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The Economic Destruction of Baltimore, by Rob Urie

    Baltimore, Police Violence and Economic Justice
    by ROB URIE
    “We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out’ for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.”
    Hillary Clinton 1994
    The Economic Backdrop
    American politics is the realm of Immaculate Conception where actual policies and accumulated history disappear behind a veil of personal characteristics and unrelated acts. The (mis)leadership class pretends that ruling class machinations— trade agreements, financial deregulation, imperial wars, surveillance and policing have no bearing on social outcomes. American cities bear the imprint of these policies plus the residuals of slavery, genocide and the particulars of Western capitalism that have embedded history into current social relations. This is to argue that the individualist explanation of Western history may be interesting for those so-inclined, but it fails as description in every conceivable dimension.
    Freddie Gray. Original Image source: cnn.com
    Political explanations of public policies like trade agreements and financial deregulation put a political face on fundamentally economic arrangements. When Bill and Hillary Clinton instituted the ‘tough-on-crime’ policies that so exacerbated mass incarceration there was a political explanation— pandering to White suburban voters’ manufactured fears of a Black urban underclass to garner votes, but the policies tied closely to American economic history as well. From slavery to convict leasing to urban dispossession, racial repression has produced economic value that has been expropriated. The Clinton’s neoliberal trade policies exacerbated the urban industrial exodus while deregulation of finance ‘monetized’ Black wealth for the taking. Seemingly unrelated ‘political’ policies often have economic explanations.
    Economic history ties America’s cities to political and economic hierarchy through the dimensions of this hierarchy. Washington to Baltimore to Philadelphia to New York was the land route North for Southern Blacks fleeing slavery. This was also one of the routes to industrial jobs following WWII. Sequential (engineered) oil crises in the 1970s roiled industrial America. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Federal Reserve policies decimated the industrial economy by increasing the value of the U.S. dollar. Bill Clinton passed NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and his deregulation of Wall Street provided the money needed to finance the relocation of a large portion of the U.S. industrial base overseas. None of these policies were crafted by the inner-city residents.

    Modern day Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago have neighborhoods left behind by policy decisions that decimated the economic bases that once supported them. When there were jobs people worked. When the jobs left people either stopped working or found other, less remunerative work in the service sector. The housing boom and bust monetized inner-city houses until the bubble burst. Rather than forcing Wall Street to clean up the mess inner city residents were left with their former wealth in the hands of bankers and an economy that imploded in the Great Recession. While this story is full of malefactors, Bill Clinton has major policy responsibility for mass incarceration, for neoliberal trade deals and for bank deregulation.
    The bankers who destroyed Baltimore discuss their bonuses
    with Congress. Image source: google images.
    The Murder of Freddie Gray
    The wholly implausible storyline that Freddie Gray severed his own spine being put out by the Baltimore police is a Rorschach test for social accountability. The political strategy of officialdom is to peel away those who will accept any explanation in favor of police actions, no matter how implausible, to marginalize protestors. That a significant portion of the population, both Black and White, wants to believe that the police always act in good faith illustrates a preconception that will only be effectively challenged through political estrangement. The fabrication adds insult to Freddie Gray’s murder and as such, to the conduct that the Baltimore police department needs to be held to account for. Freddie Gray was murdered in police custody. Technocratic explanations of the particulars only serve to obscure this basic truth.
    When videotape revealed the brutal beating the Los Angeles police inflicted on Rodney King the defense was able to convince a jury and a substantial portion of America that Mr. King had assaulted the police ‘batons’ with his head. One might wonder how graphic footage of a group of cops beating Rodney King within an inch of his life in plain public view could be construed otherwise. The tactic used was similar to the comments from officialdom, including the Black (mis)leadership class, toward protestors in Baltimore. Mr. King was alleged to have been in an angel dust rage that made him impervious to pain and to rational thought— he was an ‘out-of-control’ Black man. Likewise the protestors in Baltimore were deemed irrational ‘thugs,’ criminals with no legitimate right to political action.

    Graph (1) above: the official storyline has unknown forces producing intractable poverty in American cities when many of the forces are quite visible. Mass incarceration is racially targeted and causes wholesale immiseration by precluding meaningful employment. Wall Street’s subprime lending fiasco racially targeted neighborhoods and emptied them of residents as local wealth was transferred to the bank accounts of the already wealthy. It is paradoxical that public discussion of ‘looting’ in Baltimore has focused on angry citizens without deep discussion of what they are angry about. Home foreclosures in Baltimore (Graph (1) above) have followed the national housing boom – bust because Wall Street made predatory mortgage loans targeting neighborhoods of color. Rather than charging bankers with making fraudulent, predatory loans the citizens of Baltimore were forced to bear the consequences of banker malfeasance. Source: Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition.

