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In Light of Eric Garner

2014 December 5
by Ian Welsh

Understand this, if you understand nothing else:

the system is working as intended.

It is true that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a sandwich, and it is tempting to blame the prosecutor, Donovan.  Certainly he made a decision, but he made the decision that the system wants: police are almost never prosecuted for assault or murder and on those rare occasions that they are, they almost always get off.

Donovan did what the legal system wanted him to do.

As for the police in question, well, they did what the legal system wants them to do, as well:

“Get away [garbled] … for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me (garbled) Selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.”

” I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” he said, as officers restrained him.

What you will hear defenders of the police say is “he was non-compliant.”


If a police officer tells you to do anything, you do it immediately.  If you do not, anything that happens to you, up to and including death, is your problem.

The legal system exists, today, to ensure compliance.

Graph of incarceration in the US over time

From Wikipedia

American oligarchical society rests on people not effectively resisting.  All gains now go to the top 10%, with the rest of society losing ground.  Incarceration rates blossom in 1980, which is also the year that the oligarchical program is voted in and becomes official.  (Trickle down economics can be understood no other way.)

Any part of the population which is inclined to resist, must be taught that it cannot resist.  Get out millions to demonstrate against the Iraq war: it will not work. Protest against police killings of African Americans, it will not work.

Nothing you do will work.

You will comply, and you will learn that resistance is futile.

strikes over 1000The more outside the mainstream you are, the more you will learn it.  African Americans, Latinos, poor whites (in that order.)  Those who are fundamentally authoritarian, but somewhat opposed to the system (like the Bundy ranch) are treated more carefully (though the militia movement has its martyrs).  But the fundamental lesson of life is to do what your lords and masters tell you to, and to not protest any law or order, no matter how nonsensical, trivial, or unjust it is.

Three strikes laws and the end of judicial discretion are about this.  During the 80s the legal system was taken away from the judges and given to the prosecutors and the police. Almost all sentences are plea-bargained: the person with almost all the power in the system is the prosecutor.  He or she is judge and jury for the vast majority of cases, and even when a case does go in front of a judge, the judge’s discretion is extremely limited.  Your third crime stealing a bike?  Too bad, we’re throwing the key away.

Compliance when given specific orders and learned hopelessness about protest or organizing are the aims.  Ordinary citizens must understand that they cannot change the system if elites do not agree with the changes they want made.  If they try, they will be arrested and receive a criminal sentence, meaning they can never again have a good job.

In this system the wolves or goats identify themselves.  An injustice is committed, people protest and the most aggressive protestors (which doesn’t always mean violence) are arrested.  Certainly the organizers are.  Those people are, as a result, usually destroyed economically even if they aren’t locked up for years.

The system is doing what it is meant to do.  It teaches compliance, it teaches hopelessness and it identifies those who will not obey laws that don’t make sense (marijuana possession, for example), or who will fight or organize against the system and then it destroys them economically and often psychologically through practices like solitary confinement and prison rape.

The system will not change until those who want it to change have the raw power to force it to change, because it does serve the interests of its masters by destroying or marginalizing anyone who is actually a danger to oligarchical control of the system.

Race is an effective tool in this system, dividing the lower classes (and almost everyone is lower class now) against each other.  No matter how bad a poor white’s life is, well hey, he ain’t black.  He or she can feel superior to someone, can have someone to kick down at.

And understand this, most of what police are paid in is social coin: the right to demand immediate obedience and fuck people up; the solidarity of the blue line; the feeling of belonging and power, is what makes the job worth having for (probably most) of the people who are now attracted to it.

Being a thug; having social sanction to be a thug, is enjoyable to a lot of people. Since that’s what cops get to do, those are the sort of people who tend to be attracted to the job.  The police are the biggest toughest gang around, and belonging to them has most of the rewards of gang life, without the dangers of going to jail.

Working as intended



50 Responses
  1. BEXAL permalink
    December 5, 2014

    In the past decade the Jim Crow strategy has been turned on its head to give it appeal to its original victims–the idea is being circulated that the abuse that they have always suffered is simply the normal, proper, and expected condition of a common person in society; and the lack of mistreatment of the majority was simply an unjustly given “privilege”. Justice then means putting an end to “privilege”–denying basic human dignity to all of the commoners, not just some of them.

    As a maneuver it’s brilliant and horrible, and it shows that the architects of the system have known fully well what they’ve been doing all along.

  2. reanimator permalink
    December 5, 2014

    “And understand this, most of what police are paid in is social coin: the right to demand immediate obedience and fuck people up; the solidarity of the blue line; the feeling of belonging and power, is what makes the job worth having for (probably most) of the people who are now attracted to it.”

    Reminds me of Louis Althusser’s “hailing”

  3. Foggyworld permalink
    December 5, 2014

    I agree with most of what you say but am here to tell you that in three NJ middle-class towns I have been verbally abused and given nothing but grief for asking for help in two situations and for being outside of my home after Sandy (not a crime).

