seditious you might ask?  Sure, but what the heck, a real democracy can absorb a bit of seditious shenanigans.  And anyway, when the corporate media’s on line, and all traditionalist politicians, regardless of party, and bureaucratic moles as well, … well, … can they all really be wrong?

The myth was taken seriously and investigated both in the Congress and by the Justice Department for three years at a huge expense in tax payer funds.  It succeeded in largely immobilizing what should have been the victorious candidate, but, after all, that was the point; delegitimizing him, delegitimizing the election.  Delegitimizing democracy.

At the conclusion of the investigations it became clear that it was a cynical scheme without any substance but with a whole lot of impact.  It facilitated a takeover of Congress in 2018 by the theretofore defeated Democratic Party, which then proceeded on two occasions to impeach the 2016 electoral victor in the name of, … wait for it, … “democracy”, and fellow deep state allies, especially in New York, launched a series of politically motivated criminal investigations designed to preclude Mr. Trump from being able to steam roll the deep state again. 

The predictable end result was a significant loss of faith in the electoral system which set the stage for a sort of political comeback for the deep state in 2020, with a huge amount of help from what now appears to have been a hyperbolically orchestrated response to a possible pandemic, which savaged the world economy but helped secure an electoral victory, even if, once again, the deep state party selected the least popular possible candidate.

In 2020, no chances were taken.  As in 2016, the corporate media engaged in a one sided blitzkrieg, first, against the populist candidates on the left, the collaborative Bernie Sanders, but even more so against a real left wing populist, an ideal candidate, a woman of color from an alternative religion and who was a military officer with experience in the Middle East but steadfastly antiwar, Tulsi Gabbard.   She was crushed through a conspiracy of silence which excluded her from most Democratic Party debates, even if it required a change of rules in mid stride, and then death by silence in the corporate media, which acted as though she was not in the race, notwithstanding polls or, internet search results.  But that was just the appetizer.

The heretofore described pro-electoral-fraud voting procedures were set in place in a number of critical states by Democratic Party governors, despite contrary constitutional requirements and over the objections of state legislatures charged with designing voting methodology.  It was done based on the claim of emergency dictatorial powers (in the sense that separation of powers was not respected) because of the “pandemic” which, in the name of democracy, apparently required facilitation of potential widespread electoral fraud, assuming that a sort of “honor system” would assure that absolutely no fraud would take place.  No ballots would be bought, sold or fabricated despite the lack of any safeguards because, well, that would not be honorable.  And the United States judiciary at all levels, federal, state and local agreed.  So obviously no fraud occurred, at least as far as the deep state and its followers were concerned.

Unfortunately, a large segment of the United States electorate refused to play along, and, having seen over the previous summer that rioting and arson and looting were appropriate vehicles for political protests, a few hundred zany kids (of all ages) turned a non-violent political protest in the nation’s capital (in front of the United States capitol, of all places), into a black-lives-matter like riot, but with very different consequences.  Strangely, the rioters seem to have been motivated and directed by embedded government agents charged with, well, who knows, purportedly monitoring to assure they would not riot.  One protester who invaded the nation’s Capitol, a place we all now know is reserved for politicians, was murdered by a police officer.  Apparently only black-lives-matter and she was only a non-black civil servant.  That police officer, unlike others charged with illegally slaying criminals in the act of resisting arrest during black-lives-matter protests, was deemed a hero.  Strange to some, but the corporate media and deep state made the difference stick, no explanation required.

While political dissidence, protest and resistance from November of 2016 through November of 2020 had been patriotism at its best, immediately following the 2020 presidential election, it became treason and sedition, and, instead of investigating allegations of electoral fraud and electoral meddling, as had been the case from 2017 through 2020, Congress instead, along with the Justice Department, decided it was essential to investigate the protesters rather than the alleged electoral fraud, protest now having become vile and evil rather than noble and courageous.

Amazingly enough, a huge segment of the population did not buy into the change in script, and refused to accept the results of what they honestly believed to have been a fraudulent election.  Videos of suitcases full of ballots surreptitiously introduced while polling places had been mysteriously cleared in Georgia seemed to have led them to believe that not all was as the deep state’s spokespersons assured them was the case, indeed, evidence of alleged electoral improprieties seemed omnipresent, but, legal and administrative actions seeking explanations were summarily rejected, thus, apparently, the refusal to investigate allegations of corruption was definitive proof that absolutely no electoral fraud had taken place.  So there!!!

Criticism of the 2016 presidential electoral results was characterized by the corporate media and Democratic Party as “patriotic, pro-democracy resistance but, … criticism of the electoral results four years later is anathema and actionable sedition and treason.  Go figure, … if you dare.  If you don’t mind being deemed a Big Liar.

Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin are both credited with having espoused the notion that, if a lie is big enough and repeated incessantly, in no uncertain terms, why, … it becomes the official truth.  The technique is popularly knows under the appellation of the Big Lie.  Interestingly, that tactic has long been favored by the corporate media in the United States and the United Kingdom.  After all, Freedom of the Press was established in the United States in two cases, several hundred years apart, the colonial Peter Zenger case in the eighteenth century, and the United States Supreme Court case of Sullivan versus the New York Times several centuries later.  In each case, the judiciary sanctioned and protected the right to calumny, to report false news, as essential to a functional democracy.  So, despite the irony, it ought not to be a surprise that the people who, whether they are right or wrong, firmly believe that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen”, including the deposed former president, are now accused vehemently, on a 24/7 basis, of being Big Liars, and televised, one sided Congressional hearings without any right to refutation, are being staged in prime time television, to assure the American people that any claims that the 2020 presidential elections might have been tainted by fraud or manipulation are just “Big Lies”.  I can sort of sense Hitler and Lenin chuckling, or perhaps guffawing.

Given the foregoing, one wonders what awaits the incoming administration of Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, the populist victor of the June 19, 2022 Colombian presidential elections.  The United States deep state was subtly involved in backing Mr. Petro’s opponent, as was its Colombian variant, but, as in the United States in 2016, they were unsuccessful.  Now, they are angry and determined to make Mr. Petro and his populist followers pay.  Plans are already afoot to destroy the Colombian economy through foreign manipulation (think of what was done to Venezuela and Cuba and Nicaragua, etc.) and internal elite manipulation of the local stock market and currency exchanges.  And Colombia’s version of Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, Jaime Gilinski Bacal’s Semana, is already spewing a permanent stream of calumnies and distortions.  Thus, given the United States’ experience since 2017, some of us in Colombia who support real democracy and liberty and equity and equality and justice and free elections are a bit concerned.

But fortunately for us, Colombia is not alone in Latin America, a continent which at long last seems to be waking from a long nightmare of United States abuse.  Many countries have selected leaders who demand respect for their sovereignty and express support of their sister states.  And Colombia’s declaration of independence may resound a bit in Brazil in the near future, leaving the United States virtually excluded from the region, except for its recently purchased president in Ecuador.  Mr. Petro is no Donald Trump, indeed, his opponent was a meld between the worst qualities of Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.  The only political similarity between Messrs. Petro and Trump is that both are opposed to armed conflicts and foreign intervention (which is what probably led to the successful, anti-Trump coup).  Still, notwithstanding how brilliant, ethical and motivated Mr. Petro may be, it will be hard to resist the combined power of two deep states, unless of course, the Colombian people are less gullible and less manipulable than the voters in the United States. 

And that, only time will tell.
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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 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 https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Uncomfortable Reflections on an Easter Sunday

Manipulable mass hysteria is the incoherent albeit pervasive characteristic of mankind’s collective consciousness.  It explains the power religions of any kind hold over their adherents, regardless of how illogical and incoherent their premises and how inconsistent with such premises their practices, both collective and individual tend to be.  A bitter illustration involves the pleas made to the same deity by opposing warring factions, both seeking divine intervention to rain death and destruction on their co-believers.  But it is far from only in the religious sphere were collective incoherence and delusion reign supreme.  Nationalism is a closely aligned phenomena, sometimes involving multiple individual states as part of a multistate collective, and within such states, multiple political associations vying for power in a perpetual quest to control governance.  For example, the Hispanic nation comprised of almost thirty different states and within each such state, myriads of political parties and movements.  Or the German nation where the same phenomena arises (i.e., Germany, Austria, and parts of other regions in Central and Eastern Europe), or the Slavic nation, witness the current intra-Slavic conflict between the Ukraine and the Russian Federation, historical Siamese siblings.

The United States is, in many senses, sui generis, an amalgam of immigrants from diverse nationalities that sort of coalesced on an ethnic, then regional, then religious, then racial, then gender basis into something similar to quasi-internal-polarized nations, perpetually at war with themselves but capable of uniting so as to be perpetually at war with outsiders (and of course, with the original indigenous population).

Yesterday (April 16, 2022) was “Holy Saturday, commemorating Yeshua’s brief sojourn in Gê-hinnōm (really around thirty six hours rather than three days as usually reported), and I chanced to read an article in Consortium News written by Patrick Lawrence entitled “The Great Acquiescence — Glory to Ukraine” (see Consortium News, Volume 27, Number 105 — Saturday, April 16, 2022).  As so often happens when I read that rare source of accurate information, it set me off.  The fact that such “holy” day is so ludicrously incoherent may have helped.  The article dealt with how easy it seems to be to manipulate the well-meaning among us in order to secure their support for anything under the sun, regardless of how antithetical and opposed to our purported values.  The case in point dealt with the Nazi reincarnation in the current Ukraine which the United States is not only vigorously supporting, but which it in fact gleefully orchestrated with the unwavering support of its corporate media (i.e., the 2014 Ukraine project orchestrated by Obama’s assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland as recorded in her infamous call to United States Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt; see transcript provided by the government owned British Broadcasting Corporation  at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957).  As Clinton supporting Arkansas hog farmers might exclaim, “Soooeey!”.  Their own sweet sonata, to which we might add the qualifier, “generis”.

The omnipotent if hardly independent and certainly not free “corporate media”, a consolidated branch of the United States entertainment industry that operates not so much for fun as for the “profit” of those whose brainchild it is.  A brief historical lesson is probably in order.  Hollywood, the California version, was turned into an arm of United States and British intelligence during World War I (the War to End All Wars) by George Creel on Woodrow Wilson’s instructions, and it never really looked back.  We are a thoroughly manipulated People, not only through Hollywood but through every aspect of our culture, education and sports, all of which both direct our perception and emotions and distract us from the realities under which we live and which we help impose on others.  And I say that as a Yankees and Jets fan (they tend to balance out) who has come to realize that the energy I expend on sports as a fan and as a participant desensitizes and distracts me from realizing serious goals, such as my autonomy, my quest to do what is correct and honorable, my quest to separate truth from the narratives to which all of us are constantly subjected.

