In an open letter we ask Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to order his government to release political prisoner David Ravelo. We invite individuals and organizations to endorse the letter. To do so, please send a name, city, state or province, and country to W.T. Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter and names will be delivered to Colombian officials in mid-January.
- T. Whitney Jr. prepares this letter which is a project of The North American Committee for the Defense of David Ravelo. In 2012 the Committee sent a solidarity delegation to Colombia on Ravelo’s behalf.
The Honorable Juan Manuel Santos
President, Republic of Colombia
Dear Mr. President,
Sir, those who sign this letter hold that the case against prisoner David Ravelo (cédula de ciudadanía 13.887.558) collapsed long ago under the weight of lies and a quite illegitimate prosecution. With respect, we ask that you instruct your government to release Mr. Ravelo from prison. We point to a long, unvarying record of injustice against Ravelo.
David Ravelo was arrested September 14, 2010 in Barrancabermeja, Colombia. Charged with plotting to murder municipal official David Núñez Cala in 1991, he is serving an 18 – year term. Appeals have failed. His case is now before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Ravelo, we think, is emblematic of thousands of political prisoners in limbo now as Colombia implements its peace accord. Imprisoned combatants and civilian political prisoners may soon be eligible for amnesty. Ravelo needs to be one of them.
Barrancabermeja, Ravelo’s native city, produces 60 percent of Colombia’s oil products. In the late 1980s the Patriotic Union (UP) electoral coalition entered local politics. Soon David Ravelo was a UP member of Barrancabermeja’s city council and a UP delegate to the Santander Assembly. At the time, however, killers were targeting UP activists in Barrancabermeja, and nationally.
Charged with rebellion in 1993, Ravelo went to prison for 27 months. By the late 1990s, paramilitaries controlled the city and its surroundings. They massacred 36 Barrancabermeja inhabitants on May 16, 1998 and 17 more on February 28, 1999.
In Barrancabermeja, Ravelo was a labor organizer, community educator, and journalist. He is a longtime member of the Colombian Communist Party’s Central Committee. Barrancabermeja’s Catholic Diocese honored Ravelo in 2008 for his 30 years dedicated to defending human rights. In response to paramilitary violence, he founded and directed the CREDHOS human rights organization. Many CREDHOS leaders subsequently were killed or threatened.
Ravelo in 2007 circulated a video, viewable here, showing President Alvaro Uribe socializing with Barrancabermeja paramilitary leaders in 2001. The U.S. government, Colombia’s military ally, had complained about Uribe’s ties to paramilitaries. We suspect that the video, embarrassing to President Uribe, provoked his taking action against Ravelo.
Persecution, lies, and vengeance
Colombia’s government in 1999 convicted paramilitary leaders Mario Jaimes Mejía (alias “Panadero’) and Fremio Sánchez Carreño for organizing the two Barrancabermeja massacres. Each received a 20 year sentence. Having accused them, David Ravelo played a role in their downfall.
From Itagüí prison, paramilitary leader Roberto Pérez Álzate “gave the order,” says Ravelo, for Jaimes Mejía “to take revenge and accuse David Ravelo Crespo and José Arístides Andrade” of murdering David Núñez Cala in 1991.
Jaimes confessed to organizing the massacres of 1998 and 1999 in order to qualify for the Justice and Peace Law of 2005. According to that law, paramilitary leaders telling the truth and demobilizing troops would serve eight years in prison. In 2008 Jaimes confessed to the Núñez Cala murder and named Ravelo and ex- congressperson Arístides Andrade as accomplices. He claimed they attended a meeting in Barrancabermeja where the murder was planned. Again, accusations against Ravelo would ease his entry into the Justice and Peace program.
Jaime’s paramilitary associate Fremio Sánchez also confessed to the massacres and to his role in the Núñez Cala murder. He too implicated Ravelo and Arístides Andrade in order to qualify for Justice and Peace.
Jaimes Mejía was a FARC member when he killed Núñez Cala; only later would he join the paramilitaries. Accusing Ravelo of ties to the FARC, he showed investigators a 1985 photo of Ravelo attending a peace meeting with FARC leaders at a forest encampment. Authorities had used the old photo to put Ravelo in prison in 1993. Ravelo went free when the “Ravelo” in the photo was shown to be someone else, a journalist.