    I’m not black but I am deaf and that seems to make be a candidate for the aggressive position that I see coming out of more and more cops. I also asked for help in the NYC Times Square police on-the-street station and was chewed out royally for even asking for one of the hundreds of cops standing around to watch me walk to my parked car which was surrounded by about 20 male teenagers. I was afraid of them but ended up in tears and shaking because of the lecture I received from a cop who was just in the room – not even handling my request. His long rant was about it was “not their job” to assist me.

    Any sort of vulnerability seems to be attractive to the way over militarized police. Not all of them but an increasing number have forgotten the notion of what goes into being a “peace officer.” And it is downright frightening to this middle and aging white woman.

  4. Hairhead permalink
    December 5, 2014

    I am not, thank goodness, an American, a resident in America, or black.

    If I were, I would be seriously considering withdrawing from society in order set about the creation of domestic death squads to execute white cops who have killed unarmed black men. And I would realize that this would likely be my death, as death was the price for the workers, marchers, and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Remember when the Black Panthers threatened police? Final death toll: 2 dead cops, 84 dead Black Panthers. But then, when death would likely be my fate for the crime of my skin colour and my politics, what legitimate, effective choice would I have?

    I have been watching US institutional violence against blacks since 1967; I have watched it decline, change (arbitrary race-based incarceration is significant violence against the black community), and rise. The US’s militarized, hysterical, authoritarian, racist police are the new lynch mob — and their terror is extremely effective because, like the lynch mobs, no-one pays a price for the violence, and their victims are chosen arbitrarily and are mostly innocent of any significant crime.

    I do not see anything except violence, domestic terrorism against US cops, as the answer to the wholesale and expanding murder of black men. I really don’t. And that would set off a cycle of increasing violence which would make the riots of the 1960’s look like pre-school playtime. Understand, I do not approve of or support this violence — but I do not see any way, in this viciously compromised system, for this system of race-violence to change. After all, it took the National Guard, with machine guns and tanks, simply to integrate schools. To take away the power of the cops to murder without cause and with impunity will take something as significant, or greater.

    I am glad I am neither American nor black, and so do not have to make such a life-or-death choice.

  5. December 5, 2014

    good work

  6. John Measor permalink
    December 5, 2014

    As others might say – a ‘feature’ not a ‘bug’ … though, there are **some** things a cop isn’t allowed to get away with …

  7. Spinoza permalink
    December 5, 2014

    CODA, here! Much love to you. Whenever my Father, who also happens to be Latino, got pulled over or harassed by the cops they would turn to my child self and ask “Is he retarded?” I knew even from a young age that the police will always look at us as animals.

    What do you suggest? Just take it? Become a hermit, or a terrorist? Do nothing and wait for the bombs to drop? I don’t mean this facetiously. God knows we have too much fucking irony as it is (see Stewart/Colbert). I’m being serious.

  8. Spinoza permalink
    December 5, 2014

    Also, this was a damn fine article. You speak the damn truth in a world of bullshit.

  9. V. Arnold permalink
    December 6, 2014

    Well done Ian, well said.
    There is another thing at work here: I’ve been singing this song for over a decade and even on so-called progressive blogs I get ignored, called arrogant, or worse.
    Up until 2008 I still maintained the slightest modicum of hope, but after witnessing the uncle Tom of America double down, I hold no hope what-so-ever.
    Frankly, I don’t understand how ya’ll take it…

  10. jcapan permalink
    December 6, 2014

    “Race is an effective tool in this system, dividing the lower classes (and almost everyone is lower class now) against each other. No matter how bad a poor white’s life is, well hey, he ain’t black. He or she can feel superior to someone, can have someone to kick down at.”

    Ding ding ding. Oligarchs must high-fiving each other in a scene out of Scorsese’s fevered imagination every time they watch this shit go down. If they’re not, it’s certainly in their interest to fund such racially motivated murders.

    “It is important for [the establishment] also to make sure this artificial unity of highly privileged and slightly privileged is the only unity-that the 99 percent remain split in countless ways, and turn against one another to vent their angers.

    How skillful to tax the middle class to pay for the relief of the poor, building resentment on top of humiliation! How adroit to bus poor black youngsters into poor white neighborhoods, in a violent exchange of impoverished schools, while the schools of the rich remain untouched and the wealth of the nation, doled out carefully where children need free milk, is drained for billion-dollar aircraft carriers. How ingenious to meet the demands of blacks and women for equality by giving them small special benefits, and setting them in competition with everyone else for jobs made scarce by an irrational, wasteful system. How wise to turn the fear and anger of the majority toward a class of criminals bred-by economic inequity-faster than they can be put away, deflecting attention from the huge thefts of national resources carried out within the law by men in executive offices.”

