The United States is Being Radicalized—And It Isn’t By Us
“The game is getting serious now and the days of blind optimism are over.”
From Dr. Bones
As I write these words I am currently parked outside of an abandoned orange grove, the Kia serving as mobile press office and exploratory vehicle. Behind me are the rotting remains of generations of dreams. The packing house, a cross between factory and roadside orange grove stand, now lies in ruins, a shadow of its former self. The heavy machinery, the box labels marking grapefruit bound for Tokyo, even the sign that once hung above the building patiently wait inside, sure that one day that front door is going to open and business go back to normal.
The place is haunted in a sense, though not by any dead folks as far as I could tell. I tip toe softly and hear buzzes, shouts, but they aren’t bouncing off the walls. I can see both the building as it was and as it is now: smiling customers mix with the caved in ceiling, two men argue over pay by the graffiti that says “Shit Chamber,” covered in dust; scattered everywhere are tags for holiday fruit once carefully attached to wooden crates..
In Japan a sword is believed to gain a soul after one hundred years. How about a building? Am I feeling its memories locked in the wood, the metal? Where else might this feeling of longing be coming from?
I crawl back outside, storm winds rolling in from the west. My mobile encampment lies hidden in the bushes, and with scarcely time to open a beer a monsoon washes over the area. In the back seat I stare watching, wondering of lives and futures that could have been.
Something has changed in the American power structure. There’s a revolutionary future out there in some quantum space that will never be ours again, as doomed as the building I’m parked beside. This isn’t the same country we were organizing in four years ago.
And I think we’ve taken a turn for the worst.
Left Wing Violence?
I warned of the heightened violence Mars would bring. Manifestations are beginning to bear down on us.
For one who could forget the fearsome brawl that left one comrade with serious injuries out in Portland? The battles on the west coast have long drifted from mere street fights into something more akin to Gangs of New York. The Police, in typical fashion, are loathe to do anything to the far-right.
They seemed to reserve the majority of their aggression for Antifa.
This is no surprise. We, as Leftists, should expect the State to constantly see right-leaning forces as friends and ourselves as loathsome reptiles fit only for the firing squad.
The reason why might have recently changed.
The traditional Leftist understanding posits that the forces of the State see the Left as an eternal enemy because we seek to destroy the conditions they uphold. The clear misunderstanding is mistaking the Left, up until a few years ago, as a “threat” to the State.
From the 90’s on most police officers and government officials lumped leftists in with Democrats who always seemed to cause trouble whenever the Empire did something notable. Annoying, but certainly nowhere near the danger of terrorists “pouring in” from the middle east. A few agents and informants may be cultivated but I can assure you there was no “Left Wing Division” of the FBI working double shifts to monitor our every move.
That is quickly changing.
“Dale Yeager, a forensic profiler and CEO of Seraph Inc., a private consulting firm for law enforcement, has been warning American law enforcement about left-wing extremism since the 1970s. On Tuesday, Yeager will headline the conference with his keynote, ‘Radical Left-Wing Gangs in America,’ focused on ‘anti-fascist, or antifa, groups and their violent actions against civilians and police agencies in the U.S. and Canada.’
In his mind, the growth of right-wing extremism is a form of fake news; it’s the left, he says, that’s the bigger danger to America. ‘The United States is in a Second Civil War,’ Yeager told VICE News. ‘We are. The one thing I disagree with is that it’s a cold civil war. There’s violence. And it’s not going to get better.’…
The FBI Academy Associates is a nonprofit based in Quantico, Virginia, and claims nearly 20,000 members, a cross-section of federal, state, and local law enforcement from around the world. It aims to coordinate and share materials about current public safety issues, but it also reflects the priorities of the Bureau, and certainly the attitudes of agents in the field.
This year’s conference will take place in Quebec City in Canada, and its agenda makes no mention of far-right extremists…
‘There is no uptick in white supremacy violence,’ Yeager told VICE News. ‘That’s a statistical inaccuracy.'”
Yeager himself admits this is a new trend in law enforcement. “I talked about this in the early 2000s,” he said, “and the response I got originally on a federal level was, ‘They’re tree-huggers; they won’t hurt anyone’,”
It doesn’t matter if Yeager is a willfully ignorant liar whose very brain appears eaten away by mosquito larvae. Yeager is being called in because the people at that conference already feel like he’s right.
This means two very important things.
For one we can expect a large increase in State violence and subversive activity. The left is being taken as a serious threat, and a quick glance through the history of COINTELPRO ought to tell you what that means. Leftists will be risking jail, and possibly even death, for many types of organizing/resistance they once took for granted. The game is getting serious now and the days of blind optimism are over.
But that’s just half the story.
How Fascism Grows
When we talk about Fascism what do we mean? For many Fascism is simply the last attempts of a crumbling Capitalist State to preserve the status quo. Desperate to cling to power they awaken reactionary forces and unleash them on revolutionaries.
This analysis of fascism is extremely limited. I prefer the work of Max Weber:
“…against Karl Marx’s analysis of class and class conflict, [Weber] emphasized the importance of social status, the relative rank in society in terms of esteem and prestige that groups of people hold. As modern societies constantly undergo changes in these rank orders of status, people are subject to feelings of status anxiety and status loss. They collectively develop responses that tend to be more emotional, more in the nature of gut feeling than of rational analysis. Those are the moments when Enlightenment humanism and rationalism can no longer adequately explain the world we are living in. Max Weber, as he observed Germany’s hectic industrialization and the social turmoil it brought, already speculated that individuals, unmoored by these developments, cut loose from communal settings as these had harbored them before, could become vulnerable to a despotic leader.” –Rob Kroes
Fascism is less of a reaction to the Left and more of a reaction to the loss of status within a society. This explains the uncomfortable reality of many “workers” voting fascists into power, or the proletariat gleefully going along with whatever wholesale slaughter happens to make them feel powerful. When people feel slighted, when the old ways no longer function, people go looking for answers. When those answers make them FEEL a certain way they begin to change ideas and the perception of reality around them.
