America’s Forever Wars Have Come Home

Introduction by Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch.com

Here’s a little portrait of the United States in June 2020, a passage from a New York Times report on the National Guard’s treatment of a recent protest march of people chanting “We can’t breathe!” in Washington, D.C.:

“A Black Hawk helicopter, followed by a smaller medical evacuation helicopter, dropped to rooftop level with its searchlights aimed at the crowd. Tree limbs snapped, nearly hitting several people. Signs were torn from the sides of buildings. Some protesters looked up, while others ran into doorways. The downward force of air from the rotors was deafening. The helicopters were performing a ‘show of force’ — a standard tactic used by military aircraft in combat zones to scatter insurgents.”

Talk about America’s wars coming home! George Floyd’s recent killing is both a long way, and yet not far at all, from the police shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Many Americans felt shocked then on seeing that city’s police force respond to the ensuing protests togged out in Pentagon-supplied gear of every sort, including sniper rifles and Humvees, often directly off the battlefields of this country’s ongoing wars. As Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver put it then, referring to an Iraqi city largely destroyed by the U.S. military in 2004, “Ferguson resembles Fallujah.”

The question is: What does the U.S. resemble six years later? You know, I’m talking about the place that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recently referred to as a “battle space” (as in “dominate the battle space”) in a contentious discussion he and President Trump had with the nation’s governors. I’m talking about the country where that same president has been threatening to call out the troops as police forces. (When retired military brass screamed bloody murder, Esper began backing down.) I’m talking about the land into which Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton has the urge to send the 101st Airborne Division, or Screaming Eagles, whose assault troops have previously seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. (“If local politicians will not do their most basic job to protect our citizens, let’s see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street.”)

Could you ever doubt that America’s wars would sooner or later come home in a big way? I suspect retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and historian William Astore didn’t. After all, he’s been writing for years at TomDispatch about how our former citizens’ military has, in those very wars, become the equivalent of a foreign legion. Fully militarizing the police and bringing the legionnaires home, a subject he explores today, seems like just the next obvious step in this country’s precipitous decline. Tom

“Light ‘Em Up”
Warrior-Cops Are the Law — and Above the Law — as Violence Grips America
By William J. Astore

From their front porches, regular citizens watched a cordon of cops sweep down their peaceful street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rankled at being filmed, the cops exceeded their authority and demanded that people go inside their houses. When some of them didn’t obey quickly enough, the order — one heard so many times in the streets of Iraqi cities and in the villages of Afghanistan — was issued: “Light ’em up.” And so “disobedient” Americans found themselves on the receiving end of non-lethal rounds for the “crime” of watching the police from those porches.

It’s taken years from Ferguson to this moment, but America’s cops have now officially joined the military as “professional” warriors. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder on May 25th, those warrior-cops have taken to the streets across the country wearing combat gear and with attitudes to match. They see protesters, as well as the reporters covering them, as the enemy and themselves as the “thin blue line” of law and order.

The police take to bashing heads and thrashing bodies, using weaponry so generously funded by the American taxpayer: rubber bullets, pepper spray (as Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio experienced at a protest), tear gas (as Episcopal clergy experienced at a demonstration in Washington, D.C.), paint canisters, and similar “non-lethal” munitions, together with flash-bang grenades, standard-issue batons, and Tasers, even as they drive military-surplus equipment like Humvees and MRAPs. (Note that such munitions blinded an eye of one photo-journalist.) A Predator drone even hovered over at least one protest.

Who needs a military parade, President Trump? Americans are witnessing militarized “parades” across the U.S.A. Their theme: violent force. The result: plenty of wounded and otherwise damaged Americans left in their wake. The detritus of America’s foreign wars has finally well and truly found its place on Main Street, U.S.A.

Cops are to blame for much of this mayhem. Video clips show them wildly out of control, inciting violence and inflicting it, instead of defusing and preventing it. Far too often, “to serve and protect” has become “to shoot and smack down.” It suggests the character of Eric Cartman from the cartoon South Park, a boy inflamed by a badge and a chance to inflict physical violence without accountability. “Respect my authoritah!” cries Cartman as he beats an innocent man for no reason.

