Monthly Archives: January 2019

A Very Special Message

So I was happy to see the blog is once again getting a lot of engagement, seemingly due mostly to one of my recent posts, The Foreigner’s Guide to Appropriate Protests. I was a bit less amused to find that some of this attention is due to it being shared on several conservative and liberal subreddits. So while I made a decision to make this a humorous/satirical site a while back, forgive me for getting a bit serious for a moment.

If you’re one of those centrist liberals or conservatives who enjoyed the piece, here’s a special message for you: Fuck you, you hypocrite.

Yes, Western, particularly American leftists are ignorant about the situation in the rest of the world and arrogantly lecture people on how to behave in their own countries, but people like you not only do the same thing with protest movements abroad, but you even do it to your own people. You ignore the cause of a mass protest to focus on a window getting smashed or an upended trashcan. You whine about the lack of “civility.” Conservatives in particular are extremely fond of deliberately misinterpreting the message of a protest movement so that they can knock down a strawman, e.g. “All lives matter.”

And for the leftists whose nerves were struck by that satirical work- tough shit. You make fun of conservatives for not knowing the difference between Shiites and Sunni (though you probably couldn’t say what that is if asked right now), or for not knowing that Iranians aren’t Arab, but the truth is that so many years after 9/11 and Iraq, you’re not really that much more informed. What you’ve got is a serious case of Dunning-Kruger syndrome about the outside world, which is what happens when your frame of reference for how informed you are is comparing yourself to the dumbest people in the country. Think I’m being unfair? I just spent about half of my Twitter day slowly explaining to a bunch of self-proclaimed leftists that no, the Taliban wasn’t created or set up by the CIA, that it in fact didn’t exist as a fighting force until 1994, well after the US had all but abandoned Afghanistan, and no, they didn’t fund Bin Laden and he and his Arab volunteers actually weren’t a significant force in the mujahideen. Yes, I’ve been reading a lot of books on Afghanistan in recent years, but a lot of this stuff isn’t too hard to find. For example, you can learn about the role of Afghan Maoists in the Afghan-Soviet War from Wikipedia, of all places.

These days much of my timeline is filled with Syrians, Venezuelans, and Afghans all making a futile effort to get Western, mostly American leftists to actually listen to them and acknowledge that they might actually know a little more about their own countries’ history than people who may not even have a passport. Indeed, they may even know more than Oliver Stone or…gasp! St. Chomsky! The really infuriating thing about this is how all that intersectionality and respecting “lived experience” flies right out the window when it comes to a foreigner voicing an “incorrect” opinion. Look, being from a country doesn’t automatically make someone right, but at the very least, it demands you act a little less arrogant, and maybe listen more than you talk. Ask some follow up questions for a change. Again, it’s amazing that people who will call out someone for “mansplaining” will happily lecture a Syrian or Afghan on the politics of their own country, to which they’ve never been, whose language they cannot speak, based on shit they heard on RT or Democracy Now! 

You want to know the secret as to why I’ve never been a Chavez/Maduro backer despite being a socialist and at one time a self-identified Marxist-Leninist? It’s not just because Chavista Venezuela was never even remotely socialist. Part of it has to do with Venezuelans I’ve met over the years (oh I’m sure they were secretly millionaires in disguise though, right?) of course. But one of the biggest reasons was simply living in another authoritarian state where the leadership blames all its failures on shadowy Western conspiracies. That, and I’ve had friends who either lived under similar regimes. What you learn from this experience is that virtually all these regimes operate the same way. They all have a ruling class that siphons off money, usually form the export of natural resources, into the offshore accounts of the leader and his cronies. When times are good and commodity prices are high, some of that does manage to trickle down in the form of social safety nets. But when times get rough and it comes down to social programs for the masses or more luxury villas for the ruling class, the latter wins every time. And if the US and its allies criticize this or better yet, levy targeted sanctions- so much the better.

