Today, loyal readers of the Greatest Site On Earth, we talk about how all of our systems are designed to be violent.
Systems, whether they organize as businesses, partnerships, civic groups, non-profits, governments & institutions, religions or the little group that meets out back in your treehouse, don’t necessarily manifest themselves as violent. Not all of them.
They don’t show outward violence by having your local gas station chop off your hand (unless you live in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), but the violence itself manifests through oppressive actions, the dispossession of entire groups of people, and the disenfranchisement of those (and other) people.
And by “today, we talk about” I mean I will write, and you will listen to Mr. or Ms. Publius theyself, as we, the royal we, the editorial we, melt your fucking face off.
The violence, after all, is inherent to all the systems, even communications. Especially communications.
So it’s extra hilarious that it was white British dudes who were bringing it up (as seen in our historical documentary video’d above), especially since white British dudes all but created the modern violence inherent to the system. Note the word “modern.”
We begin where the clip from Monty Python’s historical documentary points us: toward the now-debunked notion of the Divine Right of Kings.
For those of you what just woke up on Spaceship Earth and haven’t figured it out, there are certain people who like being in control. Like, really enjoy the everloving piss out of being in charge. For millennia, there was a sacred, unsaid pact among “royalty,” that basically said “We’ll do what we like and fuck you.”
Please note the violence inherent in that last sentence as I specifically did not separate those two thoughts. It should not be “We’ll do what we like,” and then a comma and then “and fuck you.” It’s very specifically “We’ll do what we like and fuck you.” Because fucking you is what they like to do.
The royalty, whomever they were throughout the “civilized” ages going back to the forgotten times can widely be considered Kings & Queens, Emperors & Empresses, and any other “somebody” who managed to take over the population (through violence, ‘natch) long enough to convince the people that they should be in control.
Then, the violence continued through the institution of the Divine Right of Kings, which held forth that these rulers were chosen by god, and because they were chosen by god, they ruled as god’s man/woman on Earth. This allowed the creation of doublelaw, much like doublethink and doublespeak, but well before those two things had been enshrined in society’s mind by Orwell. Doublelaw, as we call it, is when rulers adopt the free-wheelin’ style of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
So, you get one set of rules for the people, and one set of rules for the rulers. The rulers get to live above the law, because, well, they were chosen by god.
Incidentally, and because I was just looking at my fabulous bookcase, there’s a story that keeps on how the Power Structure loves to protect its own secrets. But, sometimes it’s too focused on keeping the secrets that Outsiders (GASP!) can come in and challenge things. So the story goes in the book “Troublesome Young Men.” The book is about them what helped bring Winston Churchill to power in England, just in time for him to be one of the best, western war-time leaders. And, they were able to do this by exposing scandalous behaviors among the ruling class (substance abuse, gambling, sexual deviancy, etc.).
See, for the rich and powerful, having these bad habits and mostly-illegal vices isn’t the scandal. Everybody has one, you see? The scandal is when one of them breaks rank and tells the public about it through the papers of the day. The scandal is specifically not the substance abuse, gambling or sexual deviancy. The scandal is that someone talked about it to the poors.
When this is done it absolutely fuckin’ ruins the Power Structure’s tenuous grip on power and definitively knocks them off the Moral High Road. Once that resistance is outta the way, changes can be made, like installing Churchill as Prime Minister.
Killer Fact: the installation of figureheads acts both ways.
The Divine Right of Kings stays in place for millennia, because the people weren’t educated enough to challenge it, and when they did become educated enough to challenge it, then you have rulers start rumbling about wars.
See, “We need to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” is not a recent invention. Blasting it out across the airwaves and interconnected gloryholes of the Internet is, though.
This violence, inherent to the system, was made possible by the ruling classes systematically keeping the population illiterate. An illiterate man cannot become an educated man. Subsequently, an uneducated man cannot know that there are better things to strive for that working against the ramblings of some human being who was wielding supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at ‘im.
So even though the written word can be tracked back to the Cuneiform of Sumeria tracked back to 3200 BC. For those of yous that’s bad at maths, we’ll just say that’s about 5,200 years ago. So the written word existed in various forms, and it did so for millennia under the watchful eye of the ruling class, and ONLY the ruling class.
