Hi everyone! Sorry for the late update. Sometimes stuff comes up and you gotta re-prioritize your day. Also, I totally just had the thing happen where a word – “prioritize” – looks wrong even when it’s spelled correctly. Weird feeling.
This is gonna be a super short update on the commentary side, since we’ve only posted two commentaries since last week. Luckily, our features section has been pumping out that quality content in the op-ed section’s stead.
The Week in Commentaries
Two pickups this week, both at the Augusta Free Press: My post on voting and Italian translator Enrico Sanna’s article on compulsory education in Italy.
This is actually Enrico’s first English-language commentary for C4SS, and I wanted to point it out specifically because it’s so good y’all:
Recently, the Guardian reported a grim story about a pupil in an elementary public school in the city of Milan, Italy. At lunchtime, the school principal took the pupil from the cafeteria and forced her to eat her lunch in the classroom, alone and away from her mates. Why? Because she had been caught red-handed. She had brought to school a homemade sandwich instead of relying on the daily lunch served by Milan’s public school system.
Anna Scavuzzo, in charge of the city’s school food policy, said it’s a matter of food safety. Her spokeswoman claimed to be worried by the effects of unhealthy food on children, wondering aloud, “If you permit everyone to bring their own food, how can you be sure that something won’t happen?”
You can bet this has nothing to do with food safety, and everything to do with browbeating and brainwashing children into deference to authority. Authority being the state, of which teachers and school administrators are a proxy.
I mean, damn good.
The Week in Features
Features got a heavy dose of love this week, so buckle up.
“If you consider yourself a centrist, you’re being played.” The week begins with Kevin Carson addressing regular folks who think they’re “adults in the room,” a category of cretin he profiled back in September. His message is pretty simple: the reason you think you’re a centrist is because you’ve been conditioned by the same media manipulation tactics the PR industry has used forever – splashed with a little dose of military grade psychological warfare. Quote:
This counter-insurgency or psy-ops approach of treating the public as an enemy is, in fact, quite common in industry. At a fracking industry conference in 2011, one industry executive recommended his colleagues download the military’s counter-insurgency manual (Eamon Javers, “Oil Executive: Military-Style ‘Psy Ops’ Experience Applied,” CNBC, November 8, 2011). And it’s not much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that a similar approach is being taken to managing public perceptions of the Dakota Access Pipeline standoff. In fact, for those of the generation that still gets its news primarily from TV and newswire stories in their local paper, there really is no public perception.
To see how successful this approach is on a broader, society-wide level, you need only look at the framing of issues by self-described “Progressives” in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. You can’t hang out in such circles on social media without repeatedly seeing bullet-pointed Internet memes on the lines of “Liberals don’t hate big business, we just… Liberals don’t hate the rich, we just…,” and so on, basically calling for a world that’s dominated by the same exact corporate and military institutions as at present, but with a little tweaking around the edges.
The so-called “moderates” are the textbook example of Duchin’s “Realists,” because a “moderate” position by its very nature defines itself by the minor extent of its structural deviations from the status quo. By definition, a moderate is the same as Duchin’s Realist, in that the “reforms” she envisions are entirely compatible with continued domination by the institutions that currently dominate, and can be implemented by the kinds of people currently running those institutions.
Up next, Tommy Raskin brings up some pretty good points on the types of people left-libertarians become:
It would be easy enough for left-libertarians to abandon this uneasy position by blending into mainstream leftism or libertarianism. But because they do not believe that either interpersonal aggression or natural aggression alone circumscribes liberty, left-libertarians proudly occupy the middle. They understand, as libertarians do, that the coercive subordination of one human being to another obstructs the victim’s flourishing. They also understand, as leftists do, that freedom is a vacuous concept if ostensibly “free” people lack the food, clothing, shelter, and medicine necessary to stave off aggression from nature. Although these positions are bound to provoke accusations of inconsistency, left-libertarianism actually seems to be one of the most consistent political dispositions. It is consistent, that is, with a comprehensive definition of human freedom in real-world settings.