So!  Paraphrasing Yakov Smirnoff “what a media!”  It can accomplish almost anything.  Think of it, by labeling opponents to their manufactured narratives, almost always false, as “Big Liars” and their honestly held assertions as “Big Lies”, both terms repeated constantly, they deflect meaningful evaluation, and, by censoring any other opinions, they hide uncomfortable truths (e.g., the misadventures of the Biden and Clinton and Obama families, most recently staring Hunter and Jimmy and the Big Guy).

Can you imagine if the original Nazis (or any of history’s worst villains) had enjoyed the benefits of today’s Deep State narrative managers?  Why, if they’d wanted to, they could have founded a Zionist Nazi Party in Israel, although there are those who believe they did.  We Americans have been bred not to question the carefully crafted narratives we are fed on a 24/7 basis.  Bred and trained like Pavlov’s dogs, the stimulus of choice, not a bell, but our mass-produced pseudo culture.  In our Hollywood, no ties to any sort of reality are worthy of respect and that philosophy has been successfully transplanted to the fecund territory of our news media a/k/a pseudo journalism.  Or perhaps the transplantation evolved from the opposite direction, after all, the purportedly free-press in the United States was founded on the precedent established in the famous Peter Zenger trial held three centuries ago in the Royal Colony of New York, a decision premised on the absolute right to calumny and defame (truth being merely an inconvenient irrelevancy; ahhh, the joys of liberty. Ring that bell!!!). 

We have been bred to accept without question the incredible profits available as a result of massive violence, domestically and abroad, perhaps a residue of the ancient Viking glorification of pillage and rape as a valid economic model, but in our case, oxymoronically fused with delusion and denial.  Consequently, as Patrick Lawrence observes in the cited article, most of us are indoctrinated to reject reality and are thus virtually oblivious to our record levels of incarceration, oblivious to our record levels of local mass shootings, oblivious to our record levels of foreign interventions, oblivious to the hundreds of millions of resulting deaths.  To us, they are all irrelevant abstractions or justifiable collateral damage.  Compared to our penchant for pillage and slaughter hidden in plain sight, the Vikings and their Nazis descendants were pikers.  But we came about it honestly, the British taught us how to do it, the British of the infamous Opium Wars, and of course, of our own quasi-Revolution.

For us, the denizens of the “Land of the Free” and the “Home of the Brave” (epithets made famous by that famous champion of slave owners, Francis Scott Key), “mass murder” is and has apparently always been a growth industry (just ask the original inhabitants of our continent).  It is our most important crop, a gift that keeps on giving.  We sow death and profitably so.  We glory in armed conflicts at home and abroad, but without the disadvantages of victories which might insure accursedly unprofitable peace; that would devastate us.  So we need to keep our enemies at least on life support lest we have to go to all the trouble of creating new ones.  That may explain why our country has not won a war since World War II, with the notable exceptions of the invasions of Grenada and Panama; but it also explains why our government cynically created and funded Al Qaida terrorists in the Middle East, terrorists we created to fight the Russians but whom we eventually found to be useful allies, kind of like the Romans with the Visigoths, etc., albeit those proved to be alliances they eventually very much regretted.  That explains the 2014 Ukraine project orchestrated by Obama’s assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland; a “project designed to assure the 2022 Russian Special Military Operation, the bonanza that we needed for pillage based economic survival.

Of course, not all our leaders have wanted to be mass murderers.  During my lifetime, two United States presidents refused to play ball with the evolving Deep State, that military industrial complex against which Ike warned in early 1961.  But both were overthrown, even if what passes for history and news portrays their demise very differently.  One was forced to resign to avoid impeachment, and the second, well he was impeached twice but conviction was unsuccessful, nevertheless, well, you know about the 2020 election, the first perfect, absolutely no fraud election in United States history, despite evidence that would seem to indicate otherwise (given all the technocratic meddling, the “pandemic”, etc., the free flowing ballots everywhere, where the “honor” system worked to perfection to assure the absence of sales and related fraud, but, after all, we are a capitalist society).

Despite their character flaws and insecurities, in both cases reflected above, it was the inclination to work towards a world without war and specifically their desire for positive relations with the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation, which proved anathema.  In each case, the presidents appeared to enjoy widespread public support for such policies, but rather than insulate them, that exacerbated the “problem”, rendering the situation intolerable to those who really run our “Western” world.  Thus, today, we are blessed with the ultimate good old boy as “president”, the ultimate Deep State crony, a guy who, if you pay him (or his family) stays bought because that is his unwavering concept of honor (ask the credit card industry, or well, … the Ukraine).  And of course, hurray for the Ukraine, that bastion of liberty and democracy, notwithstanding the imprisonment of all political opponents and closing of all “unpatriotic” media outlets and slaughter of 14,000 residents of the Donbass.  Hunter, in any case, is ecstatic.  Lucky that Obama made the Big Guy proconsul there.

And of course, again referring to the Ukraine, now we have the great little war we needed after the Afghan fiasco to assure the economic welfare of the very few who rule us, one where we are not directly involved, except for the massive defense expenditures being authorized in what now looks like a perpetual stream.  As planned, “defense” industry stocks are zooming so who cares about the rest of the markets and the economy and inflation and scarcity, or Ukrainian lives and infrastructure, so long as the Russians are debilitated.

We the People of the United States, especially those who ironically believe that they share liberal and progressive values and abhor violence, racism, sexism, uncomfortable history and uncomfortable journalism, are just fine with plenty to criticize in order satisfy our need for faux moral outrage against others (which makes us feel good), but without really rocking our comfy boats or changing the way things are, the way we’ve been indoctrinated to believe they should be.  The way things will remain as long as we keep finding troublesome people against whom to vote, even if we have to settle for “lesser” evils like Joe Biden, the Obamas, the Bush family, the Clintons, etc.  One wonders what plans Hunter has for a future presidency, after all, he has huge experience in avoiding the consequences of past mistakes and still remaining in good standing as an honorary victim.  The latter being essential today.

Just some things on which to reflect as another Easter flows by, flows by obliviously, a holiday in honor of the Prince of Peace in the name of whom so many, many wars have been fought and so many, many lives have been crushed, and in the name of whom so many people have been and continue to be enslaved.

If Yeshua (the purported Christ) has truly risen after his brief sojourn in Hell, what might he be thinking? 

Probably that it’s as if he’d never left his former colleagues in Gê-hinnōm. And probably wondering, somewhat confused, about Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies.
_______

© 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 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 https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Critical Context in Perilous Times:

Demythifying the Ukrainian Crisis

This is a bit long, and I hate long.  I usually give up and read something else, unless, of course, I’m reading a book.  But given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, I believe we needed a comprehensive and timely analysis and hope that you read it and agree.  And that you share it.  The articles cited in the footnotes are by recognized independent media authors and are an integral part of this reflection; essential because real news is almost impossible to find and too many of us are drowning in an ocean of Kool-Aid. 

The world is facing an existential crisis as the Euro-Atlantic-centric economic and political elite who have dominated the world since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution are facing a realistic challenge to their power from Chinese led Eurasian upstarts[1].  They have, in the past, successfully turned aside challenges from socialist reformers, fascist corporatists, communist-light experiments and political idealists.  Now the threat may prove more serious.  The world, as usual, is the battleground, but Europe, again as usual and as usual in traditionalist hands (but showing strains) seems to be the focal point (with Latin America and Africa pretty much, as always, just taken for granted, used and abused).  The Middle East burns, as usual, with NATO inspired or supported wars and armed conflicts in Yemen, Libya and Syria while the Palestinians remain imprisoned in Israeli dominated ghettoes where they are frequently hunted like animals by Harkonian-like “settlers” and soldiers[2].  The Sino-Russian Eurasian project, which seeks to shift the fulcrum of politicoeconomic power from the Atlantic towards the East and South, has attained viability because the Atlantic alliances have, for the past half century, been engaged in costly military interventions in diverse areas of the world.  Aggressive NATO expansion which seeks to derail the Sino-Russian Eurasian project has included not only most of Eastern Europe but also Latin America where the Republic of Colombia was granted “global partner” status[3] in 2017, perhaps as a means of placing military pressure on neighboring Venezuela and Bolivia as well as on Brazil, should a leftist government regain power there, as seems likely (assuming free and fair elections, no longer a sure thing in many parts of the world).  Trump proved a nuisance but was efficiently removed in a political blitzkrieg but his epiphany concerning the anachronistic nature of NATO as a white elephant run amuck needed to be obfuscated, hence, the Ukraine has been converted into a sacrificial goat, and speaking of goats, the Russian Federation has been cast as the scapegoat.

Last month, the new Cold War orchestrated by the United States turned hot as Russia reacted to United States and NATO provocations (accelerated as temporary fixes for domestic political problems faced by administrations in the United States and the United Kingdom) by invading the Ukraine, which had itself earlier invaded the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics whose populations had apparently bought into the premises of the United States Declaration of Independence[4].  Perhaps they should have known better given the documented hypocrisy of its author, hypocrisy which has echoed throughout the history of the country he helped found.

A Bit of Context

While it finally ignited last month, the current crisis in the Ukraine started on October 3, 1990 when, with the concurrence of the Soviet Union, World War II ended as to Germany.  The Soviet Union’s concurrence to German reunification was predicated on a tacit understanding memorialized in internal NATO memoranda to the effect that NATO would not expand.  Unfortunately, as with so many other of today’s problems, the Clinton administration, which assumed power in the United States thirty months later, broke that promise in 1999, and in an accelerating fashion, NATO has expanded closer and closer to the Russian border, actually touching it in 2004 when the Baltic States were admitted to membership[5].

The situation was exacerbated drastically when the United States orchestrated a coup d’état against a pro-Russian, democratically elected government in the Ukraine in 2014[6], a violent overthrow resisted by three Ukrainian regions with overwhelming majority Russian populations, the Crimea and the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the Ukrainian Donbas.  All three petitioned to rejoin Russia.  After a plebiscite, the Crimea did, but Russia had no interest in incorporating the Donbas, instead suggesting that the Donetsk and Lugansk regions be granted autonomous status within a Ukrainian federation.  The Ukraine responded by attacking and partially occupying the Donbass, sparking an armed conflict eerily similar to the American Revolution. 

On September 5, 2014 the Ukraine, the Russian Federation, France, Germany and the then-leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic signed an agreement, supplemented on February 12, 2015, calling for a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines, release of prisoners of war, and, constitutional reform in the Ukraine granting self-government to the Donbas but restoring control of the state border to the Ukrainian government.  However, the Ukraine never implemented the required constitutional reforms and neo-Nazi[7] Ukrainian militias armed by the Ukrainian government, the United States and NATO continued to occupy large portions of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions attempting to forcibly destroy the pro-independence forces, in the process, killing more than 14,000 Donbass residents.