So, let’s point cameras — and fingers — at these bully-boy cops, let’s document their crimes, but let’s also state a fact with courage: it’s not just their fault.

Who else is to blame? Well, so many of us. How stupid have we been to celebrate cops as heroes, just as we’ve been foolishly doing for so long with the U.S. military? Few people are heroes and fewer still deserve “hero” status while wearing uniforms and shooting bullets, rubber or otherwise, at citizens.

Answer me this: Who granted cops a specially-modified U.S. flag to celebrate “blue lives matter,” and when exactly did that happen, and why the hell do so many people fly these as substitute U.S. flags? Has everyone forgotten American history and the use of police (as well as National Guard units) to suppress organized labor, keep blacks and other minorities in their place, intimidate ordinary citizens protesting for a cleaner environment, or whack hippies and anti-war liberals during the Vietnam War protests?

Or think of what’s happening this way: America’s violent overseas wars, thriving for almost two decades despite their emptiness, their lack of meaning, have finally and truly come home. An impoverished empire, in which violence and disease are endemic, is collapsing before our eyes. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” America’s self-styled wartime president promised, channeling a racist Miami police chief from 1967. It was a declaration meant to turn any American who happened to be near a protest into a potential victim.

As such demonstrations proliferate, Americans now face a grim prospect: the chance to be wounded or killed, then dismissed as “collateral damage.” In these years, that tried-and-false military euphemism has been applied so thoughtlessly to innumerable innocents who have suffered grievously from our unending foreign wars and now it’s coming home.

How does it feel, America?

The End of Citizen-Soldiers, the End of Citizen-Cops

I joined the military in 1981, signing up in college for the Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC. I went on active duty in 1985 and served for 20 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. I come from a family of firefighters and cops. My dad and older brother were firefighters, together with my brother-in-law and nephew. My niece and her husband are cops and my sister worked for her local police department for years. My oldest friend, a great guy I’ve known for half a century, recently retired as a deputy sheriff. I know these people because they’re my people.

Many cops — I’d say most — are decent people. But dress almost any cop in combat gear, cover him or her in armor like a stormtrooper out of Star Wars, then set all of them loose on the streets with a mandate to restore “LAW & ORDER,” as our president tweeted, and you’re going to get stormtrooper-like behavior.

Sure, I’d wager that more than a few cops enjoy it, or at least it seems that way in the videos captured by so many. But let’s remind ourselves that the cops, like the rest of America’s systems of authority, are a product of a sociopolitical structure that’s inherently violent, openly racist, deeply flawed, and thoroughly corrupted by money, power, greed, and privilege. In such a system, why should we expect them to be paragons of virtue and restraint? We don’t recruit them that way. We don’t train them that way. Indeed, we salute them as “warriors” when they respond to risky situations in aggressive ways.

Here’s my point: When I put on a military uniform in 1985, I underwent a subtle but meaningful change from a citizen to a citizen-airman. (Note how “citizen” still came first then.) Soon after, however, the U.S. military began telling me I was something more than that: I was a warrior. And that was a distinct and new identity for me, evidently a tougher, more worthy one than simply being a citizen-airman. That new “warrior” image and the mystique that grew up around it was integral to, and illustrative of, the beginning of a wider militarization of American culture and society, which exploded after the 9/11 attacks amid the “big-boy pants” braggadocio of the administration of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as they set out to remake the world as an American possession.

Why all the “warrior” BS? Why “Generation Kill” (one of those memorable phrases of the post-9/11 era)? Was it to give us a bit more spine or something to rally around after the calamity of those attacks on iconic American targets, or perhaps something to take pride in after so many disastrous wars over the last 75 years? It took me a while to answer such questions. Indeed, it took me a while to grasp that such questions were almost beside the point. Because all this warrior talk, whether applied to the military or the cops, is truly meant to separate us from the American people, to link us instead to wider systems of impersonal authority, such as the military-industrial-congressional complex.