    In telling form, officialdom’s concern for property overshadowed care for the life of Freddie Gray and the many other Black, Brown and poor White youth and men murdered by the police. These misplaced priorities are thinly veiled socio-cide, concern with what can be replaced in place of what can’t be. The rapid vilification of protestors was accompanied by Immaculate Conception politics, denial of responsibility for the circumstances being protested. However, made apparent by events in Baltimore is that police murders only enter the American consciousness when buildings and police cars burn. Assertions that peaceful protests are the only legitimate form face the burden of history and official hypocrisy. Moral suasion through peaceful protest assumes a capacity that divergent class interests render improbable.
    Democracy Now! illustrated one such experiential divide when a Baltimore mother refused to join local youth who had volunteered to clean a burned CVS store because, as she put it, the police need to be made to understand that they can’t murder Black youth with impunity. Left unexplored, and apparently unconsidered by the youth who saw the local CVS outlet as ‘their’ store, is that through direct purchase and their Caremark consulting business CVS has put hundreds of locally owned pharmacies in inner city neighborhoods out of business and replaced them with minimum wage jobs and extractive economic practices. Likewise, the Ace Cash Express that was burned is a payday lender whose business model is to make usurious loans in poorly banked communities under terms that lead to permanent debt servitude.
    State police or police state? Original image source: spaulforrest.com.
    National Mis-Leadership Meets Local Mis-Leadership
    When President Obama called protesters in Baltimore ‘criminals and thugs’ he neglected to mention the class divisions that have as his major campaign contributors the Wall Street bankers who engineered the housing boom – bust still devastating Baltimore and whose subsidiaries are the payday lenders who destroy lives and neighborhoods there. Some fair portion of these campaign contributors would have been ‘criminals’ if Mr. Obama’s Justice Department had not shielded them from prosecution for their crimes. The term ‘thugs’ is widely used as racist code for Black and Brown youth and could be more appropriately applied to American drone operators so regularly slaughtering wedding parties across the Middle East. And the term most certainly applies to the police who murder Black and Brown youth with alarming regularity and officially sanctioned impunity.
    Much of the reaction to events in Baltimore harkens to the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s quip that “justice is incidental to law and order.” Implied is that justice may be set to the side if order can be maintained through systematic injustice. The conceptual problem is that, as with President Obama’s and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s slander of protestors as ‘thugs,’ class interests lie behind class-based policing. Heavily armed, militarized police could storm Wall Street (as metaphor for geographically dispersed finance) and corporate executive suites kicking in doors, handcuffing everyone they meet and opening fire on those who aren’t immediately compliant under the same theorized justification they have for doing so in Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia or Los Angeles. That they don’t is evidence that neither law nor justice is behind police actions in poor communities.
    If peaceful change is possible, why have the police been militarized to prevent it?
    The Department of Homeland Security calls protestors ‘terrorists’
    and the Ferguson, MO police department calls them ‘the enemy.’
    Original image source: google images.
    The economic crises affecting communities of color in Baltimore and elsewhere tie directly to government policies like trade agreements that benefit financiers, upper class ‘professionals,’ industrialists and the owners of capital. Official indifference to the social consequences of industrial relocation has produced economic dead zones in major cities since the 1960s. Wall Street’s predatory mortgages decimated black wealth in cities like Baltimore and with it the capacity for economic investment. Elite chides that citizens are destroying their future prospects through rebellion provide cover for the economic forces they control for their own benefit. In the last decade Wall Street has destroyed more of urban America than citizen rebellions ever could.
    The problem of the economic capture of the mis-leadership class suggests that political resolution is unlikely to come through the ballot box. Blacks have joined this mis-leadership class with co-optation being the singular result. American political economy is set up to perpetuate existing class relations with the racial residual of history as a component. Martin King began addressing economic justice with the understanding that it is a prerequisite to social justice. He was murdered shortly thereafter. The interest in ‘property’ in the face of the loss of life at police hands is clear indication of what drives official concerns. Therein lies the political paradox— economics is the more dangerous dimension of social injustice to address but it is also the most necessary. The U.S. has subverted democratic movements and invaded countries to prevent implementation of a minimum wage. But how is life possible without a living wage?
    Rob Urie is an artist and political economist.  
    Weekend Edition May 1-3, 2015
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Watch Out…We’re Surrounded! by Frank Scott

Watch Out…We’re Surrounded!