    Howard Zinn, The Coming Revolt of the Guards

    I’d love to see this poll question posed to Americans:

    Would you choose:

    a) an egalitarian and truly integrated society, prosperity for all, living and working alongside blacks and other minorities (translation–those you wrongfully perceive as to blame for your troubles)

    b) to burn it all down, as long as the niggers and illegals die first

  11. V. Arnold permalink
    December 6, 2014

    The point of my post above was that people do not want to hear this.
    They do not want their world rocked.
    They are scared. Very, very scared and may not even realize this . So, denial is the safe way through the perceived path ahead.
    I find it very telling that Ian’s post has few comments. This is a tell.
    The tell says we’re in deeper shit than we realize.
    Time to act; lead, follow, or just get out of the way…
    But wake up and face head on whatever is coming. If you can’t do this, then you are cowards…

  12. Anon permalink
    December 6, 2014

    I would point something out Ian, those “poor whites” have little in common in terms of economic interest with the poor blacks. I’m a petroleum geologist who works for a modest oil/gas producer in NW Pennsylvania, and most of the rig crew I know are great guys who make perhaps 36 grand a year, now less skilled workers make perhaps 28 grand but their lifestyle means that many have around 12,000 dollars in disposable income after paying for all their needs, insurance, maintenance, and their families. This is enough money to immediately buy a car which will last them at least a decade, mine for instance started at 14,000 but I jewed’em down to 11,500. And I make 78,000 a year but have 10,000 more disposable income than a Petroleum Geologist with similar experience working for a major producer in Houston TX with a salary of over 120,000. Cost of living in cities is massively higher unless you are on the public dole, which a not insignificant number of urbanites are, especially the blacks.

    Those poor whites who are almost all employed in industrial or resource extraction have no common interest with poor urbanites of any race. Nor do they share similar religious or cultural affiliation or even have the same moral values.

    How can people who barely step on grass in their lives comprehend those who burn coal dug out of old rail line cuts in outdoor furnances and essentially pay no utility costs other than electricity? Moreover why is it in their interests to understand? Even those poorest of whites don’t get arrested and appear to not commit crime at nearly the rate of the black population.

    And this is assuming racial egalitarianism. Now I won’t go into it because you aren’t a biologist, paleontologist, or anthropologist but given the data available that is something of an assumption. Perhaps it isn’t the system but rather the people. Academic test scores and incarceration rate correlate far better with race than income or social standing for example. I know you are likely to dismiss that as “racist” or believe it is caused by “endemic racialism” but then perhaps you should question why NE Asians don’t suffer this problem. Could it be that their mean IQ of 104 vs the White American(excluding hispanics) mean IQ of 103 could be indicative of a natural state of being which is more similar to that of the white population and therefore they neither violate the law nor a socially targeted?

    I’m throwing you a bone and assuming that there is in fact racialism inherent in the justice system, despite that fact that I see no evidence for that which is not more easily accounted for if we assuming biologic difference in cognition exist among the populations we define as “races” under the US Racial Classification System.

  13. December 6, 2014

    Kudos Ian. Great piece.

  14. Ian Welsh permalink
    December 6, 2014

    You Jewed them down, eh Anon?

    And, actually, I know a great deal more anthro than you probably do.

    The energy boom is ending, and the workers you “Jewed” down are about to take it on the chin.

    Maybe at some point I’ll put out a primer on how culture, power and history interact, and on how rural economies actually work and the ways their interests are different from urban ones, but you don’t get it.

  15. reanimator permalink
    December 6, 2014

    No one who knows basic world history before 1500 AD would be boasting about non Greco-Roman European’s “IQ.”

  16. Mark Weiss permalink
    December 6, 2014

    I was an End State Renal Disease patient on dialysis, and got a call to come to Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami. I was very sick, having battling cancer of the bone marrow (Multiple Myeloma) for years. “We think we have a kidney for you. Get here fast.” I took my bug out bag and drove the two hours to Miami. I had been to Jackson Memorial many times for evaluations since it is where I was finally listed. The medical campus is a confusing city in a city. I got lost trying to find the proper parking deck. I was in a panic.

    I found a Miami-Dade Sheriff deputy. I asked him to help me find where I had to go. He told me his job was only to deliver prisoners from the Miami-Dade lockup to Jackson’s contracted dispensary. He drove away.

    Some cops really don’t give a shit if you live or die.

  17. EGrise permalink
    December 6, 2014

    I’d say anyone who knows how IQ is measured would be reluctant to use it as a measure of anything.

  18. CMike permalink
    December 6, 2014

    Excellent summary of the current state of affairs Ian, hopefully this post will be commented on or linked to at several other sites. I would just add that a lot of the white intelligentsia who would identify themselves as both Democrats and left of center, and most of the black “1%,” have a convenient to the Establishment habit of, if not a calculated interest in, keeping the race issue ever front and center. Any effective push back against the growing dominance and enrichment of the few will require a different order of attack.

  19. Blissex permalink
    December 6, 2014

    «American oligarchical society rests on people not effectively resisting. All gains now go to the top 10%, with the rest of society losing ground. Incarceration rates blossom in 1980, which is also the year that the oligarchical program is voted in and becomes official.»

    That is what I call the “plantation economy” model, where there is a small number of “landladies of the plantation” in the beautiful McMansions in the “sunny uplands”, surrounded by a somewhat larger number of supervisors and trusties, in their white-picked fenced comfortable cottages, with the majority of workers cast in the sheds in the slums below, working hard to supply their masters and supervisors and trusties with the amenities to which they are entitled.