Then, the worst thing possible happens for them, and after roughly 4,600 years or so of having sole control over literacy (and therefore, the basis of education), the printing press was invented.
This type of development, while ultimately good for literacy and education and books and the enlightenment and people and society and civilization and progress, was generally frowned upon by the ruling class because the people should know their place, and that place is clearly toiling in the fields and workhouses. HARRUMPH!
There’s plenty of traditions going back where the ruling and thinking classes have said that information overload is a thing, going back to Socrates. So while people of modern Earth think it’s new thanks to the Twitters and Facebooks and somesuch, your betters have been railing against information reaching the masses since the written word first came around.
My favorite accounting of this is from around the dawn of the printing press, where a story exists that a knight has to go out and fight the terrifying dragon. Upon reaching this destructive terror, the dragon begins to spew forward not fire, but books. BOOKS! The moral of the story? That unrestricted access to knowledge would overwhelm any of the lower classes (or provide the truth that would set them free) and we just can’t have any of that, now can we?
So these propaganda efforts to scare people away from critical thinking go back centuries, millennia, and probably for as long as some asshole on the savanna realized he’d get an extra helping of gazelle if he just made some shit up that no one else could prove wrong.
Come and see the violence inherent to our systems.
This continues through the modern era, and if you don’t want to believe me then pick up a fuckin history book, you goddamn troglodyte. Nothing by D’Souza though or any modern American political figure.
Thar be the real dragons, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
This violence, inherent to all systems, would take too long to write toward, so I’ll focus quickly on ‘Murica! Fuck yeah!
Let us now take a sobering look back into the history of the United States of America, to a time well before it was the United States of America.
We don’t really need to go back to the time of Columbus, since he didn’t make it to America anyway. Technically he made it to the North American continent, but he never quite made it to the mainland. He made it to the Caribbean, where the violence inherent to the systems has just never fuckin’ quit.
Previously, it’s arguable that Norsemen had made it to what could be considered the East Coast of the U.S.A., into Canada and maybe even as far as Minnesota, thanks to the Great Lakes. Later on, some Hispanic gentlemen took over Florida because they were looking for gold and somesuch.
But, these violent expeditions into brand new systems were only that: expeditions. The RealBad systems were still to come.
In come the Northern European colonists and Puritans. With the Spanish heading to Florida and other parts of the South in the 1500s and finding no gold, other rulers later started to wonder at the Return on Investment of sending entire peoples to the New World. Especially since, you know, it was filled with such dreadful things as new diseases, was probably just chock fulla witches, and absolutely consisting of hordes of Noble Savages.
However, they couldn’t just let other countries send people over there without some response, my god that would be uncouth!
Killer Fact: That practice continues to this day, in the corporate world. The modern equivalent is when corporations file lawsuits against regular everyday assholes for some trumped-up charge of copyright violation, because they know that if they don’t pick that fight then they’re going to look soft. And looking soft isn’t something that nations, monarchies, corporations or other gangsters take very kindly to.
So they, our betters, the ruling classes (Peace Be Upon Them) started “letting” “citizens” go forth into the New World to “manifest their destinies.” And by “letting” I mean “encouraged the fuck outta” and by “citizens” I mean “undesirables who we can’t call that out loud but who are annoying the shit outta us” and by “manifest their destinies” I mean “go and clear out the wilderness and give later-arriving Crown Subjects a nice place to live while fighting off Noble Savages, witches and diseases and if you survive we may name you Mayor. Maybe.”
So begins the Post-Colombian history of the violence inherent in our system.
They say colonial history begins in 1607. The world was fuckin’ brutal. At the risk of sounding too much like Drunk History, I’ll skip most of the good parts (although I may come back to this finished product later this weekend after liberal quantities of Johnny Walker. The Green, not the Red).
So, it’s brutal. Giving up a life’s savings to get on a bigass ship to go across a body of water that is unimaginably large. Landing there and living in tents until you can clear enough forest and process the lumber to make some houses. Diseases. Witches, probably. Noble Savages. The usual. It’s a story as old as time. We’ve all been there, right?