In the clutches of the law
The prosecution and trial of Ravelo revealed terrible procedural failings. The court, for example, accepted Jaimes Mejía’s accusation – a lie – that Ravelo and Andrade participated in a murder. Colombia’s Attorney General on August 20, 2014 charged him with lying, and a judicial unit specializing in false witnesses is investigating. Between May 26, 2015 and October 27, 2016, however, six scheduled court sessions were canceled.
Further, the prosecutor in Ravelo’s case, William Pacheco Granados, is a criminal. As a police lieutenant in 1991 he arranged for the “forced disappearance” of a young man. A military court convicted him; he spent a year in prison. Law 270 of 1996 prohibits anyone dismissed from “any public office” or convicted of a crime from joining “the judicial branch.” Now Pacheco Granados faces civil prosecution for murder.
And, the criminality of Ravelo’s accuser, Mario Jaimes Mejía, seems limitless. Jaimes arranged for journalist Yineth Bedoya to be kidnapped before she was to interview him in prison in 2000. She was beaten and raped. Jaimes received a 28 – year sentence.
There’s more: Jaimes Mejía bribed fellow prisoners to testify that Ravelo and Arístides Andrade attended the meeting where the murder was planned. Jaimes used prisoner Fremio Sánchez to recruit them, according to witnesses at Ravelo’s trial. Prison officials facilitated meetings to enable Jaimes and Sánchez to conspire against Ravelo.
And, none of Ravelo’s 30 defense witnesses were allowed to testify during the trial proceedings. Prosecutor Pacheco closed his pre-trial investigation without hearing testimony as to Ravelo’s innocence.
And, four weeks elapsed between Ravelo being convicted and the actual announcement of his conviction on December 11, 2012. This “flagrant violation of due process” delayed preparations for Ravelo’s appeal.
Lastly, the atmosphere surrounding Ravelo’s trial was grim; “family members and members of Ravelo’s CREDHOS organization continually suffered paramilitary death threats and harassment while the trial was in progress.”
Ravalo summarizes: “[T]he paramilitaries had ‘reasons’ for wanting to eliminate me. That’s why … they tried to assassinate me physically, but didn’t succeed. They decided to eliminate me judicially, and for that they implemented ‘the judicial façade,’ using the lie as their favorite weapon. It’s clear, therefore, that the truth is the first victim of war.”
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Primitive anti-communism in Indonesia: Russian citizen detained for wearing a t-shirt with sickle and hammer
It seems that the spirit of the mass murderer, dictator of Indonesia between 1967 to 1998, Suharto, still lives on in the country- and so the anticommunist legislation in the country continues to exist. According to Sputnik International a russian citizen was confronted and briefly detained in Indonesia for wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a hammer and sickle!
The people turned out to be members of an organization that calls itself Children of the Red Beret Command (AKBM); the group tried to explain to Riabchuk that he was violating Indonesian law by wearing a communist symbol, but could not overcome the language barrier. Unable to communicate with Riabchuk, who can only speak Russian, not English or Indonesian, the locals took him to a police station by force, where he was detained. According to Riau Islands Police spokesman Saptono Erlangga, the police decided to detain Riabchuk “for his own safety.”
|Suharto, mass murderer and US-backed tyrant of Indonesia,
with President Richard Nixon.
Demoralized Democrats have a road map for success in Trump’s America. It was written by Jesse Jackson.
Jesse Jackson first ran for president during the national farm bust of the early 1980s. Debt for farmers had exploded from $85 billion in 1976 to $216 billion in 1983, with little relief in sight. As Jackson laid the groundwork for his 1984 campaign, the crisis had become so acute that he often found himself preaching his “populist Pentecostalism”—to borrow a phrase from biographer Marshall Frady—to large audiences of angry white farmers in the Midwest. It was an almost unbelievable circumstance for an unusual candidate who had to make unlikely alliances if he wanted national traction.
At a rally in 1984, some of those farmers arrived wearing paper bags over their heads, to obscure their faces. It wasn’t until later that Jackson learned they were trying to hide their identities from farm bureau officials. “I looked out there, all these guys in hoods. Sort of a little moment there,” Jackson recalled a few years later in a conversation with farmer and supporter Roger Allison, as recounted by Frady. “But our people have always had more in common than other folks supposed—right, doc? We’ve both felt locked out. Exploited and discarded. People saying about the family farmer exactly what they say about unemployed urban blacks, ‘Something’s wrong with them. If they worked hard like me, wouldn’t be in all that trouble.’ Fact, more you get into this thing, more you realize that black comes in many shades. We’ve found out we kin.”
