Sunday, November 19, 2023

Another World Part Uno

It's actually the case that I doubt that I possess the unique ability to successfully navigate all the big questions that I deal with.  That while other people fall off the tightrope to the left or the right, I myself have managed to stay on the straight and narrow path of truth as the facts show it.  Just because Jimmy Dore and Glenn Greenwald were right about "Russiagate" it doesn't mean that I'll follow them to COVID-denialism like Dore or to seriously downplay the fascist tendencies of Trump and his followers as Greenwald does.

Just because a website presents a more accurate depiction of the Russia vs. Ukraine War doesn't mean that I fall into their incoherent Putin worship (praising his "de-nazification" aims while maintaining that this whole war has been cooked-up by the Jews).  Just because a blogger presents a compelling, fact-based feminist analysis, it doesn't have to mean that I must follow her into her racist Islamophobia and support for Israel's genocidal actions in Gaza.

You get the picture.  On and on I go on the lonely path of wherever the truth takes me.  Others succumbed to their particular delusions.  But not me.  As I said here, there are reasons why I subscribe to some beliefs while rejecting others.  But I'll state right here that I doubt myself and I agonize about where I might actually be wrong about some important subjects.

It's just not the case that all the people who believe what I regard as abusrdities are absolute "morons."  Some of them are, no question.  But not all of them. Some people are clearly intelligent.  More than this, they are not intellectual hacks, arguing a position they know to be ridiculous because someone is paying them to.  They're intelligent but they honestly believe what I think is nonsense.  How does this happen?  Is it the result of living in an eco-system, an ideological bubble, that denies entry to alternative points of view and inconvenient facts?  Or am I the one who is wrong?  Is my inability to process their thinking a result of my own blindspots and prejudices?

Here's an analysis of an accounting of the decline of the political-economy of the United States of America that I think is absolute garbage.  The person who wrote it (Bob Bishop) is articulate and they have put a lot of thought into this worldview, but I think it has all been wasted.  Their beliefs are so contrary to reality that I have to wonder if we inhabit the same world.  How do people become so far apart about even what the basic facts are?

Liquid circling the drain is slow initially, but the vortex accelerates as it approaches the drain—a metaphor for the rapid deterioration of American society. The cause for the descent? Ideological subversion. The symptoms are American institutions hollowed out, brainwashing, and demoralization.

So, the USA's decline is being deliberately caused by (as yet) unstated actors for similarly unstated reasons.  They are attacking the quality of thinking of US-Americans ("ideological subversion") so that they lack the intellectual self-defense tools necessary to resist these subversives and their obviously nefarious goals.  It appears that the subversives want to make US-Americans doubt the integrity of their institutions.  They want to use thought-control techniques of propaganda and censorship to brainwash US-American to make them believe in incoherent  ideas that support the aims of the subversives.  And they want to sap their moral strength.  "Demoralization" can mean both undermining an enemy's psychological and physical ability to fight for what they believe in, as well as to dissipate their rectitude by encouraging selfish, degenerate behaviour which isolates people, physically weakens them (addictions, sloth, STD's) and makes them dependent upon the providers of their lusts and addictions, their dopamine hits.

Personally, I believe that many of the institutions of our societies DID have internal weaknesses.  I'm not an anarcho-primitivist.  I think the universe is an amoral place.  Or, at least, its moral purpose is hidden from us.  We are animals.  There's us, there's plants and fungii.  (Maybe there's something else, bacteria maybe, but you get the picture.)  Do some elephants and chimpanzees suddenly drop dead from old age without a great deal of suffering?  The way some old people say they're going to take a nap and then peacefully die in their sleep?  Perhaps.  But most animals die hideous deaths from disease, starvation or getting eaten alive.

Hunter-gatherers often lived violent lives.  Raiding each other's territory to obtain the necessities of survival in environments with very narrow margins for existence.  Oftentimes, these raiding parties would deliberately murder the other tribe's males and abduct the females for reproductive purposes.

I was thinking the other day that the matriarchal nature of hunter-gatherer societies wasn't necessarily prehistoric feminism.  Women often stayed behind in the camp or wherever to stay with the children who could not keep up with a hunt or be useful during warfare.  The fact that men's lives were often cut-short by warfare or what-not meant that father's were inherently less reliable than mothers in their children's lives.

