The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trump Is No Longer Trump

Stop thinking of Trump as Trump alone. He was never entirely that, and he’s definitely not that any more.

Trump is now Team Trump. The two most influential people in his court appear to be his son-in-law, Kushner, a fellow real-estate developer (and the guy who made the key strategic decisions which lead to Trump’s victor), and Bannon. Bannon is an economic nationalist with white nationalist leanings, who identifies with the working class and wants to bring manufacturing back to America. He’s quite willing to have a trade war to do it.

Priebus, the chief of staff, is also influential, but seems to be a bit of a drone. Trump’s children are influential, and it appears that Ivanka, his daughter, is the most influential of the three. She’s probably the most liberal person in the administration (even if she, strictly speaking, isn’t in the administration).

Trump has loaded up successful oligarchs and generals.

Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon

So, for example, his shift on China policy is in alignment with a lot of generals’ thinking (China is the real threat) and with what Bannon thinks (manufacturing jobs, economic nationalism).

His economic and labor policy will seek to both undermine labor rights and to spike the economy, which is essentially what authoritarians tend to do.

But the important point is that Trump, because he has only a few fixed ideas, even more than most Presidents, will be defined by the agendas of his closest advisers. To understand Trump’s moves, you need to understand his court.

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The Trump China Showdown Aligns with Reality


If People Want To Use “Ze” As A Gender Neutral Pronoun, Whatever


  1. V. Arnold

    Trump Is No Longer Tump?

  2. Ian Welsh

    Woops, thanks V.

  3. V. Arnold

    You’re welcome: I had to read the whole thing to be sure it wasn’t intentional; it being about Trump and all… 😉

  4. V. Arnold

    Well, Ian, I’ll just say this; I have no idea re: Trump, but I do enjoy your neutral (mostly) view of an unfolding story.
    Most have already taken sides; I have not, and remain cautious, but open, to a person cut from a different cloth.
    I’ve mostly kissed off the U.S., as a very dangerous, but obsolete functionary, in today’s world.
    We’ll see…

  5. V. Arnold

    Trump was born in the same borough of N.Y. as I was; one year and one day later.
    He’s a Gemini (June 14th). Knowing that can offer some insight to the persona inside.
    Gemini’s are mercurial, curious, adventurous, and prone towards fierce independence.
    Take that for what its worth…
    But ignore it at your own risk…

  6. Steeleweed

    Absent from your list is Mike Pence, who could do serious damage on social issues, partly because he understands political machination better than the other advisors. (Of course, we may be in post-politics world now).

  7. realitychecker

    “@ V. Arnold V. Arnold permalink
    December 13, 2016

    Trump was born in the same borough of N.Y. as I was; one year and one day later.
    He’s a Gemini (June 14th). Knowing that can offer some insight to the persona inside.
    Gemini’s are mercurial, curious, adventurous, and prone towards fierce independence.
    Take that for what its worth…
    But ignore it at your own risk…”

    Me, too. Almost exactly (except for the dates.).

    Maybe that’s why he doesn’t scare me as much as he does others lol.

  8. markfromireland


    Mike Pence, who could do serious damage on social issues

    Except of course that for their supporters your “serious damage” is their “about time some did it” good work.

  9. Ian Welsh

    Yes, I should have included Pence. Actually, the sort of woman’s rights he’s bad on are exactly the things I object to most that Trump may do (discarding the possibility of camps that are notably different from what Obama already does.)

  10. realitychecker

    With noting, IMO, that as Oxford University has seen fit to require “ze” instead of “he” or “she” from its students, it can be clearly seen that the PC movement is just a seriously over the cliff as the Trumpites say it is.

  11. markfromireland

    @Reality Checker:

    No the University has not made any such instruction. The “instruction” (actually a strong request) was made by the Students’ Union in a pamphlet they distributed to freshers. That’s about as far from an official instruction by the University as it’s possible to get.

  12. Peter

    Trump’s policy on China seems a continuation of existing policy just more focused and immediate. All of his complaints about Chinese actions are old complaints that were never addresses directly and forcefully. China’s wary neighbors need to be reassured that they won’t be sold to the Chinese by the country that gave their industrial base to the Chinese.

    I’m not sure how Trump’s plans to create and return jobs to workers can be viewed as authoritarian or how he can undermine worker rights by putting them to work. I suppose his confronting Carrier about jobs could be viewed as using his authority but in a positive way.

    Trump as the head of Trump Inc was certainly an authoritarian, that’s how business is structured especially if you own the business. The idea that he is going to submit to his subordinates , although he may share much of their thinking, doesn’t match his past behavior as the one who controls the agendas.

  13. Ian Welsh

    Submit is a misreading or misunderstanding of how such things work.

  14. realitychecker

    @ MFI

    You may have read the article more carefully than I did (my eyes were clouded by equal parts disgust and derision lol), but I think the thrust is the same.

    Students being cajoled to consider use of “he” and “she” to be an “offence” to the transgendered.

    When, I wonder, will all the things that offend me be banned? Apparently never.

    I think I read the Mirror article on this; the commentariat there was almost universally scornful and offended. But hey, fuck ’em, they’re just the majority, amirite?

  15. realitychecker

    CORRECTION: It was the Daily Mail, linked on Drudge. Here’s the lead-in:

    “Oxford University is encouraging students to use the gender-neutral pronoun ‘ze’ instead of ‘she and ‘he’.

    The students’ union wrote in a leaflet that the move was intended to reduce the risk of transgender students being offended.

    Students hope that the use of ‘ze’ will continue into university lectures and seminars, reported The Sunday Times.

    According to Oxford University’s behaviour code, using the wrong pronoun to define a transgender person is an offence.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook”

    Crazy enough for me; crazy enough for you?

  16. JohnnyGL


    There’s quite a few commentators who are worried about Pence, especially since he professed his admiration for Cheney’s reign as VP. I think they are right to raise concerns, but I’d have some cautious optimism for a couple of reasons.

    1) Trump clearly doesn’t care about conservative social issues (he seems okay with gay marriage, maybe he is opposed to abortion). After Orlando he expressed support for LGBTQ community, Republicans don’t often do that and it didn’t hurt him a bit. He also carried Southern states in primaries against Ted Cruz and others, so there’s no electoral vulnerability there.

    2) Trump has slapped Pence down before, specifically on Russia, so Pence may WANT to be Dick Cheney but won’t be allowed to BE Dick Cheney.

    3) Further to item 1) Trump owes his win to the Rust Belt, as Ian points out, and there’s not a big appetite for socially conservative issues there.

    4) Supreme Court picks are where these battles are going to be fought. So key in on those.

  17. Peter

    A more immediate and important issue is what is happening between Trump and the CIA. If he can survive the sappers undermining his Tower of Power and actually be sworn in as CiC the Clintonite heads in Langley should roll and their blood flow. He has clarified why he is refusing daily briefings from the Company because they contain a pack of repeating obvious lies about Putin and the election.

    This conflict reminds me of JFK’s Russian missile gap lies where our post-truth era seems to have begun. The partisan players are the same as are the targets but the Company was telling something resembling the truth that time.

  18. realitychecker

    FWIW, it seems to me that Trump’s moves re Taiwan may be plausibly construed to intend to send a general signal to China not to become too arrogant in their international policies, and that his energy-related moves may be plausibly intended to send a similar anti-arrogance signal to OPEC.

    Both of which may be well-calculated to yield important benefits in the future.

  19. markfromireland

    @RC – I repeat a flyer printed by the Students’ Union is utterly without significance and has precisely zero impact on University Policy. Such an instruction would need to be proposed, debated, and agreed first by the relevant council and then proposed debated and agreed in Congregation.

    I am not discussing this with you or arguing about it that’s how the University is governed. That story is just so much santorum clickbait put out by two newspapers with less than sterling records of veracity.The fact that neither The Times nor the Daily Mail bothered to check their facts is indicative of their low standards.

    Nobody, repeat nobody, gives a damn about what the Oxford Union thinks about pronouns for sex. I’d hate> to be the academic who proposed it in council let alone in congregation idiocy of that kind would be career destroying.

