Category Archives: Essays

Tears well up in my eyes

Over the last two weeks I have noticed that my eyes are filled with tears on occasion as I walk around the city. I do not know the cause. I honestly cannot tell whether my eyes fill up with tears because of increasing air pollution, or rather because I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that awaits humanity, but I cannot formulate, or express, that sadness. 

John Brown and the Provisional Constitution

“The Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the people of the United States”

“The Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the people of the United States,” in that it is even mentioned in historical texts, is dismissed as a document made up on the spot by John Brown’s lawyer Samuel Chilton when he defended Brown during the trial for insurrection for Brown’s actions at Harper’s Ferry in 1858.

But the more one thinks about John Brown’s actions, the clearer it becomes that this document was at the core of Brown’s actions, and the actions of his supporters, and that they saw their efforts, including the provisional constitution, as being entirely legal and entirely moral in nature.

From Brown’s perspective, he did not engage in insurrection at all, but rather the entire government of the South, and to a large extent, that of the entire United States was so corrupt and so far from the word and the spirit of its own constitution that it lacked any legitimacy. He presented a blue print for the rule by law and his actions were entirely legal and just from that point of view. “The Provisional Constitution” states that everyone, native, African American, immigrant, or otherwise is a citizen of the nation. It is radical statement only in comparison with accepted thinking of elites at the time. The provisional constitution represents a most obvious conclusion coming from the careful reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  

I am astonished at the degree to which his narrative has been distorted and ignored so as to make it almost impossible to see him as anything but a radical. In fact, it was Robert E Lee who attacked John Brown for standing up for the spirit of the constitution. Lee, not Brown, was the radical, the extremist.

As we wrestle with the complete decay of the rule of law today, it is critical that we read again what John Brown wrote back then. It is also critical that we understand that the tradition of constitutional law that we see in the United States Constitution of 1787 did not grow merely out of enlightenment thinking and the Magna Carta, but that it also has deep roots in the “Great Law of Peace” of the Iroquois Confederacy and other native constitutions. Written down in 1722, the “Great Law of Peace” dated back hundreds, if not thousands, of years and offered a powerful alternative to the exploitative tradition of the English colonies.

The Provisional Constitution was an attempt to fully embody the words of the constitution and perhaps its origins in the “Great Law of Peace” and as such was perhaps not anywhere as radical as its critics later claimed.

Here is the full text of the “Provisional Constitution”

Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the people of the United States.

PREAMBLE.

Whereas slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than a most barbarous, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens upon another portion-the only conditions ‘of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude or absolute extermination-in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence:

Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decision of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights which the white man is bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitu­tion and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions

ARTICLE I

Qualifications for membership

All persons of mature age, whether proscribed, oppressed, and enslaved citizens, or of the proscribed and oppressed races of the United States, who shall agree to sustain and enforce the Provisional Constitution and Ordinances of this organization, together with all minor children of such persons, shall be held to be fully entitled to protection under the same.

ARTICLE II.

Branches of government.

The provisional government of this organization shall consist of three branches, viz: legislative, executive, and judicial.

ARTICLE III.

Legislative.

The legislative branch shall be a Congress or House of Representative, composed of not less than five nor more than ten members, who shall be elected by all citizens of mature age and of sound mind con­nected with this organization, and who shall remain in office for three years, unless sooner removed for misconduct, inability, or by death. A majority of such members shall constitute a quorum.

ARTICLE IV.

Executive.

The executive branch of this organization shall consist of a President and Vice-President, who shall be chosen by the citizens or members of this organization, and each of whom shall hold his office for three years” unless sooner removed by death or for inability or misconduct.

ARTICLE V.

Judicial

The judicial branch of this organization shall consist of one Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and of four associate judges of said court, each constituting a circuit court. They shall each be chosen in the same manner as the President, and shall continue in office until their places have been filled in the same manner by election of the citizens. Said court shall have jurisdiction in all civil or criminal causes arising under this constitution, except breaches of the rules of war.

