Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sympathy for Malik Faisal Akram and Aafia Siddiqui

 It's been just over two weeks since the latest act of Islamic terrorism on US soil and the powers at be in the Fourth Estate already have it all figured out. Hell, it took those brilliant motherfuckers less than two days to sum this tragedy up and they've already long since moved on to some other hysteria and forgotten all about it. But just for kicks, let's go over their notes one more time. 

The basic story goes that Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen and aspiring jihadist, filled with blind Islamic rage and antisemitism, took 4 people hostage at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, including the rabbi, beginning a tense ten-hour stand-off with local and federal law enforcement. During these desperate hours, Akram repeatedly told FBI negotiators that his only demand was the release of a woman named Aafia Siddiqui, a notorious accused terrorist known as Lady Al-Qaeda being held at the nearby Federal Medical Center, Carswell. After 6 hours, Akram released a hostage in good faith. After 10 however, the remaining 3 hostages managed to escape, and an FBI swat team swooped in to execute Mr. Akram. Joe Biden declared the whole sorted affair to be an act of unspeakable terrorism motivated purely by simmering antisemitism. The media concurred and agreed ambiguously that more had to be done to prevent such evil and Bing! Bang! Boom! There you have it. Open and shut case. Black and white. Nothing left to see here folks. Move along and don't forget to visit the gift shop on your way out

But I, being the curious cat that I am, had to stick around awhile and ask a few more questions, and the more questions I asked about this case, the more questions I had, and the more questions I had, the less black and white this whole tragedy became. The biggest question was who is this shadowy Lady Al-Qaeda the news kept mentioning? And why was her freedom so damn important to a supposedly garden-variety jihadi nihilist like Malik Faisal Akram? The few answers that I found are far from pretty.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is or rather was a Pakistani born behavioral scientist who came to the United States to study. A brilliant student, Aafia earned a biology degree from MIT and a PHD in neuroscience from Brandeis. She also married a fellow Pakistani immigrant named Mohammed Khan in a marriage arranged by her parents back home and gave birth to three children. Her colleagues pretty much all described her as a quiet but friendly, devout but far from fundamentalist Muslim. Aafia and her husband ran a small Islamic non-profit organization and she devoted much of her free time to missionary work, handing out Korans to prisoners while running a playgroup for disabled and neurodivergent children. 

When Khan became abusive and controlling of Siddiqui, she divorced his loser ass and continued her studies while taking on the responsibilities of a single mother. She may have been a devout Muslim, but Dr. Siddiqui was anything but traditional. In her own quiet way, she was a trailblazer, living the kind of life many Muslim women in more conservative societies only dream of. Aafia Siddiqui seemed to have a bright future ahead of her. Then 9/11 happened and the American government decided to hijack her life.

Under the Islamophobic reign of Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robet Mueller, both Siddiqui and her estranged husband were put on a wanted for questioning list while the feds openly admitted that they had no evidence that either had any real connections to terrorism. Their suspicions were based largely on the couple's connections to charities on other paranoid FBI watch lists, but once the hysterical post-9/11 tabloids caught wind of a pretty young scientist with all kinds of spooky sounding science degrees they went nuts and constructed a ridiculous narrative straight out of a James Bond film about a femme fatale with a deadly expertise in the latest trend in Islamo-fascism, biochemical weapons. Once the New York Post had labeled her Lady Al-Qaeda and Fox News sank their fangs into the story, the dye was cast, and Dr. Siddiqui was as good as fucked. The fact that the woman studied cognitive neuroscience and was mainly focused on helping disabled children seemed irrelevant. Once the Bush Junta decided you were guilty, they made damn sure you were guilty.

In 2002, Aafia returned home to Pakistan with her children. In 2003, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed allegedly coughed up Siddiqui's name after being waterboarded 183 times. A month later, she and her children went missing in Karachi on their way to the airport. The Bush regime claimed she had gone underground to join Al-Qaeda and put her on their Most Wanted list. Siddiqui's parents now claim that they were visited on the day of Aafia's disappearance by Pervez Musharraf's notoriously corrupt Pakistani Intelligence Agency and told to keep their mouths shut if they ever wanted to see their daughter and grandchildren alive again. It would be five years before Aafia resurfaced.  

What happened during this time remains hotly debated but Dr. Siddiqui insists that after being kidnapped by the ISI she was handed over to the Americans and spent the next five nightmarish years in CIA blacksites across Afghanistan, being brutally raped and tortured. This would hardly be a shocking turn of events considering that this kind of treatment was tragically customary for someone in Siddiqui's precarious predicament and her story has been corroborated by both Pakistani officials as well as former prisoners of America's notorious Bagram Prison who picked her out in a lineup as the infamous Prisoner 650, a young woman who's routine sexual abuse and impoverished screams for mercy shocked even her most hardened fellow prisoners so much that they went on a hunger strike to protest her savage treatment. The American government continues to deny these harrowing stories, but Aafia Siddiqui's name has appeared in two separate footnotes of a largely unreleased Senate Committee report on torture and no other sources have come forward to account for her whereabouts during those five years.

Aafia Siddiqui's reappearance was every bit as bizarre as her disappearance. In 2008, after being AWOL since 2003, Siddiqui showed up with a young boy in tow in the Afghan city of Ghazni, hundreds of miles from her last known location, where she didn't even speak the local languages. Emaciated and disoriented, babbling incoherently and wandering about the streets aimlessly, when Afghan police picked her up, they found the alleged fugitive terrorist mastermind carrying a handbag full of conveniently incriminating evidence- jars of strange chemical concoctions and paperwork boldly labeled with the names of high-profile American targets. 

When the feds came to pick Siddiqui up the next day, we're told with a straight face that a 90-pound grad student transformed into fucking Rambo, grabbed a mysteriously unattended assault rifle and fired it wildly in close quarters at American soldiers and FBI agents without hitting a single person before they put two bullets in her stomach and extradited her to America for this mysterious shooting and this mysterious shooting alone. An Afghan guard would later testify that he never saw the sickly woman touch a gun. She was likely gunned down trying to escape men who dressed a lot like her rapists.