All of these regimes use similar tactics. Harassment of dissidents with plausible deniability. Consolidation and control over the media. Pro-regime rallies consisting of paid pensioners, public school and university students, and state workers. Constant promotion of bullshit conspiracy theories. Most of all, there’s always some kind of narrative about how the regime is coming under pressure because it has some great worldview that is opposed to the greedy Yankee hegemony. In Venezuela it was “21st century socialism.” In Syria it’s Baathism. In Russia it was “sovereign democracy.” In virtually every case, we’re told that this is an expression of the country’s sovereignty and self-determination, and the only reason why the US or the West criticizes it is because this country is going its own way and now kowtowing to the imperialist hegemony. The problem is, that in most cases the vast majority of people in those nations were never asked if they wanted to live under a corrupt and authoritarian regime that steals their country’s national wealth in exchange for supposedly “standing up to the West.” Believe it or not, but most of these people want things like food, shelter, and the opportunity to better their lives without having to have personal connections to the right family, bureaucrat, military officer, etc.

Do these experiences of mine make me an expert on Venezuela? Hell no. But living so long under Putin, plus the experiences related to me by people who lived under other dictatorial regimes has given me an ability to understand and filter information a little bit better because I’ve personally witnessed things that are near-identical to what these people are describing. Could I be wrong? Perhaps. Maybe these near identical things are just a coincidence, i.e. Maduro’s a genuine leftist who really is under siege by the US and this is responsible for his situation as opposed to his own mismanagement, while Putin is totally lying when he says similar things. But you know what? Occam’s Razor says we live in a capitalist world where states are run by ruling classes, not their working people, and it also says that if some country has some great popular ideology, it would probably be a lot more successful and the masses would support it. It’s a rule of thumb, but a pretty useful one.

The basis of a moral society, a socialist society, must in large part be empathy. It must be the concept that other people, in your community or thousands of miles away, have many of the same desires you have. If you have the desire for a better life and the will to resist oppression, you must recognize that other people also have a right to these things, regardless of their government’s relationship with the US. If not, you’re essentially dismissing those people as inferior, something less than human.

A while back, I encountered a rather burnt-out individual who turned on the left due to encountering so many leftists who refused to listen to anything Syrians had to say about their country, instead dismissing them as dupes of the CIA and Islamophobic caricatures of “jihadist headchoppers.” According to this individual, Western leftists are racists who “want these problematic people to die,” people referring not just to Syrians but also Afghans, Ukrainians, Nicaraguans, and other nationalities whose right to resist is denied by the privileged Western left.

I decided that person is far too burnt out and angry to have any use in politics, but after seeing how some icons of the American left write about Afghans and now Venezuelans, it almost makes me wonder if on some subconscious level maybe these people do want all those masses whose reality contradicts their personal narrative to die. Not so much to be killed, but to simply disappear, to be erased. If all these people would simply be silenced one way or another, the Western leftist would never have to struggle with the failings of their simplistic worldview. It’s so easy to dismiss someone’s lived experience, contemporary or historical, if you can just write them off as a kulak, a bourgeoisie, a jihadist, a dupe of the CIA. Then you don’t have to feel bad about your fetish for Soviet aesthetics or your admiration for a regime in a country you’ve never visited.

I realize this is a hard pill for a lot of the Western left to swallow, but look at it this way. You’ve been doing things more or less the same way for a long time now. Where are your results? What genuine US imperialism have you genuinely prevented? Who is in power in your country and what policies are they promoting? For nearly all my life, you’ve had a parade of neoliberals and fascists. You’re at a point now where voting for neoliberals has often becoming your only way to keep literal fascists out of power. Hell, the fascists in America are some of the dumbest people on the planet and yet they’re still running circles around you. So with that track record of solid failure after failure, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start reevaluating your movement and your ideology to see if there aren’t any flaws in there that might actually be benefiting the far-right and hampering your own success.

Or you can dismiss me as an “ultra-leftist” or “Ukrainian fascist” (because associating ethnic groups with political ideologies is fine for some countries!), and we can watch this all play out. Me, I’ve already seen this show. All those things you think can’t happen here; I see them happening. So if you don’t know what life is like under people like Yanukovych, Putin, Maduro, or perhaps worst of all, Assad, keep on doing what you’re doing, and one day you’ll get a taste of it right here.