  20. realitychecker

    @ MFI

    I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but, still, it seems to fit the ongoing pattern, doesn’t it?

    There was a time, not very long ago, when we here in the states thought micro-aggressions would be the end of the PC line; now we also have micro-insults, micro-assaults, and micro-invalidations to anguish over. That suggests to me that you should not be quite so sanguine.

  21. Bill Hicks

    I’d particularly take note that Trump’s two top diplomats (SecState & UN Amb) both have zero diplomatic experience. Some might say it means he’ll run a belligerent foreign policy based on domination, but I think it more likely that he intends to run a very persona, “dealmaking” oriented policy and wants minimal static when he chooses to pick up the phone and call a foreign leader personally. Also, whatever else you might think of Haley and Tillerson, at least they are not among the neocons or liberal interventionists who have dominated American foreign policy for the past three decades.

  22. DMC

    The reactionaries want to blow this PC stuff out of all proportion. Of course college students are going to be on the bleeding edge of civil rights issues. Where else should they be? Of course they’re over-reacting to percieved ills, its what college students do! This particular instance doesn’t even rise to level of tempest in a teacup. There’s a whole friggin’ industry online of guys who do nothing but equate a middle aged woman metaphorically wagging her finger at you on the internet with dragging your relatives off to the Argentine torture camps. Its meant to keep the marginal in their margins. “Oh, you’re going to bat for THOSE PEOPLE, are you, dear? How declasse’ .” Res ipsa fecken’ loquitur.

  23. realitychecker

    @ DMC

    I think your hysterical “Of course” arguments do, indeed, ‘speak for themselves.’

    Of course folks who are not stupid immature know-nothing-except-their-‘feelings’ college students should be pushed back against by people who have actually had some real world experience.

    The margins are the margins because they are the margins. This is not the tail wagging the dog; this is one hair on the tail of the dog that wants to be wagging the dog.

    Got perspective?

  24. someofparts

    Shame to see complaints about PC used to deny birth control to women. Co-eds sensitive to such things will have the means to work around whatever Pence has in mind for us. It will, as ever, be desperately poor women whose lives will be upended by these policies.

    Ohio has already made abortion effectively illegal. Seems like a pretty clear sign of larger intentions to me. Speaking with another female colleague today, we expect these things to play out state by state, so that refuge states like NY and California will remain as refuges for those as can get there.

    It will be interesting to watch the way this generation of young women react to it. Expect a bit of fuss and bother. You know how we are.

  25. okanogen

    I agree this has always been a team effort.

    It’s a team that I’m convinced is dedicated to transforming the presidency into a position of autocratic rule without regard to any long-standing, bipartisan understanding on any limitation. Conflicts of interest? There are none. Transparency? What you gonna do about it? Law enforcement and security apparatuses will be used directly against political opponents because, why not? US drones? Yup. Torture? Sure. And yes, there will be mass deportations and muslim lists and all the rest.

    But it is also a deeply racist team, and ignoring that is just unconscionable. That is why vast numbers of people are outright scared for their families and future. Unless you are a person of color (as I am regarded), it is easy to brush off. Their entire team winks at it. It’s the pony they rode in on. Look at Trump’s cynical appointment of Carson to HUD. Housing and “Urban” Development? Yeah, let’s put the black doctor in that chair. He can tend his urbans.

  26. markfromireland


    Ohio has already made abortion effectively illegal.

    And from the POV of Pence, and those who support him this is a good thing. As for the sanctuary states as you put it – how worthwhile is a legal protection if you as a medical practitioner can’t get PIC for, for example, carrying out abortions?

  27. Lisa

    Oh my, a Daily Mail article ..right that paragon of journalistic integrity (obvious sarcasm).

    Look, being serious for a bit there is a huge debate going on about, essentially, politeness. How do you address someone? Do you go all authoritarian and say ‘you look like a guy so I will address you as one, despite how you identify yourself’? That’s basically rude and aggressive.

    I always use the example of someone, named ‘Michael’ that tells everyone else to call them Mike’. Everyone respects that and follows ..unless they want to be rude and aggressive that is. At its most extreme someone says “Hi I’m Mike” and another person says “I’ll call you Shirley”….rude and challenging in the extreme and fight would break out pretty soon because it is an attack.

    There is also a lot of experimentation of language going on (these are very early days remember) with polite language. What are the right terms to use for someone that is gender non-binary or intersex?

    Look there are several factors here, firstly those who are transgender that change gender totally use the pronouns (etc) of their chosen gender. So I use ‘Ms’ and pronouns ‘she’, ‘her’ and so on.

    There are others, who identify as non-binary (or gender-queer and some other labels) that don’t see themselves as wholly male or female but a melding or mix of both.

    Note that this includes some intersex people too, now that (slowly) we are stopping chopping them up as babies to make them one gender, based on a ruler, without any say by themselves what they want to be, the western version of child genital mutilation. So, bit by bit, we are letting them grow up to make their own choices and many will choose one gender or the other, with affirming treatments if they require, but some won’t and genuinely see themselves as a ‘third gender’. So how do we address them?

    So we are trying to develop a language and terms to identify them in a polite respectful manner. And there is a lot of experimentation going on, with one term being tried then another and so on, I, being in the community, have heard all sorts being tried out over the last few years.

    Give it a few years and a consensus will emerge and some common terms will become the norm. To take an example, the term ‘non-binary’ seems to becoming a standard now, when not that long ago there were several labels used (with lots of arguments about them).

    In the end this is about politeness and respect. If you want to be rude and aggressive and you want to choose what labels a person has to accept, or do you listen to them and respect their choice? How hard is that?

    We had all this storm in a tea cup stuff ages ago with ‘Ms’…and did all the conservatives go ape shit about that, it was the end of the universe according to them. After a while everyone found it fine and no one cares any longer.

  28. Lisa

    RC, naturally, poo poos new terms like ‘micro aggression’ , but these are actually technical terms, used to describe things like bullying behaviour just short of outright violence. The classic being endless name calling, maybe ‘accidental’ bumping into people, pointing out and laughing at people and so on. This is ‘passive aggressive’ behaviour. They are a way of trying to bully, or attack people without getting a violent response. For a single occurrence they are not significant, but studies show that years of being a recipient of this affects people badly psychologically.

    I was a recipient of that as a kid for ages (interestingly in a conservative rural but far less later in a left wing working class one), it is nasty, cruel and cowardly. It is designed to break a person, without giving them an excuse to fight back…people that do that always (and I means always) cry ‘foul’ and run to the mummies if the recipient fights back physically. In fact one tactic they use is to try and goad a person into fighting back, then they run off to the ‘authorities’ to punish the victim.
    As I said cowardly passive-aggressive behaviour and a significant part of a bullying culture.

    A lot of this so called ‘new’ stuff comes from detailed studies into things like bullying behaviour, the negative impacts and how to counter them. But the work has been going on for decades into this. The rate of teenage suicides overall is horrible, the LGB teenage suicide rates are multiples of that and the transgender ones even greater. So a lot of work has been done on studying that and trying to come up with ways (like Australia’s Safe Schools program) to counter that. And, the studies show, it all comes from rejection, being ostracised, prejudice, bullying (physical and other) by parents, peers, teachers and the rest.

    The reality is you can break anyone (see torture and interrogation techniques for example) with enough negative actions and humans being social animals ostracisation and exclusion is one of the worst (hence solitary confinement as a punishment) . We see this (and did in the past with the collapse of the USSR) in the US with middle aged lower and working class males (and amazingly females) killing themselves because all their psychological props (like job, money a role in life) have been kicked out from under them.

    Here in Australia we just had a young kid kill themselves from being bullied horribly everyday at school, because they were seen to be ’gay’. Everyday was horrible for them, everyday they got beaten up and no one did anything about it. Covered in bruises, shouted at, picked on,. insulted…all the time. Until they couldn’t see any other way out.