After all those years on FBI's Most Wanted List as Lady Al-Qaeda, Aafia Siddiqui was never even charged with a single solitary terrorist act. In what largely amounted to a show trial, she was found guilty of five counts of attempted murder despite zero physical evidence- no fingerprints, no gunshot residue, no shell casings, not even a goddamn bullet hole, nothing but the contradictory testimony of her alleged victims. Aafia was gagged from even mentioning her imprisonment. She could do nothing but yell hysterically about Zionist conspiracy theories, her madness, induced by years of unspeakable trauma, only further incriminating her. 

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was found guilty and sentenced to 86 years in prison for an offense that would typically carry 20. Pakistan, a nation which had suffered its own trauma under the reign of American toadies like Pervez Musharraf was incensed. Thousands took to the streets. US Attorney General Ramsey Clark called it, "the worst case of individual injustice I have ever witnessed." The rest of America shrugged and went back to work. Siddiqui's youngest son, Sulieman, only 6 months old when she was kidnapped, has never been recovered. He is presumed dead. Over her years in maximum security, Aafia has continued to disintegrate. She has given up on her appeals and ceased most contact with the outside world. She is dead to all but the very few who remember her name. Considering all of this, what I now know about Aafia Siddiqui, I feel compelled to revisit what we think we know about Malik Faisal Akram.

What is a terrorist exactly? By the common dictionary definition of someone who uses violence to exact political gains, every member of Congress should be in Guantanamo Bay right now. What the general racist western zeitgeist views as a terrorist however is a suicidal jihadist looking to exact revenge against the west. I guess Akram technically fits this description, but what exactly makes someone so self-destructive? 

Malik's story in many ways is tragically typical of that of many radicalized Muslims. The son of refugees from a country colonized by the one he was raised in, Akram grew up angry and isolated with a childhood scarred by mental illness and petty crime. Against the odds, he managed to make something of himself by western standards, starting up a successful chain of pharmacies, but after his arranged marriage of twelve years fell apart so did Akram who sought comfort and belonging in a local fundamentalist sect. It's been widely reported that Akram had been off and on British terrorist watch lists for years. What's often not noted is that British intelligence failed to find a single connection between Akram and organized terrorism, and thousands of disaffected Muslim kids find themselves on these lists for no better reason than Aafia Siddiqui did.

And there was nothing particularly typical about Malik Faisal Akram's crime. His intentions were clearly suicidal, but he made zero attempts to take anyone with him. He didn't even fire a shot when his hostages hurled a chair at him and escaped. This wasn't a mass shooting or a suicide bombing but a hostage crisis. A throwback to the era of Carlos the Jackal. Based on their hours of communication with Akram, the FBI controversially concluded that he was focused on a single issue, liberating Aafia Siddiqui, and that this aim was not specifically related to the Jewish community. 

Malik likely picked the Temple because sadly the rights of Jews are the only rights the west seems to be concerned with in the Middle East. My guess is that Malik wanted to die but he wanted to give his death the sense of meaning that his life in the commercial wastelands western civilization lacked. He wanted the world to remember the name of another lost Muslim who's plight he connected with, and he felt that he needed a gun to do this. The most tragic thing about this long tragic story is that he was right. I myself wouldn't have known the first thing about Aafia Siddiqui or Malik Faisal Akram for that matter if it wasn't for this so-called terrorist attack and this says a hell of a lot more about the west than it does about Islam.

Why is empathy so goddamn hard for the modern world to grasp? The left goes on and on about social justice and privilege but what about the justice of Muslims living under the jackboot of the American war machine or their orphans searching aimlessly for some sense of direction in the banal melting pots of western capitalism? What about the privilege experienced by the entire western world which serves as the global 1% to the darker nation's 99? As an anarchist living in the belly of the beast, I can't help but to feel like we need to do more to reach out to these people. We need to reach out to a diverse range of victims of state violence and embrace the fact that anarchy doesn't have to mean abandoning the traditions that other cultures hold dear, but rather it can be a way to celebrate them autonomously without having to enforce them on others the way the west has enforced its shallow values on the Muslim world.

I was a pissed off and angry kid just like Malik. A genderqueer misfit isolated in a rural Christian community that didn't value the traditions of Queer people like me. If there had been some kind of transgender jihadist organization that offered me a sense of belonging and a way to end my painful existence with meaning, I would have fallen for it in an instant. I could have been Malik Faisal Akram and Malik Faisal Akram could have been Aafia Siddiqui. This painful recognition is called solidarity. Let's fucking do something with it and stop this pointless suffering once and for all. 

I am a Queer anarchist, and I wrote this piece to say free Aafia Siddiqui!

Peace, Love, & Solidarity- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

*  Late At Night by Buffalo Tom

*  Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones

*  Pillar of Salt by the Thermals

*  Disarm by the Smashing Pumpkins

*  Only Women Bleed by Alice Cooper

*  This River is Wild by the Killers

*  My Kingdom by Echo & the Bunnymen

*  Jennifer's Body by Hole

*  War by Bob Marley

*  Allah, Mohammed, Char, Yaar by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Party

*  Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones

*  Glosoli by Sigur Ros

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Peace with Horror: How a Psychotic Empire Loses a War

 It has been a cold cold winter for Afghanistan and I'm afraid it's only getting colder. As the temperature drops below freezing and the snow continues to fall, this tiny war-torn nation that has already seen so many different shades of hell faces yet another humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. With their post-occupation economy in shambles, millions of desperate Afghans are facing the terrifying possibility of starving to death if they don't freeze first. According to the World Health Organization, over one million Afghan children may die this winter as a result of malnutrition if drastic steps aren't taken to avert this famine and according to the World Food Program, 23 million people, which accounts for more than half the Afghan population, are facing extreme levels of hunger. Afghans are increasingly finding themselves choosing between food and fuel- freezing or starvation. Many have even been reduced to selling their own daughters into early marriage just to stay alive.