ARTICLE VI.

Validity of enactments.

All enactments of the legislative branch shall, to become valid during the first three years, have the approbation of the President and of the Commander-in-chief of the army.

ARTICLE VII.

Commander-in-chief.

A Commander-in-chief of the army shall be chosen by the President, Vice-President, a majority of the Provisional Congress, and of the Supreme Court, and he shall receive his commission from the President, signed by the Vice-President, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Secretary of War, and he shall hold his office for three years, unless removed by death or on proof of incapacity or misbehavior. He shall, unless under arrest, (and until his place is actually filled as pro­vided for by this constitution,) direct all movements of the army and advise with any allies. He shall, however, be tried, removed, or pun­ished, on complaint of the President, by at least three general officers, or a majority of the House of Representatives, or of the Supreme Court; which House of Representatives, (the President presiding,) the Vice-President, and the members of the Supreme Court, shall consti­tute a court-martial for his trial; with power to remove or punish, as the case may require, and to fill his place, as above provided.

ARTICLE VIII.

Officers.

A Treasurer, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Secretary of the Treasury, shall each be chosen, for the first three years, in the same way and manner as the Commander-in-chief, subject to trial or removal on complaint of the President, Vice-President, or Commander in-chief, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or on complaint of the majority of the members of said court or the Provisional Congress. The Supreme Court shall have power to try or punish either of those officers, and their places shall be filled as before.

ARTICLE IX.

Secretary of War.

The Secretary of War shall be under the immediate direction of the Commander-in-chief, who may temporarily fill his place in case of arrest or of any inability to serve.

ARTICLE X.

Congress or House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives shall make ordinances providing for the appointment (by the President or otherwise) of all civil officers, excepting those already named; and shall have power to. make all laws and ordinances for the general good, not inconsistent with this Constitution and these ordinances.

ARTICLE XI.

Appropriation of money

The Provisional Congress shall have power to appropriate money or other property actually in the hands of the treasurer, to any object calculated to promote the general good, so far as may be consistent with the provisions of this constitution; and may, in certain cases, appropriate for a moderate compensation of agents, or persons not members of this organization, for any important service they are known to have rendered.

ARTICLE XII.

Special duties.

It shall be the duty of Congress to provide for the instant removal of any civil officer or policeman, who becomes habitually intoxicated, or who is addicted to other immoral conduct, or to any neglect or unfaithfulness in the discharge of his official duties. Congress shall also be a Standing Committee of Safety, for the purpose of obtaining important information; and shall be in constant communication with the Commander-in-chief; the members of which shall each, as also the President, Vice-President, members of the Supreme Court, and Secretary of State, have full power to issue warrants, returnable as Congress shall ordain (naming witnesses, &c.,) upon their own information, without the formality of a complaint. Complaint shall be immediately made after arrest, and before trial; the party arrested to be served with a copy at once.

ARTICLE XIII.

Trial of President and other Officers

The President and Vice-President may either of them be tried, removed, or punished, on complaint made to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, by a majority of the House of Representatives; which house together with the Associate Judges of the Supreme Court, the whole to be presided over by the Chief Justice in case of the trial of the Vice-President, shall have full power to try such officers, to remove or punish as the case may require, and to fill any vacancy so occurring, the same as in the case of the Commander-in-chief.

ARTICLE XIV.

Trial of members of Congress.

The members of the House of Representatives may, any and all of them, be tried, and, on conviction, removed or punished, on complaint before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, made by any number of the members of said house exceeding one-third; which house, with the Vice-President and Associate Judges of the Supreme Court, shall constitute the proper tribunal with power to fill such vacancies.

ARTICLE XV.

Impeachment of Judges.

Any member of the Supreme Court may also be impeached, tried, convicted, or punished by removal or otherwise, Oil complaint to the President, who shall in such case, preside; the Vice-President, House of Representatives, and other members of the Supreme Court, consti­tuting the proper tribunal, (with power to fill vacancies,) on complaint of a majority of said House of Representatives, or of the Supreme Court; a majority of the whole having power to decide.