In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise victory, demoralized Democrats have had a fierce intramural argument over how to move forward. Most call for a renewed focus on economic disadvantage. But some juxtapose this with a push against so-called “identity” politics. “In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing,” writes Mark Lilla of Columbia University for the New York Times. He urged a “post-identity liberalism” that would “appeal to Americans as Americans” with a press that would “educate itself about parts of the country that have been ignored.”
Lilla lauds Presidents Reagan and Clinton for their politics of shared identity and aspiration, which, if you’re attuned to the facts of those administrations, gives away the game. Reagan gutted federal civil rights enforcement, nominated judges hostile to the “rights revolution,” and elevated a conservative legal movement that, in the years since, has chipped away at the victories of the 1960s. Bill Clinton was an expert practitioner of identity politics, with a “shared vision” aimed at white Americans. As a candidate, he took steps to repudiate the black left. As president, he reinforced the trend toward mass incarceration and enshrined discrimination against LGBT Americans within federal law. To describe either Reagan or Clinton as exemplars of a “post-identity” politics is to submerge whiteness, maleness, and Christian belief as identities.
The fact of the matter is that Americans have never lived lives separated from the material facts of their identities. Jesse Jackson knew this. A liberalism that doesn’t, for example, engage with the specific problems of black workers or undocumented immigrants is one that can’t engage with “Americans as Americans,” if American is a stand-in for the citizens and residents who exist and not a euphemism for a certain kind of imagined American of decades past.
To be clear, what Sanders isn’t doing is dismissing concerns of identity and representation. He clearly sees that they are important. At the same time, he wants to make a distinction between compromising on racist or sexist or homophobic policy and compromising with a racist or sexist political movement. That distinction doesn’t exist in practice. Bipartisan legislative victories bolster Trump and his administration, giving legitimacy to a movement centered on white grievance and white anger. Working with Trump to raise the minimum wage, for example, invariably strengthens a politics that casts Hispanic immigrants as a threat to national prosperity or paints Muslim Americans as a threat to national safety. Building new infrastructure doesn’t change Trump’s commitment to draconian policing. For black workers, then, the gains that come with new jobs are undermined if not vaporized by a larger agenda that endangers and disadvantages. A working-class politics that leaves black and brown workers vulnerable to white nationalism isn’t a working-class politics. It’s a white politics for white workers and counterproductive to broad advancement.
Because Sanders puts those questions of identity in a silo, he misses this relationship and risks being co-opted by Trump. At minimum he is pushing an incomplete populism that doesn’t grasp how the experience of class is inextricably bound up with identity.
In our conversations around inequality and poverty, we often miss a crucial fact: Not all inequality is created equal. On average, inequality and poverty among black Americans (as well as native groups and undocumented Americans) is of a different scale and magnitude than inequality and poverty among white Americans.
When white workers attain higher wages and greater economic status, they can translate this to better neighborhoods and stronger schools. When black workers attain the same, they can’t, at least not to the same degree. Middle-class status, insofar that black workers can reach it, is less stable and more tenuous for them than for their white counterparts. “Even if a white and black child are raised by parents who have similar jobs, similar levels of education, and similar aspirations for their children,” writes sociologist Patrick Sharkey in his book Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress Toward Racial Equality, “the rigid segregation of urban neighborhoods means that the black child will be raised in a residential environment with higher poverty, fewer resources, poorer schools, and more violence than that of the white child.” Opportunity itself is redlined.
Black and white workers face the same kinds of economic disadvantage: deindustrialization, an eroding safety net, weak wage growth, and poor investment in needed infrastructure. But black workers (and other nonwhite workers) face additional challenges that move their disadvantage from a difference of degree to a difference of kind: residential segregation, discrimination in jobs and housing, and discrimination by lenders and banks, which in turn contribute to unfair and draconian policing, poor and unequal schools, and heightened exposure to impurities in air and water. They need specific and universal solutions. They need a politics that addresses all material disadvantage, whether rooted in class or caste.
* * *
In his 1988 speech to the Democratic National Convention, the “Keep Hope Alive” speech, Jackson provided a model for a Democratic politics that balances all of these concerns—that takes identity and class seriously, that understands their relationship and interplay, that appeals to common identities and forges responsive solutions. “Politics can be a moral arena where people come together to find common ground,” Jackson said, before moving on to an extended and illustrative metaphor.
When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, and grandmamma could not afford a blanket, she didn’t complain, and we did not freeze. Instead she took pieces of old cloth—patches, wool, silk, gabardine, crockersack—only patches, barely good enough to wipe off your shoes with. But they didn’t stay that way very long. With sturdy hands and a strong cord, she sewed them together into a quilt, a thing of beauty and power and culture. Now, Democrats, we must build such a quilt.
Farmers, you seek fair prices, and you are right—but you cannot stand alone. Your patch is not big enough. Workers, you fight for fair wages, you are right—but your patch labor is not big enough.
Women, you seek comparable worth and pay equity, you are right—but your patch is not big enough. Women, mothers, who seek Head Start, and day care and prenatal care on the front side of life, relevant jail care and welfare on the back side of life, you are right—but your patch is not big enough.
Students, you seek scholarships, you are right—but your patch is not big enough. Blacks and Hispanics, when we fight for civil rights, we are right—but our patch is not big enough. Gays and lesbians, when you fight against discrimination and a cure for AIDS, you are right—but your patch is not big enough.
That vision grows out of Jackson’s biography. A veteran of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who worked on the Poor People’s Campaign in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. A political organizer who worked to register voters and pressure politicians in both parties. An activist whose fights cut across class and race. Jackson gave a clear picture of his view in 1983, when he announced his first campaign for president, rooting his vision in the experience of black America but expanding it to include all marginalized groups.
This candidacy is not for blacks only. This is a national campaign growing out of the black experience and seen through the eyes of a black perspective—which is the experience and perspective of the rejected. Because of this experience, I can empathize with the plight of Appalachia because I have known poverty. I know the pain of anti-Semitism because I have felt the humiliation of discrimination. I know firsthand the shame of bread lines and the horror of hopelessness and despair.
For Jackson, a politics that cured inner cities and dismantled overcrowded ghettos was also one that rescued abandoned factories and deserted farms. It was a politics that, because of its focus on one of America’s most maligned groups, radiated outward to everyone who has struggled for dignity and recognition. Under Sanders’ rubric, identity and representation are separate from the question of a broad-based politics. “Yes, we need more candidates of diversity, but we also need candidates — no matter what race or gender — to be fighters for the working class and stand up to the corporate powers who have so much power over our economic lives,” he writes in a recent post for Medium. In Jackson’s vision, by contrast, identity and representation are critical. They ground a broad appeal that is attentive to lived experience, that stresses common threads without losing sight of the challenges facing each group, that sees diversity as integral to making progress on all struggles. This is a broad and inclusive liberalism—common vision from common struggle.
It’s not enough to offer free college or a higher minimum wage. A higher minimum wage still leaves us with high structural unemployment in black communities. Free college still leaves us with vast inequality in public education. If inequality is shaped by place, gender, and race—which is to say, if it is shaped by identity—then any effective approach has to address those constraints in particular. But this doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice universalism. It means we have to tailor universal programs to those particular constraints.
This brings us back to the difference between black and white poverty. People of all races face a sluggish economy and long-term unemployment, but this is especially acute for black Americans, and young black men in particular. They are separated from the labor market, a fact that reinforces a host of social ills, from racial inequality to incarceration to the production of racial stigma (people begin to associate being black and male with being unemployed). And that separation is worsened by a matrix of segregation and discrimination. For economists William Darity and Darrick Hamilton, fixing the particular problems of young black workers is a way of ameliorating similar problems for the whole. And to that end, they have proposed a federal guarantee for jobs. “Each job offered under a federal employment assurance would be at a wage rate above the poverty threshold, and would include benefits like health insurance,” Darity writes for the New York Times. “The program would be great for the country: It could meet a wide range of the nation’s physical and human infrastructure needs, ranging from the building and maintenance of roads, bridges and highways, to school upkeep and the provision of quality child care services.”
Critically, a federal job guarantee is both universal—it benefits all Americans—and specifically ameliorative to entrenched racial inequality.
For something less expansive but still universal and attuned to particular disadvantage, there’s the “10–20–30” amendment proposed by Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Clyburn, who represents a majority-black district with rural and urban pockets of concentrated poverty, has a plan for addressing those conditions using existing resources. Under his amendment, at least 10 percent of federal investment would go to communities where at least 20 percent of people have lived at or below the poverty line for at least 30 years. Again, it’s a universal program, targeted at conditions specific to particular groups. The program, as Clyburn’s office notes, would include “Appalachian communities in Kentucky and North Carolina, Native American communities in South Dakota and Alaska, Latino communities in Arizona and New Mexico and African American communities in Mississippi and South Carolina.”
As it stands, the debate among Democrats is torn between a moderate approach that disdains all “identity politics” (except those for white Americans) and one that hasn’t absorbed the deep ties among race, gender, place, and class. Both may win over some Trump voters, but one would do so at the cost of accommodating Trump’s white nationalism and the other at the risk of being blinded by its patina of populism. At the same time, there are thinkers who want to deny the reality and force of Trump’s white nationalism, full stop. This is despite the fact that Trump intuitively sees the interplay between economic interest and identity, pandering to white workers as whites and workers, who want racial hierarchy and economic revival, who see the weakening of the former as a threat to the latter, who exist in a society where economic advantage often follows the isolation and segregation of nonwhites.
But the history of the Democratic Party contains a model for moving forward, with an approach, honed by Jesse Jackson, that bridges the divide. And thinkers in the political and policy world have crafted solutions that reflect this approach. It respects the reality of the modern Democratic Party: a formation that represents—and depends on—the votes of women, young people, and people of color.
Mainstream Democrats have set their sights on white voters. But the path forward—the way to win them and energize those voters of color who didn’t come to the polls in 2016—might lie in the insights of black voters and black communities and a larger appreciation of how and why identity matters, in a politics of we kin, blackness in many shades. Against a political movement that defines America in exclusionary and racial terms—as a white country for white people—a renewed Rainbow Coalition is the only defense worth making.
Source: A socialist in Canada – Writings by Roger Annis
By Chris Hedges, published in his weekly column on Truthdig, Dec 4, 2016
Systems of governance that are seized by a tiny cabal become mafia states. The early years—Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in the United States—are marked by promises that the pillage will benefit everyone. The later years—George W. Bush and Barack Obama—are marked by declarations that things are getting better even though they are getting worse. The final years—Donald Trump—see the lunatic trolls, hedge fund parasites, con artists, conspiracy theorists and criminals drop all pretense and carry out an orgy of looting and corruption.
The rich never have enough. The more they get, the more they want. It is a disease. CEOs demand and receive pay that is 200 times what their workers earn. And even when corporate executives commit massive fraud, such as the billing of hundreds of thousands of Wells Fargo customers for accounts they never opened, they elude punishment and personally profit. Disgraced CEO John Stumpf left Wells Fargo with a pay package that averages nearly $15 million a year. Richard Fuld received nearly half a billion dollars from 1993 to 2007, a time in which he was bankrupting Lehman Brothers.
The list of financial titans, including Trump, who have profited from a rigged financial system and fraud is endless. Many in the 1 percent make money by using lobbyists and bought politicians to write self-serving laws and rules and by forming unassailable monopolies. They push up prices on products or services these monopolies provide. Or they lend money to the 99 percent and charge exorbitant interest. Or they use their control of government and the courts to ship jobs to Mexico or China, where wages can be as low as 22 cents an hour, and leave American workers destitute. Neoliberalism is state-sponsored extortion. It is a vast, nationally orchestrated Ponzi scheme.
This fevered speculation and mounting inequality, made possible by the two ruling political parties, corroded and destroyed the mechanisms and institutions that permitted democratic participation and provided some protection for workers. Politicians, from Reagan on, were handsomely rewarded by their funders for delivering their credulous supporters to the corporate guillotine. The corporate coup created a mafia capitalism. This mafia capitalism, as economists such as Karl Polanyi and Joseph Stiglitz warned, gave birth to a mafia political system. Financial and political power in the hands of institutions such as Goldman Sachs and the Clinton Foundation becomes solely about personal gain. The Obamas in a few weeks will begin to give us a transparent lesson into how service to the corporate state translates into personal enrichment.