The western media covers this crisis, when they cover it at all, with a strange sense of awe at the plight of the Afghan people and an occasional interlude of tisk-tisking the Taliban government for overseeing it. But any simpleton with more than a year's worth of memory can tell you that this is not a homegrown problem. The Afghans are not starving because of Taliban malfeasance. The Afghans are starving because America and its loyal western flunkies are starving them. I think the Red Cross put it best when they boldly accused the US government of holding millions of people hostage.

 After devastating an already thoroughly devastated nation with twenty years of feckless war, annihilating anything that even remotely resembled an institution in our path and developing a corrupt Afghan plutocracy designed to be almost completely dependent on foreign aid, the US is cutting off Afghanistan like an infected limb, freezing $10 billion dollars of their central bank's own holdings in the US and doubling down on sanctions as we slash nearly all humanitarian aid. All this coming from a nation that supposedly cared so damn much about the plight of Afghan women that we were willing to stay forever to murder their fathers and husbands in the name of imperial feminism. Now Afghanistan's daughters are being starved of more than just knowledge and don't believe for a second that this is some sort of cruel coincidence. The entire population of Afghanistan is being collectively punished for daring to kick our asses in an illegal occupation.

For two decades, the mightiest empire the world has ever seen dumped every bomb in its arsenal into those mountains and we didn't even make a dent in the Pashtun's resolve. America of all places should have seen this coming from a mile away. After all, we used these same wily sheep herding peasants to bleed the Soviet Union dry in the eighties. I don't know what convinced those same mandarins that they would fare any better but imperial optimism springs eternal until its shattered by a people whose culture is defined by not being ruled by anyone or anything but their own traditions. Thus, the Taliban, a ragtag band of illiterate mountain zealots, spent twenty years attempting to teach the New World Order a harsh lesson by beating our pink asses like a goddamn drum. 

$2.3 trillion tax dollars went into murdering a quarter-million people in no-man's-land and those bearded motherfuckers didn't give a fucking inch. You don't have to be an Islamic fundamentalist to respect that kind of tenacity and America realizes this. That's why America has decided that the unrulable people of Afghanistan must suffer. Their children should starve so that an empire too big to fail can teach the world its own cruel lesson. That those who dare to resist our rapacious advances will be slaughtered on the battlefield or off. If this sounds evil, that's because it is. If this sounds crazy, that's because you've apparently never heard of a little patch of hell called Cambodia. Gather around the dying fire, dearest motherfuckers, Snarling Nicky has another story to tell.

The last time America had its ass handed to them like they did last fall in Afghanistan was in another impoverished backwater known collectively as Indochina. Much like Afghanistan, the empire had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at these fucking people. We bombed them to kingdom come, we drowned them in 20 million gallons of toxic chemicals, we built an entire opium empire just to fund secret armies of headhunting warlords, we raped their women and murdered their children and burned their villages to the fucking ground. By the time it was all over, 3 million lay dead, but the Vietcong just kept coming. Five foot three and 120 pounds of the bravest motherfuckers on earth went toe to toe with Godzilla, stared us dead in the eye, and said 'so fucking what'.

By 1966, less than two years after the Gulf of Tonkin, the Vietnam War's brilliant and merciless architect, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was already considering throwing in the towel. By 1968, after the bombastic spectacle of a Vietnam united behind the bloody Tet Offensive, that sharply dressed monster resigned in disgrace and his racist pigfucker of a president, LBJ, followed him out the door. But his successor, Dick Nixon, and his dead-eyed Svengali National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, knew better. Maybe they couldn't win Vietnam in the traditional sense, but they could still sink Indochina into a blackhole called Cambodia. Vietnam's landlocked neighbor had long sought to serve the region as a kind of Buddhist Switzerland under the guidance of the popular Prince Norodom Sihanouk who chose to remain stubbornly neutral throughout America's failed conquest. This wouldn't do. Nixon and Kissinger saw the writing on the wall and sought to turn Cambodia into a blazing counterweight to Vietnam's stability. 

They started by secretly carpet bombing the nation without congressional approval in 1969. Next, they overthrew Prince Sihanouk in a CIA sponsored coup and replaced him with a deeply unpopular military strongman named Lon Nol in 1970. Later that same year we invaded, and the bombing intensified. Between 1969 and 1973, the United States Airforce dropped more than 500,000 tons of explosive ordinances, the equivalent of five Hiroshima's, on tiny helpless Cambodia in the most intensive saturation bombing campaign in human history. Some 600,000 civilians were killed. Two million people out of a population of seven million were rendered homeless and forced to seek shelter in caves just to avoid the devastation. The nation's rice production plunged by 80%. The Cambodian countryside was devastated beyond repair. Their nation had been effectively erased. This was the true beginning of the famed Cambodian Genocide and we started it.

The only people in Cambodia who seemed to benefit from America's savagery were a violent little posse called the Khmer Rouge, a pack of medieval revanchists who posed as Maoists and despised the Vietnamese as much as we did. Using the bombings as a sort of public relations campaign, the Khmer Rouge, led by a roly-poly psychopath who called himself Pol Pot, grew from a meager force of less than 5000 in 1970 to an army of 70,000 by 1975. Most of their rank and file didn't give a shit about communism, they were traumatized rural peasants who sought revenge against their nation's metropolitan class for their perceived collaboration with the American bombers who annihilated their everything. They got their opportunity when the Khmer Rouge took control of Phenom Penh in 1975 just before Vietnam finally achieved reunification. 

Pol Pot wasted little time, declaring it the year zero and completely emptying the cities into the rice fields where somewhere between one and two million people were either shot or worked to death. None of this stopped then Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger from reaching out to the savage regime he helped midwife a mere 7 months after they took power by instructing the neighboring American client state of Thailand to, "tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won't let that stand in our way. We are prepared to improve relations with them." And why not? The new regime saw the recently liberated South Vietnam as their rightful territory and weren't exactly shy about their revanchist intentions. It was a marriage made in hell.