    Politeness is an essential social lubricant that enables people of all different types getting along without everyone killing each other. Back in my working class 1970s Glasgow (very violent) days, politeness was very important, because violence was so close to the surface. Someone being passive-aggressive very quickly found out that they’d get their heads kicked in, so they didn’t do it (there was also a social rule that bullies were scum, real men only honestly fought peers, it didn’t stop bullying but reduced it greatly).

    Remember there are:
    High violence/low bullying cultures, where violence is restricted to between physical peers.
    High violence/high bullying ones (like the US) where those seen as weaker and can’t fight back are attacked*. Peer to peer violence is stayed away from (they might win after all).
    Low violence/high bullying ones, like the middle and upper class English, where it is verbal and behavioural (usually by exclusion), very passive-aggressive.

    *Note Right Wing Authoritarian types fall into this group, in fact it is one of their defining characteristics.

  29. realitychecker

    @ someofparts

    “Shame to see complaints about PC used to deny birth control to women.”

    Gee, I’ve never seen ANYBODY challenging PC foolishness by wanting to deny birth control to women.

    Where do you get such nonsense?

  30. DMC

    The thought the someone, somewhere might be addressed by a gender neutral pronoun apparently keeps some people awake at night. We have to push back against the looming threat of a few college students challenging the dominant paradigm. Gosh, they might even become RUDE! Clearly the only the course is to return to a pre-literate society to prevent such heinous crimes. Otherwise, genderqueer shock troops with nose-rings will be dragging us off to the coffeehouses…I mean death camps, within the fortnight.

  31. Lisa

    DMC : Oh my. Look back in my teenage years, if you were rude you got your head kicked in…simple as that.

    How hard is it to be polite? Or do you have to shout out your misogyny and homophobia all the time? Make you feel all ‘manly’ doing that? My grandfather, a real masculine man who fought at the Somme and worked in the shipyards all his days is turning in his grave. It is just 8 year old bratty boy behaviour, pulling girls hair and hitting 5 year olds …..

    What you (and others like that are really saying) ‘I want to verbally insult people, with no consequences for me’ ..that is called bullying, cowardly and very passive aggressive of course.

    Now you are never going to insult a big burly, gym trained, very muscled gay man…of course not, he might beat you up. I notice all those ‘brave’ men attacking women in hajibs ..not some big 6+ foot Somalian man of course… That’s way too risky.

    As I said, bratty little boy behaviour.

  32. realitychecker

    @ Lisa

    I was willing to accept “micro-aggression,’ but choked on ‘micro-assault’ (which I’ve seen defined to include crossing the street to AVOID someone), and, particularly, ‘micro-invalidation’ (which I guess is what I feel every single time you disagree with me and/or assume erroneously that you know exactly what little box to squeeze me into). As to ‘micro-insults,’ I’m still trying to deal with all the MACRO-insults I get from people who agree with you or who disagree with me.

    Where’s a sense of perspective? You are the data queen–tell us exactly what the frequency of occurrence numbers are for all the little sub-categories you’ve discussed. That would kind of make my case for me, I think. Further, I think your efforts are probably generating more anger and resentment against your cause among the general population than you had before. Same as I feel about that stupid Black Lives Matter slogan, despite my lifelong support and affection for all the decent folks in the black community; it’s more divisive than unifying.

    Nobody wants to see you bullied, but you can’t see that you are psychologically bullying the majority by insisting they must internalize all your specialized little terminological innovations as fast as you can come up with them, or else they are the devil.

    I bet I’ve been bullied and beat up a lot more than you have; I grew up in a solid Polish Catholic neighborhood in the 1950’s as the only kid with a divorced Jewish mother who
    had forbidden me to EVER hit anyone back, no matter what. I have many memories of other kids sitting on my chest and punching me in the face until their arms got tired. My solution was that I finally learned to fight back; begging them to be more polite didn’t work then, either.

    But that is why I would ever after intervene to protect any other bullying victim I saw.

    So, make no mistake, I have sympathy for your difficulties, but I think you are trying to deal with them by exercising absolute censorship authority over everybody else, and that I disagree with.

    I hope you can, for once, take in some of what I am saying here. But, if not, then henceforth I insist that, for the sake of politeness and reciprocity, you always and only address me as “Grand and Wondrous Realitychecker, Most Magnificent Personage In The Universe, Whose Goodness Lights My World.” Let’s see how you and your supporters like doing that for awhile, OK?

  33. Lisa

    The Daily Mail…latest:

    “Shocking and disgusting: Woman caught outside WEARING UNDERWEAR”
    “Sunrise host Samantha Armytage has been caught by the Daily Mail committing the crime of wearing underwear. ”

    “Sunrise host Sam Armytrage dares to bare with giant granny panties showing a visible line as she steps out”

    I rest my case….

    A humorous take on this:

  34. Hugh

    When I look at Trump’s team, I can’t help thinking that they’re mostly people who would be among the first to be hanging from light poles in the event of a revolution.

    They are mostly a bunch of anti-labor, pro-corporatist, pro-Wall Street (3 with ties to the vampire squid itself Goldman Sachs: Mnuchin, Bannon, and Cohen), pro-MIC, Big Oil and Big Coal climate changing denialist, privatizing one-percenters. And yes, in addition to all the generals, the neocons are still around. The infamous nutcase and ex-board member of PNAC, John Bolton, looks like Trump’s pick for Deputy Secretary of State. And yes, they are fairly racist and sexist.

    I don’t think the jury was ever out on Team Trump. It’s more like he and they are telling you who they are and what they are in neon letters ten feet high. For me, the major change is that Trump’s electoral victory has ushered in a third group of kleptocrats into Washington in addition to the Establishment Democrats and Republicans already there. I expect Trump and his team will often be in conflict with them. They will all be out to loot us, just with different agendas.

  35. Lisa

    Again you have to look at the proper definitions, not the sometimes misuse (or overuse) of them, or of course those who complain about ‘political correctness’.

    Many of us have suffered ‘micro-assault’, that is the physical or threatened assault just below the threshold to cause a fight, or instigate censure or even arrest. It is passive aggressive, done to (a) intimidate someone or (b) try to force someone into responding with violence so that they get punished.

    The classics are repeated bumping into someone, jostling them, standing very close to in a forward and aggressive manner (especially if they are bigger) and so on. If you are (as an example) a woman and you get grabbed on the bum by a stranger ..that is also a classic micro assault done by a man betting that (a) the woman won’t attack him, (b) complain about him, he knows full well what he is doing and thinks they can get away with it. For the woman it is terrible especially if it happens repeatedly through their life…not very ‘micro’ to her.

    Look I know what these terms mean, as I have looked them up and they are very useful terms to describe certain types of behaviour. They come from scientific studies into this sort of thing.

    Yes I do sigh at when they are misused, as I do many, many others words and terms…all the time (don’t get me started on the misuse of ‘quantum’ for example I can go on all day about that).
    But I sigh more when people claim these behaviours don’t exist, of course they do, I have experienced them, I have seen them, they have long been studied and are sadly all too common.

    They can be particularly bad if someone has already suffered an attack or trauma, as they are (like PTSD sufferers) sensitised. A woman (for example) who has been raped and/or physically assaulted is very sensitive to these things and can (understandably) feel incredibly threatened, they are on ‘high alert’ all the time, scared of the next attack.

    And it is easy to avoid, respect people, talk politely, respect their personal space…basic reasonable and civilised human discourse.

  36. realitychecker

    @ DMC

    “Gosh, they might even become RUDE!”

    Hey dude, it’s all about ‘politeness’ (see Lisa). So you are WAY out of bounds in openly sanctioning ‘RUDE’.

    Didn’t you get the memo, you barbarian, you savage, you death camp advocate?

    If it was only one term being changed, as you dishonestly postulate, nobody would mind. After all, we managed to digest, over time, all the demanded changes from Negro to colored to black back to colored to African-American. Now its POC, right? (Nobody’s sure. But I see that that group loves to use the hateful old word. But query: Isn’t it passive-aggressive to say, ” I can use this word, but you can’t?)