ARTICLE XVI.

Duties of President and Secretary of State.

The President, with the Secretary of State; shall, immediately upon entering on the duties of their office, give special attention to secure from amongst their own people, men of integrity, intelligence, and good business habits and capacity, and, above an, of first-rate moral and religious character and influence, to act as civil officers of every description and grade, as well as teachers, chaplains, physicians, sur­geons, mechanics, agents of every description, clerks, and messengers. They shall make special efforts to induce, at the earliest possible period, persons and families of that description to locate themselves within the limits secured by this organization; and shall, moreover, from time to time, supply the names and residence of such persons to the Congress, for their special notice and information, as among the most important of their duties; and the President is herebyauth9rized and empowered to afford special aid to such individuals, from such moderate appropriations as the Congress shall be able and may deem advisable to make for that object. The President and Secretary of State, and in all cases of disagreement the Vice-President, shall appoint all civil officers, but shall not have power to remove any officer. All removals shall be the result of a fair trial, whether civil or military.

ARTICLE XVII.

Further duties.

It shall be the duty of the President and Secretary of State to find out (as soon as possible) the real friends as well as enemies of this organization in every part of the country; to secure among them inn­keepers, private postmasters, private mail contractors, messengers, and agents, through whom may be obtained correct and regular in­formation constantly; recruits for the service, places of deposit and sale, together with all needed supplies; and it shall be matter of special regard to secure such facilities through the northern States.

ARTICLE XVII.

Duty of the President.

It shall be the duty of the President, as well as the House of Rep­resentatives, at all times, to inform the Commander-in-chief of any matter that may require his attention, or that may affect the public safety.

ARTICLE XIX.

Duty of President, continued.

It shall be the duty of the President to see that the provisional ordinances of this organization, and those made by the Congress, are promptly and faithfully executed; and he may, in cases of great urgency, call on the Commander-in-chief of the army or other officers for aid; it being, however, intended that a sufficient civil police shall always be in readiness to secure implicit obedience to law.

ARTICLE XX.

The Vice-President.

The Vice-President shall be the presiding officer of the Provisional Congress, and in cases of tie shall give the casting vote.

ARTICLE XXI.

Vacancies.

In case of the death, removal, or inability of the President, the Vice President, and, next to him, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall be the President during the remainder of the term; and the place of the Chief Justice, thus made vacant, shall be filled by Con­gress from’ some of the members of said court; and the places of the Vice-President and Associate Justice, thus made vacant, filled by an election by the united action of the Provisional Congress and members of the Supreme Court. All other vacancies, not heretofore specially provided for, shall, during the first three years, be filled by the united action of the President, Vice-President, Supreme Court, and Commander-in-chief of the army.

ARTICLE XXII.

Punishment of crimes.

The punishment of crimes not capital, except in case of insubordinate convicts or other prisoners, shall be (so far as may be) by hard labor on the public works, roads, &c.

ARTICLE XXIII.

Army appointments.

It shall be the duty of all commissioned officers of the army to name candidates of merit, for office or elevation, to the Commander-in-chief, who, with the Secretary of War, and, in. cases of disagreement, the President, shall be the appointing power of the army; and all commissions of military officers shall bear the signatures of the Commander in-chief and the Secretary of War. And it shall be the special duty of the Secretary of War to keep for constant reference of the Commander-in-chief a full list of names of persons nominated for office or elevation by the officers of the army, with the name and rank of the officer nominating, stating distinctly, but briefly, the grounds for such notice or nomination. The Commander-in-chief shall not have power to remove or punish any officer or soldier, but he may order their arrest and trial at any time by court-martial.

ARTICLE XXIV.

Courts-martial.