By “elevating” us as warriors, the elites conspired to reduce us as citizens, detaching us from a citizen’s code of civics and moral behavior. By accepting the conceit of such an identity, we warriors and former warriors became, in a sense, foreign to democracy and ever more divorced from the citizenry. We came to form foreign legions, readily exploitable in America’s endless imperial-corporate wars, whether overseas or now here.

(Notice, by the way, how, in the preceding paragraphs, I use “we” and “us,” continuing to identify with the military, though I’ve been retired for 15 years. On rereading it, I thought about revising that passage, until I realized that was precisely the point: a career military officer is, in some way, always in the military. The ethos is that strong. The same is true of cops.)

In 2009, I first asked if the U.S. military had become an imperial police force. In 2020, we need to ask if our police are now just another branch of that military, with our “homeland” serving as the empire to be conquered and exploited. That said, let’s turn to America’s cops. They’re now likely to identify as warriors, too, and indeed many of them have served in America’s violent and endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. These days, they’re ever more likely to identify as well with authority, as defined and exercised by the elites for whom they serve as hired guns.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the warrior-mercenary mindset of the police has been fully exposed. For what was Floyd’s great “crime”? At worst, if true, an attempt at petty theft through forgery. He’d lost his job due to the Covid-19 crisis and, like most of us, was lucky if he saw a one-time check for $1,200, even as the rich and powerful enjoyed trillions of dollars in relief.

Rarely are the police sent to prosecute scofflaws in high places. I haven’t seen any bankers being choked to death on the street under an officer’s knee.  Nor have I seen any corporate “citizens” being choked to death by cops. It’s so much easier to hassle and arrest the little people for whom, if they’re black or otherwise vulnerable, arrest may even end in death.

By standing apart from us, militarized, a thin blue line, the police no longer stand with us.

A friend of mine, an Air Force retired colonel, nailed it in a recent email to me: “I used to — maybe not enjoy but — not mind talking to the police. It was the whole ‘community partners’ thing. Growing up and through college, you just waved at cops on patrol (they’d wave back!). Over the last five years, all I get is cops staring back in what I imagine they think is an intimidating grimace. They say nothing when you say hello. They are all in full ‘battle rattle’ even when directing traffic.”

When military “battle rattle” becomes the standard gear for street cops, should we be that surprised to hear the death rattle of black men like George Floyd?

Speaking Truth to Power Isn’t Nearly Enough

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “speaking truth to power.” It’s meant as a form of praise. But a rejoinder I once read captures its inherent limitations: power already knows the truth — and I’d add that the powerful are all too happy with their monopoly on their version of the truth, thank you very much.

It’s not enough to say that the police are too violent, or racist, or detached from society. Powerful people already know this perfectly well. Indeed, they’re counting on it. They’re counting on cops being violent to protect elite interests; nor is racism the worst thing in the world, they believe, as long as it’s not hurting their financial bottom lines. If it divides people, making them all the more exploitable, so much the better. And who cares if cops are detached from the interests of the working and lower middle classes from which they’ve come? Again, all the better, since that means they can be sicked on protesters and, if things get out of hand, those very protesters can then be blamed. If push comes to shove, a few cops might have to be fired, or prosecuted, or otherwise sacrificed, but that hardly matters as long as the powerful get off scot-free.

President Trump knows this. He talks about “dominating” the protesters. He insists that they must be arrested and jailed for long periods of time. After all, they are the “other,” the enemy. He’s willing to have them tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets just so he can pose in front of a church holding a Bible. Amazingly, the one amendment he mentioned defending in his “law and order” speech just before he walked to that church was the Second Amendment.

And this highlights Trump’s skill as a wall-builder. No, I don’t mean that “big, fat, beautiful wall” along the U.S. border with Mexico. He’s proven himself a master at building walls to divide people within America — to separate Republicans from Democrats, blacks and other peoples of color from whites, Christians from non-Christians, fervid gun owners from gun-control advocates, and cops from the little people. Divide and conquer, the oldest trick in the authoritarian handbook, and Donald Trump is good at it.

