Warnings Mount Over Right-Wing Plot to Rewrite US Constitution

Convention of States Action van at parade

Convention of States Action, a group advocating for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution, participates at the Independence Day parade in Millville, Pennsylvania on July 4, 2021. (Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Ahead of the midterm elections, said one political strategist, “Democrats must emphasize to voters that Republicans still control most state legislatures, and if they remain in power, they can drastically change the Constitution.”

JULIA CONLEY September 19, 2022 (CommonDreams.org)

Government watchdogs are warning that the Republican takeover of state legislatures in recent years could imminently have major implications for the United States, as a right-wing effort to hold a new constitutional convention appears closer than ever to being realized.

“Republicans always tell us what they want to do. We should believe them and think broadly and in the long term of where we should be working to stop this from happening.”

On Monday, former Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold wrote in an op-ed at The Guardian that Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution allows the document to be amended, either with amendments being proposed by two-thirds of Congress and ratified by three-quarters of the states, or through a method that has never been tested: the establishment of a new constitutional convention.

To hold a new convention, two-thirds of all state legislatures—34 total—must apply to hold the gathering, where lawmakers would have broad freedom to change the Constitution however they saw fit. Three-quarters of states would have to ratify their proposed amendments.

“The right has already packed the Supreme Court and is reaping the rewards, with decisions from Dobbs to Bruen that radically reinterpret the Constitution in defiance of precedent and sound legal reasoning,” wrote Feingold, referencing recent rulings on abortion rights and gun control. “But factions of the right are not satisfied to wait for the court to reinterpret the constitution. Instead, they have set their sights on literally rewriting our foundational document.”

Feingold—now president of the American Constitution Society—is among those warning that a new constitutional convention is “closer to reality than most people realize,” as The New York Times reported earlier this month. 

As the Democratic Party expended considerable effort on passing federal legislation during the Obama administration, ACLU communications strategist Rotimi Adeoye wrote at The Daily Beast last month, Republicans focused on taking control at the state and local level, with Democrats losing 13 governorships and 816 legislative seats between 2008 and 2016.

As a result, Republicans now just need control of four more states to reach the threshold needed to call a second constitutional convention.

Feingold noted that if right-wing advocates for a new convention like the Convention of States Project and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) get their way, there would be few limits on how Republicans could change the constitution:

There is nothing in the Constitution about how delegates would be selected, how they would be apportioned, or how amendments would be proposed or agreed to by delegates. And there is little useful historical precedent that lends insight to these important questions. This means that nearly any amendment could be proposed at such a convention, giving delegates enormous power to engage in political and constitutional redrafting.

“The framers left no rules,” wrote Feingold in his new book, The Constitution in Jeopardy. “In this uncertainty lies great danger and, possibly, great power.”

The former Wisconsin senator wrote at The Guardian that Republicans could use a new convention to craft an amendment banning abortion care, strip Americans of voting rights, gut federal anti-poverty programs, and further threaten people’s right to be safe from gun violence by enshrining “their interpretation of the Second Amendment.”

On Sunday, Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn told MSNBC that in the hands of Republicans, a second constitutional convention could “put all of our constitutional rights up for grabs.”

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Feingold noted that a national policy discussion regarding the “founding failures of the Constitution” is warranted.

“That said, any conversation about how to go about amending the Constitution needs to be transparent, inclusive, and informed,” he wrote at The Guardian. “What factions of the right are pursuing is anything but. They are pursuing exclusively partisan outcomes and have sought to keep their efforts opaque. They do not seem interested in a representative, democratic process.”

The Convention of States Project has received millions of dollars from the right-wing Donors Capital Fund and has been endorsed by Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and influential conservative commentators Sean Hannity and Ben Shapiro.

Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), a strong proponent of a new constitutional convention, recently proposed legislation to direct the National Archives to conduct an official count of all the states that have called for a convention at various times.

“Democrats should take the threat seriously,” Amanda Litman, co-founder of progressive group Run for Something, told The Daily Beast. “Republicans always tell us what they want to do. We should believe them and think broadly and in the long term of where we should be working to stop this from happening.”

With the midterm elections fast approaching, wrote Adeoye, “Democrats must emphasize to voters that Republicans still control most state legislatures, and if they remain in power, they can drastically change the Constitution.”

Bio: Charles Fourier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Charles Fourier
Portrait by Jean Gigoux, 1835 (detail)
BornFrançois Marie Charles Fourier
7 April 1772
BesançonKingdom of France
Died10 October 1837 (aged 65)
ParisKingdom of France
Era19th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolUtopian socialism
Fourierism
Main interestsPolitical philosophy
Economics
Philosophy of desire
Notable ideasPhalanstère
“Attractive work”
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François Marie Charles Fourier (/ˈfʊrieɪ, -iər/;[2]French: [ʃaʁl fuʁje]; 7 April 1772 – 10 October 1837) was a French philosopher, an influential early socialist thinker and one of the founders of utopian socialism. Some of Fourier’s social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become mainstream thinking in modern society. For instance, Fourier is credited with having originated the word feminism in 1837.[3]

Fourier’s social views and proposals inspired a whole movement of intentional communities. Among them in the United States were the community of UtopiaOhioLa Reunion near present-day DallasTexasLake ZurichIllinois; the North American Phalanx in Red BankNew JerseyBrook Farm in West RoxburyMassachusetts; the Community Place and Sodus Bay Phalanx in New York State; Silkville, Kansas, and several others. In Guise, France, he influenced the Familistery of Guise [frdept]. Fourier later inspired a diverse array of revolutionary thinkers and writers.

Life

Fourier was born in Besançon, France on 7 April 1772.[4] The son of a small businessman, Fourier was more interested in architecture than in his father’s trade.[4] He wanted to become an engineer, but the local military engineering school accepted only sons of noblemen.[4] Fourier later said he was grateful that he did not pursue engineering, because it would have consumed too much of his time and taken away from his true desire to help humanity.[5]

When his father died in 1781, Fourier received two-fifths of his father’s estate, valued at more than 200,000 francs.[6] This inheritance enabled Fourier to travel throughout Europe at his leisure. In 1791 he moved from Besançon to Lyon, where he was employed by the merchant M. Bousquet.[7] Fourier’s travels also brought him to Paris, where he worked as the head of the Office of Statistics for a few months.[4] From 1791 to 1816 Fourier was employed in Paris, Rouen, Lyon, Marseille, and Bordeaux.[8] As a traveling salesman and correspondence clerk, his research and thought was time-limited: he complained of “serving the knavery of merchants” and the stupefaction of “deceitful and degrading duties.”

He began writing. His first book was published in 1808, but it only sold a few copies. Surprisingly, after six years, the book fell into the hands of Monsieur Just Muiron who eventually became Fourier’s patron. Fourier produced most of his writings between 1816 and 1821. In 1822, he tried to sell his books again but with no success.[9][self-published source?]

Fourier died in Paris in 1837.[7][10]

Ideas

Fourier declared that concern and cooperation were the secrets of social success. He believed that a society that cooperated would see an immense improvement in their productivity levels. Workers would be recompensed for their labors according to their contribution. Fourier saw such cooperation occurring in communities he called “phalanxes,” based upon structures called Phalanstères or “grand hotels”. These buildings were four-level apartment complexes where the richest had the uppermost apartments and the poorest had a ground-floor residence. Wealth was determined by one’s job; jobs were assigned based on the interests and desires of the individual. There were incentives: jobs people might not enjoy doing would receive higher pay. Fourier considered trade, which he associated with Jews, to be the “source of all evil” and advocated that Jews be forced to perform farm work in the phalansteries.[11] By the end of his life, Fourier advocated the return of Jews to Palestine with the assistance of the Rothschilds.[12] John K. Roth and Richard L. Rubenstein have seen Fourier as motivated by economic and religious antisemitism, rather than the racial antisemitism that would emerge later in the century.[13]