All of this is just a needlessly verbose way of getting myself to say that my criticisms of the societies of "civilization" based upon property and technology and which involved the creation of social hierarchies is not a call for us to return to the state of nature.  

It's just that there's no question (in my mind anyway) that the societies created by social hierarchies based on the enslavement of humans by other humans; the invention of "castes" based on imaginary physical, mental and spiritual qualities; and the social-legal-political defenses of these artificial gradients of human society (re: "institutions") were flawed from the get-go.  When Marxists, or other leftists, state that the US Constitution was a document created by slave-holding oligarchs and a wealthy mercantile or otherwise propertied elite, and it was designed to preserve those inequalities, they are stating an inarguable FACT.  And as racist speed-talker Ben Shapiro reminds us: "Facts don't care about your feelings."

In the case of US-American scholars, they believe that their Revolution was a necessary revolution against British monarchical oppression.  At the time, British elites thought that "democracy" was a dangerous, subversive belief.  It was the road to ruin.  The British "Balanced Constitution" had achieved the secret for social-political stability by balancing the representation of the ignorant commoners, the disinterested, wise views of the aristocratic oligarchy, and the broad, divinely-guided vision of the Crown, for the nation as a whole.  Everybody's rights were clear.  Everybody's powers to oppress were limited.  The British had cracked the code of a successful, lasting society.  And these colonial riff-raff were endangering it all.  The common people were incapable of governing themselves and if they won then the Thirteen Colonies would soon fall into anarchy and tyranny as predicted by Plato.

Which is all to say that British conservatives believed that the Revolutionaries were dangerous subversives, attacking venerable institutions, and they ought to be resisted.  Is it impossible for the conservative writer that I'm engaging with here might be wrong about the sanctity of US-American institutions?  Cannibalism and slavery themselves might have been considered venerable institutions at one time.  I'm sure that my ideological foil in this blog-post would agree with me that they were flawed.

As a leftist-libertarian, I believe that any social order based on a state of affairs where, through accident of birth, some people had nothing and therefore little or no power, while others had massive wealth and privileges and power, is a social order that requires criticism and investigation and (at least) reform.

This holds for all religious or other moral beliefs.  We don't sacrifice captured warriors to sun-gods.  Some people believe in the God of the Israelites, while going to war over differences of opinion on what this God wants and how He tells us what he wants.  Meanwhile, other people (like the Hindus) believe in a pantheon of Gods.  and the Buddhists believe in a different way of life.  Some people incoherently believe that these differences are just many ways of achieving the same thing, which is reverance for the Creator and the Universe created.  Other people believe that followers of different religions are blasphemers and infidels who need to be put to the sword.  Others believe that it is important to get along with other people even if they're eventuall going to hell.

My point is that no set of beliefs or institutions should be considered as above reproach.

The writer continues:

In 1984, Yuri Bezmenov, an ex-KGB defector, revealed the Soviet Union’s plan for gradual ideological subversion of the United States political system and society.  The KGB’s psychological warfare method had four stages: demoralization, destabilization, crisis, and normalization.

Even though the USSR collapsed, the ‘war for the minds’ methodology was adopted by America’s far-left intellectuals decades ago. Their Jacobin spawn, hell-bent on ruinous culture war, now controls the media, universities, Department of Justice, and intelligence communities. They are close to fulfilling their psychopathic goal of implementing a Marxist nirvana through mass disorder and degrading American institutions. 