 

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Sample Chapter from Triggered: A Novel

Justin Whitington, former US Marine Corps Special Forces Tier-one operator and a politically incorrect, devoted non-denominational Protestant Christian, approached the registrar’s office of Alinsky College of Liberal Arts. He’d been dreading this moment for months now. Although he was a highly decorated combat veteran with many missions under his belt, he had been unjustly driven out of the nation’s top elite joint special operations unit simply because he once referred to the enemy as “Islamic terrorists” within earshot of the newly appointed PC Officer. Luckily, his illustrious combat record enabled him to avoid getting the dishonorable discharge that PC officer Gerald “Commissar” Weinberg had pushed for so militantly. But discharge aside, Whitington had to enter the job market, and while it was clearly booming under a Republican controlled White House and Congress, getting a job with a decent salary to support a mortgage and 2.5 children still required higher education. After all, those low-paying starting jobs were just for teenagers who wanted to develop their work ethic and make some extra pocket money to supplement their allowance. Raising the minimum wage for those jobs would lead to unemployment!

Alinsky College hadn’t been his first pick. Not by a long shot. But he didn’t have time to waste applying to Ivy League schools and besides, he heard they had fairly decent STEM programs. Naturally, STEM fields are the only useful degrees one should ever get; Justin knew this well. Thus he decided to get into mechanical engineering so he could maybe one day realize his dream of designing an assault rifle that can readily fire 5.56x45mm M855 NATO, Soviet-bloc 7.62x39mm, and 7.62x51mm NATO with the flick of a switch. But that was a long way ahead. First, Justin had to get through the hardest part- dealing with the university staff.

As he approached the registrar’s desk he saw the student clerk looked precisely as he assumed she would. Her hair was bright blue, she had several piercings, and she had thick-rimmed hipster glasses. Her t-shirt read “I (HEART) ABORTIONS” on it, and around her neck hung a necklace with a pentagram on it instead of a cross. Clearly a worshiper of the Earth Mother Goddess or some pagan mumbo jumbo like that, Justin thought. Before he approached to introduce himself, he was already navigating the ideological minefield of the conversation he’d been dreading all week.

He was sure that upon introducing himself in his deep, manly voice, she would take one look at his traditionally masculine, very heterosexual appearance and deem him to be toxic cis-het white male patriarchy scum. In any other situation, he’d easily either defeat his detractors with violence if they were male, with facts, logic, and debate if they were hysterical females (and they always are, right?). But this obviously gender-confused radical was the gatekeeper to the higher education Justin needed, so he had no choice but to be as polite and diplomatic as he could.

“Good morning, ma’am,” Justin began.

Ma’am?!” the clerk replied with a flash of white-hot hatred in her eyes. “Did you just…assume my gender, you toxic masculine white cis-het male scum? You don’t even know my pronouns!

Justin couldn’t believe it- it was going exactly as he predicted. All those memes he read on Facebook about these rabid liberal Marxist Social Justice Warriors were totally right! Fox News was right too! These SJW snowflakes were so entrenched in the higher education system that you couldn’t even to the most mundane administrative task without dealing with them! What a terrible turn of events for our Republic! The Founding Fathers must be turning in their graves. Justin thought that; he thought that the Founding Fathers had to have been turning in their graves. Because they would be upset.

“Look I’m really sorry, I just made that assumption because you look like the female side of the two genders and…” Justin tried to explain but the very unfeminine “woman” behind the counter wasn’t having any of it.

“Excuse me, but there aren’t only two genders. There are at least 74 genders! Our gender scientists feel that is the truth, and all truths are equally valid according to post-modernist Cultural Marxism!”

But that’s wrong! Justin thought. Facts don’t care about people’s feelings, and Cultural Marxism led to the deaths of 1 billion people in the 20th century. If people had cared more about facts and not feelings, maybe Josef Stalin and Hitler, who was a socialist because he was head of the National Socialist party, wouldn’t have existed. But once you start allowing political correctness, there’s no telling how many innocent people could be killed.

Justin was going to say some words to that effect but then he held his tongue. He knew this was just another obstacle he had to get over to achieve his goal of getting a higher education. He silently prayed to Jesus Christ for wisdom and guidance and then spoke again.

