“Until imperialism is defeated in the region”: The Kurds and the Syrian Arab Republic

Overlay of oil/gas pipelines with Rojava territory. I created this for one of the articles on Rojava I wrote, posting it on Imgur. I am sharing here since I feel it is relevant to this topic. As I said in my article, this map overlay “shows that oil and natural gas pipelines snake through it [Rojava], including one north from Aleppo, and others going through the heart of the territory in Northeast Syria where there is also a concentration of oil and gas fields.”
Recently, I read an article in Worker’s World by an author called Damien or “D. Angelpoulos,” a man who may be a student at a Michigan University. For reasons not yet known, it was deleted (also see here). Regardless, I feel it is only a fair to address his article after writing a two-part series on Dissident Voice about Rojava. The first part, titled “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava” focused on the broad contours of the supposed “state” while the second one, titled the “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics” focused on how this entity is illegal and had illegitimate sovereignty under existing law. Each of those pieces will be quoted and summarized below.

Responding to Mr. Angelpoulos’s article

Mr. Angelpoulos has a very different, while informed, perspective than yours truly. He writes that..

For the past six years, the United States, Israel, NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have waged an unrelenting proxy war against the sovereign, secular state of Syria. The U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, called “moderate rebels” in the corporate-owned media, fights openly alongside forces backed by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These forces, really mercenaries or contras, which include the Islamic State, Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaida in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and others, are largely constituted of foreign fighters.

While this is undoubtedly true, it is more than just the Free Syrian Army or FSA. As I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics,” herein called “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” there is a new “rebel” group in town: the Free Idlib Army or the FIA, a part of the FSA:

…the Free Idlib Army (FIA), [is] a division of the FSA which would theoretically fight “jihadist groups and pro-government forces in [the] northwestern Idlib province” even as it faces likely targeting from such “al-Qaida-linked factions,” even though it has coordinated with them before. The FIA entity, consisting of 30,000 to 35,000 people, is undoubtedly, as one analyst put it, “100 percent an American project,” with weaponry, financial aid, and more, funneled through Müşterek Operasyon Merkezi (MOM), an operations center based in Turkey, operated by the CIA with the supervision of the Turks.

I do not know why Mr. Angelpoulos did not mention this in his article. He almost seems to play the clickbait tab, saying that the “anti-imperialist left” of which he does not define is missing out on “one front in this proxy war” omitting it from their analyses of the situation:

Since last August [2016], the U.S. has been engaged in Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, claiming this is an attempt to “liberate” Raqqa, the proclaimed capital of the Islamic State…The U.S. has aided the Turkish-led operation in an alliance with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

For one, this is confusing way of wording it, since Operation Euphrates Shield is actually a name for the Turkish military invasion of the sovereign Syrian state, not a US-led operation. However, articles from the “Turkish military intervention in Syria” Wikipedia page, only a good starting point on this subject, not a good source in general, indicate that the US has provided air support for Turkish military operations (and in general), but seemed to halt such support in November of last year. Furthermore, there are reports that the operation has “ended” which he also doesn’t say.

The SDF’s largest fighting force is the YPG…The YPG is allied with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and both are allied with the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long fight for self-determination of the Kurdish region inside Turkish boundaries against the brutally oppressive Turkish state.

This is partially deceptive. Although I admit that I do not know everything about this conflict, I think it is worth pointing out that while the PKK has been involved in a decades-long fight within Turkish in which they have been brutally attacked by the Turkish state, they dropped their demand for an independent Kurdistan when Abdullah Öcalan, the “Wizard-of-Oz” of Rojava, was arrested. Furthermore, lest us forget, as I noted in “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava,” called “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” in the rest of this article, the YPG and SDF were helped by US airpower in their efforts to seize control of about 26,000 sq km of Syria, including a 250 mile “stretch of territory along the Turkish border,” which basically constitutes Rojava.

In a sign of the contradictions inherent in U.S. imperialist policy toward Syria, on April 25 Turkish planes attacked units of the YPG in northern Syria, killing as many as 70 fighters. While U.S. diplomats said they raised concerns with NATO-ally Turkey regarding this strike, nothing concrete was done to stop future Turkish attacks against Kurdish fighters. (Reuters, April 25) This is one example in Washington’s long history of apparently backing one oppressed people and then turning on them.

You could call this an imperialist contradiction. However, but I would also say it fits with the imperial divide-and-rule tactics to break up the Syrian Arab Republic and nearby “hostile” states so they can ruled effectively to benefit Western capitalists. So, in many senses it isn’t as much as a contradiction as you might think, since the Turks AND and these Kurdish fighters are assisting Western imperialist objectives.

Many progressive people see the YPG, which is mostly made up of Kurdish fighters but includes other ethnic minorities as well as Western “foreign volunteers,” as representing the just struggle for Kurdish national liberation. Organized along democratic principles without a vertical chain of command, the forces of the YPG and their movement in northern Syria claim to model their “non-state” on anarchist, eco-socialist principles. The YPJ, the Women’s Protection Units, provide an active leadership role for women in their struggle.

I think that “progressive people” who see the YPG as representing a “just struggle for Kurdish liberation” and as organized “along democratic principles” is typical of the Western and some across the international left. However, as I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” the “state” itself is ILLEGAL. Not only does its creation clearly violate the Syrian Constitution, tearing at the national fabric of unity, but it violates the UN Charter. Hence, it is an illegal entity with illegitimate sovereignty. As I said throughout my series on this topic, Rojava would not exist if it was not for intervention of Western capitalist powers.

The Kurds are a historically oppressed nation of 30 million to 35 million people. They are the world’s largest nation without a state. Most live in the contiguous, underdeveloped, mountainous region spanning four countries and speak their own language. About 14.5 million to 16 million Kurds live in Turkey, 6 million in Iran and 5 million to 6 million in Iraq. The 1.5 million to 2 million Kurds in Syria are the smallest grouping of this nation.

The estimates of how many Kurds there are worldwide vary. The Kurdish Project, a rabidly pro-Kurd website, claims there are 30 million within the ethnic community whereas the Encyclopedia Britannica says it could be as low as 25 million and Cultural Survival says it is 18 million. So, for him to say that they are the world’s largest group of people who is stateless seems questionable if best. This puts his other claims of population figures into question. As I noted in “A Liberated Area in the Middle East,” some have said that there are 4.6 million people within the illegal entity of Rojava. I am aware that the UN Charter talks about self-determination and that the principle, as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is that all peoples “have the right of self-determination” and the ability to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Some would say that Rojava falls under their requirements, which could be interpreted in an anti-imperialist manner. However, I would argue that just because people have that right, which the good “Kurds” have shown they have exercised, does NOT mean they have to use that right. In this case, the right should be waived and not enforced as that would mean, ultimately, victory for the sneering imperialists. Furthermore, it is worth noting that “self-determination is limited by conditions on territorial integrity” as an anti-Soviet bourgeois scholar even admitted (also see here).

Mr. Angelpoulos goes on to say that

During the Kurdish people’s fight for liberation from Turkey, Washington has supplied arms, logistical and satellite assistance, and political support for the Turkish ruling classes against the PKK, which the U.S. labels as “terrorist.” Yet in Syria, Washington has a cynical, opportunistic alliance with the YPG, using those forces to accomplish its aims of destroying the Syrian state. At times, the Syrian Democratic Forces/YPG have coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against IS and other mercenary armies. However, SDF/YPG now operate in coordination with the U.S. military. Despite the SDF/YPG’s progressive principles and organizational structure, the Pentagon’s aim is to have it function as an effective proxy for the U.S. geopolitical goal of dismantling the Syrian state.

There is no doubt that the US has allied with the Turks to suppress the Kurds in the past. I think he is right that the YPG, along with other “good” (by Western standards) Kurds, unlike the “bad” (by Western standards) pro-Syrian government Kurds, as I note in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” is serving as an US proxy force. However, I think he is giving the SDF and YPG too much credit.

It is not obvious what aggression the U.S. plans next for Syria after its deadly April 6 strike on the Sharyat airfield and the May 18 bombing of a Syrian government convoy. If Washington significantly steps up direct U.S. intervention, it will expect cooperation from the SDF in providing ground forces. The Pentagon has already been able to build two air bases in northeastern Syria in the past few months.

It is a good point that U.S. plans for Syria after the April 6 act of aggression and imperial show of force, are not clear. However, as I see it, that attack was a turning point. It meant that US foreign policy was basically being handed over to the Pentagon carte blanche, without restriction. Instead of colluding with the imperialists like Obama, Trump seems to be willing to let them do whatever they want.

Since last year, the U.S. has been sending special forces troops to northern Syria. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stated since the U.S. sent several hundred more ground troops to Syria in the beginning of March, “All foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation … are invaders.” Assad, who is constantly demonized in the U.S. corporate media, is the democratically elected leader of the people of Syria.

On this count, Mr. Angelpoulos is right. As I said in the opening of “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” currently over 17.1 million living in the socially democratic and secular  Syrian Arab Republic which is “ravaged by overt and covert imperialist machinations” the government led by the duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council, the Syria’s parliament, reaffirmed in April 2016 elections by the Syrian people. It is recently that Trump dealt such Syrians “a blow” by directly supporting the “good” Kurds.

The YPG has been bolstered not only by U.S. special forces but also by foreign volunteers including people from the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries. Among them is Brace Belden, who had a Rolling Stone magazine centerfold feature on his role and inspired an upcoming Hollywood film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the “punk florist-turned-revolutionary.” Another volunteer is Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli woman and former soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, and the first foreign volunteer in the Women’s Protection Units. These individuals violate Syrian sovereignty and package the  U.S. invasion of Syria as a progressive, “socialist” struggle against Islamic state fascism.

This is undoubtedly true. In “A Liberated Area of the Middle East” I noted how that fact that the YPG were US proxy forces dismayed “two deluded Marxists who thought they were fighting for an “egalitarian utopia”.” If you were going to fight at all in Syria, why not fight on behalf of the Syrian state. To fight on behalf of the YPG and the “good” Kurds is a violent act aimed at the Syrian proletariat and makes those that engage in such acts clear and blatant class traitors. There is no question about this. Such people undoubtedly violate Syrian sovereignty as well, there is no question.

The Rand Corporation think tank has drawn up various “peace plans” throughout the war, detailing the U.S. and its allies’ latest plans for the partition of Syria. The most recent, dated this year, projects large swathes of Kurdish-administered territory extending about halfway to Raqqa in the south and almost to Manbij in the west, as well as a corner encompassing Azaz in northwestern Syria. Buffering these zones are “proposed international administration” zones, code words for NATO occupation and Turkish-controlled areas. Notably, these “Kurdish zones” in northeastern Syria encompass much of the country’s greatest natural wealth, including its largest oil reserves.

I would not be surprised by the fact that Rand would engage in such politicking and call for the break-up of the country. After some searching, I found the report (I think) referenced here, and is one of RAND’s “scenarios” on what could happen:

In Syria, a peace process has resulted in recognized “zones of control” divided among the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the regime, and the opposition…After the zones are announced, a wave of internal displacement further consolidates Kurdish populations in the PYD zone of control; minorities including ‘Alawis, Christians, and Druze in the regime zone of control; and Sunni Arabs in the opposition zone of control. Mixed towns and border areas where the zones abut are the sites of particular ethnosectarian bloodletting. Even in microstates too small to partition, Sunni and Shi‘a self-segregate by neighborhood, with Manama and Kuwait City, particularly, divided between heavily Sunni and heavily Shi‘a neighborhoods…On the one hand, less interaction between sects decreases the daily incidence of conflict. On the other hand, the segregation of communities deepens prejudices, foreshadowing a brewing conflict

Hence, this does not seem to be what they are advocating, but it is a proposal they have under advisement to say the least. Another report actually seems to advocate intervention in the region, showing that the “good” Kurds can (and should stay) allies for the murderous empire:

…Located almost entirely in the north of the country, Syrian Kurds have a longstanding history of opposition to the Assad regime…Syrian Kurds are pressing forward against IS with U.S. military support, and their surging confidence led them to claim an independent state in the northwest…the most effective Kurdish forces engaged with IS…[are more] effective at offensive operations and, ostensibly, more useful for postconflict stability…the extreme violence of the Syrian war has made reconciliation with al-Assad all but impossible…this option seeks to protect Sunni, Kurdish, and other non-Alawi Syrians; create safe spaces for the return of refugees; and establish alternative governance in non-Alawi areas. Military force, including ground forces, may be used to expel GoS military forces from southern Syria and to expel IS from urban area. All military activities will focus on the reduction of the IS threat and the creation of safe zones for Syrian civilians. In the medium term, the United States and the coalition will invest in repatriation and reconstruction activities within these safe zones, focusing on the eventual development of legitimate local and regional governance. These efforts will be leverage to press Russia to negotiate and help remove Bashar al-Assad from power, while retaining Russian and many Iranian equities in Syria…To defeat IS and prevent its return, the United States will have to help mitigate or resolve all the major issues currently destabilizing Iraq. This means that the United States will have to remain heavily engaged in Iraq for many years, perhaps decades, just as it has remained engaged in Korea after the mid-20th century Korean War and in Kosovo more than two decades after U.S.-led coalition intervention there…this plan would…[include] a national program to recognize the bravery of Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurdish militia fighters… the incorporation of Kurdish paramilitary units into the ISF [Iraqi Security Force]…As Iraq stabilizes, it will become far more attractive to regional states as a safe investment for both private and capital wealth funds…the United States could ignore the civil war and focus on the tactical defeat of IS, leveraging Kurdish; Arab; and, if necessary, American and coalition military forces to expel the group from Raqqa and render it incapable of international terror attacks…All efforts should be made to keep the Kurds within a legitimate Syrian state, at least until Syria is fully stabilized…Ideally, Turkey will be a signatory to the Syria agreement and will accept the incorporation of YPG and other groups into the Syrian armed services in exchange for reduced Kurdish independence in the north

Not only does this raise the idea of creating zones for certain ethnicities so they can be easily controlled by the West within Syria, but it would mean, if implemented, a stronger military presence in Iraq (and in Syria undoubtedly), accompanying the overthrow of the duly elected Syrian government with the installation of a “friendly” government. Then after all of that, the US would use the Kurds as imperialist enforcers! Additionally, as a result, the US could easily accept the creation of a Kurdish state by this logic, as the above quote makes clear. This is a terrifying prospect because such a state and these machinations would lead to more chaos and destruction in the Mideast.

If the U.S. aids the SDF to annex northeastern Syria, this will not lead to any meaningful form of Kurdish independence. Rather, it will mean the Kurdish forces will be subordinate to and will collaborate with the U.S., much as the Kurdish regime does inside Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. will destroy what remains of Syria and purge any progressive forces in the Kurdish movement.

While I could see this as a possibility, based on the RAND report quoted above, a Kurdish state could be created, but it would be subservient to US imperialism. If what he says occurred, there is no doubt that Syria would be destroyed and any progressives in the Kurdish movement could be purged, although the latter may not matter as long as such progressives are willing to bow to their new masters in Washington. More worrying is the fact that Trump seems to be taking DIRECTLY out of the RAND playbook by sending arms and equipment to the “good” Syrians:

Washington has found an effective partner in the mixed Kurdish and Sunni Arab Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), which is dominated by a Syrian Kurdish faction closely linked to a violent separatist movement in Turkey in conflict with the Turkish state. This force has isolated Raqqa and is poised for an assault on the city, but lacks the weaponry that may be necessary for success. Turkey is strongly opposed to any further extension of Kurdish control within Syria and equally opposed to any American effort to arm the SDF. Washington must therefore choose whether to ignore Turkish objections and arm the SDF, seek direct Turkish army participation in the assault as a substitute, or add some American units to the assault force. Waiting for the Turkish army and its Syrian allies to arrive will require postponing the operation several months, with an uncertain end result. Arming the Kurdish‑dominated SDF and introducing additional American forces into Syria,beyond the special operations troops already there, may be the fastest and surest way of retaking Raqqa and other Islamic State territory…Employing Kurdish led forces to liberate Raqqa requires the United States to convincingly assure Turkey that Kurds will not occupy this region once it has been cleared of the Islamic State. This will in turn require some clear understanding between Washington and the Syrian Kurdish authorities. It also requires the availability of some alternative hold force. Once Raqqa and the surrounding region have been cleared, the United States will need to help that hold force resist attacks from residual Islamic State fighters, other violent extremist groups, and the regime…We suggest Washington should offer to place Raqqa, once liberated, under some form of international administration

Once again, these Kurds would be serving Western imperialism, and Raqqa would be in the hand of gleeful imperialists. There is no doubt about that.

At this point, Washington sees the claims to a separate Kurdish region based out of northern Syria as fitting its goal of dividing Syria. With the Syrian state under siege, the attempt to create a Kurdish “autonomous” zone under U.S. guidance is in direct contradiction to the preservation of Syrian sovereignty in defense against imperialism. The U.S. has made this abundantly clear, saying that it plans to station its forces in Syria even once IS has been eliminated.

He is right about that. Creating a Kurdish region that is “autonomous” would clearly violate Syrian sovereignty. But it also would serve the interests of imperialist destruction. Hence, it could be a precursor to further US presence in the county.

Moreover, all of these events obscure the fact that the Syrian government and Kurdish groups have negotiated greater autonomy for the latter on their own terms before. If there is to be any change in the relationship between the Syrian state and its Kurdish inhabitants, it is clear that this change cannot be imposed by the imperialist powers. The U.S., NATO and their allies should have no say in this history.

In this case, I think he is exaggerating the relations between the “good” Kurds and Syrian government. Such relations seem to include possibly partial recognition, but also have been in question since the Syrian government may see such groups as imperial proxies. They likely prefer the “bad” Kurds better, those groups that want to work with the Syrian government, not against it. I definitely agree with the sentiment that there should be non-interference in Syria, which means no meddling by the US imperialists.

The imperialists in the U.S. and elsewhere have planned a grim end for Syria: the destruction of the sovereign secular state in favor of Balkanized ethnic enclaves in the manner of Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia and any other state that has defied destruction and imperialist plundering since the fall of the Soviet Union. This includes the current aggression against Syria, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I understand his viewpoint here, but I would not say that Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia are Balkanized ethnic enclaves. In fact, the US imperialists failed in that endeavor in Iraq, and likely in Libya which is in the midst of the bloody civil war, from what I can tell. However, it is true that this measure did happen in Yugoslavia, a place where the most of the inhabitants of this former system of federalism “seem willing to share their societies with ethnic and religious groups different from their own” with a few exceptions. Hence, in that case, US imperialism did not succeed either. But, undoubtedly this idea is carried over to Venezuela (which Trump wants to “fix,” whatever that means) and the DPRK as well, which is troubling and should be stopped at all costs.

There can be no genuine liberation for any peoples — Arab, Kurdish or otherwise — until imperialism is defeated in the region and the right of self-determination is fully realized and respected. Anti-war and other activists in the U.S. and NATO states must stand in full solidarity with the right of all nations to develop their collective livelihood, culture and economy without interference from imperialists. Hands off Syria! All mercenaries out of Syria! Uphold self-determination!

Again, he is correct. Defeating imperialism in the Middle East is needed for genuine liberation of any people to occur. As I noted in a footnote of “The Illegal Entity of Rojava,” if circumstances were different, with the “good” Kurds asking “for direct support from Russia, China, and the Syrian government, instead going directly to grinning Western imperialists, then I would be inclined to engage in international solidarity with them.” I still stand by that claim. I would add Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Zimbabwe (which is facing its threats of violence against the elected government coming from the US-backed opposition) to the list of nations under attack as well, along with others that could easily be added to the list.

Further comments on the “notion of American empire” (a.k.a. the murderous empire)

“The action of U.S. warplanes bombing a Syrian government military convoy near the town of al-Tanf on May 18 marks a sharp escalation of the U.S. campaign to overthrow the elected Syrian government and to dismember the country. It must be protested by all who oppose U.S. imperialism’s aggression. With bloody irony, the Pentagon claimed it attacked the Syrian government convoy because the Syrian trucks had entered “an established ‘de-confliction zone’.”The convoy had moved within 18 miles of a U.S. military base…The Pentagon set up this base without permission by the Syrian government…The Russian government called the U.S. attack a breach of Syrian sovereignty. The air attack took place as President Donald Trump left the U.S. to visit Saudi Arabia…The U.S. bombing also comes just after an agreement creating “de-escalation” zones in Syria was signed by Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria and non-al-Qaida groups that operate in Syria…The U.S. bombing was clearly designed to torpedo this agreement. Its goal is to re-enforce U.S.-defined “safe zones”…partition Syria and overturn the Bashar al-Assad government.”- Workers World Party, May 22.

While some telling the Kurds what they should focus on, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, head of the DIA, is declaring that “Kurdish independence is on a trajectory where it is probably not if but when. And it will complicate the situation unless there’s an agreement in Baghdad,” showing that the imperialists are accepting the “inevitable.” Furthermore, are the stories about how the US-Turkey relationship could be permanently damaged if the “good” Kurds stay in Raqqa while the US gives the “good” Kurds armored vehicles, arms, “machinery, equipment, supplies” along with, as NPR even admitting, in their pro-military manner: “more American troops to head into Syria – maybe a couple of hundred” who are trainers along with “maintenance people to help with these armored vehicles” which would be there along with “some American troops close to the front lines in Syria, special operations forces like Green Berets and Navy SEALs, helping these local forces.”

Hence, the destruction of Syria will continue full force. I stand by what I said at the end “The illegal entity” about possible next steps for everyone reading the article:

…the next steps forward are up to everyone out there reading this and…the international “left[,]” which needs to get its act together with a strong message of international solidarity with governments (and peoples, but not the “good” Kurds) under attack, not division on countries such as Syria.

Hence, there needs to be a united front. After all, Trump is unpredictable in many ways, which some may say is positive but actually bodes badly in trying to counter US imperialism as it is hard to predict what will happen next. This reality of Trump was noted in a fawning Time magazine cover story. This piece said that Trump is not only tuning out “bad news about himself” but he “comes to office with no well-formed ideology,” which sounds a bit like Obama and the “blank screen.” The article further claims that he has “an evolving understanding of history and government” which is clear from his comments about Andrew Jackson ending the Civil War, and uses “his business acumen to help is more fervent supporters” while he is “extremely confident in his own judgment.” The article also notes that Trump has a social media director, Dan Scavino, formerly the general manager of Trump’s Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and that his “willingness to fight is unabated and unfiltered.”

Beyond that, the recent visit to Saudi Arabia seems to indicate that the US has its sights set on the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the Parliament Speaker of Iran, Ali Larijani, argued “it was both interesting and unbelievable to hear that the US President clearly announced the volume of cash he had received in order to make the visit” which seems to be true since he was not only there for US imperialism but to benefit his cronies (also see here) a sort of “foreign triumph” as he faces the never-ending “Russia conspiracy” the Democrats are using to push him out of office, to unseat him, to overthrow him. I say this even as I dislike Trump very much and feel he is an utter monster. Still, I don’t believe the claims of a such a conspiracy in the slightest. It is all a smokescreen to me even if questions about his stability in the future. Focusing on such a conspiracy distracts from the damage Trump and his loyal minions are doing to public lands, education, public assistance, and worldwide imperial aggression of course, while supporting increased police brutality at home. As for the journey to Saudi Arabia, it is part of a plan to create an “Arab NATO” which is an idea that threatens the region, which would cause increased instability since the Saudis sponsor many of the Islamic reactionary groups within the region. Clearly, this an anti-Iran move, anger at their measures to mitigate US imperialism.