This seems to jive with the opinion of The United States Army Special Command who wrote in Human Factors Considerations of Undergrounds and Insurgencies:
This process, albeit different, is literally how we all became Leftists. We were unhappy, felt cheated or abused, and went looking for something different. We were radicalized.
So when we start noticing price changes at Walmart…
or the Department of Homeland Security sending out press releases that sound a lot like a common white supremacist slogan known as “The 14 Words”…
or officers getting suspended without pay after they make white supremacist hand gestures in official photos…
or they get caught wearing and selling Proud Boy gear…
We know it isn’t because they’re secretly frightened of national healthcare or a liberal congress. This is beyond mistaking us for Democrats turning frogs gay with secret chemicals.
These are people who are radicalizing before our very eyes; people who feel slighted and are looking for an answer, an entirely different mode of politics outside of the traditional Republican Party.
And it’s beginning to look like they found one.
Feelings That Can Kill
I wipe tears from my eyes, hidden in my car but united with the rain and the land around me. We both remember a past so close we can almost taste it, another time stolen from our grasp forever. Flavored like honeybells, smellin’ like high tide winds rolling through palmettos. You could park on the side of the road in places just like this and have a picnic, nobody would bother you. The natural beauty was there to enjoy.
With the right set of eyes you can still see the stains of that past, like blood from a crime scene. The bodies are carried away and the tears eventually dry. Soon nothing is left but the color on the concrete.
Now it is a rotting building surrounded by broken concrete and no trespassing signs. This grove will never open again. Revenue and jobs in the citrus sector are each down by about a third in the past three years, and most simply can’t compete with foreign imports and new diseases. There is talk the State will lose the entire industry in a matter of years.
Donald Trump is merely a symptom of a much larger problem. For much of the 2016 election, Trump was considered a long-shot candidate — someone who was way too extreme to actually be elected. But it was those same extreme views that made him successful, those same views that people wanted to hear. Tucker Carlson, a “reporter” on Fox News prime-time, currently hosts the #2 news show in all of cable television. His views are so extreme even other Fox News contributors are getting nervous:
“I mean, it is close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let’s call it. A combination of dumbing down, as you said earlier, and stirring people’s emotions in a very unhealthy way.”
Feelings of rage and privilege are pushing people to ask new questions about formerly unspeakable things. They are unhappy and will take whatever plans and scapegoats get shoved in front of them. I’m wondering if we aren’t seeing the results of a hidden revolution that’s already won hearts and minds. People with guns and badges aren’t just hating the Left anymore. They are flirting with White Nationalism because they believe it can give them the respect and privileges they feel are slipping away.
The storm, as most do in Florida, passes quickly. The Land finishes mourning and returns to providing for all her children. Not just the people and cute little baby deer but the alligator ripping open a dog, the bull shark swallowing a dolphin whole, the god damn anacondas now calling the Everglades home. Florida is a goddess of overflowing love and no remorse.
I tell myself this is the attitude I must adopt if I’m to survive.
Shortly after I pause to consider how much of my politics stem from feelings of alienation, a desire to return something I believe I am owed. Everywhere the dilapidated ruins whisper to me, the obliterated swamps call my name. Hatred and vengeance fills up my blood.
I was lucky enough to be born on the bottom, to notice black folks and women had it worse than I did. If I hated and hurt this much, I couldn’t imagine what it might be for them. To destroy what hurt me was to destroy what hurt them. This made me an Egoist-Communist.
For so many however that shared pain and experience never comes, protected by class status and social positions. They never come down into the dirt. Trapped inside themselves they seek only to preserve what little privileges they had because it’s the only thing they know.
Give those people guns and the unique ability to legally kill people and you got yourself a reeeeal fucking problem.
I hear boots approaching, and turn to notice to police officers walking towards me. I stash my open beer, and calmly walk out of the door of the car.
“What you doin’ out here?”
“I’m a journalist. I like to do stories on the scene.”
“You got I.D.?”
I give them my I.D. and explain one of my last articles dealt with Florida’s decaying orange industry. I spout off the numbers, mentioning how at one point five acres could generate enough income for an entire family, how family groves are becoming a thing of the past. I talk about economic decay and both officers take their hands off their guns. They nod. I’ve gone from potential burglar to misguided but sympathetic youth. I’m speaking their language.
It helps I’m wearing camo pants and a shirt that says “Guns Don’t Kill People—The Government Does.” This is the South after all.
“Well,” says the deputy, “that all sounds pretty interesting. But I’ma half to ask you to leave. You ain’t done anything too bad, ya just stick out. The owner, he uh…he’s real sensitive about his property.”
Sensitive, an emotional term. For the owner, for the cops, this building was more than just a building. It might very well inspire the same feelings surging through me.
But where I saw neo-liberal economics and a state government run by the wealthy….who did they see as the cause? How might these cops have treated me if they felt I was responsible for the decay all around them? If they’d been reading books and attending conferences that were more than happy to point the finger….
As I jumped in the car I realized somebody was going to pay for murdering the past. That’s how we all felt. That was the war coming.
Across the country sides we’re being selected and, from here on out, the cops would be more than simple enforcers. There was no need to seize power or start a revolution. These people already had the power, the guns, and the laws. They would be actively backing an ideology they felt would set the world right.
That world, ever increasingly, involves us being as dead as this orange grove.
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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