Yuri Bezmenov was a pretty interesting character.  I'm going to interrupt this (already long) discussion of Mister Bishop's thoughts to talk about what I've just found out from the Wikipedia page about Yuri Bezmenov:

Bezmenov was born in 1939 in Mytishchi, near Moscow, to Russian parents. His father was a high ranking Soviet Army officer, later put in charge of inspecting Soviet troops in foreign countries, such as Mongolia and Cuba.[3] Bezmenov's father died in the 1970s. When Bezmenov was seventeen, he entered the Institute of Oriental Languages, a part of the Moscow State University which was under the direct control of the KGB and the Communist Party Central Committee. In addition to languages, he studied history, literature, and music, and became an expert on Indian culture. During his second year, Bezmenov sought to look like a person from India; his teachers encouraged this because graduates of the school were employed as diplomats, foreign journalists, or spies.[3]


Interesting.  Dude went to a Soviet version of an "elite university" like Harvard or Oxford and it had ties to the national intelligence agency and the ruling party.  And he studied languages and was recruited by said intelligence agency to act as a spy in one of their foreign embassys!  I wonder if a young man going to Harvard University studying foreign languages today would have professors from the US State Department of Central Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency teaching him?  And I wonder if any of those professors would approach him directly or tell people they know who are still working for one of those groups about him, and he would be recruited into the foreign service to work as a spy for his country?

After graduating in 1963, Bezmenov spent two years in India working as a translator and public relations officer with the Soviet economic aid group Soviet Refineries Constructions, which built refinery complexes.

In 1965, Bezmenov was recalled to Moscow and began to work for Novosti Press Agency as an apprentice for their classified department of "Political Publications" (GRPP). He discovered that about three quarters of Novosti's staff were actually KGB officers, with the remainder being "co-opted" or KGB freelance writers and informers like himself.[4] However, Bezmenov did not do real freelance writing. Instead, Bezmenov edited and planted propaganda materials in foreign media and accompanied delegations of Novosti's guests from foreign countries on tours of the Soviet Union or to international conferences held in the Soviet Union.

It should be noted that the Soviet Union DID provide genuine economic aid to many countries.  Did the Soviet Union attempt to use foreign aid to influence recipient governments?  Of course it did.  Did it use foreign aid to encourage a particular form of economic development?  Of course it did.  Did it use foreign aid to tie the recipient country to itself and block overtures from the USA and its allies?  Of course it did.  And the USA attempted the same things with ITS foreign aid.

After several months, Bezmenov claimed he was forced to act as an informer[3] while maintaining his position as a Novosti journalist. He used his journalistic duties to help gather information and to spread disinformation to foreign countries for the purposes of Soviet propaganda and subversion.[3]

Rapid promotion followed, and Bezmenov was once again assigned to Bila[citation needed] in 1969, this time as a Soviet press-officer and a public relations agent for the KGB. He continued Novosti's propaganda efforts in New Delhi, working in the Soviet embassy. Bezmenov was directed to slowly establish a Soviet sphere of influence in India. In the same year, a secret directive of the Central Committee opened a new secret department in all the Soviet Union's embassies around the world, entitled the "Research and Counter-Propaganda Group". 

Being a one-party state, the Soviet Union would have much greater control over what was communicated within its borders and who could do that communicating.  But while structurally different from the way US-American (and British, French, and, yes, Canadian) systems operate, the level of message control in the West, and the focus on elite values and interests is really no different.

Bezmenov became a deputy chief of that department, gathering intelligence from sources like Indian informers and agents, on influential and/or politically significant citizens of India.[citation needed]

Bezmenov stated that he was instructed not to waste time on idealistic leftists, as they would become disillusioned, bitter, and adversarial when they realized the true nature of Soviet communism.[2]

Whereas if an idealisitic Afghani sided with the NATO invaders, their hopes for peace, order and good government, and the removal of the Taliban's obscurantist misogyny and advances in women's rights, would have instead seen continued war, instability, corruption, rape and murder and, finally, a restoration of the Taliban and their insane restrictions on women's humanity.

Massive corruption and massive assaults on human rights are constants in US-allied less-industrialized countries throughout the world.  Look at Latin America.  Look at South Vietnam.  Look at the Philippines.  Look at Egypt.  

Why a country that robs and kills its own people with its inhuman health care system, its oligarch-dominated profit-gouging economy and its thuggish police forces and massive prison-industrial system should be expected to even care about bringing good government and democracy to smaller nations shouldn't even be a question.

