Attack the Powerful

Some of the reactions to my recent piece on Nancy Reagan (“Nancy Reagan’s Dark Legacy” 7 Mar 2016) seem to lose the forest through the trees. After publishing the article at both C4SS and, I’ve received a few emails and comments which I believe misinterpret the intent of the article. Let me be clear, I’m not responding because I feel under attack, but rather because I’d like to double down on my assault on power.

The world today suffers from extreme deference to authority. There is a severe absence of challenges to power. That’s not to say that there aren’t lone wolves and small groups who succeed at holding the powerful accountable. But they’re few and far between. The media and others who have the platform to do so fail miserably. It’s as if they don’t view it as one of their central responsibilities. Essentially, the great majority of those tasked with attacking power do the exact opposite, and end up playing the role of P.R. for the elite.

Take Bill Maher for example. What a sad case of a comedian-turned-court jester. Maher’s good for an occasional diatribe on why pot should be legalized, or why Republicans are crazy, but leave him to his own devices and he’s soon begging for Barack Obama to come on his show, even going so far as advertising publicly how easy the interview will be. Marc Maron and Jimmy Fallon provide additional recent examples of pathetic Obama Court Jester-like interviews. This would’ve repulsed comedy’s renegade forefathers like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Richard Pryor.

The media is no different. Though there are notable exceptions, mostly gone are the days of counter-power journalists like Ida B. Wells, H.L. Mencken, and Garet Garrett, who slammed conventional wisdom, and had a generally adversarial relationship with the powerful. Those are the types of public figures we should be celebrating when they pass.

Most of us unwittingly play an enabling role in this unhealthy relationship with the elite. When a powerful figure like Nancy Reagan dies, our first instinct is to mourn her and celebrate her life and to blind ourselves to the conditions they created. It is the respectful and tactful thing to do, we’re told. I say take a sledgehammer to respect and tact.

Let their families and loved ones mourn them with opulent services and whitewashed retrospectives.

I wrote “Nancy Reagan’s Dark Legacy” because it needed saying amid the 24/7 hagiographic remembrances all over television and all throughout the news media. Those who lived under the Reagan regime need to hear an honest, clear-headed, biting critique of the effect Nancy Regan had on our lives. Anything less absolves Reagan of her role in the utterly horrific Drug War.

Behaving in such a sycophantic way when a member of the ruling class dies further entrenches the ruling class. Ignoring the profound harm the they cause the rest of us cultivates an atmosphere of obedience and empowers them to continue on their path of destruction. Not only will I not participate in it, I’ll attack it again and again, at every opportunity.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory