The Chaotic View of Politics

An overview of complexity theory as it applies to the trouble we’re in

I’ve just finished a ridiculously lengthy project – I’ll add a picture of it when I can,  a three-legged, shallow dish of padauk and ebony, thoroughly weird and strange; five months of work and I can’t see what the point of it is, though the legs are so thin and supple that it quivers pleasingly – and thought I’d add another shout into the wind.  We have some wonderful storms in the Spring here on the Upper Left Coast, so there’s no shortage of wind to shout uselessly into.

I can’t expect many views, as the biggest reason people read junk on line is for a chance to call the writer names – people mostly read for an opportunity to react and not for comprehension.  I don’t give people that opportunity, as I have Comments turned off, even though I know that isn’t really playing the game, isn’t really fair.  Everything I do is first about sleep, a failing in myself.  I just can’t take the risk of encountering the nastiness so predominant in on-line discussion.  I admit it: in this, at the very least, I’m a wuss.

If I’m right about this, the application of complexity theory as the first consideration in thinking about societies of sentient beings, then the world will work out that way.  These ideas will prevail only if they’re useful to people, not because they are popular or because some better explainer than I am has convinced others of their correctness.  The idea of a politics made healthy by an abandonment of the delusion that Law creates Order needs no champion if it reflects reality.

We The People can fool some of ourselves all of the time, and we can fool all of ourselves some of the time – but we can’t all fool ourselves all of the time. Cultures of sentient beings are shaped by what those beings believe, even though their worlds are shaped by what really is.  Reality has a stubborn way of remaining reality, waiting for enough of us to wake up.  So far, that’s worked out – eventually, after we’ve avoided it as long as possible.

Will it always?  Will Thornton Wilder’s belief that we are a species that constantly saves itself but only just at the very last nick, by “The Skin of their Teeth”?

That choice is always yours, individually, to make.  It doesn’t matter at all what I might think about it.


We see our nation as something we design by the laws we pass, a complicated yet deterministic system that our choices control, a top-down ordering wherein the ‘unarguably evil’ nature of human beings is held down out of the fear we impose on others of Implacable Justice, humanity as a Frankenstein monster we must keep chained – oh, but never in the first person.  I must keep you chained; we must keep them chained.  This catastrophically wrong-headed view is entirely understandable; such intelligence as we possess arises naturally from the highly complex system that is the brain, but the demands of our ego structures strongly predisposes us to see ‘I’ as a hierarchy, the Will in charge of the Mind in charge of the Brain in charge of the Body.  This isn’t true; but to perceive the true animal-ness of our human existence, to see that most of what appears to us as Free Will is actually driven by subconscious emotional impulse, is simply too stressful.

Because of the critical importance of maintaining this false view of an interior command structure, we are powerfully driven to see the world around us as just this kind of heirarchy.  We tend to see Society as a centrally-controlled, top-down ordering.  We look upon highly complex systems and see simple, linear, deterministic systems; intricate, perhaps, but always in which some particular action – a law or regulation passed – has a predictable outcome, and if that outcome does not result, then the only possible answer is to make that law more Draconian.  We are hypnotized – sorry, Mr Letterman; HYP-mo-tized – by our certainty that the entire point of politics is to control the choices of others while demanding nobody try to control ours; we are seduced by the comforting delusion that the whole world is no more than a complicated nesting of simple mechanisms which will function only if we find the right set of controls on (other’s) actions lest they make what is clearly (to us) a mistake.  Gosh, if we don’t control other people, they could do anything!  We are choking ourselves with Law and Regulation, an orgy of top-down ordering, a mesh of control mechanisms that have become so fine-grained that only the very rich have freedom of action.

We are blind to this – in fact, we blind ourselves.  But we do this self-blinding only about our own approved-of attempts to control others.  The Left clearly sees that the Right has become entirely focused on controlling the  actions of others, driven into madness by their own Received Wisdom that of course we need to control women’s reproductive organs and the clearly criminal impulses of minorities, of course – because Jehovah!, because if we don’t, people may make choices that aren’t informed by Bronze Age superstitions and ethnocentric prejudices.  (See The Myth of White Culture.)  In their turn, the Left is as blind to the constant application of junk science, to the hopelessness – in fact, the cultural corrosiveness – of their own control attempts; of course we must outlaw the prejudices of the Right, of course we must make them wear seat belts, we must tell them how to flush.

And thus both sides are blind, willingly blind, to the other side’s Right to be Wrong.  Here’s an unwelcome message to both sides: If you don’t think abortion is permissible, don’t have one or cause some unfortunate woman to have that terrible choice to make.  If you think we’re running out of clean water, don’t use so much of it yourself.  If you’re worried about humanity’s interference in the planet’s carbon cycle, as well you should be, look to your own choices and how wasteful they might be.

The entirety of the modern Republican Party, now unarguably fascist, is about forcing all of us to confirm the Right’s tremendous cowardice – they’re terrified of everything, and the sillier and more delusional their fears, the more they cling to them.  First Generation Americans, documented or not, are, and always have been, a huge productive benefit to our nation, harder working, less likely than the rest of us to commit crimes or use communal resources.  And –  Sharia Law?  Are you kidding me?  Do you have any clue at all how stupid that is, how foolish, how delusional?  It would be less so to stand in the middle of a Kansas wheat-field cringing in fear of shark attack.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is being taken over by Progressives.  Some day soon, I suspect I will go ravening through our local Safeway, furiously tearing ‘Gluten Free!’ signs off crackers, pasta, rice – are you kidding me? – ice cream – are you kidding me? -hot dogs – are you kidding me??? – all the things you couldn’t introduce gluten into on a bet or to please your sainted mother.

And so our modern, corrosive politics – two opposite extremes, one with its little-girl panties constantly in a wad, out of their minds with craven fear, the other sneering and contemptuous of any thought but their own, both angry at the other side’s dictatorial impulses and blind to their own, because of course!  That’s the choice we’re left with:  We All Must, because Jehovah! or We Have To, because Think Of the Children!

Let me go on record herein, by saying ‘Screw you both!’

At least modern Democrats are, at least to some degree, resisting the Siren call of their own extremists.  Fascism has succeeded in chasing Conservatism out of the GOP; the Reagan Republican Party is thoroughly dead and rots in the ground.  At least the Democratic Party is trying to push back against their own extremists, the Progressives, though as a practical political matter, I’m not so sure they should be – and most certainly they are fools for using the corrupt methods they automatically reach for.

And yet I would ask you to consider that all this extremism, what has been called the tribalism of modern politics, may be inevitable, may be a sickness we must suffer, a lesson we must learn.  Our tendency to see linearity where it so clearly does not exist may always be with us, curbed only when we are forced to admit that the world doesn’t react well to our consistent attempts to control events and personalities.

It would be good, perhaps, if it didn’t have to be that way, if Science and Learning could inform us.  It would be well that logic and insight guide our actions, not emotion.

Not on this planet.  Not in this solar system.  Sorry.  It is in the nature of human beings – I suspect it is in the nature of sentience – that we race full-speed toward the cliff, swerving only at the last possible moment when we change course and speed on to the next precipice.


The lesson of complexity is clear.  The rules by which highly complex systems behave are odd, very odd to us humans so used to seeing simple machines, systems we can control and whose behavior is predictable.  If your cuckoo clock isn’t working, the mechanism may bewilder those not used to repairing clockworks, but any reasonably competent technician can see, by examination and testing, what each part does and how it is connected to other parts, what the sequence of events is that will make it tick.  The cuckoo may have lost feathers and the paint may be chipped, but it’s obvious that feathers and paint chips don’t matter to its workings – it is a linear, predictable, deterministic system.  You see springs, gears, and cogs, and though its mechanism may seem complex, it isn’t.  One part effects another in a linear way; put it back in order, and inputs – the winding of the mainspring – will beget fixed outputs – the hands of the clock moving.

Not so with highly complex systems.  If the cuckoo clock were a highly complex system, examination would tell you little.  Your human prejudice would still be to look for a linear event chain, but that gets you nowhere.  For all you know, were the clock non-linear, it might be the paint chips or the lack of feathers; or it might be something you can’t see at all.