Then, after a bit more than a decade had passed, these folks, these brave pioneers, these rugged individualists, these expeditious colonists and ancestors to America’s Founding Fathers (CAN I GET AN AMEN!) said “Wonder if we can get someone else to do this hard work.”
And by 1619 the first African slaves had arrived. You would recognize the numbers put together there – 1619 – because the New York Times has recently launched the 1619 Project (much to the consternation of lots of fuckin’ white folks who probably need to shut up and read) that memorializes the slave trade coming to America 400 years ago.
This slave trade here officially lasted 246 miserable goddamn years. Then, it just went underground for a century. We’ll get to what “underground” means a bit later. For now, just understand that your high school history teacher may or may not have known more about this timeframe, but there was still only so much time in the class to teach about it. To educate your miserable, worthless fuckin’ minds on how bad it was, seriously, just read the goddamn 1619 link up above. Here’s another one, for you lazy fuckin’ assholes.
Those historians, authors, journalists and poets can address the topic of human beings owning other human beings as property through chattel slavery with more humanity and grace than I can. Needless to say – BUT I’M GONNA FUCKIN SAY IT ANYWAY – the slave trade was a #YUUUUUUGGGGGE part of the violence inherent in our system. And it remains so, today. Again, we’ll get to that later, because these things are cyclic. As a teaser, we’ll just say its foundations rest entirely on the 13th Amendment.
A little bit after the appearance of the first slaves is when the ol’ Patriarchy started getting creative. See, there were womenfolk who were starting to ask questions, see? Apparently some miserable goddamn motherfucker taught them to read. UNBELIEVABLE! And these women, some who could read and some who could not (along with a few men (WARLOCKS WOOOO)) got persecuted, disenfranchised, dispossessed, oppressed and fuckin’ murdered.
Because someone thought they were different.
Come see the violence inherent in the system.
See, whether these witches and warlocks were different or not, whether they were troublesome or not, they were perceived to be problematic. And the goddamn system doesn’t like it when people could be problematic. Easier to burn them at the stake and forget it all happened, really. Also, they didn’t realize how rad it would have actually been for them to harness the power of witchcraft in the colonial world. Let’s imagine for a moment what America would have looked like if witchcraft – I mean real witchcraft that can generate real world changes through the application of supernatural forces – were real. What would have happened if, instead of killing those witches and the Noble Savages, we teamed up with them to form the Colonial Power Rangers? Colonists, Noble Savages and Witchcraft. There’s a piece of historical fiction right there. Give me a weekend at the Best Western Des Moines, a gallon of mushroom tea and a voice-to-text recorder and I’ll write that motherfucker on the spot.
Anyway, instead of doing the reasonable thing and making the Colonial Power Rangers, we let the “Godly” Patriarchy handle things, again, and we see what kind of mayhem that continues to cause.
Also, all this talk of witchcraft is reminding me that it’s about time to watch one of the best Halloween movies ever.
Speaking of Marry Fuck Kill, that’s pretty much how all the oppressors thought of womenfolk. Women, knowing this, figured that unless they could witchcraft their way out of it (Narrator: They could not.), then they better marry someone quickfastandinahurry before someone eyeing them with bad intent became someone acting on that bad intent.
See, women had to do this, since they had no rights. And women had no rights because, *heh* can you believe what women would do if they had rights like men? CRAZY! PROBABLY TURN THE WHITE HOUSE INTO A KNITTING CIRCLE, AMIRITE!?!?!
Come and see the violence inherent in a gendered system.
Even after the 19th Amendment passes thanks to the American Women’s Suffrage Movement, the fights continue. It’s said that those who cherish rights the most are them who’s fought for them. Well, ladies, cherish voting and don’t fuck it up, because you earned that one.
Unfortunately, this is not the end for our band of intrepid, fairer-sexed heroes. Nah, there’s still the tales of becoming Rosie the Riveter and helping with the war, then being forced back into the house to transform back into Suzie Homemaker, moving forward through the abortion rights struggle that was solved, SOLVED, with Roe v. Wade, through glass ceilings, sexual harassment following women back into the workplace, continuous sexual assaulters being named to positions of power, and the fuckin’ fact that a lady can’t wear some comfortable, non-form-fitting clothing without being labeled or mocked.