The addition of the Ukraine (and Georgia) to NATO would have resulted in a contiguous NATO border with the Russian Federation and the increased possibility of such adhesion with respect to the Ukraine, the deaths of the more than 14,000 ethnic Russians in the Donbass and the flight of approximately 100,000 Donbass refugees into the Russian Federation in the face of an emerging Ukrainian military advance finally led the Russian Federation to draw a red line.  The Russian federation demanded that neither NATO nor the European Union expand into the Ukraine; that NATO withdraw nuclear weapons from countries bordering the Russian Federation; that the Ukraine, as promised in 2015, grant autonomy to the ethnic Russian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk; and finally, that the plebiscite in favor of a return to the Russian Federation by the people of the Ukraine be recognized.  However, such proposals were disdainfully rejected by the United States, NATO and the Ukraine.  Instead, with a cynicism for the welfare of common people common to the myriad of wars orchestrated by the United States and its allies since the end of World War II, the people of the Ukraine were placed on the sacrificial bloc of “Western Hubris”, but bathed in oceans of crocodile tears.  Perhaps as partial revenge for the defeat of American invaders in Afghanistan by the Taliban, the Russian Federation was lured into what the United States hopes will prove to be a comparable quagmire that will lead to the destruction of the Russian economy and hopefully, sabotage the Sino-Russian Eurasian project which threatens economic elites’ domination of the world economy for the benefit of the privileged one percent.

A Bit of Ukrainian and Russian History (often the same thing)

The world seems more insane than usual this year as winter winds down into spring, with truth having become utterly irrelevant and hypocrisy sublime.  “Fool us again, please, please!” seems a mass refrain.  Censorship in the name of liberty and democracy has become the real pandemic.  Still, for those to whom the truth and the future of the human race are important enough to do a bit of research, perhaps there really is a vaccine.  A vaccine comprised of a bit of elbow grease mixed in with common sense and seasoned with sanity.  Take the current crisis in the Ukraine, perhaps it’s worthwhile understanding what it’s about, even if the story started a long, long time ago.  And that requires an acknowledgment of the historical interrelationship of the Russian and Ukrainian people.

The Ukraine, as a polity, can theoretically be considered to have initiated when a legendary Slavic prince by the name of Kyi, along with his brothers Schek and Khoriv, and their sister Lybid, founded the precursor to the city of Kiev (name recently modified in the “West” to Kyiv) in the fifth century.  By the middle of the seventh century, the town of Kiev was conquered by the Khazars, an amalgam of Bulgars, Huns, Turks and Caucasians (people from the Caucuses, not a racial group).  The Khazars were immensely successful traders who ingeniously played off their Byzantine and Islamic customers’ demand that they select either Islam or orthodox Christianity as their religion by instead, selecting their common denominator, Judaism, to which they converted en masse.  Indeed, it’s possible that most Jews today are descendants of the Khazars rather than of the ancient Semitic Hebrews who originated in the Middle East (which may be why so many Jews are fair haired and fair eyed).  The Khazar Empire extended from the Volga River and Caspian Sea to the Dnieper and the Black Sea. 

During the ninth century, three existential changes occurred.  First, Norsemen (Vikings) discovered and conquered much of the area; second, Christian missionaries from Byzantium began to proselytize in the area; and third, in a related manner, two Christian missionaries by the name of Cyril and Methodius facilitated the crystallization of a common Slavic language through the introduction of an alphabet patterned on the Greek alphabet used in the Byzantine Empire.  During the second half of the Ninth century, Slavic merchants (probably descended from the Khazars) who controlled a merchant center known as Novgorod sought stability and protection as well as a diminution in political strife from internal political infighting, by inviting[8] one of the invading Viking tribes, the Varangians, to assume governance and made their leader Rurik, a somewhat legendary and mythic figure, their monarch.[9] 

Prior to Rurik’s “association” with Novgorod, two other Viking leaders, Askold and Dir, had conquered the small Khazar trading village of Kiev described above and had organized a confederated Viking fleet of 200 ships with which, in 860, they attacked Constantinople.  Unsuccessful in their attack but having plundered much of the surrounding countryside, they returned to Kiev which they ruled as vassals to Rurik.  Rurik’s brothers, Sineus and Truvor had also engaged in conquests but soon died, leaving Rurik in control their domains.  By the time of Rurik’s death in 879, he and other Viking leaders controlled an area that stretched from the Russian steppes to the Black Sea and included large parts of the present day Ukraine, Belarus and Western Russia.  In time, however, the indigenous conquered people, the Slavs, subsumed and incorporated the Vikings into their culture.

Rurik was succeeded by a more aggressive Viking ruler, Oleg, regent for Rurik’s son Igor.  During his regency, Oleg consolidated numerous theretofore independent Viking conquests, moved the capital of the consolidated domains to Kiev, and successfully attacked the Byzantine Empire.  By the time Igor assumed the principate, the domains consolidated by Oleg had been recognized by the Byzantines as equals and Kiev had been transformed from a trading village into the queen city of the “Land of the Rus” (as the Byzantines had christened the consolidated domain). 

In short, modern Russia was born in today’s Ukraine, with Kiev as its original capital.

During the second half of the twelfth century, Russia became a fragmented confederation of warring principalities until it was conquered by the Mongols in 1241.  In 1362, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania conquered Kiev, followed by a Polish conquest in 1569 but finally, in 1667, Kiev and the Ukraine were reunited with Russia.  The Lithuanian and Polish conquests materially impacted the Ukraine as they involved not only Lithuanian and especially Polish immigration, but the introduction of Catholicism as an alternative to the Russian Orthodox Church and to the native Jewish remnant of the Khazar population, an impact that has remained as a divisive historical force.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 impacted major regions of Russia which briefly became independent and then autonomous republics within the Soviet Union.  In 1952, the Crimea, a historical part of Russia, was “administratively” transferred to the Ukraine Socialist Republic by Nikita Khrushchev, then the Ukrainian born leader of the Soviet Union.  In 1991, when the Soviet Union was dismembered, the Ukraine declared its independence but kept the Crimea (without having obtained the consent of its population), as well as the Donbas, also a predominantly Russian region.

Some Comparisons

Despite the massive sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by the United States, its allies, and the international organizations they control, such actions seem to have nothing to do with violations of international law or opposition to armed invasions of sovereign states.  Indeed, except as a theory and aspiration, the concept of “international law” as a legal system is a failed experiment, primarily because of the historical hubris of the United Kingdom and the United States and their insistence on impunity in the face of their continuous violations of international treaties, refusal to join the principle treaties that seek to implement a framework for international law and de facto repudiation of the Charter of the United Nations.[10]  Examples:

  • I recall the United States invasion of Grenada which began at dawn on October 25, 1983, and ended when the United States replaced Hudson Austin, the countries provisional leader, with an interim government selected by the United States.  The excuse was that the procommunist government of that country had become incoherently deadlocked, threatening possible civil strife.  I do not recall any sanctions imposed on the United States by anyone as a result of such action. 
  • I recall the United States invasion of Panama which started on December 20, 1989 and purportedly ended on January 31, 1990; after the United States forcibly replaced the de facto leader of Panama (and former CIA operative) Manuel Noriega with the Cali Cartel’s purported treasurer, Guillermo Endara.  The excuse was purportedly than Mr. Noriega was engaged in drug trafficking and racketeering.  I do not recall any sanctions imposed on the United States by anyone as a result of such action.
  • I recall the many attacks by Israel on Gaza, the horrible resulting destruction and loss of life, and the daily quotidian assaults by the Israeli State on Palestinians, the indignities and mayhem and murders.  But I do not recall any sanctions imposed on Israel by anyone as a result of such action.
  • We all, I think recall the unwarranted and horribly costly invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  But none of us, I think, can recall any sanctions imposed on the United States by anyone as a result of such actions.
  • I recall the Saudi led and United States supported ongoing invasion of Yemen.  But I do not recall any sanctions imposed on Saudi Arabia or its allies by anyone as a result of such action.
  • I recall the French inspired and NATO led invasion and destruction of Libya in which the United States was a leading participant, with its secretary of State, the beastly Hillary Clinton, crowing, “we same, we saw, he died”, referring to the brutal murder of Moammar Gaddafi.  But I do not recall any sanctions imposed on them by anyone as a result of such action.
  • I am reminded that today, United States, French, English, Turkish and other troops are illegally engaged in military operations inside of Syria.  But I do not recall any sanctions imposed on them by anyone as a result of such action.
  • I am reminded that the United States and its allies have recognized the pretender Juan Guaido, a self-declared president of Venezuela, have supported more than one coup attempt orchestrated by him, and have turned over to him and his cronies a great deal of the wealth Venezuela requires to care for its population impoverished through their sanctions, as they would impoverish Russia today.  But I do not recall any sanctions imposed on them by anyone as a result of such action.

Now the Russians are following in the footsteps of the United States and its allies in NATO and the European Union, in their case, to eliminate a racial supremacist infestation in the Ukraine and to eliminate the threat of NATO expansion to Russian’s borders.  In this case, the “Western World” (whatever that is)[11] has decided that sanctions designed to destroy the Russian economy are appropriate, apparently without thought to any consequences.  How utterly cavalier.  Indeed, the continuing imposition of brutal sanctions on the Russian people seemed designed to goad a nuclear response, incredibly stupid as that would seem to the few sane remaining among us.

International law and the United Nations were to have prevented all such actions, but they haven’t, and they don’t.  Hypocrisy and hubris rather than equity and justice reign.  And the consequences may well be all too predictable.

A Bit of More Recent Historical Context and Some Personal Observations and Conclusions

Since Dwight David Eisenhower left office during January of 1961, the United States and its allies have been free to engage in military aggression all over the world, invading and overthrowing governments in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia: governments as small as Haiti and as large as the Soviet Union.  Until the dawn of this millennium, it seemed that such tactics had succeeded in attaining hegemonic power, politically, economically and militarily, as well as domestically.  With the assistance of a docile and duplicitous corporate media and the tentacles of the wealthiest and most ruthless among us, a Deep State was ensconced in the United States and among its allies, unresponsive to popular needs or popular opinion. 