Adam Smith wrote that profits are often highest in nations on the verge of economic collapse. These profits are obtained, he wrote, by massively indebting the economy. A rentier class, composed of managers at hedge funds, banks, financial firms and other companies, makes money not by manufacturing products but from the control of economic rents. To increase profits, lenders, credit card companies and others charge higher and higher interest rates. Or they use their monopolies to gouge the public. The pharmaceutical company Mylan, in a classic example, raised the price of an epinephrine auto-injector used to treat allergy reactions from $57 in 2007 to about $500.
These profits are counted as economic growth. But this is a fiction, a sleight of hand, like unemployment statistics or the consumer price index, used to mask the speculative shell game.
“The head of Goldman Sachs came out and said that Goldman Sachs workers are the most productive in the world,” the economist Michael Hudson told me. “That’s why they’re paid what they are. The concept of productivity in America is income divided by labor. So if you’re Goldman Sachs and you pay yourself $20 million a year in salary and bonuses, you’re considered to have added $20 million to GDP, and that’s enormously productive.”
“We’re talking with tautology,” said Hudson, the author of “Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.” “We’re talking with circular reasoning here. So the issue is whether Goldman Sachs, Wall Street and predatory pharmaceutical firms actually add product or whether they’re just exploiting other people. That’s why I used the word ‘parasites’ in my book’s title. People think of a parasite as simply taking money, taking blood out of a host or taking money out of the economy. But in nature it’s much more complicated. The parasite can’t simply come in and take something. First of all, it needs to numb the host. It has an enzyme so that the host doesn’t realize the parasite’s there. And then the parasites have another enzyme that takes over the host’s brain. It makes the host imagine that the parasite is part of its own body, actually part of itself and hence to be protected. That’s basically what Wall Street has done. It depicts itself as part of the economy. Not as a wrapping around it, not as external to it, but actually the part that’s helping the body grow, and that actually is responsible for most of the growth. But in fact it’s the parasite that is taking over the growth.”
“The result is an inversion of classical economics,” Hudson said. “It turns Adam Smith upside down. It says what the classical economists said was unproductive parasitism actually is the real economy. And that the parasites are labor and industry that get in the way of what the parasite wants, which is to reproduce itself, not help the host, that is, labor and capital.”
The established elites dislike Trump because he is gauche, vulgar and boorish. He is not part of the refined group of mandarins trained to become plutocrats in Ivy League universities and business schools. He never mastered the cloying patina of refinement and carefully calibrated rhetoric of our courtier class.
Trump and his coterie of half-wits, criminals, racists and deviants play the role of the Snopes clan in William Faulkner’s novels “The Hamlet,” “The Town” and “The Mansion.” The Snopeses rose up out of the power vacuum of the decayed South and ruthlessly seized control from the degenerated aristocratic elites. Flem Snopes and his extended family—which includes a killer, a pedophile, a bigamist, an arsonist, a mentally disabled man who copulates with a cow, and a relative who sells tickets to witness the bestiality—are fictional representations of the scum we have elevated to the highest level of the federal government. They embody the ethos of modern capitalism Faulkner warned us against.
“The usual reference to ‘amorality,’ while accurate, is not sufficiently distinctive and by itself does not allow us to place them, as they should be placed, in a historical moment,” the critic Irving Howe wrote of the Snopeses. “Perhaps the most important thing to be said is that they are what comes afterwards: the creatures that emerge from the devastation, with the slime still upon their lips.”
“Let a world collapse, in the South or Russia, and there appear figures of coarse ambition driving their way up from beneath the social bottom, men to whom moral claims are not so much absurd as incomprehensible, sons of bushwhackers or muzhiks drifting in from nowhere and taking over through the sheer outrageousness of their monolithic force,” Howe wrote. “They become presidents of local banks and chairmen of party regional committees, and later, a trifle slicked up, they muscle their way into Congress or the Politburo. Scavengers without inhibition, they need not believe in the crumbling official code of their society; they need only learn to mimic its sounds.”