Come see the violence inherent in the clothing and textiles system.
And, don’t get me started on the Pickup Artists, Men’s Rights Activists and Incels (but I repeat myself) of the world. That will come on another day, for another takedown and another deep dive into the communications tactics and methodologies that drive people to join these fucked up groups.
For now, there’s more that’s terrible without getting into the specifics of how fragile modern, white, American males have become.
Meanwhile, back in communities of color, Emancipation has happened, but white folks have struck again.
I know, I know. #NotAllWhitePeople… blah blah blah. There’s this difference between White Culture & Pride and Black Culture & Pride that exists, truly. My coming explanation will do nothing to sway the bigots away from prejudicial attitudes, but it will offer an aggressive handicap against their claims of ignorance. Here goes.
You cannot have pride in how you were born. You can have pride in things you were challenged by and overcame, or even challenged by and survived. That’s the TL;DR. The longer version, by a hair, is that the system here in America (and many other places) has long been crafted to give the in-groups a massive head start, and to hold back the out-groups.
Since Plymouth Rock landed on black folks, that set the tone for the centuries to come for communities of color.
If the system is set up against you, to oppress you, to disenfranchise you, to dispossess you, to persecute you, and you manage to survive it, then goddamn it you can take all the pride you want from that survival. Especially as that same system murdered, raped, enslaved and incarcerated your people.
If the system is set up for you, where you are not the oppressed, disenfranchised, dispossessed or persecuted, then you are taking pride in that system that exists to keep other people down. Even if you did not actively own slaves, even if your parents came over through Ellis Island after Emancipation, even if you never set foot in the south, the violence inherent in the system does. not. know. state. borders. It sure as fuck doesn’t stop for regional attitudes.
Black Culture & Pride comes from survival against a system set up to make them fail. White Culture & Pride comes from benefiting from that same system. See the difference?
Don’t @ me, either. I don’t give a fuck about your fragile misgivings about how the Irish or Italians were mistreated by “other whites.” They could still change their name and drop their accent. Stop sucking on potatoes, Seamus. Enough with the pasta, Giovanni. If needed, these individuals could blend into the in-groups of the time to avoid prejudice simply by dropping a couple identifiers from their personality.
So how does the institutional racism continue when the Emancipation Proclamation has been made and Juneteenth is celebrated each year? Didn’t you hear, Publius, a black man was President!
It happens, my sweet summer child, through the insidious backdoor channels that the Power Structure had perfected and built into the American system.
It can be seen through times that we call Reconstruction where the system’s masters instituted laws that made it illegal to be a person of color in certain areas. By creating laws that protect white hate as it burned crosses, sent out lynch mobs and accused black people of crimes that existed only in the hellish dreamscape of those in power. And then, by enforcing it.
Ever wonder where the statistic of “1 in 3 black men have gone to prison” comes from? It’s a real statistic, based in blood and racism, that was birthed in the Reconstruction era when black men were imprisoned for such terrible crimes as “Being on the Same Side of the Street as White Folks,” or “Maybe Looking at a White Person,” or “Trying to do Business in a White Store.”
It continued well through the Civil Rights Era, where men and women were jailed for Being Loud Outside. So, because the United States of America – Land of the Free and Home of the Brave – locked up a huge portion of black men simply because society (Southern Society mostly, but that shit followed black folks North) was pissed they could no longer own human beings as property.
See the violence? See it existing inherently within the system?
That violence inherent to the system can be focused in other ways as well. It can be focused, purely out of spite, to create entire neighborhoods and communities where businesses shouldn’t go and banks will not lend (not fairly anyway): Redlining.
Redlining was the process where local powers-that-be (banksters, politicians, industry tycoons, etc.) would take a map of an area, and literally draw a red line around communities that were predominately black. No businesses should cross that line, no investors should cross that line, and banks would create new lending policies for communities inside and outside of that line. This would have the much-anticipated effect of depressing wages for those communities, which would affect the tax base. Lowered tax bases would mean lowered revenue streams for municipal and county government serving those areas.
Do you see it?
Ever wonder why people of color and immigrants have a higher rate of business ownership than white folks? It’s because these groups figured out a long time ago that Mainstream Society (*cough* white people *cough*) still harbored certain prejudices toward non-whites that absolutely came out during hiring processes.