During that period, Bezmenov became increasingly aware of the insidious and ruthless Soviet system. He then began careful planning to defect to the West.[2][5][6]

Let's say that Bezmenov was honestly disgusted with the hypocrisy of his own country's political-economic regime.  Given that the Soviet Union was a one-party state run by an authoritarian, often incompetent political oligarchy that suppressed everyday human expression, this is not hard to imagine.  From his vantage point, the USA looked like a golden land of freedom and opportunity.  Even decades after the right-wing capitalist revanchinism that started in 1980 that has seen living standards plummet, and decades after the end of the Cold War removed the need for Western oligarchs to restrain their greed and cruelty for reasons of ideological competition with the Soviets, there are millions of people living in the USA who still believe in that stupidity.  So he defects to the West.  And here it gets amusing for me as a Canadian:

After contacting the American embassy and undergoing extensive interviews with United States intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was able to help Bezmenov seek asylum in Canada, granted by the administration of Pierre Trudeau.[3][10] The CIA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) advised him to adopt a new name and identity for reasons of safety.[6] In order to save face with the embarrassment of a defection within the KGB ranks, the Delhi residency officially reported he had been abducted, and his son, his closest surviving relative, was given financial compensation.[11]

So he came to Canada!

After studying political science at the University of Toronto for two years, and working on an Ontario farm for three years, in 1973, Bezmenov was hired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Montreal, broadcasting to the Soviet Union as part of the CBC's International Service.[6] This is when he met his wife, Tess. In 1976, Bezmenov was fired from the CBC at the request of then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The Soviet ambassador to Canada phoned then-prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to complain about Bezmenov’s Russian-language broadcasts. This led to a phone call from the prime minister to CBC’s president, continuing down the chain until Bezmenov was fired on March 9, 1976.[12] After the CBC, he began free-lance journalism. He became a consultant for Almanac Panorama of the World Information Network.[5] Bezmenov claimed that the KGB successfully used the Soviet Ambassador to Canada to persuade Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to apply pressure to have him removed from that position.[3] He claimed that he received veiled death threats from the KGB.[3]

So when right-wing Canadians talk about Pierre Trudeau having been a Marxist and the CBC being a "state broadcaster" stuff like that fuels their furnaces.  I mean, the reality is that P.E.T. was a political gadfly with some left-wing tendencies.  The Soviet Union was a nuclear super-power.  Trudeau thought the Cold War was a dangerous waste of time and made a personal effort to mitigate it while being a loyal US ally.  Still and all, he was able to influence the "arms-length" CBC.

Anyhow, now we know a little bit about who this Bezmenov fellow was.  Given the vast amount of fraud and failure and violence of the Soviet System there were genuine reasons why someone would become disillusioned with it.  When Bezmenov came to the West, as a formerly highly-placed diplomat, as a highly educated man fluent in many languages, and as a high-level propaganda value critic of the Soviet enemy, he easily found comfortable employment and thereby access to a higher standard of material comfort as well as the greater personal freedom enjoyed by many of us here in the West, but especially by those with the incomes to employ it.

And so he wrote the anti-communist propaganda that we will see Mister Bishop base his counter-factual, insane rant upon.  But for my money, having lived in Canada for 57 years and having watched our political-economic system steadily abandon the post-war compromise and descend into the neoliberal nightmare of monopolistic greed, soaring inequality, increasingly castostrophic financial crises, declining living standards, I grow increasingly more convinced of the necessity for a socialist revolution.  Similarly, as the United States ruling class sinks further into decrepitude and barbarism both at home and overseas, while the "independent" media continues to cheer it all in lockstep, my disillusionment with the system that looked so alluring to Bezmenov has reached the point where my past faith exists in tiny vapours and I have difficulty remembering what it looked like.

[Oh!  And let's not forget what happened to the Russian people when the Communist Party fell from power and the dormant powers of free minds and entrepreneurial spirits were unleashed upon that mighty land!  The country collapsed into corruption and extreme poverty.]

I can only read so much of an internet article.  I would imagine anyone who still checks out my blog doesn't do so with the plan of reading a major work that will repay the time required to read it.  So I'm going to end this here and pick it up at some later time.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe later.  Perhaps never.


Purple library guy said...