    No, the pushback is because the PC crowd has reached a ridiculous extreme after getting hundreds of term changes, and shows no sign of ever stopping, and that gets pretty onerous eventually. It feels passive-aggressive to everybody who is constantly being told they must revise their vocabulary ON DEMAND, ON WHIM, as though Miriam Webster had been reincarnated as a minority group member of some type.

    Look, there are real monsters that we all need to fight, it is ridiculous to focus so much energy on this nonsense instead of where it is needed more. And the world will always include an endless supply of nasty people who refuse to be nice and polite, no matter what word you’re using to describe yourself; you have to fight them or avoid them, you don’t ever have the power to willy-nilly change them into nice people. As much as I wish we could. And I do wish we could.

  37. realitychecker

    @ Lisa

    “I rest my case….”

    Don’t rest your case there, cuz you’ll lose your case. The Mail might be a rag (aren’t they all, lol?), but they are only reprinting what has actually happened at Oxford University.

    I know you can do better than that. 🙂

  38. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    “When I look at Trump’s team, I can’t help thinking that they’re mostly people who would be among the first to be hanging from light poles in the event of a revolution.”

    Well, if they govern like you anticipate, don’t you agree that that will bring the population closer to where they might mount or credibly threaten that revolution?

    That’s classic revolutionary theory, and I’ve been puzzled why you seem to have consistently failed to recognize that worst case silver lining. It’s certainly been part of my thought process. I say puzzled, because I’ve long admired your vision on any number of other issues.

  39. Lisa

    They are already starting to fight each other…..

    Press release from hate group leader Tony Perkins of the FRC…
    \”Donald Trump put a lot of names in the pipeline to head the State Department, but few have fueled more controversy than ExxonMobil CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson. \”

    \”the ExxonMobil executive may be the greatest ally liberals have in the Cabinet for their abortion and LGBT agendas. That should be particularly alarming to conservatives, who’ve spent the last eight years watching the State Department lead the global parade for the slaughter of innocent unborn children and the intimidation of nations with natural views on marriage and sexuality.\”

    \”Now, after two terms of exporting radical social policy, Americans could finally see the light at the end of the Obama administration tunnel. To hear that Donald Trump may be appointing a man who not only led the charge to open the Boy Scouts to gay troop leaders but whose company directly gives to Planned Parenthood is upsetting at best. FRC knows Tillerson all too well, having worked for years to put the brakes on his reckless agenda for a scouting organization that was already dealing with staggering numbers of sexual abuse cases.\”

    \”but if these are the kinds of deals Tillerson makes — sending dollars to an abortion business that’s just been referred for criminal prosecution and risking the well-being of young boys under his charge in an attempt to placate radical homosexual activists\”.

    For the record nearly all child sex abusers are male, heterosexual and in the US \’christian\’…. the \’gay men are also child sex abusers\’ has been a homophobic slur used for ages now….often by abusers and abusers supporters (and supportive and usually religious organisations) themselves. In fact there is almost a perfect negative correlation between how homophobic they are and how much child sex abuse goes on within their own ranks.

  40. realitychecker

    @ Lisa

    Glad to see you have something that makes you feel safer, and grateful to the monster Trump. Maybe he’s not out to get all the non-binaries after all. 🙂

  41. MojaveWolf

    My big worry about a Trump presidency was always that he would let Pence run things. As I’ve said in numerous places before and after the election, despite all my objections to Hillary if she had been running against Pence or Cruz, I mighta scrapped the third party vote and actually tossed one her way (and Mark is obviously correct that a big chunk of Trump’s base feels differently; I have nothing against religious people and used to be one myself; seriously considered going to seminary after college but decided my personality and beliefs are not suited to being a preacher; but . . . some people have views that I do not wish to see in authority and I would be opposed to them achieving power even if I thought they were nice and good people; some people just plain make me nervous, and some people combine these two things) . On foreign policy, at least, that seems not to be the case, for which I am deeply relieved.

    Otherwise . . . I fervently hope the people Ian believes to be Trump’s most influential (and that I was, initially, also hoping would be the most influential) advisors actually wind up having the most influence. They seem to be the best of his inner circle. But for now, his proposed cabinet appointments are not filling me with good cheer regarding domestic or environmental policy. On the latter, my worst case scenario appears to have understated the case. On the former, I share someofparts concerns–I don’t think Trump’s anti-choice, but Pence and the Republican base is, and our last eight years of pro-choice presidency haven’t exactly resulted in a spirited political defense of reproductive freedom. I don’t think Trump will be making one either.

    That said, I do not understand all the people thinking he is going to send stormtroopers to come get them, or their friends. I don’t see this at all. Even if you think he, like Hillary, has no principle he wouldn’t sell out, keep in mind he (1) isn’t an idiot; (2) probably wants his wife and daughter to keep talking to him, and (3) probably doesn’t want to be dictator for life and thereby will have no interest in declaring marshal law. I’m not even sure he wants a second term. And he probably doesn’t want all of NYC to hate his & his family’s guts (of course, if they already do, that would take this factor off the table). Keep in mind he would be extremely hard pressed to accelerate deportations beyond where they are already at, and it would be difficult for him to institute much more of surveillance state than Bush & Obama have done.

    (This comment sounds way too cheery; the world has a lot of problems that reach the existential level and I’m not seeing great cause for optimism about most of them)

  42. Lisa

    “GOP to Reintroduce “Religious Liberty” Bill Targeting LGBT People ” (and women)

    “That’s the strategy of Congressional Republicans, who told BuzzFeed News that the GOP plans to reintroduce the First Amendment Defense Act next year, hopeful that the “religious liberty” bill will pass under “a new Congress and new administration,” as Sen. Ted Cruz said.”

    “The effort to push through the act, which prohibits the federal government from taking action against private businesses and individuals that discriminate against LGBT people or others* due to their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” will be spearheaded by Republican Sen. Mike Lee. Conn Carroll, a spokesman for the senator. said the bill has a better shot at becoming law with Trump in the White House.”

    “Trump, though, has already stated his support for the First Amendment Defense Act,” saying religious freedom is our “most important protection.”

    “If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths,” the president-elect’s website reads. “The Little Sisters of the Poor [a Catholic order opposed to the Obamacare contraception mandate], or any religious order for that matter, will always have their religious liberty protected on my watch and will not have to face bullying from the government because of their religious beliefs.””

    The Advocate.

    Enjoy your minority dominated theocracy folks….

    * Other include: Jews, Muslims, women, single mothers as well as LGBTI people, plus many children who come from such backgrounds and families. Heck you could use it to discriminate against coloured people as well .. A Protestant could discriminate against a Catholic and vice versa….

  43. Hugh

    Re revolution, it is not simple. We need to be very cleared-eyed about it. You need organization and a good plan, both to manage the revolution and its aftermath, or it quickly becomes chaos and an object of reactionary, counter-revolutionary forces. A lot of people get killed and harmed, and almost never the ones you would wish had this happen to them.

  44. Tom W Harris

    But if the revolution is successful, you get Red China, and 60 million dead people. What’s not to likie?

  45. Ché Pasa

    Re: Revolution is not the same as a civil war. Civil war, when it comes, generally follows the Revolution.

    In previous posts and commentary here, there has been plenty of speculation that denying Trump the presidency by legal or other means would almost certainly trigger a civil war. I’m not sure those making that claim have thought through just how such a civil war would come about, who would be fighting it, where and over what.

    If you look at a demographic or electoral map, you see that the country is already pretty neatly divided between urban and rural, economically prosperous and economically stagnant, populous and relatively depopulated areas. Supposedly ‘red’ and supposedly ‘blue.’ Who exactly is going to engage in a civil war? Will the Bundy crewe be leading another charge against federal land grabs in the empty quarters of the West? That’s your civil war? Please.

    Will the prosperous farmers of Iowa assemble a force of armored tractors to lay siege to Iowa City and the University’s nascent political correctness? Will the white right of North Dakota take up arms against the uppity Indians and their allies at Standing Rock? That’s your civil war?