legalienate.blogspot.com/2013/03/watch-outwere-surrounded.html

After the tenth anniversary of the destruction of Iraq passed with the usual historic distortion and pieties from established power about the waste and rationalizations about why we had to do it, America’s bipartisan war party has even more loudly revived the same lies and logic perversion used to get support for that slaughter. Without even a hint of embarrassment, political puppets of wealth from congress to the state department to the white house are again talking about gas and chemical weapons of mass destruction, substituting Assad of Syria for Hussein of Iraq as this season’s demonic Hitler-figure to lull Americans into accepting further military crimes to perpetuate finance capital’s empire and keep our minds off the fact that it threatens to collapse on our heads.
Media fulfills its responsibility as corporate stenographer to power by reporting these charges, without a blushing reminder that this is the same puppet-speak that was only called by its rightful name after hundreds of thousands were dead, an educated class had become refugees and a materially developed secular nation had been broken up into a scattering of underdeveloped sectarian neighborhoods. This process was repeated in Libya but without invasion and simply by using NATO servants to front for our mass bombings. That assault on morality and reason included the usual charges of genocide – when anyone dies in a foreign country our rulers don’t like, it’s called genocide – and new descent into the sewers of western consciousness with tales of mass rapes committed by monsters given Viagra by the evil dictator. Though not accepted by any but the most tortured minds – our leaders – these tales from the toilets of degeneracy helped reduce another nation developed along lines not totally in keeping with the desires of the Master-Race-Chosen-People deities of the west. Libya was transformed into a shattered place with freedom for high finance and oil companies and near chaos for almost everyone else. The latest atrocities in Syria seem to indicate that while the imperial cabal dominated by the MRCP minority of multi-billionaires and their servants flounders in deadly crisis, it’s intention is not only to maintain the diseased system but spread its affliction until the entire global population joins the terminal patients in the universal intensive care ward that is being created by global capitalism.
The banking crisis that began in the USA and spread to Europe has brought near total destruction of the social democratic policies that had previously saved capitalism. The economic cancer that gripped the world in the 1930s was placed in remission for more than a generation by the relatively enlightened – for capital – policies called Keynesianism. These created government spending to prop up anarchic markets that were collapsing under exclusive minority control. It wisely – for capital – used tax money to create jobs, food, clothing and shelter for great masses of people, so that they might not only refrain from revolting against minority power, but also consume all the goods and services they created in order to profit that minority.
The material improvement in the lives of many – though far from most – enabled a generation of relative peaceful control for great wealth in the west, even while the world was consumed by more wars that killed more millions, forgotten because unlike the Euros who perished in wars one and two, these were mostly from the darker skinned members of our race, the third world majority. They were and remain either colonized, neo-colonized or otherwise economically subjugated and thus remaining invisible to newly created middle classes subjected to mind numbing consciousness control and mind managing entertainment that often passes for news on TV. This newly affluent class – by peasant standards – consumed billions of dollars of mostly needless garbage advertised into being absolutely necessary-for-survival drugs, cosmetics, therapies, toys, pets, gadgets and processed foods, while financing with its tax dollars and plastic debt a massive version of fake democracy and a far more massive supply of real weapons of mass destruction.
Already badly overstretched and financed only by imaginary electronic funds backed by very real military power, imperial dictatorship is creating new problems to bolster its war state while simultaneously destroying a civil society hardly conceived by moral values but nonetheless preventing complete physical breakdown. While so-called “austerity” is employed to cut government spending – the only thing that has maintained MRCP capitalism for a generation – while at the same time attempting to militarily protect finance from any and all national models daring to attempt going a different way finds more warfare threatened, with these idiotic fantasy charges to make the public accepting of the need to cut back on their meals in order to buy more guns.
As this is written and the arms shipments to Syria increase along with the death toll and lies, the hallucinatory threat from North Korea gets headlines. This tiny nation once invaded and bombed by the USA and suffering death and destruction unknown to intellectually impoverished Americans, is said to be threatening the USA with bellicose statements. The fact that the USA has troops on its borders and regularly conducts what criminally infantile elements here call “war games” on Korean seas play no role at all in North Korea’s posture, of course. The only thing that may help them, and it is a big maybe, is that North Korea does possess nuclear weapons and could wreak terrible retaliatory havoc if the warhead in our half white house decides to go totally over the edge and attack them.
Meanwhile, the financial crisis has reached new lows in Europe, especially Cyprus where the bailout not only involves robbing taxpayers but stealing money from their bank accounts. Those in America who think this is a laughable situation might start removing their money from these corporate casinos and placing then under the mattress the way their grandparents did. Of course, authority may ultimately attempt confiscation of those mattresses so maybe the second amendment gun lobby fundamentalists have an argument approaching reason? No, but given present conditions, any crackpot theory will get some hearing. Unfortunately, the most crackpot of all, from capital central in the USA, is getting far too much.

10 Signs We Live In a False Economy

10 Signs We Live In a False Economy

(Activist Post)
It’s time to admit that we live in a false economy. Smoke and mirrors are used to make us believe the economy is real, but it’s all an elaborate illusion.

Out of one side of the establishment’s mouth we hear excitement about “green shoots”, and out of the other side comes breathless warnings of fiscal cliffs and the urgent need for unlimited bailouts by the Fed.  We hear the people begging for jobs and the politicians promising them, but politicians can’t create jobs. We see people camped out to buy stuff on Black Friday indicating the consumer economy is seemingly thriving, only to find out everything was bought on credit.

The corporate media does their best to distract us from seeing anything real. We see the media glorify Kim Kardashian who got rich by being famous, and became famous merely by being rich. She got front page coverage on Huffington Post this week because her cat died.  Enough said.

Meanwhile the financial media makes the economy seem complicated and they ban anyone who speaks truthfully about the economy from their airwaves.

Is it any wonder why people are angry and confused about the economy?  Well, hopefully these signs that we live in a false economy will help clear up some of that confusion.

1. Fake Jobs: It’s not just that the “official” unemployment numbers are a fraud, the actual jobs are fake as well. Ask yourself how many professions actually produce something of value? 80% of jobs could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect basic human survival or happiness in the least. Yes, in our society we need money to survive – and jobs equal money – but that doesn’t mean a “job” has any actual benefit to society.  More on this in the next point…

2. Problems Create Jobs, Not Solutions: We can’t fix real problems, because it would destroy more fake jobs. We can’t end the wars and bring all of the personnel home when the jobless rate is already suffering. We can’t end the War on Drugs because where would the DEA agents, prison guards, the court system, parole officers, and the rest of their support staff work. We can’t simplify the tax code because the bookkeepers, CPAs, accounting professors, and tax attorneys would be unemployed. We cannot reduce the bureaucracy of government or streamline healthcare because paper pushers have few other notable skills. We can’t stop spying on Americans because it now employs millions of people. We can’t restrict the Wall Street casino, or hardly anyone will be left with a job. Finally, what will happen to university jobs when people either realize their product is not worth the cost or they discover they can get the same education online for nearly free? In other words, we need these manufactured problems to create phony employment.

3. Money Has No Value:  Money is the biggest illusion of all. Our money is loaned into existence with arbitrary interest rates by a private monopoly. It is an IOU. It only has value because a law says it has value, and that value fluctuates based on how much supply is in the economy which, again, is controlled by a for-profit monopoly. It’s actual value is zero since it is just a piece of paper with fancy ink on it. The only things with real value to humans are skills (labor), tools and materials, food and water, and energy.

4. The Fed Now Buys 90% of the Nation’s Debt: Speaking of money, the Federal Reserve loans money to the US government who issues bonds to cover their spending. Those bonds are sold on the open market through auctions to investors who believe in the ability of the United States to make good on those bonds. Apparently, the US has no more investors because the Fed is now buying 90% of new Treasury bonds. This is called monetizing debt, or, essentially, monetizing money. That’s what a Ponzi scheme does. This acts to keep interest rates artificially low because they’d have to raise them to attract outside “investors”.  In layman terms, our whole monetary system is a paper tiger, a house of cards, or whatever metaphor you want to use for fake.

