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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 6/16/20

The Big Plantation

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Fort Sumter museum. Photograph of slavery.
Fort Sumter museum. Photograph of slavery.
(Image by denisbin)
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By John Steppling

European Left-wing political scientists find difficult to understand that the colonial contradiction is at the heart of our present, they think it's a conceptual error, something anachronistic, that the joyful postmodernity - the one that delivers their Macs to them at home - has gone beyond all that, and that Trump or Bolsonaro are racist accidents of History, or of the « free world ». It's just the opposite. Under the advertising varnish of capitalist globalization, the deep History of our world has never disappeared, it has even come back to the surface, even stronger. The revolt that is happening in the United States is the same one that founds the resistance of the Venezuelan people."
Thierry Deronne, Algeria Resistance Mohsen Abdelmoumen's blog 2020

*

"Everyone is a philosopher, though in his own way and unconsciously, since even in the slightest manifestation of any intellectual activity whatever, in 'language', there is contained a specific conception of the world, one then moves on to the second level, which is that of awareness and criticism."
Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

Three of the four police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd were previously employed as stock boys by TARGET and Home Depot, and two had worked at McDonalds. One stocked for a grocery store. One didn't graduate high school. In other words these were economically part of that large temp minimum wage workforce that is now increasingly unemployed.

The fourth, officer Kueng, whose file was redacted, was apparently more middle class, from a nice family and who graduated with some distinction from his high school. It's interesting, first off, why his file was redacted.

But one of them had served in the military, Derek Chauvin, the man now charged with the murder. Chauvin also had 17 complaints filed against him for excessive force before he kneeled on George Floyd's neck.

There are a couple things to consider here. One is why these men are not on the side of the people they abuse (and murder)? The answer is multifold. One is a culture of machismo and violence that saturates American society. Another is that the United States was a slave owning nation where twelve presidents owned slaves.

Racism and Calvinist and Puritan values have never left this society. And it was founded (and its in the constitution) as an unequal and anti democratic republic. Owners of property were established as privileged. And so it has continued. But it also the allure of the uniform. Now it's understandable that being a cop and being handed a gun and impunity to harass and abuse the public is preferable to flipping burgers. One job is utter humiliation while the other is validated as heroic by popular culture.

Domestic police departments tend to hire military veterans before those without military service.

The Obama administration helped expand the preference: in 2012, the Department of Justice provided tens of millions of dollars to fund scores of vets-only positions in police departments nationwide. Official data on the impact of veteran-cops is scarce. Nearly all of the 33 police departments contacted by The Marshall Project declined to provide a list of officers who had served in the military, citing laws protecting personnel records, or saying the information was not stored in any central place. The Justice Department office that dispenses grants to hire cops and study policing said it has no interest in funding research into how military experience might influence police behavior. - Simone Weichselbaum and Beth Schwartzapfel, The Marshall Project

Those with special forces training tend to go into Private Security. One in four soldiers in theatre in Afghanistan are private contractors. The wars of empire are increasingly being outsourced.

During the Obama administration, the Pentagon has been equipping US police departments across the country with a staggering amount of military weapons, combat vehicles, and other equipment, according to Pentagon data. According to a New York Times article published last week, at minimum, 93,763 machine guns, 180,718 magazine cartridges, hundreds of silencers and an unknown number of grenade launchers have been provided to state and local police departments since 2006. This is in addition to at least 533 planes and helicopters, and 432 MRAPs - 9-foot high, 30-ton Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles with gun turrets and more than 44,900 pieces of night vision equipment, regularly used in nighttime raids in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much of the lethal provisions have gone to small city and county police forces.{ } The recent militarization is part of a broader trend. According to Eastern Kentucky University professor Peter B. Kraska-who has studied this subject for two decades-as of the late 1990s, about 89 percent of police departments in the United States serving populations of 50,000 people or more had a PPU (Police Paramilitary Unit), almost double of what existed in the mid-1980s. Their growth in smaller jurisdictions (agencies serving between 25 and 50,000 people) was even more pronounced. Currently, about 80 percent of small town agencies have a PPU; in the mid-1980s only 20 percent had them. The domestic military ramp-up is far from being in proportion to any perceived threat to public safety. The Times notes that, "today, crime has fallen to its lowest levels in a generation" the number of domestic terrorist attacks has declined sharply from the 1960s and 1970s." And yet, "police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs." - Zac Corrigan, WSWS June 2014

Couple this to the growing social inequality in the country, where 15% live below the poverty line (in 2015, and which no doubt is closing in on double that post Covid), and where on the heels of the pandemic hysteria and government fear mongering, which resulted in a nation wide (and global) house arrest, the problems with a militarily trained and equipped domestic police force, one drawing its officers from the low end of the educational spectrum, and one that provides at best rudimentary training, is obvious.

A Buddhist friend of mine, was mentioning that at her retreat one of the Tibetan teachers observed that Covid19 and the authoritarian policies it has engendered will unleash cataclysmic dark forces. Spiritual forces, so I take it. Or anti spiritual, actually. And this is how it feels. And this is beyond the clear fascist agenda in play, but extends into realms of psychic transformation for the bourgeoisie in particular.

The anxiety and fear that has grown silently for this privileged class, grown steadily over the last twenty years, is now cracking open and the toxic emotional slag of the atrophied inner lives is spilling out on the rest of society at large. It feels or is felt most deeply, from my anecdotal experience, in the white bourgeoisie's fear of the other.

And I have not felt this sort of collective confusion, anxiety, and fear since the days of Vietnam. Things surface for people. The psychological effects of this lockdown are being wildly underestimated (especially in the long term for children). The difference from the Vietnam war is five decades of screen damage and an accelerated transference of wealth to the top 1%.

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Republished from OffGuardian.  OffGuardian was launched in February 2015 and takes its name from the fact its founders had all been censored on and/or banned from the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' sections.

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