Don’t want to believe me? That’s okay, you’re a dumb fuck. Fortunately for you, I’m not, and while I lack many things, one of those things is not follow-through. Go ahead and type in “racism in the hiring process” to your favorite search engine. Again, because I anticipate you to be lazy I’ve already done the work for you.
While I don’t expect anyone – whether the top scholars in the U.S. or little old you – to peruse the 10 million goddamn hits that search brings back, you will find insight from the Society for Human Resource Management and Harvard, among, you know, 10 million others.
Or you could just ask “your black friend.” I’m sure they truly exist and would be happy to engage with you on this not-at-all-heated subject.
Basically, it comes down to perceptions. Perceptions that are based in racially-focused attitudes. Attitudes that were developed during the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and Reconstruction; the Jim Crow laws that existed throughout the Civil Rights years. Attitudes that are re-emerging publicly in “modern” America with a resurgent Nazi and Confederate presence. Attitudes that created hiring situations where people with non-white sounding names received fewer calls from potential employers even when their resumes were identical, or objectively better, than those with white-sounding names. That people with non-white sounding names received fewer calls than those with white-sounding names even when the former had exquisite resumes and the latter had felony convictions.
I’d set up my own business to, but Publius is ABSOLUTELY a white-sounding name, so fuck you, hiring managers!
Even that phrasing, right there above: “white-sounding name” and “non-white-sounding name” firmly attempts to establish one in the modern American lexicon as “normal” and one as “other.”
With a history of treating American minorities like this, no wonder white folks in the U.S.A. are worried about becoming a minority in the future. Nevermind that the tables aren’t going to turn as drastically as they believe, that once non-white (there’s that phrase again) demographic groups have more access to authority and control, that there’s not going to be some Great White Bloodletting. It will just feel like it to a people who have stood atop a gender- and racially-segregated system throughout its entire course of history and are absolutely fuckin’ petrified of what having to compete “like those people” will actually mean.
It’ll mean that all ya’ll motherfuckers will have to learn how to hustle.
For the record, “hustle” does not necessarily carry with it the connotation of illegal activity. It means to get after one’s economic well-being, sometimes by working varied roles. Disenfranchised communities have known this for decades, centuries. It’s hitting Mainstream Society now, making them “Economically Anxious (trademark pending)” because those economic problems that were hitting women, blacks, hispanics, the LGBTQIA+ community, and others are now hitting regular ol’ white folks. The “Gig Economy” has always existed. It’s only now seen fit to include Todd and Brett. Tyrone and Julio have been hustling at its mercy for years, bruh.
Want to know why the Gig Economy existed in the first place? Because Late Stage Capitalism, that’s why. When economic policy favors the Capital Class over the Labor Class, the “Economic Masters” and their endless pursuit of Mercantilism, as Adam Smith put it, will do everything in their power to increase shareholder value even at the cost of its own workforce.
Killer Fact: Business schools around the nation – at the undergraduate and graduate level – have for decades been teaching one central thesis to business practice. It is summed up as follows, without being paraphrased: “It is the sole responsibility of the business manager to increase shareholder value.” Full stop. Not, “increase shareholder value by out-competing rivals, or by offering the best service, or by producing the best goods.” Simply put, if you’re in business, then do whatever it takes to please the economic masters, whether they be shareholders of a corporation or business partners. I know this, because Publius is a name they can’t (and didn’t) deny for entry into a grad school business program. *maniacal laughter follows
Can’t cause trouble against the Powers-That-Be if you’re busy being a working slave for the man, right? If you’re tied to a job because of healthcare, or tired from working 2-3 different gigs, that’s less energy to make the world better. It’s less energy to focus on family, self, your neighborhood BBQ, community action and even the church, if that’s your thing.
Speaking of healthcare, did you know that General Motors (Peace Be Upon Them) just stripped workers of it because they had the audacity – THE AUDACITY, I SAY, MORTIMER – to go on strike and ask for better benefits? Again, the purpose is clear: the Economic Masters want total control over the workforce in all areas, because then they have all the bargaining power, and the workers become desperate for any morsels that fall their way.