5. What is the Value of Anything?  The price discovery mechanism, or the process to determine the value of an asset in the marketplace, has become so convoluted that determining the genuine value of anything has become nearly impossible. Between government subsidizes for things like food, fuel, education, housing, insurance and even cars; taxes, regulations and laws; the manipulation of the value of money and interest rates; Wall Street gambling on commodities; what is the real value of something? For example, why does an ounce of marijuana (a weed that can grow anywhere) cost up to $500?  Is that the real value based on labor and materials, and supply and demand? Of course not. Its value is inflated mainly due to laws and regulations.

6. Failure is Rewarded:  You know we live in a false economy when failure is rewarded and success is penalized. Citizens everywhere are being told they need to tighten their belts, work harder so we can bailout the failed government, banks, insurance companies and even car companies. And when we work harder and achieve some success, they tax it heavily to indefinitely pay for these fraudulent institutions. Yet this infinite money creation and taxation is light years from solving the root cause of the problem. The reality is that the banks’ solutions are the problem, enriching the investor class at the expense of the middle class. Global bankers are playing with taxpayer money – and the money of many future generations – in a global casino royale that is destined to fail so they can take the people’s assets. They are all-in; but their money is fake, and our assets put at risk are real.

7. Corporate entities have the same rights as humans, but not the same punishments:  When the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have free-speech rights of people, it was one of the final nails in the coffin of the republic. Monied interests can now openly finance elections and buy the legislation they need to operate with impunity. Corporations may be comprised of humans, but they are not subjected to the same standard of humanity. It was profoundly argued in the article What if BP Were a Human Being? that judged by common standards of morality, decency, and previously agreed-upon definitions of criminality, BP would be judged a psychopathic killer … and immortal. Ditto for the rest leading the predatory corporate pack; the most obvious being defense contractors.  And since these corporations are now joined at the hip with government itself, what does that make government? By changing definitions, they are attempting to change reality. But that still doesn’t make it the truth.

8. People buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have: In a type of trickle-down debt whirlpool, the government’s rampant spending without sufficient assets to back it up is mirrored in the behavior of the American consumer. Despite inflation, rising unemployment, and a continued collapse in real estate, it hasn’t stopped credit spending. The Associated Press just reported that for the month of October:
Americans swiped their credit cards more often in October and borrowed more to attend school and buy cars. The increases drove U.S. consumer debt to an all-time high.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion in October from September. Total borrowing rose to a record $2.75 trillion.

Borrowing in the category that covers autos and student loans increased by $10.8 billion. Borrowing on credit cards rose by $3.4 billion, only the second monthly increase in the past five months. (Source)
Most troubling is the type of borrowing highlighted. The worst possible borrowing would be these negative-return investments such as student loans, credit cards, and cars. It is magical thinking taken to the highest degree.

9. Entrepreneurs are punished: It has become nearly impossible to make a simple living on your own. America has become a land filled with bureaucratic red tape that actively thwarts small business creation and criminalizes independence. There is perhaps no better example of this than the attacks waged against the ultimate entrepreneurial endeavor of self-reliance: the family farm. Through collectivist models such as Agenda 21, long-running family farms are being shut down and supplanted with “protected zones.” In the most recent case, a family oyster farm was shut down based on provably false scientific data that aimed to demonstrate negative environmental and economic impacts. It was completely fake, ending an 80-year local business that generated 50,000 tourists per year and employed 30 full-time local residents. In many of these cases the federally stolen property winds up in the hands of developers who have no interest in a true local economy. It is an inherent part of any false economy to create dependence where none should exist at all. A five-minute video that can be seen here sums up the American economy of illusions and the death of the American Dream.

10. Engineered Slavery: Do you think slavery died in the 1800s?  Think again. Economic hitmen (lenders) have successfully enslaved-by-debt everything from nations, entire industries, state and local governments and nearly every person on the planet. And they bought your servitude with money they never had, they simply created it out of thin air. Even if an individual doesn’t have any bank financing or credit cards, they still pay the private Federal Reserve through inflation and income taxes. As author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, would say: the time has come for the banks to collect their “pound of flesh” from average citizens by way of higher taxes, less social services, and taking your pensions — “austerity.” For an enlightening explanation of how economic hitmen work their dark magic please watch this video.  If you’re still confused, see these 10 signs you might be a slave.  Another, more obvious, form of engineered slavery is prison labor. Laws and regulations are specifically created to add to the prison population which enriches the corporations that own them, while local communities actually become poorer and more dangerous (source).

As George Carlin said, “It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” It would be bad enough if it were contained to only one country, but we are now experiencing a global collective dreaming that fantasizes about a government figuring things out just in the nick of time. However, in the real world, the collapse has begun in earnest. Until we are committed to counter the 10 points above, we will remain in the grip of an hallucination. However, there are encouraging signs through protests worldwide, alternative currency movements, and myriad creative solutions in the most affected countries like Iceland, Greece, and Spain that people are beginning to shake off their sleep, look in the mirror and realize that the dream economy they have been sold was designed to make them seek solutions in entirely the wrong direction.

Obama-Mania? Cult of Personality? Politics Or Theater?