After months of cross border raids and ethnic cleansing that killed an estimated 30,000 ethnic Vietnamese on both sides of the border, the newly unified nation of Vietnam finally invaded Cambodia to end the bloodletting in 1979. God only knows how many more would have died if they hadn't. It took them only two weeks to liberate the country from its tormentors, who fled to the Thai border where they were immediately met with aid from their new American allies in the Carter Administration and Kissinger's old buddies in Beijing. Two months after Supreme Leader Deng Xiaoping made his first historic visit to Washington in 1979, China launched a brutal two-week invasion of a still shellshocked Vietnam, killing another 225,000 people in the process, nearly half of them civilians. 

The Carter Administration joined them in the cruelty by cutting off nearly all international aid to Vietnam and the newly liberated Cambodia. They gave the defeated Khmer Rouge Cambodia's UN seats, blocked all investigations into their genocide, and began funding their terrorist army both overtly and covertly. A practice continued under both Reagan and Bush to the tune of $15 million dollars a year, to a genocidal army that diligently used these funds to fill the nation they once ran into the ground with millions of landmines that continue to maim children and farmers to this day. This tax funded dirty war dragged on for decades, creating hundreds of thousands of refugees. Pol Pot died peacefully in his sleep in 1998 in an American funded refugee camp on the border of Thailand without ever facing trial. Some say he committed suicide. Others say he was poisoned. Either way, he clearly knew too much.

The point of America's savage rape of Cambodia is the same point as that of their current forced starvation of Afghanistan. Regardless of how you may feel about the Vietcong or the Taliban, they got the best of the empire, so the empire had to make an example out of them to send to a world of would-be peasant liberators who might dare to follow in their footsteps. That message is that the cost of humiliating Washington at their own game will be the lives of your children. 

The lesson to fellow plebians who resist imperialism everywhere should be made equally clear. An empire will never be able to suppress the will of an indigenous population committed to their own autonomy, but a single indigenous population will never be able to defeat the empire alone. We must stand together undivided by borders or creed. We must build a united front across ideological lines, from third world socialists to free market anarchists to Islamic quietists, to create two, three... many Afghanistans until we can bring this cruel empire to its knees beneath the weight of a thousand insurgencies and return the world back to the self-determination of local indigenous rule.

It is my heart's desire to see this post-imperial order take on a completely stateless and voluntary structure. But if an Old Right isolationist like Murray Rothbard can break bread with the dope smoking Bolsheviks of the Students for a Democratic Society in his fight against the American war machine than surely a genderfuck panarchist like me can find solidarity among starving Pashtun goat herders who subsisted without a state for a thousand years before Rothbard could even make a fist to throw.

After all, anti-imperial optimism springs eternal among those who dare to look the empire dead in the eye and say, 'so fucking what' and you can't starve the desire to live free or die swinging.

Peace, Love, & Solidarity- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

*  Suffer Little Children by the Smiths

*  Holiday in Cambodia by Dead Kennedys

*  Bulldog Front by Fugazi

*  My Name Is Jonas by Weezer

*  Sabotage by Beastie Boys

*  The Mess Inside by the Mountain Goats

*  Rise Above by Black Flag

*  Something Beautiful by Sinead O'Connor

*  If I Ever Leave This World Alive by Flogging Molly

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Take This Job and Shove It!: The Growing Revolt Against Work

 "Experience demonstrates that there may be a slavery of wages only a little less galling and crushing in its effects than chattel slavery, and that this slavery of wages must go down with the other"

-Frederick Douglass

"A worker is a part time slave"

-Bob Black

There is something very strange going on with the US economy, dearest motherfuckers, and you don't have to look at the Dow Jones to see it. All you have to do is take a stroll down main street. Everywhere you look on every storefront and shop window from your local Wendy's to the bank, there are signs screaming 'Help Wanted!', 'Parttime and Fulltime Positions!', 'Jobs Available!', 'Seriously Dude, Fucking Work Here!' Business' of nearly every variety are practically begging for employees but there are no employees to be found. The bean counters in the Federal Government have taken notice too. The latest job reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal the sheer Grand Canyon magnitude of this thing in flashing red numbers. Over 20 million Americans have quit their jobs in the second half of 2021, a record 4.5 million in November alone, that's fucking holiday season! This is literally unlike anything we've ever seen before and there's no signs of it slowing down in the foreseeable future. Some clever motherfucker has coined this dumbfounding phenomena the Great Resignation. We have an economy drowning in job offerings, but no one wants to work, and all the experts seem besides themselves explaining why.

Far be it for me to call myself an expert. I don't have any Ivy League degrees hanging over the credenza or a position at some smarmy Randian think tank, but I am one of these unemployed people these experts seem to be so mystified by and I do have a theory that might shine some light on their conundrum. Are you ready? Listen very carefully so as not to miss the subtle nuances of my argument. Work fucking blows! It sucks and plebian scum like me don't wanna live like that anymore and why the fuck would we? It's not natural and it's not fucking healthy, spending 80% of your life stewing in traffic jams, slaving behind deep fryers, and punching numbers into computers. We're not descended from ants. People are monkeys. God designed us to eat, fuck, fight, shit, repeat, and we're done with civilization's fucking capitalist zoo.

We've all been duped into accepting wage slavery as the natural order of existence but even a cursory glance at history tells us that this is total bullshit. The modern concept of work as we know is only a few centuries old. It's a byproduct of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation and it wasn't designed for productivity; it was designed as a means of social control. Those assholes taught us that working ourselves to death would bring us closer to God so they could keep us from jacking off. When the bank took the church's place during the Industrial Revolution, the bourgeoisie simply replaced God with a dollar bill and used the death cult of the Protestant Work Ethic to squeeze every last drop of man hours out of the proletariat like a dirty dish rag. They work us so goddamn hard that we don't even have enough free time to revolt, let alone masturbate, and that's not just a happy coincidence.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Human beings spent 90% of our history in hunter-gatherer societies and we were a hell of a lot happier as savages. We spent no more than 3 to 5 hours a day hunting, foraging, fishing, and preparing food and spent the rest of our time fucking off, smoking dope, and inventing wheels. The great anthropologist Marshall Sahlins called it the original affluent society and it existed for thousands of years without managers, bathroom breaks, Muzak, and office Christmas parties. In the centuries since most of mankind abandoned nature, we've developed such smashing advances in modern technology as prisons, genocide, factories, compulsory schooling, nuclear bombs, shrinking icecaps, and islands of garbage the size of continents. This lifestyle choice known as work is an anomaly, an offramp to human devolution like monotheism, Celine Dion, and the gender binary. If the gods wanted us to live this way, we wouldn't be choking to death on our own exhaust fumes. Climate change is a warning and so was Covid.