And here is where our strong tendency to see linearity where it isn’t gets us in trouble – like the trouble we’re in now, where we’re going to lose our nation and its primacy for the sake of the fascist yearnings of the filthy rich.  To treat a complex system as a simple one is to collapse that system. To correct a simple system gone wrong, you take large, global steps to fix the central mechanisms.  Do that to a complex one and you will destroy it; both the tremendous order and the great productivity of the highly complex system that is a modern democracy are reduced by each and every attempt we make to force order upon it.  It’s inevitable, unavoidable.

The societies of sentient beings are more complex than the Universe that contains them.  Highly complex systems can, over time, become both highly orderly and highly productive for their constituent parts if, and only if, those parts are free to relate to their neighboring parts constrained by their natures.  All attempts to impose order on such systems from the outside – all attempts, even good-hearted ones, even objectively correct ones – must reduce order and diminish productivity.  This is always true, in all places, at all times.

That, then, is the real danger of our time, the true cause of Trumpist Fascism – that this particular highly complex system is being Law-and-Ordered to death.  There has been, for more than half a century, a continuous lessening of The Voluntary Society, an abandonment of Jefferson’s inailienable rights, for the sake of each side’s ever-more-strident ‘of course we all must’; the Bronze Age delusion of godhood brought down to Earth or the demands of the Enlightened Ones that the rest of us must do the things they themselves can’t be bothered to do.

Thus ends the American Century; not, I hope, with a bang, but at the very least with a pathetic whimper.





Kiss Your Ass Goodbye

Our economy will tank, and the long American Century will be over

The point of this blug (a blog until I opined on slugs) has been to try to explain my weird view of life and politics as informed by complexity theory, or as near as can be from a non-scientist.  I haven’t added anything to it for months because insomnia has abated markedly in the last year – the result of taking five different meds: Better Living through Chemistry! – and I’ve spent all the time I could on adding to my small body of work as a wood sculptor while my large body deteriorates – which decay adds urgency, if not talent, to my efforts.

What causes me now to add a new piece is the certainty that those same laws of highly complex systems that control things like the societies of (modestly) sentient beings prove – unfortunately with frightening certainty – that our economy is going to be devastated by the Republican tax bill that has just been passed.

We’re not a cuckoo clock; we just play one on TV.

We are the result of a long sequence of emergent properties of chaotic, highly complex systems.  Out of the ‘folding and stretching’ operations of the Universe, Life emerged; seeming an impossibility, it is actually an inevitability given the immense number of constituent parts inter-relating over time.  Life may be a one-in-a-gazillion shot, but when the dice are rolled many gazillions of times over and over for billions of years, the emergent property of the Universe that is Life becomes inevitable.

Life is therefore an emergent property of the Universe; reproducibility and inheritability are emergent properties of Life; evolution is an emergent property of Life’s self-replication; ever-more-powerful brains are an emergent property of evolution; self-awareness – that is, Mind – is an emergent property of brains; and society, culture, is an emergent property of sentient beings’ minds.

But those same laws of complexity command that this emergence of culture as a highly-complex system must be hidden from sentience.  Human intelligence, such as it is, has arisen out of the complexity of the brain, but Mind needs to perceive itself as in hierarchical command of Brain, and Brain of Body – else it tears itself apart when confronted by the cacophony of divergent thoughts, emotions, desires, needs that exists in each of us and drive our actions.  The Mind’s self-arising must be hidden from that brain which gives rise to it, else that very chaos from which it arises becomes too much noise – more input than any mind could live with.  We are strongly prejudiced towards seeing ourselves and the world around us as simple, determinative systems when in fact they are highly complex ones.  This is our next great challenge as a species that has taken over all of nature; the Anthropocene is upon us.   We will eventually recognize and respond intelligently to this new age of human responsibility for all things, or the planet will shake us off and move on to a post-human age.

We keep seeing determinism – governance as a top-down structuring – where in fact there is non-linearity – governance as a force of limited powers within a highly-complex system of local relationships where each individual part is at liberty to relate to those around it limited only by its own nature.  In this nation, we had a good beginning; a declaration that each of us owns our own lives, has the right to act as long as our actions do not limit the same right of others around us, and can define happiness for ourselves.  It’s a declaration that we never have lived up to, and that few now believe; but when we move toward it there is an increase of order and productivity, and less order whenever we move away from it.   That, more than any other thing, is what Trump’s fascist governance proves.

There has always been, and I suspect will always be, at least a third of us who have never accepted this idea of Liberty and have always, and will always, yearn for the false certainty of Authority.  This cowardly clinging to Dear Leader when our society is stressed will appeal to ever more, and they will shake off even the pretense of belief in something as insignificant as Liberty.

And so we have the Republican Party.  It is frighteningly clear that it has shed the costume of republican beliefs to show us its true self as a fascist enterprise.  They will free the obscenely rich of the burdens of paying back into the society any part of the wealth they have extracted from it.  They have, in fact, consistently supported all extractive industries and have become one itself, harvesting all wealth into a tiny minority who live global lives with little interest in what happens to the carcass they are hollowing out and leaving behind, as long as they get theirs.

The Republican extremists do this because they truly believe that the Rich are the great motive, creative force of our nation upon which all depends.  They see all this wealth and power as the true engine of our economy.  Complexity Science proves them wrong – but why should they care?

Consider a clock.  If the clock is slowing down, you rewind the mainspring.  You don’t worry about the cuckoo, the varnish, the numbers on the face – none of those things could affect the deterministic system that is a clock.  All the power is coming from the spring, so once you make sure that all the cogs are working and the gears aligned, you give more power to that central force.

But a nation’s economy is not a clock.  A clock is a simple machine; though its workings are beyond most of us, there is a direct connection between inputs and outputs.  An economy is a highly complex system.  The laws under which such systems operate tell us that the order we see must self-arise from the system itself, and that any attempt to impose ordering, even a right and good ordering, diminishes order and productivity.  This is always true of all highly complex systems.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Simple systems are always a hierarchy; do X, and then Y will happen, order increased by order imposed.  Complex systems get their order from the interactions of the mass of individual parts; impose order and the system wobbles, increase that imposition and the system fails.

And so the Republican decades-long program of tearing apart Democracy.  They cannot help themselves; they see a clockwork universe and try to ‘fix’ it by making the strong stronger and the rich richer, they try to wind the mainspring.

But the rich and powerful are the result, not the cause, of our highly complex economy.  The true power, the real driver of economic activity, is the great mass of people in the middle and lower classes, the activities of the most of us.  Strengthen the top, and the only result is that the top gets stronger without effecting the great mass of us, as tax cut after tax cut has shown.  Strengthen that great mass of people – not the Richest, but the Most – and economic activity increases, as Kennedy, Clinton and Obama proved.

Complexity Theory proves that a highly complex system such as the economies of advanced cultures of sentient beings must be strengthened from the ground up, from the vast numbers of transactions of the multitudes.  Those large organizations and concentrations of wealth that such economies give rise to are the effect, not the source, of economic activity.  Therefore, anything done to directly strengthen such concentrations of wealth must – must – reduce economic activity.  Add to that the weakening of the economic power of those multitudes, and economic activity must – must – suffer a great reduction.

We have a name for such great reductions of economic activity; Depression.


So what does the new tax plan do?  It takes $4.5 TRILLION from the true engine of economic activity, plus another $1.5 trillion on the cuff, weakening the very core of the economy.  It gives that 6 trillion dollars to the least productive part of the economy.

For all that will do for us, they might as well burn it.   Where that $6 trillion goes to is not the problem; since our economy is a complex, not a simple, system, the health of the top is of very little importance.  The rich have absolutely no reason to re-invest any of that vast sum in production – they’re not going to make grommets when that great mass of economic activity has been made so much weaker that those consumer goods that use grommets are now beyond the means of ever-more people.  Thus a catastrophic feedback-loop of economic constriction that rapidly collapses the economy.


We can expect that weakening of the true motive power of the economy to start very quickly.  As that great mass of the lower- and middle-class begins to understand how this anti-productivity bill will effect them, they will reduce their own spending in order to pay their higher tax bill.  We may get an initial burst as some of the upper-middle-class see less money taken out in tax withholding, but it will not last long as they come to understand the other ways in which their costs go up.  This is, after all, a tax increase for most people, especially the largest group of them, the Working Poor; and the ending of one of the core parts of the (deeply flawed – see Don’t Call It Obamacare) ACA will quickly increase their health costs.