Courts-martial for companies, regiments, brigades, &c., shall be called by the chief officer of each command, on complaint to him by any officer, or any five privates in such command, and shall consist of not less than five nor more than nine officers, non-commissioned offi­cers and privates, one half of whom shall not be lower in rank than the person on trial, to be chosen by the three highest officers in the command, which officers shall not be a part of such court. The chief officer of any command shall, of course, be tried by a court-martial of the command above his own. All decisions affecting the lives of per­sons, or office of persons holding commission, must, before taking full effect, have the signature of the Commander-in-chief, who may also, on the recommendation of at least one third of the members of the court-martial finding any sentence, grant a reprieve or commutation of the same.

ARTICLE XXV.

Salaries.

No person connected with this organization shall be entitled to any salary, pay, or emolument, other than a competent support of himself and family, unless it be from an equal dividend made of public prop­erty, on the establishment of peace, or of special provision by treaty; which provision shall be made for all persons who may have been in any active civil or military service at any time previous to any hostile action for liberty and equality.

ARTICLE XXVI.

Treaties of peace.

Before any treaty of peace shall take full effect it shall be signed by the President and Vice-President, the Commander-in-chief, a majority of the House of Representatives, a majority of the Supreme Court, and a majority of all the general officers of the army.

ARTICLE XXVII.

Duty of the military.

It shall be the duty of the Commander-in-chief and all officers and soldiers of the army to afford special protection, when needed, to Con­gress or any member thereof, to the Supreme Court or any member thereof, to the President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of War; and to afford gen­eral protection to all civil officers or other persons having right to the same.

ARTICLE XXVIII.

Property.

All captured or confiscated property and all property the product of the labor of those belonging to this organization and of their fami­lies, shall. be held as the property of the whole, equally, without distinction, and may be used for the common benefit, or disposed of for the same object; and any person, officer, or otherwise, who shall improperly retain, secrete, use, or needlessly destroy such property, or property found, captured, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy, or shall willfully neglect to render a full and fair statement of such property by him so taken or held, shall be deemed guilty of a misde­meanor, and, on conviction, shall be punished accordingly.

ARTICLE XXIX.

Safety or intelligence fund.

All money, plate, watches, or jewelry captured by honorable war­fare, found, taken, or confiscated, belonging to the enemy, shall be held sacred to constitute a liberal safety or intelligence fund; and any person who shall improperly retain, dispose of, hide, use, or destroy such money or other article above named, contrary to the provisions and spirit of this article, shall be deemed guilty of theft, and, on con­viction thereof, shall be punished accordingly. The treasurer shall furnish the Commander-in-chief at all times with a full statement of the condition of such fund, and its nature.

ARTICLE XXX.

The Commander-in-chief and the treasury.

The Commander-in-chief shall have power to draw from the treasury the money and other property of the fund provided for in article twenty-ninth; but his orders shall be signed also by the Secretary of War, who shall keep strict account of the same subject to examination by any member of Congress or general officer.

ARTICLE XXXI.

Surplus of the safety or intelligence fund.

It shall be the duty of the Commander-in-chief to advice the President of any surplus of the safety and intelligence fund, who shall have power to draw such surplus (his order being also signed by the Secretary of State) to enable him to carry out the provisions of article seventeenth.

ARTICLE XXXII.

Prisoners.

No person, after having surrendered himself or herself a prisoner, and who shall properly demean himself or herself as such, to any officer or private connected with this organization, shall afterward be put to death, or be subject to any corporeal punishment, without first having had the benefit of a fair and impartial trial; nor shall any prisoner be treated with any kind of cruelty, disrespect, insult, or needless severity; but it shall be the duty of all persons, male and female, connected herewith, at all times and under all circumstances, to treat all such prisoners with every degree of respect and kindness that the nature of the circumstances will admit of, and to insist on a like course of conduct from all others, as in the fear of Almighty God, to whose care and keeping we commit our cause.

ARTICLE XXXIII.

Voluntaries.

All persons who may come forward, and shall voluntarily deliver up their slaves, and have their names registered on the books of the organization, shall, so long as they continue at peace, be entitled to the fullest protection of person and property, though not connected with this organization, and shall be treated as friends and not merely as persons neutral.