Until 2016, the United States Deep State ruled that country with a hidden almost velvet glove.  But in 2016, a two pronged populist rebellion in the United States, echoing earlier populist rebellions elsewhere, shook the “Western” sociopolitical firmament.  From the left, a leaderless progressive group sought to induce purportedly native American Senator Elizabeth Warren to challenge Clinton dominance of the Democratic Party, but when that failed, the movement was usurped by opportunist, purported socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders.  Unfortunately for the leftist populists, he led their charge waiving a white flag and surrendered to traditionalist Democratic Party leaders who had obviously stolen the 2016 Democratic Party’s presidential nomination from his followers.  The GOP faced a similar challenge from the right, from the so called Tea Party, but despite massive resources and well known candidates, the traditionalist among the Republican Party where ambushed by political pragmatist Donald John Trump.  Ironically, the apparent right wing populist victory was orchestrated by Clinton Democrats who felt that Mr. Trump, a buffoonish political novice, was the only Republican candidate their idol, Hillary Clinton, could defeat.  Indeed, Mr. Trump was urged to run by non-other than Ms. Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton.  Unfortunately for them, they’d misjudged the extent of populist discontent and Mr. Trump won a devastatingly shocking victory.  Devastating most of all to the Deep State which, until then, had successfully remained a manipulative force behind the scenes, fully in control of both political parties.

While most of Mr. Trump’s economic policies were somewhat in line with the Deep State’s neoliberal economic goals, he seemed averse to the Deep State’s neoconservative interventionist tactics, calling for collaborative relations with both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China and eschewing interventionism except when it benefitted Israel (his beloved daughter Ivanka having converted to orthodox Judaism upon her marriage to Goldman Sacks protégée, Jared Corey Kushner). Mr. Trump’s antimilitarist tendencies even extended to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which he perceived as a dangerous anachronism looking for missions to justify its existence.  All of that, of course, was anathema to the military industrial complex against which Eisenhower had warned but which, despite such warnings, had become an integral part of the Deep State. 

Mr. Trump, independently wealthy and unbearably arrogant, was not for sale and thus, had to be destroyed, and he was, although he and his followers have put up an unexpectedly spirited fight.  No weapon was ignored by the Deep State which, under the leadership of former president Obama, perpetual candidate Clinton and former attorney general Eric Holder (who styles himself AG Holder), as well as the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership, first organized an insurrection denominated “the Resistance” with mass rallies frequently converted to riots, then exacerbated racial tensions by pitting Afro Americans against law enforcement in a manner designed to mobilize the African American vote.  The Deep State then had its moles planted throughout the federal bureaucracy, especially the intelligence services, engage in a campaign to constantly undermine the Trump administration through leaks to its wholly owned corporate media.  When none of that seemed enough, the Deep State politicized the Covid 19 virus, orchestrating a global economic shutdown justifying extreme electoral measures in sufficient states to assure desired results in the 2020 presidential elections, and with the assistance of billionaires who controlled the Internet, through a combination of algorithms and censorship, deprived the populist right wing, including the president, of access to social media and thus, of any meaningful ability to defend themselves in the electoral arena.

The unusual 2020 elections, characterized by last minute floods of unverified mail-in ballots (facilitated through constitutionally questionable emergency measures justified as necessary to permit voting during the medical “lockdown”), resulted in the election of the Deep State candidate, Joe Biden, results rejected by a sizable segment of the United States electorate which found the refusal to investigate claims of electoral fraud on “technical” grounds unjustifiable.  That, in turn, resulted in a war against such nonbelievers by the corporate media and social media platforms which characterized them on a 24/7 basis, as fools and traitors, and imposed even stricter censorship to prevent the spread of their purportedly false, seditious claims, especially after a small minority of people protesting the electoral results in front of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, invaded the Capitol itself and engaged in destruction of government property, albeit much less violently than the Democratic Party inspired riots which characterized numerous protests during Mr. Trump’s term in office.  In contrast to what occurred during Mr. Trump’s administration where the Congress spent millions of dollars and several years examining Democratic Party complaints of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections (with the alleged collaboration of Mr. Trump and his staff), the Congress and the Justice Department instead opened investigations into the January 6 Capitol protests and ensuing invasion of the Capitol, condemning a number of the participants to prison.

The results of the foregoing were that the Deep State reacquired total power over the federal government in the United States, but that its existence was exposed, as was the reality that the corporate media was entirely under its control.  The new president, Mr. Biden, although fully supported by the Deep State and the corporate media and with his political party, the Deep State’s own Democrats in power, quickly proved extremely unpopular.  Of course, he had never been popular.  Indeed, during the 1988 presidential campaign season, he’d had to withdraw his candidacy when that era’s corporate media, liberal but not yet wholly lacking in objectivity, reported on numerous instances of plagiarism and political corruption where it seemed that rather than representing the State of Delaware in the Senate, he’d represented the credit card companies which had, in turn, provided Mr. Biden’s son Hunter and brother Jimmy with lucrative contracts for questionable or non-existent services.  But those episodes were seemingly forgotten by the 2016 version of the corporate media, which instead, covered up numerous instances of questionable conduct by son Hunter, which seemed to also implicate his father, referred to in numerous damaging but obfuscated emails as “the Big Guy”.  The concept of the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, so often raised by the corporate media with respect to Mr. Trump and his family had evidently been tacitly repealed when it came to the Biden and Clinton families.

As 2021 dawned, the Biden administration and the Deep State’s Democratic Party, were tanking in all political polls, many of which have been traditionally skewed in favor of Deep State favored candidates and policies, and it seemed probable that right wing populists were likely to take over Congress in 2022, and that Mr. Trump might regain the presidency in 2024, despite intervention against him by Democratic Party controlled prosecutors in both the federal government and a number of States, especially New York State, who seemed determined to prevent him from running for the presidency.  Mr. Biden’s problems were mirrored across the pond by the travails of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the European version of the Deep State was determined to destroy him as punishment for his successful efforts to have the United Kingdom withdraw from the European Union.

In both cases, the Deep State had a solution and as has so often happened in the history of our planet, the answer to domestic political problems involved turbulence in international affairs, something always useful and profitable in the extreme for the Deep State’s owners (the billionaire class), albeit at the expense of the tax payers and of reasonably priced medical care, education, welfare benefits and infrastructure.  Having put conflict with the Russian Federation in play in 2014 through the overthrow of the pro-Russian government in the neighboring Ukraine in 2014 and its replacement by a virulently anti-Russian, Nazi admiring regime, the Biden administration in the United States and the Johnston administration in the United Kingdom together with NATO began providing the Ukraine with purportedly defensive armaments with which to confront their Russian neighbors and to conquer the parts of the Ukraine that had refused to accept the 2014 coup d’état, while launching a massive propaganda campaign to the effect that the Russian Federation was about to invade and conquer the Ukraine, with the ultimate goal of reconstituting the defunct Soviet Union.  A well planned and orchestrated, self-fulfilling prophecy.  Goading the bear seemed the most useful means of defusing political problems at home as fueling anti-Russian sentiment would, in all likelihood, at least temporarily, unite the electorate against the manufactured foreign threat.  Not novel but tried and true.  And successful once again.

The Joe Biden and Boris Johnson administrations seem to have obtained that for which they most hoped, at least in the short term.  Their political opponents have joined with them demanding that the Russians be severely punished for their atrocious conduct, be declared war criminals and be subjected to trials like those that took place in the German City of Nuremberg following World War Two.  That the intermediate and long term costs may be devastating to most of us is not relevant to them.  They needed military confrontation to shore up their plunging ratings and exploding unpopularity although perhaps this time they may have bitten off more than they can chew and certainly more than they can digest, and they’ve pulled their NATO and European Union allies along with them.

As referenced above, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO attempted to preempt Russian reaction to their provision of lethal aggressive military weaponry to Ukrainian groups attacking the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics by hysterically and consistently claiming that Russia was planning to invade the Ukraine, accompanied by a continuous stream of insults and threats (what in the “West” is today referred to as “diplomacy”).  They hoped for a win/win situation for them and a lose/lose situation for Vladimir Putin.  If Mr. Putin was goaded into a military reaction, they could impose devastating economic sanctions on Russia, as the United States did to Japan in the prelude to World War Two; if he did not react, they could paint themselves as the tough guys who had forced him to back down.

The Ukraine and its people, as they have been during the last eight years, were the expendable pawns.  Mired in misery and corruption since the United States orchestrated coup in 2014 (as they’ve almost always been, but seasoned with civil war and resurgent neo-Nazis inclinations), they are now the fodder for neoliberal ambitions and machinations run amuck.  Having patiently called for peaceful resolution of the consequences of the 2014 overthrow of the Ukraine’s democratically elected president, the Russians have finally been successfully goaded into reacting.  As the Japanese were on December 7, 1941.  As the Austrians and the Germans were on July 28, 1914.

The current situation in the Ukraine is the Cuban missile crisis in reverse, except that calmer heads are not prevailing.  Instead, brinksmanship is leading to disaster.  Except that now, all the players are armed with enough nuclear weaponry to destroy our planet as it now exists.  Only the People’s Republic of China among the world’s major powers appears to have maintained its sanity, but the United States is active there as well with arms sales to the estranged Chinese province of Taiwan and encouragement for it to declare independence being actively fomented.  Perhaps the situation in the Ukraine can be duplicated there.  On the brink of losing the opportunity for hoped for political and economic hegemony, the United States, under a weak president and corrupt, power mad political class, seems intent on courting Armageddon and unfortunately, it is succeeding.  We have climbed atop the razor’s edge.  The brink on which the world has teetered since Hiroshima and Nagasaki is only one more miscalculation away from realizing the promise of mutual self-assured destruction that dystopian writers have been predicting for so long.[12]

Sometimes there are justifiable reasons for indefensible actions, but perhaps not this time.  Sometimes we fight hopeless battles because our culture or our families or our way of life are threatened with destruction and odds are not relevant.  But this time the underlying reasons are incredibly petty and short sighted.

And what are they? 

Well, the short term reasons, the catalysts, involve the political problems of Messrs. Biden and Johnson, the intermediate term reasons involve the Deep State’s resolve to maintain power, and the long term reasons involve the related United States’ strategic goal, with the collaboration of its NATO puppets, to militarily and economically isolate and surround the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China and to the Islamic State of Iran, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Republic of Bolivia and any country that will not bend to the neoliberal policies of the United States and its NATO allies.  As in the case of the fictitious Borg, they seek to demonstrate that resistance to hegemonic domination is futile, but perhaps they’ve miscalculated this time.  Perhaps they’ve finally gone too far.

Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan or the Palestinians or Libya or Syria or Yemen or Yugoslavia.  It’s not Cuba or Venezuela or Nicaragua or Bolivia.  Russia can bite back.  And it has.  So can the People’s Republic of China.  The question is, will Russia limit its reaction or will it permit the so called “West” to goad it into further and more extreme reaction.  Reaction that only serves the long term interests of those who wish Russia and its people misery and domination, or a reaction that may lead to the long promised mutually assured destruction.  That of course depends on the nature of the unprecedented and hypocritical sanctions which the United States, the European Union and others impose.  If they hurt enough, then the Russian Federation must and will retaliate, and we will enter into the kind of cataclysmic measure, counter measure, counter-counter measure spiral which will rid the universe of its human infestation. 