The looming threat of war against Iran seems to be occurring at the same time the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) seems to be winning on the battlefield, implying that Washington wants to stop such successes. As Al-Jaafari put it, their goal is to combat terrorism, but “state terrorism is being practiced against Syria” with violations of international humanitarian law. I could go on, but the reality is that the Russian and Syrian government forces are the only ones earnestly fighting terrorists. The US and their international coalition which killed 255 civilians last month as the worthless piece of junk, the Syrian Observatory for “Human Rights” (SOHR) which is an imperialist, anti-Syrian government outlet, claimed. The Syrian government is even moving its planes back to the airfield the US bombed in April, showing that the US show of force was worthless and pathetic. At the same time, the Russians seem to be willing to weaken the Syrian state and benefit the “good” Kurds possibly because they have a capitalist class as well and see something positive in the “good” Kurds. This is happening at the same time that the US slaps more sanctions on the Syrian government and by extension the Syrian people as a whole.

The Syrian government (and people) will continue to be in a precarious situation until the end of the conflict and withdrawal of Western imperialism from the region. The best we can do is pledge solidarity with those fighting the mercenaries of imperial conquest, not only Daesh but the “rebel” forces and “good” Kurds, and all of those standing against global capitalism, even with our respective critiques.

“By all means, doubt me”: Continuing the criticism of Snowden

A scene from the third Treehouse of Horror of the Simpsons (s3e7).

In the past I’ve criticized Snowden’s ridiculous claims and his celebrity-like status. I first mentioned him in an article criticizing The Intercept, Pierre Omidyar’s plaything, the CIA and corporate surveillance, noting how a letter by Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, got Snowden and “celebrity left personality Deray to back Apple,” which collects reams of data itself. A few months after that, I wrote an article saying that “celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden…has wide influence it is best to look at his words and their symbolic meaning” and that Snowden, in his “privileged position,” can be critical of the media even has he ignores the “role of the bourgeois media” in capitalist society, gives the New York Times a pass despite the fact that its audience is broadly male college-educated bourgeois individuals, never mentions “the role of advertisers in determining media content,” and puts out, just like BuzzFeed and Celebrity Left personalities, “content…engineered to be more attention getting, even though they have no public value…[or] no news value at all,” with his often “self-congratulatory and…egoist remarks” with a “pseudo-change sentiment” at times, even as much of the content he found while working at the NSA and CIA as a contractor has STILL not been released. The following month, in response to frothing-at-the-mouth conspiracist individuals who are worthless twitter scum and give reason for why people hate “the Left,” I wrote another piece about Snowden. I went through a number of conspiracies revolving around Snowden’s ties to the CIA, saying that: (1) “Ellsburg, Assange, and Snowden should be criticized, but to call them intelligence operations seems far-fetched and just putting oneself down a rabbit hole with no escape”; (2) “…Assange and Snowden are likely not in as much danger as supporters claim, to claim they are intelligence assets…[or] created by certain U.S. covert elements is…so ridiculous that it isn’t worth taking [it]…seriously,” among other elements.

Today, I aim to return to Snowden once again with some information I scoured from old storifies I deleted. Perhaps we can start use what Snowden said to show his “adversarial” nature which includes “challenging” the US government (not really), staying uber-nationalist, and promoting encryption software as a solution (“By all means, doubt me. Be suspicious and test my every claim. That’s rational. Then, do the same for those in power. That’s American” to criticize him and his pathetic narrative.

Enter Douglas Valentine

I’ve read Mr. Valentine’s Strength of the Wolf, even using it to talk about the drug trade within Iran in the 1940s through the 1960s. Here, I aim to look at some of his posts on Snowden. To my knowledge, he has only written two posts on Snowden apart from a post criticizing journalist, and celebrity left personality, Glenn Greenwald on income inequality, another criticizing the movie of Greenwald’s friend in company, Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, for being self-indulgent, or a small mention in an article poking at those “criticizing” the NSA.

In his 2013 article, the first substantively on Snowden, Mr. Valentine argues that Greenwald is trying to prove he is “a different sort of liberal capitalist” by launching his “media empire with a sensational “exposé” on the National Security Agency (NSA)” based on the documents Snowden gave him. He goes on to say that Snowden’s material “undoubtedly reveals NSA-supported CIA operations at the strategic level around the world” but that he could also “sift through Snowden’s material, edit out the good stuff, and focus on tactical matters like assassinations,” which would be good for those that favor such assassinations. He ends by saying that Greenwald could do “what Snowden did and risk it all.   The choice is his.” At this point and time, clearly, Mr. Valentine was more favorable to Snowden. By 2015 that would change.

That year, Mr. Valentine wrote an article which criticized Citizen Four, way before that horrid Oliver Stone “Snowden” movie had come on the scene. He notes how the documentary begins with Greenwald sitting in a hotel room in Hong Kong with Snowden and Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter, with Snowden “earnestly explaining his selfless motive,” saying that he wants the store to be about “the mechanisms of the thought police” not about himself. However, Greenwald has different ideas, thinking, as Mr. Valentine argues, that he can turn Snowden into a big celebrity and “Hollywood star,” showing Greenwald as maneuvering the “naive, trusting, vulnerable” Snowden into being a celebrity, with Snowden submitting himself to such manipulation. The article goes on to say that Greenwald’s money-making scheme from the Snowden files, which calls “GG Industries Inc” (now including all of those at The Intercept) sees Snowden as “a celebrity and perpetual money-making myth for the faux gauche, in the mold of Dan Ellsberg” or Bob Dylan, who he argues “creates its special kind of neurasthenia, a complex of neuroses that render the celebrity incapable of honest self-awareness or genuine human interaction,” a form of the “celebrity virus.” Mr. Valentine goes on. He says that such celebrities direct “all of America’s latent revolutionary impulses into America’s unique brand of post-modern fascism,” that the Citizen Four documentary deceives the audience as a classist “propaganda film” that protects the CIA while exploiting Snowden to be a celebrity, serving the bourgeois, and being “the biggest fluff piece ever contrived.” His criticism goes beyond this by saying that the producers of the documentary cannot be critical of Snowden, which manipulates its audience,who is a “dedicated counter-revolutionary,” who doesn’t want to reveal CIA “methods…names and locations” which he calls, probably accurately, a “fascistic streak” and adds thatin the end, Citizen Four is “a propaganda film espousing the virtues of the faux gauche and its self-induced delusion, and self-perpetuating illusion, that the capitalist system is capable of correcting itself.” The rest of the article writes itself.

Mr. Valentine’s criticism is on par with what Tarzie says, who goes farther by saying that “there can be no intelligent, leftist consideration of Snowden, or any other figure of similar stature for that matter, without recognizing that we know him entirely through instruments specially designed to prevent and suppress any dissent that’s likely to disquiet members of the ruling class and their state security apparatus,” that the few “genuinely entertaining aspects of The Snowden Show at its peak was the struggle of his hand-picked media proxies [such as Greenwald] to look like enemies of the state as they flew from place to place, entirely without incident,” and that Snowden was “running what’s known in intelligence as a limited hangout.” He added that Snowden “encourages us to focus entirely on signals intelligence, and…on only one of the federal agencies that collect signals intelligence,” such as the CIA, leading to a “trivial conversation about surveillance, that…chillingly reminds people they’re always being watched” and that Snowden & Co. have fostered a “swamp of pseudo-dissidence.”

While I tend to be more critical of Tarzie, who defines himself as an anarchist living in Seattle for all I know, after he blocked me on his now-suspended account (@TheRancidSector), even though I still follow his blocked account without interruption. He blocked me then when I criticized him for calling for another Twitter user to kill themselves since they said something that made him angry, and didn’t respond for some time afterwards to his “steaming” tweets, showing that he didn’t give me a chance to explain myself. Still, I think that he has a good point here when it comes to Snowden. He does tend, as does do the rest of the sycophants, to focus on the NSA and not other intelligence agencies, with a few exceptions. However, I wouldn’t say he was running a “limited hangout” only because I don’t know enough about the subject admittedly and it risks getting pulled into the conspiracist realm of the never-ending theorizing about the JFK assassination or 9/11 attacks, which is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead of worrying yourself with trying to “investigate” these topics on your own and get stuck in the conspiracist loop, perhaps it is better to organize against capitalism, revealing actual conspiracies about the capitalist class oppressing the proletariat rather than theories you get from magical authors/commentators (like Alex Jones or Webster Tarpley to name a few) who claim to “know the truth” and are part of an industry to promote these theories to the populace for a buck.

Problem with the “Deep State” term

In terms of conspiracists, there is one term that has made its stamp in the public discourse recently: “deep state.” I first heard of it when I went to the LeftForum years ago, on some handouts given out by 9/11 conspiracists if I remember correctly and dismissed it back then, but now it has come to the forefront more than before, even taking the form of an “announcement” on the Descent Into Tyranny subreddit. [1]

Some advocates of the term even admit that it is “hard to define precisely” while others have just mentioned it in passing (see here and here)or mentioned it in reference to the spying on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, is on an international scale. There have been some recent criticisms. One individual criticized by the term by saying that the “real deep state” is the administrative state or federal bureaucracy that the Trump administration seems they are fighting.

The other was a more direct criticism striking at the heart of the term itself by Mr. Anthony DiMaggio. He says that the rise of the “deep state” critique basically started by Mr. Lofgren, which meant to “spotlight the U.S. corporate-national security-intelligence apparatus, has quickly devolved into a cartoonish absurdity” and no longer useful. He goes on to say that even as he agrees that focusing on the dangers of the National Security State, use of the “panopticon as a symbol of the modern-day surveillance state is apt,” emphasizing “other threats to American democracy,” and concern about “rise of Wall Street power,” is justified, that the concept is not nuanced or clear, meaning that Lofgren’s analysis is tame, pedestrian, and conservative, not incorporating any Marxian concepts within elite theory. Mr. DiMaggio adds that the idea of a “secret shadow government, impervious to any controls or regulation by elected officials” which is so effective that the US populace has “zero political influence over American politics” and pushes away any promotion of political change is absurd since “the last century of U.S. political activism demonstrates that large numbers of social movements were able to fundamentally transform American culture and politics.” He adds to this that saying that so-called “deep state” bureaucrats hold all of the power in Washington instead of elected officials is also not true, even though there is an “institutionalized military-intelligence state…[and] a militarized police system,” since politicians are not “puppets of the bureaucracy,” the intelligence (or military) community is not uniformed or unified “about U.S. militarism and empire.” He ends by saying he isn’t sure why “additional analytical value” comes from referring to the military apparatus and intelligence agencies as a “deep state” and that the term’s value is dwindling, meaning “whatever people want it to mean,” suggesting that “it’s time to start looking for a more coherent, informed analyses than what is being offered by various conspiracy theorists on the left and right.”

Mr. DiMaggio is no radical, just like Mr. Lofgren, who condemned Marxism, the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and claimed that we have “to reflect upon defunct glacial despotisms such as the USSR or East Germany to realize that nothing is forever,” despite the fact that both, even if they arguably were revisionist states in their later years, were by no means “despotisms.” Also, we don’t need to “reflect” upon those states. Mr. DiMaggio condemns what he calls dictatorships (“Mubarak in Egypt, Assad in Syria, or Erdogan in Turkey”) even though Assad’s government doesn’t fit that description and he engages in uber nationalist, pro-imperialist rhetoric in saying that there are “obvious differences” between the US and those countries, implying that the US is somehow “better” than other parts of the world, an Orientalist viewpoint. Still, his criticism of the “deep state” is completely justified. The same goes for Karen (kazahann), who has argued that the term blocks criticism of the ruling wealthy capitalist class, is a worthless buzzword, and claims that the state is neutral or benign.

Karen and Mr. DiMaggio’s criticisms should be taken to heart. The term, as I see it, is highly inaccurate and leads to political apathy. This is bolstered by the fact that those who advocate for the idea of a “deep state,” such as John W. Whitehead, Paul Street, John Stanton (quoting Peggy Noonan), and Mr. Lofgren, cannot agree on one definition but include the following groups within their respective use of the term: militarized police, fusion centers, courthouses, prisons, private military contractors (mercenaries), the hundreds of thousands who have Top Secret clearance, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CIA, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Treasury, National Security Council, FISA court, certain federal trial courts, defense and intelligence communities at-large, other spy agencies, Wall Street, the military-industrial-complex, Silicon Valley (also called Sexist Valley or Surveillance Valley more accurately), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Federal Reserve.

Just this list shows that the theory is all over the place and totally disorganized, with no rhyme or reason. Instead, of using such a misplaced idea, it is better to talk about the capitalist bureaucracy that most of these organizations, apart from the social control organs manifested in courthouses, prisons, and fusion centers, and capitalist industry represented by Silicon Valley or Wall Street, inhibit. There is undoubtedly a surveillance apparatus within the capitalist bureaucracy of the United States, which fulfills a purpose to keep the populace in line, watching for any challenges to the capitalist class, looking to disrupt and shut it down. Such groups are much more vast than what the “Deep State” theorists imagine, but includes a constellation of agencies brought together by the White House Situation Room, but also independent, working in the areas of “intelligence,” “homeland security,” military affairs, and civilian affairs. A chart from a book by bourgeois liberal journalists, Dana Priest and William Arkin, titled Top Secret America, written in 2011, lays this out clearly for all to see:

This is used under the fair use section of copyright law as a way of educating people about these institutions in the US government, if any of you damn corporate lawyers read this

Such a chart doesn’t include the private military contractors (mercenaries), the hundreds of thousands who have Top Secret clearance, the foreign policy establishment in the State Department, the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Federal Reserve, which also have a role in the capitalist state. I don’t need anyone to say that “the whole government” is the “thought police,” with the state defending an “entrenched economic elite and philosophic orthodoxy,” or that the US’s “representative democracy has broken down,” serving the big capitalists, I can figure that out myself, as can anyone with sense. [2] You could even call it the National Security State if you wanted, like Gore Vidal, but that may be too limited of a term for what exists currently.

Bashar Al-Assad and the “deep state”

On April 27th, the duly elected president of the socially democratic and secular Arab Republic of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, had an interview with Telesur where he sort of used the term “deep state.” Here’s what he said in response to a question about Trump’s foreign policies, with the “deep state” section bolded:

The American President has no policies. There are policies drawn by the American institutions which control the American regime which are the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms and oil companies, and financial institutions, in addition to some other lobbies which influence American decision-making. The American President merely implements these policies, and the evidence is that when Trump tried to move on a different track, during and after his election campaign, he couldn’t. He came under a ferocious attack. As we have seen in the past few week, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime. That’s why it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American President’s foreign policy, for he might say something; but he ultimately does what these institutions dictate to him. This is not new. This has been ongoing American policy for decades.

Gowans describes this as Assad recognizing that “the US government is…a committee for managing the common affairs of the country’s business owners” with US foreign policy serving their interests. In this case, Assad is NOT using the term “deep state” in the same way as conspiracists use it, but rather is using it to describe, the state being a manager of the affairs of the bourgeoisie as Marx and Engels described the actions of a capitalist state. Assad is undoubtedly right in this regard and is right to point out that US foreign policy is imperialist and serves the capitalist class…but why would such a policy not serve their interests? It always has in some way or another.

The surveillance apparatus strikes again!

Recently Greenwald wrote a heavily promoted story disproving, on his terms, that Snowden was not a “spy for either Russia and/or China at the time he took and then leaked documents from the National Security Agency.” I personally don’t think it is even worth anyone’s effort to read this article which is clearly self-congratulatory and egoist, saying that they “were right” all along. I do think it is evident that Snowden was not a Russian or Chinese spy, but that isn’t the point. Neither are claims by people like bourgeois liberal Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post. [3] Instead, the discussion should be about the US’s worldwide surveillance apparatus.

There are a number of facts that are evident. [4] For one, there are the NSA misdeeds including wiretapping a member of Congress, collecting the telephone records of millions of US Verizon customers, gathering information from tech giants (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Skype, YouTube, and Apple) in the PRISM program, trying to access the data of private companies from 1999-2007 with only Qwest refusing access, monitoring all credit card transactions, and running the country’s biggest spy center If that isn’t enough, the NSA has: been getting an “electronic copy” of detail records of all Verizon phone calls within the US and between the US and abroad; has “strategic partnerships” with varied companies (At&T, Verizon, Motorola, Qwest, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, EDS, Oracle, and Qualcomm); shares signal Intelligence with exchanged with Israel, including private data of Americans; spying on foreign leaders (former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, Mexico’s Peno Nieto, Germany’s Angela Merkel); spying on UN Security Council members; partnering with Saudi Arabia’s brutal state police; infects millions of computers with malware; and may have caused the Syrian internet blackout in 2012. And there are many more programs. However, the NSA is obviously not the only one in this game. Apart from the DOJ once wiretapping the cloakroom of the House of Representatives, the FBI worked with the NSA on spying on Muslim leaders, worked with the CIA to select information from the PRISM system, and gave the NSA access to a broad range of data on Facebook. The FBI also has used drones to monitor citizens on US soil, is monitoring “First Amendment activities…in the name of safety and security in a post-9/11 age,” is conducting its “own signals intelligence as part of the Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU),” having the Magic Lantern program which logs keystrokes, the surveillance program called the Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier, and DCSNet which is a “sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device.” Apart from that, there is evidence that the CIA searched US senate computers, that all U.S. mail is being scanned and put into the “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking” database, and that there is a “terrorist screening database” of 680,000 people, almost half of whom are not classified as “terrorists,” with the CIA, DIA, NSA and FBI among those who can nominate people to the list. Then, of course there is the surveillance blimps program launched by the US Army, called aerostats, which have a “surveillance range of over 300 miles,” with this program still on schedule and in operation despite the loss of one of the huge surveillance blimps from Aberdeen in October 2015.

With this data, all of those government entities engaging in surveillance (CIA, DIA, NSA, FBI, DOJ, DHS, and others) are committing crimes, eviscerating privacy, but so are big capitalist firms, especially in the tech industry, like Google, Apple, and Verizon to name a few. Some have said that there is so much data that the NSA has “invented new units of measurement just to describe it” with the NSA’s electric bill reaching in the millions of dollars each year, while some facial recognition and RFID software becomes more common, as billions are spent to keep “secrets secret” making it easier to crack down on dissent to the capitalist class in this surveillance (and capitalist) society. [5] I know conspiracists will be giddy about me mentioning the word RFID chips, as many think it is part of some government conspiracy, but they can just wipe the grins right off their faces. The corporate and government surveillance systems are one complex and should not be separated or compartmentalized as some, like Snowden & co., have done. This system, which some have called “Top Secret America,” others the “surveillance state,” or the “national security state,” is a partnership between big capitalists and the US capitalist government. We have a state of total surveillance with no gender, class, religious or other boundaries, but it falls hardest on the proletariat, people of color, dedicated activists, and Muslims to name a few.

The government, has for years, been afraid of leaked information, even more so with the Trumpster in charge. In the 1980s, the CIA’s Director of Security was angry that information had been released to establishment journalist Bob Woodward (some think that he working with the CIA as  planted journalist but this has not been proven and is still a speculation) about the MIG-25, echoing other concerns by the NSA. [6] This was not a surprise since the Church and Pike Committees in 1970s, with the former committee more moderate than the latter, which included revelations about the CIA MK/ULTRA experiments, with the intelligence agencies feeling “secure behind the cloak.” [7] Other concerns were abound. The CIA’s Director of Public Affairs, their propaganda officer, chastised Woodward for violating supposed “ground rules” for interviews, and later claimed that “damage” from leaks about US policy toward Libya is “money and lives,” with some of this damage as “invisible.” [8] Lest us forget that the US engaged in anti-terrorism” actions, by firing 48 missiles and dropping 232 bombs on two airfields, two “air defense” networks, two barracks, and one camp within the Great Socialist People’s Arab Jamahiriya, then run by Muammar Gaddafi, killing over thirty Libyans as Todd R. Phinney even admitted in a pro-US, pro-military thesis on the subject. [9] If this wasn’t enough, the CIA even created a special team to investigate leaks, with “500 such incidents” in 1986 alone, with claims it hurt “presidential credibility,” with proposals of limited paperflow and calls for “surprise police raids on newsrooms” by CIA Director Bill Casey, lining up with the Reagan administration’s limits on the Freedom of Patriot Act’s scope. [10] By 1988, then-Ambassador Richard Helms was lamenting that US “friends and collaborators abroad” have been convinced “that our Intelligence Community can keep no secrets,” which could “hurt” the empire. [11]

It is worth pointing this out because Obama’s war against leakers/whistleblowers has and will continue under Trump who is egoistical and more about his self-image than many others who have held the presidency, making it “not an aberration, but the norm.” [12] Hence, while they try to stop the leaks, they will keep coming, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing except that such leakers are often moderate in their beliefs and only one reform, meaning that the capitalist system is able to deal with such disruptions. Expanding on that is a subject for another day, maybe.

The “surveillance reform” BS

In order to determine what should be done, it is worth considering what shouldn’t be done first. Snowden himself has issued calls for surveillance reform, which Tarzie criticized for the former having a “bizarre notion of human rights.” In the post, Snowden is quoted as saying that “self-government is about…[not] making these decisions behind closed doors, without public debate, without public consent” and that the decision about surveillance belongs to the people not politicians.

For one, this is ignorant of the reality because as it stands now, people don’t have such a voice in US government. In the famed April 2014 study by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin L. Page of Northwestern University, they argued that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence…Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.” This was even echoed by fake “radical” and class collaborator Noam Chomsky in August 2013, when he said that “roughly 70% of the population…have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised….maybe a tenth of one percent…determine the policy…the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy.” Even Chris Hedges, who embraces “democratic socialism,” openly quotes rabid anti-communist George Orwell, and determined the characteristics for being “a socialist,” while waving the word around, admitted this much. Remember he is also a person who says he opposestotalitarian capitalism” (can’t you just call it capitalism?), was confused if the US had capitalism or not, hates Black Bloc with a passion (see here, here, and here), is pro-Green Party, and declared seven paragraphs into an article criticizing climate change liberals that:

“This is not a battle [against “corporate capitalism] I would have picked. I prefer incremental and piecemeal reform. I prefer a system in which we can elect politicians to represent the governed and thwart corporate abuse. I prefer a United Nations that serves the interests of people around the globe rather than corporate profit. I prefer a vigorous and free debate in the public arena. I prefer a judiciary that is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. I prefer the freedom to express dissent without government monitoring of my communications and control of my movements. I prefer to have my basic civil liberties protected. But we do not live in such a system.”

This shows that Hedges is a wannabe radical who is really an inner liberal. Still, he said in his book, Empire of Illusion (p. 142-143), that the idea of consent of the governed is an empty one: “The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase…Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite…The government…provides little more than technical expertise for elites and corporations…It has become the greatest illusion in a culture of illusions.” Beyond this, there is the controversial but well-sourced study titled ‘Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies’ which argued that the collapse of human civilization can be avoided if “the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level and if resources are distributed equitably” and said that most common in society today are elite-commoner societies: “the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses (or “Commoners”)…accumulated surplus [or wealth] is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels…Elites “prey” on the production of wealth by Commoners.” Even more, as a leaked Citigroup memo (if it isn’t a hoax) noted, there is a plutonomy referring to the habits of rich consumers, rather than “the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many” which is driven by “ongoing technology/biotechnology revolution…capitalist-friendly governments and tax regimes…greater financial complexity and innovation…[and] patent protection.”