But he’s also a dangerous fool in a moment when we need bridges, not walls to unite these divided states of ours. And that starts with the cops. We need to change the way many of them think. No more “thin blue line” BS. No more cops as warriors. No more special flags for how much their lives matter. We need but a single flag for how much all our lives matter, black or white, rich or poor, the powerless as well as the powerful.

How about that old-fashioned American flag I served under as a military officer for 20 years? How about the stars and stripes that draped my father’s casket after his more than 30 years of fighting fires, whether in the forests of Oregon or the urban tenements of Massachusetts? It was good enough for him and me (and untold millions of others). It should still be good enough for everyone.

But let me be clear: my dad knew how to put out fires, but once a house was “fully involved,” he used to tell me, there’s little you can do but stand back and watch it burn while keeping the fire from spreading.

America’s forever wars in distant lands have now come home big time. Our house is lit up and on fire. Alarms are being sounded over and over again. If we fail to come together to fight the fire until our house is fully involved, we will find ourselves — and what’s left of our democracy — burning with it.

A retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and history professor, William Astore is a TomDispatch regular. He is proud to count many “first responders” in his immediate family. His personal blog is Bracing Views.

Copyright 2020 William J. Astore

 

30 thoughts on “America’s Forever Wars Have Come Home

  1. Thanks for such an excellent post. “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” And that seems like it is happening for American democracy.

    Something I read several years ago from Sue Rahr on guardians vs warriors. I am putting the link here. The pdf available from the site is well worth reading. BTW I have found that much of the moral injury in veterans comes from the fact that they signed up because they wanted to be guardians, and were forced to become a perversion of that, the “warrior”. No time to comment further.

    https://nij.ojp.gov/library/publications/warriors-guardians-recommitting-american-police-culture-democratic-ideals

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  2. Great piece, sir! While not the most violent or damaging, perhaps the most Cartman-esque moment so far was in Buffalo where the 75 year old was shoved down the stairs and across the sidewalk. Something very wrong in that mentality. I hadn’t heard about ‘lighting up’ onlookers to bully them back inside but this is even worse. Cartman is hilarious because he is so obnoxious but he’s more or less harmless as a 4th grader on a Big Wheel. Full-sized in military kit, the Cartman mind is very much the problem. We too have LEO and Nat Guard friends in various places involved in this. Unfortunately, I think that there is enough tension and frustration in enough of a fraction on both sides to perhaps keep this going for a while. I can’t see the future on this.

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    1. It’s worth remembering how that episode ends – the regular cop character (the seemingly harmless, dopey and buffoonish officer Barbrady) comes back on to duty, sees Cartman savagely beating a citizen, stops him, gives him a short lecture on how that’s not how policing is done… and then smashes the citizen on the side of the head with his nightstick sending him crashing down to the ground. The only thing he thought Cartman was doing wrong was hitting his victims on the legs rather than the more vulnerable head.

      Here in Canada things are not so bad, but I certainly have noticed a change in RCMP officer’s behavior and the way in which they relate to the people of the community over the years. About the same time they started wearing body armor on duty and got up-gunned things started changing. This is even obvious to a reasonably well-off white suburbanite like me.

      I remember watching a old rerun of Adam-12 a while back and wondering: Would an American who is millennial generation or younger even recognize those guys as cops? Or would their appearance, uniforms, equipment and attitude seem as remote and divorced from modern days as the ones in a film about Wyatt Earp?

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      1. Great point. I was a fan of “Adam-12”; also remember seeing the older “Dragnet” in reruns, and the silly “Chips” about the California Highway Patrol.

        These shows didn’t feature much gun play, and cops carried mostly .38 specials. Six-shot revolvers. And maybe a shotgun in the patrol car. And they rarely used these guns.

        Now it’s .40 caliber semi-auto pistols with 15+ rounds, lots of body armor, assault rifles of various sorts, supplemented by .50 caliber sniper rifles, Humvees, MRAPs, etc.

        This all started with “SWAT,” which I watched as a teen, but even they were in a van, not a tank. And the “special weapons and tactics” team was only called in when the situation merited it.

        Now, almost every cop looks like a refugee from SWAT. And there’s far more gun play and violence in our various cop shows, even as violent crime has declined since the early 1990s.