Dear Crystal Lucas Perry,

First as 1 artist to another, I appreciate you &all the hard work that went into creating this. HOWEVER, what I strongly disagree with, is making the POTUS into a celebrity.Creating this mythos around a man whose job is to lead the country FORWARD. He’s not a HOLLYWOOD STAR/ACTOR. I think it’s disrespectful.Will he go down in history as a SUPERSTAR or someone who really moved the country forward? Allegiance to a man? American Idol? Exalt & Elevate integrity, peace, love & truth. Poetic License? http://youtu.be/c_d9mntKvGM  My comment on YouTube

 I wish I could find the right words to express how uncomfortable it makes me feel. It’s like some kind of cult or something. “The Cult of Obama” Obama-Mania. People are all frenzied, teary eyed, gushing like they are having orgasms over him. That last campaign with the Obama girl was really over the top. What is that? Why do people need to idolize him? How is that cool for a thinking, educated, civilized nation of people? What if they did that to Bush, whom they clearly did not like. What if the Tea Party wrote songs about John Boehner?

Okay, political parody, satire, or even cartoons, but this romanticizing of the President is a bit much for me. They are so memorized they care not to look at the true picture, the real deal and that means they are dangerous. That Obama Kool Aid is really powerful.

Is this really poetic license or is it opportunism? The number of YouTube videos that are out with people singing to him, and the number of hits these videos are getting begs to question the real motive behind this type of “free advertisement”.

I don’t  particularly agree with all that is presented in this movie, but the song does kind of say it all for me.

It just don’t sit right with me, and this is a very subjective assessment on my part. But idolizing another human being is a sure fired way to trouble. Look at the many other cult personalities that have lead people into serious trouble. Again this is subjective.

Cult of Personality Links

“A personality cult appears whenever an individual uses mass media propaganda to create idealized, quasi-heroic public personae arising from unquestioned flattery and praise.  Personality cults aim to make the leader and the state synonymous, so that it is nearly impossible to make a distinction between them.”   Read more here GeeeeeeZ! OBAMA: Cult of Personality

 

 

Cult of personality

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



A 1950s Chinese propaganda poster showing a happy family of five enjoying life under the image of Mao Zedong. The caption above the picture reads “The happy life Chairman Mao gives us”.

A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized, heroic, and, at times god-like public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Sociologist Max Weber developed a tripartite classification of authority; the cult of personality holds parallels with what Weber defined as “charismatic authority“. A cult of personality is similar to hero worship, except that it is established by mass media and propaganda.

Etymology

The term Cult of personality or Personality Cult first appeared in Nikita Khrushchev‘s Secret Speech in 1956[1]. Cult of the individual is a more accurate translation[2].

Background

Throughout history, monarchs and heads of state were almost always held in enormous reverence. Through the principle of the divine right of kings, for example, rulers were said to hold office by the will of God. Imperial China (see Mandate of Heaven), ancient Egypt, Japan, the Inca, the Aztecs, Tibet, Thailand, and the Roman Empire (see imperial cult) are especially noted for redefining monarchs as god-kings.
The spread of democratic and secular ideas in Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries made it increasingly difficult for monarchs to preserve this aura. However, the subsequent development of photography, sound recording, film, and mass production, as well as public education and techniques used in commercial advertising, enabled political leaders to project a positive image like never before. It was from these circumstances in the 20th century that the best-known personality cults arose. Often these cults are a form of political religion.

Purpose

Personality cults were first described in relation to totalitarian regimes that sought to alter or transform society according to radical ideas.[3] Often, a single leader became associated with this revolutionary transformation, and came to be treated as a benevolent “guide” for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future couldn’t occur. This has been generally the justification for personality cults that arose in totalitarian societies of the 20th century, such as those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
Not all dictatorships foster personality cults, not all personality cults are dictatorships (some are nominally democratic), and some leaders may actively seek to minimize their own public adulation. For example, during the Cambodian Khmer Rouge regime, images of dictator Pol Pot (Saloth Sar) were rarely seen in public, and his identity was under dispute abroad until after his fall from power. The same applied to numerous Eastern European Communist regimes following World War II (although not those of Enver Hoxha and Nicolae Ceaușescu, mentioned below).

Che Obama: the new cult of personality
“It is doubtful that anyone ever thought to wear a t-shirt with George Bush’s image splashed across it, except to deride him. Now, wearing the image of the president is not only popular, it has become almost obligatory in some circles.

An Obama T-Shirt

Obama’s image is not just appearing on t-shirts. There are Obama hats, Obama pencil cases, Obama hoodies, Obama screen savers, Obama jewellery, Obama coffee cups and Obama street murals. And Obamamania has gone mainstream. Today in DC we can buy metro tickets sporting Obama’s image. Numerous buildings are decorated with huge banners welcoming the new president. Even the National Portrait Galley has got in on the act, snapping up Shepard Fairey’s original collage for the gallery walls long before the new president’s official portrait will be commissioned.

Such is the strength of the cult surrounding Obama’s image that vendors at the inauguration were hard pushed to find new ways to commemorate the day. Many tried, of course. On my own walk into the city I saw Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, a local landmark, displaying a huge red, white and blue ice sculpture of the letters OBAMA. A church on 16th Street offered hot cocoa and a chance to be photographed with a life-sized Obama cut-out. On the Mall itself everything from Obama special inauguration bandanas to Obama dollar bills (with President Lincoln’s image replaced with President Obama’s) to my own personal favourite, Obama water, was on offer.”

The media’s new Messiah is a mania and fad like the hula hoop  
 “Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair.”
…Barack Obama just seems to get cooler and cooler. He’s the most popular topic on the New York Times topics page…Internet widgets allow you to see what great thing Barack Obama has done for you…on the New York subway Friday morning, one of our copy editors…heard one woman joke to another: “Obama, will you pick me up after my noninvasive minor surgical procedure?” To which the other replied: “Obama, will you hold my hair back when I puke?”…
Many spiritually advanced people I know…identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul…
John Lewis, the venerable civil rights hero and congressman, put words to this feeling recently. “In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit,” he said, suggesting that he might switch his superdelegate vote from Hillary Clinton to Obama. “Something is happening in America and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”…On Facebook, people write about dreams featuring Obama. There is only one correct reaction to the will.i.am “Yes We Can” video and that is to start chanting along…
There was the woman in New Hampshire who compared him with Christ. There was Maria Shriver’s comparison of the candidate with the state of California, with the rhetorical fervor usually seen only after a preacher shouts, “You are healed!”
“Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of Chicago a Savior, who is Barack the Democrat.”