By Spring, at the outside, the writing will be on the wall as our economy falters and fails.  That great mass of economic activity that is the true engine of our – of any – nation will suffer a rapid, and rapidly increasing, decline.  It’s now unavoidable.

Ah, you say, but why would the Super-Rich tank the economy that its own wealth depends on?  Because they too believe that they are the motive force, that their own wealth proves that they, not us, are the significant part, the Cogs and Gears of the Economy, that strengthening them strengthens all.  So it is always; Greed is a powerful intoxicant.  They are drunk with their own power.  Being rich, folks, is no proof against being stupid.






Terrorism Works because You are Stupid

Extremists, Trump, and Putin all depend on your Western sense of middle-class privilege to move their goals forward


A child dies from malnutrition.  A child dies from a gun accident in the home.  A child dies from living on the streets with an insane person.  A child dies from a curable disease.  A child dies from drinking dirty water.  A child dies in a shanty town from parental abuse.  A child dies from a drunk’s car crash.  A child dies from abandonment.  A child dies from suicide.  A child dies by police.  A child dies because no-one cares for him.  A child dies because no-one cares about her.  A child dies at the hands of a Christian extremist.  A child dies at the hands of a Muslim extremist.

No-one cares about the child who dies of malnutrition.  No-one cares that an unsecured gun took the child’s life in someone’s home.  No-one knows that a lunatic killed the homeless child.  Nobody is concerned about the diseases of the poor; there’s no money in it.  The child’s brothers and sisters keep drinking the dirty water because they have no other water to drink.  The abusive parents go on abusing.  Auto accidents happen all the time.    Another child will be abandoned to take the dead child’s place.   The child dead from her own hands is just a statistic.  No punishment is meted out to the murderous police.  No-one will be there to care for, or about, the next child either.  No-one will blame Christ or Christianity for their extremists’ brutal act.

But every headline, every newscast, every blog, every sermon, every politician’s speech, every great leader’s pontification, every slogan, every soapbox, every curling lip, every radio call-in, every weak mind, every small brain, every quivering backbone, every hard heart, every gelatin spleen, every tight sphincter, every tongue, every ear, every second of every minute of every hour of every day until the next extremist who happens to be Muslim commits a mindless cruelty will be filled to overflowing with venomous cowardice, with the same thought, with the same words –

Islamic Terrorism!

Terrorists!  Fear them!  Hate them!  Hunt them down and kill them before they kill again!  Rights be damned!  Sanity is for wimps!  Bomb their countrymen!  Bomb them more!  Bomb them harder!  Ban them!  Suspect them of all evil things!  Keep them off the plane!  Watch them on the streets!  Only more police in more places with more weapons will help!  If you’re not willing to join us all in our PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! then you must sympathize with the Terrorists!  And so, death to you, too!

This doesn’t make us any safer, of course.  It makes us less safe – because it helps nobody, advances no interests, saves nobody, rewards nobody except the extremists.  And the gun makers and bomb makers and what is referred to as the Security Porn Industry: None of it helps at all, but it makes you feel all tingly.  They are helped immensely, of course – a gigantic transfer of both wealth and backbone from the insipid, pampered, unthinking masses to the lunatic fringe and the Military-Industrial Complex.  Your backbone.  Their wallets.  Like a straw sucking our culture dry; the Courage Vampire.

There’s no reason for it.  No excuse.  None.  Death is death.  All deaths should be prevented where they can be.  No death is made better or worse by its cause, no death more excusable than another.  Every child’s death is equally evil.  Killing is evil, is absolutely evil.  It’s not made more or less excusable by comparing this killer’s reason with that killer’s reason.  The reason anyone kills doesn’t enter into it at all.  Yes, I understand that you think it does –

But that’s inexcusable.  It’s cowardice.  If a death can be prevented, it should be prevented.  To carry on as if this child dying is acceptable as the way things are and that child’s death requires OH MY GOD STOP THE WORLD YELL SCREAM PANIC BELLOW ARREST WATCH BOMB SHOOT KILL BAN HATE HATE HATE AAAAAAH!!!!!!!! is exactly why they do it.  Why they’ll do it again.  You keep freaking out, so they keep doing it to make you freak out, so you keep freaking out, so they keep . . .

Why do you reward this behavior?  Why do you support them?  Why do you underwrite their hatred, their cruel acts?  Why do you make them stronger?  Why do you give them the sustained applause they so desire?  Why do you keep ensuring they will strike again?  Why does that one death mean All Things to you and the many poor children’s deaths, the brown child’s death, the homeless child’s death, the many many deaths happening all the time, the many deaths that can be prevented, mean nothing at all to you?  Have you ever, will you ever see hours and hours of endless news coverage for days and days when a poor child dies from his poverty?  Why?

Because you’re stupid and you’re a coward.  The pampered millions in their McMuffin world living in their McMansions driving their McSUV’s to their McWorkouts and their McJobs watching their McPolice Procedurals on their McTelevisions and in their McMovies going to McChurch on McSunday talking about their favorite McFootball team over their McMug of McBeer and McBelching have become used to the idea that Bad Things should Never Happen to Them.  Poor people, sure; homeless, absolutely; other people in other places with other lives than theirs, of course.  No reason to disturb their white world.  Bad things that happen to these others, these less valuable, don’t cause a single blip on their McRadar.  But to them!  No!

Your mindless, privileged, entitled lives should never be disturbed, your small ideas never expanded to include the Other, the Foreign, the Different.  You know which God is the One True God; and if someone with a different god – hell, since Allah is simply The Lord in Arabic, and since the God of Abraham is the same God to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, make that a different name for the same God, spoken in a different language in a different house of worship – if some follower of that different name for the same God commits some mindless act of cruelty that causes the Tightey Whiteys any loss, everything must come to a halt while we puke all over each other.

The War on Terror is an absurd nightmare that dreams itself, a feedback loop that increases its own mayhem and death and a militarist’s ejaculation, a bad smell that fills our brain-dead culture with the stench of cowardice – and you’re the asshole that farts it.


And I really hope it pisses you off that I’ve said so, because something has to jar you out of this cycle of death and destruction your spinelessness begets.  Terrorism is a criminal act.  The appropriate response is bravery, to be found in calm thought and our Justice system.  Our Criminal Justice system.  This cowardly panic, this War on Courage, only helps the extremists and the very wealthy.  Knock it off.



Here We Are, at the End of All Things

Say Goodbye to Democracy and Hello to Dictatorship – which we all have worked so hard to bring about

In a previous post, the warning was issued that there would be an act of terrorism that allowed the Trascists to take full command of the government, with the Right as willing co-conspirators and the Left supine before it.  But who could have predicted it would be at a baseball game?

Today’s events at the GOP practice field, where an insane former Bernie supporter opened fire on Congressmen, staff and (of course they would be there) lobbyists, is exactly what the Rabid Right has been waiting for.  This will be Trumped up into their justification for the last steps in their coup d’etat.

They have been preparing for decades; the Gingrich Revolution of no-holds-barred politics introduced the idea that political norms should be swept aside as inconvenient to the True Believer, with formerly sacrosanct concepts like Impeachment being a last resort for cases of clear crimes against the Constitution being repealed in favor of simple political expedience – is there a human alive who could survive five years of endless examination for any flaw? – and open threats of violence used to shut down legal voting procedures in Florida to steal an election.

The second failed Bush administration used an easily-detectable terror plot, which succeeded only because the FBI had been filled at its highest levels with inept political hacks, to revoke the Fourth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth Amendments – the impeachment articles against Clinton having made the Fifth useless.  Then on to the very first day of the Obama administration, when the Chief Turtle of the Senate declared that more than two centuries of respect for Congressional practice of a loyal opposition would be jettisoned for politically advantageous unlimited obstruction.  This Holy Turtle then tried, and succeeded at, a complete abandonment of even pretended Senatorial tradition by holding open a Supreme Court seat for an entire year – and didn’t even bother to offer a defense; ‘we’re doing it because we’re doing it.’