    What is missing from your story is that this model is immensely popular with the property owning middle class: their dream is to go back to the 50s, and they mean the 1850s, and some even the 1750s.

    Because they have been fully persuaded that they will be “winners”, they will get a place among the oligarchy, they will be the landladies of the plantation economy, or at least among the supervisors and trusties, and it will be the “losers” who will be cast down.

    Because the plantation economy they dream about is the “F*CK YOU! I GOT MINE!” economy, and they are sure they got their or will do so, because they can’t imagine themselves as “losers”.

    «it does serve the interests of its masters by destroying or marginalizing anyone who is actually a danger to oligarchical control of the system.»

    The property owning middle classes, especially older and retired women, want those that they consider as “untermensch” to be taught hard lessons in compliance, to keep them down.
    Because they think that they are part of the oligarchy, and that the “untermensch” threaten their membership in it.

  20. Blissex permalink
    December 6, 2014

    «The US’s militarized, hysterical, authoritarian, racist police are the new lynch mob»

    That’s based on assuming that they are their own agents, which is not the case, as you wrote earlier.

    The lynch mob are the middle and upper middle classes, especially middle aged and older property owning women; they are afraid and worried of everything and want every possible threat from “nasty” men to be met with disproportionate force, because in any case they don’t care about dusky/swarthy male nobodies.

    Their principle are “better safe than sorry” and “safe at any cost (to someone else)”.

    This is an article from the Financial Times from some years that shows the mindset:
    «But is clear leaders of both parties lack the confidence to challenge the mood of xenophobia that exists outside Washington. Instead they are fuelling it. In some respects the Democrats are now as guilty of stoking fears on national security as the Republicans. Their logic is impeccable. A majority of Americans believe there will be another large terrorist attack on American soil.
    Such is the depth of anxiety that one-fifth or more of Americans believe they will personally be victims of a future terrorist attack. This number has not budged in the last four and a half years.”»
    «Mr Bush has consistently received a much higher public trust rating on the war on terror than the Democrats.
    Without this — and without the constant manipulation of yellow and orange terror alert warnings at key moments in the political narrative — Mr Bush would almost certainly have lost the presidential race to John Kerry in 2004.»
    «In other words, the Democrats have found an effective way of neutralising their most persistent electoral liability: they are out-Bushing Mr Bush.
    It is easy to see why key Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have adopted this strategy. It is easy also to see why their Republican counterparts are following suit. As Peter King, the Republican representative for New York, said last week: “We are not going to allow the Democrats get to the right of us on this issue.” This left Mr Bush holding the candle for the left, as it were.»

    The middle classes have re-elected thumpingly the congresspeople and presidents who have done renditions, torture, PATRIOT act mass spying, assassination, civilian massacres, TARP, three-strikes, etc. etc.; there is a strong demand for “gloves off” policies from the authoritarian or fascist leaning middle classes.

  21. Blissex permalink
    December 6, 2014

    «Incarceration rates blossom in 1980,»

    BTW while this was because of pleasing fascist-like old ladies who are swing voters and frequent donors to campaigns, there was another major motivation.

    A large increase in prisoners reduces the official unemployment numbers, and makes depressionary policies look less bad. In the UK and Europe this was achieved by enormously expanding the number of university students while at the same time cutting university funding; something that happened also in the USA a bit later.

    Also increasing prisoners who work for very low wages generates profits that can be used to reduce taxes on property owners, which wins votes from “F*CK YOU! I GOT MINE!” middle classes who think they are part of the oligarchy.

  22. Mary McCurnin permalink
    December 6, 2014

    Little old lady here. Blissex, you have lost your mind. Most of the older women in this country are barely making it. The ladies you speak of are few and far between. Women still make only 75 cents for every dollar a dude makes. And in the southern states it is even worse. Maybe you are talking about the few that still believe they have value. What I see in the world I live in is women working until they die. And since they make less than men they are sometimes more employable than their husbands. And I have to tell you that the only thing we are afraid of is hunger. Genteel poverty only lasts so long. Then it just becomes sucky, shitty poverty.

  23. Eric permalink
    December 6, 2014

    “The system will not change until those who want it to change have the raw power to force it to change…”

    Sadly, nobody has, or will have, that power. If it even remotely looks like someone may get that power, that person will be crushed. Identifying those people is trivial now that the NSA warehouses every electronic communication and transaction. The only solution will be national bankruptcy, when there is no more wealth to transfer from the producers to the parasites. Sadly, the parasites will be the last ones to go broke; the producers will be bled dry first.

  24. December 7, 2014

    I should tell Anon about the the I was on loan to the company down the road… at about 4x the salary …

  25. V. Arnold permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Anon should attend history and not social theories of racial differences.
    We, as a country, are not post racial; never have been. That’s just another lie.
    It permeates society to the extent it’s invisible to the average person. It’s been normalized and made a part of the fabric of what is called the U.S.
    It’s just not that complicated; it only requires giving a shit…

  26. Monster from the Id permalink
    December 7, 2014

    I don’t understand Blissex’s gender fixation. (BTW, I am male.)