Attack on civilization

Fourier characterized poverty (not inequality) as the principal cause of disorder in society, and he proposed to eradicate it by sufficiently high wages and by a “decent minimum” for those who were not able to work.[14] Fourier used the word civilization in a negative sense and as such “Fourier’s contempt for the respectable thinkers and ideologies of his age was so intense that he always used the terms philosopher and civilization in a pejorative sense. In his lexicon civilization was a depraved order, a synonym for perfidy and constraint … Fourier’s attack on civilization had qualities not to be found in the writing of any other social critic of his time.”[15]

Work and liberated passions

For Herbert Marcuse “The idea of libidinal work relations in a developed industrial society finds little support in the tradition of thought, and where such support is forthcoming it seems of a dangerous nature. The transformation of labor into pleasure is the central idea in Fourier’s giant socialist utopia.”[16]: 217 

Fourier insists that this transformation requires a complete change in the social institutions: distribution of the social product according to need, assignment of functions according to individual faculties and inclinations, constant mutation of functions, short work periods, and so on. But the possibility of “attractive labor” (travail attrayant) derives above all from the release of libidinal forces . Fourier assumes the existence of an attraction industrielle which makes for pleasurable co-operation. It is based on the attraction passionnée in the nature of man, which persists despite the opposition of reason, duty, prejudice. This attraction passionnée tends toward three principal objectives: the creation of “luxury, or the pleasure of the five senses”; the formation of libidinal groups (of friendship and love); and the establishment of a harmonious order, organizing these groups for work in accordance with the development of the individual “passions” (internal and external “play” of faculties).[16]: 217 

He believed that there were twelve common passions which resulted in 810 types of character, so the ideal phalanx would have exactly 1620 people.[17] One day there would be six million of these, loosely ruled by a world “omniarch“, or (later) a World Congress of Phalanxes. He had a concern for the sexually rejected; jilted suitors would be led away by a corps of fairies who would soon cure them of their lovesickness, and visitors could consult the card-index of personality types for suitable partners for casual sex. He also defended homosexuality as a personal preference for some people. Anarchist Hakim Bey describes Fourier’s ideas as follows:

In Fourier’s system of Harmony all creative activity including industry, craft, agriculture, etc. will arise from liberated passion—this is the famous theory of “attractive labor.” Fourier sexualizes work itself—the life of the Phalanstery is a continual orgy of intense feeling, intellection, & activity, a society of lovers & wild enthusiasts.[18]

Women’s rights

Fourier was also a supporter of women’s rights in a time period when influences like Jean-Jacques Rousseau were prevalent. Fourier believed that all important jobs should be open to women on the basis of skill and aptitude rather than closed on account of gender. He spoke of women as individuals, not as half the human couple. Fourier saw that “traditional” marriage could potentially hurt woman’s rights as human beings and thus never married.[19] Writing before the advent of the term ‘homosexuality’, Fourier held that both men and women have a wide range of sexual needs and preferences which may change throughout their lives, including same-sex sexuality and androgénité. He argued that all sexual expressions should be enjoyed as long as people are not abused, and that “affirming one’s difference” can actually enhance social integration.[20]

Fourier’s concern was to liberate every human individual, man, woman, and child, in two senses: education and the liberation of human passion.[21]

Children and education

On education, Fourier felt that “civilized” parents and teachers saw children as little idlers.[22] Fourier felt that this way of thinking was wrong. He felt that children as early as age two and three were very industrious. He listed the dominant tastes in all children to include, but not limited to:

  1. Rummaging or inclination to handle everything, examine everything, look through everything, to constantly change occupations;
  2. Industrial commotion, taste for noisy occupations;
  3. Aping or imitative mania.
  4. Industrial miniature, a taste for miniature workshops.
  5. Progressive attraction of the weak toward the strong.[22]

Fourier was deeply disturbed by the disorder of his time and wanted to stabilize the course of events which surrounded him. Fourier saw his fellow human beings living in a world full of strife, chaos, and disorder.[23]

Fourier is best remembered for his writings on a new world order based on unity of action and harmonious collaboration.[4] He is also known for certain Utopian pronouncements, such as that the seas would lose their salinity and turn to lemonade, and a coincidental view of climate change, that the North Pole would be milder than the Mediterranean in a future phase of Perfect Harmony.[failed verification] [22]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fourier

Tensions are high as California’s reparations task force tackles a crucial question: What will payment look like?

Dustin Gardiner

Sep. 23, 2022 (SFChronicle.com)

Comments

Cheryce Cryer of Los Angeles speaks during public comment at an April meeting of California’s Reparations Task Force at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco.
Cheryce Cryer of Los Angeles speaks during public comment at an April meeting of California’s Reparations Task Force at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco.Jessica Christian/The Chronicle

California’s task force to study reparations for Black people is preparing to debate the most crucial piece of its work: How much restitution is due, and what form should it take?

Those questions will take center stage Friday and Saturday as the panel begins the final phase of its historic mission. The nine-member task force began meeting more than a year ago, but it has yet to make any recommendations with a specific dollar figure attached.

Whether the panelists decide to endorse direct-cash payments or other forms of compensation, such as land grants and subsidized education, could have wide ripple effects as the task force is the first state-led reparations effort in the nation.

But the path forward is fraught. Beyond external opposition from conservative critics of reparations, bitter internal disputes have spilled over into heated exchanges that overshadowed several of the task force’s past meetings.

Task force Chair Kamilah Moore, an attorney and scholar on reparations, said she hopes the committee can reunite around a common purpose after it took a five-month hiatus and issued a sweeping interim report in June.

“I definitely am hoping that things can become more collegial,” she told The Chronicle. “Reparations is a very controversial topic, it always has been. That might explain some of the passion.”

Outward attention to the task force is also likely to intensify as its members wade into the sticky subject of cash payments. The task force, in its June interim report, recommended that California “implement a comprehensive reparations scheme,” though it said details of the compensation plan would be outlined in its final report.

Moore said cash payments are likely to be a “central piece” of the proposal. But some reparations advocates have instead proposed using restitution to close disparities in areas like education, health care and land ownership.

State lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom created the task force in 2020, and directed its members to study the history of slavery in California and its enduring inequities for Black people. While the Golden State was admitted to the Union as a “free state” in 1850, historians say slavery continued to be openly practiced for years by white Southerners, who brought enslaved people to the state and forced them to work in gold mines and on plantations.

The bill that created California’s reparations task force doesn’t prescribe the form of potential compensation. Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who wrote the measure as a state Assembly member, expressed hesitation about cash payments at the time.

“I say to people, ‘What would you give for 400 years of oppression and always starting behind?’” Weber said in 2020. “I haven’t been able to calculate what it would take. I’m hoping we will be much more thoughtful.”

While the task force hasn’t excluded other forms of reparations from its discussions, several members have repeatedly said that cash payments should be part of the mix.

The panel spent much of its first year meeting with experts and residents to document the lingering harms of slavery. Its interim report outlines the history of slavery in California, and the many vestiges of white supremacy, including redlining practices that denied home loans to Black families late into the 20th century, historically high levels of pollution around Black communities, and over-policing and rigid sentencing laws that led to mass incarceration in recent decades.

“Government laws and policies perpetuating badges of slavery have helped white Americans accumulate wealth, while erecting barriers that have prevented African Americans from doing the same,” the report states.

The task force will meet Friday and Saturday, in Los Angeles, and is scheduled to hear testimony from experts about the estimated cost of reparations and its precedent under international law.

There is precedent for governments paying reparations to correct injustices. The United States granted $20,000 per person to Japanese Americans forced to live in internment camps during World War II. Germany has paid reparations to Holocaust survivors.

Whatever the task force decides, the Legislature and Newsom will have the final say — and, if reparations are approved, they would have to figure out how to pay for it. The task force is expected to deliver its final report, with a recommendation on cash payments, to lawmakers by July 1, 2023.

But the panel’s upcoming deliberations could get testy after a bruising series of meetings earlier this year, when it split over the question of who should be eligible for reparations.

One faction argued reparations should be limited, at least initially, to Black people who can directly trace their lineage in the United States to the period of slavery. The other faction suggested that reparations should be open to all of California’s roughly 2.6 million Black residents because the vestiges of slavery have harmed them all.