    Guess what? If the righteous white right rises in armed rebellion against the dreaded multi-culti world they so deplore, the phantoms they rage and fight against are not going to care. It’s neither a revolution nor a civil war. It’s shitting in your own already shitty nest. But what else is new?

    “California” has come to symbolize all that these warriors hate and despise. “California” really and truly doesn’t care. Nor do the prosperous and populous urban centers in general.

    These self-righteous would-be rebel warriors already have political control of most of the nearly empty territory of the United States. Take a look at Kansas as just one example. They won and they wrecked it. Oh well…

    What, apart from territory, would a civil war be fought over? Who gets to sit on the throne? If it were a historical pageant, maybe. “Freedom and Liberty?” For whom, to do what? Will the fight be over religious doctrine? Or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Sticking it to the world that’s left them behind and doesn’t care what happens to them? What is the fight about?

    If there were to be a civil war, it would an indication that the Revolution already came and the fight is over how or whether the Revolution is to be consolidated. A fight over who will survive in the aftermath. Needless to say, if the Revolution came, it didn’t come from the Left.

    The Bundys and their ilk and the raging rural white rightists don’t even figure in that equation.

  46. lemonhead


    For those of us who weren’t here in the before-times, got any more hot stock tips?

  47. Someofparts

    Well, if abortion gets banned everywhere in the nation … as the lyrics would have it in an old Laura Nero ballad – the tears from the gutter are flooding the sea.

    Maybe human is the most profane, unclean word in English.

  48. V. Arnold

    Ché Pasa
    December 14, 2016
    What, apart from territory, would a civil war be fought over? Who gets to sit on the throne? If it were a historical pageant, maybe. “Freedom and Liberty?” For whom, to do what? Will the fight be over religious doctrine? Or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Sticking it to the world that’s left them behind and doesn’t care what happens to them? What is the fight about?
    If I may say, that is the most cogent part of your post; WTF are/would they be fighting for?
    My own opinion is, there will not be a revolution in a pussyfied U.S.. Some armed conflict?
    Probably. I was an active, competitive shooter for many years (decades); and I met and knew many other aficionados in the shooting sports; they were more inclined towards separation than open conflict.
    Oh sure, there were one or two wacko’s, but mostly, fiercely independent people who just didn’t want to be fucked with by the government.
    As you also pointed out; the U.S. is more divided now than I have ever seen. And, that’s along many lines; political, racial, religion, and socio-economic (class) lines.
    I think nothing can help the U.S. at this point; it is after all an empire going down…hard!

  49. markfromireland

    ” counter-revolutionary forces.”

    Who by and large are well organised, have good discipline, and in the USA at least are not only better armed but have the training to be able to use those arms effectively.

    ” A lot of people get killed and harmed, and almost never the ones you would wish had this happen to them.”

    Including (particularly) the revolution’s first leaders.

  50. realitychecker

    OK, I’ve read the responding comments re revolution. Perhaps we can actually have a thoughtful discussion here, but let’s be clear we are doing a thought experiment, an analysis for the sake of the intellectual exercise, and nobody is advocating anything. I think that discussion is a legitimate one, given how this country got started and what the basic rationale was when that occurred. But I want to be very clear that I personally am not advocating anybody do anything, and I am not about to do anything, because I don’t expect to live more than a few more years, and I don’t have any children, so I have a limited personal stake n the future. But I do have a deep personal commitment to some basic principles about liberty, freedom, and especially the consent of the governed, and philosophically I very much want to see those things honored and preserved everywhere, and not just in the U.S. I think it’s clear that, if not, the future will eventually be exactly the kind of authoritarian corporate-controlled nightmare that has been described in great detail by many writers, where individual humans lives will be given no more regard than those of livestock or insects.

    A discussion like this is useless unless it is focused; scatttershot remarks are useless.

    Starting point should be, IMO, a frank assessment of whether the consent of the governed can be restored by any means short of force or the threat of force. It seems to me that we have reached a point where it is clear that the answer to that is a resounding NO. So, does anyone disagree about that?

    Next point should be acknowledging that resistance can be actual use of force, or just a credible THREAT. I am clear that the THREAT is preferable, and might be enough to make things a lot better. Does anyone disagree about that?

    There’s no point in discussing anything further if we can’t get clarity first on these basic questions, so, what do y’all think, as a matter of logical analysis?

  51. nobody

    On the question of how a civil war could come about and what it would look like, Robert Evans “rounded up every civilian and military expert [he] could find and asked them.” The results are here:

  52. realitychecker

    @ nobody

    Civil war references are cart before the horse, IMO. I don’t see anybody seriously bringing that up except in the context of what might happen AFTER the established government gets opposed.

    First lets ask ourselves, Should the established government be opposed, because, absent the use of or threat of force, it is irrevocably committed to disregarding the consent of the governed?

  53. nobody

    @ realitychecker

    I was directly responding to Ché Pasa’s post.

    As to what I think in terms of what we should first ask ourselves, I’m inclined to agree with Hugh’s comments elsewhere, though I am a bit skeptical that we still have any time at all:

    “The world and the US have about 15 years to be solidly on a path to sustainable populations and societies to deal with the century’s existential problems of overpopulation, resource overuse, and environmental destruction (which includes climate disruption)… Unless something changes, and in a big way, we and our children are, come 2030, screwed. After that, it is auto-pilot to the apocalypse…”

    That’s my starting point.

  54. Peter

    We have just witnessed the closest thing to a revolution possible in today’s Amerika. Relatively prosperous Working Class forces have managed to overcome near universal Leisure Class/PTB opposition and elect someone they think will represent them. The counter-revolutionary forces represented by most of the power structure were and are still attacking, now with the always counter-revolutionary CIA in the lead.

    If Trump is somehow illegally denied the presidency there probably will be insurrections and real armed violence but that isn’t revolution or civil war. I doubt that many of the 4.4 million people who voted for Trump in Cali will go hunting snowflakes in their safe-spaces. The targets would be representatives of the system, probably from both sides.

    I’ve seen two violent insurrections and participated in one, Detroit in ’67 and Albuquerque in ’71 and faced riot/insurrection charges for the latter. The response by the authorities in Detroit showed me what it was like to live in an active police/military state, a 101 Airborne soldier walked his bayonet under my chin as I stood in front of a factory watching buildings around me burn.

    The Chicano riots in Albuquerque were much smaller but we had the pigs running for their lives for most of one day. They abandoned their cruisers, which were then flipped and burned, and any attempt to approach the park where this started was met with a hail of rocks sending them back to pig-central dented and shattered. Someone then got up on a table and said we should use our newfound power to march on and confront the pigs in their den. About a thousand pissed off people marched two miles to the center of town and the main police station and demanded the release of our comrades arrested a few days earlier. The chumps in blue did the unthinkable and complied releasing our friends and then barricaded themselves. We decided it was time for a drink and hit the liquor stores and the street action continued for a couple days.

    Police forces are much more prepared for any upheaval today and will use all the force necessary to crush any uprising any group can muster.

  55. realitychecker

    @ nobody

    ““The world and the US have about 15 years to be solidly on a path to sustainable populations and societies to deal with the century’s existential problems of overpopulation, resource overuse, and environmental destruction (which includes climate disruption)… Unless something changes, and in a big way, we and our children are, come 2030, screwed. After that, it is auto-pilot to the apocalypse…”

    That’s my starting point.”

    With due respect, I don’t think anything will change climate-wise unless the current PTB are displaced, so I think we still have to think first about if and how they might be able to be displaced.

  56. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    This electoral breakthrough is a change within the system, and not what I mean when I speak of revolution. (Real revolutions happen only after people give up on getting meaningful change within the system.) While I certainly share your hope that Trump will deliver on his promises, explicit and implied, it’s just a hope for me at this point.

    My vote for him was always made with an alternate possibility also in mind, i.e., that he would also betray the people, and that they would then become closer to the anger point where a revolution would seriously be contemplated.

    So, with that in mind, let me say, for the purposes of further discussion in this direction, that I would never ever EVER think of the kind of open frontal massed conflict in the streets like you and so many others reference as unworkable; indeed, such would clearly be catastrophic in my opinion.