This invalidates Snowden’s philosophy, if you could call it that, which is that: as “long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision…the public needs to decide whether these policies are right or wrong.” [13]  Ultimately, the people, as it currently stands, don’t have an ability to decide if policies are right or wrong because they aren’t part of the policy-making apparatus, and their views are easily brushed aside by capitalist class in the U.S., and in other capitalist states. Additionally, Snowden’s trust in the thoughts of the public also forgets the fact that public opinion polls can be manipulated, deceptive, or limit “people’s sense of wider possibilities.” Still, I would like to point out I am not saying that people do have the ability to influence or push government to make certain decisions. However, I am saying that in general, the government, I’m mainly talking about the U.S. government but this could be applied to other governments, doesn’t really care what ordinary people think. They care what the people with the deep pockets say and think. That’s who they, in general, listen to. That is the current state of affairs.

Then there is the whole “Reset the Net” campaign, making it clear that working with the corporate sector in order to counter surveillance is wholly counterproductive and makes you a simple pawn of big business, along with recognizing reforming the NSA in any way, shape or form is a waste of energy. This “anti-surveillance” campaign was created after  Snowden’s “revelations of government surveillance” with Snowden making it seem that it would be opposing all types of surveillance,” saying “today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same…[encryption is] the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance…don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.” [14] However, Tiffiniy Cheng, spokesperson for Fight for the Future, which coordinated Reset the Net basically undermined this idea. She told its real focus, saying that “now, they’ve [the US government] got a rebellion on their hands as tech companies and internet users work together to directly intervene in mass surveillance and block the NSA and its kind from the web.”

I’m not sure how something is a “rebellion” if corporations and internet users are working together. That sounds more like a way for the companies to reassure customers and their users that they care about privacy. As Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith said, “it’s of course important for companies to do the things under our own control, and what we have under our own control is our own technology practices. I don’t know that anyone believes that will be sufficient to allay everyone’s concerns. There is a need for reform of government practices, but those will take longer.” This makes me concerned about this campaign.Another problem is that the campaign’s main goal is to push for “mass adoption of encryption is a tool to fight mass surveillance” strong encryption doesn’t always translate into cyber security in reality. Despite this, the EFF, the Tor Project, ACLU of Massachusetts (and likely the whole organization) Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism, Natasha Leonard of Vice and New Inquiry, Glenn Greenwald (I would believe so) [15] and many others support this campaign.

Using their website, I found who supports Reset the Net, which are the usual suspects. According to their list of supporters, which compromises of fifty-six non-profit, public and private organizations, thirteen are for-profit companies (approx. 23%), twenty are non profits (including the three organizations that back Democrats) (approx. 36 %), three are political parties, and four are mostly alternative media. The rest, sixteen organizations, are considered other, as I could not figure how I should categorize them. Think what you want about these supporters, but this doesn’t look too good to me. Ashlin Lee and Peta Cook of the University of Tasmania added that while the campaign could be praised,

“encryption makes any collected data more difficult (but not impossible) for authorities to interpret and act upon…The Reset the Net project acts to reinforce the idea that surveillance is primarily conducted by state authorities…But the reality is that the NSA is only one actor in the surveillance drama…Google is just one of many private companies conducting surveillance today…Surveillance today is not just about seeing into the lives of the present – it’s about cataloguing and using the past (and present) to understand the future…The Reset the Net project paradoxically represents a small positive step in resisting and counteracting warrantless and illegal surveillance, while ignoring the bigger picture.”

Yasha Levine had a similar critique on PandoDaily, which often shills for the tech industry (but didn’t in this article), writing that Reset the Net avoids Google’s snooping, saying that “the campaign is not against online surveillance, just government surveillance….these companies — which themselves stay in business by spying on us online — help to defeat surveillance? By offering encryption apps…Reset the Net is outraged by our government’s capability to wantonly vacuum up our personal info, and yet it unconditionally trusts powerful Surveillance Valley megacorps when they do the same thing on an even greater scale as a normal part of doing business.” Bill Blunden argues something similar saying that “in contrast to the inflated fanfare about disrupting terrorist plots…the global surveillance apparatus is essentially being driven by powerful corporate interests….Roughly 70 percent of the intelligence budget…goes to the private sector…Google has extensive long-standing connections with the defense industry.” Then there are quotes of individuals in the PBS Frontline documentary, United States of Secrets, talking about how corporations were integral to the surveillance apparatus, connected to the government-issued National Security Letters (NSL) which can compel certain private companies and individuals to give them information, quoting Tim Wu, Chris Hoofnagle, Julia Angwin, Askan Soltani, Barton Gellman, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, and Martin Smith, to name a few.

To end this off, the Reset the Net supporters who know the underlying truth that corporations are integral to surveillance system, and still support the campaign are being foolish. There is no doubt that the interests of those against government surveillance will overlap with the companies that want to act like they care about privacy (they don’t). I understand why ordinary people are participating in this campaign as many are pissed off and for good reason, but I will not be signing any petitions, or participating in any actions by Reset the Net or others following their example. Some seem to think that working with the companies is a good idea and I disagree. Even though these companies have a good amount of clout, that doesn’t mean that people should be working with them. This effort, Reset the Net, is no rebellion, rather it is an anti-NSA surveillance effort serving as a front for corporations that participate (and profit from) government mass surveillance. As Eli Pariser wrote, powerful cloud giants, like Google and Amazon, have “a vested interest in keeping the government entities happy.” [16] This effort is in a sense a way of keeping the government entities happy, as it distracts from the corporate-state nexis on surveillance, but in another sense it is also about defending their bottom line, their profit margins, protecting their consumer base. Some may think that Reset the Net is even a social movement, but clearly is not by any reasonable standards. It does not deploy symbolic resources, it does not shift construction of identity and it does not product popular and scholarly knowledge.

What should be done?

The total surveillance that exists today is nothing new.The “rollback” of NSA surveillance hasn’t changed much broadly as the FBI still pushes to keep its existing surveillance powers. At minimum, those who care about state surveillance should push for the NSA, CIA and FBI to be abolished for starters, with those who committed crimes, perhaps top NSA officials, going on trial. However, this in and of itself is still reformism. Neither encryption or bowing before tech giants to “save us” from government surveillance will solve anything. In fact, it will perpetrate the idea that people should sit back and do little. That is the opposite of what should happen. Instead, we should resist such surveillance by pushing for the abolishment of capitalism as a goal. In the end, what happens now, in regards of the massive US surveillance apparatus, is up to us.

Notes

[1] As the Wikipedia page on the subject notes, it has been increasingly used by Trump’s supporters. Beyond this, see these articles as testament to how this term has seeped into the “mainstream”: Amanda Taub and Max Fisher, “As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a ‘Deep State’ in America,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 2017; Ed Rogers, “The ‘deep state’ is real. The ‘alt right’ is fake,” Washington Post opinions, Feb. 21, 2017; Moyers & Company, “The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight,” Feb. 21, 2014; Tim Naftali, “”Deep State” myth won’t fix wiretapping mess,” CNN opinions, Mar. 17, 2017; Glenn Greenwald, “The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer,” The Intercept, Jan. 11, 2017; Greg Grandin, “What Is the Deep State?,” The Nation, Feb. 17, 2017; Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, “Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State,” Politico, Mar. 21, 2017; Anne O’Donnell, “The Bolsheviks Versus the Deep State,” New York Times opinion, Mar. 27, 2017; NPR, “With Intelligence Leaks, The ‘Deep State’ Resurfaces,” Feb. 19, 2017; Doyle McManus, “Op-Ed: Is the ‘deep state’ out to get Trump? We’re not there yet,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 19, 2017; Neil Munro, “Bill Kristol Backs ‘Deep State’ over President Trump, Republican Government,” Breitbart, Feb. 15, 2017; Philip Giraldi, “Deep State America,” The American Conservative, July 30, 2015; Rod Drehler, “The Deep State,” The American Conservative, Feb. 28, 2014; Marc Anbinder, “Trump Is Showing How the Deep State Really Works,” Foreign Policy, Feb. 15, 2017; Joel P. Pollak, “Deep State #Resistance: Spies Withhold Intel from Trump, Says WSJ,” Breitbart, Feb. 15, 2017; Steven A. Cook, “The Deep State Comes to America,” Foreign Policy, Feb. 24, 2017; Finian Cunningham, “‘Deep State’ wins… Trump is being tamed to toe the line,” Russia Today, Jan. 12, 2017; Ishaan Tharoor, “Is Trump fighting the ‘deep state’ or creating his own?,” Washington Post opinions, Feb. 1, 2017; Andrew Napolitano, “Revenge of the Deep State,” Reason, Feb. 23, 2017; Hunter Schwartz, “What’s a ‘Deep State’ and why is it a new buzzword for the online right?,” CNN opinions, Mar. 11, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” Feb. 16, 2017; Matt Wilstein, “Stephen Colbert Mocks Trump Administration’s ‘Deep State’ Paranoia,” The Daily Beast, Mar. 21, 2017; Chris Stirewalt, “Trump knocks down ‘Deep State’ claims,” Fox News, Feb. 16, 2017; Alastair Cooke, “‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu,” Consortium News, Feb. 17, 2017; John R. Schindler, “Rebellion Brews in Washington—But American ‘Deep State’ Is Only a Myth,” Observer, Feb. 22, 2017; Alana Abramson, “President Trump’s Allies Keep Talking About the ‘Deep State.’ What’s That?,” Time, Mar. 8, 2017; Patrick Buchanan, “The Deep State Targets Trump,” Real Clear Politics, Feb. 17, 2017; Joe Blistein, “Watch Samantha Bee Skewer Trump’s ‘Deep State’ Fears,” Rolling Stone, Mar. 16, 2017; David Remnick, “There Is No Deep State,” New Yorker, Mar. 20, 2017; Danielle Ryan, “Is Michael Flynn the first casualty of a “deep state” coup? It’s not unthinkable,” Salon, Feb. 16, 2017; Elias Isquith, “Controlled by shadow government: Mike Lofgren reveals how top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”,” Salon, Jan. 5, 2016; Washington’s Blog, “The Deep State,” Mar. 3, 2014; David A. Graham, “There Is No American ‘Deep State’,” The Atlantic, Feb. 20, 2017; Loren DeJonge Schulman, “The Deep State Is a Figment of Steve Bannon’s Imagination,” Politico, Mar. 9, 2017; Shadi Hamid, “The American ‘Deep State,’ as a Trump Voter Might See It,” The Atlantic, Mar. 7, 2017; Justin Raimondo, “A Win for the Deep State,” Antiwar.com, Feb. 15, 2017; Emily Jane Fox, “Trump’s Soviet-Style Plan to Create His Own Deep State,” Vanity Fair, Mar. 20, 2017; Patrick J. Buchanan, “The deep state targets Trump,” World Net Daily (WND), Feb. 16, 2017; Jeet Heer, “Donald Trump Can Do a Lot With the “Deep State”,” The New Republic, Feb. 22, 2017; Sarah Childress, “The Deep State: How Egypt’s Shadow State Won Out,” PBS, Sept. 27, 2013; Mike Lofgren, “The Deep State 2.0,” Common Dreams, Mar. 4, 2017; F.H. Buckley, “Trump’s threat to the liberal ‘deep state’,” New York Post, Jan. 17, 2017; Kevin D. Williamson, “The Right discovers the ‘Deep State,'” National Review, Mar. 12, 2017; Peter Dale Scott, “The “Deep State” behind U.S. democracy,” Voltaire Network, Apr. 6, 2011.

[2] I’m referring to David “Dave” Foreman, a former Earth First! founder, here, quoted in Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin & Dave Foreman (ed. Steve Chase, Boston: South End Press, 1991), 44, 67. He had (and still has) some strong anti-immigrant views, there is no doubt about it. Also quoted in that book is problematic former anarchist Murray Bookchin. Perhaps I will address them both more in the future, but for now, I don’t think it is necessary for this article.

[3] Fareed Zakaria, “Fareed Zakaria: Why Edward Snowden should agree to stand trial in the U.S.,” Washington Post, October 23, 2014.

[4] For information used here, see documents used in Glenn Greenwald’s new book shown in a 108 page PDF, and numerous other sources: Russ Tice, “NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.,” March 17, 2014; TRNN, “U.S. Army to Test Blimps With Capacity to Surveil East Coast,” January 28, 2014; Michael Rattner, “Where’s the Outrage Over Spying on Muslim Civil Rights Leaders?,” July 10, 2014; Glenn Greenwald, “The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy for American Corporations,” The Intercept, Sept. 15, 2014; Ryan Gallagher, “The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google,” The Intercept, Aug. 25, 2014; Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, “The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police,” The Intercept, July 25, 2014; Glenn Greenwald, “Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack,” The Intercept, Aug. 4, 2014; Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, “Watch Commander: Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers,” The Intercept, Aug. 5, 2014; Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher, “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware,” The Intercept, March 12, 2014; Dam Froomkin, “Calls for Brennan’s Ouster Emerge Along With Details of CIA Search of Senate Computers,” The Intercept, March 12, 2014; Dan Novack, “DOJ Still Ducking Scrutiny After Misleading Supreme Court on Surveillance,” The Intercept, February 26, 2014; Ryan Gallagher, “How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet,” The Intercept, June 18, 2014; Ryan Gallagher, “Der Spiegel: NSA Put Merkel on List of 122 Targeted Leaders,” The Intercept, March 29, 2014; Dam Froomkin, “Reports of the Death of a National License-Plate Tracking Database Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” The Intercept, March 17, 2014; Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman, “NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama,” The Guardian, June 27, 2013; Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman, “How the NSA is still harvesting your online data,” The Guardian, June 27, 2013; Ewan MacAskill and Julian Borger, “New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies,” The Guardian, June 30, 2013; Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill, Laura Poitras, Spencer Ackerman, and Dominic Rushe, “Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages,” The Guardian, July 12, 2013; Nick Hopkins and Julian Borger, “Exclusive: NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ,” The Guardian, Aug. 1, 2013; James Ball and Spencer Ackerman, “NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls,” The Guardian, Aug. 9, 2013; Ewan MacAskill, “NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies,” The Guardian, Aug. 23, 2013; Spencer Ackerman, “US tech giants knew of NSA data collection, agency’s top lawyer insists,” The Guardian, March 19, 2014; James Ball, Julian Borger, and Glenn Greenwald, “Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security,” The Guardian, Sept. 6, 2013; James Ball, Bruce Schneier, and Glenn Greenwald, “NSA and GCHQ target Tor network that protects anonymity of web users,” The Guardian, Oct. 4, 2013; Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, “The top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant,” The Guardian, June 20, 2013; Jason Burke, “NSA spied on Indian embassy and UN mission, Edward Snowden files reveal,” The Guardian, Sept. 25, 2013; Wikipedia, “Spying on United Nations leaders by United States diplomats“; Ian Trayor, Philip Oltermann, and Paul Lewis, “Angela Merkel’s call to Obama: are you bugging my mobile phone?,” The Guardian, Oct. 24, 2013; James Ball, “NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts,” The Guardian, Oct. 25, 2013; Alex Hern, “US government increases funding for Tor, giving $1.8m in 2013,” The Guardian, July 29, 2014; Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill, “NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel,” The Guardian, Sept. 11, 2013; Associated Press, “NSA intercepts: ordinary internet users ‘far outnumbered’ legal targets,” The Guardian, July 6, 2014; Spencer Ackerman, “NSA searched data troves for 198 ‘identifiers’ of Americans’ information,” The Guardian, June 30, 2014; Spencer Ackerman, “NSA queried phone records of just 248 people despite massive data sweep,” The Guardian, June 27, 2014; Juliette Garside, “Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow state surveillance,” The Guardian, June 5, 2014; Jason Leopold, “Top NSA officials struggled over surge in Foia requests, emails reveal,” The Guardian, May 29, 2014; Matthew Weaver, “US intercepts Moscow’s calls to spies in Ukraine, report says,” The Guardian, April 30, 2014; Luke Harding, “Edward Snowden: US government spied on human rights workers,” The Guardian, April 8, 2014; Martin Pangelly, “NSA targeted Chinese telecoms giant Huawei – report,” The Guardian, March 22, 2014; Spencer Ackerman and James Ball, “Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ,” The Guardian, February 28, 2014; John Vidal and Suzanne Goldenberg, “Snowden revelations of NSA spying on Copenhagen climate talks spark anger,” The Guardian, January 30, 2014; James Ball, “Angry Birds and ‘leaky’ phone apps targeted by NSA and GCHQ for user data,” The Guardian, January 28, 2014; Nafeez Ahmed, “Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist,” The Guardian, January 21, 2014; Dominic Rushe, “Apple insists it did not work with NSA to create iPhone backdoor program,” The Guardian, December 31, 2013; Paul Lewis and Philip Oltermann, “Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file,” The Guardian, April 10, 2014; Spencer Ackermann, “NSA keeps low profile at hacker conventions despite past appearances,” The Guardian, July 31, 2014; Lisa Graves, “How the Government Targeted Occupy,” In These Times, May 21, 2013; David Kravets, “FBI Admits It Surveils U.S. With Drones,” Wired magazine, June 6, 2013; Brian Zick, “”Illegal Use of Space-Based Satellites and Systems to Spy On U.S. Citizens,”” In These Times, May 12, 2006; Cole Stangler, “Tar Sands Drones Are On Their Way,” In These Times, Aug. 22, 2013; Kristie Reilly, “Warning! You Are Being Watched,” In These Times, Sept. 19, 2003; Ron Nixon, “U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement,” New York Times, July 3, 2013; Wikipedia, “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking“; Jesus Diaz, “Imagine the US Postal Service Opened, Scanned, and Emailed All Your Letters,” Gizmodo, April 2, 2010; Bruce Schneider, “The FBI Might Do More Domestic Surveillance than the NSA,” 2013; Ryan Singel, “Point, Click … Eavesdrop: How the FBI Wiretap Net Operates,” Wired magazine, July 28, 2007; Brian Beutler, “Inside the Shadow Factory,” In These Times, Dec. 18, 2008; Susan J. Douglas, “Information Highway Robbery,” In These Times, May 28, 2014; Wikipedia, “Magic Lantern (software)“; Wikipedia, “Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier“; Sam Adler-Bell and David Segal, “Why NSA Surveillance Should Alarm Labor,” In These Times, July 24, 2013; Van Badham, “Governments are spying on our sexual lives. Will we tolerate it?,” The Guardian, Mar. 5, 2014; Alex Hern, “Phone call metadata does betray sensitive details about your life – study,” The Guardian, Mar. 13, 2014; Trevor Timm, “The US government doesn’t want you to know how the cops are tracking you,” The Guardian, June 14, 2014; Anthony Loewenstein, “The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control,” The Guardian, July 10, 2014; Josh Levy, “For Communities Of Color, Mass Surveillance Is All Too Familiar,” Talking Points Memo, Nov. 5, 2013; Kirk Wiebe, “NSA Whistleblower: USA Freedom Act Will Not Go Far Enough To Protect Civil Liberties,” The Real News, Feb. 10, 2014; Ana Marie Cox, “Who should we fear more with our data: the government or companies?,” The Guardian, Jan. 20, 2014; Charles Arthur, “Google’s Eric Schmidt denies knowledge of NSA data tapping of firm,” The Guardian, Jan. 31, 2014; Arun Kundnani, “No NSA reform can fix the American Islamophobic surveillance complex,” The Guardian, Mar. 28, 2014; Nafeez Ahmed, “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown,” The Guardian, June 12, 2014; Ray McGovern, “McGovern: Unconstitutionality of NSA Phone Call Collection is Indisputable,” The Real News, Dec. 16, 2013; Virginia Eubanks, “Want to Predict the Future of Surveillance? Ask Poor Communities,” The American Prospect, Jan. 15, 2014.

[5] These sources are bourgeois liberal individuals, but their analysis is half-decent so it is included here. Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You (New York: Penguin Press, 2007), 11; Maureen Webb, Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World (San Francisco: City Lights, 2007), 48, 71-72, 84-85, 101, 194-5, 196, 201, 209, 235, 239-240, 243; Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little Brown & Company, 2011), 24, 51, 77, 156, 133, 182, 277; Mark Monmonier, Spying With Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 2, 151-152, 170, 172.

[6] Director of Security to Deputy Director For Central Intelligence, May 11, 1982: “Latin American Pilots Training on Soviet Mig-25 from an article in the Washington Post entitled ‘U.S. Approves Covert Plan In Nicaragua’ by Patrick E. Tyler and Bob Woodward on 10 March 1982”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD; Sissela Bok, Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (Vintage Books Edition; New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 167.

[7] CIA, April, 17, 1985: Reprint of “All Things Considered” transcript on “CIA Secrecy”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD.

[8] George V. Lauder, CIA Director of Public Affairs, to Bob Woodward, Washington Post, Feb. 20, 1986; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD; CIA, Dec. 11. 1986: “Annex: Unauthorized disclosures of Classified Intelligence”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. Bok, Secrets, 134, 169; Stephen Hess, “The Greatest Generation.” Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012 (Paperback Edition; Washington, D.C.: Brookings Instiution Press, 2013), 11.

[9] See pp. 10, 12, 16-7, 20-1 of Phinney’s thesis.

[10] William J. Casey, Director of the CIA, to Frank Carlucci, Assistant to the President for National Security, Dec. 17, 1986; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. Note at the end of the letter implies that the letter is not by Casey, but someone who works for Casey, as it says “Bill might not sign these exact words but the problem and specific measures suggested are things he feels very strongly about”; Executive Director of the CIA to Frank Carlucci, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Dec. 18. 1986; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD; Matthew B Kerbel, “The President and the News Media,” CQ Press Guide To The Presidency and the Executive Branch (Fifth Edition, ed. Michael Nelson; Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press, 2013), 1045; Arthur L. Liman, “Implausible Deniability: Why Reagan Was Not Impeached,” Lawyer: A Life of Counsel and Controversy (New York: PublicAffairs, 1998), 345; Hedrick Smith, “The Image Game: Scripting the Video Presidency,” The Power Game: How Washington Works (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988), 437-9, 446.

[11] William M. Baker, CIA Director of Public Affairs, to Judge Webster, Jan. 28, 1988; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. The part of this document cited here is an annex titled the letter from Ambassador Richard Helms on January 22, 1988. While the document says 1987, I think its a mistake and they mean 1988.

[12] Wendell Bell, “Some Practical Strategies for Judging Preferable Futures,” Foundations of Futures Studies: Human Science for a New Era: Values, Objectivity, and the Good Society (Volume 2, updated edition; London: Transaction Publishers, 2004), 164; Smith, “The Image Game: Scripting the Video Presidency,” 439.

[13] This was expressed in articles in the New York Times and The Guardian. Obviously, Snowden has more thoughts than this, but these are some of his major reformist views.

[14] In a post on the Reset the Net tumblr blog, he showed that this was not the case, with the full quote which was partially used in The Guardian article:

“Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That’s why I’m asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. …We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That’s why I am excited for Reset the Net — it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.”