Ultimately, the task force voted 5-4 to support the lineage-based eligibility rules after an emotional, months-long series of debates.

Tension over that vote is still simmering, and reparations advocates are now divided over a bill, AB2296, on Newsom’s desk that would extend the deadline for the task force to finish its work until 2024.

Assembly Member Reginald Jones-Sawyer, a Democrat from Los Angeles and a task force member, carried the bill. He said the motivation is simply to allow task force members an additional year to continue meeting after they issue their final recommendations and convince state legislators to sign off on reparations.

“It will be Herculean work,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Some reparations activists, however, want Newsom to veto the bill. They argue that any delay in the task force’s final deadline could postpone a recommendation on reparations.

“We’re saying reparations delayed is reparations denied,” said Chris Lodgson, an organizer with the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, which helped push to create the task force. “We’ve been waiting for reparations for over 400 years.”

The task force was initially supposed to issue one final report in June 2022, but its members decided to divide their work into two reports and released the first volume this past summer.

Another controversial provision of the bill would allow Newsom and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly to remove and replace task force members (whom they also appointed). Jones-Sawyer said there currently isn’t a process to remove task force members, which he said was a drafting oversight.

But internal disputes within the task force also appear to have played a role. Jones-Sawyer said he’s concerned that some task force members haven’t done enough to admonish outside groups for inappropriate behavior, including hate speech and threats. He didn’t list any members by name.

“Their tactics have been very scary,” he said of outside groups targeting the task force. “We have members who may even want to quit because they fear for their lives.”

Jones-Sawyer was on the losing side of the task force’s split vote over eligibility rules. Moore, the task force chair, was on the prevailing side of that vote. She said everyone on the task force has been targeted with ugly threats.

“I haven’t been immune to that, either. It hasn’t affected my resolve to the mission,” she said. “I personally condemn hate speech, and as far as I’m aware, no one on the task force has condoned such language.”

Dustin Gardiner (he/him) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dustin.gardiner@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @dustingardiner

Written By Dustin Gardiner

Dustin Gardiner is a state Capitol reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle. He joined The Chronicle in 2019, after nearly a decade with The Arizona Republic, where he covered state and city politics. Dustin won several awards for his reporting in Arizona, including the 2019 John Kolbe Politics Reporting award, and the 2017 Story of the Year award from the Arizona Newspapers Association. Outside of work, he enjoys hiking, camping, reading fiction and playing Settlers of Catan. He’s a member of NLGJA, the association of LGBTQ journalists.

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IRRATIONAL WAR ON DRUGS, DESTRUCTION OF THE AMAZON, EXPOSE HUMANITY’S FAILURES, COLOMBIA’S PETRO TELLS UN

President Gustavo Petro Urrego of Colombia addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 77th session.

UN Photo/Cia Pak

President Gustavo Petro Urrego of Colombia addresses the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 77th session.

20 September 2022 (news.un.org)

UN Affairs

During his first speech at the General Assembly as the President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro said that the world’s addiction to money, oil and carbon is destroying the rainforest and its people under the excuse of a “hypocritical” war against drugs.

Mr. Petro described his country as one of the most beautiful and nature-rich in the world but said that blood also flowed into its rivers and biodiversity.

He explained that violence in the rainforest was fuelled by the prosecution of the sacred plant of the Incas: the coca plant.

“As in a paradoxical crossroads. The forest that should be saved is at the same time being destroyed. To destroy the coca plant, they throw poisons such as glyphosate that drips into our waters, they arrest their cultivators and then imprison them,” he stated.

He added that destroying the Amazon has seemingly become the slogan of some States and negotiators and he denounced such “save the jungle speech” as hypocritical.

“The jungle is burning, gentlemen, while you wage war and play with it. The jungle, the climatic pillar of the world, disappears with all its life. The great sponge that absorbs the planetary CO2 evaporates. The jungle is our saviour, but it is seen in my country as the enemy to defeat, as a weed to be extinguished,” he underscored.

Mr. Petro highlighted that while the developed world let the rainforest burn as an excuse for the war against drugs, it also asked for more oil, “to calm their other addiction” to consumption, power and money.

“What is more poisonous for humanity, cocaine, coal or oil? The opinion of power has ordered that cocaine is poison and must be persecuted, while it only causes minimal deaths from overdoses…but instead, coal and oil must be protected, even when it can extinguish all humanity,” he said, adding that such reasoning was “unjust and irrational”.

“The culprit of drug addiction is not the rainforest; it is the irrationality of the world’s power. Give a blow of reason to this power. Turn on the lights of the century again”, he urged.

The President said that the war against drugs has lasted over 40 years, and it has not been won.

“By hiding the truth, they will only see the rainforest and democracies die. The war on drugs has failed. The fight against the climate crisis has failed,” he noted.

Mr. Petro then demanded, speaking in the name of all of Latin-America, the end of the “irrational war against drugs”.

“Reducing drug use does not require wars, it needs us all to build a better society: a more supportive, more affectionate society, where the meaning of life saves us from addictions… Do you want fewer drugs? Think of earning less and giving more love. Think of a rational exercise of power”, he told world leaders.

Mr. Petro also addressed the climate disaster and the displacement it causes, saying that wars were only excuses to not act against it.

“The climate disaster that will kill hundreds of millions of people is not being caused by the planet, it is being caused by capital. By the logic of consuming more and more, producing more and more, and for some earning more and more”, he said.

The Colombian President added that within the fires and poisoning of the Amazon rainforest was embedded a “failure of humanity”.

“Behind cocaine and drug addiction, behind oil and coal addiction, there is the true addiction of this phase of human history: the addiction to irrational power, profit and money. That is the huge deadly machinery that can extinguish humanity”, he explained.

Mr. Petro urged a dialogue with Latin-America to end the war, saying it was “time for peace”.

“Only in peace we can save life in our land. There will be no peace without social, economic and environmental justice. We are at war with the planet too. Without peace with the planet, there will be no peace among nations,” he concluded.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer – Official Trailer

Madman Films Aug 29, 2013 In February 2012 the feminist art collective #PussyRiot performed a 40 second “punk prayer” inside Russia’s main cathedral. This performance led to their arrest on charges of religious hatred and culminated in a trial that has reverberated around the world and transformed the face of Russian society forever. With unparalleled access and exclusive footage, this film tells the incredible story of three young women behind their now famous colourful balaclavas: Nadia, Masha and Katia. Following the bizarre and intricate twists of the trial, we observe three young women fight back against a justice system that seems impervious to logic. From their family and friends we learn what transformed these women from political activists in to modern day icons. As Nadia, Masha and Katia defend their convictions from a cage inside the courtroom, those Pussy Riot members still at liberty plan new guerrilla performances and cultivate a protest movement across the globe. #APunkPrayer




Madman Films

Articles ~ Petitions ~ Events for Thursday, Sept. 22 – Monday, Sept. 26

By Adrienne Fong

Am not back posting on a regular basis

Please hold the following people in your thoughts:

Victor Picazo, dealing with health complications

Francis Collins, who remains hospitalized

Susan Witka, as she recovers from surgery

Jackie Barshak, battling stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, as she continues chemo therapy.

Melvin Starks recently released from the hospital!

   – Still needs housing!

Rodger Scott as he gains strength. Open site to see telephone number Meal Train for Rodger Scott

   He welcomes noon time visits

 Good visiting time is early afternoon around 1pm to 2pm, please see calendar to choose a day. Also, Rodger has a meal service and bringing meals is not necessary.

Hold the people:

– in Pakistan, Mississippi and Kentucky in your thoughts as they are experience extreme flooding

-in Africa in your thoughts as they are experiencing drought and famine..

In Puerto Rico and the Dominican  Republic affected by Hurricanes

in Yemen

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’ This is a JUSTICE issue!!

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please post your actions on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay  for  other listings of events

ARTICLES

A. Defensive West Smears Samarkand Summit – September 21, 2022

B. Dawn of new surveillance era in San Francisco: camera monitoring policy passes Board of Supervisors – September 21, 2022

Dawn of new surveillance era in San Francisco: camera monitoring policy passes Board of Supervisors | News | sfexaminer.com

  – Only 4 SF Supervisors voted against this!