“I recognize whatever gender identity you may have as totally valid and real, I just want to sign up for courses so I can get my engineering degree,” he said, calmly and serenely.

The clerk fumed at him a little more, but then sighed and began typing on her computer.

“Name?” she asked, her bitterness still evident in her tone.

“Justin Whitington,” he answered.

Clearly this feminist SJW had never dealt with someone who wouldn’t play her game. Her fingers moved rapidly about the keyboard and-

*BANG!!!*

Suddenly the glass doors behind Justin burst open and there stood four black clad, masked “men” who were very skinny and spindly and effeminate yet somehow menacing at the same time. They were armed with chains, bike locks, and protest signs that said “ISLAMIC STATE REFUGEES DESERVE ASYLUM AND WELFARE!” One of them, the most limp-wristed and spindly of the group, pointed at Justin.

“There’s the toxic masculine fascist!” he exclaimed.

Fascist!” the rest screamed in unison.

Nazi!” the obvious ringleader of the group screamed, his effeminate voice cracking from the strain.

“Excuse me,” gentlemen, Justin began. “But did you know the term Nazi comes from National Socialist German Workers Party, meaning they were socialists and left-wing? And I, of course, am not a socialist because I believe in liberty and small government! Clearly you are mistaken.”

The leader seemed a bit confused. Obviously he was another SJW who never studied history and valued feelings over facts.

Gentlemen?” the skinny ringleader replied. “Did you just assume our genders?

Great, here we go again, Justin thought. But this time it was different. The ringleader began swinging his bike lock chain and the other masked thugs fanned out. Justin had been in enough bar fights to know what was coming. He didn’t know why these spindly little soy-boys thought they’d stand a chance against him, seeing as how he’d taken out tough tattooed MS-13 gangmembers by the dozen with nothing more than his bare fists, but who ever accused Cultural Marxist SJWs of having common sense, right?

“I see where this is going,” Justin said. “And I’ve got to warn you about one thing.”

“Oh yeah, fascist cis-het scum? What’s that?”

There’s no safe space from me, punk!” 
To be continued?! 

The Foreigner’s Guide to Appropriate Protests by Some White Leftist From Brooklyn

Hey there, foreigner! I saw on Twitter that you’re having a demonstration. That’s great! It’s good to express your dissatisfaction with your government. I do that all the time on Twitter, and if we ever had a really revolutionary protest movement I’d probably definitely go. But here’s the thing- there’s a big difference between you and I.

See, I’m an American citizen. I’m a true dissident, speaking truth to power (i.e. posting) and battling Yankee imperialism from within the belly of the beast as Che called it. You, on the other hand, are a foreigner, most likely a resident of a country whose regime isn’t on the best terms with my government. Yes, we talk about being internationalists who care more about the poor oppressed people of the world unlike those neocons, shitlibs, and alt-right neo-Nazis who for some unknown reason keep supporting the same governments we defend,  but the reality is that this little issue of citizenship makes all the difference in the world.

If we in America are upset with our government, we have a right to protest. We live in a developed country and we are highly educated because we have Noam Chomsky and podcasts. You, on the other hand, are most likely living in a crucial square on the geopolitical chessboard, and that means that no matter how dire your grievance must seem, you first need to take into account our political system and our country’s foreign policy before you go out into the streets and cause trouble.

See, you might think you’re protesting because your leader and his friends and family siphon off the natural wealth of your country while arresting and sometimes torturing people for criticizing their behavior, but check this out: Did you ever consider that maybe your leaders are actually your legitimate, democratically elected governments, and the only real reason you think they’re bad is because our government says they are? Yeah, wild, I know, but if you had the brain capacity to understand books like Manufacturing Consent and Killing Hope, you too would understand that there are many “regimes” in the world which, contrary to the mainstream corporate media that only regurgitates US State Department talking points, are in fact demonized simply because they put the interests of their own citizens above those of the hegemonic US military-industrial complex. Also, it’s possible your country has oil, so the US just wants to take your oil. If your country doesn’t have significant oil reserves, then they most likely want to build a pipeline across your country and your government is refusing, probably on ecological grounds.