See the violence inherent in our economic system?
There’s nothing that the Power Structure can’t do if not multitask. So, in wielding their power they’ve sought to diminish the standing of women, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community, and lastly, the workforce in general.
Because if you divide, you conquer.
See the violence? See the reason why?
But wait, there’s more. There are elements in the U.S.A. that have always screamed loudly about Communism and Socialism. These elements have nearly always originated with the Economic Masters and put into the public sphere by the Political Masters.
“COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM!” was always the cry when the men with the money thought a penny might get by.
“COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM!” they shout, as American society demands a 40-hour work week, and paid time off, and public power utilities, and Social Security, and farm price supports, and labor unions, and public education, and bank deposit insurance, and accessible healthcare, and an end to private prisons, and all the New Deal policies (including the Green one and the Second Bill of Rights) that never managed to get through.
“COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM!” they yelled when American might of post-World War II had brought economic Valium to the economic anxiety known during the Depression. America needed some enemies to feel tough, and Joseph McCarthy found them, right at home.
Never mind that he was completely, totally full of shit. He had an audience. Sound familiar?
If permitted to detach themselves from the Bread and Circuses of the moment,the American people would see the cries of COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM! to be nothing more than the fevered outbursts of old men shouting at clouds. Communism died, and was memorialized forever by capitalists who hilariously stole Che Gueverra’s image and put it on $1 t-shirt they then sold for $20. Communism-in-name-only still exists in the People’s Republic of China, where one party rule could allow the party to call itself The Humperdinks and nobody would get to say a goddamn thing. Socialism didn’t exactly fare better, especially when it was beset by all sides by the war-making prowess of Modern Western Capitalism, which has been armed to the fuckin’ teeth since WW I.
I know that last part might trigger summa you Americans out there, who think that living under a Capitalistic economy makes you a member of the Capital Class and therefore ya gotta fight tooth ‘n nail against criticism of this current method of wealth redistribution. However, you’d be fuckin’ wrong. Corporations have been pulling the strings on the U.S.A.’s use of its military for at least 100 years, if not more. Want more proof that I’m confident you won’t read? Here ya go: War is a Racket, by Major General
(Retired Dead) Smedley Butler, a man who not only had the distinction of having an incredible name but who was awarded the Medal of Honor twice, and helped bring attention to the Business Plot – that time in U.S. history when a bunch of business types tried to oust a sitting president, because “COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM!”
I ain’t even fuckin’ jokin’.
Then there’s the matter of those Nordic countries. Man, you know the ones. The ones that are socialist, expect that they aren’t, they’re capitalistic with a strong sense of societal duty that manifests itself through higher taxes than the U.S.A and a strong safety net. Beyond that, there’s the ever-present rallying cry against “AOC + 3” which is the name of my technopop group, where it’s only me and a bunch of shadowed dummies on stage, but I record all the music myself on every instrument in the studio beforehand, like other musical geniuses.
So, when McCarthyism failed, we stopped using the COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM! scare against other Americans, because that had proven pretty disastrous for his circle of ne’er-do-wells. We just exported the shit, and said that COMMUNISM! and SOCIALISM! were going to impact all our lives overseas, in weird foreign places like Vietnam, Grenada and South America.
This, combined with the renewed spirit and endless fight of the Civil Rights Era, gave The Man something to fear. The people were becoming more literate. They were becoming more educated. And they weren’t getting scared off as much by bullying tactics of the local cops or the handwaving magic tricks of politicians.
So the Power Structure created something that was ugly, vile, insidious and sinister to the core. It created The War On Drugs (trademark pending).
See the violence inherent in the system? You fuckin’ will.
President Richard Nixon formally kicked off something that had been fought only with minor resources for a few years at this point. In 1971, the Nixon Administration was facing quite the opposition in the states. I’ll let the next quote, from a member of his administration, speak for itself:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”— John Ehrlichman, counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, in a 1994 interview regarding the origins of the War on Drugs.