And then came the rigged ‘election’ of Donald Trump.  On January 20th of this year, our system of checks and balances ended; the almost five months since then have been the slow, painful exposing of the New American Order.  One-fifth of the economy and the health and even survival of millions of Americans is being decided by the One Party, behind closed doors and in secret.  Justice Department and intelligence functionaries of this new Fascist administration have told their rightful Congressional overseers that they ‘feel’ no obligation to answer any questions they don’t want to, with no justification offered.  Indeed, the new reality is that only the One Party’s officers, at any level, will have any questions even accepted, far from answered, by this Administration.  A disgusting proclamation of Dear Leader fealty and fawning by the Cabinet has occurred in plain sight  with hardly a shade of objection, timed clearly to be hidden by events at the non-testimony of the head of the Justice Department at the (wrong) Senate panel – a fawning that every member willingly drooled except for one lone Pentagon hold-out, who will soon enough be replaced.

No press questions will be answered.  The People no longer have a right to know anything at all about their government – because it isn’t theirs any more.  Make no mistake – Trump and his facilitators in what was once a Grand party will brook no inspection: one FBI head has rolled, and it’s clear that the current head of the independent investigation into the collusion of the Trump campaign with Russian interference will soon join him in the basket at the foot of the guillotine.  All the ‘opposition’ Party can summon up as they watch is to knit and rock and uselessly cackle.

We can expect the obvious wolf at the door to take off even the few shreds of grandma’s clothing so poorly disguising it.  The waited-for, yearned-for excuse has been made – a stupid, pointless, lone actor at a baseball practice with his evil act will be blown up into all the excuse needed.  The Republican Party will, from now, openly declare itself the Only Party, which is, at this point, only a small, a very small, step.

We can expect, very soon, that any other Republican Right label behind which this slow coup has been achieved – the Tea-Baggers, the Neo-Conservatives, the Freedom Caucus – will be jettisoned in favor of an open acknowledgement of what it in fact is –

Fascism.  No, not an invective; a descriptive term for a system of governance in which all parts of government, the One Party, the One Religion, and that Wealth that backs it and profits from it are equally, boundlessly and exclusively open to the followers of the Great Leader, and no-one else; and in which any policy at all is usefull as long as it serves the purpose of maintaining Party control of that nation suffering it.  We will soon see that label, fascist, used with pride by the Trump Party; I’m guessing they’ll even abandon all uses of the words Conservative and Republican.


And what of the Opposition Party?  What will the Democrats do?

They’ll go on knitting and cackling.  They’ll continue to pretend that our nation’s long-held democratic norms are of any further value, or use.  They’ll console themselves with thoughts of an election some sixteen months in the future.  There will be no such election.  They’ll talk of demonstrations in the street.  Those demonstrations will be met with violent repression from both Trumpist police and openly fascist Trump supporters – and, who knows, Russian troops?  Letters will be written.  Emails will be sent.  Protestations both in Congress and by the frightened Public will be made.  Decent Administration holdovers, and those few Trump appointees with backbones (I can find no names to suggest) will resign in glorious empty gesture.  Government function will grind to a halt – the very Brier Patch that this Br’er Rabid, this egomaniacal monster, most desires.  In short – nothing.  Nothing of any use to anyone at all.

Maya Angelou, herself quoting what she heard in her youth, said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  Trump showed the feckless Democrats exactly who he is.  They completely failed to believe him.  The majority of the Press, thankful for the money Trump brought them in increased, and increasingly shocked, readership, failed to believe him.  You.  You failed to believe him.  He showed you precisely who he is, and even with the repeated histories of fascist movements throughout the Twentieth Century and on every continent to inform and remind you, you failed to believe him.


For more than forty years I have argued with Progressives that though their goal of a just, decent society that cares for the poor and weak is not merely a good thing but the only way our society will survive its challenges and continue to thrive – but that forcing that good and necessary end by the use of Law, of imposed ordering, will bring about its opposite and destroy our democracy.  I guess its my fault, then; no-one believed, no-one heard, I have shouted into the wind.  No Progressive anywhere, it seems, is able to believe that the means does not justify the end, that simply being right about what you’re telling others to do does not make the telling permissible, that those who oppose you aren’t simply wrong and thus unworthy of consideration.  I warned that it’s not the rightness but the imposition that will matter, that will empower the madness of the Right, that will feed the same Evil that tore Hitler’s Germany apart and plunged the World into war and death and destruction.  I said ‘Hubris, people!  Heed the lessons of the first Democracy!’ at the top of my lungs.


I guess I have weak lungs.  We wait now only for the tanks to roll.





A Letter to my Representative: Impeach Now!

Here’s a copy of an email I just sent to my Representative in Congress

I received your blanket response to my previous attempt to encourage you to get ready now to impeach this dangerous man-child. Your argument was reasoned, reasonable, and tragically wrong; and the events in Manchester illumine that.

This administration has once again endangered an important ally by exposing intelligence and encouraging the thought that we cannot be trusted as a partner in combating terrorism. Cui bono? Easily answered: Trump’s best friend, Vlad the Impaler.

Here’s what I think you miss about that, and about his previous exposing of intelligence to Russia: We need the trust of foreign intelligence services to protect our citizens, and those services need us. When that relationship is weakened, it benefits our enemies. The benefit of that to Putin is obvious; the benefit to Trump is less so, but unarguable – that the increase in successful terror attacks, even those on foreign soil, helps Trump, who depends more than anything else on Trumped-up fear to attain his, and Buddy Vlad’s, goal of turning our democracy into a dictatorship.

Make no mistake – there will be a successful attack here. Trump’s continued dissolution of democratic norms depends on it. Wittingly or not, his interests, Putin’s, and terrorists of all stripes (including especially those on the right, who have been and remain the greatest threat and most active) align. There will be a successful attack here, and Trump will use that, and the mindless fear that pampered Americans are always so close to, to sweep away all opposition.

You have some power, right now, to resist. That will end the very second that whatever horror some lunatic is now planning goes through. That’s the race we’re in now. The fuse has been lit; whatever and wherever its end might be, the foolish, mindless fear that will result will give Trump all the power and force he needs to take complete control. We have so little time left in which to expose and end the massive plot against our system that Putin is planning and Trump is blundering along with.

Your reasoned resistance to the growing calls for impeachment would be the right course to take in normal times, and I would be commending you on it. The times are not normal – far from it. My blog was undertaken to express the view that the observations of complexity theory are central to understanding these times, and so I cannot be said to be on either ‘side’ of our foolish politics.

But all politics are peripheral to today’s events. The clock is ticking down on our experiment in self-governance, and Trump is now exposed as working with Putin in ending all such governments. The time is too short, the fuse too close to whatever explosion might come, and there’s too, too little time left for actions.

I beg you to stop thinking of this or that political consideration that might, in reasonable times, be the wise course to take. We see the Republicans putting Party above Country; but when you waste time and energy with thoughts about process, about taking this step and that to a considered goal, you are only helping move the democracy-ending plot along – to put your own concept of Party ahead of the dire needs of our threatened nation. This plot can only succeed if the forces allied against it continue to delude themselves into thinking that times are normal, and that normal processes must therefore be indulged in, normal, considered steps carefully taken, political advantage illuminating political acts, processes taken one-by-one.

This delusion endangers us all. The time to act is now. The time to start impeachment is now. You allow your surroundings, the trappings of your exalted position, the appearance of a false normality to seduce you into thinking that what has always been must always be.

We are already so much farther along the path to destruction than your environment can reveal to you. By weakening so many of the constructs that protect us, Putin’s plans to destroy the West are so very, very much closer to realization than you know. The time is short. The time to begin impeachment, our only hope for survival, is now. You must move forward now, with all possible speed, setting aside as an indulgence any thoughts about how hopeless such a process might be in a House controlled by Putin’s willing stooges.

Yes, we all know that the R’s will not now allow a bill of particulars to advance. But by the time they are ready to permit such a discussion, will there be any point to it? Will any opposition from the Legislature, even with Republican help, be of any use once a terror attack has been allowed to happen and troops are in the street? No. The answer to that question is clear: No. The time for you to act, to put politics aside, is now. Right now. Now. It will be impossible to act at all, even should the opposition Party find their backbones, once that fuse has reached whatever end it is burning towards.

Now. You must act now. There is no time for your wise, true reasons to hold back action. Act now. Impeach. Act now to move impeachment as far along as you can, with faith that Trump will continue to provide you with argument. If you wait for those arguments to shape themselves, for the case against him to be perfected, some horrible act somewhere will have put into his small hands all the power he needs to sweep away all argument.