[15] According to an article in Firedoglake by Kevin Gosztola summarizing Glenn Greenwald’s speech to the Socialism 2013 Conference, he “…expanded the discussion into how private companies are working in concert with the federal government. He characterized this coopeation as “a full-scale merger between the federal government and industry” where the two are “equally important parts” of the surveillance state,” however from this account it seems he focused a lot on government surveillance and very little on corporate surveillance which is tied into government surveillance. What was his solution? Subverting the “radical transparency” of the surveillance state, groups like Anonymous, organizations like WikiLeaks, wanting “holes to be blown in the wall of secrecy” and endorsing “the use of technology that protects the identity of users.” The last endorsement sounds a lot like Reset the Net.

[16] Pariser, The Filter Bubble, 146. One of the best examples of keeping these entities them happy is Google and the CIA both investing in a company called Recorded Future, “which focuses on using data collection to predict future real world events.”

A bunch of baloney: The Trump-Russia “connection”

A scene from “Two Bad Neighbors” (S7E13), a Simpsons episode where Homer fights with George H.W. Bush after Bart accidentally destroys his novel and Bush spanks him

Two nights ago, 60 Minutes came on at 7:00. They claimed they had an “exclusive” interview with James Comey, the FBI Director and long-time bureaucrat. It cast Comey as a nice, well-spoken person, not a showboater as Trump has called him. Hence, it was, like pieces they have done on Apple, drones, and many other subjects, a puff piece. Since May 9, bourgeois liberals and progressives have been waiving their hands, which has even been joined by “progressive” media like The Real News, putting out three stories trying to attest that Mr. Comey was fired because of (1) Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, (2) considering the hypothetical of such interference while claiming there is financial ties between Trump and Russia, (3) and acting the Trump-Russia connection is real. Of all the media, not Democracy Now or any of the other left-leaning media was of note, but rather Liberation News, a publication of the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) had the best perspective on the topic. Brian Becker, the coordinator of ANSWER, noted how the Democratic Party and liberal organizations closed ranks in their call for a “special prosecutor to “protect our democracy” from the Russian menace” and held up Mr. Comey as “the martyred champion” just like 60 Minutes. He goes on to say, rightly, that it is ridiculous to think that Mr. Comey was “the one person who had the goods on Russia” with his firing ending the investigation, that Clinton blamed Comey and the Russians for her defeat, not the arcane Electoral College, that “the Watergate investigation was based on an actual criminal act” unlike this “connection,” and that none of the allegations have been proven. Mr. Becker interestingly noted that not only did the FBI tell the DNC that its “email servers had been compromised by “Russian hackers”” but Crowdstrike, was allowed by the FBI, even though it was “a privately owned Democratic Party-aligned cybersecurity firm,” to provide supposed evidence Russians did it, which is suspect since “CrowdStrike is owned by Dmitri Alperovitch, who is Russian and a virulent opponent of Putin.”

Previously I’ve written about the supposed “connection” between Trump and Russia. I’ve argued that the Trump Administration was making Russophobic moves, continuing the same policies of the Obama “era,” while also hoping that a pro-Russia approach by such an administration could reduce conflict, and saying that there should be solidarity with those countries under attack by US imperialism and against Trumpian fascism instead of getting “caught up in the supposed Trump-Russia “connection.”” Before that, I said that Trump was considering Russia as a partner against terrorism even as he proposed more imperialism to “solve” the problems in the world but warned that tensions with Russia will continue while pointing out Obama’s hawkishness when it came to Russia (and to the rest of the world) with Clinton undoubtedly doing the same, since she likely would have “started WWIII with bombing Russian troops in Syria.” Four months ago, I summed up the whole hullabaloo around this issue, writing (links have been removed for easier reading):

…the anti-Russian campaign [is being] pushed by the Democratic Party, certain Republicans, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with internal (FBI) and external (CIA) police of the empire, and “left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn Greenwald, and other “respected”  publications like Mother Jones…a possible conflict within the administration is brewing about the threat of Russia as some want to take more of a defiant stance and others want to be more cordial…there doesn’t need to be a protest against rapprochement with Russia, but instead against a reactionary Russophobic position by Obama, Clinton, McCain, and the like…[we must] organize to stop the “orange menace” not because of his supposed “friendly” nature with Russia, but for the fascism he will bring to the homefront, imperialist destruction that will rein down on the peoples of Korea, Syria, China, and Iran, and unwavering support for the murderous Zionist state of Israel.

I still stand by this same viewpoint, but I went through a Wikipedia article titled “Russian interference in the 2016 United States election” so you don’t have to, and what I found confirmed by perceptions. As a disclaimer, this article is NOT pro-Trump in any way, shape or form, but only shows the Trump-Russia “connection” as fraudulent based on analysis of existing articles written on the subject and that such bourgeois media that wrote these articles should generally not be trusted.

Muddying through Wikipedia

There is no doubt that like Google, Wikipedia is fundamentally bourgeois, even with the “non-profit” status of the Wikimedia Foundation will controls the site. I say this even as a person who has edited numerous Wikipedia articles myself in hopes to countering bourgeois distortions. The following is a list of sources, with articles in the footnotes, that have been cited as “proof” that there is a Russia connection:

  • Unnamed “U.S. officials,” current and former, always ranging in number, sometimes “senior” and have “access to information,” sometimes in the White House. [1]
  • Unnamed “Western intelligence” officials, either in U.S. or foreign intelligence. [2]
  • Information or reports “obtained by a Western intelligence service” that only the media can see, like a secret CIA assessment. [3]
  • Obama administration officials (prior to November 8 election), including Ben Rhodes, Josh Earnest, and President Obama himself [4]
  • Christopher Steele dossier on Trump-Russia “connections,” with documents that haven’t been verified but may have been used as a “roadmap” for investigation by the FBI, who was open to paying him for the information, among other aspects [5]
  • Crowdstrike, the pro-Dem firm run by an anti-Putin individual contracted by the DNC to investigate the hack, blamed the Russians [6]
  • “Guccifer 2.0,” the Romanian hacker who claims he gave docs to Wikileaks even though this has not been confirmed, to whom Roger Stone claims he talked to and has a “backchannel” to Assange, both of which can’t be proven. [7]
  • “suspicious” supposedly “pro-Russia” actions by DCLeaks and Wikileaks or weak supposition [8]
  • DHS, DNI, and private security companies “conclusions,” with specific reference to a  14-page document by CIA, DNI, and FBI, had “high confidence” in Russian involvement, a report commissioned by Obama, even though the Intelligence Community Assessment or ICA was drafted by the CIA, FBI, and NSA, relies on “reporting” of varied sources and “multiple corroborating sources,” their “assessment” based on how they see Russian behavior, claims that Putin and Russian government had preference for Trump over Clinton, claim Moscow used disclosed documents, accessing DNC databases, because RT, other Russia state outlets, was critical of Clinton (that means they swung the election for Trump?), criticizing US shortcomings in civil liberties and democracy using an open source report published in 2012, criticizing US (means that RT is somehow pro-Trump?), RT hosts criticize fracking (so they serve Russian interests?), they even admit near the end of the report that even as RT has more YouTube views and subscribers, CNN has the most Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and Facebook likes of the bourgeois news organizations they list (Al Jazeera English, BBC News World, along with RT), admit at the end that even an assessment of “high confidence” could “be wrong” with the assessment not necessarily a “fact or certainty” [9] Later, these same agencies, CIA, FBI, and NSA stood by their previous assessment, of course.
  • Claims of Russian business ties with Newsweek even admitting that they can’t find any illegal action, and noting there are business ties across the world [10]
  • Claims Putin “praised” Trump, even though he didn’t. [11] Further articles showed that Putin just called Trump a colorful figure or flamboyant, but did NOT call him a genius or any of the other “praise” he supposedly gave.
  • Pending investigations by FBI, NSA, CIA, DOJ, FINCEN (Treasury Dept), and ODNI reps; also some individual agencies are sometimes cited. [12]
  • Max Boot, Clinton campaign, a lawsuit by Bayrock, Toronto Life magazine, news media itself (WashPO and Bloomberg), claimed “Russian trolls,” FBI insiders, and magical “experts” [13]
  • Joint ODNI-DHS statement even admitting that they are only “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails” and they only “believe” top Russian officials involved; also Clapper, the DNI, but not “17 agencies” agreeing as some claimed. [14]
  • Private security companies ThreatConnect (likely US military/intelligence contractor), Symantec which received a license from the US military in 2005, FireEye run by a former Pentagon officer, and Dell-owned Secureworks which maintains “close ties to various public and private organizations involved in information security” such as the federal government, intelligence and military sectors [15]
  • Unnamed US, European, and Arab officials [16]

Apart from these piss-poor “sources” of collusion, there are confirmed meetings between Trump Administration officials and the Russians, but every administration, even through the Cold War has met with the Russians, and as some US diplomats admitted, including Clinton ally Michael Morrell, this is not a crime as even James Clapper said at one point. [17] Then there’s Michael Flynn. There is no doubt he was paid by RT for three talks, but so has Ron Paul and other US political personalities they’ve had on their show, so how does this show that the Russians “rigged” the election? [18] The truth is it doesn’t do this at all. Perhaps its better to focus on the fact that he was a registered foreign agent for Turkey, that he was the board member of the pro-drone group (Drone Aviation Holding Corp) for which he gained $24,000, consultant for the hawkish Center for a New American Security, among much more that would make him chummy with the capitalist class. All of this has led to some thinking that the Pentagon is right but that Russian media “lies,” claims that the Russians hacked the Trump campaign too but didn’t release information (disproving the whole collusion), as the Russians note that they also spoke with Clinton advisers, and Putin said that the Democrats should get over their loss in November (they should). [19] As a result of the determination that Russia was “behind” the hacking, a number of events went into motion. The FBI spied on Carter Page for at least 90 days, and Trump conceded Russia role sort of but also didn’t, later decrying a “witch hunt” by the Democrats. [20]

Of course, the FBI and intelligence establishment, along with the lackey bourgeois media are wrong. Still, Clinton strongly believes in Russia role as do some former Intel chiefs and Evan McMillian (former CIA) but RNC doesn’t and neither does David Nunes. The media are so caught up in this, they were angry about publication of official photos, with the Russian Foreign Ministry saying that if they hadn’t published pictures from the meeting, the photos would have leaked, which is probably correct.

With such a predictable propaganda assault by the bourgeois media and Russophobes within the military and intelligence establishments, US public opinion reflects this reality. 51-56% of the public, depending on the poll, believes in such interference, with at minimum, 39% opposing this viewpoint. [21] Furthermore, over 60% of those living in the US have said that they are “concerned” about ties to Russia. Some may say these viewpoints are residual effects of the Cold War, with strongly rooted in anti-communism of that time. However, it is more likely that even with waning popularity of bourgeois media in the United States many still rely on it for news and viewpoints that are critical of US empire are marginalized. It may also have to do with uber-nationalism of Americans, many of whom may not trust Trump and see him as a shyster. The real explanation here is not known.

Trump’s tweets and other commentary

Some may say cite Trump’s tweets as “evidence” of the collusion. A search through his tweets for the word “Russia” shows that this is faulty. Looking through tweets from 2011 to 2016 shows that he is more uber-nationalist, jingoist to use the right word, than having any sort of favoritism toward Russia. [22]

The tweets this year, after his election, which are displayed in the search, are worth focusing on here. They range from Trump declaring that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi met with the Russians, basically saying that meeting with the Russians is normal, calling these Dems “hypocrites,” while again blaming Obama, even claiming he colluded with Russia (no proof of that). He goes on to say that the “so-called Russia story” is (1) “fake news,” (2) claims that there is a magical deal the Clintons made with Russia over uranium which is somehow connected to John Podesta somehow, (3) that the “Trump Russia story is a hoax,” and (4) calls the Russia-Trump connection “phony.” He then said that “things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia” with everyone eventually coming to their “senses,” that the story about Trump’s connection to Russia is an excuse used by Democrats, that Democrat “dealings with Russia” are not investigated by the media, that Clapper noted that there is no collusion between Trump and Russia, asks if Obama was too “soft” on Russia (implying he would be more hardline), and says that the Russians might be laughing at the whole story. Most strikingly is a tweet on May 8, in which he declares “the Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

Then there are two tweets the bourgeois media claims are “evidence” that Trump gave classified information to the Russians. In them, Trump says that it is “absolute right” to share facts with them which pertain to “terrorism and airline flight safety” which he says he is doing not only for “humanitarian reasons” but because he wants “Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.” I don’t see how this “proves” that classified information was shared. Just because Trump says he shared information, who is to say this is classified information? Also, who is to say that these tweets aren’t just part of Trump’s bravado and he’s making the whole thing up?

Five days before this, Trump, in an interview with NBC News, declared the following:

“This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Predictably, PolitiFact showed its Russophobia in response. They said that the FBI and intelligence community have “credible evidence” and that Democrats weren’t behind it, cites magical “evidence” in assessments, shows even Federation of American Scientists believes in collision, and also cites Comey and Clapper. As noted earlier in this article, this is utter baloney. While I think there is validity to his statement that the “Russia thing with Trump” is made-up, it is more than just the Democrats. The military and intelligence establishments of the United States, the Democrats, numerous Republicans, other Western intelligence services, and capitalist governments across the “West” have a coordinated Russophobic propaganda offensive. This goes back to 2014 at least, when the “crisis” in Ukraine begun with a coup in the country by Nazi and reactionary forces, seemingly assisted by the CIA and US intelligence in general. In fact, such Russophobia goes back further, perhaps all the way to 1917 when the Soviet Union was founded, but it was a different strain back then, with a lapse in that strain after the demise of the USSR in 1991, and picking up again in 2000 with Vladimir Putin coming to the helm of the independent capitalist Russian state.

The staff of the PSL’s Liberation News put it best, even better than Mike Whitney, as they centered it in an anti-capitalist context.It is worth quoting what they said in part:

“Clinton’s leaked emails have never been conclusively linked to Russia, or to the Russian government. Nor was the leak that novel — the whole game of modern electoral politics is to dig up dirt which compromises one’s opponent…It is likely that Gen. Mike Flynn, then the incoming national security chief, came to some understanding in December with the Russian ambassador about the easing of sanctions. Again, the people who think that this is exceptional — as if presidential campaigns and incoming administrations do not start striking deals before they formally take over — have serious delusions about the workings of politics. What was exceptional was that Flynn lied about it to his own superiors…Most of the Trump team’s purported “collusion” with Russia amounts to rather standard contacts with a foreign government. Trump was open throughout the campaign that he wanted to reorient U.S. policy towards Russia — which would indeed have signified a seismic shift in geopolitics, and would have had dramatic ramifications on crisis flashpoints such as Syria and Ukraine. In this context is it really surprising that his subordinates and team would have developed Russian contacts and back-channels? Why is every conversation with a Russian suddenly proof of foreign control?…the Russia realignment died almost as soon as Trump came into office — CIA-CNN-DNC pressure campaign after the election made sure of that. The administration changed its tone and then doubled down on the new Cold War when it bombed Syria in March [he means April]…But as a political card, the Russia connection remains particularly convenient to the DNC and its associated liberal organizations such as MoveOn. It taps into a long-held and well-indoctrinated prejudice — fear of Russians — while directing the struggle against Trump into channels they can more easily control: investigative committees, special prosecutors, and made-for-tv intrigue…The Russia card gives the Democratic leadership a strategy to weaken or potentially bring down Trump — as their base wants — without actually meeting the demands from below to move the party in a more left-wing, progressive direction.”

A conclusion

It’s hard to know the reason for Trump’s firing of Mr. Comey on May 9, one week ago. Perhaps it was because Marylander Rod J. Rosenstein, who only became Deputy Attorney General on April 26 after near unanimous approval of the US Senate, had convinced Attorney General Jeff Sessions that through revealing the investigation of Killary before the election, he had weakened the “public confidence in the FBI.” [23] Mr. Rosenstein said such in his letter recommending the firing of Mr. Comey, writing in part:

“Over the past year, however, the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage…I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken….The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution…When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information….former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties…concluded that the Director violated his obligation to “preserve, protect and defend” the traditions of the Department and the FBI…Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly…The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong…the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.” [24]

Taking this letter into account, one could almost say that the removal of Mr. Comey was in a sense, a PR move to improve the “reputation” of the FBI, which would appeal to the law-and-order approach of Mr. “expand the drug war” Sessions and Trump himself. This would also explain the timing of the letter. While Trump has supposedly said that the “Russia investigation” was on his mind when he fired Mr. Comey, the decision to fire was likely about improving the FBI’s “image” among the populace as a “nonpartisan” agency although it has never been non-political in any way. I could see how firing Mr. Comey damages Mr. Rosenstein’s “independence,” but I would be wary of calling him a “lackey” of Trump just yet.

With pending investigations in the House and Senate, the “Trump-Russia connection” seems destined to continue as a “legitimate” topic for the rest of this year, maybe for his whole first term. In the meantime, Trump’s EPA has greenlighted a gold mine in Alaska despite the environmental effects, the Trump State Department cited the discredited Amnesty report to smear Syrian government for its “brutality” (which has been rightly dismissed by the Syrian government), the Trump Pentagon continues to kill Syrian civilians every day, and most startlingly, and Trump’s plan to review protections on 27 national monuments could very well open up “more than 2.7 million acres of iconic US landscape” through extraction of oil, coal, and natural gas.

But, instead, say the hard-nosed bourgeois liberals and progressives, let’s all dance around with glee, allying with the US intelligence and military establishments, and impeach Trump for his “traitorous” action of talking with the Russians, who they think, based on the propaganda from the bourgeois media, rigged the election for Trump. Nothing could be more ridiculous. There is no doubt that the Electoral College is an institution which supported slavery, racism, bigotry, and exploitation, while muting popular movements. However, as it stands now, this means that by the existing laws, based in the “supreme” law of the land, the US Constitution, Trump was elected legally. This was not only because Killary didn’t care about the white section of the working class but due to her crass elitism like calling all of Trump’s supporters “the basket of deplorables…[they are] racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it,” a faux pas as bad as Mitt Romney’s remarks in which he said that 47% of the populace will vote for the populace and are entitled, people who “pay no income tax,” whom Romney doesn’t care about at all.

The talk of Trump-Russia “collusion” will go on, but as reasonable people we must be above this, rejecting such narratives and work with those affected by Trumpian fascism Lest us not be dupes of the bourgeois media as many bourgeois liberals and progressives already are, trapping many publications in self-made deception, while the capitalist class laughs in glee as they continue to destroy the work, crushing resistance wherever it can be found, and by whatever means at their disposal.

Notes

[1] Greg Miller and Adam Entous, “Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2017; AP, “Trump transition raised flags about Flynn Russia contacts,” May 5, 2017; Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” Washington Post, May 15, 2017; William M. Arkin, Ken Dilanian, and Cynthia McFadden, “U.S. Officials: Putin Personally Involved in U.S. Election Hack,” NBC News, Dec. 15, 2016; Yara Bayoumy, “Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump’s favor: U.S. officials,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016; Barbara Starr, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, and Elise Labbott, “Intel analysis shows Putin approved election hacking,” CNN, Dec. 16, 2016; , “Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 US election – documents,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2017; Jack Stubbs and Denis Pinchuk, “Russia denies Reuters report think tank drew up plan to sway U.S. election,” Reuters, Apr. 21, 2017; Ken Dilanian and William M. Arkin, “Blackwater Founder Repped Trump at Secret Meeting Overseas: Sources,” NBC News, Apr. 3, 2017; Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper, and Carl Bernstein, “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” CNN, Jan. 12, 2017; Washington Newsroom of Reuters, “U.S. intel report identifies Russians who gave emails to WikiLeaks -officials,” Reuters, Jan. 6, 2017; Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” New York Times, Feb. 14, 2017; Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, and Michael S. Schmidt, “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking,” New York Times, Mar. 1, 2017.

[2] Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election,” Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2017; CBS News, “More details on U.S. probe of Russian hacking of DNC,” YouTube, Dec. 14, 2016; Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, and James Gordon Meek, “Officials: Master Spy Vladimir Putin Now Directly Linked to US Hacking,” ABC News, Dec. 15, 2016; Ali Watkins, “Intel Officials Believe Russia Spreads Fake News,” BuzzFeed, Nov. 30, 2016; Ken Dilanian, “Official: Flynn Discussed Sanctions With Russians Before Taking Office,” NBC News, Feb. 10, 2017; Spencer Ackerman, “Intelligence figures fear Trump reprisals over assessment of Russia election role,” The Guardian, Dec. 11, 2016; Shane Harris, “Donald Trump Fuels Rift With CIA Over Russian Hack,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 11, 2016; Luke Harding, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, and Nick Hopkins, “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,” The Guardian, Apr. 13, 2017.

[3] Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump, Putin and the Hidden History of How Russia Interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election,” Newsweek, Jan. 10, 2017; Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House,” Washington Post, Dec. 9, 2016.

[4] Euan McKirdy, “WikiLeaks’ Assange: Russia didn’t give us emails,” CNN, Jan. 4, 2017; Fox News, “Obama says US needs to respond to Russian cyberattacks — ‘and we will’,” Dec. 15, 2016; Yara Bayoumy, “Putin turned Russia election hacks in Trump’s favor: U.S. officials,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016.

[5] Adam Goldman, “Russian Spies Tried to Recruit Carter Page Before He Advised Trump,” New York Times, Apr. 4, 2017; Scott Shane, “What We Know and Don’t Know About the Trump-Russia Dossier,” New York Times, Jan. 11, 2017; Julie Pace, “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met with Russian spy in 2013,” Chicago Tribune, Apr. 3, 2017; Ali Watkins, “A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy,” BuzzFeed, Apr. 3, 2017; David Corn, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump,” Mother Jones, Oct. 31, 2016; Tom Hamburger and Rosalind D. Helderman, “FBI once planned to pay former British spy who authored controversial Trump dossier,” Washington Post, Feb. 28, 2017; BBC News, “Meeting the man behind the Trump memos,” Jan. 14, 2017; Rosie Gray, “‘It Is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump’,” The Atlantic, Jan. 10, 2017; Natasha Bertrand, “The FBI is reportedly using the explosive Trump-Russia dossier as a ‘roadmap’ for its investigation,” Business Insider, Mar. 30, 2017; Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Manu Raju, “FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation,” CNN, Apr. 18, 2017.

[6] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016; Clint Watts, “Why Russia Wants the U.S. to Believe the Election Was Hacked,” PBS NOVA Next, Oct. 26, 2016; Dmitri Alpervitch, “Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee,” Crowdstrike, Jun. 15, 2016.

[7] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016; Trump adviser Roger Stone repeatedly claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks dumps,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2017; Chas Danner, “Trump Adviser Roger Stone Admits Messaging With Alleged DNC Hacker,” New York magazine, Mar. 11, 2017; Martin Matishak, “Roger Stone takes center stage as Congress lines up Russia probe witnesses,” Politico, Mar. 20, 2017; Maggie Haberman, “Roger Stone, the ‘Trickster’ on Trump’s Side, Is Under F.B.I. Scrutiny,” New York Times, Mar. 21, 2017; Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, “Trump Adviser Had Twitter Contact With Figure Tied to Russians,” New York Times, Mar. 11, 2017.

