Red Scare Redux: Haven’t We Been Here Before?
“You must recognize that, being born into a society that is harmful to us, we rebels are in reality the best slaves. Being slaves of evolution, by means of our sacrifice, we allow humanity to take a tiny step…
The people are conservative: they are satisfied with the society they find. The minority are innovators instead and therefore they rebel. The mass restrains revolutionary action with its brute weight and submits it to it.
It grows accustomed to the new state of things. It rots there until the minority rebels once again.
And do I have to suffer through this entire balancing act?”
– Bruno Fillipi, “The Rebel’s Dark Laughter”
This story has no real beginning for the same reason it has no ending. It’s still happening.
I had almost killed someone the night before and was nervously drinking my coffee when I noticed facebook was hiding my articles.
“Slithering fucking weasels! Miserable pieces of SHIT! I wish I could get my hands around these little bastards and just squeeeeeeze until their eyeballs POP out!”
“Who?” My wife was stepping out of the shower, drying her hair.
“Goddamn facebook! They’re-“
“Did we wash my uniform?”
“-throttling my views! What? Uh..yes. They’re downstairs.”
“What were you were saying?”
“Well its…ever since that article about gun control went viral my posts are being hidden. Look at this: a weekly reach of 68,000 people but only three people see this one? Two people here? Its bullshit! Somebody wrote me today saying everytime they try to post my articles it gets flagged as spam.”
“Maybe they think you’re a conservative?”
“With a hammer and sickle on my face?” She paused for a moment, grabbing her toothbrush.
“Didn’t you say twitter was purging accounts?”
“Yes and people are cheering it on, as if a gigantic capitalist corporation is somehow working for them. This, this is just like the hate speech laws. Remember that? When all these ‘Anarchists’ were saying we needed laws like in Germany and France? And what happened? What fucking happened? Turned out NATO considers the Anarchist ‘A’ a hate symbol. This is exactly why I’m a fucking Egoist.”
I was in no mood to watch the news, no desire to focus on anything besides card readings for clients and the ever-distant goal of some day owning my own fortified swamp compound. Trouble was everywhere, and having my dead and immobile jeep broken into the night before was not helping me calm down. There was this desperate sense pervading the air, seeping into my skin, that time itself was tightening. Some unseen clock had ticked forward and some unforseen judgement dripped closer with each passing day. But what kind? And from who?
“They act as if this is something new,” I told my wife as I passed her a mug, “that it isn’t something fundamentally American to go into a public place and murder as many people as possible. So hopped up on theory they won’t acknowledge the darkness. I’m tired of all this. Tired of being plugged in. I said what I needed to and I don’t plan on writing about it anymore, at least until the next Point of No Return. For now we need to watch.”
She blew on the coffee. “Watch for what?”
“Well…to gauge the times. This whole thing is running right at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, right at the base of the pyramid. People are being put under alot of emotional and mental stress. This is when true colors fly. The Leftist tradition states that the people are inherently liberatory, that given the chance they’ll work for the common good and advance towards freedom.”
“And the Egoist?”
“Heh.” I set down my coffee cup, running my finger around the edge. “I suppose the Egoist position would be based on…well I wouldn’t call the people reactionary. The poet Bruno Fillipi had alot to say about them. He believed that, on the whole, revolutionaries did move society around somewhat. But that the people usually ended up killing them. The innovators, the rebels, most people are fine with them up to a point. But most people don’t want change. They don’t desire any ideology or high flying ideals. What they really want is security, safety, food. Comfort. Its when that comfort gets threatened….”
The coffee mug toppled off the table and into the carpet.
“I got it.”
“No no, I’ll wipe it up.”
I went into the bathroom, grabbing a towel. By the time I was back in the room my wife was flicking through the channels. It was then, right then, that I saw what appeared to be some kind of mobile corpse with its skin stretched too tight on the tv screen, a strange creature vaguely attempting to be human.
“Who…what the fuck is that?”
“The NRA is giving some kind of speech. You want to watch it?”
“Yeah. Turn it up.”
“…they hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom. In the rush of calls for more government they have revealed their true selves.”
It was NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, a ghastly looking figure resembling some kind of white fish with its hair pulled back. LaPierre, head of the NRA since 1991, had cemented the organization as a full blown cultural force. Whatever he planned on saying would have deep implications.
The gun-control crowd thinks the NRA is merely a lobbying organization, a gang of lawyers hidden in hallways waiting to pounce on otherwise nice Republicans and turn them into gun-toting mercenaries.
The truth however is much worse.