Perhaps for the better.
_______

© 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 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.


[1] See Blinova, Ekaterina (2022).  Interview of Jacques Cheminade, “Ex-French Presidential Candidate: West Upended Minsk Agreements, Now Reaps What It Sowed in Ukraine”; Sputnik International, February 24, 2022, found at https://sputniknews.com/20220224/ex-french-presidential-candidate-west-upended-minsk-agreements-now-reaps-what-it-sowed-in-ukraine-1093329336.html, first accessed on February 24, 2022.

[2] See AbuKhalil, As’ad (2022).  “The Angry Arab: The Middle East & the War in Ukraine”; Consortium News Volume 27, Number 75 — Wednesday, March 16, 2022, available at https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/16/the-angry-arab-the-middle-east-the-war-in-ukraine/?unapproved=429977&moderation-hash=7623d2c54762770b523fde22d248e29d#comment-429977, first accessed on March 16, 2022.

[3] See North Atlantic Treaty Organization (2021).  “Relations with Colombia”; available at https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_143936.htm.

[4] See Hedges, Chris (2022): “Waltzing to Armageddon”; Consortium News, Volume 27, Number 74 — Tuesday, March 15, 2022; available at https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/15/chris-hedges-waltzing-to-armageddon/, first accessed on March 15, 2022.

[5] See Johnstone, Diana (2022): “For Washington, War Never Ends”, Consortium News, Volume 27, Number 75 — Wednesday, March 16, 2022, available at https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/16/diana-johnstone-for-washington-war-never-ends/, first accessed March 16, 2022.

[6] See, “Victoria Nuland, architect of the 2014 coup”, Transcript of intercepted call (“Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call”; BBC News, February 7, 2014, available at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957).

[7] The term Nazi and neo-Nazi are admittedly hyperbolic and overused but have come to reform to racial supremacist who abhor racial melding and are here used in that context, although, in the Ukraine, actual empathy for the Nazis has always been present.

[8] It is probable that the relationship between the merchants of Novgorod and the Varangians started out as a protective mercenary arrangement which, with or without the consent of the merchants, morphed into a more permanent institutional meld.

[9] Rurik, for those enamored of Netflix fantasies disguised as history, is the protagonist in the Netflix series, “Vikings”.

[10] See Johnstone, Caitlin (2022).  “International Law Is a Meaningless Concept When It Only Applies To US Enemies”, March 17, 2022, available at https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/03/17/international-law-is-a-meaningless-concept-when-it-only-applies-to-us-enemies/#comment-77044, first accessed on March 17, 2022.

[11] Most of Latin America (with the notable exception of the Republic of Colombia), most of the Middle East, most of Africa and the Peoples’ Republic of China have refrained from joining the anti-Russian crusade.

[12] For an example of how close we are to a terminal miscalculation, see Bedenko, Daria (2022).  “India Has Accidentally Fired Missile into Pakistan, Incident to Be Investigated – MoD”, Sputnik News, March 11, 2022, available at https://sputniknews.com/20220311/india-has-accidentally-fired-missile-into-pakistan-incident-to-be-investigated—mod-1093779228.html, first accessed on March 11, 2022.

Blithely Travelling on the Road to Perdition

This morning I read an article[1] in Consortium News, one of the few reliable sources of objective and critical information on national and international events in a world dominated by manipulative propaganda.  I recommend that it be read and shared widely.  I’ve provided details in the footnote below.  It warms me to think that, although it is perhaps a tiny club, the “sane” still, to some extent exist.  It also motivated me to make some observations as to how delusionally we permit ourselves to be governed.

These observations could have been shared at almost any time during the past two hundred years but seem even more relevant today when it seems obvious that the great experiments of 1789 have failed to fulfill their expectations, but that nonetheless, criticizing them is an intolerable heresy.  Still, the following question just won’t go away:

How reasonable is it to propagate a dysfunctional system, in this case, the oxymoron which the term democracy has come to represent? 

While direct democracy may somewhat function, its oligarchic variants, representative and participatory democracy have been utter failures.

Why?

First of all, as majority-premised representative systems, representative and participatory democracies require widespread participation by the citizenry with citizenship open to at least all adults impacted by governmental decisions.  Majority means more than 50% of the total, not more than fifty percent of a fraction, thus, in a real democratic system, non-participation at best qualifies as a negative vote.  In most so called democracies, the best that is attained is a plurality of those participating, i.e., a fraction of those participating larger than any other fraction, but all too frequently, less than the combination of all participating fractions and hence, not close to a majority.

Secondly, perhaps the most obvious characteristic of representative and participatory democracies is corruption in an ever expanding plethora of forms ranging from the concept of gerrymandering criticized but frequently implemented in the United States by all major parties, to structural rules designed to facilitate electoral fraud in the name of “counting every vote” (even those of people who don’t exist or vote several times and in diverse jurisdictions).  In addition to electoral fraud, there is fraud associated with false electoral promises by those elected, as to which there exist no means of enforcing compliance.  Finally, there is the massive use of deception in electoral campaigns by special interest groups meant to perpetuate governance by wealthy economic elites, now expanded beyond electoral campaigns into an omnipresent system of constant organized deception maintained through controlled corporate and social media and heavy handed censorship facilitated by the growth of communicative technology.

Even if representative and participatory democracies functioned as a means to permit rule by majorities, there is little hope that such rule would be just and equitable rather than selfishly oppressive of the rights of individuals and minorities.  Democracy is not synonymous with liberty and certainly not synonymous with the concept of individual or group rights.  One only has to consider the current “cancel culture” which the purportedly liberal “woke” seek to impose on everyone.

Finally, one has to take into account that political and economic power is not centered in political entities but rather, has been concentrated in systems that not only do not answer to political or judicial institutions, but rather, which effectively own and control them, and which use them to fleece the huge majority of people through endless wars either carried on directly or orchestrated through manipulation.  Manipulation through which the majority of the world’s resources are filtered in the form of “defense” expenditures necessary to orchestrate and fund wars.  The current United States and NATO orchestrated conflict between the Russian Federation and the Ukraine is only the latest example.  Such wars, are, ironically defended, in large part, as necessary, to expand the use of the dysfunctional representative or participatory forms of purported democracy described above.

As individuals at least many of us appear capable of discerning the situation in which we find ourselves. A form of slavery more or less comfortable for some but devastating to a huge segment of the world’s population.  As groups, however, sociological dynamics come into play which obfuscate our perceptions and render us all too easy to manipulate.  The concept of “others”, our opponents conceived of as brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and friends, seem, to disappear, along with our empathy, and society becomes polarized into an us-versus-them, self-destructive organism, one all too easy to control through tried and true divide-and-conquer strategies and tactics.

Given the foregoing, is there no hope?  Are there no better possible systems?  The answer is: probably.  Some form of meritocracy perhaps (not currently in vogue in the face of a “handicapper general” quota mentality).  Plato believed in a benign fascist führer based system led by an all-powerful philosopher king who could own nothing and have no family and would thus be immune to corruption.  Indeed, the concept of concentration of power in a dictatorship, not in a pejorative sense but representing the opposite of today’s popular purported division of power systems, was popular for limited periods in Republican Rome and is, in fact, an emergency feature in most modern governments under circumstances where governing efficiency is essential.  At the other end of the political spectrum lie anarchism and communism, both predicated on a belief that humans are innately good and that little or no governance is required, a philosophy to some extent shared by libertarians.  Somewhere in between one might hope lies an answer.  But implementation of reforms is almost impossible given the concentration of power everywhere in the hands of the most selfish, most ruthless and most corrupt who (as Donald Trump may have learned and Vladimir Putin may be learning) are not willing to accept any changes in a system that works so well for them and for their friends and families.

So we vote, at least some of us, then complain about the results; usually all of us.  And we continue to fruitlessly spin our wheels while, all around us, millions are murdered or sentenced to unfulfilled lives and early graves to feed the boundless greed of the very worst among us, many of whom are those who, in our ignorance, we most admire.

Like automatons we are programmed through purported entertainment, video games and news programs.  We grow to hate those who seem different (although in most cases the differences are illusory or minor), fighting over things that will not change, their continued existence being essential distractions from our real problems.  And we blithely continue on the road to perdition.

But to the tune of a Bing Cosby and Bob Hope road movie.
_______

© 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.


[1] Brenner, Michael (March 5, 2022).  “War, Conflict & Enemies of Truth”, Consortium News, Volume 27, Number 66 — Monday, March 7, 2022.

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?
_______

© 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

Of Colin Rand Kaepernick, Robert E. Lee and Francis Scott Key, the Uncivil Civil War and More on this Day Set Aside to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali

Today, January 17, 2022, is a day set aside to honor two famous Americans of African descent, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali.  One wonders how Dr. King would view today’s America.  I think it is almost as different as possible from what he hoped it would be.  Ali might have been less surprised and more sanguine.  Perhaps some reality checks are in order, unpleasant reality checks for everyone involved, and I believe Colin Rand Kaepernick is a viable vehicle for such introspection.  He is a strange symbol for many concepts, a number of them incoherently inconsistent with others.  In essence, like Ali, although to a much lesser extent, he is someone who has been forced to choose between professional and financial success and his conscience.  Unlike Ali, he was not the best that ever was at his athletic endevors, he may have become a great quarterback or merely been eventually cast aside as mediocre, but cast aside he was, not by the United States government as was the case with Ali, put by the owners of the National Football League, bowing to pressure from jingoist elements in our society that worship symbols, much as fascists do, without really understanding them.  Unfortunately, that pretty much defines the disparate competing elements working to sunder us, to polarize us to lead us once again into violent civil strife as once again, families are torn asunder based on narratives that have little to do with reality. 

It is certainly not only right wing, empire loving pseudo-conservatives to blame.  For example, the claim by Cancel Culture “Woke” warriors that meritocracy is racist and sexist is a huge insult to minorities of all races, nationalities and genders.  It is amazing how blatantly unaware of their condescension those privileged pseudo liberals are.  Real liberals and real progressives know better and all we ask is that as Martin Luther King, Jr. hoped, we not be judged by anything other than our character and abilities (“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”).

Meritocracy would seem to have been what would have most benefitted Mr. Kaepernick, but meritocracy not delimited by required political correctness, a social disease that impacts autocratic infected activists in both major parties, none of whom adequately represent either the political right (denominated Paleolithic, fascist, racist and extreme or radical by its opponents in the Democratic Party) or the political left (denominated Communist, socialist and extreme or radical by its opponents in the Republican Party).  Interestingly, the sane are not necessarily found in the apathetic center or among those who identify as independent due to lack of interest, but rather, are scattered among the populist fringes, left as well as right, who realize that for a very long time, perhaps forever, we have all been manipulated, used and abused for the benefit of the very few who rule us all as though they owned the One Ring of which JRR Tolkien wrote.