[8] Thomas Rid, “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History,” Esquire magazine, Oct. 20, 2016.

[9] Greg Miller and Adam Entous, “Declassified report says Putin ‘ordered’ effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump,” Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2017; Clint Watts, “Why Russia Wants the U.S. to Believe the Election Was Hacked,” PBS NOVA Next, Oct. 26, 2016; Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “ODNI Statement on Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” IC On the Record (tumblr), Jan. 6, 2017; Bryon Tau, “Trump’s top intelligence officials accept conclusion that Russia hacked election,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2017; New York Times, “Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking,” Jan. 6, 2017.

[10] Kurt Eichenwald, “How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security,” Newsweek, Sept. 14, 2016; Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin,” Washington Post, Jun. 17, 2016.

[11] Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin,” Washington Post, Jun. 17, 2016; Jeremy Diamond and Greg Botelho, “Putin praises ‘bright and talented’ Trump,” CNN, Dec. 17, 2015.

[12] Ken Dilanian, Robert Windrem, William M. Arkin, and Tom Winter, “FBI Making Inquiry Into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager’s Foreign Ties,” NBC News, Nov. 1, 2016; Peter Stone and Greg Gordon, “FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump,” McClatchy, Jan. 18, 2017; Zeeshan Aleem, “6 different agencies have come together to investigate Trump’s possible Russia ties,” Vox, Jan. 21, 2017; Stephen Collinson, “FBI: Trump campaign, Russia ties investigated, no wiretap evidence found,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2017.

[13] Jeff Nesbit, “Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia,” Time, Aug. 15, 2016; Rachel Roberts, “Donald Trump fired James Comey because ‘he refused to end Russia investigation’, say multiple FBI insiders,” Independent, May 11, 2017; Leo Benedictus, “Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges,” The Guardian, Nov. 6, 2016; Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts, and JM Berger, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy,” War on the Rocks, Nov. 6, 2016; Jill Dougherty, “The reality behind Russia’s fake news,” CNN, Dec. 2, 2016; Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2016 (the infamous story in which they promoted PropOrNot, which STILL hasn’t been deleted).

[14] DHS and Director of National Intelligence, “Joint DHS and ODNI Election Security Statement,” Oct. 7, 2016; Spencer Ackerman and Sam Thielman, “US officially accuses Russia of hacking DNC and interfering with election,” The Guardian, Oct. 8, 2016; Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjan, and Philip Rucker, “Top U.S. intelligence official: Russia meddled in election by hacking, spreading of propaganda,” Washington Post, Jan. 5, 2017; Fred Flitz, “Was Friday’s declassified report claiming Russian hacking of the 2016 election rigged?,” Fox News opinion, Jan. 7, 2017; Tessa Stuart, “A Who’s Who of the Trump Campaign’s Russia Connections,” Rolling Stone, Mar. 2, 2017.

[15] ThreatConnect, “Does a BEAR Leak in the Woods?,” Aug. 12, 2016; Kevin Poulsen, “How the U.S. Hobbled Its Hacking Case Against Russia and Enabled Truthers,” The Daily Beast, Jan. 6, 2017; SecureWorks, “Threat Group-4127 Targets Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign,” Jun. 16, 2016.

[16] Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2017.

[17]Michael S. Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, and Matt Apuzzo, “Kushner and Flynn Met With Russian Envoy in December, White House Says,” New York Times, Mar. 2, 2017; Mark Landler and Eric Lichtblau, “Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Inquiry,” Mar. 2, 2017; Jo Becker and Matthew Rosenberg, “Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms,” New York Times, Apr. 6, 2017; Jonathan Easley, “Diplomats warn of Russia hysteria,” The Hill, Mar. 11, 2017; Ken Dilanian, “Clinton Ally Says Smoke, But No Fire: No Russia-Trump Collusion,” NBC News, Mar. 16, 2017; NBC Meet the Press, “Full Clapper: ‘No Evidence’ of Collusion Between Trump and Russia,” 2016?; Todd Shepard, “James Clapper: Still no evidence of any Russian collusion with Trump campaign,” Washington Times, May 8, 2017; Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, “Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose,” Washington Post, Mar. 1, 2017; Julie Pace, “Senate committee calls on former Trump adviser Carter Page in Russia investigation,” Associated Press, Mar. 6, 2017; Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2017; David Ignatius, “Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?,” Washington Post opinion, Jan. 12, 2017; Marshall Cohen and Eli Watkins, “Who is Carter Page?,” CNN, Mar. 4, 2017.

[18] Michael Isikoff, “Moscow paid $45,000 for Flynn’s 2015 talk, documents show,” Yahoo News, Mar. 16, 2017; Lachlan Markay, “Michael Flynn Failed to Disclose Payments From Russian Propaganda Network,” The Daily Beast, Apr. 1, 2017.

[19] Clint Watts and Andrew Weisburd, “How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And, Trump, Too),” The Daily Beast, Aug. 6, 2016; Carl Schreck, “FBI Director: No Evidence Russia Successfully Hacked Trump Campaign,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty (US government propaganda outlet), Jan. 10, 2017; David Filipov, “Putin to Democratic Party: You lost, get over it,” Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016; Olivia Beavers, “Kremlin spokesman: Russian ambassador met with advisers to Clinton campaign too,” The Hill, Mar. 12, 2017.

[20] Julie Hirschfield Davis and Maggie Haberman, “Donald Trump Concedes Russia’s Interference in Election,” Jan. 11, 2017; Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett, and Adam Entous, “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page,” Washington Post, Apr. 11, 2017; Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann, “Trump Cries ‘Witch Hunt’ as Russia Questions Pile Up,” NBC News, Mar. 3, 2017.

[21] Gregory Holyk, “Republicans and Democrats split over Russia probes: Poll,” ABC News, Apr. 26, 2017; Steven Shepard, “Russia investigations a ‘witch hunt’? Not according to polls,” Politico, Mar. 3, 2017; Reid J. Epstein, “About Half of Americans Think Russia Interfered With Election Through Hacking, Poll Finds,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 2017; Quinnipac University Poll, “American Voters Back Sanctions For Russian Hacking, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Israel, Palestinians Not Sincere About Peace, Voters Say,” Jan. 13, 2017.

[22] In 2011 and 2012, Trump was still a real estate developer and ravenous capitalist. He displayed his unbridled nationalism by declaring Obama weak for not getting the Chinese and Russians to agree on sanctions, while also saying that Obama’s plan to get Russia to “stand up” to Iran has failed, making America a “laughingstock.” He later called Obama weak (again) and showed his affinity with Mitt Romney. The following year, he took a hardline stand in support of an US nuclear deterrent (against Russia), slammed Snowden first as a “traitor” and then as a pawn of the Russians, saying that Russians are “embarrassing” the US, among much more. Trump also said that the Russians are “laughing” at the US, that Snowden is a traitor (and another time), that Russia doesn’t “respect” the US, that Putin is “laughing at Obama,” and that Snowden is a Russian agent (again here). He also claims he spoke with the LGBT community in Russia, that it doesn’t make sense to go in Syria with military force, that the Russians are “better prepared” for war than the US, and that OPEC, China, and Russia are “laughing” at the US (variant of this here). That’s not all. He also said that Obama’s Syria conflict could become a “worldwide conflict,” promoted the Miss Universe pageant in Russia (also see here), that US looks “worse” to Russia than before, that Russian and Chinese leaders are “smarter” than those in the US, that the war in Iraq is “stupid,” that Russia may have driven the US into a “deeper mess,” and that the US looks “weak.” He goes on to say later that the US must be “smart and strategic” when it comes to Russia, mocks Obamacare (also see here),  Russia beat the US in Olympics, which is another “embarrassment,” Russia laughing at the US yet again, that Putin is much more popular than Obama, that Russia should be watched, Putin and Russia have more leadership than Obama, and calls Snowden a piece of “human garbage” who should be brought back to stand trial. He later tweets about Russian moves in Ukraine, a China-Russia oil deal, the country seeming “weaker” in comparison to Russia, joking about Obama’s “trade” with Russia, China and Russia not helping fighting ISIS which angers him (also see here), and slamming Jeb Bush (also see here). Later years, in 2014 and 2015 he says that the US needs “great leadership,” that Russia isn’t a regional power, that China and Russia are “smart” unlike US leaders, Russia and the world “respecting” the US because of Trump (oh really), slamming the Iran deal as helping Russia. There are the tweets that some would say are “pro-Russia.” With his bravedo, Trump claimed, before he was elected/selected via the Electoral College in November 2016, that (1) “Putin likes me,” (2) he has “ZERO investments in Russia,” (3) says that Putin called him a genius (he didn’t), and (4) said that if any country had the deleted emails of Killary, including the Russians, they should leak them. Yet, this is countered by the fact that he criticized Russia for its occupation of Crimea (which was done by referendum, which he doesn’t believe), blaming Obama, and condemning Russia’s nuclear capabilities, to give a few examples.

[23] Charlie Savage, “Deputy Attorney General’s Memo Breaks Down Case Against Comey,” New York Times, May 9, 2017; David Leonhardt, “Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test,” New York Times, May 10, 2017; Doyle McManus, “All eyes in Washington are on Rod Rosenstein. Does he have what it takes to investigate Trump?,” LA Times, May 10, 2017; Pamela Brown and Eric Lichtblau, “Rod Rosenstein: Trump’s unlikely hatchet man,” CNN, May 10, 2017; Steve Reilly, “Rosenstein: ‘Prosecutor’s prosecutor’ at center of Comey firestorm,” USA Today, May 10, 2017; Benjamin Wittes, “Et Tu Rod? Why The Deputy Attorney General Must Resign,” LawFare, May 12, 2017; Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Sari Horwitz, and Robert Costa, “Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey,” Washington Post, May 10, 2017 (claims to tell the “story” of the behind-the-scenes of the Comey firing).

[24] BBC News, “Rod Rosenstein’s letter recommending Comey be fired,” May 10, 2017.

“The most heinous act against humanity”: new imperial sanctions on the DPRK

Five ports in China and Russia which would be monitored/”inspected” by the US as part of the recently-passed sanctions. Map was created in Google Earth.

On the heels of Trump’s aggressive posture toward the DPRK, threatening them with military action (and with diplomatic isolation) if they don’t remove their nuclear weapons, which are their main form of self-defense against the imperial beast, the US House of Representatives in a 419-1 vote passed new round of new sanctions against the DPRK, with only GOP Representative Thomas Massie voting against it, and 10 others not voting. As to date, Mr. Massie has not explained his reasons for voting against this legislation, which is currently being considered by the Senate’s Committee of Foreign Relations. Regardless, this legislation is a direct attack upon the DPRK, trying to coax it to surrender to US imperialists. This article aims to show how that is the case.

DPRK and Russia respond to the law with strong criticism

Yesterday, the Supreme People’s Assembly, the duly-elected unicameral parliament of the DPRK, sent a letter of protest to the US House, condemning the new sanctions. As PressTV describes it, showing that the Iranians undoubtedly feel similar about the legislation, the law targets the DPRK’s “exports and shipping industry” with the new sanctions banning “ships owned or hired by North Korea from operating in US waters or docking at US ports,” prohibiting “products originating from North Korea…from entering the United States,” and requiring Trump to report to the Congress within 90 of the legislation on whether the DPRK “has retreated on its activities or should be reinstated on the government’s list of “state sponsors of terror”” which, if put in place, would “trigger even more sanctions.” The KCNA, in an article titled “DPRK SPA Foreign Affairs Committee’s Letter of Protest to U.S. House of Representatives” reprinted the message of the SPA’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the subject:

The SPA Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK avails itself of this opportunity to strongly condemn and resolutely reject the “North Korea Interdiction & Modernization of Sanctions Act” (H.R. 1644) that the U.S. House of Representatives passed on May 4, 2017, and extends this letter of protest. The passage of the above legislation amounts to the most heinous act against humanity that not only infringes upon the sacred sovereignty of the DPRK as well as its people’s rights to existence but also arbitrarily violates universal principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries which run through the United Nations Charter and international laws. That the U.S. House of Representatives passed the above legislation speaks volumes about the ignorance of U.S. politicians who know nothing about the root cause of the long-standing hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. and the essence of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula; it is yet another product of hostile policy towards the DPRK. The hostile policy and acts of the United States of America targeting the DPRK – including but not limited to the abovementioned legislation – run counter to the efforts aimed at ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula; it will only further handicap the USA in its attempt to resolve the nuclear issue. If what the U.S. House of Representatives really wants is peace and security on the Korean peninsula and resolution of the nuclear issue, it would do well to delve into more relevant issues such as the establishment of lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, enactment of laws aimed at putting an end to the hostile relations between the DPRK and the USA, etc. There’s no denying that the DPRK is fully capable of safeguarding its sovereignty along with its rights to existence and development. The consequences will be dire if the U.S. House of Representatives, obsessed with inherent sense of disapproval towards the DPRK, misjudges the DPRK’s determination and capabilities and continues to meddle in other’s internal affairs and bring pressure to bear on another country by invoking its domestic laws. The U.S. House of Representatives should think twice. As the U.S. House of Representatives enacts more and more of these reckless hostile laws, the DPRK’s efforts to strengthen nuclear deterrents will gather greater pace, beyond anyone’s imagination. The DPRK will keep a watchful eye on the next moves of the USA and continue to take legitimate actions for self-defense to counter the hostile policy of the USA towards the DPRK. The SPA Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK takes this opportunity to reiterate its position that the U.S. House of Representatives must have [a] correct understanding of the essence of the current situation and make rational moves as regards the issue of the Korean peninsula.

The arguments that the law infringes on DPRK sovereignty, violates “principles of sovereign equality and non-interference” and tries to deny “the DPRK is fully capable of safeguarding its sovereignty along with its rights to existence and development,” among others in the above quote are completely valid. Similarly, within Russia, the reactions to the law have been broadly negative and rightfully so. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house Committee for International Relations within the Russian Duma, argues that realization of this bill “includes a proposed force scenario in which the US Navy would conduct compulsory inspections of all ships. Such a scenario is simply unthinkable because it means a declaration of war.” In another translation of the same quote, Mr. Kosachev is more reserved, hoping that the bill is not implemented because it if it is, it “envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships” which he argues is “beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war.” Other high-ranking Russian officials felt the same way. Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense and Security, was more specific, saying what was important was “the list of nations where US congressmen want to have special control over sea ports” which he notes includes ports within  Russia, China, Iran and Syria, showing that “the United States is again trying to expand its jurisdiction all over the globe.” He added that doing this is almost telling “Russia, China, Iran and Syria that these nations are suspects in crime, which is nonsense, according to international law.” Finally there was Andrey Krasov, the other deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense and Security, saying that “the US administration will receive a symmetrical adequate response to any unfriendly steps toward Russia and our allies. In any case, no US ship will enter our waters.”

The law itself

Looking at the text of the law, it is clear that concerns of the DPRK and Russian governments are well founded. The section 104 of the law that talks about imperialist monitoring shows this to be the case:

(a) REPORT REQUIRED.—

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this section, and annually thereafter for 5 years, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report—

A) identifying the operators of foreign sea ports and airports that have knowingly—

‘‘(i) failed to implement or enforce regulations to inspect ships, aircraft, cargo, or conveyances in transit to or from North Korea, as required by applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions;

‘‘(ii) facilitated the transfer, trans-shipment, or conveyance of significant types or quantities of cargo, vessels, or aircraft owned or controlled by persons designated under applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions; or

‘‘(iii) facilitated any of the activities described in section 104(a)

“(b) SPECIFIC FINDINGS.—

Each report required under subsection (a) shall include specific findings with respect to the following ports and airports:

‘‘(1) The ports of Dandong, Dalian, and any other port in the People’s Republic of China that the President deems appropriate.

‘‘(2) The ports of Abadan, Bandar-e-Abbas, Chabahar, Bandar-e-Khomeini, Bushehr Port, Asaluyeh Port, Kish, Kharg Island, Bandar-e-Lenge, and Khorramshahr, and Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, in the Islamic Republic of Iran

‘‘(3) The ports of Nakhodka, Vanino, and Vladivostok, in the Russian Federation.

‘‘(4) The ports of Latakia, Banias, and Tartous, and Damascus International Airport, in the Syrian Arab Republic.

‘‘(c) ENHANCED SECURITY TARGETING REQUIREMENTS.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary of Homeland Security may, using the Automated Targeting System operated by the National Targeting Center of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, require enhanced screening procedures to determine whether physical inspections are warranted of any cargo bound for or landed in the United States that—

‘‘(A) has been transported through a sea port or airport the operator of which has been identified by the President in accordance with subsection (a)(1) as having repeatedly failed to comply with applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions;

‘(2) EXCEPTION FOR FOOD, MEDICINE, AND HUMANITARIAN SHIPMENTS

—Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any vessel, aircraft, or conveyance that has entered the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea, or landed in any of the sea ports or airports of North Korea, exclusively for the purposes described in section 208(b)(3)(B), or to import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea to meet the humanitarian needs of the North Korean people.

‘(d) SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE

—A vessel, aircraft, or conveyance used to facilitate any of the activities described in section 104(a) under the jurisdiction of the United States may be seized and forfeited under [certain laws]

While these sanctions show that the imperial monitoring of “the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea” shall not apply to those vessels or planes which “import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea,” the fact that there would be monitoring by the US Navy (and Air Force?) is undoubtedly an act of war.

Ports within Iran and Syria that will be subject to imperial monitoring and inspection. Map was created with Google Earth, with titles of countries added in a photo editing software.

Section 104(a), part of an anti-DPRK sanctions law which went into effect last year,  mentioned in the above quote as part of the imperial monitoring, shows these efforts are aimed at the DPRK’s socialist, centrally-planned economy. An excerpt from this section shows this is the case, saying that President shall designate, except under certain circumstances [1], any person who he determines “knowingly, directly or indirectly”  imported, exported, or re-exported the following to the DPRK:

  • “any goods, services, or technology” which could be used for “weapons of mass destruction [WMD] or delivery systems”
  • luxury goods
  • “a significant amount of precious metal, graphite, raw or semi-finished metals or aluminum, steel, coal, or software” which can be used in “industrial processes directly related to weapons of mass destruction” or for the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), the Korean armed forces, “internal security, or intelligence activities, or the operation and maintenance of political prison camps”
  • “any arms or related materiel”

This isn’t all. Also, any person engages in the following can be sanctioned as well:

  • provides training or other services for such “WMDs”
  • engages in “significant financial transactions” relating to the creation or use of such “WMDs”
  • facilitates or engages in DPRK “censorship”
  • responsible for purported “serious human rights abuses” by the government
  • money laundering to support the government
  • “the counterfeiting of goods or currency” by the government
  • “bulk cash smuggling” by the government
  • narcotics trafficking that supports the government
  • “significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against foreign persons, governments, or other entities” on behalf of the government

Considering that the country’s industries focus on military products, building of machines, mining of coal, iron ore, and numerous other “precious metals,” along with food processing and tourism, while importing “metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments)…and fishery products” if the CIA World Factbook is to be given any credibility on this matter [2], these sanctions are not “targeted” but are rather meant to strike a dagger in the DPRK’s economy. Furthermore, these sanctions strike at the “socialist motherland” as a whole by attempting to stop any measures of self-defense (restricting arms transfers, cyber-defense, necessary censorship), or further development (stopping importation of purported “luxury goods”). This is followed by with the common slurs against the DPRK, including its purported “serious human rights abuses,” and other “new” ones including money laundering, counterfeit “goods or currency,” “cash smuggling” and narcotics trafficking by (or supporting) the DPRK’s duly elected government.

The use of narcotics as a slur against governments declared “communist” by imperial elites is nothing new. In his book, Strength of the Wolf, Douglas Valentine writes that while there were Chinese gangs in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, with the profits from opium allowing Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist government/KMT (Kuomintang of China) to survive, working directly with the drug traffickers, the New York Times alleged that Arnold Rothenstein used some of his drug money to finance “communist-sponsored strikes” in New York City’s garment district, the first time in US history that “politicians and policemen were linked with Bolsheviks and drug traffickers.” [3] That’s not all. He added that Chiang’s government, which came to power violently in 1927, which depended on drug smuggling profits, had created an “opium monopoly”/syndicate and paid for individuals to serve as part of their Communist suppression unit, such as Du Yue-sheng. [4] Adding to this, Henry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, was unwilling to acknowledge this reality. As it was evident that the Chinese Communists were engaged in “anti-narcotics activities,” not the Nationalists, Mr. Anslinger dismissed this, continuing to seek evidence that “would link the Communist Chinese to drug rings in Japan, Korea, and China” although no such evidence existed, with later anti-China propaganda asserting that all of the “illicit dope” that reached Japan came from Communist China or People’s Republic of China (PRC) while the US backed the Nationalists. [5] Anslinger made these claims even though he knew they weren’t true as part of a smear campaign against the PRC as the CIA and other entities worked with the KMT in their drug smuggling operations.

Getting back to the law, other provisions show the sanctions are even more extensive section 105, prohibits DPRK vessels (or vessels of any of the DPRK’s allies, like Russia, China, Syria, or any country not complying with sanctions on the DRPK) from entering or operating in “the navigable waters of the United States” and section 106 requires a report on the “coordination” between Iran and the DPRK. Adding to this, section 107 puts in place a report delineating if UN Security Council Resolutions are being followed by other countries, section 108 denies financial messaging services to the DPRK, and sections 201 and 202 put sanctions on the DPRK for “human rights violations.” If that isn’t enough, section 203 rewards informants who allow them to implement murderous sanctions, section 204 declares the DPRK as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and section 103 broadens an arms embargo on the country. Finally, section 102 limits financial interactions with the DPRK, section 101 modifies and expands sanctions on the Korean populace of the DPRK. [6]

The illegality of anti-Korean sanctions

Recently, in a post criticizing Trump’s imperialist act of aggression against Syria, Stephen Gowans wrote that some say that military strike was illegal because it did not have UN Security Council approval and it “represented an unauthorized act of war,” only unilaterally ordered by the White House. However, he says that such discussion of illegality is “academic” because the United States has “amassed a sizable record of crimes in Syria…[including the] intrusion of US military personnel on Syrian soil” which is an act of war. Hence, he concludes that since the US is “at liberty to violate international law with impunity” as an imperial monster, with “no higher authority capable of enforcing international law through the threat of a force” greater than the Pentagon, and that, as a result, expecting the US to “yield to international law is naïve and therefore any discussion of whether this or that act of the United States violates international law is a discussion of no consequence.” While I agree that holding the US accountable for violating international law is near impossible, I do think it is important to highlight if acts are illegal or not, as it shows the corrupted nature of the murderous empire. So, that’s where I disagree with Gowans.

This horrible law violates many international agreements, showing that the law, in and of itself, is illegal. While the legal status of blockades is murky, there is no doubt that this law violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact which basically bans war “as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another,” the UN Charter which requires all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against other member states while preserving state sovereignty, even as it has not acceded to the 1952 International Convention for the unification of certain rules relating to Arrest of Sea-going Ships or the 1999 replacement, both of which Syria is a party to. Even more, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the DPRK has seemingly withdrawn, prohibits “any propaganda for war” which this law has engaged in, even if you take into account the typical imperial reservations by the US Congress. Inspection and monitoring required by this act would undoubtedly violate the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation which prohibits individuals from unlawfully and intentionally seizing and taking control of “a ship by force or threat thereof or any other form of intimidation; or…[destroying] a ship or [causing] damage to a ship or to its cargo which is likely to endanger the safe navigation of that ship.” Since the DPRK, Iran, Russia, Syria, and China, all of which acceded to the previous convention, just like the United States, are serious about defending themselves from outside threats, there is no doubt they will defend themselves, meaning that US actions to take commercial vessels will become an act of war since those ships cannot, by any means, be considered warships.