Act. Act now. Act now, move forward now, get as far along that path as you can now. Once the terror starts, all hope will be gone. Wait no more. Act. Act now. Act, though the cause right now seems hopeless. Act, because you must, no matter what your political wisdom says. You – we – have so little, little time.

Stay Focused on Trump’s Ego Deficits

Terms used that you are encouraged to look up:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Dissociative Episode

Learn about Personality Disorders; it shows who he is, and what gets to him

It becomes more urgent daily for the Resistance to understand Trump and how his mind works.  His mind doesn’t really work; his Personality Disorder dominates all he is, or can be.  If you also feel a duty to our Nation to resist the coming Republican dictatorship, or want to understand him better, learning about Personality Disorders is vital.

I am not an expert, but have studied the matter as deeply as I could, driven by a friend’s bizarre behavior.  I beg that you will educate yourself as much as you can on the subject, as it enlightens so much that is bewildering about the small-handed sex offender.

He behaves in significant ways as an automaton, in patterns you really should teach yourself about.  That is to say, almost always he’s doing things driven by his damaged personality, damage generally considered ‘ego deficits.’  I can get just a bit more descriptive without pretending to more expertise than I have: The dominant explanation is that the child suffers psychic trauma, which interrupts the development of a healthy, functional sense of self, preventing an important development that happens normally at about the age of 18 months.  A lack of nurturing, the likelihood of abuse, and often a genetic predisposition, prevent forming a firm, solid sense of who the sufferer is; instead of forming an independent, self-contained sense of self, this deformed ego desperately depends on adopting behaviors in specific, compelled patterns that stand in for a fully-formed, flexible personality.  These patterns vary in ways that professional practice has grouped into several ‘kinds’ of personality disorders; what is shared is a desperate, constant, highly energetic scanning of the environment for threat, for how the p.d. is perceived by those around him, and a testing of how the sufferer can best use ‘objects’ like words or actions to keep and shape the attention of those around him.

Deeper than that, I would urge you to seek a description of personality disorders, and more particularly the specific type applicable to the Orange One, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I don’t feel comfortable giving links; I don’t want to shape your findings to fit my definitions.  Prepare, though, to encounter many different views – and hear described a world of often bizarre behaviors and weird motivations, referred to as a ‘trip through Oz’.

It’s reasonable to start, if you wish, with Wikipedia or the intrusive mess that starts with ‘g’ and rhymes with ‘oogle’,  or you may find divergent descriptions of the same deficits under some theories of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which makes sense.  A professional tome abbreviated DSM-IV, or DSM-V, helps (those two editions differ somewhat on this subject.)  Any way you take it, you should understand, as much as you have time for, the ways in which Trump’s personality is compelled by those deficits. Support groups for friends and family of the Personality Disordered abound.

It fits a characteristic of Narcissistic PDs that he is not motivated ever by feelings of guilt – so it never will bother him to be found to have lied, or cheated, or stolen, or collaborated with Russia.  However, he is exquisitely sensitive to shame and public humiliation, like all small-handed bald men.  His predecessor, the only president of my lifetime who didn’t make me feel nervous, demonstrated this at dinner one night.  Thus we see one way to compel irrational behavior is by shaming him.  Talking to you, Alec Baldwin.  Adding public mocking to demonstrations might be nice.  (No violence.  This is not a joke.  No.)

According to his own broken personality structure, he has never lied.  This is usually true of the extremely personality damaged, through a mechanism sometimes called ‘infantile objectification’.  An infant deals with all inputs as ‘objects’, and only once the central ego structures are created can he deal with their deeper meanings and associations; in the absence of this ego structure, all things remain detached objects.  His behaviors are those of an infant even if they seem adult.  He is subject to childish attempts to dominate by tantrum, or ‘infantile omnipotence’.

If he says something, that, too is an object without external associations or internal meaning; that is, for him anything he says or thinks has only a purpose, not an interior logic.

He can literally tell one lie and, two minutes later, tell a different and diametrically-opposed lie:  Because of his unformed ego structure, any ‘object’ is the same to his mind, ‘boob’ or ‘bomb’ or ‘the wall’, with a purpose other than to give information, and it doesn’t have a dimension for “True” or “False”.  All objects are about him; if they do their job – to control your reaction, usually so that you will like him, as would an infant holding a toy up to you for approval – if they do their job, then they are true in the only sense he can comprehend.  And if he holds up a different word-salad object a few seconds later it also is for your approval, or failing that, some other reaction that also centers on him and, preferentially, he controls; again, it also is ‘true’ as it’s an object, and the contents don’t enter into it.  So in the deepest conceptual way, he has not told any lies.  He has no choice in these things.  I think you ought to learn about his disorder, from, I hope, a dependable source.

The most important thing, though: He has to work so hard to charm, and control, and is so terrified of losing centrality, that he’s exceedingly good at being charming, and has considerable ability to find what most pleases and compliments anyone in his orbit – as you would be if you were frightened out of your senses – really – of losing everyone’s attention, again because of his unformed ego.  This is essential: if nobody is there to focus on, he’s quite literally not sure he’s there, or who he is.  Think how terrified you would be if that were true of you; the personality disordered are a tortured lot, deserving our pity, our help, our understanding.  He deserves pity, but not the Presidency.  His disability makes him a clear and present danger to our Republic.

That danger exists because this skill at charming and controlling is a mile wide and an inch deep, and is easily overwhelmed by uncontrolled events or too-clearly-shown inadequacy and the resultant shame.  It’s an important part of why he puts furious energy into maintaining centrality in all situations; without that control, expected to behave as a ‘normal’ personality when he no longer controls the script, his mind loses reference quickly, and he becomes traumatized into a mental ‘fugue’ wherein he becomes dysfunctional.  We seem to see a shadow of this whenever reporters say “Michael Flynn” at him; he forgets what he’s doing and rapidly gets away from that object.  See his signing ceremony of March 31st, where a question about Flynn chases him from the room with the executive order unsigned.

That’s not a good thing.  It’s actually a very dangerous thing.  Educate yourself.  Keyword for this most dangerous possibility if he’s confronted by those sudden, uncontrollable events like, oh, say, any Tuesday is ‘dissociative episode‘.  Not a good thing.  Seen it happen bigly to a loved one long before I knew what it was.  Not good.  ‘Nobody home now, you call back later’ degrees of not good.

Under stress, that ‘button’ that starts the Very Large Boom is the same thing as a lie is:

An object.

With no reason not to use either, as far as he can see.




Trump Was Predictable; How, and Why

Having written that extremists taking over both sides was inevitable, here’s when and how

This is a rant that’s been planned since the start of this blog – though, you know what?  Having written about Slug Control, maybe this should be called a ‘blug’ – Since I started this blug, but wanted first to find the article that spelled it out so clearly, so it could be referred to.  That’s been given up, though, as a lost cause.  The article existed, but I don’t know enough about how to do research of this sort to find it.  It was an op-ed by one of the big names of the 1970’s that appeared in a Sunday edition of the Grey Lady, and you would think that would be easy for even the clunkiest to find; but apparently my clunkitude knows no bounds.  Hell, it was only two posts ago I was all giddy at figuring out how to include a link!

Nevertheless, as one of John Cleese’s Monty Python characters said, ‘adapt, adopt and improve’.

To begin with, a barbershop my dad took me to at around age five or so, in the middle ’50s, in a middle-sized town in the middle of the Middle West.  I was struck by the barber telling me that guys should get their hair cut every three weeks, and then the world, he said, would be a better place.  That was when I first realized that people adopt a philosophy that is primarily informed by their own self-interest.  And no, I’m not saying that I would have put it that way at the age of five.  I’m sure I said nothing more brilliant than:


Still, it stuck with me, and I thought about it a lot growing up, not that I have – old, yes, but not up; and I kept hearing different versions of the same self-informed wisdom from Really Old People (you know, old people, like teenagers and even older!) constantly – that a person’s thinking starts and ends with what makes their own life better, or, as I would have put it as a kid:

“Boy, adults sure are dumb.”  Not sure I didn’t go so far as to add, “… as dirt!”