Smokey My Friend, You Are Entering A World Of Pain
Three-in-ten U.S. adults say they own a gun, A majority of gun owners (73%) say they could never see themselves not owning a gun. Another 74% of gun owners say the right to own a gun is essential to their own sense of freedom.
This translates into a wide base of folks friendly to the NRA idea that unless the people are careful they will be taken away. 53% of gun owners in the United States believe the NRA has the right amount of influence over national politics. According to a Pew poll in 2015 just 13% of Republicans thought the NRA had too much influence over national gun policy, a number significantly down from 2000, when 32 percent of Republicans thought the NRA had too control. The same poll noted the share of Republicans saying it is more important to protect gun rights than to police gun purchasing had increased by 28 points to a full 75%.
And with good reason. Last time Republicans voted to ban assault weapons and require background checks the NRA mobilized its members — who studies have shown to be more politically active than gun-control-supporting proponents — and in 1994 ousted many Congress members who voted for the two bills.
The message was clear: do not fuck with the NRA.
But that’s still not a good representation of what the NRA is, because all this seems to imply the NRA is something that can be avoided. It is not something that just lives in Washington. It moves and breathes in towns and rural tracts, occupying the same place as the Fraternal Order of Police: a “private” organization immeasurably wedded to the State and the entire culture benefiting from it. NRA membership is required to shoot at some ranges and gun clubs. One year memberships with the NRA are often given out for free with the purchase of some firearms, even ones made in Brazil. In fact in many places the NRA determines who can actually TEACH people to use a firearm: if any aspiring Leftist wanted to help comrades get their concealed carry permit they would have to be vetted and tested by the NRA itself before the State would grant them the ability to do so.
The NRA, like many unions today, exists as a commercial entity capable of regulating its members and acting as a go-between for industry and government. The monopoly it has on gun culture, from training to regulation to ownership is the stuff of a Robber Baron’s wet dream.
LaPierre is the distilled essence of the wary, nervous gun owner; exuding a kind of certainty that if he sleeps with two eyes closed some man with a hatchet is going to sever his jugular. This world view has consistently been preached to the gun-owning public: in 2000 he claimed President Clinton had actually allowed a certain amount of violence and killing to strengthen the case for gun control and to score points for his party; LaPierre even wrote a book during the Obama adminstration warning conservatives of “an armed U.N. platoon of blue helmets” that “can knock on your door to take your guns,” all part he believes of a “cultural war smoldering within American borders” that has “gone global.”
“Their goal,” the television continued, “is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”
The crowd cheers, but in a muted way. Fear. It reeks of fear.
LaPierre goes on, shouting about “Chinese fentanyl” flooding the streets, drug violence and gangs, all things that tarnished an otherwise pure colonial America. I was about to change the channel when his tone went from vague threats to a very particular one.
“…the shameful politicalization of a tragedy, it is a classic strategy right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement. In my three decades of leading the NRA, I have had the pleasure of working with a number of democrats who believe America to be the greatest country in the world because of our free market capitalism and because of our individual liberties. But during the last decade, the Obama Decade, many of those leaders have been forced out as a tidal wave of new European-style socialists seize control of the Democratic Party.“
“Did he say socialists?” My wife laughs. “T-that socialists are running the Democratic party?”
“Not JUST socialists, ‘european-style’ socialists. Masterstroke, the motherfucker isn’t just painting the enemy red, he’s painting them foreign. Shit, in some trailerparks ‘european’ is practically synonymous with gay.”
The walking corpse continued, laying out the new domestic enemy in the Age of Trump. The information wasn’t factual, but it didn’t need to be. The American people had gone to war for much, much less.
“Obama promised a fundamental transformation of our country. And you know what? It began with his own national party, a party that is now infested with saboteurs who do not believe in Capitalism, do not believe in the constitution, do not believe in our freedom, and do not believe in America as we know it. Obama may be gone but their utopian dream…it marches on and President Trump’s election, while crucial, cannot turn away the wave of these new European style socialists bearing down upon us.”
LaPierre named names, citing Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cumo, Cory Booker, and other prominent Democrats as some kind of secret guerrilla force dedicated to the overthrow of the United States government.
It was a totally false but interesting rhetorical move. These Democrats at some point would have to defend that charge; take the red banner or deny it. All it would take was some conservative politician to ask them a simple question: why are you a socialist? Eager not to scare their donors the Democrats would back off. “Well, I wouldn’t say that…” Hadn’t that been the big split between Hillary or Bernie? A youthful cry for a fairer economy shuttered by big money and politics as usual?