C. NY Times claim that Russia drove attacks on Linda Sarsour is nonsense – September 21, 2022

NY Times claim that Russia drove attacks on Linda Sarsour is nonsense | The Electronic Intifada

D. Pentagon Opens Review Of Its Clandestine Psychological Operations – September 19, 2022

https://news.antiwar.com/2022/09/19/pentagon-opens-review-of-its-clandestine-psychological-operations/

E. ‘The Door’s Been Shut’: Aunt of Man Killed by SFPD Says First Meeting With DA Jenkins Hints at Lighter Touch to Prosecuting Police – September 19, 2022

‘The Door’s Been Shut’: Aunt of Man Killed by SFPD Says First Meeting With DA Jenkins Hints at Lighter Touch to Prosecuting Police | KQED

PETITIONS

1. Cuba is our Friend Not our Enemy

  SIGN: Cuba is our Friend Not our Enemy (everyaction.com)

Take Cuba off the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Lift the 243 Sanctions Imposed by Donald Trump. 

End the Embargo!

Cuba has lived for 60 years under the  US Embargo and its harsh sanctions on economic, financial, commercial and travel.  In today’s dollars it has cost the Cuban people almost 2 billion dollars.   

Scheduled Execution (Petitions) for October

 – Click on the name to sign the petition

2. October 5, 2022 at 6:00 pm CDT:
John Ramirez in Texas

EVENTS

Thursday, September 22 –Monday, September 26

Thursday, September 22, 2022

1. Thursday, 12Noon – 1:00pm,  SF Chronicle: End Your Silence On The Jailing and Extradition of Julian Assange!

In person

SF Chronicle Building
5th Street & Mission
SF

Press Conference/Speak Out at SF Chronicle on September 22, 2022 12:00 Noon.

The continued incarceration and possible extradition of Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange is a threat not only to all journalists in the world but publishers such as the SF Chronicle.

Using the Espionage Act, even though he is not a US citizen, the US government is prosecuting the supposed crime of releasing documents that expose war crimes and atrocities committed by the US war machine in Iraq.

Of course the perpetrators of the US crimes in Iraq have never been proscuted but the whistleblower Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, is being prosecuted.

We must raise our voices to defend whistleblowers and independent journalists being censored and persecuted for revealing the truth and reporting on issues that people need to know.

Assange is a member of the Australian journnalist’s union MEAA member since 2007. The Pacific Media Workers Guild, which represents journalists at the San Francisco Chronicle, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have also calld for his freedom. Nearly all journalist unions throughout the world are demanding his freedom.

We urge the San Francisco Chronicle and all news publishers both print and online to join the call for his freedom.

Host: Bay Area Committee to Free Julian Assange

Info: Press Conference: SF Chronicle-End Your Silence On The Jailing And Extradition Of Julian Assange : Indybay

2. Thursday, 7:00pm, Political Discussion – With Hunger Striker Mama Cristina for Workers Rights to Organize

In person

Black & Brown Social Club
474 Valencia St.
SF

Tonight at 7pm. While Mama Cristina is on day 3 of her hunger strike for workers rights. Come out & build on next steps with the community. 

All are welcomed to support the Hunger Strike for Non-Profit Workers Rights to Organize

Host: Mothers On The March

Info: (2) Facebook

Friday, September 23

3. Friday, 10:00am, No to Coal – Yes to Life Climate Strike

In person

Oscar Grant Plaza

No details provided

Host: Youth Vs. Apocalpse

Info: (2) No to Coal – Yes to Life Climate Strike | Facebook

4. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, JUSTICE NOT interim SF DA Brooke Jenkins

In person

SF interim DA Brooke Jenkins Office
350 Rhode Island
SF

Stand up for REAL JUSTICE NOT Brooke Jenkins! with Mothers On The March and the Community at interim Brooke Jenkins office.

At Manny’s a couple weeks ago Jenkins claims that nobody has demonstrated against her and that she has no idea why people at Manny’s were demonstrating. (another lie of hers)

We need to resist and expose her agenda:

  – For not holding police accountable for abusing and killing people in our communities, she fired lawyers who were in various phases of the trial process of holding sfpd accountable for murdering people in our communities.

  -For her deceit of San Franciscans, from the time the Guido trial didn’t go her way and she quit the DA’s office till the lies she continues to build in her campaign.

  -For contributing more to AAPI Hate by dividing the Black, Brown and Asian communities.

Saturday, September 24

5. Saturday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm, Standing Tall Demanding Justice Celebrating The “Comfort Women” Memorials Anniversary

In person

St. Mary’s Square
California & Quincy
SF

SF 5th anniversary and the 3rd anniversary of our sister statue in Seoul

Hear from our keynote speaker, Chief Justice Abby Abinanti, as well as others

Celebrate the determination and resistance of the “comfort women” survivors who continue to demand justice and full accountability from Japan.

Together we recommit ourselves to fight for an end to racial and gender violence

Host: Comfort Women Justice Coalition

Info: Comfort Women Justice Coalition | Facebook  or  5th Anniversary Celebration of the SF Bay Area “Comfort Women” Memorial. : Indybay

6. Saturday, 2:00pm – 3:00pm, Abort the “Walk for Life” organizing meeting

In person

17th Street & Folsom (inside the park)
SF

Meeting is outside – wear mask

Every January since 2005, San Francisco has been invaded by fascistic fetus worshippers for what they call the “Walk for Life.” In 2008, over 10,000 fetus fascists were bussed in from all over California and beyond. In 2011, 40,000 people showed up. They do this because they are dedicated to controlling our bodies and upholding imperialist traditions of Christo faschism. 

They are returning on January 21, 2023, this time emboldened by the Supreme KKKourt. 

These fetus fetishists do not act alone, and the spread of their harmful and homicidal ideas are aided by the State, city officials, and all forms of police. For them “life is precious”, unless that life is a woman, Black, brown, Indigenous, poor, unhoused, mad, queer, trans, and/or locked up. The last thing these fascistic monsters want us to do is bridge the connections between gender self-determination and all forms of body autonomy.

The recent abortion ruling is connected to the rise of anti-gay and anti-trans bills . These laws expand the State’s ability to terrorize trans people (especially young people) by further restricting and criminalizing already insufficient gender affirming care. Make no mistake, it’s going to be the police coming for people—trans or not—for having abortions and/or receiving gender affirming care. The same police that kill Black and brown trans people, sweep the lives of our unhoused neighbors, lock us up for using drugs, being mad and poor, all while they steal billions while being backed by tech and celebrated by politicians.

Trans liberation, pro-abortion politics, and prison abolition are connected to all these histories and futures that we care about.

These “pro-lifers”, Christo fascists, and politicians think they’ve already made all these decisions for us, but we are here to tell them how fucking wrong they are. For us, for our safety, and the safety of our communities.

If we want to organize against these fetus worshippers, we need strength in numbers—a coalition to confront the fascists in January 2023. If you are in the Bay Area, come to our first coalition meeting. We will have an agenda, so email us what you think should be on it! 

RSVP at GAYSHAME@RISEUP.NET .

Host: Gay Shame

Info: Abort the “Walk for Life” organizing meeting : Indybay

Sunday, September 25

7. Sunday, 1:00pm, Turning ideas into action: Taking To the Streets with FSP

Online

via Zoom, Register in advance: tinyurl.com/FSP-Sept-25-mtg

It’s been a busy summer fighting the fascists, building a movement for reproductive justice, picketing with striking workers, linking up with other leftists, and meeting new activists. Find out about the Freedom Socialist Party’s recent revolutionary feminist campaigns and actions and learn how you can get involved!

For more event information: http://www.socialism.com

Info: Turning ideas into action: Taking to the streets with the FSP : Indybay

8. Sunday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Surge of Book Banning: Ominous Move toward Fascist America – Panel Discussion

In person

Revolution Books
2444 Durant Ave.
Berkeley

A Surge of Book Banning: An Ominous Move toward a Fascist America. Needed: Resistance – and Revolution! with teacher/resister Summer Boismier, author Julia Scheeres, librarian Sheila Dickinson, & the staff of Revolution Books

We will read from some of the targeted books and discuss the epidemic of book banning, where it comes from, where it leads, and the resistance to it that is happening.