    I haven’t noticed the attitudes which Blissex describes as being disproportionately concentrated among women.

  27. DMC permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Actually my recently deceased mother fit a good deal of Blissex’s definition, though she didn’t worry so much as her properties were small in a small town. But the niche is not insignificant for the demographics, in that women live significantly longer than men, so that you have a lot of widows with property and/or businesses and that, as a whole, such demographic might be characterized as (small c) consrevative . But I agree that the gender focus got a little weird there at the end.

    And the few rural places the end of the Carbon boom are (temporarily) lifting out of destitution are hardly typical of non-urban America. There, it’s weed growers, meth cooks, the people that work for them and businesses that cater to all three. That’s somewhat overstated, in any given instance there will be some kind of legacy economy, based on extraction or agriculture or some bit of light industry that happened to thrive. A movie that caught the essence of rural reality from a couple of years ago was “Winters Bone”, a tale of teenage girl forced to step up to find out what happened to her missing father who put the house as collateral on a bail bond and apparently absconds. It really rubs your nose in the sheer desperation of the rural, land holding poor and is brilliantly well made throughout.

  28. anonone permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Another facet: The police have prosecutors in essentially a blackmail situation. If prosecutors start to vigorously prosecute crimes by individual officers, then the police can become subtly un-cooperative in other prosecutions, including sloppy reporting, poor evidence handling, faulty testimony in court, etc.

    This can wreck the careers of prosecuting attorneys, and both the police and prosecuting attorneys know this.

  29. Linda Amick permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Great article. True to the letter.
    As a native US citizen here for 64 years, I believe the rot and corruption has finally eaten the brains of the oligarchy.
    The pursuit of absolute global power which includes the compliance at home you speak of, is finally generating some resistance by leaders in some sovereign states.
    There is no hope for change in the US until the masses are starving or until a global alliance forms to counteract US empire.

  30. alyosha permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Those two charts (which you’ve shown before) – of incarceration rates and strikes – along with

    American oligarchical society rests on people not effectively resisting. All gains now go to the top 10%, with the rest of society losing ground. Incarceration rates blossom in 1980, which is also the year that the oligarchical program is voted in and becomes official. (Trickle down economics can be understood no other way.)

    ..say it all. The whole lesson they’re trying to impart: resistance is futile.

    Regarding jcapan’s “poll”

    Would you choose:

    a) an egalitarian and truly integrated society, prosperity for all, living and working alongside blacks and other minorities (translation–those you wrongfully perceive as to blame for your troubles)

    b) to burn it all down, as long as the niggers and illegals die first

    It scares the hell out of me that I know how much of the country would respond, and it isn’t (a).

    I’ve become more and more aware of how I’m living among a mob. Masses of ill-informed people inflamed by propaganda that’s continually beamed into their minds, and how they continually vote + support the oligarchic/police program to “keep them safe”.

    If you try to reason with these people, it’s not the police you have to fear, it’s the mob mentality itself, proceeding out of the propaganda machine. If your powers of reason manage to reach one of them, there are a thousand other “zombies” (I call them) waiting to take their place. And they may not be wearing official police uniforms or be on the police payroll, but they nonetheless enjoy kicking butt, in any form they can obtain. A great sadistic thrill.

    The only thing missing is a superman/superwoman who will come forward and promise to fix everything. They just need to set aside the laws “for a little while”, and this population would so dumb as to go along with it.

  31. Anon permalink
    December 7, 2014

    for Ian Welsh

    Depends on what you mean by boom, 2007 prices certainly were inflated and the current price is deflated. We’ve had the same salaries for the last 80 years. I work in both shallow oil/gas and shale reservoirs. And with the new reservoirs the AAPG estimates of the total oil reserves making 3.55 2000USD per gallon of gas viable for over 155 years whereas previously we thought we only had a 75 year supply of known(not proved) reserves back in 2007. Given the very high energy coefficient of both petroleum and natural gas I can’t see use declinging anytime soon. As for the current drop in price, that is actually a combination of the US removing restrictions on processing combined with them liquidating some of the unofficial reserves they keep possibly to fuck with Russia and the shit flinging contest in Asia Minor at the moment which has produces attempting to elbow eachother out of the market.

    However our Nymex price for PA crude is still almost a dollar above the mean for American crude. So we are still making a ton of money.

    And as I pointed out it’s not all about oil, the countryside and small towns have all the industry now since it left the urban centers, cheap rail access and a culture very hostile to unions tends to bring them in. Combined with the changes in communication infrastructure I frankly see little use for the large city anymore.

    So naturally the interests of urbanites and rurals will greatly differ.

    For VArnold
    >We, as a country, are not post racial; never have been.
    Never said we were, whites have less interracial coupling today than in 1930-1950. And our schools are more segregated than under Segregation. My point was that given the data available it appears that none of this is due to “systemic racism” especially given the quotas set by affirmative action achieved nothing in the long run in terms of removing racial disparities. Rather it seems that there are honestly cognitive differences between the groups we define as races and these contribute the the different social standings of those groups.