The Obama cult
“Recently I have noticed an interesting but disturbing phenomenon in New York City. On the streets, subways and buses, you can see people still wearing Barack Obama buttons even though the election is long over. I wonder to myself whether these buttons express an inchoate political/psychological yearning. In some ways it reminds me of how people wore pictures of the fifteen year old guru Maharaj-ji, who counted former 60s radical Rennie Davis as one of his main followers.
When I spoke to a fellow radical in my department at Columbia University about my concerns, his eyes lit up and he said:

I know exactly what you mean. There’s this guy in my health club who wears an ‘Obama Knows’ t-shirt. The other day I went up to him and asked him, “Knows what?” He really couldn’t answer me.

At some point I will ask one of these Obama button wearers the same kind of question. What’s up with the Obama button? What are you trying to say? I once asked someone wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt the same kind of question. Trust me; they did not decide to wear the t-shirt after reading “Socialism and Man in Cuba”.

“Obama’s popularity is clear evidence of a brand strategy that has succeeded beyond any strategists wildest dream and further proof that once you build a compelling saga and unleash it to the world, there is no telling how far and wide it will go. From a branding perspective, Obama may have become too hot too fast and now one of his biggest challenges might be dealing with the inevitable backlash created by the frenzied admiration from the millions of kool-aid drinking Barackolytes:”
 More from Dorothy:“I honestly don’t know whether to put this in religion or politics. I honestly feel the passion for Senator Obama expressed by most of his followers has equal elements of both – even if they deny it. But I suspect the moderators would move it here to politics if I put it in religion, so here it is in politics. I know this will make many people angry (primarily Obama followers), but I am not looking to debate. I just wanted to display some of the images of Obama because I find the whole media’s marketing – in this case, just the visual elements- behind the man so fascinating.
“CNN’s Carol Costello said that audience response at a Barack Obama rally is “a scene some increasingly find not inspirational, but ‘creepy,’ ” quoting columnists who have likened Obama supporters to members of a cult or described their enthusiasm as “creepy.” On-screen text during Costello’s report read: “OBAMA-MANIA BACKLASH” and “PASSION ‘CULT-LIKE’ TO SOME.” Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer similarly cited other writers to make the same assertion: “ABC’s Jake Tapper notes the ‘Helter-Skelter cult-ish qualities’ of ‘Obama worshipers,’ what Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times calls ‘the Cult of Obama.’ ”

US Elections: The Empty Politics of Duopoly

Friday, November 9, 2012
US Elections: The Empty Politics of Duopoly
Nile Bowie, Contributor
Activist Post

After months of rhetoric and political campaigning, the smoke has finally cleared on the media frenzy that is the US Presidential Election. Once the winner of the race was announced, supporters at the Obama Campaign headquarters in Chicago jubilantly celebrated.

The haze of American flags, pop music, and confetti worked wonders to mask the absence of any real political substance throughout the election process.

Cheering supporters shouted “four more years” as President Obama took to the stage to deliver his victory speech – complete with highly emotional grandiloquence, two mentions of the US military being the strongest in the world, and of course – a joke about the family dog.

After an exorbitant $6 billion spent by campaigns and outside groups in the primary, congressional and presidential races, Americans have reelected a president better suited for Hollywood than Washington. A 2010 ruling by the US Supreme Court that swept away limits on corporate contributions to political campaigns has paved the way for the most expensive election in American history, in the midst of an economic crisis nonetheless. [1]

In the nation that gave birth to the marketing concept of branding, it is to be assumed that politicians would eventually adopt the same techniques used to promote consumer products – enter Obama.

After eight years under the Bush administration, America desperately needed change. Instead of any meaningful structural reform, America ushered in a global superstar whose charm and charisma not only resuscitated American prestige, but also masked the continued dominance of deregulators, financiers, and war-profiteers.

Obama’s most valuable asset is his brand, and his ability to channel the nostalgia of transformative social movements of the past, while serving as a tabula rasa of sorts to his supporters – an icon of hope who is capable of inspiring the masses and coaxing them into action – despite the Obama administration expanding the disturbing militaristic and domestic surveillance policies so characteristic of the Bush years, and channeling never before seen authority to the executive branch.

The American public at large is captivated by Barack’s contrived media personality and the grandeur of his political poetry and performance, and is therefore reluctant to acknowledge his enthusiastic continuation of the deeply unethical policies of his predecessor. Obama is indeed a leader suited for a new age, one of post-intellectualism and televised spectacle – a time when huge demographics of voters are more influenced by Jay-Z and Katy Perry’s endorsement of Obama over anything of political substance he preaches. [2]

While the US has historically exported “democracy promotion” through institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy (trends that have accelerated under the Obama administration), so few see the American electoral process for what it is – unacceptably expensive, filled with contrived debates, and subject to the kind of meticulous controls that America’s foreign adversaries are accused of presiding over.

Patriot Game – OBAMA VS ROMNEY VIDEO GAME!

A leaked ‘Memorandum of Understanding,’ signed by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, provides unique insight into the nature of the three televised debates, and the extent to which organizers went to prevent the occurrence of any form of unplanned spontaneity. [3] The document outlines how no members of the audience would be allowed to ask follow-up questions to the candidates, how microphones will be cut off right after questions were asked, and how any opportunities for follow-up questions from the crowd would be disregarded. In what was billed as a series of town-hall style debates where members of the community can come together and ask questions that reflect their concerns – in actuality, the two candidates dished out pre-planned responses to pre-approved questions, asked by pre-selected individuals.