There are many more treaties I could consider here in this section, but I do not wish to do that at this time. [7] There is no doubt that the use of force against a state would be illegal as any act of war or forceful action has to be approved by the UN Security Council but also violates the US Constitution which requires that war can only be declared by Congress, with this law basically giving that power to the President, once again. I know that citing the US Constitution may seem like a bourgeois approach, but it is only used here to show that the law is illegal in many forms. Hence, it isn’t worth going through every single international law since the US will likely never be held to account for it.

A conclusion

With all of these approaches, it is evident that the DPRK was right to say the law is “the most heinous act against humanity” and the Russians to call it “simply unthinkable” as it will lead to a declaration of war with further ban on US ships entering sovereign Russian waters. After all, as the murderous empire, the US has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which has been ratified by the Russians and Chinese while the DRPK and Iran have signed the agreement, with the Syrians neither signing or ratifying it. Hence, the US may feel it has the “right” to enter the sovereign waters of Russia, China, Syria, and Iran so they can suffocate the DPRK’s socialist government, making in “bow” in submission.

The DPRK is stuck in a difficult situation. Recently, the DPRK has foiled an attempted joint CIA-South Korean IS (Intelligence Service) attempt to assassinate Kim Jong Un. The Ministry of State Security of the DPRK said on May 5 that both forces “hatched a vicious plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the DPRK…[using] biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance,” handing the perpetrator, part of a terrorist group that was within the country, $20,000 to commit the act. [8] This shows that the DPRK’s efforts at self-defense on its islands, with its power stations, and continuing to build their form of socialism based on the masses, connected with the idea of Juche while standing up to the US imperialists with “deterrence for self-defence.” These ideals are, in a sense, echoed by the 25% of Russians who believe that nuclear weapons can be a “deterrent for the most aggressive forces in the world” with the “fear of mutually assured destruction encourages peaceful conflict resolution” and honored even by the Zimbabwean state paper, The Herald. If this isn’t enough, just like Syria, to an extent, the DPRK, is surrounded by enemies (Japan, South Korea, and the ever-present United States). However, they are buoyed by the anti-THAAD protests in South Korea even as the South Korean government (not the one that was recently elected) has liked the US missile “shield” program in the past, even as there are daily protests against it “by villagers in Seongju and Gimcheon.” But the DPRK should rest assured even though the US and S. Korean forces still need to properly understand the will of DPRK that Cuba and Syria have pledged their solidarity with them. Even though this solidarity will not, by itself, stop the Pentagon from leading 300,000 troops in a rehearsal for military invasion and “decapitation” of the regime, assisted by, of course, the South Korean government, but it is an important part of an anti-imperialist alliance against US (and Western) imperialist actions which aim to undermine “unfriendly” governments, even if they differ in ideology.

Recently, Trump, the purveyor of “gunboat diplomacy,” says he is willing to talk with Kim Jong Un. However, this requires that the DPRK has to surrender to US imperialism, a sentiment reinforced by a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Anthony Ruggiero, who declared that Trump should only meet with Kim Jong Un if the DPRK surrenders its nuclear weapons, close its supposed “prison camps,” and not “threatening” the US, saying it should bow before US, which is equally unacceptable. It is worth pointing out that many of those living in the US have internalized anti-communist and imperial values. For one, 68% of the US feels it “is important that the U.S. be No. 1 in the world militarily,” 86% of the populace has unfavorable views of the DPRK, with “Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq” also in the same category. With this chauvinism of US populace, it should come as no surprise that 65% of the US are concerned about the DPRK with nuclear weapons, with 78%, in Pew’s results, having an “unfavorable view” of the country.

Despite the recent spat between the state media of the DPRK and Chinese media over the justified nuclear and missile program of the DPRK, it seems evident that the “strong bond between the two countries” will stay in place. [9] Hence, this “expected” victory for the US imperialists will not happen as the imperial threats continue from the “World’s Worst Human Rights Abuser.” After all, the US hopes they will remove the DPRK’s “nuclear deterrence for self-defence” is not going to happen. With the socialist power of the DPRK pushed along by the WPK, even under current conditions, this can resist the hardline positions of the US State Department, with Mark Toner showing that he is one of the many faces of imperialism by saying that “our conviction that we need to apply greater pressure on North Korea to get it to comply to international concerns. There are a number of options…isolation, diplomatic isolation being another one.”

Adding to this, it is troubling that China agreed to “suspend all coal imports from North Korea until the end of this year” in order to curry favor of the US, to appease it. After all, as some recently pointed out, if China brought the DPRK economy to its knees, US imperialism would win. With the WPK having the determination to not “yield to the war threats being hurled right now by the criminal agents of U.S. imperialism” with every right to self-defense, including against the “biggest nuclear weapons state in the world,” the United States, will China hold its ground? Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator, addressed this in an April 18 post in Liberation News, a PSL publication, writing that China has the message from Trump that it must either break from the DPRK or “apply immense pressure on it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile tests” or else Trump will engage in an “another round of unilateral military action on China’s border.” Mr. Becker goes on to say that Trump has borrowed “a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook” with his military action against muting “his ruling class critics,” with the Chinese leadership stunned, thinking that “unless the DPRK backs down from further expected weapons tests” there will be war. He adds that in the past the DPRK has offered to suspend its nuclear tests if the US cancels it “massive, annual military exercises that simulate the destruction of the North” but the Obama and Trump Administrations have rejected this, even as the DPRK mainly seeks a “peace treaty with the United States to formally end the Korean War that began nearly 70 years ago.” He further writes that if there is military action and the DPRK responds, this could “lead to another and possibly greater catastrophe” with the Chinese media insisting that “the DPRK not proceed with its expected missile tests,” sharply demanding that it cancel its upcoming weapons tests, and a Global Times editorial announcing that “China is ready to cut off oil exports to North Korea whose economy has stabilized in recent years.” The end of the article is worth repeating and relevant, even now, almost a month after the piece was written:

Today, the danger of igniting regional and global confrontation is real. China and Russia are backpedaling, hoping that their prudence, or possible appeasement, will deter or deflect the danger. Their position is understandable given the level of risk. But appeasement, as we know from history, poses its own risks in the face of bullying and aggression. Appeasing the bully, the aggressor, invites more not less aggression.

 

Mr. Becker makes a valid point. Any concessions to the US imperialists should be strongly criticized and not accepted, even if those concessions are by Russia and China, both of which are capitalist in their own ways, perhaps Russia more than China. As the CIA creates the Korea Mission Center to “purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” and watch the country like a persistent hawk, complains about the DPRK going to the Belt and Road Forum, the “existential threat” of the DPRK (in the strange mind of CIA chief Mike Pompeo) is being closely scrutinized, like always, by the imperialists. [10] With accusations abound by the DPRK throughout the bourgeois media, the socialist nation can only use its own wit and existing alliances in case of an imperial attack. If war under unpredictable Trump occurs, we should stand beside the DPRK in solidarity even if the war is popular within the United States, any Western country, and especially within those countries in the global periphery.

Notes

[1] If he grants a humanitarian waiver, there are activities relating to “identifying or recovering the remains” of past POWs taken during the Great Fatherland Liberation War (“Korean War”) from 1950-1953, complying with the agreement on the UN headquarters or Convention on Consular Relations, or allowing “financial services” by a non-DPRK foreign financial entity as part of a waiver.

[2] The CIA World Factbook lists the following as the country’s industries: “military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism.” It also says the country exports “minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products” while importing “petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain” with their biggest trade partner (76.4% from China, 5.5% from the Republic of the Congo).

[3] Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (New York: Verso Books, 2004), 8, 10-11.

[4] Ibid, 12-14, 17, 37-38, 47.

[5] Ibid, 68-70, 72, 77-78, 102, 133, 195, 235, 273, 309, 392.

[6] There are numerous other miscellaneous provisions manifested in sections 1-3, 301-304.

[7] See Wikipedia pages “list of treaties,” “list of international declarations,” “law of war” and the ICRC’s “Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries” page along with the Wikipedia category “Treaties adopted by United Nations General Assembly resolutions.” While Wikipedia is never source that should be cited in general, these links are a good starting point, which is why they are included here.

[8] KCNA, “DPRK Warns U.S., S. Korean Intelligence Agencies of Merciless Punishment: Ministry of State Security,” May 5, 2017; KCNA, “Statement of DPRK Central Public Prosecutors Office,” May 12, 2017; KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Gives Briefing on Situation,” May 11, 2017; North Korea wants South’s spy chief extradited over alleged Kim plot,” CNN, May 12, 2017.

[9] A DPRK (North Korean) view on the current situation as noted in a BBC interview. On May 3, 2017, KCNA released an article titled “Commentary on DPRK-China Relations” which was reprinted in Rodong Sinmun under the title “Reckless Remarks Undermining DPRK-China Relations Should Be Stopped,” by Kim Chol, a Vice Minister in the Korean Army, the same person who the bourgeois media claimed falsely was executed by mortal bombardment even though Foreign Policy said it was pure speculation. His article says the following:

The People’s Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S. Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to “the security in the northeastern region of China” by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and “offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets” in the region. Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China. The newspapers, even claiming China holds the initiative in handling the DPRK-China relations, made no scruple of letting out a string of provocative remarks urging the DPRK to choose one among such options if it doesn’t want military confrontation with China–“whether to face protracted isolation or to preserve national security by making a U-turn” and whether to break Sino-DPRK friendship or to dismantle its nukes. This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship. China is hyping up “damage caused by the DPRK’s nuclear tests” in its three northeastern provinces. This only reveals the ulterior purpose sought by it, being displeased with the DPRK’s rapid development of nukes. As far as “violation of national interests” oft-repeated by politicians and media persons of China is concerned, it is just the issue that the DPRK should rather talk much about. It is just the DPRK whose strategic interests have been repeatedly violated due to insincerity and betrayal on the part of its partner, not China at all. Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China. China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. Some ignorant politicians and media persons of China daringly assert that the traditional relations of the DPRK-China friendship were in line with the interests of each county in the past. They are advised to clearly understand the essence of history before opening their mouth. Their call for not only slapping stricter sanctions but also not ruling out a military intervention if the DPRK refuses to abandon its nuclear program is no more than an extremely ego-driven theory based on big-power chauvinism that not only the strategic interests but also the dignity and vital rights of the DPRK should be sacrificed for the interests of China. One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now. China should no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience but make proper strategic option, facing up to the situation. China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations.

A Global Times piece DIRECTLY responds, saying that the above piece is just a “stronger disgruntling” but not mentioning China’s support for UN sanctions “against North Korea” or Pyongyang’s next step, with the editorial board claiming that the editorial is “nothing more than a hyper-aggressive piece completely filled with nationalistic passion” and claims that the DPRK does not understand “Beijing’s deep concern for the potential risks posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear tests to people living in northeastern China.” Adding to this is evidence that the Mr. Chol was onto something when he said that “the People’s Daily and the Global Times…have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China.” The Global Times carried many commentaries to this effect in recent days: “Is China-North Korea friendship treaty outdated?” (May 3), “China, US share goal of halting North Korean nuclear tests” (May 2), “Is breakthrough likely on NK nuke issue?” (May 1), and “Pyongyang’s failed missile test adds to Korean Peninsula tensions” (April 29). The People’s Daily has done the same thing, running similar pieces: “Responsible actions needed to ensure peace of Korean Peninsula: People’s Daily” (May 2), “Commentary: the Korean Peninsula is not the Middle East” (April 28), “US, DPRK must hold talks before it’s too late” (April 18), and “Can Korean Peninsula go from geopolitical flashpoint to stable place of peace?” (Feb. 17). Also see this article in Sina English: “China calls for end to provocations on NK issue.”

[10] Joseph Hincks, “CIA Sets Up a Mission Center to Address North Korea Threat,” The CIA has just set up a unit to deal with North Korea,” CNN,  May 11, 2017; Ben Blanchard and John Ruwitch, “Exclusive: U.S. complains to China about North Korea’s attendance at Silk Road summit,” Reuters, May 12, 2017; Matthew Pennington, “North Korea poses ‘existential’ threat, U.S. intel chief warns,” Associated Press, May 11, 2017.

The Role of Science in Capitalist Society and Social Change two-part series

A scene from “Lisa the Skeptic” (S9e8), barely within the Simpson’s “Silver Era.” This is uttered by Moe after the mob breaks into the Springfield Natural History Museum and a tusk of a wholly mammoth falls on his back.

Recently, I wrote a two-part series for Dissident Voice on science within capitalist society. I am not as pessimistic about it as Mr. Edward Curtin, who published an article the same day as the last part of my series, quoting Orwell (a bad sign), the Beatles, declared that the recent climate and science marches “were perhaps well-intentioned, but they were delusional and conducted without any sense of irony. They served power and its propaganda,” going on to say that science has become “untethered from any sense of moral limits in its embrace of instrumental rationality,” leading to “a spiritual alienation that goes to the roots of the world crisis.” [1]

The first article focuses on “The Role of Science in Capitalist Society and Social Change” as the title of this post makes clear. Rather than summarizing it fully and completely, a quote and excerpt is as follows:

…The [science] march and rally beforehand, like many of the other marches for environmentalism through the Obama years, likely will have no effect on policy or direction of the reactionary Trump Administration…the demonstration…was predictably anti-Trump…it was partially inspiring to see tens of thousands of people in the rain advocating for science…science is more important than ever…climate change/global warming…[the] climate catastrophe, is happening….there is a more direct threat. It’s…the reactionary backlash against science, with the bourgeois media portraying it as a “debate” between climate scientists and deniers. We are facing, in advanced capitalist society, at least, a dilemma…Clifford D. Conner…claims to write a history of proletarian science in his tome, A People’s History of Science…[later] Mr. Conner’s book starts going into anti-Soviet and anti-communist diatribes, claiming that Trofim Denisovich Lysenko’s science was “wrong,” claiming that Stalin opposed “proletarian science” even as he criticizes the Green Revolution…All in all, while Mr. Conner’s book is a competent history, it is still replete with bourgeois ideas, especially falling in line with the criticisms of the Soviet Union by Trotskyists and other deluded anti-revolutionary individuals.

While this first article was largely a critical book overview/review, the second article combines more elements, arguing how we can science can bounce “Back Against the Corruption of Science in Capitalist Society.” A quote and excerpt from that article is below, like the last piece:

…science has often failed the proletariat, used in their oppression, and as a form of destruction…In August 1945, the United States committed a grave war crime on the world stage. On August 6 and 9th, two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were obliterated off the face of the Earth by two hideous weapons of war, atomic bombs…In what was a very masculine endeavor, the [atomic] scientists thought that building the bomb showed that mankind could do anything…Geoffrey C. Ward even admits…that…from 1944 to 1945, US aircraft bombed with napalm and burned over 60 “Japanese cities, killing at least 300,000 Japanese civilians, injuring 1.3 million, and leaving 8 million more without homes”…In Medical Apartheid, Harriet A. Washington, a Black female author, writes about the years of medical abuse the Black masses in the United States have suffered [over the years]…For his part, foreign policy critic William Blum writes in a similar vein, with multiple chapters on his book, Rogue State, focusing on use of chemical and biological weapons by the murderous US empire…The Black Panther Party (BPP), a revolutionary socialist group distorted by Deray McKesson for his own personal gain as a black bourgeois figure serving White power, among others, recognized that science could be destructive…The BPP not only recognized the diseases facing the Black community…but they had people’s community survival programs…With science helping capitalist class bend to horrible ends, it can still be used for positive human development…Karl Marx himself was deeply interested in science, using it to argue that there is a rift between capitalist society and nature…While reading Marx can sometimes be fraught with difficulty, there is no doubt that scientific discipline informed and influenced his works…Any sort of corporate-funded or military-funded science should be rejected as fraudulent and worthless. Science that accumulates knowledge, and engages in related practices to benefit the masses, should be encouraged…It is clear that science is important but we must reject bourgeois science in all its manifestations, the forms of which oppressed people of the world know all too well”

As always, I open to criticism on this subject, but felt it necessary to write about science after the science march and everything else.

Notes

[1] He goes on to quote Dostoevsky, Goethe, John Saul Ralston, Paul Virilio, Jacques Ellul, and say rightly that climate change and nuclear destruction are the “result of the marriage of science and technique that has given birth to the technological “babies”” and saying that the “the Save-the-Earth-Science marchers failed” because logical thinking has become inverted as “the search for truth, celebrated as a goal of science, is slyly eliminated,” saying that marching for science is “marching for a means to a means” since science, in his view “serves no ultimate end but its own existence.” He adds that in his view “American society is nihilistic and the ruling political and intellectual elites are, of course, the leading nihilists” echoing unconsciously what Cornel West wrote in Democracy Matters back in 2004. He ends by saying he will write in a sequal to the article about “a path out of the seeming impossibility of escaping the cul-de-sac of our spiritually disinherited current condition.” While I share his skepticism, I don’t share his pessimistic viewpoint.

Is “The Simpsons” dead or zombiefied?

Lisa talking to the producer of the Itchy and Scratchy Show (S8e14).

As reader may know, I’m an avid fan of animated sitcom, the Simpsons. I’ve cited it on this blog when mentioning that strange “human rights watcher” guy and how the show has mocked Apple (and addiction to online games) by calling it “Mapple,” the character of “Steve Mobbs” (Steve Jobs) declaring to Homer that he must “submit” to Apple’s control, and Bart dispelling the idea that Mobbs is a “genius,” saying he is self-absorbed while stirring up people’s homophobic urges. I’ve also cited the Simpsons as an example of better politics than Star Wars, Simpsons episodes about Cuba, the episode called “Simpsons Tide” as a comparison for recent Russophobic attacks on the Trump Administration, and mentioned it at the end of an article about the immigrant proletariat in the United States. This is only scratching the surface as my twitter account shows. By the time this is published, there will soon be another episode in the works, which isn’t worth watching. As it stands now, The Simpsons is going into the latter half of its 28th season, with plans of it continuing until Season 30, as announced last fall. I’m not trying to advocate on behalf of the Simpsons here, but look into this topic with a clear mind, since this show can be relevant culturally and politically, so this analysis is justified. This post aims to answer the question, is show dead and/or does it constitute the “Zombie Simpsons” as those over at Dead Homer Society argue?

Definitions and establishing terms

Before proceeding it is best to set forward a number of definitions. For the word dead, the Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it as “no longer living; having died…naturally without life; inanimate…lacking positive qualities…without feeling…barren…time of greatest darkness, most intense cold…was alive but is no loner so.” As for zombie, the same dictionary defines it as “…a corpse…brought to a state of tracelike animation and made to obey the commands of the person exercising the power…a person considered to like a zombie in listlessness, mechanical behavior…a weird, eccentric, or unattractive person.”

The general agreement is that there was a “Golden Age” of the Simpsons. [1] Some say it lasted from Seasons 1 to 8, others say Seasons 3 to 8, some say Seasons 4 to 10, and then there are those that say it lasted from Seasons 1 to 10, or maybe 11. [1] So, the term is very loose. This is why some media critics say it is a “fool’s errand to pinpoint when and how modern-day Simpsons diverged from its golden age,” while others say that the term is misleading because while it was “an extraordinary, even masterful thing,” over those years, it could be an overstatement even if the show would be, arguably, by seasons 10 and 11,in a “gaping valley [and]…never get anywhere near those heights again.” Then there are those who say that the show has not “overstayed its relevance” and that the show still holds up, with a “New Renaissance…and then a Postmodern period where they got self-reflexive about their own legacy.” While you could argue this has a bit of validity, it almost implies that the show was never off, its character didn’t change, whether it because of episodes like “The Principal and the Pauper,” or otherwise. [2]

You know the show has changed when it has averaged at approximately 5.53 million viewers per show since Season 21, until Season 28 (as of Feb. 25), but before then, during the “Golden Age” (Seasons 1 to 7 for this computation) the show averaged at 19.88 million viewers per show, much more. [3] This below chart shows the decline in viewership over the years, of the show. Despite the slight increase in viewership from seasons Seasons 12 to Season 14, it dropped again by the end of Season 15.

simpsons-chart
For the first star, Season 8 on Wikipedia has incomplete data on viewership, but it is used in this analysis anyway. For the second star, data on viewership in the 27th and 28th seasons stops at the episode titled The Cad and the Hat.

The Simpsons has been written about critically in The Psychology of the Simpsons, The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer, and Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation, to name a few. I may look at those books more in the future, but for now, I’ll propose my own analysis. There may be spoilers ahead, just as a word of precaution.

The Simpsons is a show that shows that cartoons aren’t just “a bunch of hilarious stuff” without messages, as Bart quipped in one episode. The information available at The Simpsons Archives shows, that there can be many interpretation of the episodes. Some say that fat, incompetent Homer is seen by some as a “homophobic hero” while others point to the show’s criticisms of consumerism (also see here) environmental destruction, and religious belief (also see here and here). Beyond this, some talk about allusions in the animated sitcom, masculinity, mocking the advertising of beer companies with “Duff Beer,” poking at the “ideal” nuclear family which the Simpsons family stereotypically represents, its satirical qualities, and ethics, among other subjects.

For the purpose of my analysis, the show is divided into three eras: the Golden Age (Seasons 1-8), the Silver Age (Seasons 9 to 12), and the Bronze Age (Seasons 13 to 28, possibly 30). For the Golden Age, there were varying showrunners, or head writers, ranging from season to season:

  • Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, & Sam Simon (Seasons 1 and 2)
  • Al Jean & Mike Reiss (Seasons 3 and 4)
  • David Mirkin (Seasons 5 and 6)
  • Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein (Seasons 7 and 8)
  • Mike Scully (Seasons 9 to 12)
  • Al Jean (Seasons 13 to present)

Hence, you could call the “Silver Age” the Mike  Scully era and the “Bronze Age” the Al Jean era.

Originally, when I thought of writing up this analysis, I was going to go through each Season and pick some of my favorite episodes, apart from its politics, however that is not sufficient for the task at hand. Instead, it is best to highlight the changing nature of the show from each era to the next. Let me make clear that I’m not trying or attempting to be nostalgic here either, it is just that the show has changed over time.

The Golden Age of the Simpsons

In Season 1, the show began with a bang, after 49 animated shorts on The Tracy Ulman Show. The pilot episode, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, introduced the Simpsons family to American audiences, showing Homer, his wife Marge, and their child Maggie. Without going into a summary, the episode not only pokes at uptight Americans through the developing anti-authority nature of their son, Bart, but illustrates the class dynamics in society. Homer wants to “keep up the Joneses” and prove his worthiness “as a man” by getting a job as a mall Santa, as his ruthless boss, Mr. C. Montgomery Burns of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, refuses to give his workers a Christmas bonus. The latter shows that workers, the proletariat, are under the thumb of the big capitalists, that want to cut costs so they can profit off the back of wealth created by laborers. Finally, the losing dog, Santa’s Little Helper, for which he bets $13 dollars, Marge and Lisa, Homer and Marge’s daughter, say is the  “best gift of all,” and brings the family together, reasserting his role as “man of the house.”