(It was a different time: The Lone Ranger and Davey Crockett didn’t swear, so we didn’t, either.  Not saying a better time, just different; my first swear word came out of my mouth at age 19.  It was “Hell.”  It was, interestingly (or not), in the Green Room of the Fir Acres Theater at Lewis and Clark College, and Markie Post, of ‘Night Court’ fame, was but one of the hearers who were shocked, not at the word, certainly, but that I said it.  We were playing a card game called Sargeant Major, and . . .  But I digress.)

Then a few years after that, a deeper aspect of the same thing became apparent: Our brains work in ways very different than it seems to us they do.  Much of our intelligence is aimed at inventing justifications for the things we want to do – it’s pretty clear that this, and little else, separates us from the other apes – and which I dubbed, some time around the age of eight or nine, the ‘Yellow Light Syndrome’.  It’s the way people tended to think, a kind of automatic self-excuse-making habit that applies in so much that people do, noticed as a passenger in my parents’ car, back in the uninformed Neolithic, when kids could sit in the front seat of an automobile.

The driver gets close to an intersection when the light turns yellow, and steps on the gas rather than the brake; and, when I give them the fish-eye (I never did have much patience with adults, who I thought of as hopelessly silly, which is at least one of the reasons why, even after more than six decades, I still refuse to become one) they said, more to themselves than to me, “I was too far into the intersection to stop.”

No, you weren’t, you clunk; you just didn’t want to stop.  When I started to drive, this same process happened in me the first time I came to a suddenly-yellow light; but I wanted to be a good driver, so I absolutely refused to go along with this dangerous foolishness, and learned to react by braking, and so never once have run a red light.  Still, it meant a lot to me that I could feel, could sense when this excuse-making process started up within my own brain in any situation, and tried to become instantly distrustful of it.  That started a lifetime process of questioning any impulse, in myself or others, that seemed to be compelled by emotion.

So that’s by way of pointing up my own prejudices.  Other observations that have contributed: The moment in the Kennedy administration at a meeting of church members held to express opinions about the growing conflict in Southeast Asia, with Old People standing up and ranting about ‘godless Comm’nism!’, when I first realized that communism, a clearly failed system, was never going to find support within the United States, but fascism could easily be adopted as a result of mindless fear; the moment when, with bowed head, I first heard the Presbyterian pastor of our lovely Mid-Century Modern church slip into our prayers to a merciful God that He bless and aid our brave soldiers in Killing Commies for Christ; the description in civics classes from the fifth grade on of our system as ‘a voluntary society’; Republicans telling the lie that the War on Poverty was a failure, despite all the studies and statistics that showed the opposite, because they had to lie about its unquestionable success; and, of course, the entire Nixon administration.

That’s the end of the intro – what Walt Kelley’s Howland Owl would have termed ‘the poor parlors.’  For some reason, the pretty skunk lady Miz Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, though French, never corrected him.  Say la vee, Pogo.

It was after the Nixon nightmare ended, in the administration of the first of what now has become a tradition of Republican Presidents not winning election, and a man who was actually much more athletic and graceful than Chevy Chase portrayed him as – by the by, did you know Chevy’s actual first name was Cornelius?  No, I didn’t, either – it was during the administration of Gerald Ford that a Sunday editorial appeared in the New York Times stating the staggering idea that, at least in terms of policy, the long competition between Liberal and Conservative concepts of governance was over, with Liberalism winning hands down; that though the debate would go on in words, the political struggle continue, yet at least as a theory of how actually to govern, Conservatism was DOA, and all government structures from now on would be quietly Liberal in construction.  It was tightly reasoned and very persuasive; the Great Society, as proposed and passed by LBJ and as perfected in its application by Richard Nixon – as mentally deformed as he was, and as inept at war-making, he was, it will surprise you to learn, a very capable administrator who made the Great Society work – had made great strides at reducing poverty, and at advancing equality and opportunity, and so had laid the groundwork for moving bravely into the future, sweeping all opposition before it on a tide of magnificent success and increasing wealth.  There would still be political parties, still Right and Left, but for the most part, Conservative and Liberal would be labels rather than descriptions; behind the scenes, Liberal policy, which had worked so well, would continue to work for the foreseeable future.

It was all so clear, so unarguable, so persuasive.  And I could see instantly that, though correct as far as it went, it was so frighteningly inadequate.

I was staggered.  It was a moment I still recall, sitting in our simple, knock-together dining room with the paper spread before me, reading this opinion piece as it was carried in our Oregonian.  I could see the future unfolding so clearly, as if the clouds had rolled away revealing in frightening detail the gradually appearing expanse of a horrifying vista.

First, I saw that, to the degree the debate really was over, it meant that good people on both sides would leave politics.  With little more than the details of surrender to be worked out, decent, hard-working, dedicated people who dominated in both parties at that time, the giants of legislative and administrative brilliance, would slowly leave Politics for other fields; after all, brilliant minds want to do brilliant work, and if the job was done, why hang around?  This would leave a vacuum for lesser minds to fill, opening both parties to extremists of Right and Left, and clearing governance of all pretense to respect for my beloved Voluntary Society and the Jeffersonian ideal of liberty.  And so it rapidly evolved, with haters and racists coming to dominate the Right and prim, humorless control freaks the Left, which further drove talent and wisdom from both parties.

I could foresee that the Republican Party would rapidly become enslaved to reactionaries – and, as I argue in a moment, inevitably to fascists.  They would first work to weaken public education and the liberal national news media – because a well-educated, well-informed populace tends toward liberalism, and thus would be a threat to their control.  An urge to control the population would become an inevitable goal of the Republican party; nature abhors a vacuum, and if good men and women of fine character and honest, sincere personality left for other fields now that The War Was Over, the power that Republicans – and, from different impulses, Democrats – still held would now be used for other, more self-informed goals.

And it was clear what those goals would be: Service to the Rich, advancing the power of the Powerful.  That very day in the mid-Seventies when, with horror, I read that opinion piece, was the first time – but far from the last – I saw what would increasingly become the clear purpose of the Republican Party, and many Democrats as well:

Comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

The Democrats too would suffer a slow but steady exodus of talented, dedicated Liberals who desired only to make ours a better Republic based on the free marketplace of ideas, to be replaced with others who wanted only to feather their own nests and strive for power without purpose, and those of such limited vision and so filled with hubris that they really imagined themselves singularly blessed by such wisdom that they could tell the rest of us what to do, in humorless, remorseless detail, sneering at and shaming any so foolish as to imagine themselves fit to decide for themselves the right and the good.  Those talented few who actually wanted to help people would avoid politics and instead just go out and do it, and they did, starting many very successful non-governmental organizations, leaving those who want power only as an end in itself; and without any larger reason behind them, those Democrats still attracted to politics would be purchasable by that same wealth that would purchase the Right.  The barber’s dedication to a philosophy that every man’s hair should be regularly cut would become the politician’s belief that the rich should support their political career for the greater good, no matter their party or political persuasion.

Please note this point: The barber of my childhood really did believe in haircuts; the politician really does believe in what he’s doing, no matter how conveniently self-informed his actions or his dedication to fund-raising from the rich, no matter how transparently useful to those rich his legislation might be.  Self-excusing behavior is part of the very essence of what it means to be human; it was a necessary development of the Mind arising from the Brain, the cause of the rapid evolution of bigger brains that occurred between 800,000 and 200,000 years ago – and all this magnificence you see around you, the powerful culture we’ve developed, our technological brilliance, is but a side-effect of that self-excusing mechanism so vital to that brain growth, central to how ‘mind’ self-arose from the increasing chaos of ‘brain’.  You do this.  I do this.  How then do we criticize this tendency in others or ourselves?  How do we move forward when everyone is so blind to their own emotion-centered thoughts that justify instantly even the most inhuman, brutal, vicious acts?  How can we keep from repeating the horrors of the past, of man’s inhumanity to man?

Jefferson showed us the way: that my rights end at the tip of your nose.  But even he did not rule that way as President.  How then for any of us?  Yet that is our only hope – and a fascist dictatorship of the Right, or a progressive one of the Left, is the inevitable result of abandoning Jefferson’s pledge to grant each other the rights to ‘Life, Liberty, and the Purfuit of Happineff’.  (It’s not my fault his ‘s’s looked like ‘f’s.)