    Rather, I think any effort to use force or even achieve a credible threat of force would have to be of a hard-core guerilla nature.

    But discussion of which tactics are theoretically available should really wait until we resolve the first two questions, it seems to me, and so far nobody has found this intellectual exercise interesting enough to weigh in on those questions.

    I really hope that is not because they are more invested in the “ze” issue lol.

  57. DMC

    Lisa, I was being SARCASTIC OK? Reductio ad absurdem and all that. I was agreeing with you here that in fact the marginalized(gender and otherwise) people deserve as much respect as anyone, and that undergraduates might become rude about pointing out to the less enlightened that their characheterizations might be hurtful. I was reacting to the to what I percieved as the hysteria of the “They asked me to check my privlege! THE HORROR!” crowd. I grant you that it can be annoying to have your social interactions questioned by someone who doesn’t have all they’re pubic hair yet but there are worse things in life to be sure. I’m still trying to fathom RC’s point. “We don’t call black people Nigger anymore and thats as far as I’m willing to go” or something. “Haven’t we middle class white guy’s suffered enough?”

  58. DMC

    The Mrs. summed it up nicely, “You can’t be over the top enough that someone doesn’t take you seriously”.

  59. Peter


    I didn’t mistake your Trump vote as being support for Trump but hoped it was aimed at defeating the reign of terror coming with the Red Queen. Your hope that it might heighten the contradictions has already happened just not the way you envisioned . The counter-revolution now being fomented

  60. realitychecker

    @ DMC

    Well, maybe that will teach you to use simple declarative sentences that affirmatively say what you think, rather than relying on stupid and sloppy ridicule.

    Nah, that would make it too easy for others to hold you accountable for your own incoherent thought process, wouldn’t it?

  61. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Defeating Killary was always a given, amigo.

    But I still had to suss out what Trump might actually do once in power. Thus, the two alternative hypotheses I laid out.

    Of course you’re right that the Establishment is now reflexively trying to bring down the outsider, but that was always to be expected, wasn’t it?

    If Trump fulfills his promises, it won’t be a true revolution, but it will be a substantial move back in the good direction. But the Establishment baddies will survive, and still do their thing again once Trump subsides.

    But, notice how little interest anybody has in this topic? Much less than the “ze” discussion in Ian’s new post.


  62. Peter


    The counter-revolution now being fomented is huge and organized from snowflakes to the CIA. It is also clearly anti-democratic, fascist, authoritarian and liberal/leftists to its core. I never thought I would live to see the day a republican would be preaching about restraining our foreign adventures with almost anti-war rhetoric while trying to repair some of the damage of neoliberalism inflicted mostly by liberal presidents, Bush still gets the prize for war making.

    Your visions of urban guerrilla warfare might be imaginable in a post collapse remnant of society but I doubt it would have much ideology beyond survival. The gang formations in major cities might be the people organized and unified enough to carry on a fight even if it’s just to decide who gets to strip the carcass of the dying civilization.

  63. realitychecker

    LOL Kind of reminds me of when I was taking a minor in political science at New York University in the early seventies, where I took courses in Politics and the Media, Politics and Tactics of Pressure Groups, Politics of Minority Groups, and Protest and Revolution, where my professor in that last one disfavored my views on a hypothetical black revolution (i.e., perfectly justified, but unlikely due to the long-term psychological effects of relentless oppression on the human spirit). I got an A in each of the other courses, but not his lol.

    Plus ca change . . . 😉

  64. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    I agree with you as to the flavor of your “counter-revolution” comments, but I don’t think we’ve yet seen anything approaching the pre-requisite of a real revolution. Rather, just a pushback.

    As to tactics, I still think that point is not yet in order to discuss, but I will say that the kind of guerrilla tactics I would envision are very different from those you seem to be envisioning. Organization would be almost impossible in today’s surveillance state, IMO, and it would really require widespread spontaneous actions by individuals. But I can think of many effective tactics of that type, they just would not be pretty or polite.

  65. Hugh

    A couple of scattershot thoughts concerning revolution.

    Revolutions are inherently violent because they are a response to violence. Although the rich and elites euphemize their violence: the business cycle, the natural order of things, downsizing, offshoring, staying competitive, etc., they categorize any questioning of their authority, opposition to them, or serious alternative as violent and dangerous. And much of the violence in revolutions comes about because the rich and elites will use whatever violence they command to maintain their privileges, wealth, and power.

    The Reformer’s fallacy. You can not reform a thoroughly corrupt system. Reformers, nonetheless, try. At best, they are a distraction. At worst, an active impediment to real change.

    Revolutions need a clear vision of what they are against but more importantly what they are for. The surest way to forestall counter-revolution is (1) once you have the bastards on the run, to keep them on the run and (2) deliver on your promises.

    The shelf life of revolutions is short. The revolutionary impulse is an extreme response to extreme conditions. It is not a place where anyone can or should want to live. It doesn’t last. So if anything lasting is going to come from it, it has to be done fast.

    Finally, I think it is funny, and a rare bit of cognitive dissonance, that in the US many who are the first and strongest critics of revolution have forgotten that the US owes its existence to one.

  66. realitychecker

    @ Hugh

    I agree with every word you typed there, but I guess maybe I wasn’t clear enough that when I say the word ‘revolution’ I am always and only meaning a revolution by force. I don’t mean a sweeping change that occurs without the use of force.

    I’m trying to get a sense of where people are in their philosophical thinking vis a vis the hypothetical concept of when a revolution by force is required and justified, as a starting point.

    It looks to me as though most would rather just not think about it. I guess even more pain will be required before they take the question seriously.

  67. Peter


    I don’t understand why you think extremely bad economic times are when a revolution might be possible. You and I both lived through a very revolutionary time in the ’60 and that was an era of growth and prosperity for most people. The American Revolution also took place during a time of growth and relative prosperity or at least opportunity for some people.

    I would be interested to know what demographic you would draw your revolutionaries from. Would we see suburban housewives with hand grenades or tweeting techies with suicide vests?

    You may know some Preppers who seem to me to be the only somewhat organized, armed, trained and well supplied people who might be effective but they seem to be mostly about taking care of and protecting their kith and kin from the government and everyone else.

  68. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Very interesting comment, but it’s 1 A.M. and I’m sleepy, so I’ll try to make a considered response tomorrow.

    Sweet dreams, everybody.

  69. Lisa

    Revolution or ‘rapid evolution’… Societies are capable of making incredibly rapid changes, when needed. We just have to look at the military, and more importantly economic production, mobilisation in WW2. Suddenly all the old rules went out the door, women and POC worked, the US Army apartheid ended, the English class system collapsed. Incredible and, in the end, many permanent changes within a short time.

    Our trouble is clueless elites, incapable of dealing with the critical issues of society and the world in any positive manner. They are simply too stupid, selfish and short term greedy. When you have an economic system that can have $600 trillion (yes trillion) is the derivatives markets yet that pot hole down the road can’t be fixed because there is not enough money ..that’s stupidity. yet that’ where our societies are at.
    Wealth is concentrated ever more into smaller numbers of elite persons and corporations, which is actually anti-capitalist as well as anti-democratic.

    At the social level there have been tremendous changes on the ground for all sort of people with incredible gains for women across the board (and only 50% of the population no less), other parts of society long discriminated against are getting some traction and acceptance now And these are all positive in that many people’s lives are bettered. Yet we see disproportionate power still in the hands of a tiny number of conservative (nearly all extreme religious) people and groups, not just trying to stop that but to reverse it back to some mythical 1950s television ideal and in doing so causing instability and chaos. This despite that even in the US religion is dying rapidly. Here in Australia only 18% of the population is go to their churches on a regular basis yet they have massive power that they use to fight every single advance in society, while spreading hate and division ..and yes violence.

    The upshot of this is the weirdness of most western countries (and the US is a prefect example) the broad majority of the population is more ‘left’ wing in economics AND social matters than both the main political parties, and most definitely nearly all of the well funded lobby groups (think tanks, etc). So virtually the entire political establishment is more right wing and conservative than the majority of the population.