The Snopes-like mentality of our president-elect is portrayed in a documentary movie, “The Queen of Versailles,” about another sleazy developer. The film, by Lauren Greenfield, chronicles the tawdry and insatiable greed of David Siegel and his ditzy trophy wife, Jackie, who is three decades younger, and their quest to build one of the largest private residences in the United States, a 90,000-square-foot mansion modeled after Versailles. Siegel and his wife, who once dated Trump, are fervent Trump supporters. Siegel, like Trump, is a barely literate philistine. He, like the president-elect, sponsored beauty pageants, was accused of sexual assault, made his money through high-pressure sales tactics and had access to hundreds of millions in bank loans. And he, like Trump, uses bankruptcy or the threat of bankruptcy to protect his wealth. And like our next president he has a volatile and vicious temper.
“The great Roman historians Livy and Plutarch blamed the decline of the Roman Empire on the creditor class being predatory, and the latifundia,” Hudson said. “The creditors took all the money, and would just buy more and more land, displacing the other people. The result in Rome was a dark age, and that can last a very long time. The dark age is what happens when the rentiers take over.”
“If you look back in the 1930s, Leon Trotsky said that fascism was the inability of the socialist parties to come forth with an alternative,” Hudson said. “If the socialist parties and media don’t come forth with an alternative to this neo-feudalism, you’re going to have a rollback to feudalism. But instead of the military taking over the land, as occurred with the Norman Conquest, you take over the land financially. Finance has become the new mode of warfare.”
“You can achieve the takeover of land and the takeover of companies by corporate raids,” he said. “The Wall Street vocabulary is one of conquest and wiping out. You’re having a replay in the financial sphere of what feudalism was in the military sphere.”
What comes next, history has shown, will not be pleasant. A cruel and morally bankrupt elite, backed by the organs of state security and law enforcement, will, as the Eupatridae did in sixth-century-B.C. Athens, bankrupt the citizenry through state-sponsored theft, war, austerity and debt peonage. They will reduce workers to the status of serfs or slaves. The most benign dissent will be criminalized and crushed. America’s Snopes-like elites have no external or internal constraints. They are barbarians. We will remove them from power or enter a new dark age.
Chris Hedges is a U.S. writer, author and RT.com host. His many books include ‘Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt’ (2015); ‘Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt’ (2012); and ‘The Death of the Liberal Class’ (2010). He is the host of the weekly program on RT.com, ‘On Contact’. The latest episode of ‘On Contact’ aired on December 4, 2016: Looking back at the 1971 Attica prison uprising and the ‘poisoning’ of the U.S. penal system, with guest Heather Ann Thompson, author of the newly published ‘Blood In The Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy’.
On Wednesday, November 16, Sheketha Holman, a 36-year-old woman who has used a wheelchair for the past two years due to a lower back injury, arrived at the scene of her daughter’s arrest at a gas station in Harris County, Texas. Holman immediately began recording deputies involved in the arrest, verbally engaging with the deputies present. The events were also recorded by surveillance video, which was obtained by KTRK.
At one point, a deputy grabbed Holman’s smartphone and threw it in the car in which she arrived. She then resisted deputies’ attempts to corral her hands. A deputy eventually used a Taser on her. The Taser’s shock sent her out of her wheelchair and to the ground, where she was later shocked again after she was handcuffed.
She told KTRK that the officer “was like, ‘Oh, she don’t want to follow directions, she’s resisting, I’m gonna Taser you!’” She was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, and was held at the Harris County Jail for three days.
“It’s bad what happened to me and whatever, but I feel like once the word is out, then they won’t be so quick to attack people like that,” Holman told KTRK.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office told KTRK that it has opened a department internal affairs investigation into the matter.
“When the investigation is complete, if any policies and procedures were violated, then disciplinary actions will be implemented, which may be suspension and/or termination,” said senior deputy Thomas Gilliland, according to KTRK.
Holman is calling for the officers responsible for her treatment to be punished for their actions.
“I feel like [the officers] used the law to abuse a disabled person who can’t fight back,” she said. “I think they should be punished.”
In May, a lawsuit was filed alleging that the Harris County Jail, formerly under investigation by the US Department of Justice for its treatment of inmates, ran a detainment system that jails people too poor to pay bail.
From 2009 to 2015, 55 people held in the Harris County Jail, the third-largest jail system in the US, who could not pay bail have died while waiting for trial, according to the Houston Chronicle.