That’s the frightening future I saw so clearly unfolding, now some forty-plus years ago.  And so it has turned out to be.  We are awash in Governance by Command, whether the hob-nailed, steel-jacketed, spike-encrusted Bible held high by the goose-stepping Right, all the better to club us into Holy Obedience, or the shaming, limiting, fettering, three-foot-high speed-bump- and ‘guardrail around the guardrail around the guardrail’-installing Left, both the belt-to-the-butt Daddy Government Rightists and the opposition-shaming Mommy State Left, both doing everything they can to display their usefulness to the One Percent – oh, but their One Percent, their own side’s approved-of and party-financing wealthy – with the rest of us running first to one side and then to the other for relief from the dictation of the opposite parent.

And as for Fascism: First, understand that fascism isn’t a swear-word, but a too-common organizing principal, not a dirty word but a descriptive political term.  Think of it that way, or else become part of what makes it so easy to establish.  Think of traditional monarchy, with the King as leader of government, of party, and of religion, controlling the entire society and granting monopolies that determine commercial success; and then add that the King anoints himself.  That’s fascism – a monarchy without nobility.  It’s important to honestly understand the word as description, because it is, in complexity terms, a random attractor; the fall-back organizing principal of humanity, the vortex self-government may always stray too close to and fall in, the monster always waiting for any civilization that clings like the cowards we tend to be to the Strongman whenever bravery simply costs us too much to display, or is thought rude.

And then understand the impulse to fascism, which is simplicity itself; the thought, including your thought, that if everyone would just shut up and do what I say – or what you say, or Trump says, or God says, or anybody – then we would be safe.  That first impulse that, if indulged, will lead to fascism if unresisted is nothing more than thinking ‘what we need to do about this is, we all must . . .” followed by any words, Hitler’s words, Trump’s words, Jesus’ words, Mohammed’s words, your words, my words.  It really is as simple, as common, and as dangerous as that.  There’s a problem; and ‘we all must’ get behind the solution.  The danger is never that there is a problem – there are always problems.  The danger is never that there is a solution – there are always solutions.

The danger comes in that simple belief – the ‘we all must’.

If I could impart to you any one message, it would be this: Complexity and variety gives life; only The Grave is uniform, only Death is normative, the only thing ‘we all must’ do.  And, yes, even that message, when imposed on others, is deadly.  None of this is easy, but that’s life.

In late grade school and through high school, I was so horrified by my parents’ generation’s World War, with our nation’s noble though late-to-the-dance fight against Hitler and the unspeakable, unendurable revelation of the Holocaust – my mom admitted to me, with shame, that, yes, they knew, that Americans paying attention knew about the camps from the beginning – that I was determined to read all I could about how this thing could have happened, and in one of the most advanced, in many ways one of the most progressive, of all nations.  It’s not the simple, self-glorifying story that Hollywood likes to tell and Americans prefer to believe, of a people gone mad at the Siren call of a hypnotic character, that it could all be blamed on Hitler.  It is, in fact, a natural progression that all political systems are subject to whenever any people becomes too weary, too frightened or too lazy to maintain respect for the rights of their neighbors, even their ‘right to be wrong’ as long as they are only wrong for themselves.

It starts in rural areas, and Religion is important right from the beginning; Religion and Fear.  And a mouthpiece – right away, you have to have a mouthpiece; in early-20th-century Germany, to buy small, local newspapers, the advanced technology of Hitler’s time.  You need to start right off telling lies, and in small rural markets, it’s pretty easy to buy yourself some liars, and plenty of poorly-informed braggarts and bigots.  It doesn’t matter to them what you are selling, as long as there is the opportunity for thugs to enjoy strutting and threatening, and for grievance.

In rural areas, it’s easy to find, and inflate, this sense of often-justified grievance, against the City, against the better educated, against the banker and the lawyer, and the foreigner, the ‘other’.  It’s easy to lie to such people, inflating real grievances – life in the country, on the farm, far from the easy ways of urbanites, is often enough a hard life, where a high interest rate is as frequently crop-destroying as bad weather or locust plague, and that makes it fertile ground to plant imagined complaints.  Always there must be a grain of truth to the complaint, but it need only be a tiny one, no more than a mustard seed.

And what is the mustard seed of our time?  The goodness and decency of the Progressive, which grinds all things exceeding small.  The good and just hearts, refusing to accept that hunger and want should be allowed in the planet’s wealthiest nation, just as they shouldn’t – and then the natural next step, the ‘we all must’.  That simple, decent, good-hearted step is all it takes to push a liberal respect for the Public Good into ‘Hey, I know what you should do!’ do-goodery that does one thing more than any:


Add governance and you get – yes, often, successful answers to real problems.  But for good or ill, it irritates.  It irritates, then pisses off, then infuriates, and more often doesn’t work, a result which the furious drive to do good blinds the really committed Romper Room DoBee to.  And that, in turn, propels conservatism, a respectable approach to governance (even if not one I could ever take) into first reactionary and then fascistic response.  There you are, far away from the world these eggheads live in, hardly a pot to piss in, ‘they’re telling us what kinda pot to piss in?’  It irritates. ‘Why would I feel any identity with this association of scolds you call a culture?’  Thus arise feelings of detachment from the mainstream that provides the fuel for evil people to use, and inflated grievance thus becomes an extractive industry.

Then there is the vital importance to such a movement of the Scandal – but it must be understood that invented scandal is far more important than any real one can possibly be.  In some real story, some complaint with a basis in fact, the story belongs to whoever wants to tell it, to expose it, easier for the well-connected, well-research Big City media to tell than the small, home-town sheet.  The important lesson for the Murdochs of this world: You can’t use a scandal you don’t control.

Invented scandal can be bent, shaped, controlled, exposed just as you want, to the end that best serves your goals, and most importantly can be blamed on anyone you want – best, of course, on those who can least defend themselves.  (Cowardice is as vital a part of far-right political movements as sneering condescension is to the Left, then as now; never pick on anyone who can fight back, never risk yourself being hurt.)  And there’s a tremendous benefit to the building of a wholly-owned media empire, which is so important to any fascist movement, a flack-filled, insincere propaganda arm without which this disease cannot be spread; if a scandal is real, serious journalism will investigate it, but when scandal is invented, the mainstream won’t even notice it – and then your propaganda machine can claim conspiracy, accuse serious journalists of being in service to all those who the growing mass of aggrieved distrust, greatly strengthening the propagandists’ claim to being the only trustable source of news.  Thus does the fake news become the only news the aggrieved ‘true Germans’ (or true Americans) believe or are ever exposed to.  Whether the Nazi press of those ugly times or Fox News today, the same vital message: Listen only to us, hear only us, everyone else lies.

This was, after all, the most powerful tool the Nazi (or the more recent Republican) propaganda machine had.  Yes, there was the power of the Big Lie, made up, then as now, of many smaller lies, repeated over and over, never admitting they are lies no matter how much the ‘lame-stream’ media proves them to be lies, simply repeating them any time you are confronted with the truth.  And yes, the projection; if you are planning on rigging an election, as Nazis did (and Diebold’s modern voting machines do), then the first step, before the rigging, is to accuse the other side of, horrors, rigging! so that when true accounts of Nazi-stuffed ballots (or Republican votes being consistently four or five percent higher in electronic balloting) arise, the press can cling to their favorite, convenient, comforting meme that ‘everyone does it.’

So, yes, the Big Lie and aggressive projection; but the most important, most effective lie is the wholly-owned scandal.  Nazi propaganda accused every opposing politician of scandal after scandal after scandal, repeating each one endlessly, blocking out any refutation, rolling over anyone trying to truth-test them – and completely bewildering serious journalists, who often didn’t hear of these ‘scandals’ until the gullible were up in arms about them.  Thus the effectiveness of the trap – to the already suckered, it’s more proof that only the fascist news sources can be believed, that the fix is in, that the conspiracy of the existing power structure would never allow the ‘scandal’ to be ‘honestly’ examined.  After all, how do serious people investigate a thing that never happened?

Such ‘scandals’ thus don’t have to make any sense at all.  Better if they don’t.  That’s how the popular, widely-supported and elected President Paul von Hindenburg was forced to appoint Hitler as Chancellor; ridiculous scandal after ridiculous scandal was accused of von Hindenburg, until even the big city papers started to call his a ‘scandal-plagued administration’ though each ‘scandal’ was clearly a lie, and then, as is inevitable – for all have sinned, and have feet of clay – one scandal has just enough truth in it to be believed by the many, fatigued and bewildered by the endless accusations.  Thus of the Clintons, as slick as any modern politician must be to appeal to our lazy, ill-informed populus but not more or less honest than we ever allow a politician to be.  As Winston Churchill so presciently said, ‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.’  That’s the practical use of the wholly invented scandal told to those anxious to believe it.