ARTICLE XXXIV.

Neutrals.

The persons and property of all non-slaveholders, who shall remain absolutely neutral, shall be respected so far as the circumstances can allow of it, but they shall not be entitled to any active protection.

ARTICLE XXXV.

No needless waste.

The needless waste or destruction of any useful property or article by fire, throwing open of fences, fields, buildings, or needless killing of animals, or injury of either, shall not be tolerated at any time or place, but shall be promptly and properly punished.

ARTICLE XXXVI.

Property confiscated.

The entire personal and real property of all persons known to be acting either directly or indirectly with or for the enemy, or Found in arms with them, or found willfully holding slaves, shall be confis­cated and taken whenever and wherever it may be found in either free or slave States.

ARTICLE XXXVII.

Desertion.

Persons convicted on impartial trial of desertion to the enemy, after becoming members, acting as spies, or of treacherous surrender of property, ammunition, provisions, or supplies of any kind, roads, bridges, persons, or fortifications shall be put to death, and their entire property confiscated.

ARTICLE XXXVIII.

Violation of parole of honor.

Persons proven to be guilty of taking up arms after having been set at liberty on parole of honor, or, after the same, to have taken any active part with or for the enemy, direct or indirect, shall be put to death, and their entire property confiscated.

ARTICLE XXXIX.

All must labor.

All persons connected in any way with this organization, and who may be entitled to full protection under it, shall be held as under obligation to labor in some way for the general good; and persons refusing or neglecting so to do, shall, on conviction, receive a suitable and appropriate punishment.

ARTICLE XL.

Irregularities.

Profane swearing, filthy conversation, indecent behavior, or indecent exposure of the person, or intoxication or quarreling, shall not be allowed or tolerated, neither unlawful intercourse of the sexes.

ARTICLE XLI.

Crimes.

Persons convicted of the forcible violation of any female prisoner shall be put to death.

ARTICLE XLII.

The marriage relation, schools, the Sabbath.

The marriage relation shall be at all times respected, and families kept together, as far as possible; and broken families encouraged to reunite, and intelligence offices established for that purpose. Schools and churches established, as soon as may be, for the purpose of reli­gious and other instructions; for the first day of the week, regarded as a day of rest, and appropriated to moral and religious instruction and improvement, relief of the suffering, instruction of the young and ignorant, and the encouragement of personal cleanliness; nor shall any persons be required on that day to perform ordinary manual labor, unless in extremely urgent cases.

ARTICLE XLIII.

Carry arms openly.

All persons known to be of good character and of sound mind and suitable age, who are connected with this organization, whether male or female, shall be encouraged to carry arms openly.

ARTICLE XLIV.

No person to carry concealed weapons.

No person within the limits of the conquered territory, except regularly appointed policemen, express officers of the army, mail carriers, or other fully accredited messengers of the Congress, President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, or commissioned officers of the army-and those only under peculiar circumstances-shall be allowed at any time to carry concealed weapons; and any person not specially authorized so to do, who shall be found so doing, shall be deemed a suspicious person, and may at once be arrested by any officer, soldier, or citizen, without the formality of a complaint or warrant, and may at once be subjected to thorough search, and shall have his or her case thoroughly investigated, and be dealt with as circumstances on proof shall require.

ARTICLE XLV.

Persons to be seized.

Persons within the limits of the territory holden by this organiza­tion, not connected with this organization, having arms at all, concealed or otherwise, shall be seized at once, or, be taken in charge of some vigilant officer, and their case thoroughly investigated; and it shall be the duty of all citizens and soldiers, as well as officers, to arrest such parties as are named in this and the preceding section or article, without the formality of complaint or warrant; and they shall be placed in charge of some proper officer for examination or for safe­keeping.

ARTICLE XLVI.

These articles not for the overthrow of government.

The foregoing articles shall not be construed so as in any way to encourage the overthrow of any State government, or of the general government of the United States, and look to no dissolution of the Union, but simply to amendment and repeal. And our flag shall be the same that our fathers fought under in the Revolution.