For more event information: http://revolutionbooks.org

Info: Surge of Book Banning: Ominous Move toward Fascist America Panel Discussion : Indybay

Monday, September 26

9. Monday, 12Noon – 1:30pm, No Honors & State Funeral For War Monger & Denialist Former Japanese Prive Minister Shinzo

In person

SF Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St. (nr. California)
SF

The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister has exposed the relationship of him and the Liberal Democratic Party to the Moonies. His assassination by a family member of the Moonies who had been fleeced by this rightwing religious cult based in Korea has also exposed the pro-war agenda of Abe and LDP government which is also the ideology of the Moonies.

Abe and the LDP have supported the militarization of Japan and US military bases in Okinawa and continue to push for US military presence in Japan and Okinawa including with nuclear weapons. The Abe government in its drive for war has also spent $500 million to stop memorials for the Comfort Women in San Francisco and around the world. The Comfort Women were women in Asian who were enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army for sexual exploitation during the war.

This denialism is also connected to the efforts of Abe and the LDP to cover-up the Fukushima nuclear disaster and claim that it has been “decontaminated” which is a lie. The LDP also plans to release 1.3 million tons of radioactive water with tritium into the Pacific Ocean

Initial Endorser: No Nukes Action (nonukesaction.wordpress.com) Eclipse Rising, Comfort Women Justice Coalition
United Front Committee for Labor Party

Info: No Honors & State Funeral For War Monger & Denialist Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo : Indybay

DEMOCRACY OR APOCALYPSE

Democracy or apocalypse | Aeon

Eric Voegelin and Hans Kelsen fled the Nazis. In the US, they clashed over the nature of modernity and government

German troops march through Vienna on 15 March 1938, after Hitler had entered the city proclaiming Anschluss, the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty

David Dyzenhaus is a university professor of law and philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the British Academy, and lives in Ontario.

Edited by Sam Dresser

20 September 2022 (aeon.co)

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In the 1930s, many European academics sought refuge in the United States, escaping the quickly deteriorating political situation in their home countries. Jewish scholars were ‘cleansed’ from the academy in Germany with the 1933 Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service and could sense that they were likely to lose more than their jobs if they stayed. Non-Jewish scholars of a liberal or Left persuasion also saw no future for themselves in Germany or Austria under Nazi occupation, and often had good reason to fear the same kind of fate that would befall the Jewish population of Europe.

Prominent in these vulnerable groups were philosophers, among them the majority of the Vienna Circle. It is no exaggeration to say that their transplantation to the US transformed philosophy in that country, making English the dominant language of international philosophical enquiry at the same time as depriving Germany and Austria of their best philosophical minds, with consequences for decades thereafter. There is reason for celebrating this European contribution to the academic culture of the US, as well as for mourning the loss to Europe.

It would, however, be a grave mistake to overlook that, within this migration to the US, there was a small minority of scholars who had a profoundly negative effect. They may have little influence on the academic discipline of philosophy, but they have disciples within departments of political science and in some of the most prominent law schools, including Harvard and Oxford. More important is that their influence extends far beyond the academy, and their impact is growing in the time of Brexit, Make America Great Again, Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin.

Eric Voegelin (1901-85) was the most influential member of this group, which gravitated to the intellectual circle around William Buckley and his magazine National Review, and which laid the basis for the toxic and complex blend of militant Christian conservatism, libertarianism and anti-liberalism that drives the Republican Party in the Donald Trump era. Voegelin was German, but studied at the University of Vienna, where he became a professor in the Faculty of Law in 1929. In 1938, he escaped to Switzerland then left for the US. He spent much of his career at Louisiana State University, later at the University of Munich and the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. The website of the Eric Voegelin Institute at Louisiana State claims him as ‘one of the most original and influential philosophers of our time’.

Voegelin was neither Jewish nor socialist. The intellectual historian Mark Lilla claims that Voegelin had to flee Austria because, in two books published in the early 1930s, he had attacked the ‘pseudoscientific works supporting the Nazis’ biological racism’. That made him ‘a choice target of Austrian Nazis, who authorised his arrest immediately after the Anschluss in 1938.’

Lilla’s claim is misleading. In his 1973 autobiography, Voegelin himself does not state that he feared arrest, only that he had been fired from his academic position and feared the confiscation of his passport, which would make emigration difficult. More important is that Lilla fails to situate his claim in the context in which Voegelin wrote these works, and says nothing about Voegelin’s own position at this time, thereby perpetuating the official view of Voegelin’s many admirers, which he himself was careful to encourage.

Voegelin was a prominent member of ‘Black Vienna’, intellectuals who embraced a fascist anti-scientific view

In his autobiography, Voegelin writes that his critique of biological theory as a basis for racism was ‘not quite compatible with National Socialism’ and that one of his first books on this topic ‘was withdrawn from circulation by the publisher and the remainder of the edition was destroyed’. However, Voegelin was an enthusiastic proponent of other equally racist theories, and he advanced a metaphysical and spiritual justification for them. He ends his second book, The History of the Race Idea (1933), with a hymn to race ‘not as a scientific concept but a tool for interpreting the meaning of one’s own life and the broader life of the community’. He continues:

It is not merely the creation of a passive attempt at ‘understanding’, but an instrument in service of the future shaping of the community; it is the idea of community as a bodily context as it is projected into the future by its members.

He differed from the Nazis only in that, as Aurel Kolnai put it in the first comprehensive study of Nazi and fascist ideology, The War Against the West (1938), he ‘always stayed at a certain refined distance from partisan scholarship’. And as Kolnai notes:

if this condemns Voegelin in Hitler’s eyes, it does not by any means acquit him in ours … In so far as he is on bad terms with official Naziism, he is not the only man to incur such misfortune through stating the Nazi Weltanschauung too intelligently.

In addition, Lilla ignores the fact that in the 1930s Voegelin was a prominent member of ‘Black Vienna’, the group of intellectuals who embraced a fascist anti-scientific view of the world against the liberal Left-leaning Vienna Circle sorts. The work that followed his two books extolling the race idea as the key to politics was The Authoritarian State: An Essay on the Problem of the Austrian State (1936). His claim there is not that authoritarianism is the problem of the Austrian state; rather, it is the cure for the political problems of the pluralistic state order in Austria, a cure that began when, in the midst of the political crisis of 1934, the fascist politician and federal chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss dissolved parliament and assumed dictatorial powers. The point of the book is how to make the Austrian state into as efficient an instrument of fascist rule as possible.

Voegelin is less reticent than his disciples in acknowledging what he was up to. In his autobiography, he remarks scornfully that

The Austrian veering toward Mussolini as a protection against the worst evil of Hitler apparently was beyond the comprehension of ardent Marxists, who could do nothing but yell ‘Fascism’.

He goes on to say that the book was his ‘first major attempt to … understand that an authoritarian state that would keep radical ideologists in check was the best possible defence of democracy.’

Voegelin went beyond words to action. He was a member of a secret committee of the community college Ottakring, which recommended and achieved the ‘political cleansing’ of its staff: that is, firing those academics whose views were opposed to the new state. And there was enough support in the early 1930s in Germany for Voegelin’s more academically refined kind of racism for him to try to get a position after Hitler’s seizure of power by sending his books on race along with supplicating letters to Nazi academics teaching at German institutions. He was rejected the first time because of his relationship with the philosopher of law Hans Kelsen, who had supervised his doctorate in the 1920s and was of Jewish ancestry. That prompted Voegelin to write a long letter proving his ‘Aryan’ purity and proclaiming his distance, both academically and in other respects, from Kelsen. He was again rejected. But that would not be the last of his dealings with Kelsen.