Whenever anyone has an idea about how some facet of the world works, it really helps for me if they have some kind of proposed mechanism for how that idea is supposed to happen. Sure, some epidemiological stuff doesn't really work that way, scientists just sift a correlation out of some data and says "Huh, it really kind of looks like X might cause Y--dunno why, but look at all these Xs and Ys". But for the most part it's more like, scientists think the heart is what makes blood circulate around the body, and before they could actually watch it happen with like functional MRI they already thought so. And they had a proposed mechanism for how that was supposed to work--the heart had these huge blood vessels feeding into these big chambers in it and it was clearly made mostly of tough muscle and there was some valve-y stuff and you could feel it beating, so they figured OK, it pushes blood around by working like a pump, with that big muscle squishing down on the blood in those chambers and literally pushing it. And yeah, turns out that's what it does.

If you had a different idea, like say no, it's the liver that circulates the blood, you'd have to propose some thing the liver was supposed to do to move blood, and that thing you proposed would look stupid because the liver doesn't actually have a thing it can do to move blood, it just sits there and filters.

So every time I see one of these right wing theories about how the US is collapsing and it's being caused by wokeness (with or without "cultural Marxists" and such), after I finish thinking "What an asshole!" I always find myself looking at it and thinking "But how is that even supposed to work?! What's the mechanism supposed to be where "wokeness" changes how work happens on a manufacturing shop floor, or stops bankers or industrialists from wanting profits, or makes transportation infrastucture stop working?" It's all just "This cultural thing happened" (much of which did not, in fact, happen, much less happen the way they describe it), "It's a cultural thing I don't like which is self-evidently evil because I don't like it", straight to "It has caused/is causing the decline and fall of America". And the thing is, not liking something does not create a causal link with anything.

(They also tend to be a bit vague on the mechanism of how a few academics, most of them neither very wealthy nor with strong media connections, are supposed to have achieved cultural hegemony)

People can have mechanisms proposed and still be wrong. Mainstream economists have mechanisms proposed for a lot of their stuff--they just aren't mechanisms that operate in the real world, or not the way they claim they do, because their models assume a bunch of shit that isn't true in order to get the mechanisms to work in the math. But at least they have some kind of causal thing proposed where, when they claim X does Y, they've got a way that X is supposed to do stuff that allows it to cause Y. The "wokeness is making civilization die at the behest of evil Marxists" crowd don't even have that. I can't take it seriously because there isn't really even anything there to fail to take seriously.

thwap said...


A very good critique of that nonsense. I might have thought about a few of those things separately at one time or another, but I've never combined them all in such a devastating take-down like that.

Perhaps Mister Bishop sees a struggle between God and Satan for humanity. But we both know that such a narrative would probably reveal nothing about actual mechanisms and cause-and-effect.

How a human can have the ability to write but then writes such obvious drivel is a mystery to me.

Purple library guy said...

Thinking of people named Bishop, I went with my wife to see "Billy Bishop Goes to War" last night. I was surprised how good it was.

thwap said...

I've known about that title for years but still don't really know what it's about. WWI, ... Canadian patriotism, ... or something completely different.

Congratulations on having a wife! I always thought of you as a guy who worked at a university library in BC while wearing purple clothes, but otherwise as a disembodied intellect.

Purple library guy said...

It's like this one-man show where the guy mostly is Billy Bishop himself talking about how he was just about to be discharged from military college for shenanigans when the war broke out and they wanted warm bodies, shenanigans or no, but also does the bits of all the people talking to him. Including various British upper class types looking down their noses at colonials, as well as a French cabaret girl singing a song with little vignettes about various fighter pilots, punctuated with the refrain
"But did he get out alive? Oh, non non non,
he didn't survive."
The actor had a lot of fun hamming up the accents. Overall, it was pretty funny, but conveyed a moderate amount of "war is hell" in there too.
Recurring snatch of song goes
"We were off to fight the Hun
We would shoot him with a gun
and our medals they would shine just like a sabre in the sun!
We were off to fight the Hun
and it seemed like lots of fun . . .
somehow it didn't seem like war at all."

Then, like, everyone in his squadron would die or something. Anyway, all in all I found it a pretty good show. Better than I was expecting.

thwap said...


Thanks, genuinely. Now I know.