Whether it was the fruit of gain of function or just too many condos too close to the bat caves, the Pandemic served as a violent alarm clock to many hardworking Americans. In a matter of months 25 million people either lost their jobs or had their hours drastically cut. People also lost their homes, their cars, and their healthcare insurance. In the blink of an eye, all the lies of our statist consumer culture had been stripped naked and people didn't like what they saw. It turns out that our advanced western society offered no real security when the shit got real, and Americans started to seriously rethink this whole work thing. 

The Antiwork Movement isn't exactly new. It's as old as Proudhon and Marx. Anarchists and socialists like William Morris, Paul Lafargue, Ivan Illich, Bob Black, and David Graeber have been telling any working stiff who'll listen for generations that we've been hoodwinked, but it took the Pandemic to make a modest movement into a monster. Since the lockdowns a once humble antiwork page on Reddit has rapidly ballooned into one of the sites fastest growing subreddits with over 1.4 million members and growing. They call themselves Idlers and they've made their voices heard well beyond the echo chambers of social media by organizing Black Friday boycotts and by shutting down Kellog's job portal with a deluge of spam in solidarity with striking factory workers. 

It's a big fucking movement and like any big fucking movement there is a diverse array of opinions and not everyone is on the same page. Speaking as a post-left panarchist, I'm a strong believer in creating an endless variety of stateless options provided that they're all 100% voluntary. I see no reason why primitivists and hunter-gatherers can't coexist with small autonomous syndicalist factories and family farms as long as we all agree to hang the boss man by his tie. Hierarchy needs to be recognized for the modern social pollution that it is but there are all kinds of funky dance moves that can be used to stomp out that fire before it engulfs us all. I'm inspired by these cyber idlers getting together and sharing information on everything from how to get paid while slacking off to eking out a sustainable living making soap. I believe that this is a movement that plausibly has more potential than Occupy because it calls on its members to take back their own God given autonomy and totally rethink the way we organize society. But for disabled people like me this has never really been a choice to begin with.

I don't work, dearest motherfuckers, because I can't work. I was born with more mental illnesses than I can count, and I've only collected more over the years. They have all kinds of fancy intellectual labels, dysthymia, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, gender dysphoria, OCD, PTSD, ADD, but they all essentially add up to one thing. Like many other Americans I am simply pathologically unemployable. I couldn't make it in the straight world if I wanted too and Kali knows I've tried. Just the idea of a 9-to-5 existence, with its fast-paced monotony, erratic hours, swollen crowds of irate customers, and role-crazy teenage despots, gives me a nervous breakdown. It has forced me to do the unthinkable as an anarchist and go on government disability just to make ends meet, and I used to kick my own ass for being this way but the more I think about it the more I've come to realize that I'm not the one with the fucking problem.

The definition of mental illness and disability is essentially suffering from an inability to conform to the confines of mainstream society but considering how corrupt and downright evil this pandemic has proven mainstream society to be, I believe people like me aren't so much crippled as we are allergic to the social toxins of a malignant civilization and just like the ranks of the Antiwork Movement, our numbers are growing. I refuse to accept that it's merely a coincidence that more Americans than ever are emotionally unstable and neurodivergent in times like these. We are the human equivalent of climate change. We have evolved into something incompatible with the evils of perpetual growth. 

I'm done beating myself up for being a freak. Just like my decidedly unconventional gender identity, I'm proud of being biologically driven to break with modern society. But I'm also done with welfare. It's a form of social control just like employment and I'm committed to escaping its cage as soon as I can pick the lock. This is why I oppose Universal Basic Income, an idea very popular with many in the antiwork community. Programs like these do nothing to upend the power imbalance of the workplace. They merely replace the boss man with a bureaucrat and offer you a steady trickle of income as long as you obey the state that doles it out. 

They're essentially paying us not to revolt while they rape the planet blind with their toxic sludge belching genocidal war machine. I refuse to be complicit. The Antiwork Movement has inspired me to plot my escape. Instead of working or preparing myself mentally to assimilate into the work force, I'm devoting my time to strengthening my people in my local Queer and disabled communities. I'm preparing to learn how to shoot, make scented candles from scratch, freelance as a dominatrix, and get certified to give blood tests at local shelters. All while I finish writing the great Queer American novel and every day, I come a little closer to chewing through the leash.  

But this thing is bigger than me. It's bigger than any of us individually. The Antiwork Movement has the awesome capability of being nothing short of revolutionary. If we can get enough people to drop out of mainstream society and go off the economic grid, we can slay this beast called empire. By building a new economy based totally on freelance subsistence labor and voluntary grey market exchanges we can simultaneously starve both the Federal Government of our tax revenue and their friends in the Fortune 500 of our wage slave labor, killing the incestuous tag-team of big business and big government with one stone without so much as firing a single bullet. We can destroy the old system by merely rendering it obsolete with a new one. And it all starts with a pink slip that reads 'take this job and shove it.'