The political domination of the Republican and Democratic parties over the debates is nowhere more apparent than in the arrest of Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, as the two attempted to enter the site of the second presidential debate. [4] 

Despite the obscurity and almost non-existent media presence of third party candidates, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party received 1% of the popular vote in the general election, amounting to over 1.1 million votes, the best in the history of the Libertarian Party. [5]

In contrast to the choreographed exchanges offered by the televised debates between Obama and Romney, Moscow’s state-funded Russia Today news service offered third-party candidates an opportunity to voice their political programs in two debates aired on the channel. [6] Throughout these debates, third-party candidates spoke of repealing Obama’s authorization of indefinite detention through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the need for coherent environmental legislation, the gross misdirection of American foreign policy, the necessity of deep economic restructuring, and the illogicality of marijuana prohibition. In her closing statement at the debate, Green Party candidate Jill Stein brought up a significant point:

They’re 90 million voters who are not coming out to vote in this election, that’s one out of every two voters – that’s twice as many as those who will come out for Barack Obama, and twice the number that will come out for Mitt Romney. Those are voters who are saying ‘No’ to politics as usual, and ‘No’ to the Democratic and Republican parties. Imagine if we got out word to those 90 millions voters, that they actually have a variety of choices and voices in this election.

American presidential politics are not devoid of progressive voices; but, in reality, America doesn’t need a third-party – it needs a second party. The overwhelming lack of choice offered by this election can only be attributable to the political duopoly of the Republican and Democratic parties.

 As President Obama begins his second and final term, some feel that this could be a chance for the White House to pursue more progressive ends – an opportunity for Obama to act on his own campaign rhetoric and roll back militarism and the influence of Wall St. financiers.

Barack Obama now prepares for his second term as the President of the United States. Though the race was tight, especially in states like Florida and Virginia, Obama won by more than 2 million popular votes at last count, and had at least 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. (Florida was still too close to call as of midday Wednesday.)

While such optimism may prevail in the minds of many, the fact that President Obama issued a drone strike that killed three people in Yemen just hours after being reelected is a telling sign of things to come from the Obama administration. [7]

As the United States continues to project itself around the world as the definitive model of “freedom and democracy,” it is apparent that the central bankers, corporate financiers, and crony capitalists who control America’s electoral system did indeed learn and thing or two from Communism:


The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves. – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Notes:



[3] Obama and Romney agree to cowardly debates, Russia Today, October 16, 2012


[5] Gary Johnson Pulls One Million Votes, One Percent, Reason Foundation, November 7, 2012

[6] RT presents third-party presidential debate, Russia Today, October 19, 2012

[7] Yemen drone strike kills ‘al-Qaeda members’, Al-Jazeera, November 09, 2012

Nile Bowie is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.

It’s Official: Liberals and Conservatives Becoming Zombies

Anthony Freda Art

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post  
http://www.activistpost.com/2012/11/its-official-liberals-and-conservatives.html

In the wake of the 2012 Presidential election, the expected gloating over Obama’s victory and sulking over Romney’s defeat by their respective supporters is taking its typical turn toward the absurd, at least for those who are aware of the true lack of choice that was presented in this election.

As every other failed presidential campaign in history has done, the Romney camp will soon come to grips with their loss. The Obama camp, however, will now be presented with four more years of a President who has been and will continue to be identical to the President they claimed to have hated for so many years.

As Obama continues to execute, for another four years, the very same policies implemented by Bush (and by Romney had he been elected), individuals who call themselves “liberals” or “progressives” will be faced with the challenge of defending what they perceive to be “their candidate” irrespective of reality, facts, and common sense.

Like the first four years, self-proclaimed progressives will continue to support the wholesale slaughter of innocent people in foreign countries, indefinite detention, banker bailouts, free trade, and a gross violation of civil liberties and Constitutional rights. While these very acts were once what liberals claimed was fueling their hatred of George W. Bush, it turns out that what passes for a progressive in 2012 is a rejection of war and totalitarianism directed by Republicans – not war and totalitarianism itself.

Indeed, when asking your average Obama fan their reason for such irrational support, one can scarcely receive an answer that does not have its root in false and divisive social paradigms such as his party, his race, or his age. Simply put, Obama supporters main reason for their allegiance to Barack Obama can be boiled down to two words – “He’s Obama!”

Even so, when Obama was first elected in 2008, and in the face of his obvious support for the banker bailout, continued war, and blatant disregard for civil liberties, we critics were met with pleas to “just give him time.” After all, he can’t fix eight years of Bush in one year of his own. This was the same statement that was repeated after Obama’s second year. And then his third. Even his fourth year as President still held echoes of the argument to just “give him time.”

Nevertheless, with Obama’s re-election there now appears a small shred of potential silver lining to this dark cloud. Namely, it will eliminate the argument posed by so-called Progressives for the last four years that Obama did not have equal time to right the wrongs of Bush or that he was not given a fair shot at the Presidency which now consists of, according to party hacks, an eight-year reign.

At the end of the Obama regime, it will be apparent to every Democrat that “their” candidate was every bit as bad as the one belonging to the “other team.”

There will be no more excuses echoed from the chambers of the Obama supporters that do not highlight an already delusional perspective and unwillingness to face reality. In 2016, like Bush supporters in 2008, the defense of Obama will appear more and more to be a mental illness than a political opinion. Unfortunately, one does not have to go much further for this to be the case.

This statement is not meant to pick on Obama supporters alone of course. In fact, Republicans and so-called Conservatives showed their own true colors this election by flocking to a full representation of the candidate they claim they are so opposed to. The differences between Romney and Obama, besides ethnicity and political party, were virtually non-existent. Indeed, those differences that did appear to exist were merely propaganda pieces for public presentation.