        It’s a weird mixing of life with “art” in which both have become militarized.

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        1. Adam-12 was certainly a somewhat rose-tinted presentation of the LAPD but, though they selected stories that portrayed their protagonists positively, the stories were largely closely based on the sort of day a patrol car team would really have. And most of that was pretty mundane really! Police shows and the police in real life have become more and more like that SWAT show since then, despite the way serious violent crime has dropped so much over the past decades – as you point out. There are a lot of parallels with US media portrayal of the military over the same period, and with the culture of the US military itself I think.

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  3. I’ve seen various aspects of “community policing” up close and personal. When I was an officer of our neighborhood organization, a member of the local police force was assigned as liaison with us. We very much respected him, and he was glad to have contacts in his district to get a feel for the problems of the residents. It was a valuable two-way relationship. That relationship was an anomaly in our city, however. Many of the patrol officers are as Mr. Astore describes: arrogant and aggressive, with an attitude of untouchability. There have been one or two nationally noted incidents here in Cleveland in recent years, resulting in fines to the city and an oversight provision for the entire police force. In a couple nearby suburbs, the police have gone full Gestapo. Twenty-five years ago, I lived in one of those ‘burbs, and ended up leaving because of being harassed so often, though I never broke a law. Several friends experienced the same thing. That small city has a reputation across the entire region for consistently over-the-top actions of law enforcement, and the ugly stories date back several decades. The cops there are proud of being bullies.

    My point being that what we’re seeing now has been a long time coming. The extreme violence and brutality of today has its roots in the ’60s, if not before. Changing what a friend calls “the cop mentality” is going to be a very difficult task, and it will take dedication and persistence. The first step is going to be to vote out as many macho, law-and-order fanatics as possible. They won’t go quietly.

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  4. Just got around to reading this. I’ll be as brief as I can: 1.) the cry of “defund the police”–with majority of Minneapolis City Council on record saying they will “dismantle” (!!) the police–is sheer fantasy. Doesn’t matter the good intentions. This is a Capitalist society and such things don’t happen. It would take a genuine revolution to bring such a thing about; 2.) I saw a photo today of a ghastly rubber bullet wound to the forehead of a young woman who was among those cleared out of Trump’s way so he could pose with the bible. This is the potential price of exercising what we believe to be a Constitutional right, “Freedom to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances.” On a historical note, let’s flash back to c. 1975: I obtain copies of my FBI, CIA, DIA (Defense Intel Agency), etc., files via Freedom of Information Act. Stated plainly as justification for those agencies watching me was that I had “petitioned for redress of grievances.” If you wrap yourself in the Bill of Rights, folks, be aware that it won’t stop a bullet, rubber or full metal jacket.

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    1. We had a Young Girl hit tragically by a Rubber Bullet in Boston, Ma. directly in her Eye– terrible photo I saw after a World Series Victory Celebration that got out of hand causing her death! These can be Lethal…

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  5. Read some Joseph Wambaugh if you want to get a real feel on 20th. Century Policing. He was a former LA Cop. Just like recently deceased Ken Osmond of “Eddie Haskell” Fame. His Book “Eddie” speaks of his Career, and his getting shot In the Line of Duty causing him a Disability ironically his belt buckle not his body armor stopped the round before it became lethal, and another time he had a 357 Round brush by the side of his head in a chase of a suspect! Joseph Wambaugh’s books I’ve read “Choirboys”, The New Centurians, and The Onion Field are excellent… I was a MP Air Police in the U.S.A.F. we carried 38 Police Specials when I was in 73-77. Now I believe they carry the 9 mm Auto. A 12 Gauge Pump Shotgun in the Base Cruiser 20 Rds. Double 00 Buck. I carried 6 Rounds in the Chambers of the 38, and 18 Rds. on my belt. Policing is a very dangerous, scary Career, and I’m actually glad I became a Firefighter instead even after taking both Exams and passing after separating from the Mil. We’d have these discussions at the Firehouse with our City Cop Brothers on who had the most dangerous Jobs never quite deciding who’s was more… Because Fires as well as People are very unpredictable at times, but I think people more so still.!