    I was told all my youth that racial egalitarianism was true and all the evidence supported it. Then when I got my MS I had time to look at the data and saw that the Journal of Anthropology and every other serious publican had amassed a large pool of data which refuted the assertions voiced to me in public school. So in light of that data I changed my position.

    I’m not particularly pleased about it because it means we can’t solve the “racial problems” because there are no problems, it appears to just be they way things are. Which means that blacks and hispanics are likely to remain caste like underclasses indefinitely given their respective mean IQs of 85 and 86.

    Having these underclasses doesn’t enhance the survival of my family line, which is my only concern. I would prefer these populations to have more economic utility, but I can’t argue with the data.

  32. December 7, 2014


    Great post! Not much more to be said.


    Stop it. Peddle that foolishness elsewhere as the folks here, despite the occasional squabbles, are way too smart not to see through your transparent bigotry and dressing it up in a facile “intellectualism” won’t help.

  33. Tom Halle permalink
    December 7, 2014


  34. December 7, 2014

    great post
    great to see Sterling back!

  35. V. Arnold permalink
    December 7, 2014

    @ ks PERMALINK
    December 7, 2014

    So true, but Anon has his MS. That pretty well locks him in. Pity really…

  36. December 8, 2014

    Make no mistake, the 10% of the population running this country would rather burn it to the fucking ground then share what they have and create an socio-politico infrastructure of equality. That is the reality staring the rest of us in the face. And while I don’t want to give into passive nihilism and go the Letterman/Stewart/Colbert court jester route, the thought of purusuing a course of active nihilism – i.e., burning the whole fucking thing to the ground – fills me with the shudders, because we all know what happens when freshly mown thugs take over from potted thugs; no one survives. But this article is spot on: the system works perfectly. It always gives me a chuckle when people say it doesn’t, just like those people who ask “Why did we lose the war?” As if winning a war was ever the fucking point to begin with.

  37. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 8, 2014

    I’ve been pondering the relationship between leftists and blacks recently. What are African-Americans to the left, and vice versa? It struck me that jcapan’s poll captures one half of the equation: either 1) utopia, or 2) you’re a raciss. First comes the dilemma — the radical’s lament of why can’t we have utopia? — and the punchline is a non-sequitur about blacks, who surely do not share that vision of utopia in any sense.

    Blacks are a powerful symbol in this country: radicals see them as an embodiment of the injustice they see in society. And anti-racism is still a powerful (and facile) cudgel to use against traditionalists and reactionaries. But what do blacks themselves want? They are not utopian at all, and if anything are more tribal — “racist” — than the married/religious whites who get contemptuously labeled as such. They are a political token, and for practical purposes, to keep them in the coalition, they have to be bought off or manipulated.

  38. jcapan permalink
    December 9, 2014


    My “half of the equation” was a playful aside about what undeniably defines a certain quarter of the American population. My lament, however inelegantly rendered, was striving after John Sayle’s point in Matewan, that the only union worthy of the name can exclude no one. That any rising that might take place will happen b/c we’re unified and clear-eyed about who our real enemies are. And any further lurch to the right or continued fragmentation will be a result of our mutual enmity, orchestrated or otherwise.

    If left-populist rhetoric were to shoulder its way into the public discourse in any discernible way, if a new new deal were offered up in a poll that mattered, working class whites and blacks alike would respond. At present, these groups are out there fending for themselves, blaming one another and fighting for the precious few scraps from their masters’ table, propagandized by the demagogues on Fox and the neoliberal consensus that is our 2-party system. Should they ever recognize who their real enemies are, they’d be an unstoppable force. And any left that fails to see that as job one is wasting its energy.

    None of this is to deny that a certain quarter of the American population would still choose B) in my poll. My wishing that it weren’t true doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be noted. From the UMW to RFK touring Appalachia, I can sympathize with the plight of poor white’s, that the party that once stood up for them long ago abandoned them, worse, it views them as invisible. I can still respect them because I am them. But at the same time I can also call them out for their fucking repugnant views and acknowledge that a certain fascist, authoritarian is unreachable.

  39. reanimator permalink
    December 9, 2014

    “But what do blacks themselves want? They are not utopian at all, and if anything are more tribal — “racist” — than the married/religious whites who get contemptuously labeled as such.”

    Sounds like a person who has ever known a Black person intimately.

  40. reanimator permalink
    December 9, 2014


  41. December 9, 2014


    Now now, you know the left version of the race denial game is to reduce it to a sterile kind of game theory involving the actions of “tribes”. Strip away all the history and context and current reality and voila! there is no racism or racists. Just the feelings and prejudices of “tribes”. Makes it much easier to play the “both sides do it” false equivalency game.

    Also, notice how blacks have selective agency? OTOH, they are mere political tokens of “the radicals” who are in search of utopia but, when they do have agency, they are more “tribal/racist” than the married/religious whites…..” Funny that, eh? Though it is a good liberal/left/progressive/whatever spin on usual conservative wingnut “Democrat plantation” and “blacks are the real racists” nonsense.