LaPierre said these new socialists infesting the Democratic party aimed at “absolute control in every corner of our government.” According to the NRA head these European-style socialists use terms like “racist, misogynist, sexist, xenophobia, and more” as weapons, but truly needed offended victims to do their work. “You name the group, and they will find a way to turn them into victims. They keep their movement growing by finding somebody to be offended by something every minute of every day, from the Occupy movement, to Black Lives Matter, to Antifa, they agitate the offended, promote uncivil discourse, and ignore any sense of due process and fairness to destroy their enemies.”
This I was taken aback by. The narrative at play was that the Democrats had become a den of socialists trying to control America through language and groups like Occupy, BLM, and Antifa. The picture painted is one massive conspiracy, violent and dangerous, hell bent on destroying everything John Wayne might hold dear.
And LaPierre didn’t stop. For a speech about gun restrictions he spent very little time discussing them. He made mention of programs the NRA has created, how they were going to be offered to schools, and even how they’ve fought for “reform” before.
But above all the message of a Red Menace rang loud.
“In every nation in which this political disease rises to power its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed, and their firearms are banned and confiscated…On college campuses The Communist Manifesto is one of the most frequently assigned texts. Karl Marx is the most assigned economist. And there are now over 100 chapters of young Democratic Socialists of America in many universities, and students are even earning academic credit for promoting socialist causes.”
I was somehow on the bed now, a can of beer cracked open and nearly empty. The hate radiating from the television appeared like sharp spikes jabbing themselves into my eyeballs. The words were so inflammatory, the enemy so dreadfully and grusomely painted, that the NRA CEO had to walk back a bit and cautiously warn his listeners he was not calling for an armed revolt.
“Lets be clear, we are never talking about an armed resistance against the socialist corruption of our government…”
No, of course not. That’s highly illegal and can actually get you sued when the bodies start hitting the floor. But the plot passed to the conservative media and press was very clear: The enemy wasn’t the UN, or the jack-booted government conservatives claim to fear. Hell, even the Democrats could be purged of heresy in LaPierre’s eyes. The NRA was loudly proclaiming that evil socialists were coming to rule you. To own you. To kill. And if they won? Everything this country stood for would be annihilated.
It was shocking, even for me, to have the Left so clearly despised on national media. I tried to think of another conservative politician or figure who had this kind of reach, someone who had rained fiery hell on not just the eerie ghosts of “socialism” but real world organizations like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and even the DSA. I couldn’t think of one.
The head of a highly armed cultural force had just called out Leftists, by name, and made it clear they were the enemy. In a time of heightened agitation and sore feelings the witch responsible for dispoiling the crops had been selected.
Good things do not tend to come after that.
Are you a R҉͔̺̙͎̻͍u̴̗͇̲̣̥͢s̨͖̹̟̘̜̻̪̼s̰͙̰̀͠i̶̘̩̝̱̥̘͉̻a̯̘n̬̞̝͈͢ ̧̡̱̪̱̪͉̜͎̣́ͅb͓͈̝̟̖͜ò̜̫͖͉͓͚̘̕ţ̗̦͉̲͔͚̠̳͠?̡̫̗̙
The speech ended and I patiently waited to see what MSNBC would say. Normally they were a good gauge for official Democrat policy, particularly because they operated as the party’s literal mouthpiece. I’m thinking surely they won’t stand for this kind of red baiting, this blatant rally to destroy radicals.
I waited for a good hour, watched the most asinine “journalism” I could imagine. The result?
They had an FBI agent on, and after thanking him for his “service” in no doubt arresting many an activist or destroying the Black Panthers, they quizzed him on how he felt about the NRA searing their leadership. “Shame on you,” was the reply, causing the “journalists” to swoon like Nebraskan tourists in Everglades heat. They made comments about how Yemen, who had gun ownership levels similar to the United States, was “all shooting at each other,” while completely avoiding the fact Saudi Arabia(with the support of the United States) had been at war with them for many years and was using a blockade to starve millions of civilians. They had a guest on shortly after who, from tears, started his segment with “our founding fathers, god bless them, could never have imagined…”
Above all there was no mention of any comments LaPierre made about socialists, or how they were destroying the country and coming to enslave the population. Literally none. There was no mention of the Democratic Socialists, of Black Lives Matter, of Antifa. There was no mention of the Parkland shooter’s white nationalist ideals or the chatlogs where he talked about killing Mexicans, keeping black folks in chains, and shooting gay people “in the back of the head.” There was no mention of the rise in white nationalist militias like Atomwaffen, who have been responsible for at least five murders as well as planning to use explosives to cripple public water systems or electrical power grids, all in an attempt to spark a “race war.”