Let that sink in for a minute. The man who served President Nixon as his legal counsel and assistant for domestic affairs, openly and on-the-record stated that the entire War on Drugs had been set up to delegitimize Nixon’s political opposition. Forty-eight years later and we’re spending between $41 billion per year and $51 billion per year, depending on the source you go to. The first estimate comes from a CATO Institute study (linked PDF) that also noted if legalization occurred then as much as $46 billion in taxable sales could result. The higher figure of $51 billion is from the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group whose sole focus is ending the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs has disproportionately impacted communities of color, with nearly half of all convictions being drug-related and more than 40 percent of those convictions coming from non-white (there’s that phrase again) communities. Incredibly four out of five drug convictions are for possession, meaning that a significant portion of our prison population – in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave – is there because they committed a victimless act. Correction. They committed a victimless act, while black or brown.
See the violence inherent in the prison system.
There’s this thing we touched on earlier. Remember earlier, when it was Happy-Go-Lucky Time in ‘Murica? Nope, me either. This particular time in today’s remembrance comes from when we earlier mentioned the 13th Amendment. This was the amendment to the U.S. Constitution that ended slavery and involuntary servitude… unless you’re in prison. That’s the crucial little fact that lotsa motherfuckers like to forget. Slavery wasn’t really ended. They just moved it off the plantation and into the prison.
While some private prisons existed since the Revolution, this new thing was very specific to Reconstruction. Deprived of its labor force (since slavery was now illegal), southern farmers had to figure out some way to compete, dammit! And you couldn’t expect those southern dandies, in their seersucker outfits, holding hand fans and mint juleps, to do the heavy lifting? Lord no!
So convict leasing becomes a thing, and remained so until the 20th Century. Then, they just hid the laborers outta sight, because outta mind, right?
So private prisons, accepted money from the state and federal government to perform the last part of its criminal justice role – incarceration and rehabilitation (the other prior roles in the chain of events being investigation, prosecution/defense and sentencing).
In taking on this role that should have been the government’s duty, it also got what it wanted all along: a captive workforce that could be paid pennies a day to do work that, where it existed in the free market outside the prison walls, would demand dollars an hour. See, pennies a day for an 8-hour shift sounds a shitload better than sitting around in genpop waiting for buggerystabbery. A better option for the inmates than just waitin’ round to die, an incredible option for private prisons (and their stakeholders), but a shit deal for the economy, for justice, for our population and for our miserable goddamned soul.
And no one gives a shit about inmates. Not in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, no sir. Not even when the War on Drugs has resulted in $40-50 billion spent every single year to create the largest inmate population per capita on the planet (at a cost of $45,000 per inmate, per year); a war considered to be a policy failure by most with even three outta four Americans agreeing that, hey, Drugs Fuckin’ Won, bruh.
That’s $40-50 billion EVERY YEAR, and this summer we hit the 48th year of this shit. Oh yeah, and in the course of things we’ve also managed to destabilize Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as about half of South America. These countries, despite what your crazy Uncle Freddie told you, could have been trading partners with the U.S.A., buying other stuff from local shops and generally making things safer. But that would only be good for society, it wouldn’t be good for Big Business.
See the violence? Do you see it? Take some time to really take a fuckin’ good look at it.
See, for Alcohol Prohibition, America took about 13 years to come to its senses. Then it did! Because back then, people could actually admit mistakes. Granted, it took a lot of fuckin’ lives lost, a wealth of money spent, and the footholds secured by both the Irish-American and Italian-American mobs to make that happen, but it happened. The War on Drugs has lasted nearly four times as long, and we’ve lost incalculably more while also propping up every prison and street gang to the cartels themselves.
It’s lasted so long because it’s good for the private prison systems, which like to make
bribes donations to politicians, who then sit on the boards of major banking institutions. Did you know that Wells Fargo and Bank of America are major stakeholders in the private prison industry, as are such industry giants as General Electric and The Vanguard Group (they’re the ones who take care of your mutual funds, Todd).
Remember earlier when I said that the number one priority for business managers in America was to increase shareholder value? Guess who’s profiting off the misery inflicted by the War on Drugs. Go on, guess.
One more time, this time with feeling.
With the War on Drugs and its massive profit potential comes another couple of opportunities. Well, they’re staggering challenges for society, but for the Prison Industrial Complex they resolve as opportunities:
- High recidivism rates from ex-cons who’ve done their time but can’t successfully transition back to “normal” society since nobody wants to hire them; and
- Civil Asset Forfeiture.