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    1. “Police Officer” doesn’t even make the top 10 of most dangerous jobs in the US. Logging, farming, HVAC work, being a truck or delivery driver, roofing, being a pilot – all those are more likely to get you seriously injured or killed.

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      1. Yes, all fine and good “Statistics” on the whole picture, but and this is a big but , and it also goes for Firefighter’s and other “First Responder’s” how about a Major crime ridden, Working Class City..!? There it is a harrowing , dangerous business, and a lot more complex than small town, or Rural Small Town America! These Blue & Red Knights earn their Pay and then some… Don’t get me started!

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        1. “What makes a man crazy enough to join the cops?”

          Cops often see people at their worst: domestic disputes, mental health crises, drug overdoses, public drunkenness and violence, etc. It can lead to callousness and cynicism, even in “good” cops.

          Like you said, Bro, some cities are much tougher than others — and unpredictability and risk are part of the job.

          Of course, none of this is an excuse for police violence …

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          1. Police are flawed humans as we all are, and yes Harsh experience, mental scars, and the other harsh realities of Life for all these First Responders EMT’s included and I looked up that Police & Firefighters are both Tied @ Number 15 in the Top 20 Most Dangerous Professions. I’ve found most who criticize Us are either jealous, (it is an open competitive Exam) so take it, or never needed us yet… But your day is coming brother, and that mighty fast– then we become their best friends! Watch, or Read “The New Centurions” if you like Cops, or if you don’t for that matter…!

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          2. I might add that cops hear people lying all the time. “I didn’t do it, Officer!” When the evidence is clear and convincing. Sadly, cops lie too, often to protect other cops.

            We expect too much from cops, which is why we should defund them. Which doesn’t mean eliminating cops. It means focusing cops on felony crime, and having other agencies handle the homeless, the mentally ill, minor drug offenses, etc.

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          3. Excellent point, Bill A.! It is a sign of this society’s great failings that the police end up being the ones in first encounter with mentally ill individuals living on the streets. A half-million strong, it’s estimated, this army of the homeless, while Wall Street parties on, sending the NASDAQ stock index to a new all-time high. I say with utmost seriousness: I have been convinced for a long time that this society drives people over the edge in the realm of mental health.

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    2. I occasionally watched the Fox TV program “Cops” many years ago. Without a doubt, there are individuals loose in our society so unbalanced as to pose a menace to themselves as well as others. (I’ll let Trump off the hook for a moment!) But let’s not sidestep the issue that has untold thousands marching in streets all around the world, which is SYSTEMIC RACISM.

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  6. Thank you for re-posting this insightful article from Tomdispatch, WJA. Its implications are momentous. As witnessed by the diverse content of the thread it has inspired.
    But the political turn to the far right has not just been an American phenomenon. Any more than it’s been a markedly recent one. There’s an inescapable pattern evident with its origins in the post-WW2 resettlements of powerful class interests. Although the Nazis were emphatically defeated militaristically, in many respects, their ideology ultimately won the bigger war about how capitalism should present itself to itself. And how its ruling class should control those it exploits at home and abroad.

    In some respects, WW2 was the last nationalist-informed imperialist conflict. By the time it ran out of minorities to murder and property to steal, a new moment in the historical development of the bourgeois system had emerged. Subsequent American oversea adventures express the needs of a transnational – indeed, a globalised class of wealth hoarders without loyalty to any nation. Their only loyalty is to themselves as a class of owners of capital. Failure to see and understand this will inhibit developing a full understanding of our predicament.

    That inhuman NAZI ideology now dominates global establishment hegemony – with racism as a sometimes less-than-subtle and ever-present component. This explodes onto human awareness in this moment of crisis. And the Covid-19-induced interruption of “normal” capitalist economic function has also spawned the deepest ever crisis in capitalist political economy.