    That is an unstable and unsustainable position. Both parties are committed to ever more impoverishment of the broad masses, one is dedicated to some sort of religious theocracy with 19th century social (and sexual) mores, while the other reluctantly, sort of, maybe, supports slightly more progressive social values (but only when it is forced to).

  70. Hugh

    The problem is having elites at all. Elites are not about knowledge or expertise. They are about privilege and entitlement under the guise of knowledge and expertise. And they aren’t stupid. They are criminal, essential cogs in the looting machine that is kleptocracy.

    Supposedly the rationale for elitism is that certain people know more and better than we the hoi polloi do, and this justifies their privileges. So the one argument elites can not use is that they don’t know better than the rest of us, that they didn’t know they were profiting at our expense, and that they didn’t know what they were doing. In other words, they either knew what they were doing all along or should have known. And this knowledge means they were not making good faith mistakes but were instead engaged in criminal acts.

  71. V. Arnold

    @ Hugh

    Sorry, but duhhhh…
    I’m a bit surprised by your post; if the posters here don’t get that basic reality; what’s the bloody point?
    “They” will never get it; and if they do; they’ll never act.
    It’s everyone for themselves; get out while you can; that option may not last. And the direction the U.S. is moving, freedom to leave may soon end.
    Think about that. It’s a genuine possibility…
    It will happen suddenly, not gradually…

  72. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    Well, I don’t have any definitive answer to your query about bad times necessarily being the catalyst, but clearly sometimes they are (Romania, Mexico, Russia, China, Latin America?) and it is clearly regarded as the most likely catalyst in classic revolutionary theory, but of course that just means it is the conventional wisdom and we all understand that sometimes the facts depart from the conventional wisdom.

    I think the catalyst could be varied, and can be anything that makes a sufficient part (or parts) of the population feel angry, hopeless, oppressed, disrespected enough to decide to punish whoever they think is responsible for causing them to feel that way.

    I feel very comfortable in believing that our current situation presents many good reasons for regular people to want to rise up and hurt the elites who are seen to control everything and have all the money and be crooked in their practices and contemptuous of people not in their elite club.

    And I would not leave out how the instant election cycle has so clearly shown that the consent of the governed is no longer respected as a concept, and that eventually enough people may actually remind themselves that lack of consent of the governed was the rationale embodied in our own founding document, the Declaration of Independence.

    As to who, it could be various types who start it or participate. It could be nut cases who fly their planes into targets, or start fires, or it could be targeted attacks on hated public figures, or their families, OR JUST CREDIBLE THREATS of same. It could be feminists who lost certain abortion rights. It would have to be different types who act individually and spontaneously, because nobody can figure out how to plan and organize large numbers in our total surveillance state.

    But note that not many even care to discuss this now.
    I already find it amazing how difficult to provoke the American population has shown itself to be, but we have many experts working hard to keep them passive.

    BTW, I would not call the 60’s a revolutionary time, just because we talked tough sometimes; four deaths at Kent State was enough to shut most of us right up, after all. The willingness to die in the effort would have to be an essential element of any true revolution, IMO.

    I think the 60’s just FELT revolutionary because we lived them in the recent contrast of the stultifying conformism of the 50’s. If we refused to have a crew cut or wear a tie, we felt like Che Guevara lol.

  73. bob mcmanus

    It looks to me as though most would rather just not think about it. I guess even more pain will be required before they take the question seriously.

    Well, I spend a lot of my time thinking and reading about revolution and radical political change. Currently reading an old Barrington Moore book on revolutions. No, I don’t know where the next one, or the left one comes from, but I suspect we just has a right-wing revolution of some kind, and it might be useful to look at that was done.

    But just for fun, since we are talking about violent revolution, I’ll share some speculation on violence.

    Oh, Desmond Tutu gives a anodyne speech in a public park, and the pigs come along, beat him up and drag him off to jail. Why such a reaction? The usual response is that the state here was unjustified and overreactive. But that can be from an observing position shared with Tutu, or from outside of both parties. I’ll ask how does the state see the Tutu speech?
    If the state sees the Tutu speech as threatening it’s existence or functioning, than I am willing to call the Tutu speech “violence.”

    The state gets to decide what threatens it, and how it responds. So the state, with Weber’s monopoly on legitimate violence, gets to decide what is violence and what isn’t. If we don’t agree, we can try to control the state, or get a new state. We don’t usually call what cops or soldiers do, legally, violence.

    Test: Violence is the application of not state sanctioned or tolerated material force for political ends.

    The Tutu speech, if sanctioned or tolerated by the state, is non-violent. And not revolutionary.

    What is “material force?” Almost anything. Everything. Walking. Talking about forbidden, disruptive subjects or in forbidden places. Hannah Arendt’s action.

    The question I am confronting is whether Black Blocs broken windows, or Occupy sitting in somebody else’s property, is violence. Well, the property owners deprived of the use of property, and the state might thinks so.

    What is revolutionary? Defined in such a way as to include the Underground Railroad or an illegal pamphlet? Including sabotage, a private hidden act?

    The revolutionary is the application of unsanctioned material force for political ends, sustained and widespread maybe, intended to be provocative, destructive and to put the state’s monopoly on material political force into question. It will, by definition, be illegal. I am not sure why a guy shooting out a stoplight is not revolutionary. When it reaches a critical mass such that the state loses its monopoly and legitimacy, when people cheer the shooting of stoplights, revolution is ongoing.

    In the sixties we thought dropping acid and letting our hair grow was revolutionary. We were right. The point isn’t how well it succeeds, you can never tell. The point is the attitude toward the state and law and authority. What’s that spell? What’s that spell? What’s that spell?

    Fuck off pigs.

  74. bob mcmanus

    It can be rather simple. Tiqqun (TC, Invisible Committee, Endnotes) recommends, since most forms of protest and resistance are now incorporated into capitalism and social control (Network: You want the terrorist act on Tuesday? Primetime or earlier?) something called “desertion in place” which might look like Bartleby, just go to work and play videogames.

    Sabotage. Slowdowns. Stop working, including political organizing and theoretical writing. Stop fucking producing anything, including identity, because all production, including self-production has been commodified and reproductive of existing relations. Become invisible to capitalism and the state, while remaining in place and consuming.

    Just one idea.

  75. realitychecker

    When you stretch a word like ‘revolution’ too far in too many ways, it doesn’t mean everything, rather, it starts to mean nothing.

    Revolution by force is what we’re talking about. Hypothetical philosophical discussion.

  76. bob mcmanus

    Okay, whatever. Somebody has to sharpen the pitchforks and guillotines, set up chairs and snacks. Revolution is about as big, complicated, and boring as its opposite. Try history, CCP in China 1920-1949. France or Russia for something faster.

    The four groups “Tiqqun (TC, Invisible Committee, Endnotes)” have information online. Books include “The Coming Insurrection” and “Communization and Its Discontents”

    Chris Hedges will give you soaring rhetoric. Zapatistas might encourage you. Gene Sharp may give you ideas.

    Over at Pat Lang’s they talk about how Moroccans insurgents evaded satellite coverage.

    History will explain that you don’t get to decide circumstances, conditions, tactics, strategy, or hope til you are down on the ground in a particular place committed to tearing the system down. And remember we are being watched, inattentively, as we write.

  77. bob mcmanus

    But you know what? Forget all the above if you want.

    Watch the kids. Don’t trust anybody over thirty.

    In America or the West, although damn the rest is now available I watch the marginalized and impotent

    BLM and Afro-pessimism
    Queer theory
    Hackers, cyberneticists, social media theorists
    Maybe feminist ecology

  78. Ché Pasa

    The coup of 2000 set the stage for what we’re facing now. In that instance, the ruling clique went along with the lawless acts of various players, culminating with the decision by the Supreme Court to hand the presidency to the Bush regime regardless of the outcome of the election.

    It was a clear statement from rulers that our wishes and our votes don’t matter, and there is nothing we can do about it. They will make the choices and decisions, not us.