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

*  Take This Job and Shove It by Johnny Paycheck

*  In the Garage by Weezer

*  Clocked In by Black Flag

*  In a Big City by Titus Andronicus

*  Baba O'riley by the Who

*  Credit In the Straight World by Hole

*  Working Class Hero by John Lennon

*  Take This Job and Shove It by Dead Kennedy's

*  Career Opportunities by the Clash

*  I Found a Reason by the Velvet Underground

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Liz Cheney and the Many Lives of Neoconservatism

 Something truly terrifying is happening at the Capitol this January. Something deeply deadly to what passes for democracy in this stagnant empire. Something far more severe than the QAnon Shamen and Proudboy lunkheads who garnered so much media hysteria last January by lumbering aimlessly through the halls of power barking "Nancy!" like Jack Torrence at the end of The Shining. But somehow, I seem to be the only one who can smell the blood that's currently pouring from elevator doors. Don't you see it, dearest motherfuckers? The name Cheney has become presidential again. Something we swore on a stack of four thousand dead GIs that we would never let happen again. That name has haunted the boardrooms and Oval Offices of power for decades, starting fires in faraway places just to justify putting them out with napalm and whispering perverted crap about mythic missile gaps in the ears of demented TV cowboys. We promised we would never let this happen again, that we would never let those baby-eating jackals come within a quarter mile of the White House without sounding a rape whistle.

But a couple months into serving as Vice Chairwoman of the House Committee Investigating January 6, and the Democrats are swooning over Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of the devil himself. They just can't seem to get over how goddamn brave she is by taking on her own party like that. In their twisted imagination, warped by years of Trump induced hysteria, they've made this child of the war industry into some kind of David against a fascist GOP Goliath and in the process invited the Pazuzu of neoconservatism back into the chambers of power with arms wide open.

Let's get a few things straight here right off the bat. Liz Cheney does not give one solitary fuck about January 6. If you can even call that bombastic clusterfuck a coup de tat, it pales in comparison to the ones her father threw to successfully gain access to the White House back in 2000 and 2004, when the Bush junta really did rig the elections with next to zero resistance from the Democrats whose voters they screwed. The Cheney's have been undermining democracy going back to the goddamn Mayflower, it's practically the family business. Liz Cheney isn't taking on the GOP as some kind principled crusade for justice. It's a lateral move that she's been plotting well before January 6 to put her wing of the party back in power. 

In spite of endorsing the motherfucker twice, Cheney has been working overtime to separate herself from the increasingly toxic Trump brand during his last year in power. To the bitter chagrin of MAGA loyalists she has publicly defended Trump's arch nemesis, Dr. Fauci, and sponsored bills to undermine his popular proclaimed intentions to reduce troop numbers in Afghanistan and Germany. Like most political insiders, Liz had gambled on the commonly held prediction that the 2020 elections would spell out the death of Trump. It turns out they were only half right. The Donald got shellacked in the presidential race, but he still drew out millions of new voters and picked up seats in the house.

Liz Cheney's stand against Trump's resurgent cult of personality in the GOP was her only option left to boost her public image after it became painfully clear that the climate wasn't ripe for a neocon minority speaker and even though she's been all but excommunicated by her own party, she has still managed to make herself a household name and raise millions in contributions with the full endorsement of GOP gatekeepers like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. With frequent trips to New Hampshire and the excited chirping of the legacy media, I have little doubt that Liz Cheney's real goal with the January 6 Committee has more to do with the 2024 Presidential Election than law and order. 

Oh, she's sharp enough to realize that she doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of actually winning but she can make enough noise to secure a VP bid with a more conventional GOP darling like Ron DeSantis or even a conciliatory reaching-across-the-aisle cabinet position with a Democratic nominee like Kamala Harris. You see, it isn't about the GOP for Liz Cheney. It isn't even about personal power. Liz Cheney is a true believer and what she believes in is the war cult known as neoconservatism, a millenarian political religion that has its roots in the Democratic Party and seems to be more than willing to return to those roots in the name of American exceptionalism. And the DNC, for their part, isn't exactly putting up a fight.

The neoconservative movement was born in the 1970s, founded by a weird collage of rabidly anti-Soviet Wilsonian liberals and hawkish social democrats who had become disillusioned by the Democratic Party's flirtations with the anti-imperialist New Left and dovish populists like George McGovern. Many were strongly influenced by the ideas of a strange Trotskyite turned Russophobic anti-communist named Max Shachtman who ditched dialectical materialism but continued to advocate Trotsky's strategy of entryism in which a minority of ideological zealots can gain power through the infiltration of a much larger organization. 

After neocon founding fathers like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, Doug Feith and Elliot Abrams made a quixotic last stand with the doomed campaigns of Shachtman's ally, Scoop Jackson, the trigger-happy Democratic senator from Boeing, they quickly made themselves busy scuttling up the drainpipes of the administrations of Rockefeller Republicans like Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagen, where they joined forces with likeminded chickenhawks like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who helped them push lies about Soviet military superiority in order to create a colossal arms buildup and advocated for a foreign policy built on alliances with bloodthirsty anti-communist dictators. With all their anti-Soviet hysteria, you would think that the collapse of the Kremlin would have crippled the neoconservative movement, but if anything, it only galvanized their hysteria. 

The neocons seemed to find a kindred spirit in Vice President and former CIA chief, George HW Bush, who made Dick Cheney his Secretary of State and Paul Wolfowitz his Under Secretary of Defense for Policy once he took the helm from a rapidly deteriorating Ronald Reagan. It was Wolfowitz who would solidify the post-Soviet neocon dogma with a doctrine largely embraced by HW in the run-up to the first Gulf War. The Wolfowitz Doctrine, in no uncertain terms, called for the open embrace of global American imperialism. After the fall of the only other nation capable of checking American primacy on the world stage, it was preached that America must do everything in its power to establish a new world order in which there could only be room for one superpower. 

America would achieve this goal by containing the new Russian Federation with the expansion of NATO and dominating the world's energy resources in the Middle East. Bush Sr. loved it and went about committing the first brutal neocon regime change campaigns against former Cold War allies in Panama and Iraq. But the neocons largely turned on the spindly old spook after he refused to finish the job in Baghdad and occupy Iraq indefinitely. Bush Sr. had failed to give his neocon acolytes their blessed forever war, but his drunken born-again son would more than make up for this mortal sin by giving them two along with unfettered access to the White House.