    Many of the terrible, frightening, and compelling visualisations so graphically presented over the last week define a globalised class-divided society in rapid disintegration, amidst a more general and fearful functional decline. In every country this question of the deployment of armed bodies of men to quash public dissatisfaction is being challenged by decent people. But they must learn that to remove it, they must remove the system which imposes it, and take responsibility to transform their society fundamentally. For this there must be totally new and more consciously informed leadership.

    If we set aside the fictitious capital noted daily in volatile stock and bond gambling (which has no real surplus value content), we are left with little productivity of real value. Systemic investment is blind to this, building up contradiction towards a horrendous crash in the process, when at last, reality intrudes sooner rather than later. Thus the surplus value intrinsic to the capitalist production mode can no longer reproduce itself adequately to resolve its growing indebtedness. Hence the hurry to sacrifice public health in the interests of revitalised profiteering. This system doesn’t serve humanity anymore.

    But when they bring this truth into their consciousness, the majority of exploited people may do much more than just deprive a depraved ignoramus reprising his vile Presidency, they may wish to hold him to account! And may want to settle this accounts in a variety of ways! As I’m against the utter pointlessness of a death penalty, I hope he is offered the opportunity to learn how to be better in a safe and humanitarian confinement.

    He might, in due course, learn how to practice humility and equality in anticipation of a more useful return to society in due course. Not even he deserves the rough injustice which he and his ilk imposed on George Floyd. And I trust those millions on my side of this divide will learn to act towards him in a more civilised fashion than he has shown, granting him the expectation of his possible reform.
    But we must be brave enough to ask the question WHY, if we are to begin to understand the whole savage process fully – or to effectively overcome its unruly contradictions. And here, we must be willing to go beyond the conventional presumptions which have failed to fully grasp the new and revolutionary moment which is upon the world. For this incident has shook complacency beyond the U.S. and is impacting people in every country.

    After that military defeat of NAZIism, many of their ideologues and militarists either escaped to Latin America, or were actually invited to the North American U.S.A., or offered Soviet hospitality. Indeed, it was some of these recycled technologists who but the first man on the moon two decades later. But in the wake of WW2 profiteering, it was to be much more than a few German rocket scientists that helped make America “great”.

    As noted above, the capitalist state spies on intelligent people who are not of (or supporters of) the hegemony of the ruling class. That is its purpose. The police and other “Armed Bodies of Men” bully and intimidate, frighten and maim, or kill to control – particularly, those of independent thought or vision, or different in some way from their “ideal”. That is also their purpose. But we urgently need to develop a more truer and complex conception of “the state” and its role in a class divided society.
    The disingenuous and bogus theory of statehood long peddled by formal establishment academia has been blown wide open. Public response to this state murder of George Floyd, the latest in a long list of state violence against working people (of many colours, organisations and traditions) expresses the beginning of an awakening to truth in the general population. But that’s only the beginning.

    There is much new analytical work, education, and rational consideration to be done. America is reawakening its own revolutionary heritage – but with all the potential of a new century of understanding and all the possibilities of a new situation in which the honest dialectical assessment of these change processes may guide future success. This will greatly deepen social consciousness, overcoming the limitations of the propagandistic and purposeful stupidity which has curtailed and co-ordinated political economic ignorance heretofore.

    The Bretton Woods Agreement delivered leadership of the globalising capitalist market economy into the hands of the United States, which, having accumulated more surplus value (profit) than any other state from that war produced the military industrial complex to keep the ball rolling. American capitalists needed to secure their position as the new global elite. This was as much an ideological task of intellectual domination as a physical one of savage and murderous coercion.
    Sen. Joseph McCarthy sprung to the aid of the elite by mimicking historic precedent. Like a more recent hypocrite, this religious bigot lost no time in touting his preferred holy book to obfuscate any rational or scientific cognition of the emerging human social historical development. However, this backward and ignorant bully was most effective – with a compliant media following in Dr Goebbels footsteps.

    Sadly, American intelligentsia is largely still to overcome his dull brand of championing self-serving ignorance, but I anticipate a very rapid catch-up may now be under way as a new educated and untainted generation delves into reality with more authenticity.