While it worth recounting the first episode, it is best to categorize the episodes into categories to show the social, personal and political themes among the seasons. Even though the first season was still the show in development, it began touching on many  themes, along with being insightful and often funny.

Bart celebrates his victory over Nelson Muntz (“Bart the General”)

The first of these themes is Bart opposing the constraints of the schoolyard while also trying to maintain his “rebellious” social standing:

  • In Bart the Genius, he sprays graffiti mocking Principal Seymour Skinner of Springfield Elementary, utters the phrase “eat my shorts” which will later become his catchphrase, cheats on a test giving him a ticket into “higher” schooling and learning in which he cannot thrive since he isn’t really a genius at all and was “faking it.” By the end of the episode, everything is “back to normal” in the Simpson home.
  • In one episode, Bart leads kids to fighting back against those who bully him (Bart the General), with the episode even touching on the seriousness of war
  • Bart’s attempts to assert his “rebellious” social standing, the beginning of criticism of TV comedians/showbusiness with the introduction of Krusty the Clown, and the town defending its own insular identity after Bart decapitates the Jebeddiah Springfield statue in the center of town are manifested in The Telltale Head.
  • The next three episodes focus on Bart’s rebellious nature (The Crepes of Wrath), the Cold War tensions between Albania and the United States which results in this argument between Lisa and Adil
  • Bart shows that he wants to succeed enough to get a passing grade by working with the stereotypical nerd Martin Prince (Bart Gets an “F”)
  • Bart’s cruel nature toward his sister which he eventually apologizes for (Bart vs. Thanksgiving)
  • Bart trying to be a daredevil with the infamous (and hilarious) scene by Homer trying (and failing) to jump the Springfield gorge (Bart the Daredevil)
  • Bart’s mischievous antics and Homer trying to relieve himself of the pressure of Marge’s “hideous” sisters Patty and Selma (Principal Charming)
  • Bart recognizing emotional pain he can cause people (Bart the Lover)
  • In Radio Bart, he manipulates the town with his microphone, but the worthlessness of a funding campaign by celebrities which mimics “We are the World,” and that you should be careful what you wish for, with Bart saved after a massive digging effort with the wishing well as dangerous as ever.
  • Bart having a taste of authority with Lisa becoming rebellious but coming back to her usual self with the help of Bart (Separate Vocation)
  • Bart learns the ins and outs of love as he ruins Milhouse’s budding relationship with Samantha Stankey (Bart’s Friend Falls in Love)
  • Bart recognizing the importance of love with his admiration of Laura Powers which doesn’t go as he planned (New Kid on the Block)
  • another about Bart becoming famous for catchphrase (“I Didn’t Do It”) which shows the roughness of show business (Bart Gets Famous)
  • one about Bart becoming Burns’ heir until he refuses to fire his father from his job
  • Bart helps his nemesis, Skinner, get his job back (Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song)
  • Bart “acting bad” attracts the daughter of Rev. Lovejoy, Allison, but it doesn’t go as he planned (Bart’s Girlfriend)
  • Bart pranks an Australian boy, sparking an international controversy (Bart vs. Australia)
  • Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars which he comes to regret and tries to get it back
  • Bart fails in his shoplifting, leading to his punishment by Marge for his behavior (Marge Be Not Proud), which the Dead Homer Society did not like
  • Bart travels the open road with Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin, with them stranded out there (Bart on the Road)
Mr Burns looks down, watching over the crowd gathering in front of the nuclear plant in protest. They are listening to then-“safety” advocate Homer, with his role as obviously an ironic one since he is often a buffoon (Homer’s Odyssey)

The next category focuses mocks corporate propaganda, control, and/or focuses on struggles of those working in the nuclear plant, especially Homer:

  • In Homer’s Odyssey, shows that Bart continues to be disobedient, pokes at propaganda for nuclear power, and establishes Homer’s story, as he goes from being an incompetent buffoon to becoming safety inspector at the Nuclear Plant after his wide-ranging campaign for safety across the town of Springfield, cementing his job for the rest of the show. You could say that Mr. Burns made a concession to the protesters campaigning for safety by hiring Homer, which not gave Homer a job and saved Mr. Burns from scrutiny of the plant’s safety.
  • In There’s No Disgrace Like Home, which focus on family problems, introduce the Itchy and Scratchy show which mocks “Tom and Jerry,” the corrupt (and incompetent) police force in the town.
  • Homer rising up the executive ladder in the nuclear power plant by deceit and deception with hair growth product which he falsely paid for on the company health plan (Simpson and the Deliliah), showing that what Frank Grimes says many episodes later rings true while also showing that Marge will stand by him even as Homer is demoted to old job by the end of the episode, and that people discriminate against those who are bald, not taking them seriously.
  • The first episode of the season, Stark Raving Dad, shows the regimented, corporate control of the workplace for which Homer is targeted for wearing a pink shirt and put in a mental institution where he meets a man who claims to be Michael Jackson (this character is the guest appearance of Michael Jackson), who cheers up Lisa.
  • Krusty the Clown’s Jewish roots, perhaps poking at the number of Jewish comedians within Hollywood (Like Father, Like Clown)
  • corporate consolidation and the unforgettable daydream of Homer about the “Land of Chocolate,” with the power dynamics returning to “normal” when Mr. Burns buys his plant back from the Germans by the end (Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk)
  • Kamp Krusty is one of the best episodes to date, not only highlighting Krusty the Clown’s cost-cutting measures to “save” money and his fraudulence in that regard, but the naivety of Marge and Homer about the camp, along with the infotainment aspect of the news media represented by Kent Brockman’s report about the situation
  • Homer starting his own snowplowing business, Mr. Plow, moving up to the status as part of the petty bourgeoisie which doesn’t last very long at all.
  • the sleaziness of corporate spokespeople (Marge vs. the Monorail),
  • shifty lawyers like buffoon Lionel Hutz and the power of the capitalist class in the courtroom (Bart Gets Hit by a Car)
  • a strike of the workers at the Springfield nuclear plant with Homer elected as head of the union (Last Exit to Springfield)
  • the sometimes redeeming aspects of showbusiness, at least for Krusty (Krusty Gets Kancelled)
  • While Homer’s Barbershop Quartet basically parodies the Beatles
  • wonderful episode that makes fun of “feel good” therapists (Bart’s Inner Child)
  • the allure of gambling for Mr. Burns and the town as a whole, with the title parodying the full title of Dr. Strangelove ($pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)
  • Bart realizes he needs to testify, showing that Quimby didn’t beat up a waiter, going against everyone’s conceptions about the Quimby family, and that it was the waiter’s fault (The Boy Who Knew Too Much)
  • Springfield hosts a film festival with Hans Moleman’s funny short, “Man Hit By Football,” an insightful movie by Barney, and a propaganda film by Mr. Burns which everyone hates (A Star is Burns)
  • The Radioactive Man movie is filmed in Springfield, and the project quickly goes into disarray
  • In Scenes from Class Struggle in Springfield, Marge and Lisa try to enter the high life of Springfield but it is shortilived
  • Bart gets Krusty the Clown fined by the IRS and tries to make it up to him (Bart the Fink)
  • Bart unwittingly bankrupts the studio that produces Itchy and Scratchy (The Day the Violence Died)
The best visual and non-spoken line of Lisa’s Substitute. A powerful image when put in context.

Another major theme in the show is Lisa’s intelligence being undermined often while she also tries to impress people:

  • the importance of jazz as an art to express one’s emotions is manifested in Lisa’s saxophone playing (Moaning Lisa)
  • One of my favorite episodes, other than Bart the Daredevil, Itchy & Scratchy & Marge, Bart Gets Hit By a Car, Three Men and a Comic Book, and Blood Feud, to name a few, is Lisa’s Substitute, which I just rewatched. This episode shows Lisa’s fragile nature but also how she wants to be valued for her intelligence, admonishing her father for his aloofness and seeming “uncaring” nature, while she makes up with him by the end. Also, in a sub-story, Bart doesn’t get all he wants either as he thinks his popularity will push him forward to be class president, when everyone but him treats it like a joke, showing that his “popularity” is only constructed, not real, almost a facade, in a sense.
  • Episodes such as Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington show Lisa as a person who stands up for what’s right
  • Lisa trying to impress people with her “beauty” before she realizes it is a scam to promote Laramie Cigarettes, yet another poke at corporate advertising like “Duff Beer” (Lisa the Beauty Queen)
  • There’s also Ralph Wiggum’s short-lived relationship with Lisa (I Love Lisa)
  • One great episode about gender roles in society (Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy)
  • Lisa faces a rival in class, Allison Taylor, which angers her so much he compromises her values, but this doesn’t matter because Ralph wins for his Star Wars action figures (Lisa’s Rival)
  • Lisa’s cruel tricks on her brother and Homer swearing off beer for a month (Duffless)
  • Lisa is thrown into a tizzy when the teachers go on strike (The PTA Disbands)
  • Lisa becomes sad about the death of Bleeding Gums Murphy, but plays with his ghost in the clouds (‘Round Springfield)
  • After a trip to see a cute lamb, Lisa decides she cannot eat meat anymore and becomes a vegetarian, working to stick to her view (Lisa the Vegetarian)
  • Lisa discovers the real truth behind the founder of Springfield and works to try and reveal it (Lisa the Iconoclast)
  • Lisa leaving behind her “nerdy” self to fit in with those on the beach (Summer of 4 Ft. 2)
Bart, Lisa, and Maggie subdue the “Babysitter Bandit” (Some Enchanted Evening)

In a sort of related theme, there’s family togetherness as manifested in these episodes:

  • family togetherness (The Call of the Simpsons)
  • Homer’s ineptness in letting the “Babysitter Bandit” get away who the Simpson children had bound up to protect themselves in a “Home Alone” style (Some Enchanted Evening)
  • Santa’s Little Helper becoming more part of the family than before while mirroring Bart’s school troubles at the beginning of the season (Bart’s Dog Gets and F)
  • love of family and togetherness (Lisa’s Pony and Saturdays of Thunder)
  • family is more important than gambling by far (Lisa the Greek)
  • Herb forgiving Homer for ruining his auto business in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” while showing that people can be forgiving even after people have been cruel to them in the past (Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?)
  • Selma trying to test her maternal instincts as Lisa gets drunk for the first time in the show, which is pretty hilarious to say the least, after Homer eats a spoiled sandwich which he treats like a person (Selma’s Choice)
  • tensions between Bart and Homer getting a boiling point (Brother from the Same Planet)
  • Homer tries to connect with Bart by getting him an elephant (Bart Gets an Elephant)
  • Abe Simpson falls in love with Marge’s Mother (Lady Bouvier’s Lover)
  • The Simpsons family is brought together by the vacation at Itchy & Scratchy Land
  • Lisa and Bart face each other on the ice, but it ends with an unexpected twist (Lisa on Ice)
  • Abe and Homer Simpson worth together to produce a tonic (Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy)
  • The story about Maggie’s birth, which brings the family together (And Maggie Makes Three)
  • Homer has to ask Patty and Selma for a loan, which he tries to keep secret from Marge (Homer vs. Patty and Selma)
  • The Simpson kids are put in the custody of the Flanders Family, with Homer and Marge having to save them from being baptized (Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily)
  • Mona Simpson, Homer’s Mother, makes her debut in the series, with the backstory her her escape as a hippie in 1969 explained (Mother Simpson)
  • Selma marries Troy McClure, a reality show personality, but it doesn’t go as she thought it would (A Fish Called Selma)
Marge plays Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (A Streetcar Named Marge)

One related theme is Marge being devalued, just like Lisa:

  • Homer seems to fall into the role of Marge as a mother (Homer Alone)
  • Others focus on how Marge is not being valued at home, threatening Homer’s social standing in the family, and mocking Ayn Rand’s ideas directly, represented by the daycare provider (A Streetcar Named Marge)
  • Marge getting her first job of the series other than homemaker as a worker at the nuclear plant (Marge Gets a Job)
  • the importance of Marge in the town’s social life (Marge in Chains)
  • Marge as an outlaw with Ruth Powers (Marge on the Lam)
  • Secrets of a Successful Marriage focuses on marital tensions between Homer and Marge, with the latter forgiving him
  • Marge has to come to grips with her secret fear of flying
  • Marge gets a job as a police officer, which seems to “threaten” Homer’s manhood (The Springfield Connection)
Homer dances with Princess Kashmir in Homer’s Night Out.

A related theme is Homer trying to maintain his middle-class standing and status as a male rolemodel, “man of the house” for his children:

  • seductions of another man pulling Marge in but she still comes back to Homer, showing their lifelong bond, while Homer’s role as an effective “male role model” is clearly shown as a facade (Life on the Fast Lane)
  • This bond is challenged in Homer’s Night Out, which some people as I know from watching some YouTube video which claimed to tell the “worst Simpsons episode,” did not like, in which Marge doesn’t like the picture of Homer with Princess Kashmir because it says that Homer doesn’t respect women, which he makes up by the end of the episode.
  • an episode about Homer dancing for attention (Dancin’ Homer)
  • a golf competition to maintain his middle-class status (Dead Putting Society), poking at how many see the “American Dream” as something that should continually strive to
  • Homer’s drunkenness, selfishness, and working to maintain his marital ties (The War of the Simpsons)
  • When Flanders Failed shows that Homer has a redeeming quality despite the fact that he is still envious of the Flanders Family for seemingly being “better off” than the Simpsons.
  • Homer’s ineptness “saving” the day showing him an imbecile, “gaining” him a phrase and “entry” in the visualized dictionary, with this episode showing more about who Homer is as a person (Homer Defined)
  • Homer being tempted by pretty woman, Lureen Lumpkin, while also parodying country music effectively (Colonel Homer)
  • the cruelties of Homer’s treatment of Bart by not letting him see the new Itchy and Scratchy movie (Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie)
  • The one about Homer going to college (Homer Goes to College) is one of my favorites. I say that not only because it includes the great scenes about the mystery box but it shows how Homer doesn’t care about school at all, basically treating it like an utter joke. While I personally wasn’t that type of student, I did watch this one again after graduating last year, so it still has holding power.
  • Homer proves himself as a father figure (Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood) after Bart becomes a junior camper, saving the day by bringing a Krusty map with him, eating at a restaurant on an offshore oil rig
  • Homer resisting his exact doppleganger, Mindy Simmons, and staying with Marge (The Last Temptation of Homer)
  • There’s the episode which seems to be the Simpsons version of Clockwork Orange, with Homer and others becoming a vigilante (Homer the Vigilante)
  • Homer helping Apu out after getting him fired, showing the former to be an utter jerk (Homer and Apu)
  • Homer going into space as an astronaut “by default” after Barney drank non-alcoholic champagne, along with the infamous line by Kent Brockman “welcoming our new insect overlords” showing him to be too hasty and sensationalized nature of the news media (Deep Space Homer)
  • Homer breaking from his usual routine of disliking Flanders to treating him as a friend, which Ned eventually detests so much to separate himself (Homer Loves Flanders)
  • When Homer is falsely accused of molesting a woman, he tries to defend himself, but the sensationalized media treats him like a perpetrator until someone unexpected comes to try and prove his innocence (Homer Badman)
  • Homer becomes the leader of the Stonecutters, but not everything goes the way that he would have expected it (Homer the Great)
  • Homer becomes a clown but runs into trouble with the mob (Homie the Clown)
  • Homer becomes fat to avoid getting on the plants exercise program and barely saves the town from catastrophic meltdown (King-Size Homer)
  • Homer brings together a baseball team as school rules clampdown (Team Homer)
  • Homer takes the role of Smithers, leading Mr. Burns to become self-reliant (Homer the Smithers)
  • Homer traveling with a music festival (Homerpalooza)
Sideshow Bob is arrested for his tomfoolery, mainly with framing Krusty for a crime he didn’t commit, and vows revenge on Bart (Krusty Gets Busted)

Then there’s the running villain throughout the series, Sideshow Bob, along with other related themes like the evilness of Mr. Burns and funny “horror” episodes:

A classic poster from Itchy & Scratchy & Marge which shows how people are misled in their thinking about cartoon violence.

There’s others that poke at social conservatives, shifty lawyers, morals, and much more, along with those that provide necessary background. These include poking at a socially conservative response to cartoon violence (Itchy & Scratchy & Marge), about living life to the fullest (One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish), and stealing from the cable companies contrasting with morals Lisa professes (Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th commandment). Others focuson how wealth can come and go in flash and provides commentary on the failing “big three” automakers in Detroit (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?), inheritance of money and discrimination of the elderly (Old Money), importance of artistry and artistic impressions even if they aren’t popular, showing that everyone is a human being regardless of class (Brush with Greatness), and helping out those in need even if they have a higher status than you (Blood Feud). More beyond this focus on the importance of sharing rather than infighting over material goods (Three Men and a Comic Book), the power of the mob in society (Bart the Murderer), Moe’s shifty, selfish nature (Flaming Moe’s), the relation of dogs to humans who can brainwash them for their own interests (Dog of Death), and how people are false religious figures, heretics, like Homer in once case (Homer the Heretic). Some episodes are heartwarming, talking about Lisa’s First Word, while others Homer’s horrible eating habits causing him to have a heart attack and necessary surgery (Homer’s Triple Bypass). Then there’s others about Otto’s shifty behavior is noted, while highlighting his important role in the community as a bus driver for the schoolchildren (The Otto Show), a creative, well-written show about cartoon writers (The Front), and the town coming together as “Bart’s Comet” threatens the town, the Springfield community working to get their beloved lemon tree back (Lemon of Troy). 22 Short Films About Springfield is be one of my favorite episodes because it connects the stories of other Springfieldians, telling the story of many minor characters who don’t get much airtime. Another great episode is one against animal cruelty episode which shows that whacking snakes should be condemned, with Lisa morally on the right side with Bart helping her (Whacking Day). There’s also one which shows the faultiness of anti-immigration measures (Much Apu About Nothing), and the Simpsons moving to Cypress Creek with the James Bond villain Hank Scorpio (You Only Move Twice). Tacked on are the flashbacks about Homer and Marge (I Married Marge and The Way We Was), three which are “clip shows” (So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show, Another Simpsons Clip Show, and The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular), one which is a flash forward about Lisa’s Wedding (this is not canon).

Flanders snaps for the first time in the series, calling out Marge, Bart, Lisa, Moe, Krusty the Clown, Lenny, and Homer for “treating him badly” showing that he has bottled up rage, a problem seemingly solved by the end of the episode (Hurricane Neddy)

When we get to season 8, there are episodes about Homer boxing and failing (The Homer They Fall), Mr. Burn’s half-witted brother Larry (why?) (Burns, Baby Burns), Bart working at a local burlesque house angering the uptight people in Springfield (Bart After Dark), division in the Milhouse family (A Milhouse Divided), Lisa dating Nelson (Lisa’s Date with Density), Flanders showing that he has been repressing uncontrollable rage since childhood (Hurricane Neddy), and Homer realizing after a long journey that Marge is his soulmate (El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)). If that isn’t enough, there are episodes parodying the X-Files (The Springfield Files), Marge getting in the business of selling pretzels, becoming petty bourgeois (The Twisted World of Marge Simpson), Mr. Burns and Homer facing off when trapped in a cabin the woods (Mountain of Madness), parodying Mary Poppins (Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious), and showing the desperate nature of some cartoon shows to create a new, unnecessary character to raise viewer interest (The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show). Then there’s the classic one that counters Homer’s homophobic tendencies (Homer’s Phobia), Sideshow Bob returning on the scene (Brother from Another Series), Lisa’s babysitting reputation ruined by Bart which isn’t the best episode (My Sister, My Sitter), commentary on prohibition of alcohol (Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment), the relationship between Skinner and Edna (Grade School Confidential), and the Simpsons abandoning Santa’s Little Helper (The Canine Mutiny). Apart from the non-canon Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase, Lisa’s stint in military school (The Secret War of Lisa Simpson), showing that Mr. Burns is evil even if he tries to do “good” (The Old Man and the Lisa), and possibly In Marge We Trust are reputable episodes. While some may disagree, I think that Homer’s Enemy is one of the more brilliant episodes because it shows how hard-working people would feel if they met Homer, who is lazy, takes breaks whenever, and doesn’t respect his boss in a sense even though he is a good family man. It could also be said that Frank Grimes, a hard-working individual, also represents those who don’t like the Simpsons show, facing up with the fans, but it is also true that what Grimes says in criticism of Homer is basically correct, with a few exceptions. Saying all of this, I don’t think it is right for those at the Dead Homer Society to put Season 8 within the “Mayday, Mayday, we’re going down!” category, meaning that it is part of the Simpsons decline.

Beyond the Golden Age

With Mike Scully coming to the fore in Season 9, the beginning of the Silver Age which lasted to Season 12, the Simpsons began its decline. Some, like the Dead Homer Society which was mentioned earlier, say that by Season 12, the Simpsons became the “Zombie Simpsons,” without a pulse. Instead of going into detail about this in the main text, I think it is best to put what I wrote into a footnote. [4]

Homer finds his mother dead in Mona Leaves-a.

With the end of the Silver Age or Mike Scully era, there was the inauguration of the  Bronze Age or Al Jean era, lasting from Seasons 13 to Season 28 (present). Since the Simpsons went downhill for so many episodes, it isn’t worth mentioning all the bad episodes. Instead, I’ll just put some of them in a footnote. [5] Even if there are some that are redeemable like She of Little Faith, Moe Baby Blues, My Mother the Carjacker, and  Mona Leaves-a. There are a number of episodes I listed in in footnote 5 which are “passable” but not redeemable. Hence, these episodes should not be taken as an indication that the Bronze Age episodes were “good” or “brilliant” but that there are some better than others. Then we get to The Simpsons Movie which is redeemable because many of the writers from the Golden Age came back to work on the movie, making it much better than the seasons up to that point.

A defense of the Simpson “Golden era” and why the current show stinks

The Dead Homer Society is completely right. The show has become inanimate, barren, cold, listless, mechanical, and weird. It has become a “Zombie Simpsons.” Even the Consequence of Sound site, in listing the “top 30” episodes of the series, chooses episodes that ALL fall within the Golden Age of the Simpsons (Season 1-8), calling the other seasons “bad” by comparison. Roughly the same goes for the “10 Most Heartfelt Moments” although they choose one from Season 12. Many YouTubers I’ve watched put it perfectly: the show has become hollow and run out of ideas, what you could call stale.

Recently, I watched a list of YouTube videos listing the movie references across the Simpsons history. There is no doubt that the Treehouse of Horror, even into the Silver and Bronze eras, continues to pay homage to cinema, but beyond that, there is much more. [6] Even the Simpsons Movie has its share of movie references. The tribute to cinema is rich in the early seasons. In the Treehouse of Horror episodes from Season 1 to 6, they hit many of the classics. [7] Looking at these movie tributes, there is an average of over seven per episode, which may even be low since many more likely exist:

Some of the classics featured in these episodes include: Frankenstein (1931) and Poltergeist (1982) [Treehouse of Horror I]; Robocop (1987) and The Thing With Two Heads (1972) [Treehouse of Horror II]; A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Gremlins (1984) [Treehouse of Horror III]; The Birds (1963) and Fantasia (1940) [Treehouse of Horror IV]; Jurassic Park (1993) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) [Treehouse of Horror V]; A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Predator (1987) [Treehouse of Horror VI]. And lots of references to The Twilight Show.
These references continue throughout the Simpsons’ Golden Era [8], with an average of x cinema references in Seasons 1 to 8:

I could go on and mention the interviews with the voice actors from the Simpsons which I watched recently or a host of other videos here, but it should be clear to any reader with some sense that the Golden Era of the Simpsons was the best they have offered, much better than episodes in the Silver or Bronze eras.