The neocons led a hostile takeover of American Conservatism in the late nineties with a little help from a billionaire Australian fellow traveler named Rupert Murdoch who published Bill Kristol's influential Weekly Standard and launched the Fox News Channel with rape-y Nixonian puppet master Roger Ailes. The neocons finally stepped out of the shadows with the Bush regime and after conveniently failing to prevent the terrorist attacks on 9/11, exploited this international tragedy to hijack the Persian Gulf and Central Asia in one fair swoop with their so-called War on Terror. But they bit off more than they could chew and overestimated the public's appetite for total war on a global scale. After the flaming shithole they stomped into the Muslim world failed to become a sparkling fonte of western-style democracy, the neocon brand fell from grace and its cultists returned to the shadows from which they sprang. 

That doesn't mean these fiendish war junkies went away. Not by a longshot. Neocon creeps continued to play major roles in the war machine under Obama, namely with Victoria Nuland's neo-fascist coup in Ukraine, and even held prominent positions in the White House of Donald Trump, who largely rose to power trashing the abject failures of neocon foreign policy and punking out their chosen wunderkinds like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the 2016 election. The reality that most mainstream political observers fail to grasp is that Trump never really posed a real threat to neocon foreign policy in and of itself. With the Donald, it was always more of an image problem.

In spite of all his America First bullshit, Trump largely embraced the Wolfowitz way with his unilateral persecutions of Iran and Venezuela. Where Trump failed was in his inability to sell the benevolence of American predation on the world stage. In many ways he inadvertently exposed the empire that people like the Cheney's worked very hard to give a veneer of invincibility for what it really was by flagrantly using it to shakedown allies and enemies alike to fill his own pockets, and this is precisely what neocons saw on January 6, an immature imperialist willing to tarnish the empire's pristine image for a totally self-serving hissy fit. Well, that and another opportunity for reincarnation.

There is a lot of talk in the mainstream press these days about the existential threat that Donald Trump poses to democracy and the subsequent rise of white supremacy. But what's more dangerous, a bunch of knuckle dragging racist thugs who loudly announce their presence with pointed hoods and jackboots? Or a sly clique of bipartisan serpents who can spread this same tradition of colonialist white power to all four corners of the globe with the woke Fourth Estate nestled neatly in their pocket? Make no mistake, dearest motherfuckers, neoconservatism is a vehicle for the same kind of totalitarianism that empowered Trump in the first place, only it's a vehicle that doesn't announce its presence with truck nuts and a Confederate flag in the rear window. With shapeshifting creatures like Liz Cheney back behind that wheel and a compliant press behind Liz Cheney, a lot more than American democracy is at risk. This is the insurrection that should really be keeping us up at night.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: songs that influenced this post

*  Champions of Red Wine by the New Pornographers

*  Life On Mars by David Bowie

*  The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson

*  Up the Wolves by the Mountain Goats

*  White Riot by the Clash

*  War Pigs by Black Sabbath

*  Chase the Devil by Max Romeo & the Upsetters

*  Funny Girl by Father John Misty

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Empire That Cried Genocide: Washington's Exploitation of Ethnic Brutality from Rwanda to Xinjiang

 The American Empire is crying genocide again. It's an old song that the war class loves to sing, but one that never fails to get their compliant colleagues in the mass media dancing. No matter how woke these presstitutes pretend to be they always jump at the opportunity to virtue signal over the flag of some poorer nation of color and wax philosophic about the cultural superiority of western democracy as if they've never smelled a dead Indian. It's the kind of absurdly hypocritical prestige racism that only sells with perfect government-corporate synergy. This time the tragedies being sung about are that of the Muslim Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region of China and the Tigrayan minority of northern Ethiopia, and let there be no mistake, fucked up shit is certainly happening in these corners of the world even if America is shamelessly capitalizing on it. 

In Xinjiang the Chinese are rounding up Uyghurs in large numbers and sending them to what the Communist Party claims are vocational camps designed to improve employability of the local Muslim population and eliminate the root causes of local Islamic extremism. If you buy that then I have a pottery school to sell you in Treblinka. There are all manner of horror stories surfacing from the region. Stories of demolished mosques, re-education camps, and forced sterilization, and the White House is naturally jumping at the opportunity to use this for ammunition in their new Cold War with China, pulling out all the stops with a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics and fresh new rounds of economic sanctions.

America is assuming a similar posture towards the government of Ethiopia which is currently engaged in a bloody civil war with the self-styled Tigray People's Liberation Front. The government of Abiy Ahmed has ordered an invasion of their northern Tigray Province and declared a nationwide state of emergency complete with imposed curfews and a total media blackout. Once again, the western press is buzzing like a chorus of power tools with horror stories about house-to-house raids, mass rape, and mass graves, and the US has responded by ending Ethiopia's coveted special trade status and publicly threatening the already impoverished African nation with official declarations of genocide and all the usual sweeping economic sanctions and possible military interventions that come with it.

The only problem here is that neither one of these stories are nearly as black and white as the official government-corporate narrative and both are marred by deep seated conflicts of interest on the part of the would-be saviors in Wahington's imperial bubble. While there are certainly concentration camps in Xinjiang there is also a long raging war on terror in the region, one that America once openly supported during the Bush regime by designating the local Al-Qaeda affiliates in the East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorists and excepting its combatants into our own exclusive concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay. These rugged separatists have only recently been removed from this list and reborn as freedom fighters since the Xinjiang region has become an essential highway in China's attempts to expand their economic footprint across Central Asia and into Europe with their ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. This is when the horror stories began to proliferate and while there are some very credible accounts surfacing from individuals in the region, most of the of the stories of widespread abuse seem to originate from the same handful of highly suspect sources.