How do you know if your government is truly terrible or just maligned by American corporate elites? Well I’ve got good news- we’ll tell you! Yes, though the sum total of our international experience typically amounts to Spring Break in Mexico or possibly Amsterdam for the true globetrotters among us, we are experts in geopolitics and we will be sure to determine which side in your country’s dispute is worthy of support based on whatever official statements from US officials happen to grace the headline stories that we skim off our news feeds. To be honest, until recently the process would be much easier. We’d just skim the news until we found John McCain’s smiling mug next to the self-proclaimed leaders of some protest movement. That was all we needed to determine that said movement was in fact a US-organized coup against a legitimate government resisting imperialism. Nowadays, we actually have to read a few official statements, but don’t worry- we’re happy to help.

The most important thing to remember is that before you organize your protest movement, you need to clear it with a white leftist in the US or, failing that, Canada or the UK. Otherwise, you risk launching what we will have no choice but to designate as a US-backed coup against a government we have decided is  leftist. And if you’re going against a leftist government, you must be far-right. It’s pretty simple. So make sure you’ve consulted with us first so you can hopefully obtain our permission to be legitimate protesters like us, as opposed to mindless dupes of the CIA.

Now I’m sure you have some questions, so just because we in the left believe in a borderless world (save for sovereign anti-imperialist states who are forced to maintain strict border controls because imperialism) and internationalism, as an act of solidarity we will answer a limited number them.

Q: My government has never had a free or fair, competitive election in decades, and the lack of accountability has led to billions of dollars of our nation’s natural wealth being siphoned off by the ruling class and their cronies, much of it being stashed in your country. Anyone who tries to speak up against this gets arrested or harassed. Some have even been killed. Isn’t that enough to justify our protest movement? 

A: You’d think that, but no. I mean sure, if our government here in the US or some other leading industrialized country did even a fraction of that, we’d definitely have a protest march and post a lot of memes about our grievances, but you don’t live here, in the belly of the beast of US global hegemony.

You need to give us a chance to Google your country, skim the Wiki article, and then check our trusted sources of information like RT, Telesur, Jacobin, and The Real News in order to determine if all those things you say are actually happening, or if you’re actually just being duped by the CIA into thinking those things are happening in your country. We know it’s very possible that you don’t know what’s really happening in your country because you listen only to mainstream Western corporate media like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC, NPR, RFERL, Al Jazeera, SkyNews, AFP, AP, Reuters, CBC, etc. If you listened to real, independent news sources like RT, you’d know what’s really happening or not happening in your country.

Q: Do I have to get permission from a white person? 

A: Well that’s the best bet if you want to get the approval of podcasters. But if you cannot find any white leftist, feel free to address a person of color so long as they have been raised in their Western country nearly all their life. You don’t want to slip up and accidentally seek permission from say, a “refugee” or emigrant who, based on our determination, may just be a CIA plant or some exiled billionaire masquerading as a fry cook.

Q: Do you really think you know what’s going on in my country more than we do? 

A: Look, we may never have been to your country. We may not speak the language. We may not have read anything about it beyond daily headlines and the Wiki article. But we understand something you don’t- our Western governments. And that’s what really matters- our leaders, our politics.

What do you think has more explanatory value? The things you see on your poor-ass streets everyday? The headlines in your newspapers written in weird alphabets consisting of backwards R’s or squiggly little lines? Or, the sum total of Cold War history as told by intellectual giants like Noam Chomsky, William Blum, Seymour Hersh, and Michael Parenti? You have to look at the big picture. You have to consider history. We can determine the political trajectory in your country far better than you can simply by flipping to the relevant chapter in Killing Hope. If something happened in the past, it must repeat exactly the same way every time, because that’s definitely how history and dialectics work.

Q: But I don’t think you understand. We are really poor here. The wealth inequality is unbelievable. We have a lot of things in common since I hear you guys talking about the same problems in your country.

A: Whoa, hold up there, comrade! We have little in common. For example, suppose I do some googling and find out that your country has state-provided universal healthcare. We have nothing like that here in the States. Suppose I do some more checking and found that from the time your country got full independence, infant mortality and life expectancy have gradually improved. Clearly you need to be happy with what you have.