A Conclusion

I could go on with this, but I think you get the point. While I still think that The Simpsons can be cited, I personally refuse to watch any episode made after Season 13 ever again, and encourage those fans of the Simpsons to do the same. There is no reason to watch something which is dead and has no pulse. Why not take heed from what Bart says in Itchy & Scratchy and Marge when asked about watching the rest of the “cute cartoons” by Marge: “Nah…Maybe there’s something else to do on this planet.” Other than that, with the Simpsons going to Season 30 and beyond, it is worth watching episodes in the Golden Age or Silver Age (cumulatively up to Season 12), but anything beyond that is not worth anyone’s time. That’s the reality. I know that some may have found this post unnecessary but I think it needs to be discussed. I look forward to your comments as always.

Notes

[1] Dead Homer Society Manifesto; Rob Hunter, “The Golden Age of The Simpsons“; Rob Hunter, “The Goldener Age of The Simpsons“; Rob Hunter, “Golden Age Of The Simpsons: The Greatest Show of All Time“; Pop Matters, “The Complete Tenth Season“; Empire Online “The Simpsons Movie Review,” BBC, “The Simpsons: 10 classic episodes“; “What Do White Supremacists Think Of The Simpsons?“; “Best. Episodes. Ever. ‘The Simpsons’: Seasons 1-10“; “What is your ‘golden age’ of Simpsons, season-wise?,” The Simpsons subreddit; “Why Season 8 Is A Part of the Golden Age of The Simpsons“; “TruthMedia Review: The Simpsons: Golden Age“; “The Golden Age of The Simpsons“; “Simpsons: The Golden Age“; “The 40 Best Songs in The Simpsons History“, Paste Magazine; “‘The Simpsons’ Take on Climate Change,” Yale Climate Connections.

[2] The link to never off is a forum where one user says that “to me its not so much one episode that ends the Golden Age really, its more like the flow and feel of the season that determine it. The tenth season overall just felt off compared to past years. On my list I like to separate the show into three simple Ages: The Golden Age (1-9), The Bronze Age (10-12), and The Silver Age (13-26).”

[3] The exact numbers are 5.533676767676767225 for the average of millions of viewers for seasons 21 to season 28, 19.889416215144713675 for the average of millions of viewers for seasons 1 to 7. The most recent episode to surpass 20 million viewers was “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass” in 2004, THIRTEEN YEARS ago.

[4] Season 9 began badly. It began with the worthless and horrible “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” which was not only unfunny but it has no point, it is just about Homer being mad at New York despite the fact that the whole situation (his car ending up in New York) was caused originally by his drunkenness. The Principal and the Pauper was even worse, declaring that Principal Skinner is a fraud which not only guts previous storylines in the Golden Age about his time in Vietnam but it says that the audience dedication to this character is worthless. As I remember from one YouTube video, some say that it is with this episode that the Simpsons “died” in their view. I would venture to say that due to this, the episode is not canon in my view. Other episodes revolve around the destruction of Lisa’s Sax (why?), Homer getting a gun (The Cartridge Family), Homer’s favoritism to Bart on a neighborhood football team (Bart Star), Apu getting married (The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons), Lisa the Skeptic about a marketing company conning the town’s residents, and Realty Bites about Marge becoming an honest realty broker. While some of those are passable, the Miracle on Evergreen Terrace involves the Simpsons conning the town out of money, there’s yet another clip show (All Singing, All Dancing), the Simpsons get their house back from carnies (Bart Carny), well-intentioned criticism of cultish religions like Scientology (The Joy of Sect), parody of the Lord of the Flies (Das Bus), The Last Temptation of Krust about Krusty changing his comedic style, and one about Moe burning down his bar for insurance money (Dumbbell Indemnity) (not as strong as it could be). The season partially redeems itself with Lisa the Simpson which shows that only men have the defective “Simpsons Gene,” Homer making a fool of himself in Simpsons Tide with the wonderful gif of the marching Lenin and the return of the Soviet Union, Mr. Burns screwed over, ultimately, by the Cuban government (The Trouble with Trillions), one about kid’s news shows (Girly Edition), Homer becoming an over-enthusiastic commissioner of waste management (Trash of Titans), and climbing a mountain as a commercial promotion (King of the Hill). Then there’s four other episodes which I can’t recall their specifics too well, so I have a feeling they bring the season down (This Little Wiggy, Lost Our Lisa, and Natural Born Kissers). Season 10 is also a bit lackluster. There’s one about Lisa trying to become popular but strangely (Lard of the Dance), Homer’s strange, in-practical inventions (The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace), raising destructive lizards (Bart the Mother), Homer living with celebrities (When You Dish Upon a Star) (why?), Homer figuring out his middle name and trying to “live like a hippy” (D’Oh In the Wind), and Lisa cheating on a test with Skinner and Chalmers deceiving her (Lisa Gets an “A”). Even worse, there are ones where Homer is cruel to his father, causing his kidneys to burst (Homer Simpson in: “Kidney Trouble”) which is considered non-canon, Homer serving as a body guard for Mayor Quimby (Mayored to the Mob), an unnecessary trip to Las Vegas which adds nothing to the storyline (Viva Ned Flanders), Bart telling the town about secrets of its citizens (Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken), a worthless episode about the Superbowl (Sunday, Cruddy Sunday), and Homer weirdly changing his name to “Max Power” (Homer to the Max). If that isn’t enough, there are episodes about weird Valentine’s Day gifts (I’m With Cupid), Marge becoming an aggressive driver (Marge Simpson in: “Screaming Yellow Honkers”), Homer showing he doesn’t care about Lisa by building a cell phone tower in her room (Make Room for Lisa), Homer becoming a lazy truck driver (Maximum Homerdrive), the Simpsons version of Bible stories (Simpsons Bible Stories), Homer’s junk which people think is art (Mom and Pop Art). Other episodes this season focus on Bart working in the Springfield Retirement Home (The Old Man and the “C” Student), Mr. Burns trying to gain the town’s admiration (Monty Can’t Buy Me Love), the smartest people running the town in a temporary and short-lived “utopia” (They Saved Lisa’s Brain), and the Simpsons traveling to Tokyo in a strange vacation (Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo). We then come to Season 11. There’s a mediocre episode about films (Beyond Blunderdome), another about Bart becoming smart, even a “conspiracy theorist” (Brother’s Little Helper), Homer becoming a food critic (Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?), Homer and the Simpsons growing “Tomacco” a cross-between Tomatoes and Tobacco, a sort of GMO in a sense (E-I-E-I-D’Oh), Homer becoming a local celebrity (Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder), showing that lots of children are bad apparently, an episode which is pretty weak (Eight Misbehavin’), Homer’s gang fighting with another gang of the same name (Take My Wife, Sleaze), and Homer trying to “save” the town from destructive toys (Grift of the Magi). Other episodes result in Lisa becoming the head of the family (Little Big Mom), Bart becoming a faith healer (Faith Off), the Simpsons in charge of Mr. Burns’s mansion (The Mansion Family), Homer and Bart involved in horse racing (Saddlesore Galactica), Maude dying because of Homer (Alone Again, Natura-Diddily), Homer as an incompetent missionary (Missionary: Impossible), Moe changing his appearance (Pygmoelian), and the often cited (because of Trump) non-canon Bart to the Future. Other episodes, such as Days of Wine and D’oh’ses, Kill the Alligator and Run, Last Tap Dance in Springfield, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge, and non-canon Behind the Laughter are as lackluster as the others in this. The last season within the Silver Era, Season 12, isn’t any better. There are episodes about Homer becoming a rocker in a divided Springfield (A Tale of Two Springfields), Krusty the Clown meeting his daughter Sophie (Insane Clown Poppy), Lisa trying to join “Dirt First” by camping in a redwood scheduled to be cut down (Lisa the Tree Hugger), Homer becoming Mr. Burns’s personal jester (Homer vs. Dignity), the bizarre The Computer Wore Menace Shoes which I would consider non-canon, the Simpsons conning people (The Great Money Caper), and children snowed into the elementary school (Skinner’s Sense of Snow). Beyond this, Homer is supposedly “dumb” because a crayon is lodged in his brain, which again seems to cut at the story of Homer established in previous episodes and is a bit cheap (Homr), Marge vouches for a prisoner (Pokey Mom), Bart and Milhouse taking over the comic book store in the “Worst Episode Ever,” and Homer becomes a tennis star (Tennis the Menace). In another bad plot, Sideshow Bob works to hypnotize Bart to kill Krusty on air (Day of the Jackanapes), the partially satirical pro-military songs by the boy band of Bart, Ralph, Nelson, and Milhouse (New Kinds on the Blecch), Homer’s worthless hunger strike (Hungry, Hungry Homer), bullying of Lisa (Bye Bye Nerdie), an unexpected safari for the Simpsons (Simpsons Safari), and Lisa getting into a relationship (Trilogy of Error). Then there’s Ned’s plan to open an amusement park (I’m Goin’ to Praiseland), Homer trying to recover from an injury (Children of a Lesser Clod), and other Simpsons version of certain “tall tales” (Simpson Tall Tales).

[5] See “The Parent Rap“, “Homer the Moe“, “Brawl in the Family“, “Sweet and Sour Marge“, “Jaws Wired Shut“, “Half Decent Proposal“, “The Bart Wants What It Wants“, “Blame It One Lisa” (the one that Brazil hated), “Weekend at Burnsie’s“, “I Am Furious (Yellow)“, “Little Girl in the Big Ten“, “The Frying Game” (about that dumb “Screamapillar”), and “Poppa’s Got a Brand New Badge” in Season 13, “How I Spent My Stummer Vacation“, “Large Marge“, “Helter Shelter“, “The Dad Who Knew Too Little“, “The Great Louse Detective” (cheapens Frank Grimes’s story), “Pray Anything“, “Barting Over“, “A Star Is Born-Again“, “Mr Spritz Goes to Washington“, “The Strong Arms of the Ma” (Marge has moved so far from her original self this isn’t even funny), “Three Gays of the Condo“,  “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?“, “Old Yeller Belly“, “Bart of War” in Season 14. “The President Wore Pearls“, “The Regina Monologues“, “The Fat and the Furriest“, “‘Tis the Fifteenth Season“, “Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays“, “I (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot“, “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife“, “Milhouse Doesn’t Live Here Anymore“, “Smart and Smarter“, “Co-Dependents Day“, “The Wandering Juvie“, “My Big Fat Geek Wedding“, “Catch ‘Em if You Can“, “The Way We Weren’t” (seems to mess with the previous flashback episodes in the Golden Age of the Simpsons and is a bit hard to believe) in Season 15. “All’s Fair in Oven War“, “She Used to Be My Girl“, “Fat Man and Little Boy“, “Midnight Rx“, “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass“, “Pranksta Rap“, “On  A Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister“, “Goo Goo Gai Pan” (pathetic jokes about China within), “Mobile Homer“, “The Heartbroke Kid“, “A Star Is Torn“, “Home Away from Homer“, “There’s Something About Marrying” in Season 16. “The Bonfire of the Manatees“, “The Girl Who Slept Too Little“, “Milhouse of Sand and Fog“, “The Last of the Red Hat Mamas“, “The Italian Bob“, “Homer’s Paternity Coot“, “We’re on the Road to D’ohwhere“, “The Seemingly Never-Ending Story“, “Bart Has Two Mommies“, “Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife“, “Girls Just Want to Have Sums“, “Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play” in Season 17. “The Mook, The Chef, The Wife and Her Homer“, “G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)“, “Moe’N’a Lisa“, “Ice Cream of Margie (with the Light Blue Hair)“, “Kil Gil, Volumes I & II“, “The Wife Aquatic“, “Springfield Up“, “Yokel Chords“, “Rome-Old and Julie-Eh“, “Homerazzi“, “The Boys of Bummer“, “Crook and Ladder“, “24 Minutes” (self-promotion of 24 on FOX, a bit cheap) in Season 18. “He Loves to Fly and He D’ohs“, “The Homer of Seville“, “Midnight Towboy“, “I Don’t Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (almost seems like a parody of Scorpio but isn’t), “Little Orphan Millie“, “Husbands and Knives“, “Funeral for a Fiend“, “That ’90s Show” (messes again with the timeline in the Golden Age years of Marge & Homer’s relationship), “The Debarted“, “Dial “N” for Nerder“, “Smoke on the Daughter“, “Papa Don’t Leech“, “Any Given Sundance“, “All About Lisa“, “Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes” in Season 19. “Double, Double, Boy in Trouble“, “Dangerous Curves” (again messing with the timeline of Marge & Homer’s relationship in weird ways), “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words“, “The Burns and Bees“, “Lisa the Drama Queen“, “How the Test Was Won“, “Gone Maggie Gone“, “In the Name of the Grandfather“, “Wedding for Disaster“, “Father Knows Worst“, “Four Great Women and a Manicure“, “Coming to Homerica” (does not measure up with the episode in the Golden Ages, “Much Apu About Nothing” which is strongly against restrictions on immigration) in Season 20. “Homer the Whopper“, “The Great Wife Hope“, “The Devil Wears Nada“, “Rednecks and Broomsticks“, “O Brother, Where Bart Thou?“, “Thursdays with Abie“, “Million Dollar Maybe“, “Boy Meets Curl“, “Postcards from the Wedge“, “Stealing First Base“, “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed“, “American History X-cellent“, “Chief of Hearts“, “Moe Letter Blues“, “The Bob Next Door“, “Judge Me Tender” in Season 21. “Elementary School Musical“, “Loan-a Lisa“, “Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life“, “The Fool Monty“, “The Fight Before Christmas“, “Donnie Fatso“, “Mom’s I’d Like to Forget“, “Flaming Moe” (very different than the much better Flaming Moe’s in Season 3), “Angry Dad: The Movie” (cheapens the show in a major way), “The Scorpion’s Tale“, “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream“, “Love is a Many Strangled Thing” (this episode is horrible in so many ways, especially how Bart tortures his father…how is this supposed to be funny?), “The Great Simpsina“, “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony“, “Homer Scissorhands“, “500 Keys“, and “The Ned-liest Catch” in Season 22. “The Falcon and the D’ohman” (this episode is a bit 24-ish and more ridiculous in its plot than funny), “Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts” (basically a Teddy Roosevelt promotion), “Replaceable You“, “The Food Wife“, “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants“, “The Ten-Per-Cent Solution” (features Joan Rivers which you know is a bad sign), “Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson“, “Moe Goes from Rags to Riches“, “At Long Last Leave” (seems strange since they could have kicked out the Simpsons earlier, but why now? Are the townspeople that rash?), “Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart“, “How I Wet Your Mother” (parody of Inception but almost a promotion of it too), “Them, Robot“, “Beware of My Cheating Bart“, “Lisa Goes Gaga” (one of the worst episodes yet, basically is a promotion for Gaga’s total bullshit, buys into the whole fad then, shows the town’s people to be very weak. This episode should have never been made) in Season 23. “Moonshine River” (to like this, you have to like Season 19 and onward), “Adventures in Baby-Getting“,  “Gone Abie Gone“, “Penny Wiseguys“, “The Day the Earth Stood Cool“, “To Cur, with Love” (reportedly this was one of the least watched episodes of the series), “Homer Goes to Prep School“, “Changing of the Guardian“, “Love Is a Many-Splintered Thing” (only seems good if you like Moonshine River), “Hardly Kirk-ing“, “Gorgeous Grampa“, “Dark Knight Court“, “What Animated Women Want“, “Whiskey Business” (too many stories intersecting in one episode, too busy), “Fabulous Faker Boy“,  “The Saga of Carl” (an unnecessary episode with a mediocre storyline) in Season 24. “Homerland“, “Four Regrettings and a Funeral“, “Yolo“, “Labor Pains“, “The Kid is All Right“, “Yellow Subterfuge“, “White Christmas Blues“,  “Steal This Episode“, “Married to the Blob“, “Specs and the City” (supposed to parody Google Glass but it isn’t funny), “Diggs“, “The Man Who Grew Too Much“, “The Winter of His Content“, “Luca$“, “Pay Pal“, “The Yellow Badge of Cowardge” in Season 25. “The Clown in the Dumps“,”The Wreck of the Relationship” (this episode is a total joke which is not portraying it positively), “Super Franchise Me“, “Opposes A-Frack” (good criticism of fracking but not really funny at all, basically a polemic), “Blazed and Confused” (a bit strange and weird, how is this funny?), “Bart’s New Friend“, “The Musk Who Fell To Earth” (basically an unmitigated promotion of Musk like the episode about Gaga), “Walking Big & Tall“, “The Princess Guide“, “Sky Police” (while the Sky Police tune is ok, the rest of this episode is horrid), “Waiting for Duffman“, “The Kids Are All Fight” (another worthless flashback episode), “Bull-E” in Season 26. “Cue Detective“, “Puffless“, “Halloween of Horror“, “Friend With Benefit“, “Lisa with an “S”” (supposed to say show business is bad, but really is a lackluster episode like Friend With Benefit, or any of the other mentioned her), “Paths of Glory” (why would Homer and Marge think Bart is a sociopath and then trust a test saying he is one?), “The Girl Code” (thinking back to this one, it is a strange one with a bizarre plot), “Teenage Mutant Milk-caused Hurdles” (its almost like they want to force older Lisa and Bart on us), “Much Apu About Something” (this is kinda of cheap), “Love Is in the N2-02-AR-CO2-Ne-He-CH4” (its good Frink has more of a role, but this is really stretching it), “Gal of Constant Sorrow“, “The Marge-ian Chronicles“, “The Burns Cage” (this episode in trying to “reveal” that Smithers is gay (which we all know) not only doesn’t do that but it has a weak plot), “How Lisa Got Her Marge Back“,  “Fland Canyon” (this one makes me very mad because it makes it seem that Lisa has only been a vegetarian for two years or less which cheapens Lisa the Vegetarian), “To Courier With Love“, “Simprovised“, “Orange is the New Yellow” (this episode has to be one of the worst EVER. It not only is not funny but its “parody” element is weak and tasteless) in Season 27. “Monty Burns’ Fleeing Circus” (this episode is not funny at all and is a weak story), “Friends and Family“, “The Town” (a very pathetic “criticism” of Boston which actually turns into a promotion), “Trust But Clarify“, “There Will Be Buds“, “Havana Wild Weekend” (thinking about it, this episode is pretty horrid and makes Cuba look even worse than in “Trouble for Trillions”), “Dad Behavior“, “The Last Traction Hero” (a strange story which makes the connection between Marge and Homer seem non-existent when it isn’t), “The Nightmare After Krustmas“, “Pork and Burns” (Spider Big returns and a they adopt a minimalistic style of living but not really), “The Great Phatsby” (one of the most horrible as it not only is unfunny but there is really no reason we should sympathize with Mr. Burns), “Fatzcarraldo” (this episode seemed passable, in reality it really isn’t, its the same as the others), “The Cad and the Hat” (this episode was cheap and pathetic about “guilt”), “Kamp Krustier” (this is no squeal to Kamp Krusty, it is horribly written, not funny, and shows how the show is not worth watching), “22 for 30” (The Simpsons tries to make an episode like a basketball show but it fails miserably), “A Father’s Watch” (A plot which makes little sense and is not funny), The Caper Chase (an episode which is supposed to poke at Trump University I guess but it isn’t even worth watching at this point), and many more. As for ‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky, Bart-Mangled Banner, Margical History Tour, Fraudcast News, Thanks God It’s Doomsday, See Homer Run, My Fair Laddy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore, The Monkey Suit, Please Homer, Don’t Hammer ‘Em, The Haw-Hawed Couple, Little Big Girl, Marge Gamer, Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind, E. Pluribus Wiggum, Apocalypse Cow, Lost Verizon, Mypods and Broomsticks, Eeny Teeny Maya, Moe, The Color Yellow, To Surveil with Love, A Tree Grows in Springfield, Barthood, they are passable but not redeemable.

[6] See “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 4“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 5“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 6“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 7“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 8“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 9“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 10“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 11“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 12“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 13“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 14“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 15“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 16“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 17“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 18“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 19“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 20“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 21“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 22“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 23“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 24“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 25“; “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Movie References Part 26.”

[7] See “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema – Treehouse of Horror” for information used in the chart.

[8] See “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 1“; The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 2“; “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 3“; “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 4“; “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 5“; “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 6“; “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 7“; “The Simpsons Tribute to Cinema: Part 8.”

A number of new posts

I’ve been writing on a number of subjects and think it is only fair to share all of them here. The first is on the State Department’s “Human Rights Reports,” here’s an excerpt:

“…Every year since 1975, as mandated by law, the US State Department has submitted Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, called “Human Rights Reports”…This year, however, there was condemnation of the “reports” by countries, mainly across the global periphery….The entities the US “reports” help are clear…we should condemn the US State Department’s “reports””

The next two articles focuses on the “war of 1812” which should be called, correctly, Mr. Madison’s War. Here’s an excerpt of part 1, which talks about the lead up to war:

“…The roots of Mr. Madison’s War spring out of the Revolutionary War’s aftermath. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed between the US and the British Empire…Even so, the biggest cities within the US “offered fertile ground for political consciousness, political persuasion, and political action,” which allowed the existing proletariat to organize themselves effectively…while most of the enslaved Blacks lived in the South, 40,370 lived in northern states, except Maine and Massachusetts, above the Mason-Dixon line…In later years, tensions with greedy European empires came to the fore…While the US bourgeoisie were in a fragile state because of a weak economy and agricultural status of the country, the proletariat did not have much political power…By 1812, war was on the tip of the US bourgeoisie.”

And then, the more recently published Part 2, which focuses on the war itself:

“The United States (US) government, only 23 years old, had declared war on the British Empire, beginning Mr. Madison’s War…One of the first moves, apart from preparing an invasion of Canada, was an attempt to take over Florida from the Spanish…The invasion [of Canada] was doomed from the start. Not only was the US army unprepared for a three-ponged invasion, but many of the battles in the war were small skirmishes…Not everyone agreed with the war…The British were not enthusiastic for war…As markets for finished goods and supply for materials were disrupted, a few British bourgeoisie profited, and the standard of living for the proletariat declined…British encouraging enslaved Blacks to join their ranks…In the months of April and May, there were heated debates within the high circles of the US foreign policy establishment about the seizure of Florida…Each capitalist had their self-interested reasons for giving money to the US government…In 1814, enslaved Blacks were still helping the British and asserting their freedom…The payment for the war, like in previous years, had allowed capitalists to consolidate their control over the government…The end of the war would be celebrated by great fanfare on the streets of New York City…1816 was a banner year for the US capitalist class…It is hard to know if the war was popular or unpopular”

That’s all. I hope you enjoy these articles.