The most visceral share of what the American press reports about China's Uyghur Genocide comes from a German academic and noted anti-communist zealot with connections to sketchy right-wing thinktanks named Adrian Zenz, a veteran propagandist at the State Department's Radio Free Asia named Gulchehra Hoja, and an Australian thinktank funded by the Pentagon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin called the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. And all three of these sterling sources alleged on-the-ground horror stories are furnished by the same circle of Turkic nationalist groups like the World Uyghur Congress and the American Uyghur Association who are in turn heavily funded by the State Department's National Endowment for Democracy. Long story short, the American Empire's favorite sources of proof that China is committing genocide against its own people come from the American Empire itself. 

We face a similar wall of plausible deception in Tigray where our only real source on the ground is the Tigray People's Liberation Front themselves, an organization made up of the former members of an American backed junta that brutally reigned over Ethiopia from 1991 until the rise of Addis Ababa's current government under fire in 2018. It was the TPLF who launched this civil war in the first place a year ago in an attempt to regain power and while they have made wild claims of genocide against their targets since, there remains at least as much proof that they have been engaging in their own widespread campaigns of ethnic cleansing in regions like Afar and Amhara which they invaded after rejecting an Ethiopian brokered ceasefire. 

The UN, who has taken a major role in spreading the Tigrayan Genocide narrative is still lousy with former members of the TPLF junta themselves, like the current Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who had previously served as the TPLF regime's Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and they have taken the unprecedented move of sidelining local Ethiopian UN reps in favor of instructing emergency coordinators to report directly to UN headquarters. It should also be noted that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had been on good terms with the US until his recent decision to approve a Chinese funded railway between Addis Ababa and Djibouti as part of the aforementioned Belt and Road Initiative. 

All of these geopolitical mind games conform perfectly with the American Empire's long-standing manipulation of accusations of genocide to justify its own imperial conquests. Nobody was buying America-the-avenger-of-democracy after we lost the communist boogeyman at the end of the Cold War, so we needed to develop a new benevolent mask of sanity to sell global war behind. The Clinton's hit gold with the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the savage slaughter of nearly 1 million helpless Tutsis by Hutu monsters over just 3 months, all of which could have been easily prevented if America had simply been free to meddle. But America had been meddling for years. Rwanda wasn't so much a one-sided genocide as it was a genocidal civil war that was started not in 1994 but in 1990 by a US trained army of Tutsi refugees lead by one Paul Kagame, a Fort Leavenworth trained monster who had served as Uganda's bloodthirsty Director of Intelligence throughout the 80's. 

The self-styled Rwandan Patriotic Front invaded Rwanda from their base in American backed Uganda and spent the next 42 grueling months wreaking havoc against the nation's Hutu population, raping and slaughtering thousands. The Hutus only joined the bloodbath in mass after Kagame had a plane carrying Rwandan Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana shot down from the sky, creating a power vacuum and unleashing a torrent of vengeful Hutu militias to fill it with the blood of even more innocents. Even then, Kagame's heroic RPF killed at least as many Hutus with both sides claiming hundreds of thousands of victims, all the while, Slick Willy Clinton suppressed his side of the atrocities and held off UN intervention until Kagame's grip on power was iron tight. From his seat of power as Rwanda's new strongman and the western media's new darling, Paul Kagame has expanded his US backed slaughter into the nearby Congo, killing millions more and securing a US stranglehold on the natural resources of a region heavily contested by Chinese influence. 

This tragedy formed the template for America's weaponization of the accusation of genocide on the world stage for decades to come. Anytime America wanted to declare another seemingly pointless war on another seemingly defenseless third world nation, our officials would merely utter the word Rwanda and pontificate about our god given responsibility to protect. Anyone who even questioned this cracked logic could easily be tainted as a genocide denier and tossed upon the same heap as racist morons like David Duke. In many of these cases, America and its sorted allies actively provoked ethnic slaughter with acts of under-publicized mass murder of their very own, such as the infamous Srebrenica Massacre in Bosnia where Serbian militias killed some 8 thousand Bosnian males of fighting age. The part of this tragic story often omitted by western sources however is that the bloodbath only began after local Bosnian forces had slaughtered thousands of Serbs in nearby villages before conveniently abandoning the city of Srebrenica to be ransacked in revenge in order to justify an American bombing campaign that guaranteed a Bosnian victory. 

In other cases, America simply made the genocide up like we did in nearby Kosovo in 1999, where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were supposedly being slaughtered by the ever-villainous Serbs. It was only revealed by thorough international investigations after the brutal NATO bombing that the death toll had actually been closer to two thousand and many of them had been killed by our terrorist allies in the Al-Qaeda linked Kosovo Liberation Army who subsequently engaged in the ethnic cleansing of almost a quarter million Serbs, Roma, and Jews once Washington had them installed in power as a dope slinging bullwork to Russian influence in the region.

The sickest thing about the American Empire's history of crying genocide is that it turns humanities most despicable act into just another political football and Washington isn't the only one who can kick it. There may very well be genocides raging in Xinjiang and Tigray, but as long as America is the one pointing the finger, the other side will always possess plausible deniability against such a lecherous liar. That's because America doesn't give a fuck about the Uyghurs or the Tigrayans or anyone else but themselves for that matter. There are dozens of campaigns of ethnic violence raging across the globe as we speak, from the jungles of Colombia to the mangrove swamps of Myanmar. America only chose to get self-righteous over Ethiopia and Xinjiang because they are both essential pieces of China's Belt and Road initiative, a massive multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure project aimed at integrating the economies of Europe and Asia in a way that could further advance a new multi-polar Eurasian Century that poses an existential threat to American primacy. 

Accusations of genocide should always be taken seriously, but when the primary source is a trigger-happy superpower that has literally turned both genocide and genocide accusation into a veritable industrial complex, it should also be taken with a hefty grain of salt, especially when another world war is the prescribed cure for the violence.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs That Influenced This Post

*  The Words That Maketh Murder by PJ Harvey

*  Sympathy For the Devil by the Rolling Stones

*  Panic by the Smiths

*  The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie

*  Radio Free Europe by REM

*  Hardline by Julien Baker

*  Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones

*  Man Size by PJ Harvey

*  The Future by Leonard Cohen

*  Baby's On Fire by Brian Eno