Gaetano Venezia III’s first article for C4SS is a sober look at homonationalism’s rise following the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando earlier this summer. As a queer anarchist myself, this piece resonated with me to a pretty high degree. It can be hard to fight, as Gaetano puts it, “Such favorable association of LGBTQ+ culture, community, movements, and tragedy with nationalistic ideals, institutions, and projects.” Here’s a quote:
Whether intentional or not, homonationalism entrenches the idea of the state as protector and minimizes the very real claims that the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized communities have against state abuse. If one cares about those communities that have suffered from state oppression, one needs to become aware of and counteract homonationalism.
The call for more police “protection” of the LGBTQ+ community is short-sighted, as it ignores the history of police abuse of LGBTQ+ people and perpetuates the image of the police as protectors of all—and so ignores a history of actual abuses. A recent article about police presence during Pride events sums up these sentiments well: “Since when do we accept celebrating ourselves, our lives and the fight for LGBTQ liberation under the eyes of a violent police state that continues to be a large part of violence against queer and transgender people, especially queer and transgender people of color? …The very idea that we are protected by the police is a result of homonationalism and, often, one’s own privilege — especially considering Pride events now are largely dominated by upper-class, white, cisgender, gay white men and women,” a demographic that does not face as much abuse as LGBTQ+ people of color.
So yeah, more of this plz.
I honestly don’t know how he does it, but Kevin Carson was able to bang out another feature in less than two days. The second of the set revolves around the authoritarian right’s love of cops and hatred of groups like Black Lives Matter.
The same people who talk about “unintended consequences” and irrationality in the context of government policy in general, just assume that cops have absolute epistemological certainty about who’s guilty, rather than being fallible.They never seem to wonder how it’s possible for somebody to “just know” something they have no objective, concrete evidence for, or consider that cops’ “gut instincts” might be biased by unexamined prejudices.
And besides trusting the cognitive abilities of police and assuming they can’t be sincerely wrong about guilt, they also see cops as exceptional in terms of personal ethics and trustworthiness — they just assume that cops will never lie to convict somebody they know is innocent, either out of personal motives or because of political pressure from above to punish some higher-ups political enemies. For that matter, they assume that cops who lie to convict a “criminal” won’t also lie to the public to cover up their mistakes if they turn out to be wrong — as with, for example, the cop who was recorded shooting an unarmed man in the back and then planting a drop gun on the corpse.
Their very notion of “crime” is incoherent. Prisons are commonly described as “colleges of crime.” But insofar as law enforcement culture instructs and encourages officers behind the scenes in committing the illegal acts Ami recounted from Law & Order, police forces are colleges of crime on a scale that would put any prison to shame. If the idea of “the law” means anything at all, in the sense of a universally applicable body of constitutional, statute and case law, then the police and prosecutors on Law & Order (and the real-life cops and prosecutors who do the same things every day, all over America) are criminals, every bit as much — if not more so — as the people they shred the law to railroad into jail.
So what we’re left with is the implicit belief, on the part of authoritarian “small government” conservatives, that (to paraphrase Nixon) “it’s not a crime if someone in authority does it.”
The coup de grace of the week was Chad Nelson’s finally-finished transcript of an interview with Robert Anton Wilson by Charlie Hayden of Pacifica Radio.
According to Chad, “At some point in the late fifties or early sixties, Pacifica Radio’s Charlie Hayden interviewed the inimitable Robert Anton Wilson on all things anarchism. Wilson waxes poetic on anarchism’s foundations and answers some challenging questions from a presumable skeptic in Hayden. While the exact date of the interview is unknown, the early to mid-sixties appear to have been Wilson’s most overtly anarchist period. […]
“I purchased access to an audio version of this interview upon finding it in Pacifica’s archives, and with the help of Wilson scholar Nick Helweg-Larsen, have transcribed Part 1 below. Part 2 of the interview will appear at C4SS in the coming days. Enjoy.”
I will absolutely enjoy this, Chad. Thanks for the sweet gift!
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