There was no mention of any of it. They stuck to footage of kids crying, pleas for more safety, and above all a resolute determination that only total democratic control of every branch of government would stop the killings. They then quickly cut to a piece about Russians infiltrating the American government. I jumped online, hoping younger news outlets would cover this amazing blindspot.
I instead came across something even more terrible.
(Image taken from the facebook page of the woman harassed by CNN)
(Image taken from twitter of an anti-Trump protest)
All this combined with calls for censoring leftist writers, Google algorithm changes slashing the viewership of leftist outlets like World Socialist Web Site, CounterPunch, and Alternet, as well as the deletion/view-throttling of leftist social media did not herald a warm and fuzzy future.
I tucked deep into the whiskey as a dark and bitter truth washed over me, clear enough to scorch my soul and send me into a cold sweat. While the Democrats and Republicans appeared to be enemies, at the core they were class allies as we’d always known. Something had changed. Together they were uniting against the biggest threat to their rule: a resurgent Left.
A tide had indeed turned. The halls of power had begun to identify us as enemies. And the Left seemed powerless to do anything about it.
How Long Lord, How Long?
“Today various nations butt their heads together like enormous rams, each desiring supremacy over the others…
And yet this spectacle, this mad squandering of energy, this relentless struggle for life, reveals no ardor for real and conscious strength to me at all. I see only an immense breakdown, a demolition of castles, a mortal collision between nations, while the indifferent earth opens its breast to receive the young flesh that will fertilize it…
So this age has ended. Good riddance. In the presence of such ruins, I sing of the disaster, a new Nero. I revel in seeing it. Then on these ruins, I will build my edifice, my civilization, my world. Therefore, I sing…” – Bruno Fillipi, “The Rebel’s Dark Laughter”
I walked my wife to work and spent the next several hours getting drunk at my desk, turning off the A.C. and allowing the heat to build up before cracking a window. Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, and Willie Colón wandered in from the bluetooth speaker perched on two beer cans and kept me company. It was snowing in Chicago and here it was..80? 88? That wonderful temperature where the air is thick and your shirt sticks to your back making you feel like an iguana.
“-Calle luna, calle sol
-Calle luna, calle sol
Oiga señor si usted quiere su vida
Evitar es mejor o la tienes perdida.
-Mete la mano en el bosillo saca y abre tu cuchillo y ten cuidado
ooye ten cuidado
-pónganme oído en este barrio muchos guapos o han matado
y que muchos ha matado
-calle lune calle sol
-calle lune calle sol“
Small breezes would drift in from the cracked window, the horns and trumpets from the music mixing with the sounds of the street. I closed my eyes and pretended I was somewhere else.
Far away, on an island perhaps or by a river, even just some unused corner of an orange grove, tucked into some rundown shack stockpiled with rum and surrounded with banana trees; right where the mustard greens grow and garfish fill the creeks. You sleep in hammocks and go on long walks, live for the saltwater and the warm sun, spend days in meditation and commune with the here-after.
But the heat began to fade away, and as the warmth of the sun dissipated the colors of twilight began to hold court.
Sunset is an interesting time, a moment potent and ripe for magic. In Hoodoo one is taught that sunrise, the time betwixt night and day, is the ideal time to fill items with power. To draw things to you. Sunset is to diminish them. To reduce them. To destroy them. To have things move away and disappear.
I am not a party leader, a prophet, or some grand theoretician. I am not here to dazzle my readers with whipsong tales of joy and laughter in a world that offers very little. In my journalistic pursuits I have seen many things…Kurdish soldiers used by the United States to destroy an American puppet army, only to be betrayed and slaughtered by another NATO nation…cartels members in Mexico, pushed into the drug trade by capitalist trade agreements, skinning a man alive as a warning to other competitors…painful accounts of anarchist prisoners electrocuted and tortured in Russian cells. Thousands of stories and lives and bodies piled up under screaming bombs, a never ending wail of human suffering, all available online and in high-definition, sandwiched between flashing advertisements for dick pills and voting drives.
This is the real world of politics, the darkness few can stand to see. We do our best to pretend it doesn’t exist, the nasty and dirty reality, but that’s all the news is. The final explosion of every theory, the…plan brought to the battlefield. The mess it creates.
The grim brutality of what it means to live. That’s what journalism is about. Staring into the darkness and refusing to look away.
It is this terrible darkness that gives me hope.