Colin Rand Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco Forty-Niners of the National Football League is famous, or infamous (depending on your perspective) for refusing to honor the playing of the United States’ national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, at the start of a professional football game in which he played.  His example was subsequently followed by other professional and university football players of African descent, and then by athletes and sympathizers of diverse races.  The related symbolic protests further polarized an already divided nation and Mr. Kaepernick has evidently been “blackballed” from playing in the National Football League, although at some point, perhaps his skill had so deteriorated that having placed him on an NFL team roster would have been a mere token gesture.

But what was Mr. Kaepernick’s point?

Apparently, the catalyst was the following line from the third stanza in the poem written by Francis Scott Key in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812, and subsequently incorporated into the tune of a British bar song that in 1931 became the national anthem of the United States: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave”.  According to British historian Robin Blackburn, the phrase referred to the many thousands of African descended slaves who flocked to the British during the War of 1812, where their status as slaves was not recognized by the British, including a number who took service with the British against their American masters in the Corps of Colonial Marines.  According to Wikipedia and other more reliable sources[1], Francis Scott Key, when he wrote those verses in 1814, was a slaveholding lawyer from an old Maryland plantation family who, thanks to that system of human bondage had grown rich and powerful.  When he wrote the poem that would, in 1931, become the national anthem proclaiming our nation “the land of the free,” Key, like the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, not only profited from slaves but harbored racist conceptions of American citizenship and human potential. Africans in America, he said, were: “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.” 

While Key was composing the line “O’er the land of the free,” it is likely that black slaves were trying to reach British ships in Baltimore Harbor. They knew that they were far more likely to find freedom and liberty under the Union Jack than they were under the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  Key subsequently used his political office as the district attorney for the City of Washington from 1833 to 1840 to defend slavery, attacking the abolitionist movement in several high-profile cases.  Key sought to crack down on the free speech of abolitionists he believed were riling things up in the city and prosecuted a New York doctor living in Georgetown for possessing abolitionist pamphlets.  In the resulting case, U.S. v. Reuben Crandall, Key made national headlines by asking whether the property rights of slaveholders outweighed the free speech rights of those arguing for slavery’s abolishment, hoping to silence abolitionists who he charged wished to “associate and amalgamate with the Negro.”  Though Crandall’s offense was nothing more than possessing abolitionist literature, Key felt that abolitionists’ free speech rights were so dangerous that he sought, unsuccessfully, to have Crandall hanged.  Hmmm, that does sound quite a bit like the Democratic Party’s Cancel Culture attitude towards those who oppose compulsory vaccination during the current Covid Crisis.  Mr. Key, was, of course, a member of his era’s Democratic Party.

American history is full of irony and hypocrisy but today, none is more blatant than that engaged in today by so called “woke” pseudo progressives waving the Cancel Culture flag.  It is not surprising given the pathetic state of education in the United States.  This week a “woke” reporter ridiculed a Congressional candidate’s reference to a debate between Abraham Lincoln and former slave and civic leader Frederick Douglas asserting that “the” debate was with Illinois politician Stephen Douglas, as if there had only been one debate between the late president and anyone named Douglas.  In fact, there was a huge debate in the White House between Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and other Black leaders (then referred to as Negroes) concerning Lincoln’s postwar plan to deport all Americans of African descent from the re-United States, Lincoln noting that it was obvious the two races could never live together.  Frederick Douglass did not agree.  Neither, much later, did Martin Luther King, Jr.  Ali’s position on the issue, may have been more complex.  Unfortunately, not many people realize that, although opposed to slavery, Abraham Lincoln was an avowed racist.  How sad that Americans of African descent today look upon him as their very own hero.

The sad reality is that almost everything taught in the United States concerning its un-civil Civil War is utterly distorted, most especially the claim that the “Union” invaded the States in Secession to “free the slaves”.  Nothing could have been further from the truth as then President Lincoln made clear in his first inaugural address when he said …. 

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that–

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

I now reiterate these sentiments, and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause–as cheerfully to one section as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution–to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause “shall be delivered up” their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not with nearly equal unanimity frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

How in good conscience then, can the claim be made that the Civil War was initiated in order to secure freedom from the odious institution of slavery for the millions of enslaved Americans of African descent then held as property not only in the South, but throughout the United States of America?  Well, as easily as Jefferson’s claim that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ….” is held as a sacred pillar of American democracy; and as easily as the Confederate Stars and Bars are despised while the Stars and Stripes, which flew over a nation that enforced slavery not only during the Civil War but for the entire period from 1776 until 1866; and as much as the anthem “Dixie” is reviled while Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, including the lines “No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave” are glorified.  They are useful lies used not only to maintain most Americans of African Descent in political bondage, but to assure that most of us are also subjected to sugar coated governmental tyranny.  Colin Kaepernick was apparently, less ignorant than most when, on that fateful Sunday, he elected to kneel as Mr. Key’s ditty was played before the adoring football crowd in a now ubiquitous Pentagon funded pregame ritual honoring the ongoing murder of millions by a politicized American military machine.

Mr. Kaepernick’s protest involved rare coherence amidst our current politicohistoric incoherence, although perhaps the adjective “current” is misplaced.  It is interesting to note that neither George Washington nor Thomas Jefferson nor Francis Scott Key nor any of the “founding fathers” (other than perhaps Benjamin Franklin) ever did as much for Americans of African descent as did Robert E. Lee after his surrender at Appomattox Court House, but he is the one on whom the purportedly “woke” have focused their disdain.  So, Mr. Kaepernick may certainly have had a more than valid point, assuming he is not among the myriads of Americans of African descent who support the Democratic Party: the party of the Confederacy and the Ku Klux Klan, the party of segregation and of the Clinton-Biden welfare and penal reform acts that have destroyed most of the current generation of American Black males.  The party that uses and abuses Americans of African descent to stay in power by doing all it can to generate anti-Black sentiment by keeping the issue of racism festering and profitably alive and holding out the worst among American Blacks (think George Floyd) rather than people like Mr. Kaepernick, Dr. King or Muhammad Ali as the persons who Americans of African descent should eulogize and emulate.

As I think today of Dr. King and Muhammad Ali, and yes, of Colin Kaepernick and even George Floyd, I grieve for the reality that Americans of African descent will never be truly free until they discard the emotional, social and political shackles that bind them to the worst among us, until they again develop real leaders, men Like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X, rather than Democratic Party overseers in the Congressional Black Caucus.  The Democratic Party is currently seeking to politically enslave Hispanics and immigrants (groups of which I am a member) the way it has way too many Blacks.  Hopefully it will not succeed.  Certainly not today’s authoritarian, antilibertarian, pro-Cancel Culture Democratic Party so alien from the party of Dennis Kucinich and James Webb and Tulsi Gabbard.

Mr. Kaepernick’s protest and his willingness to sacrifice a professional career ought to be more than merely symbolic.  Indeed, merely symbolic actions tend to delay rather than to accelerate the required changes they seek to promote.  With respect to racism and xenophobia and misogyny, change require a coming together rather than a drifting apart and those changes can neither be imposed nor legislated, they cannot be attained by fictionalizing history or by deceptive journalism, they cannot be attained by ridiculing those who need to be converted.  They can only be attained when empathy replaces apathy and when transparent, honest and competent leadership replaces the snake pit of oligarchic elites who rule and ruin us all now, whether we are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, male or female.  And that won’t happen as long as members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious and other societal groups continue to be deluded into voting as a block without holding their leaders accountable for failing to meet commitments essential to us all in attaining justice, equity, equality and a real opportunity to not only pursue but attain happiness.  It won’t happen unless we rededicate ourselves with the courage of Muhammad Ali to the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Something to seriously consider as we head father and farther away from Dr. King’s dream.
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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.


[1] On which the following information is based.

An Introspective Analysis of Sociopolitical and Economic Perspectives as the Year Morphs from 2021 to 2022

Or perhaps, merely another much too lengthy diatribe!

On a very personal, intimate level, 2021 was a success for me.  I survived somehow.  The same was probably true for many people, perhaps for most, despite all the obstacles put in play in order for those in power to maintain their unfettered control.  They count on that; keep us at least barely satisfied with our lots and frightened by manufactured crises and we’ll grumble but stay in line.  But in 2021, they almost went too far, all too recklessly skating on thin ice.  Unfortunately for us, to them that means they did a great job.  The ice seemingly held.  Their prime tools this time around were:

  • The generation of hysteria over the January 6 political protests, characterized as an insurrection on the scale of the Civil War and terrorism akin to the attacks on September 11, 2001 and even, to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1946.  To some extent such comparisons are valid, they all distort reality, ignoring the reasons such events took place and in their stead, manufacturing fictional noble causes; and
  • The Covid 19 pandemic and its related isolation and economic constraints, especially the false preventive efficiency attributed to purported vaccines and the ostracism that those opposed to vaccinations should be made to suffer.

Each of those tools were amplified thanks to the subservient corporate media and Internet platforms which managed to polarize us more than ever, permitting those who rule us to massively enrich and empower themselves while we were kept busy snapping at each other, a polarized population being, ironically, a docile population as far as those who control us are concerned, easy to confuse and manipulate.  An allegory for 2021 might have been a large pack of dogs viciously biting their own tails as each ran around in futile circles while their handlers guffawed.

While it gets tiring (as in the case of quixotic tilting at windmills), for many years I have sought to clarify what real progressives and leftists are about, what they definitively do not embrace, and that the Democratic Party is neither liberal nor progressive nor leftist (even though too many who share those perspectives are perpetually trapped there, spinning their wheels furiously in the futile aspiration of attaining “change from within”).  As the year turns from 2021 to 2022, I will once again masochistically share certain premises important to my personal political philosophy, a blend between democratic socialism and libertarianism, knowing that, assuming my views are not censored, they will be trolled and distorted and then, as deformed, ridiculed by the zombie-like-walking-silly (i.e., the purportedly “Woke” cancel culture groupies). 

Here goes:; …, one more time!!!

First of all, the foundation.  My sociopolitical and economic perspectives are premised on the realization that every human being is both an individual and a member of a concentric series of collectives varying from personal relationships with other individuals to membership in the human species as a whole.  Among them are the diverse levels of the State which, for good or ill, is used as a tool to hold our individualistic nature in check.  As a result of such dual nature, conflicts requiring resolution arise.  Such conflicts should, when possible, be reconciled so that the demands of both natures are met but when they cannot be reconciled, I believe the collective interest must prevail:  Libertarians believe the converse.  The corrupt believe something else and that third perspective, incoherent and counterproductive, is currently the One Ring that rules us all.  The producers of the old television series “Star Trek” put my collectivist perspective well when they had its most popular fictional figure, the Vulcan Spock, state “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.  That is even more true, of course, when it involves needs of the many and whims of the privileged few.