  42. December 9, 2014

    Off topic: the torture report came today. It said the same that many of us who are nobodys have been saying for the better 10 years: torture does not work.

  43. December 9, 2014

    @V. Arnold,

    Indeed. Anon is sort of living proof of one of my sayings – “I’m never surprised when people sell out but, I’m usually amazed by how cheaply they often do so.” All of that soul killing bigotry bought for the tidy sum of $78,000 per year (that’s the high water mark) and some dubious social capital (kicking down at others). A mere pittance in the scheme of things.

  44. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 9, 2014

    ks, I’m definitely not left/liberal/progressive, more of a reactionary.

    jcapan, if you’re saying that oligarchy and the West’s ongoing pauperization thrive on the the population’s fragmentation, orchestrated or otherwise, then I guess I agree. But the idea of a melting pot in this day and age seems pretty far-fetched. Are our politics and culture not increasingly dominated by identity-based resentments? This ties in to the point I was trying to make: while Ian’s post here is about out-of-control police, that is not at all what the Michael Brown/Trayvon Martin/Eric Garner episodes represent to blacks, which is “white people are systematically murdering innocent black children”.

  45. jcapan permalink
    December 9, 2014


    No question identity-based resentments have come to define the zeitgeist. Social media (aka utopian technology) has made this even more godawful—politicians ignoring the crises of the day must see it as a perfect tool for their vast obfuscatory enterprise. It’s not that blacks aren’t being killed disproportionally by white police thugs or that women aren’t been raped on the nations’ campuses or that women/blacks shouldn’t be elected to higher office, to take only a few examples—none of this can be denied—but by focusing so much of our time and energy on these separate grievances, we are ultimately doomed to failure. Not b/c racist whites or fraternity rapists aren’t worthy of our collective scorn, but b/c such culture wars have such a stranglehold on the discourse. Things like perpetual war, the police state and big brother’s burgeoning rise, or the collapse of the economy (merely on hold) and the biosphere. God knows the establishment is thrilled to be talking about these superficial blemishes on the body politic, the charming foibles of the proles, since those other pressing issues would require radical change and a threat to the gilded age they inhabit.

    As for the melting pot, will pauperized blacks and whites and Latinos find common cause in a scene reminiscent of the denizens of the Wachowskis’ Zion? Unlikely, I admit, but not impossible. What narrative will reach them in lieu of alienating them, how to communicate to all peoples in a way they can understand, how to bypass the MSM or the oligarch’s lockhold on the political process. I don’t have the answers and I’m too far afield to play a role. There are plenty of blacks and whites alike who get it—they simply need to try a little harder to achieve a sense of comradeship and solidarity.

    Meanwhile, we’re about to enter into campaign season and Hillary will surely be maintaining a steely eyed focus on the ball.

  46. December 10, 2014


    “This ties in to the point I was trying to make: while Ian’s post here is about out-of-control police, that is not at all what the Michael Brown/Trayvon Martin/Eric Garner episodes represent to blacks, which is “white people are systematically murdering innocent black children”.”

    No, your point is wrong. The vast majority of the complaints and nearly all of the focus have been about what Ian’s pointing out – police/systemic brutailty. Your hubris in attempting to claim what those episodes “really” represent to blacks, despite the evidence, is kind of ridiculous.

    Also, regarding “identity politics” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but, it still ASTOUNDS me how well conservative framing works.

    So, the issues of specific conern to women, minorities and LGBT folks are merely “identity politics”. I guess white guys don’t have an identity and are the default mode. Just like the former “special interests” were exactly those same groups (but included unions before they were fully neutered) and “culture wars” only refers to those same groups (surprise, surprise) when they complain about getting the short end of the stick. I’s sure it’s just a coincidence that it lines up like that. Sure.

    Seriously, how hard is this to understand? Demanding that people to ignore their day to day oppression and focus exclsively on the “greater” class struggle is as pointless as lecturing Eric Garner on the “big picture” as he’s being choked to death.

  47. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 13, 2014

    @ks, you don’t mean to say the racial angle of that whole story wasn’t central to blacks’ interest in it? You can’t be serious …

    The conservative framing of issues is powerful, but how would you say liberal framing compares? The latter dominates education, government, corporate HR departments, and the mass media — that means it has a virtual monopoly on the megaphone, at least as far as social issues like race. Maybe that explains why liberal framing is so weak on its merits — it has not had to seriously defend itself in a generation or more.

  48. December 13, 2014


    What are you talking about? I see what you did there. Trying to turn your ridiculous earlier notion of what it means to blacks – “white people are systematically murdering innocent black children” into “the racial angle…” Nice work but no sale.

    Of course the racial angle is important because it’s part of a pattern that goes back long before you and and I were born. A pattern that people like you either ignore or are ignorant of until a particularly dramatic and egregious situation happens, like the Garner case, then folks like you wonder “what’s all the fuss about?”. Attitudes like yours explains why even in supposedly liberal NYC too many folks ignored the police state tactic “Stop and Frisk” and why overall too many seem more concerned with the reaction to injustice “the riots!, the riots!” rather than the injustice itself.