We perceive time lineally, with a beginning, an end, and the illusion of a forward momentum moving from one to the other. This is because we are three-dimensional creatures. If you could stand back into the fourth dimension we would see time as one solid object: all time existing at the same time. You reading this, as well as five-year old you and fifty-five year old you, all present at once. This could very well explain psychic perception and the experiments of Dr. Daryl Bem: psi and other phenomena merely our minds plugging into time as it actually exists. The Gnostics believed we continually reincarnated into this time-locked object, destined to relive it again and again and again. They saw the suffering of the world, as did the Buddhists, and deemed life a prison we needed to escape from.
The Taoists agreed on most of their points save for one: they didn’t see it as a prison. Instead, seeing all changes in reality all existing at the same time, they determined that what was perceived as suffering was merely the momentary flux of two opposing principles: one solid, one corrosive. The interplay of these two principles furnished all of creation, including the dimensions above and below us. There was no prison because there was no difference between what you do, what happens to you, and what you are. It is all the same process, a never ending flow of multifaceted complexities bouncing off one another in perpetuity. The Universe wasn’t a “thing.” It was a “way.” It couldn’t happen to you because you were it. We are not bodies or time-locked beings because we are forces at play in the universe, as fundamental as quarks and electron clouds.
It is the forces of decay that keep things growing. Taoist wizards protected homes by crafting fu charms heavy with Yang to overcome Yin; when Yin devoured Yang they hexed enemies with “hungry ghosts” and infestations of insects. Contact and conflict is what creates differentiation, it shifts and mutates the whole into the Ten Thousand Things.
There is nothing solid or stable about the reality of the moment. Every attempt to pin down this Way, to solidify it, will create the very forces that undo that solidification. Change is the only constant. You build a lock people will learn to pick it, you beat protesters on public television and it will generate outrage, drone strike a town and you will only inspire more people to pick up arms as they begin to thirst for revenge.
THAT’S what the revolution IS, that tension, the breaking apart of hierarchical and crystallized structures. The targets and ideologies change to reflect whatever slice of reality we are currently observing but it is always the same fight.
How many times have we fought this war, reader? How many times have you and I had this exact conversation over coffee? How did you feel as you watched me die on that barbed wire, mustard gas filling my lungs? How many lifetimes have we spent battling enslavement? How many names and faces have you worn? All those moments are happening right now as you read these words.
Nothing is sure. Nothing is guaranteed. Life is often a matter of dice-rolls, dealt hands, cunning, and luck. Good people and good ideas die. Accept it. Realize that the universe can be both the same thing that births children into the world and gives them cancer.
I have no interest in building a movement. I realize no matter how grand the revolutionary dream on a long enough timeline it will turn conservative, sell out, or crush whatever dissent it deems heretical. That our children will fight for freedoms you and I can’t even comprehend. Instead I’m interested in building lifeboats capable of sustaining and defending themselves on a dying planet, keenly aware the universe is one never-ending game of tug-of-war. That’s the Communist in Egoist-Communist.
The permanent instability of the Tao does not care about ideology. It cares only for the Flow. As the global capitalist system continues to crumble and Maslow’s Pyramid goes unmet, the people will reach for sustenance and security. We will have a unique opportunity to seize power and carve life out of rotting corpses. Look at the gang-controlled streets in the favelas of Brazil, the water shortage in Cape Town, what climate change has done to places like Puerto Rico. The Taliban is gaining territory, not losing it. In Greece fascists have effectively become the local police. By the State’s own admission they are retreating from a world so complex they can’t control it.
That does not mean they will go quietly, or allow little bugs to grow into bigger ones that might one day topple their throne.
We must be aware that our fight, the fight for a decent existence conducive to our personalities, is not some far off future; no destiny we are marching towards, no “inevitable” peak the proletariat will ascend. There is only the eternal Now. We are not going to overcome our enemies with sheer hope or the perceived “rightness” of our beliefs. The idea the same government who has tortured, killed, and raped across multiple continents at the slightest HINT of a Leftist surge was somehow going to allow one to grow peacefully right in its backyard is the boldest of fictions. The Right is rising against you, the Democrats are rising against you, and we might very well be looking at the kind of repression that allowed “good germans” to walk by camps they were assured only housed “bad people.”
It’s time to start taking our death and imprisonment seriously. We know where this will lead.
The Tao will freely allow us to be destroyed just as gleefully as it arms us with new targets and opportunities. There is no final victory to achieve, only territory to be gained or lost.
Same as it always was. Now and forever.
Don’t you remember?
Dr. Bones is a Hoodoo-slingin’ Florida native and Egoist-Communist spitting pure vitriol and sorcerous wisdom at a world gone mad. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
His poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism can be found at Gods & Radicals and The Conjure House. He can be reached by email, twitter, or facebook. Want to do him a favor? Help keep him alive for as little as $4.99 a month.
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