Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Better Late Than Never?

As anyone who's kept up with me that long knows, I've been saying Trump is a fascist since first seeing him speak at the first GOP primary debate in 2015 when I also predicted that he would win the presidential election. America had been craving a fascist for a while, and Trump delivered.

Some theorists on fascism were not so keen on applying the fascist label to Trump. Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism, has been among the most vocal in this camp. After Trump's election, Paxton refused to use the fascist label, citing Trump's lack of exercise of fascist power. Apparently, the travel bans, immigrant raids, and labor rights drawdowns by executive order did not factor into his analysis.

Finally, Paxton is coming around to the obvious fact that Trump, known for his rants advocating eugenics, keeping Hitler's speeches by his bedside, and speaking in a language of barely coded racism, is in fact a fascist. Honestly, he might have damaged his reputation less if he were willing to die on the "Trump isn't a fascist" hill. Now we know that Paxton's definition helps you identify fascism five years after the fact. What's the point in that?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Notes on a Destructive Escalation: An Anarchist Perspective on Riot Control

The murder of George Floyd by now-terminated Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin abetted by three of his fellow officers sparked a national wave of property destruction the likes the United States hasn’t seen since the roadside beating of Rodney King. Images of trashed police precincts and torched police cars have littered news broadcasts and social media feeds, but this time with a rather muted condemnation from mainstream media outlets.

It’s tempting to look at this sort of explosion of popular destructive rage as an aberration from normal civic engagement. Certainly, our history textbooks and popular media would have us believe that the history of progressive change is one of docile protestors against brutal gendarmes and their equally brutal, right-wing accomplices. However, a broader view that pans out from the Martin Luther Kings and Mahatma Gandhis and Jesus Christs of history shows a social context in which political destruction played a crucial tactical role in forcing the capitulation of the authorities.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Nazis Should Be Victims

Recently, the UK Home Office proscribed two neo-nazi organizations–Sonnenkrieg Division and System Resistance Network–as terrorist organizations, making membership in those groups itself illegal. Commenting on this for the CARR blog, Dr. Craig McCann, a "countering violent extremism" consultant with prior experience in law enforcement, largely praised the actions of the Home Office. He did however express one reservation, namely, that this might fuel narratives of the victimization of the far right.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Is "The Curve" a Useful Model for Policy?

As Covid-19 has spread through the United States and the UK, so too has the meme of "flattening the curve" to reduce the strain on healthcare system capacity. The logic of flattening the curve is simple, by taking precautions to reduce the chance of contracting the virus, you reduce the number of new patients. This gives medical facilities the opportunity to let patients recover fully under their care without having to discharge early or restrict admission on the basis of medical priority.

Unfortunately, this model requires fairly extreme measures that have come under the rubric of "social distancing." The will to social distancing has varied across the country with some places offering widely-ignored health recommendations and others putting their jurisdictions on lock down enforced by the police.

At the furthest extreme, we are looking at the macroeconomic equivalent of a general strike in order to flatten the curve. With some projections claiming that social distancing may be required for a year or more, it's unclear what exactly the virus response is saving us from. What is clear, is that relying on the natural spread of the virus is not a viable option.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

"Pay For" Questions Don't Make Sense on Fed Policy. Do Any?

The Fed announced further measures today designed to stave off the continued plummeting of prices in financial markets. Overall, the Fed has announced over $1.5 trillion in market operations so far. In response, numerous commentators who support robust free public services questioned the apparent hypocrisy of the lack of scrutiny over how such spending is to be financed when it comes to the financial sector. The question doesn't make a whole lot of sense, however, when you consider the difference between when the Fed spends money and when the federal government does it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

On Patriot Front and Protesting in DC

When I went to my first protest in New York City, I was shocked and rather bewildered at the tactics of the NYPD. I had cut my teeth protesting in DC, and couldn't understand why the police aggressively pushed marchers to take the sidewalk, left crossing intersections up to the normal flow of traffic, and ended the march by fanning out for and conducting what were apparently routine arrests. Saturday's march by neo-Fascist men's organization Patriot Front showed the world what everyone who came up in DC protest culture, whether activist or law enforcement, knows which is that aggressively policing protest marches makes no sense.

Friday, January 3, 2020

War Is Dead

Last night, "World War 3" started trending on Twitter in response to a US airstrike near a Baghdad airport that killed the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani among other top Iranian and Iraqi military officials. I'm not convinced this will start a war. Rather, I think this is a continuation of the global shift away from formal declarations of war and toward discretionary uses of military force to punctuate foreign policy.