Second, on the importance of an open mind willing to listen as well as to pontificate and thus, to grow and improve.  The one thing I most admired about the late Ross Perot during his independent candidacy for the presidency of the United States was his defense of his willingness to change his position on diverse issues.  The corporate media and most politicians consider that anathema, wishy washy and a sign of hypocrisy and in many cases, they’re right.  But Mr. Perot wisely noted that only a fool, and a selfish one at that, is unwilling to admit when he’s wrong, and to seek to correct related errors.  Notwithstanding my current strongly held views (they’ve been drastically different in the past), I’ve always felt that an open mind leads to growth (and transition), thus my sociopolitical and economic perspectives are also premised on the reality that almost all political and economic interactions involve pragmatic collectivist “conventions” (as described below) rather than objectively verifiable “truths”.  That is the foundation for the “scientific method” of inquiry, a continuing process and work in progress changing with the context and evolving as time and experience change prior realities, as true for the social as for the physical sciences.  Interestingly, that was a fundamental premise in Marxist-Hegel influenced ideology involving dialectics.  “Conventions” are social constructs created and enforced though our collective natures but impacted in their development by our individuality, as in Galileo and Newton and Einstein revolutionizing previously held beliefs.  They are, in essence, a pragmatic solution to the improbability of proving absolute truths predicated on the realization that “faith alone” does not constitute proof.  They involve a collectivist agreement to treat something as true, because it works, for so long as it continues to function, something on which both mathematics and physics are premised.  But conventions can be easily distorted and manipulated by those who control the mechanisms through which we exchange information, especially through the tools made available to them by behavioral psychology.  Consequently, reality can become almost impossible to accurately discern, especially since it is so readily manipulated by those who have cornered the market on power.

Third; on democracy, liberty, pluralism and human rights.  In the segment of our planet which, for political purposes, we have arbitrarily denominated the “West” (an illusory concept in a revolving globe), we claim to base our society on “participatory, representative democracy” limited by “human rights”.  Unfortunately, neither exist nor have ever existed, not even as conventions. 

Democracy has a meaning, government by a majority, but the meaning has been utterly distorted by insisting that it also includes liberty and pluralism, concepts utterly at odds with majority rule.  Liberty is that within us which no one can require us to change, no matter what, and pluralism is the opposite of majority rule, it is the right of minorities to establish their own rules.  Even if the term “democracy” was given its logical meaning, limited to majority rule, it has rarely if ever functioned because massive participation is required to attain a majority.  Majority means more than half, not of those willing to participate, but of everyone impacted.  At best we sometimes attain majorities of those who participate, which is not a real majority, and most often we attain mere pluralities, i.e., the largest single number although the combination of those opposed is larger.  An example is a field of three candidates where the “victor” receives 35% of the vote and those utterly opposed to the perspectives of the victor divide the remaining 65% of the vote (the majority), with one candidate receiving 33% of the vote and the other, 32%.  As a consequence, for example, in the United States, because of political abstention, majorities are rarely if ever attained.  Those abstaining frequently do so because the political system enshrined by law gives collectives in the form of political parties a virtual monopoly on selecting candidates and platforms, none of which appeal to them.  Consequently, power is held by those opposed by the disunited majority of abstainers and the opposition party or parties.  The illusion of democracy (its orchestrated verisimilitude), is used by the tiny groups who long ago consolidated real power, what today is referred to as the “Deep State”, to infuse their use of the monopoly of force embodied in the State with apparent legitimacy in order to “persuade” (more accurately “force”) us to comply with their personal objectives, to our collective detriment.  Consequences include:

  • Futile armed conflicts where we and our families do the suffering, and they profit, and related expenditures on maintaining standing armies equipped with the latest technological toys
  • Abuse of the concept of intellectual property to generate long term, counter-competitive monopolies and force us to pay for inferior products, with the holders of such rights rarely being those who developed the intellectual property;
  • Monopolistic control, frequently through government action, over the economy, means of communication, transportation, etc.

Human rights involve a similar illusory construct, a pabulum enunciated based on truths purportedly so obvious that the the need for proof is disdained (e.g., the Declaration of Independence’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, penned by slaveholder Thomas Jefferson), an argument ironically based on assertions by empiricist John Locke who wrote that all individuals are equal in the sense that they are born with certain self-obvious (and thus exempt from requirements of proof) “inalienable” natural rights” (i.e., rights that are God-given and can never be taken or even given away, among which are “life, liberty and property”).  Other empiricist philosophers including David Hume subsequently demolished such argument noting that nothing was too self-obvious to do away with the need for proof, and then illustrating why that was so.  Instead, Hume argued (as previously addressed) that absolute truth being impossible to prove, humans utilize the concept of “conventions”, agreements to treat certain postulates as true because doing so is convenient until proved otherwise. 

My sociopolitical and economic perspectives with respect to the concept of so-called rights are premised on the more realistic belief that the illusory concept of rights should become a reality, while recognizing that while we tend to worship the concept of rights, as we do our religions, both are merely collective constructs which we honor most in the breach.  That is because, while rights are purportedly inherent rather than granted and thus necessarily unconditional, all interactions involving such concept are in fact conditional (many such conditions being not only reasonable but necessary) and thus none are inherent, much though we may wish they were.  They are all merely conditional promises by the State and now the international community, thus, rather than inherent, they are promises of grants from above, either to refrain from acting or promising to act, if certain conditions are met, and if such inaction or actions are convenient at any given time.  While the so-called “first generation rights” involved restrictions on action by the State that cost nothing[1], all subsequent generations of rights are not only costly, but require action not only by the State but by everyone and sometimes more recently, by nature and the universe itself.  While laudable, none can, in fact, be guaranteed.  “Guarantees” (another illusory concept) of what we call rights is impossible, which is why all rights are violated more frequently than they are respected.  That is especially true as the concept of rights is expanded to positive actions such as decent housing, decent wages, access to healthcare, access to education, a healthy sustainable environment and peace.  Consequently, purported “rights” are merely aspirational deceptions; mere sociopolitical and economic goals that should be governmental priorities but which are usually ignored resulting in popular discontent and in the loss of faith in communal governing structures. That they are embodied at the pinnacle of constitutions does not make them any more real.

Fourth, on constitutions.  So, about constitutions, the highest level norms of the land … Unless they’re not.  In the best sense, constitutions are the collective conventions we use to try and reconcile opposing concepts by prioritizing them in different context so as to derive the best each has to offer.  They do so by establishing organs for collective governance and detailing the broad outlines of how they are supposed to operate, limiting the authority of majorities, and establishing priorities on which the governed are entitled to rely, if they meet designated conditions.  However, notwithstanding consistent use of purported “guarantees”, they in fact guarantee nothing, they couldn’t even if their authors truly hoped they would.  Even worse, once constitutions are used to centralize power, it becomes almost impossible to compel its appropriate exercise through constitutional means.  As in the case of religions and sacred texts, constitutional guarantees too often become extraneous in practice. Being merely social constructs, constitutions, per se, are neither inherently good nor inherently bad.  Indeed, rather than being the crystallization of norms insisted upon by the populace, i.e., norms percolating from below, they are almost always constructs imposed from above designed to maintain economic elites in power through deception with illusory promises of democracy, rarely if ever kept.

Constitutions are poorly understood, even by academics and jurists, too often because they are drenched in propaganda.  Thus, in the purportedly liberal “West”, many assert that without “division of powers”, a national charter cannot properly be denominated a constitution, the same is purportedly true about a constitution that does not specifically “guarantee” human rights.  To use an appropriate albeit anachronistic term, “balderdash”!  Division of Powers was an eighteenth century concept designed to avoid authoritarian government by dividing political power into three purportedly coequal branches (executive, legislative and judicial) and insisting that no single person or institution could exercise more than one.  Several additional branches have emerged over the centuries, most importantly the power of constitutional review, the power to regulate elections and the power to police against governmental corruption but in many countries (e.g., the United States), they are all subsumed among the three traditional branches.

Division of Functions is a slightly similar albeit vastly different concept which recognizes, in essence, that government power comes in three flavors, but does not prohibit their comingling in one person or institution.  The fusion of all three flavors in one person or entity has historically been referred to as “dictatorship” but has not been universally or historically been seen as a negative, rather, it is a highly efficient form of government most useful in emergencies.  Even dictatorships with power vested in a single person (e.g., Saudi Arabia) honor Division of Functions with power administratively delegated to subordinates.

While most parliamentary (Westminster) systems claim to honor the doctrine of Division of Powers, none do so as the legislative and executive functions both stem from the parliament, from which the executive is selected and serves at the pleasure of the parliamentary majority, and in some cases, the ultimate judicial power as well as the power of constitutional review is also vested in parliament.  The United Kingdom is an example as is Israel although neither have formal constitutions embodied in a supreme written charter.  Presidential systems such as that established by the United States Constitution of 1787-89 give lip service to the doctrine of Separation of Powers but through huge loopholes denominated “checks and balances” and the power to issue administrative “decrees” create more of an incoherent hybrid system which in practice centralizes power in the executive.

Neither Division of Powers, Division of Functions or dictatorship have anything to do with “democracy”, in the sense of universal participatory government by the majority, which deals only with how those who govern are selected.  Adolf Hitler’s Nazis were initially empowered through democratic elections while the Union led by Abraham Lincoln was not, he having been a minority president.  Of course, both were dictators.  Indeed, most governments identify themselves as democracies insisting that opponents who also identify as democracies are doing so dishonestly.  Interestingly, the major blocs in conflict all have a point.  Actually, several.  First of all, there is no truly democratic constitution anywhere so they’re all half-right.  But the issue that divides involves a misinterpretation which, as previously indicated, in the “West”, merges the conflicting concepts of liberty and majority rule.  Thus, to “Western” constitutional scholars, the constitutions of, for example, socialist states lack libertarian guarantees and are thus not “democratic.  Conversely and more accurately, constitutional scholars in such states stress that they in fact have far greater participation by their citizens in elections, usually in excess of 90%, and that real majorities of all eligible voters are required, although such participation is compelled.  Western scholars reply that candidates in socialist states are pre-vetted, but socialist scholars argue that political parties in the West serve the same function.  Apparently, the only sure thing is that electoral systems everywhere serve to deprive the electorate of a meaningful voice in candidate selection, hence my assertion that democracy does not exist anywhere.  Nonetheless, notwithstanding the fact that in practice there are no truly democratic constitutions, or libertarian constitutions, or pluralistic constitutions, or equitable constitutions, or constitutions that “guarantee” human rights, they are still essential as the means through which such opposing concepts are prioritized, even in a dysfunctional fashion; the organic nature of government is established; and, the manner in which those charged with the power to govern are, at least formally, selected.