    It is thus, that on these pages a new American Enlightenment can find and express itself fearlessly. I feel privileged to witness this process. Be brave, dear friends. Fear not to trample on conventional eggshells. Open the door to deeper understanding, a more intelligent future, and inform the masses so together we may choose to construct a more civilised new world in The New World. Create a Real Democracy. Others will follow.

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    1. Brilliant commentary! Well reasoned and thorough in historical background. As well, encouraging and hopeful. A friend who believes in reincarnation once told me of a theory he’d read that X thousand people chose to be on Earth at this time to witness, support, and bring forth the new enlightenment you describe. I believe that you and others of us of like mind are part of that contingent. In mystical terms, we are well into the Age of Aquarius.

      As for your statement about, “….a globalised class of wealth hoarders without loyalty to any nation. Their only loyalty is to themselves as a class of owners of capital,” I would submit that this capitalistic cabal has existed for at least several centuries, possibly much longer. I don’t think it has arisen as late as post-WWII, but rather, dates from the time of European empires, when international business consortiums grew and became powerful.

      While your hope for reform of, and humane treatment of, the current U.S. President is optimistic and merciful, it’s a fact that there’s no reversal of sociopathy, and Mr. Trump is a textbook case. I won’t suggest that he be treated the same as George Floyd was, however much he richly deserves it. I would push for prosecution for every offense to the full extent of the law, however.

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      1. V.I. Lenin described Modern Imperialism as the process of Capital crossing “national boundaries” to establish manufacturing facilities (and banking and other finance activities, of course) on foreign soil, the colonized lands. This contrasted with mere extraction of raw materials to be worked into finished product on the home turf. This is really a description of Neo-Colonialism–the term didn’t exist in Lenin’s time–with the occupying troops of the imperialist powers mostly withdrawn, but the former colonies still utterly dominated economically from afar. The G-7, the G-8, the bloody G-20, call them what you will, still dominate the global economy. This must change for Humanity to find true liberation. We have been raised to believe that Lenin was akin to “the anti-Christ.” If you actually give his voluminous writings a study you just might discover he was absolutely brilliant, and pretty damned witty to boot!

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    2. I understand that the last individual who bore the title of “Emperor of China” was put to work gardening after the triumph of Mao’s Chinese Revolution. Perhaps we can allot such an assignment to Mr. Trump? Ah, but there are those nasty “bone spurs” and he is getting on in years (turns 74 on June 14). Oh, but wait! I forgot he’s the healthiest person to ever be POTUS! Or, at least, that’s what he dictates his physicians must state in their official findings!

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    1. Like The Duke’s character shooting a guy in the back in “True Grit,” you “declare war” on something so the taxpayers – who will, after all, be footing the bill – know you’re serious about it.
      You don’t hear anything about “The War On Drugs” anymore (old-timers may recall it was this declaration that kicked off the weapons upgrade for The Nation’s police forces, because the bad guys were all running around with automatic weapons as well as mountains of cash).
      God knows you don’t hear anything about “The War On Poverty” anymore.
      And if “The War on Terror” isn’t the greatest boondoggle of our lifetime, I’d like to know what is.
      Still waiting on my “Peace Dividend.” Still waiting on my “stimulus money.” Still hoping Providence will send us a Kennedy to straighten everything out – that, or a full 16-game NFL schedule to get The Nation back on track. Is that really so much to ask? Nothing else will do the trick.

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      1. Fear not! Heard on radio news today that Trump will address the nation from a church (of the mega-variety, I’m guessing) in Dallas. Apparently it will be a pep rally (a re-election campaign rally) to boast of the awesome things he’s doing for the economy during this pandemic funk. Who knows, maybe he’ll persuade the NFL team owners to announce they’ll run a full schedule this season! “One Nation, One People, One Flaming Asshole”! What more could we want for?? Oh, and Fed. Reserve announced today that they will “support the economy” as far into future as we mere mortals can imagine! Translation: more breaks for corporations and their billionaire CEOs. Because “Deficits don’t matter!” Put on a happy face, everybody!

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    1. Clearly a dangerous hombre!! Thank goodness we have such a TOUGH (watch out for those “bone spurs”!) Maximum Leader to deal with such a menace!

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