Kelsen was the leading philosopher of law of his time – perhaps of all time. But proximity to him was fatal to the job prospects of someone who wanted to join the Nazi academy. Kelsen had authored important works defending liberal democracy and the place of judicial review in upholding such a democracy with its commitment to the rule of law. He also had written the 1920 Austrian constitution, still in force today, in the process designing the world’s first dedicated constitutional court, and he sat as a judge on its first bench.

In 1930, Kelsen left Vienna for an academic position in Cologne because of Right-wing attacks on him for his role on the Court. In Cologne, he played an important part in the existentially important debates in late Weimar with his reactionary colleague Carl Schmitt about who should be considered the ‘guardian of the constitution’. In a work that is Voegelin’s principal point of reference in The Authoritarian State, Schmitt argued that the Weimar Constitution required that the president of the republic and not any court must decide high matters of constitutional politics. Kelsen responded that Schmitt’s argument had nothing to do with the law. It boiled down to the claim that only the head of the executive is capable of guaranteeing the substantive homogeneity of the people, which requires getting rid of parliamentary democracy and social pluralism, and that consequently all legal authority should be located in the head.

Because Kelsen was of Jewish ancestry, he was fired from his position in 1933 (Schmitt was the only colleague who refused to sign a letter of protest). Kelsen made his way via Geneva and Prague to the US and, in contrast to Voegelin, ended up an obscure and lonely figure in the Berkeley political science department.

Kelsen is one of Voegelin’s main targets in his books from the 1930s. In Race and State (1933), Voegelin identifies Kelsen’s theory of law as a prime example of the main problem with the German tradition of Staatslehre, which takes the abstract explanation of the nature of the modern state as the main task for academic enquiry in politics and law. Kelsen thinks that the task involves understanding the state in a value-neutral fashion as it manifests itself in any social or political context. He deliberately excludes moral, political and social considerations from his attempt to construct a scientific account of legal order as a system of norms, a theory of the authority of the modern legal state. For Voegelin, this attempt must fail since it ‘purges’ from enquiry consideration of the role of the ‘person and the community’. The racial theories that he lists in the book are, he thinks, on the right track at least in that they seek to be grounded in social and anthropological reality, where ‘anthropology’ means not the study of actual groups, so much as a philosophical theory of the person as a social being. He then elaborated this critique of Kelsen in a 50-page discussion in The Authoritarian State.

It was politically risky for Kelsen to publish such a defence of Marxism in the McCarthy era

However, there was no contact between the two until the early 1950s, when Voegelin wrote to Kelsen because he had learned that Kelsen was engaged in reviewing his book The New Science of Politics (1952). In the testy correspondence that followed, Voegelin attempted to assure Kelsen, who is not mentioned in the book, that he did not consider his former supervisor to be a target of his critiques. Kelsen was unconvinced and deeply troubled by what he took to be the political implications of Voegelin’s work. But both his original response and a longer version were published only posthumously because Kelsen withdrew his review twice after it had been accepted by different presses. (The second time around, he withdrew it at the galley proof stage and had to reimburse the press a large sum to cover its costs.) Why couldn’t Kelsen bring himself to publish?

The Hans Kelsen-Institut in Vienna, which oversaw the publication of Kelsen’s longer response, suggests that the answer may lie in the fact that Kelsen defended Marx’s critique of religion against Voegelin’s charge that Marxism is a secular religion and that it was politically risky to publish such a defence in the McCarthy era. In a detailed account of this saga, Bjørn Thomassen rejects this hypothesis. He diagnoses Kelsen’s bid to take down Voegelin as due to the offence of the Doktorvater – the evocative German term for supervisor – at the revolt of a former student. And he argues that Kelsen’s reluctance to publish was evidence of his inability to confront fully Voegelin’s critique of ‘Gnosticism’. While Voegelin himself was customarily vague about this idea, he seemed to suppose that it is the belief that, while God has vanished from the world, a select few have access to a vision of the transcendent divine, which they can bring to earth through some apocalypse. Voegelin applies the label ‘Gnosticism’ promiscuously to any political ideology that seeks to put into practice its vision of the ideal society. On this view, communism, Nazism and liberalism are equally gnostic, that is, secular religions.

Thomassen’s first claim can’t be right since Kelsen had ignored Voegelin for many years. But the second raises a puzzle well stated by Lilla. Lilla says that Voegelin was an ‘amateur historian’ of great range, so great that Lilla says he may seem like Mr Casaubon, the ‘obsessive polymath’ of George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch (1871-72), ‘whose search for the “key to all mythologies” left him only torsos of unfinished works’. Lilla finds that Voegelin’s trawls though the history of Western thought did indeed come up with a key of sorts: ‘guiding all Voegelin’s writing was a basic intuition about the relation between religion and politics, and how transformations in that relation could explain the cataclysms of modern history’. That intuition turns out to be a claim about ‘immanentising the eschaton’, advanced in The New Science of Politics: the history of ideas in the West, according to Voegelin, should be read as a clash between various ‘Gnostic’ ideologies.

The 1950s debate shows that Voegelin’s fascist and racist books from the 1930s cannot be brushed aside as a youthful indiscretion. Voegelin himself thought that they laid the basis for his postwar work, and they make explicit what in his postwar work became implicit, as Kelsen clearly discerned and in fact argued in print in ‘Foundations of Democracy’ (1955), a 101-page article that took up one whole issue of Ethics, a leading philosophy journal. It was this article that most likely obviated the need for Kelsen to publish his reviews of The New Science of Politics – his analysis was so devastating that there was little more to be said.

Perhaps because Voegelin’s name is to be found only in the footnotes, this article seems to have escaped the attention of many commentators, despite the fact that Kelsen devotes several pages close to the beginning to a sustained critique of ‘the new science of politics’. He begins by identifying the central problem of politics after the war as the threat posed by Soviet communism, because it fights ‘the democratic idea under the disguise of democratic terminology’ in presenting the dictatorship of the Party as the rule of the proletariat. Soon into the article, however, he turns to an analysis of a ‘quite similar pattern of thought’, using as the exemplar Voegelin’s book The New Science of Politics. He notes that it contains the distinction between an ‘elemental’ and an ‘existential’ type of representation. He then sets out the point of the distinction. The elemental type, that is, the institutions of representative democracy, is merely formal, lacking any ‘substance’. ‘Substance’ can be delivered only by the existential type, which Kelsen disinters from Voegelin’s obfuscations as amounting to the equivalent of a one-party state in which the leader represents the ‘society as a whole’, and which is identified with the state to the extent that the ‘state’ as a concept is not present in Voegelin’s reflections.

It is this bond between the leader and the people that Voegelin designates as ‘existential’, one that is corrupted if it is mediated by the institutions of representative democracy. Kelsen argues that the bond is ‘fascistic’ in nature, though he recognises that this is an implication rather than anything Voegelin directly states. And he makes it clear in a footnote that in his view there is no distance between Schmitt’s fascist theory of democracy advanced in late Weimar and Voegelin’s ‘science of politics’. Such a theory holds that only a strong leader unfettered by institutional constraints – a dictator – can existentially represent the group that counts authentically as ‘the people’.

Kelsen showed how shallow Voegelin’s knowledge was, despite his much-vaunted breadth

Kelsen’s book-length responses do, however, add something useful. For example, in The New Science of Politics, Voegelin closes his book with an analysis of Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651). He says that Hobbes saw the need to found the state on the basis of a civil faith, but did so by ‘throwing out anthropological and soteriological truth’, that is, respectively, the truth of the correct philosophical conception of the social individual, and the truth offered by religious doctrines of salvation. This leads, he claims, to what he calls the ‘destruction of the truth of the soul’ and the ‘fallacious immanentisation of the Christian eschaton’.

As Kelsen points out, this is a highly partial, one might say dishonest, interpretation of Hobbes. Hobbes explicitly rejected the idea that there could be a final stage of humankind. Rather, he wished to design a modern legal state in which people could live together peacefully, despite their very different conceptions of the good, and with rulers disabused of the idea that they are able to force belief in any idea of the soul or salvation. This, Hobbes realised, would be a fragile achievement, subject to all sorts of perils, and its design had to take into account and remain open to human experience and nothing more in seeking to build a stable and decent society for any given political community.