See, back when it was just people of color having things taken away from them, cops and politicians didn’t need a fancy name for it. But the War on Drugs hits some white folks too, and in order to start taking white peoples’ shit, they needed a fancy name. And nobody comes up with fancy names like political strategists tryna push through a corrupt idea.
Civil Asset Forfeiture, enters stage right.
*Loud applause from the sections of the theatre seating the Private Prison Industry, law enforcement, and the politicians they
bribe donate to.
Killer Fact: Did you know that in the United States of America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, law enforcement takes more private property from members of the public than burglars? You do now.
According to various studies, some from the Institute for Justice, some from the noted liberals (/end sarcasm) at the Heritage Foundation, and some at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, cops steal WAYYYYYY more from the population they’re supposed to be, ya know, serving, than do criminals. Even Harvard Law Review got in on the fun, because sometimes you gotta fight back against the violence inherent in the system. For very serious people that time is when cops start stealing their shit.
How did Civil Asset Forfeiture come around? As an extension of the War on Drugs, you silly fuckin’ goose! How else would law enforcement have eroded our civil liberties?
See the violence?
Incidentally, getting the population to back an otherwise unpopular policy position is always done through the application of the “Other” during a “Wartime” event. We ramped up to go to war with Vietnam because of the specter of “COMMUNISM! SOCIALISM!” During the anti-Nixon years it was the War on Drugs (which gave us so many other cancerous policy points). Later, during the Global War
of on Terror, we got the Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security. And those last two haven’t been abused at all, no sir.
*Pause for laughter*
Do you see these systems? Can you visualize how they are meant to sponsor and encourage violence? Do you see the violence inherent to them?
You fuckin’ better, because we’re getting awful current here.
I’ll do the short list version of a few other topics here. No worries, Mean Ol’ Publius perfectly understands that each and every one of the topics already written about here could be expanded upon ad infinitum (that means FUCKIN’ FOREVER for all ya’ll English-only speakers out there). Just as each of the previous topics could be expanded on in great detail, so could the following topics. The nature of this essay though is not to take an intensive deep-dive into how each of these systems is excruciatingly violent. It’s to show a wide range of historical systems that, with just a cursory glance, can be understood as violent by the audience, possibly for the first time.
So, here are the following final topics (if I ever get around to writing on them, I’ll link them). Please note that they aren’t all necessarily related to systems, some are working against it:
- Reaffirmation of propaganda as weapon in the U.S. In the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, a line item repealed the prohibition against disseminating propaganda to domestic (read: U.S. Population) audiences;
- Occupy Wall Street;
- Black Lives Matter;
- The Kaepernick effect (which we’ve written on before);
- American Political leadership prescriptively taking cues from Russian and Chinese leadership on how to grasp and maintain power. On the former, it’s oligarchical and gangster-adjacent. On the latter, it’s one party rule, which controls everything including the gangsters;
- The Dakota Access Pipeline Protests;
- American Politics as a Zero-Sum game;
- Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer (and associated media) versus Antifa;
- The continued assault on higher education by right-leaning entities;
- Evangelicalism on the rise.
For now though, now you might be getting it. A system – any system – is in itself a means of control over any user of that system. The additional controls built into the system as its rules is how to direct that user to utilize the system to the system’s ends, not necessarily the user’s. The controls built into the system are the rules that take away your freedom to do as you would otherwise wish to do when presented with the system.
So, the controls within the system – that are present even within anarchic or nihilistic outlooks – are the means to make you do what the owners & operators of the system demand you do. The violence inherent to the systems aren’t just the controls built into them, but the fact that systems themselves are designed to be controlling. They’re violent precisely because they take away opportunities for the individual-as-system-user to self-ideate, to self-determine, or to move freely. The system will make those decisions for you, citizen. The system is very good at making these decisions for you.
So, you’re left with a singular, WarGames-like scenario. Do you give up these markers of free agency (self ideation, self determination, freedom of movement) in order to participate in the system? Do you find ways to bend the rules of the system to live partially within the system and partially without, knowing that the house nearly always wins? Or do you find the third option?