Republicans, by no means, have a leg to stand on when it comes to the issues mentioned above, be it economics, war, civil liberties, or any other issue for that matter.

Regardless, it is a fact that Liberals and Progressives, once the majority of the anti-war, 9/11 Truth, and freedom movements, simply dissipated with the election of Obama. What is worse, however, is that they never reappeared after Obama proved that, as President, he would not only be as bad as Bush, he would be worse.

While rumblings amongst true Liberals of Obama’s treachery are indeed beginning to take place, the fact is they have remained dormant for far too long. In truth, it is a shame that they were ever silent to begin with.

Thus, with Obama firmly locked in to another four years and with no possibility of his own re-election in 2016, Progressives are now given an opportunity to return to the principles they have neglected for the last four years. With no possibility of costing Obama the election, you can now be free to oppose the killing of innocent men, women, and children. With “your team” squarely in office, you can now meekly ask for your right to privacy, to a trial, and even to life without worrying about your chosen party losing the White House. As Obama takes over in his second term, you can now acknowledge the worldwide economic depression and perhaps take some steps to avoid a total collapse and return to real American standards of living without the fear of reflecting poorly upon “your President.”

A four-year vacation from your principles was long enough. Now, however, your country and the rest of the world needs you to return to the fight.

You can only blame “those other guys” for so long. Whether you like it or not, it is an unfortunate reality that both you and those on the other side of the falsely constructed aisle are more alike than you think. Likewise, Republicans must realize that economics, war, and civil liberties are issues that effect Americans regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican is in office.

Both Conservatives and Liberals are equally responsible for the moral, intellectual, and rapidly physical wasteland we now find ourselves inhabiting. Because both groups are divided only because they have been subjected ad infinitum to scientific propaganda in order to make such an environment possible, it is high time they both become responsible for repairing it.

Read other articles by Brandon Turbeville here.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of three books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, and Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident. Turbeville has published over 175 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

The Special Interests Won Again

Cory Michael Skaaren Art

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The Special Interests Won Again

Paul Craig Roberts, Contributor

The election that was supposed to be too close to call turned out not to be so close after all. In my opinion, Obama won for two reasons: (1) Obama is non-threatening and inclusive, whereas Romney exuded a “us vs. them” impression that many found threatening, and (2) the election was not close enough for the electronic voting machines to steal.

As readers know, I don’t think that either candidate is a good choice or that either offers a choice. Washington is controlled by powerful interest groups, not by elections. What the two parties fight over is not alternative political visions and different legislative agendas, but which party gets to be the whore for Wall Street, the military-security complex, Israel Lobby, agribusiness, and energy, mining, and timber interests.

Being the whore is important, because whores are rewarded for the services that they render. To win the White House or a presidential appointment is a career-making event as it makes a person sought after by rich and powerful interest groups. In Congress the majority party can provide more services and is thus more valuable than the minority party. One of our recent presidents who was not rich ended up with $36 million shortly after leaving office, as did former UK prime minister Tony Blair, who served Washington far better than he served his own country.

Wars are profitable for the military/security complex. Israel rewards its servants and punishes its enemies. Staffing environmental regulatory agencies with energy, mining, and timber executives is regarded by those interests as very friendly behavior.

Many Americans understand this and do not bother to vote as they know that whichever candidate or party wins, the interest groups prevail. Ronald Reagan was the last president who stood up to interest groups, or, rather, to some of them. Wall Street did not want his tax rate reductions, as Wall Street thought the result would be higher inflation and interest rates and the ruination of their stock and bond portfolios. The military/security complex did not want Reagan negotiating with Gorbachev to end the cold war.

What is curious is that voters don’t understand how politics really works. They get carried away with the political rhetoric and do not see the hypocrisy that is staring them in the face.

Proud patriotic macho American men voted for Romney who went to Israel and, swearing allegiance to his liege lord, groveled at the feet of Netanyahu.

Obama plays on the heart strings of his supporters by relating a story of a child with leukemia now protected by Obamacare, while he continues to murder thousands of children and their parents with drones and other military actions in seven countries.

Obama was able to elicit cheers from supporters as he described the onward and upward path of America toward greater moral accomplishments, while his actual record is that of a tyrant who codified into law the destruction of the US Constitution and the civil liberties of the American people.

The election was about nothing except who gets to serve the interest groups. The wars were not an issue in the election. Washington’s provoking of Iran, Russia, and China by surrounding them with military bases was not an issue. The unconstitutional powers asserted by the executive branch to detain citizens indefinitely without due process and to assassinate them on suspicion alone were not an issue in the election.

The sacrifice of the natural environment to timber, mining, and energy interests was not an issue, except to promise more sacrifice of the environment to short-term profits. Out of one side of the mouth came the nonsense promise of restoring the middle class while from the other side of the mouth issued defenses of the offshoring of their jobs and careers as free trade.

The inability to acknowledge and to debate real issues is a threat not only to the United States but also to the entire world. Washington’s reckless pursuit of hegemony driven by an insane neoconservative ideology is leading to military confrontation with Russia and China.

Eleven years of gratuitous wars with more on the way and an economic policy that protects financial institutions from their mistakes have burdened the US with massive budget deficits that are being monetized.

The US dollar’s loss of the reserve currency role and hyperinflation are plausible consequences of disastrous economic policy.

How is it possible that “the world’s only superpower” can hold a presidential election without any discussion of these very real and serious problems being part of it?

How can anyone be excited or made hopeful about such an outcome?

This article first appeared at Paul Craig Roberts’ new website Institute For Political Economy.  Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His Internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.

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