Bill Clinton, who deserved well enough his moniker of ‘slick Willie’, was put to this wholly-made-up scandal-mongery when he had been President less than two weeks.  He made a trip to Los Angeles, and while there, he held up LAX for hours – on a Friday, at five o’clock! – while he was getting a haircut from a celebrity hairdresser.  If you were alive at the time and remember those days, you are familiar with this, only the first of many Clinton Presidential scandals, proof of his detachment from the concerns of the common folk, showing his corrupt nature.

Only a few problems with this; even as this story was being repeated on all the news shows and reported on by every newspaper, reporters started noticing, and writing about, oddities in where the story started, and in what travelers actually experienced.  The very first alerts to this ‘scandal’ came out of the California Republican Party offices, three hours before it was supposed to have happened; reporters who were already at LAX, as well as every traveler interviewed, said there were no such delays; Air Force One was parked well off any runway, in a secure area out of anyone’s way, nor was it itself delayed – it was actually waiting, as planned, to pick up a sick child who needed to get to a hospital in the East (which melodramatic touch is actually commonplace, as it was, until Trump, a common practice as old as Presidential air travel); the haircut was also planned as a way to save time, and was being contributed gratis.

But did any of these facts get reported on?  Well, yes – if you read the entire first-day article and the next-day reporting that showed this well-researched ‘scandal’ to be entirely phony.  But in Hitler’s day and ours, the popular press is a money-making venture, and boring old Truth is never as cash-generating as exciting lies. Big-name journalists want to keep being invited to all the wild parties, want to keep their celebrity, and only a few fail to value their reputations for even-handedness more than they value Truth, and thus must cling to any evidence they can find, or invent, that ‘both sides do’ whatever sins are displayed.  Hitler and his backers knew this, as did the Republicans of President Clinton’s time, as does Rupert Murdoch, as have Hillary Clinton’s many silly-scandal-inventors; it really doesn’t matter how absurd the made-up scandal is.  Just repeat and repeat and repeat, and depend on the laziness of reporters, the greed of the owners of media and the gullibility of humanity.

Thus also with Hillary.  A foundation that has done astounding work worldwide to ease the way for charities to become effective, to cut through bureaucratic inertia, to help millions on every continent, became ‘scandal’.  A terrible situation in Libya, caused more than anything by Republican refusal to pay to increase security, a situation a Secretary of State had nothing to do with, became ‘scandal’.  A desire, out of the exhaustion and defensiveness to repeated false accusation, to secure email from assault became ‘scandal’.  Scandal after scandal, all of them invented, all of them absurd, all of them successful; you know that Hillary is corrupt.  You know this, don’t you?  Screw reality – you just know she’s corrupt.  Why wait for Truth to put its pants on?

Works every time.  Worked for Hitler.  Worked for Billo, and Rush, and Rupert.  Works for Trump.  Works.  Every.  Time.

Does that mean that Democracy is doomed?  If the garbage that Rupert et al has been using for decades to destroy America for the sake of enriching themselves, put to no purpose beyond saving the Very Wealthy from paying back into our culture a reasonable fraction of the vast wealth our culture has provided them with, has worked, and always works, then what hope do we have?  Is this always the way Democracy dies?  After all, it died in its birthplace, ancient Greece.  Is this always the way a Republic dies?  After all, it died in its birthplace, ancient Rome.

Yes, it is.  This is the way self-government always dies.

That’s why our Fondling Fathers gave us this tinkered-together, clattering, messy hybrid, a Democratic Republic, with each part checked and balanced by another.  For example, we think of the Supreme Court as being the final arbiter, but it isn’t; if the Supremes decide something is true that sticks enough in the American craw, even they can be overruled by a Constitutional amendment, though such a thing is very difficult – on purpose.  And then the Supremes get to say what that new amendment means, while the President decides what it does, and on and on.  Every part is checked by another.

But that doesn’t make it proof against fascism.  If one Party decides its own rule is more important than the Nation, and can fool enough fools into foolishness, then such a Party can rule all parts; and if We the People stop caring, and don’t stop them, then there is no hope.  If one Party, through the time-tested sales techniques of the Big Lie, the Invented Scandal, the Propaganda Machine and the Frightened Public, takes over control of the Administration, the Judiciary and both houses of the Legislature, then the Constitution and its highly theoretical limits on the reach of governance become useless paper, fit only for the rich and powerful to wipe their asses on.

That’s fascism.  Not a dirty word.  Not the unacceptable term, never to be uttered in Polite Society.  A system of political organization where one Party controls every part of the State, where there are no boundaries between State, the approved Religion, the Judiciary, and those commercial and wealth interests approved of by and financing that Party, where allegiance is not to the country but to the Great Leader.  It always starts the same way, when the population of the republic becomes so frightened that they willingly give up their rights for the illusion of security; and if the thing they fear is invented or inflated and the security thus imaginary, it elevates and strengthens the very worst of that people, and those least qualified to lead so much as a funeral procession become Pallbearers in Chief.

That there are such people is a given; there will always be vultures.  The trick is not to give them a body to feed upon.  The Jeffersonian idea, which even he was not faithful to, was that a limited State would leave each of us free to decide for ourselves what happiness was and how to pursue it, as long as our pursuit did not limit the rights of anyone else to define and to pursue.  This turns out to be harder than it might seem – telling others what their happiness should be, and how they should pursue it, is just too tempting, and our brains just too good at excusing us for the telling.  We know we’re right.  And then we know we’re right.  And then we know we’re right.  And then we know we’re right.  And finally we KNOW we’re right.

And the most dangerous, this: When we’re right about being right.  That’s when we stop listening to the whimpers, the pleas, the cries of the people we’re crushing with our rightness.  That’s fascism.


The lungs of all social mammals contain within them a family of bacteria, just a few of the many symbiotic life forms that we depend upon for our existence.  Only this family isn’t there to help us live.  It’s there to help us die.

It’s something that came about because sometimes evolution happens on the level of the herd at the cost of the individual, and because lungs are, by their nature, dangerous.  We take the outside environment into ourselves, in and out, in and out, several times a minute.  We have many protections against the infectious life forms, toxins and other pollutants in that air; but when those protections fail, those lungs can, again, by their very nature, become a threat to those of our species we socialize with, who are, after all, likely to be our own family, our own genetic inheritance, breathing in the air we breathe out.  Therefore it can become an evolutionary benefit, even to our own gene pool, if we as an individual are removed, should we become a threat; and coughing up dangerous bacteria and toxins that have blossomed within our lungs makes us a threat to our own genes being successful through others.

Of course, that’s where predators come in, and why every species needs its predators to keep the species strong by removing the sick and the weak.  But if predation fails in one particular herd to take out one particular vector of disease, the whole herd can fail.  Evolution is remorseless; predation isn’t perfect, and without some fail-safe, having lungs can be just too dangerous.

That’s where this family of bacteria comes in.  The vast majority of lung-equipped individuals will live out their whole lives, and their progeny theirs, and these symbiotic life forms we carry will continue on as usual, reproducing at a very slow rate, never a danger.  But if our lungs become too damaged for too long, these bacteria start to reproduce rapidly and produce toxins so dangerous that we die.  Quickly.  It’s evolution remorselessly acting on the level of the group at the cost of the individual.

And that’s what fascism is to the body politic of all democracies, all republics, and our Republican Democracy.  When the checks don’t check, when the balances get out of balance, fascism is always there, a background, low-level infection that starts reproducing rapidly as indifference and fear and stupidity sicken us, weaken us so much that we die so that Freedom doesn’t.  I’ve said this before in this blug –

We need Freedom. Freedom doesn’t need us.

Another, better Republic will arise from the ashes, to make their own mistakes, to have their own prejudices, to steep in their own fears.

Freedom, then slavery, then freedom, then slavery, an endless cycle that continues on until either we develop a cultural solution to this automatic impulse to self-justification or until our technology becomes so powerful that, in falling, we end the species.  And then the planet will see if the cockroach can evolve a better intelligence.  Ecce homo.