ARTICLE XLVII.

No plurality of offices.

No two of the offices specially provided for by this instrument shall be filled by the same person at the same time.

ARTICLE XLVIII.

Oath.

Every officer, civil or military, connected with this organization shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, make solemn oath or affirmation to abide by and support this provisional constitution and these ordinances; also every citizen and soldier, before being fully recognized as such, shall do the same.

Schedule.

The president of this convention shall convene, immediately on the adoption of this instrument, a convention of all such persons as shall have given their adherence by signature to the constitution, who shall proceed to fill, by election, all offices specially named in said constitution, the president of this convention presiding, and issuing commissions to such officers elect; all such officers being thereafter elected in the manner provided in the body of this instrument.

Source: Provisional Constitution 

Meditation on John Brown

Meditation on John Brown and his Provisional Constitution and Ordinances 

Emanuel Pastreich

November 28, 2018

John Brown (1800-1859)

Opening of the “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances”

1858

“Whereas slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens against another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence. Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decision of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights which the white man is bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitution and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions.”

Emanuel Pastreich

November, 2018

“Whereas the use of fossil fuels,throughout their entire existence in the United States,is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its elites against the great majority of citizens, creating conditions of perpetual imprisonment in a catastrophic system of consumption and of pollution of the environment that will render the Earth uninhabitable,leading to absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence.

Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decisions of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights in the face of multinational corporations pushing fossil fuels, we, bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitution and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions as we free ourselves from the death march of a fossil fuel driven economy.”

On looking at old photos

It is not only that the entire world in those photographs has vanished, but also that I have been transformed in a profound sense and could not fit back into that world even if there were a means to transport me back magically to that time. This statement may seem like a painful reiteration of the self-evident. But the truth is that, like it or not, I have spent countless hours imagining what it would be like to travel back. And louder calls out Proust, “The only paradise is paradise lost.”

Reo Hamel

Reo Hamel was an elderly man who had taken up a side business of career consulting. I was introduced to him through my classmate Glenn Gutmacher back in 2010 when I decided I would try to find some sort of employment in the United States. I met Reo only once, but he made tremendous efforts on my behalf. He taught me how to think about how I was perceived by others and to identify effectively what institutions are looking for.

He passed away around 2014, but I remember his kindness from time to time even these days. In a sense, his role in my life was short and quite limited. But I think he deeply touched me, and he refused to take payment for his help after the first two months.

 

On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 5:33 AM Reo Hamel Associates <reo@reohamel.com> wrote:

Hi Emanuel,
Hope this isn’t too late to wish you a safe and comfortable trip. I look forward to meeting you in person on Feb. 1st around 8:30am.
Best wishes,
Reo

Cause for economic sanctions

“My neighbor’s dog keeps barking late at night. Maybe I should consider economic sanctions.”

 

 

Emanuel Pastreich

September 22, 2018

 

“The economic system previously known as capitalism”

The problem with the term “capitalism” is that it tends to marginalize the discourse on the human nature and selfishness which goes back thousands of years and offers profound insights, and solutions. The issue of greed and gluttony goes far back in Greek, Roman and Hindu texts, as in the core classics of  Buddhism and Daoism which offer us much we will not find in Marx or in Piketty.

But it seems that once we start talking “capitalism” and economics, all that wisdom from philosophy and literature goes out the window. We are lost in a narrow definition of production and consumption.

 

In addition,  technological evolution, the emergence of computers and the transformation of money and the perception of reality by the advancement of means of reproduction (AKA Benjamin) have promoted accelerated cycles of exchange which are increasingly virtual and increasingly imaginary and ideological. We find ourselves in a system profoundly different from capitalism and industrial production finance in the 19th century, when Marx wrote, or the 20th century, or even in 2000. So perhaps we would do better to suggest that just as we are now in the Anthropocene age (and not the Cenozoic age) so also we are in something quite different than “capitalism ” as described in 1850,  or even in 1980.