    Regarding your question about liberal framing, I’m not even sure what to say. Frankly, I’m almost too stunned for words.

    That in the era of Murdoch and Fox News, charter schools and the ongoing destruction of public education, the Texas textbook mafia, where getting a basic undergrad degree will put you into lifelong debt slavery, GOP domination of statehouses, Wall St. bailouts, Citizens United, gutting of the Voting rights Act, Austerity, Obamacare, and on and on and on…you could claim that liberal framing “dominates education, government, corporate HR departments, and the mass media” is amazing. Btw, other than maybe Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and perhaps a few old lions in the CBC are there any liberals in Congress?

    I mean really, corporate!! HR departments? (those bastions of liberalism), “the liberal media” line? I guess bogus “diversity training” that nobody takes seriously equals the liberal framing domination. And I suppose publicly calling the oddballs who say and do racist (and sexist) things in public racists equals a virtual monopoly on the megaphone on social issues like race.

    I think I’m getting it now and we’re back to where we always are – the eternal butthurtness factor. We can’t call the nuts who protested in front WH the other day and yelled on about “hanging the Kenyan” or deadbeat “tribalists” like Cliven Bundy or “good old days” Duck Dynasty types racists. We certainly can’t have that because it gives them and people who identify with their class a huge sad and hurts the class struggle! and bigger picture! and whatnot.

    But, we can call people who are protesting actual injustices naive dupes of radicals, bigger “tribalists” than…, and paint then as irrational people who think “white people are systematically murdering innocent black children” because well…liberal framing…and whatever.

    Hmmm, seems like some people in the class struggle are more equal than others and I can’t imagine too many rational black people joining you in the! class! struggle! given your obvious indifference and disdain towards them.

  49. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    December 13, 2014


    Trying to turn your ridiculous earlier notion of what it means to blacks – “white people are systematically murdering innocent black children” into “the racial angle…”

    I do believe that my original line is what many blacks, egged on by the white liberals in the media, really do think. (A black lady tweeted of the protests in New York something like “we will continue to disrupt safe white spaces until you stop killing us”.) We have to be careful with terms here, because elite consensus has tended to converge, so what do “liberal” and “conservative” actually mean? By “liberals in the media”, I’m talking about that strain of Cultural Marxism, or call it what you like, which holds that there is a hierarchy of oppression along racial and gender lines. Their belief that “whites are oppressing blacks” is an a-priori article of religious faith, and they go out looking for specific examples — Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, etc, are the result (notice that they would never hold up an example of a black police officer killing someone, even though examples like that do exist).

    Regarding your question about liberal framing, I’m not even sure what to say. Frankly, I’m almost too stunned for words.

    Are you really going to deny that “liberal” framing (really Cultural Marxist as I defined it above) on racial matters dominates the institutions of persuasion (academia and the media) especially? You conflated a lot of things in your list — but the crony capitalists really don’t care about race as long as they keep their privileged status. The Wall Street bailout, for example, is not an issue defined along liberal-conservative lines, but rather establishment-populist ones. Every non-corrupt liberal, conservative, as well as just about every other ideology you can think of, opposes Wall Street bailouts.

    The problem that liberals have, is exactly that they have been in charge (of the racial narrative) for at least three generations (even though they don’t want to admit it), and their policies have failed to achieve “equality” as they define it. So, they have to keep ramping up their efforts, even as they encounter increasing resistance for ordinary people. There are no David Dukes in the mainstream anymore, so now the effort is to root out “hidden racism” in people’s subconscious and whatnot — and the proof, to them, that such racism exists, is that there is still inequality of outcome between racial groups (circular reasoning, you may observe). And “inequality” is found to exist earlier in childhood, so you get this loopy focus on things like the number of words spoken by black parents to their babies.

    We can’t call … Duck Dynasty types racists.

    I would actually want you to stop calling anyone “racist” at least until you can come up with a consistent, coherent definition. “Racist” as it is used now is basically an Orwellianism that just means “crimethinker”. It has nothing to do with injustice, which is why you see the media hyping examples like Michael Brown. Was Michael Brown’s shooting an injustice? Maybe, but the incredibly stupid black protests around it — “hands up, don’t shoot” — suggest that the driver of the protests is the usual Cultural Marxist/mass media impulse to invert, subvert, destroy (“burn this bitch down”).

    Hmmm, seems like some people in the class struggle are more equal than others and I can’t imagine too many rational black people joining you in the! class! struggle! given your obvious indifference and disdain towards them.

    It seems like you are itching to debate a white liberal on this subject — that’s not me at all, as I mentioned earlier …

  50. December 22, 2014


    I’m just getting to this now and will respond further but, I’m sorry, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Your post above is just a huge pantload of a word salad full of dubious rationalizations, empty buzzwords and incredibly cherrypicked and exaggerated examples.

    You are clearly force fitting events to your established view rather than looking at them plainly in reality though I love the notion that we can’t call anybody racists except for those black “tribalists” i suppose, huh?

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