Q: But our government has been imposing austerity measures on us for many years now. Isn’t that the same thing you people complain about?

A: They may be austerity measures, but it’s totally different. See it’s entirely possible that your government is only imposing those measures for your own good, because it is resisting US hegemonic imperialism. How can you know for sure? You can’t. We can. That’s why you need to consult with us first.

Q: What if we apply to you for legitimacy but you decide that our government is legitimate? Do we still have to go on suffering in poverty? 

A: Yes, I’m afraid so. The only possible alternative is inevitable US military intervention and occupation. It’s not easy to suffer in silence, but look at it this way- you’re opposing US imperialism!

Q: Shouldn’t you maybe, listen to people’s lived experience? I see you guys talking about that from time to time.

A: Oh sorry, that whole lived experience, listen to X marginalized group stuff only applies to people in our country. We’re happy to listen to people from your country give their opinions, for example your president, your prime minister, some other government officials, your state news presenters and the people they interview. These are clearly trustworthy sources. But we can’t just listen to anybody from your country. They could be paid by the CIA for all we know.

Q: No offense, but this all sounds well, kinda racist.

A: Impossible! I can’t be racist! I’m a leftist! I support BLM and Antifa! Why can’t you people just understand that we in the West have your best interests at heart?! I know my country has done so many terrible things to your country and I don’t want the CIA convincing a bunch of local ignorant people to rise up against its legitimate government! Don’t you realize that no matter how terrible you think your government is, US intervention will only make it worse?

wounded_civilians_arrive_at_hospital_aleppo

The consequences of not getting permission from the Western left first: These Syrians didn’t get our blessing to revolt against Bashar al-Assad. We made our calculations based on a few statements of the Obama administration and determined that this uprising was in fact caused by the US, and the resistance, such as all the people in this photo, were nothing but CIA-armed jihadists. 

Well that’s all we have time for in this guide, so to wrap up, remember- before you get out in the streets, did you make sure to vet your organization with Western, preferably white American leftists? The cost of not-doing so can be dire. You don’t want to be labeled as fascist dupes of the CIA, do you? So think before you revolt, and be sure to get our blessing before you get out in the streets.

 

 

After Gaining Independent Church, Church Attendance in Ukraine Soars, Then Plummets

KYIV- After receiving the tomos granting full autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Patriarch of Constantinople, church attendance in Ukraine rapidly increased before quickly declining to pre-autocephaly levels after many Ukrainians suddenly remembered that church is incredibly boring.

“I was so proud that we finally got our own independent Orthodox Church,” said Svitlana, 24, a dancer at the Harem Gentlemen’s Club in downtown Kyiv.

“My girlfriends and I decided to actually attend a service one Sunday and then we got a look at what it’s actually like. All that standing around. And it’s boring as hell. I’d rather sleep in on Sunday next time.”

Vitaly, 38, works in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and was one of the first to attend services at a church whose congregation recently switched from the Moscow Patriarchate to the independent Kyiv Patriarchate. He too has expressed dissatisfaction with religion.

“Sure, I am a true Ukrainian patriot, so naturally I wanted to see what this is all about now that we have our own church,” he said.

“But I started doing research into Christian doctrine and get this- it says that stealing is wrong. Clearly this faith isn’t meant for this country. My official salary is 250USD a month!”

Despite the disillusionment with religion many Ukrainians have been feeling, Russia’s Orthodox Church and it’s Ukraine-based Moscow Patriarchate still continue to inveigh against the independent Ukrainian church, calling them “schismatics.”

“Ukrainians have had a church they can claim allegiance to while not attending regular services for centuries, this is our church,” said Hilarion, Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department of External Relations.

“Our church is just as boring and hypocritical as anything they could come up with in Kyiv. Russians and Ukrainians should be bored together.”

Despite Russian ire aimed at his country, Ukrainian President Poroshenko has made much fanfare over his very involved role in gaining independence for the Ukrainian church. When asked if this might be controversial for the leader of a constitutionally secular state, and if this would in any way reduce endemic corruption or perhaps gain justice for the victims of the sniper massacre during 2014’s Maidan Revolution, the president repeatedly shouted “TOMOS!” until all reporters present left the press conference in a hurry.