The dawn of the age of “psychopathocracy”

I am not a political scientist, but I felt compelled to coin a new term to describe the new form of governance we see emerging around the world.

I refer to this model as “psychopathocracy” a term which describes the rule by psychopaths, those who are mentally unstable in a sense that strips them of their humanity and makes them incapable of determining what is in their own interests, or in the interests of others.

Goya

This state often features paranoid obsessions.

When Donald Trump’s National Paranoia Advisor John Bolton spoke with Martha Raddatz  of ABC News and stated that he was convinced that not only Russia, but Iran, China and North Korea would meddle in the Midterm Election, he was giving voice to precisely such paranoid views (granted their political value to him).

Bolton stated,

“I can say definitively that it’s a sufficient national security concern about [in addition to Russia] Chinese meddling, Iranian meddling and North Korean meddling [in the coming election] that we’re taking steps to try to prevent it, so it’s all four of those countries, really. I’m not going to get into the – what I’ve seen or haven’t seen, but I’m telling you, looking at the 2018 election, those are the four countries that we’re most concerned about.”

We have to wonder whether that election will ever take place.

 

I also want to mention Thomas Mann’s insight:

“The insipid is not synonymous with the harmless”

Mann suggests that many mistakenly assume that because the actions of certain people are foolish, dreary and banal they are therefore of little consequence. But as Mann learned in Germany of the 1930s, the banality of political discourse has nothing to do with its potency, or with its destructiveness.

 

Cognitive dissonance as comedy

I saw this haunting advertisement in the subway today (July 18, 2018). It was, of course, meant to be humorous, lighthearted and topical. But there was something deeply disturbing about the image.  The advertisement for a waterpark suggests that geopolitical catastrophe and the complete loss of institutional control we see in the United States, and in South Korea, can be an amusing theme for an advertisement for summer fun on the water slide. We see Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un racing down the flume at the water park towards complete chaos.

I think this advertisement suggests a pathological level of cognitive dissonance.

catastrophe

Discussion on North Korean Human rights on Alex Jensen’s TBS eFM show

I had the opportunity to speak about the Trump-Kim summit on TBS eFM’s “This Morning with the inimitable Alex Jensen on June 12 (just a few hours after the summit).

It was a great opportunity to discuss the summit with a variety of experts from around the world.

The discussion is available at

This Morning with Alex Jensen 

“US -North Korea Summit & the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”

The other guest on Alex Jensen’s show was Sarah Son, research director of the NGO Transnational Justice Working Group.

She spent most of her time talking about the abysmal human rights situation in North Korea. I did not disagree as I am certain that North Korea, like many other developing nations, suffers any number of human rights abuses. I also kept my mouth shut as she detailed the prison gulags in North Korea that are so offensive that they must be discussed at the summit.

But that is where it all fell apart. I was asked my opinion and I responded that not only does the United States have the largest prison population in the world, not only does it abuse prisoners as laborers, not only does it have for-profit prisons, but that it is now engaged in the explicitly illegal activity of separating children from parents among immigrants. Such actions are an act of intentional and unnecessary cruelty. It is also a blatant violation of international law—the sort of action the US has condemned other nations for.

Ms. Son was silent on this topic. When she was pressed, she responded that she dealt only with North Korea in her work. She refused to say a single negative word about the Trump administration.

But that was not all. When I suggested that Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un had much in common as the products of inherited dynasties of corruption and power, she was again silent.

The working assumption for Ms. Son was that North Korea was somehow horrible in a sense that no other country in the world is, a miserable universe unto itself.

This argument did not convince me.

Finally, she was not interested in engaging in the question of whether North Korean workers were entitled to protection from exploitation. This part I was not able to press her on—as I wanted to keep it polite. But you listen to yourself.

My impression from what she said is that North Koreans are entitled to “human rights” like advanced Western countries, but that they have no rights to protest against their exploitation by corporations and they have no rights to collective bargaining.