    A popular uprising at this point is highly unlikely. There appears to a nascent would-be coup underway from a faction of the permanent government, but I doubt they intend to thwart the ascension of Trump. It looks more like a warning shot across the bow, a reminder that no matter what power he thinks he has as president-king-emperor, he can’t do just anything he wants to — not without serious consequences at any rate.

    What I think may be more likely than popular uprising or civil war is separation. Not secession. Regional autonomy. The populous and prosperous regions and urban areas will likely take much more control of their own fate; less populous and less prosperous regions will have greater opportunities to control their own fate without the interference and complications from Washington they’ve been resisting for quite a long time now.

    We’ll see.

  79. Peter


    You must have been there during those turbulent times because you seem to have forgotten much of what happened. Your narrow definition of revolution, armed conflict, doesn’t include much of the consciousness raising and deprogramming that I think happened in China and certainly elsewhere.

    People had to revolve in their thinking to be able to resist the America love it or leave it status quo and I don’t think that was a small thing because of the majority pressure to conform. Most people who resisted didn’t become revolutionaries but some did.

    I had to refresh my memories of the now ancient history around the time of the Kent/Jackson State murders which happened during a nationwide mobilization aimed at Nixon’s incursion into Cambodia. I was in San Diego and marched with the VVAW along with 50,000 other people of all descriptions. SD was an extremely conservative military town so the number of people responding to the incursion and the murders was significant. Immediately after the murders 4,000,000 students went on strike at over 400 colleges and universities. 30 ROTC buildings were either burned or bombed.

    In Washington there were large demonstrations before the murders and within two days the organizers had 100,000 people in the streets marching to the White House. The White House was ringed with buses to block the insurgents and Tricky Dick was evacuated to Camp David while the 82nd Airborne was sent in to protect the government property. Chasing the president out of the White House without weapons may not be revolution but it felt like it. Things calmed down after that when the universities were shut down and students dispersed and other anti-war groups and many others did reflect on what happened at Kent/Jackson.

    The more radical elements of the movement took control and proclaimed publicly that if the government wouldn’t stop the war the movement would stop the government. When Nixon escalated the war again in early ’71 the movement responded first with the Weathermen bombing the Capitol Building and then with the mass May Day protests across the country. 200,000 demonstrators converged on Washington and Nixon, who had abandoned the White House again, sent in about 12,000 troops. At one point there was a troop transport landing at Andrews every three minutes. Attack helicopters were sent in to try to disperse the crowds but the Yippies used helium balloons to raise cables up and deterred the attacks. The police began arresting anybody they could catch, demonstrator or not, and interred about 12,000 people the largest mass arrests in American history.

    I think this time is when Nixon sat down with Al Haig and discussed the plans to suspend the constitution and declare martial law but according to Haig he decided not to follow through because he didn’t want that as his legacy. Instead the troop withdrawals from Vietnam began and by early ’72 400,000 troops had been shipped home. Nixon escalated the air war again in ’72 which was responded to with more violent demonstrations and then along came Watergate and the rest is history.

    Nixon’s aides called this insurgency a civil war which may be accurate but the idea of directly confronting the government was revolutionary.

  80. different clue

    @Bob McManus,

    Could the phrase “uncivil obedience” apply to part of what you are describing?

    “I obey but I do not comply.” . . . ?

    ” Tune out. Slow down. Slack off.” . . . ?

  81. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    You are interpreting the word ‘revolution,’ very loosely, and I am using it in one very specific way. Let’s not get lost in semantics, that is where focused discussions go to die.

    The Weathermen were revolutionaries, the more extreme Black Panthers were.

    Not the marchers, sorry. They were protesters and resisters and civilly disobedient, a good thing, but that’s all. Then they went home and watched TV, and wondered how they were going to get laid Saturday night.

    And note how their efforts did nothing to keep the old Nixon hands from coming back and unleashing hell on the world, think Rumsfeld, think Cheney, many others. In a real revolution, those guys would all have been dead. They would not have survived to do all the subsequent evils we have endured.

    Bad people dying. It’s the new black lol.

  82. Peter


    You’re probably right but it was a great experience to participate in such a mass movement and time of change. I hoped you had some good memories of the days of sex and drugs and rock and roll.

    Right now we are facing a very ugly power play in government that is arguably insane. Brennan today announced that he had support from the FBI and DNI on the Russia interfered ‘for’ Trump claims although only his word backs this up. It’s impossible to know how far they will push this agenda but it could be to a coup, they even claim that Trump knew of this assistance.

  83. tsisageya

    You’re right. Trump is now Israel! Milton Friedman’s son—King David—Ambassador of Israel. Now I’m scared.

    (But I still don’t want Killery!)

  84. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    I was trying to be John Wayne (like I was supposed to lolol) until I hit 20, so I missed the best part of the 60’s. (But I was a pretty damn good John Wayne.) 🙂

    It wasn’t until I hit NYU in 1972 that I really started to wake up, so I never marched, but I did go to a big Earth Day and a No Nukes concert lol. But since then, I’ve been a mostly-lefty of pretty deep conviction (2d Amend excepted, plus always believed if we got attacked, we should hit back hard and without apology). But I’ve been anticipating fascism here since 1975, so since then the idea of revolution has always been on my mind.

    But don’t feel sorry for me, amigo, managed to have plenty of sex and weed along the way. 🙂

    Re our larger discussion, they ARE trying to engineer a coup, but it is a coup on behalf of the Establishment. The revolution I am trying to talk about would be one by and on behalf of the regular People.

  85. realitychecker

    Oh, plenty of rock and roll, too; I still mostly listen to the old music.

  86. seattle resident

    “And note how their efforts did nothing to keep the old Nixon hands from coming back and unleashing hell on the world, think Rumsfeld, think Cheney, many others. In a real revolution, those guys would all have been dead. They would not have survived to do all the subsequent evils we have endured.”

    Thanks to Police State actions–Infiltration within those movements and Beatdowns, Arrests, and Assassinations from without those movements—Those Nixon 2.0 hands w/ help from Americans who don’t pay attention to politics were able to get a second act. But this time the police state is even more advanced and ready to take on any oppositional movements than they were when they played catch-up to eventually destroy the Panthers and the Anti-war movement.

  87. Peter


    I spent ’68 to ’70 in limbo waiting to get drafted so I wasn’t too involved in anything but I did meet with the Weathermen once and enjoyed the counter-culture. John Wayne didn’t impress me much I leaned more towards characters such as Johnny Reb or even Maverick.

    It’s ironic that while we waited for signs of Fascism to develop the establishment instituted an inverted totalitarian regime that is in full display today. I asked a number of people about the BS being attempted in DC, while running errands today, and none really even wanted to acknowledge it was happening.

  88. realitychecker

    @Seattle Resident

    Of course you are right that modern surveillance state tools make organization even more difficult; I would even say impossible.

    That is why I have said that the only thing that could still work would be spontaneous individual guerrilla type actions, probably initially started by individually motivated persons with specific anti-government grievances, who might even be somewhat unbalanced by their rage. But they would show others what might be accomplished by similar actions and tactics.

  89. realitychecker

    @ Peter

    I had little choice, being born in 1951, but to accept John Wayne as the epitome of manliness.

    I drew number 9 in the 1970 lottery, but that did not stop me from dropping out of my third year of college later that year. Very stupid, but I was disgusted with a college experience where finals got cancelled two years in a row because of militant on-campus demonstrations. I was never pro-war, just didn’t give a damn at that time. Maybe not even about my own well-being.

    Not smart, but by some miracle, I never even got called down for a physical, and I was smart enough not to inquire why or how I fell through the cracks. I’m just endlessly grateful.

    My political awakening started in 1972. I think it was primarily triggered by seeing a neighbor come home after being a highly decorated multi-tour Marine hero in Vietnam. A shy, sweet, skinny Italian boy transformed into a muscle-bound killing machine with a thousand yard stare, who subsequently found human companionship so difficult that he spent the rest of his life AFAIK, in isolation in the forests of upstate New York. I still can’t think of him without tearing up.

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