Hobbes, then, had no aim of creating a world without religion, nor indeed a civil faith beyond one that supposed that careful attention to human capacities to craft institutional solutions to the problem of how to live peacefully together suffices and will bear fruit, as long as we remain open to our collective experience as human beings in this world. When it comes to our common lives, all that transcends human experience is more of such experience, not anything that is claimed by some dreamer of the absolute to have been ‘revealed’ to them. Kelsen thus showed how shallow Voegelin’s knowledge was, despite his much-vaunted breadth.

Kelsen concluded the first draft of his response to Voegelin by noting the apparent irony in the fact that his closing observation in The New Science of Politics is that ‘there is a glimmer of hope’ in that ‘the American and English democracies which most solidly in their institutions represent the truth of the soul are, at the same time, existentially the strongest powers’. Kelsen failed to quote the next line: ‘But it will require all our efforts to kindle this glimmer into a flame by repressing Gnostic corruption and restoring the forces of civilisation’. However, he did comment on the implicit claim in it, saying that ‘[t]his is the – quite contradictory – truth of gnosticism as to the nature of modernity. It is in the end Voegelin’s gnostic dream.’

What then is the content of the dream? Written in 1951 for the Walgreen Lectures, and then revised and published in 1952, Voegelin’s concluding observations to The New Science of Politics were made at a time when one could view these two democracies as not only having triumphed over the Nazis, but also as superior in force to the communist bloc. Within the couple of pages that precede the observations, and which appear at first sight oddly tacked on to the body of the book, Voegelin suggests that what makes democracy distinctive is that it ‘preserved the institutional culture of aristocratic parlamentism as well as the mores of a Christian commonwealth, now sanctioned as national institutions.’ Similarly, while the American Revolution was ‘strongly affected by the psychology of the enlightenment’, it also ‘had the good fortune of coming to its close within the institutional and Christian climate of the ancien régime.’ These two democracies had not, as the French and German revolutions had done, brought about ‘modernity without restraint’, by which he meant liberalism run wild.

These pages are not as oddly tacked on as they might at first appear. As Kelsen discerned, the content of the dream is have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too. The substantive homogeneity of a majority Christian and white political community is in place, ruled over by an aristocratic elite who will remain in power because of the longstanding institutional arrangements in which people trust. The pages are then a somewhat disguised wink to the cognoscenti. The majority of the population think they have – and trust in – rule by the stable democratic institutions that make up the body politic of ‘we, the people’. But, in reality, they are living in the ‘Christian climate of the ancien régime’.

There is then, they suppose, no need to put in place fascism because illiberal democracy suffices

However, since the 1950s, the political climate has changed. For Voegelin’s disciples, it has become ‘modernity without restraint’, in the US, the era ushered in by the Civil Rights movement, the Warren Court, and feminism; the election of a Black president; the Me Too and the Defund the Police movements, and of trans rights. Like Voegelin, his disciples see liberalism as even more pernicious than explicitly authoritarian ideologies. It claims not only to be secular, but also neutral in that the only good it promotes is the good of a stable political order in which individuals can pursue their own conceptions of the good on peaceful terms. Like him, they argue that liberalism’s relegation of the pursuit of the good to the private sphere of individual life is deeply corrosive of many conceptions of the good, especially the authentically religious ones, and through such corrosion it promotes its own version of the millennium at the expense of all others.

Unlike Voegelin, they do not see the need to ‘veer towards Mussolini’ since they have learned a lesson about democracy that was unavailable to the likes of Voegelin and Schmitt in the 1930s. Their main teacher is Hungary’s Orbán, and he has taught that the political space need not exclude democracy as long as the version of democracy is ‘illiberal democracy’. This is a democracy whose institutions have been hollowed out or captured so that, first, the return of the ruler in periodic elections is guaranteed to the extent possible and, second, institutions such as parliaments and the judiciaries are disabled from mediating the promulgation of the common good by the ruler. There is then, they suppose, no need to put in place fascism because illiberal democracy suffices for what the US Senator Joshua Hawley, in a Voegelin-inspired essay, called ‘A Christian Vision for Kingdom Politics’.

It is because Kelsen saw clearly the content of that dream, as set out in his article in Ethics, that he was impelled to try to expose Voegelin’s agenda. As our world today tragically shows, he was all too prescient. The enemies of democracy are not just Russia’s Putin and wacky extremist groups. They have been for some time within our gates, indeed, the gates of our academies. They are the true gnostics. They are realistic enough to know that the return of theocratic rule according to the dictates of their own militant version of Christianity is not realisable in practice. So they make a pact with whatever anti-liberal forces share enough of the tenets of their ideology to make for some common ground; and they disguise their hatred of the achievements of liberal democracy under the pretext of saving us from the control of cosmopolitan, rootless elites, a rhetoric with a frightful past.

The only mistake Kelsen made was to suppose that his theory of the rule-of-law state is value neutral. As Volodymyr Zelensky is teaching us, the liberal democratic state with its commitment to the rule of law rests on profound value commitments, so profound that the people of Ukraine are dying to preserve them.

Thinkers and theoriesPolitical philosophyValues and beliefs

Berkeley’s ‘hot tub guy,’ who opened his home to secret skinny dipping, dies at 78

Annie Vainshtein

Sep. 19, 2022Updated: Sep. 19, 2022 10:27 a.m. (SFChronicle.com)

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Deward Hastings, in an undated photo. Hastings, of Berkeley, Calif. Known as Berkeley’s “hot tub guy,” Hastings passed away at the age of 78.
Deward Hastings, in an undated photo. Hastings, of Berkeley, Calif. Known as Berkeley’s “hot tub guy,” Hastings passed away at the age of 78.Provided Sippa Pardo

For almost 50 years, he was known as the “hot tub guy,” a former hippie in Berkeley who ran a semi-secret hot tub in his backyard that tens of thousands of locals — and travelers — were free to dip into, if they knew where to look, or had the code.

But on Saturday, Deward Hastings, the 78-year-old man who for many years was only known by his alias, was found deceased in the hot tub by a guest who was also soaking in the tub that day, his wife, Sippa Pardo, 73, confirmed to The Chronicle.

“I guess it can be revealed now,” said Pardo, referring to his name.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the cause of death, but foul play is not suspected, they said. Hastings was found at 4:50 p.m. in the hot tub.

Pardo, who was married to Hastings for 12 years but has now been estranged from him for another 12 years, said she is Hastings’ only next of kin. The couple had no children.

Born in San Mateo on January 24, 1944, Hastings first floated the idea of a secret but communal hot tub in the early 1970s, when he noticed on his backpacking travels how many nearby natural hot springs had been shut down.

“The obvious solution,” he told The Chronicle in 2000, “was to build a hot spring.”

He opened his natural hot springs operation in 1975 and it ran out of his Essex Street home in Berkeley. It was open to virtually anyone who was looking for a soak up until the 1980s, when Hastings had to find a workaround to deal with the “Telegraph Avenue dregs of society,” he told The Chronicle, referring to drunken crowds that would stumble into his house after a night of heavy drinking.

Hastings eventually settled on a complex lock-code system that would keep visitors to around 60 people per day.

Annie Vainshtein is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: avainshtein@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @annievain

Written By Annie Vainshtein

Annie is a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle. She previously was a digital producer for The Chronicle’s Datebook section. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2017 with a degree in journalism. During her time there, she spearheaded a culture column, produced radio pieces for NPR-affiliate station KCBX, and was a DJ and writer for KCPR, the campus radio station. Before joining the Chronicle, she was an associate producer at SFGATE and interned at VICE and Flood Magazine. She’s particularly interested in communities and scenes that are often misunderstood.VIEW COMMENTS

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Nobody Should Be Shocked by GOP Cruelty—It’s Their Whole Brand

greg-abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks alongside former President Donald Trump during a tour to an unfinished section of the border wall on June 30, 2021 in Pharr, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Republicans simply don’t believe that protecting the people of America is a legitimate function of government.