Depressing realities, I know.  Real progressives and leftists recognize that, as in the case of the illusory concept of rights, the concept of constitutions involves a structure potentially useful in reconciling conflicting interests and thus useful, indeed necessary, to attain progressive and leftist sociopolitical and economic goals.  Unfortunately, constitutions are more than anything works of art with beautiful platitudes, such as “constituent power” and sources of constitutional authority based on the People or the Nation and the “consent of the governed” and “representative government”, but little else.  Of course, constitutions could serve extremely useful, pragmatic functions, … theoretically.  Progressives and leftists recognize that the concepts of majority rule, liberty and minority rights are antagonistic and contradictory and thus difficult to implement concurrently, but that they are all desirable and thus require real supreme norms in the form of constitutions to provide a mechanism to prioritize such concepts in specific instances as a means of resolving their inherent contradictions, and that such mechanisms involve development and implementation of policies, policies that should evolve over time to reflect changing circumstances and that may differ based on geographical values and cultural traditions. 

Fifth, on policies.

Personally, I see immense values in two conflicting political schools of thought, democratic socialism and libertarianism, something I believe characterizes real leftists and real progressives. Based on a synthesis of such perspectives, there are a number of policies that I personally currently support which I believe should be implemented through the collective we refer to as the State under the mechanisms we refer to as government.  These include, among others: free education at all levels; free healthcare; free insurance against unavoidable risks; equality of opportunity; freedom from discrimination based on gender, race, religion or ethnicity; a guaranteed minimum income adequate to meet basic needs to food, clothing and shelter; freedom of expression, even if one is wrong; equal rights to political participation; protection of personal integrity from assault; a functional system of justice and conflict resolution; and, elimination of corruption at any level.  Unfortunately, the Democratic Party, while seemingly supporting them, manipulates the foregoing in a manner that, rather than leading to their implementation, polarizes us all through use of ridicule, virtue shaming and coercion, all in a quest for political dominance.

Notwithstanding claims by the Democratic Party and the corporate media, real progressives and leftists do not support censorship, whether by governments or by private monopolies, nor do we support divisive identity politics or cancel culture.  We reject attempts to fictionalize history more than it already is by destroying monuments just as we have always opposed book burnings.  We certainly do not support impunity on any level, including the impunity now enjoyed by purported journalists spewing propaganda instead of news, and impunity enjoyed by government officials at any level, including the judiciary, the legislature, the executive, the military or the police.  While we believe that we should be free to act, we also believe that we must all be held responsible for the consequences of our actions.  We do not believe that corrective reactions to illegal conduct should be punitive but rather, that they should be restorative, corrective  and no more harmful to the violator than necessary, and that once the corrective actions demanded have been met, the violator must be fully and unconditionally restored to full status as a member of the collective involved.

Sixth, on the realization that not all solutions involve State action.  As a real progressives and leftist, I seek to reconcile libertarian and collective goals prioritizing non-State intervention, recognizing that most conflict resolution should not involve the coercive power of the State.  Thus many serious and troubling issues will not have generic solutions but must be left to specific individual and collective interaction.  Such issues include medical decisions involving our own bodies such as abortion and vaccination against pandemic diseases where no answer seems right for everyone; issues such as most aspects of consensual sexual practices or use of intoxicants and recreational drugs; issues involving consensual intimate associations among mentally competent adults; issues involving child rearing and education.  Those issues should be addressed either individually or by non-governmental collectives such as families, religions, philosophies and other voluntary groupings.

Seventh, on the importance of tolerance and empathy.  As a real progressives and leftist, I recognize that the foregoing all involve a permanent experiment and a permanent state of transition all too frequently unsettling and uncomfortable and that as in the case of evolution in nature, our individual and collective interactions sometimes result in negative aberrations that require correction but that transition is essential in a non-static setting such as that in which the human milieu exists.  I believe that much of the foregoing does not reflect perspectives exclusive to the left and to progressives but is shared among people of good faith with varying perspectives.  I believe that the vast majority of people everywhere share common goals, we want to be happy, healthy and secure, and to make our own decisions without being subjected to ridicule and slander.  To be free to say and do what we want while understanding that our liberty and autonomy has boundaries when it negatively impacts others.  That were it not for successful efforts to divide and polarize us, most of us are opposed to calcifying permanent authoritarian and totalitarian solutions, especially given the non-absolute and transitory nature of collective conventions.  Collective conventions only work when there is adequate communication, transparency and honesty in an empathic setting based on mutual respect, respect for the rights of others to hold and express contrary opinions. 

While in many cases for diverse reasons we all reach incorrect conclusions on important issues involving how we attain shared goals, it is very rare for anyone to alter wrongly held views because they are being scorned.  All scorn and ridicule do is discourage people from openly and honestly sharing their beliefs making effective dialogue improbable.  A great deal of the current social and political polarization is caused by lack of empathy and comprehension of the perspectives of others.  We are too insistent on being heard while being unprepared to listen with open minds and in that, too easily manipulated by those for whom our confusion and polarization are all too useful tools.

In conclusion, sort of

So, … a bit too long (I know) and perhaps easily forgotten amidst the onslaught of truly fake news from every direction and the opiates with which we are distracted from taking meaningful corrective action, opiates that not only include organized religion but also sports and television and action movies and videogames and our pets and our pet peeves and other distractions, I leave you all with this somewhat inappropriate and certain to be unappreciated gift, sort of like underwear and handkerchiefs at Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza, etc.: useful, but not all that much fun.

Things to consider as our artificial calendar once more turns after another very unpleasant and non-productive year.
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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.


[1] Freedom of expression, religion, assembly, etc., the so called political rights.  Noteworthy, the right to political participation was not among such rights (see, for example, the United States Constitution in its original version and the Bill of Rights), despite the American Revolution having purportedly been fought because of “taxation without representation”.

Personal Reflections on the Political Events in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021 was a day after which incoherence and hypocrisy ran rampant and political protest became anathema, at least for the corporate media, the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans and for a vocal segment (probably a minority), of the American citizenry.  Most Americans are probably confused given that the United States is a nation born of political protest, articulately if hypocritically crystalized in the Declaration of Independence and in the writings of all the “founding fathers”.  Being mistaken (possibly) has become synonymous, according to the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans and the corporate media, with lying, but only when done by others.  Conversely, lying, when engaged in by the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans and the corporate media, merely involves misinterpretations.

January 6, 2021 must be seen in context to understand why it occurred. 

  • First, the country was in the midst of rioting, arson and looting justified by the Democratic Party and corporate media as an appropriate response to police misconduct. 
  • Second, electoral safeguards in jurisdictions under Democratic Party control had been minimized, purportedly due to the Covid 19 pandemic, facilitating electoral fraud in a manner unacceptable in most of the world (i.e., eliminating voter identification requirements, mass mailing of ballots and permitting people other than the voter to turn in ballots). 
  • Third, the corporate media and the principal social media platforms had adopted an aggressive political posture interpreted by many, perhaps most, as indicative of a political bias, which culminated in depriving one of the principal candidates of access to the public, a practice traditionally criticized in the United States when engaged in by other countries as autocratic and antidemocratic. 
  • Fourth, for four years the Democratic Party and corporate media had been delegitimizing the 2016 elections as fraudulent on a massive, 24/7 basis, and justifying active “resistance” to the government that assumed office in January of 2017.

The 2020 elections were anomalous in that early in-person results veered in one direction only to be reversed at the last minute when “mail-in ballots” more susceptible to manipulation appeared, in some cases, under questionable circumstances.  Allegations of irregularities were virtually ignored, dismissed on procedural grounds, in contrast to the massive four year-long investigations of foreign meddling in the 2016 elections, and persons who honestly believed that the elections had involved electoral fraud where accused of lying, i.e., of knowing that no electoral fraud had been involved but intending to reverse the results by making knowingly false claims.  Indeed, anyone who failed to accept the results was branded a traitor, an insurrectionist and a political opportunist who needed to be permanently deprived of the right to participate in future electoral activities.  The Democratic Party, on assuming power, immediately initiated related criminal proceedings and Congressional investigations which have resulted in criminal referrals.

The contrast in positions concerning the legitimacy of and appropriate reaction to the 2016 and 2020 elections is startling.  The massive, organized resistance to the 2016 elections was deemed not only legitimate but necessary while corresponding attitudes with respect to the 2020 elections were deemed criminal.  It is now treason to believe that elections won by the Democratic Party are not legitimate based on perceived electoral fraud, or at least to act on that belief by active protest.  It is politically incorrect, racist and xenophobic to believe that safeguards against electoral fraud are necessary although the same safeguards with respect to “vaccination” are existentially necessary.  Interestingly, right now, the Republic of Kazakhstan is mired in political violence with real insurrectionist taking over and destroying government buildings and engaging in arson, looting and mayhem, activities the same Democratic Party led United States government that is prosecuting January 6, 2021 “insurrectionists” finds a legitimate exercise of democratic rights.

I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat and frankly, like more and more citizens, abhor both major political parties, but I am certain that electoral fraud is always present to some degree in democratic elections everywhere, not just in the United States.  I “know” that there was immense bias against the electoral aspirations of Republicans, and especially Mr. Trump, in both the corporate media and by the owners and operators of all major social media platforms and indeed, active intervention precluding dissemination of accurate information that negatively impacted Democratic Party electoral prospects, and that such activities dwarfed any “meddling” by anyone in the 2016 elections.  Because of the absence of any meaningful investigations into electoral irregularities in the 2020 elections, neither I nor anyone else has the ability to positively determine whether active electoral fraud was sufficient to impact the results, but am certain that corporate and social media “meddling” was a major factor.  Consequently, for me, January 6 is and will henceforth be a day for reflection on how utterly manipulated the United States citizenry is on political matters, how blatantly hypocritical the corporate media, Democratic Party and traditionalist Republicans are with respect to the electoral process, and how little they think of our cognitive abilities as they hammer us with incoherent and contradictory narratives.

I do not believe that the January 6, 2021 protests in front of the United States Capitol were anything to which the founding fathers would have been opposed, or that they involved treason or insurrection.  They were legitimate political protests at the appropriate place which, based on the relaxed standards for protests accepted in conjunction with Black Lives Matter riots, got out of hand, albeit without the arson, murder and mass looting that characterized the latter.  Most participants, those that were not outside or government provocateurs, were patriotic Americans exercising what they perceived to be their patriotic duty, and in that sense, perhaps the most important civil right is the right to me mistaken in their conclusions.  If mistakes are to be criminalized as treason and as grounds for the loss of political rights, then let it be done across the board.  That would politically ostracize virtually the entire political leadership of the United States. 

Probably not a bad thing.
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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.