THOM HARTMANN September 20, 2022 (CommonDreams.org)

Editorials in America’s major newspapers are shocked—shocked, I tell you!—that DeSantis and Abbott would exploit asylum-seekers to rack up votes from their racist base.

Death, disease, and racism are the coin of the realm for today’s GOP.

Whatever happened to government being the power that helped people, they want to know?

But it was entirely predictable. Even, recently, by actual medical scientists.

The Lancet is arguably the most respected medical journal in the world. Founded in London in 1823, its reputation is impeccable and it only publishes science that’s peer-reviewed and scientifically sound.

Which is why their indictment of the four years of Republican rule under Trump, McConnell, and McCarthy—and the ongoing racism Republicans are today stoking—is particularly worthy of our attention.

“Trump exploited low and middle-income white people’s anger over their deteriorating life prospects,” the Lancet’s Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era wrote, “to mobilize racial animus and xenophobia and enlist their support for policies that benefit high-income people and corporations and threaten health.”

Published in February, 2020—the last year of Trump’s dystopian reign—this commission’s shocking report lays out for the world’s public health community exactly how monstrous, cruel, and depraved Trump and his GOP cronies behaved in the face of a worldwide public health crisis.

They actually called out GOP fealty to the corporate elite and billionaire class.

“His signature legislative achievement,” the Lancet commission wrote, “a trillion-dollar tax cut for corporations and high-income individuals, opened a budget hole that he used to justify cutting food subsidies and health care.”

We shouldn’t be surprised that the world’s top medical journal pointed out how disastrous Trump’s presidency was for the American people in real time. It’s simply the logical extension of conservative policies on pretty much everything for the past 90 years.

Republicans simply don’t believe it’s part of the job of government to provide for the “general welfare” of the American people like the Constitution says; instead, government—in their minds—should only run the police and the military, while maintaining a stable currency and court system so big business and billionaires can function.

Republicans, for example, don’t believe government should help the elderly avoid poverty. A safe retirement should only go to those who set aside money during their working years, they say, and Social Security should be run by private insurance companies, as President George W. Bush told us in 2005. Republicans have tried to cripple, privatize or destroy Social Security year after year ever since the 1930s when it was created.

Similarly, the GOP argues that government shouldn’t pay for health care anywhere, anytime because, they say, that should come out of people’s own pockets. If we want protection from serious illness or accidents, they say, we can buy private insurance. Republicans have tried to cripple, privatize or destroy Medicare and Medicaid since the 1960s when these programs were created.

As The Lancet commission pointed out:

“Although [Trump’s] effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, he weakened its coverage and increased the number of uninsured people by 2·3 million, even before the mass dislocation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has accelerated the privatisation of government health programmes.”

Public health is a multi-dimensional undertaking, The Lancet commission points out, and Trump even packed the courts to sabotage it in America.

“He chose judges for US courts,” they wrote, “who are dismissive of affirmative action and reproductive, labour, civil, and voting rights; ordered the mass detention of immigrants in hazardous conditions; and promulgated regulations that reduce access to abortion and contraception in the USA and globally.”

Regardless of how the rest of the developed world works to keep their citizens safe and well, the GOP throws in exclusively with big corporations and rightwing billionaires.

Republicans even have the gall to lecture us that government’s job isn’t to protect citizens from being poisoned by industrial pollution or protect our rivers, lakes, oceans, or air; these are all the jobs of private industry.

Since 1920 when Republican Warren Harding successfully ran for president on the platform of “Less government in business and more business in government” (deregulate and privatize), GOP politicians have championed deregulation and privatization as the solution to almost all problems.

As The Lancet commission noted:

“Trump’s hostility to environmental regulations has already worsened pollution—resulting in more than 22,000 extra [American] deaths in 2019 alone—hastened global warming, and despoiled national monuments and lands sacred to Native people.”

Back in 2000, when Mike Pence was running for Congress, he published an op-ed explaining how Republicans think about public health. About 340,000 Americans died that year from smoking-related illness, but, Pence wrote:

“Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”

Instead, much like Trump saying during the worst of the pandemic that most people who get COVID don’t die from it and that lots of Americans die from the flu, Pence added, “In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer.”

Instead, Pence said we should be wary of:

“Government big enough to protect us from our own stubborn wills.”

After all, Pence pointed out:

“[A] government of such plenary power, once conceived will hardly stop at tobacco. Surely the scourge of fatty foods and their attendant cost to the health care economy bears some consideration. How about the role of caffeine in fomenting greater stress in the lives of working Americans? Don’t get me started about the dangers of sports utility vehicles!”

Which should remind us that Republicans even fought against seat belt laws and other car safety regulations, as well as nutrition labeling on children’s cereals and baby food, and country-of-origin labeling on any foods.

And, as The Lancet points out, they continue to block action on climate change, which is killing Americans from coast to coast via floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and heatstroke.

If Mike Pence was just fine with hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from an entirely preventable tobacco addiction, why would he fret about a half-million dying from the Covid virus on his watch?

As The Lancet commission points out in this analysis:

“Disdain for science and cuts to global health programmes and public health agencies have impeded the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, and imperil advances against HIV and other diseases.”

Today’s Republican Party is simply carrying on a long tradition of conservatives and libertarians, arguing there’s no role for government in helping or protecting the American people (unless they’re billionaires).

As the late billionaire David Koch put into his platform when he ran for vice president in 1980 on the Libertarian ticket:

“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

Reflecting conservative philosophy dating back to the 1920s, Koch even called for:

“[T]he abolition of the governmental Postal Service,” “the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency,” and “the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”

After the Republican Great Depression struck in 1929 and about a third of Americans lost their jobs, homeless exploded, and hunger stalked the land, Republican President Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, famously argued that saving the economy and American workers was the duty of the private sector, not government.

Instead of helping out working people, Mellon’s advice was just to let everything crash, and the very, very rich (like himself) would eventually pick up the pieces and start over.

“Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate,” Republican Treasury Secretary Mellon said. “Purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down… enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

Republicans simply don’t believe that protecting the people of America is a legitimate function of government.

And they’re strengthened and disciplined in that belief by the billions of dollars industry and hard-right billionaires shower on them every year at every level of elected politics.

We’re literally the only developed country in the world where this bizarre belief is held by about half the nation’s politicians. We’re also, not by coincidence, the only developed nation where healthcare is a mere privilege rather than a right.

The story of how Florida Republicans let a young mother of three die illustrates how cruel this Republican system is.

Charlene Dill lived in Florida and was working several part-time jobs (house cleaning and babysitting); she’d added a gig selling vacuum cleaners, just barely getting by while parenting 3 young children.

As her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich wrote at the time and later told me in a phone interview:

“She paid her property taxes and took care of her little trailer, which she owned, and got all three of her kids to school and daycare. She was a very responsible person.”

As Woolrich noted, after feeling pain in her chest:

“She went to the emergency room in 2012 and was told she had heart issues and needed monitoring and medication. But the Florida Republican Party and Governor Rick Scott had turned down $51 billion federal dollars for [Obamacare’s 2009] Medicaid expansion, so she had to work extra to pay for the meds and the ER was her doctor’s office.”

On March 21st, 2014 Charlene was going to get together with Woolrich and her daughter, who’d essentially grown up with Dill’s kids, but first she had to earn a few more dollars to pay for her heart medication, which she’d been cutting back on because of its cost.

The Affordable Care Act would have paid for Charlene’s doctor’s visits and medications, but then-Governor Rick Scott was particularly incensed by that prospect and had refused to expand Florida’s Medicaid system under Obamacare.

So, after spending a day cleaning houses, Charlene headed out to a lead in Kissimmee, a small town near her trailer near Orlando, where a family had indicated an interest in buying a Rainbow Vacuum Cleaner.

In the middle of the sales pitch her heart stopped, and, in the early evening of March 21, 2014, she fell over, unconscious. The family she was visiting called an ambulance and Charlene was taken to the Poinciana medical center, but she was already dead at age 32.

“I am burying my best friend because of [Governor] Rick Scott and the policies of the Republican Party,” Kathleen Voss Woolrich wrote. “She is one of the 7 people who will die each day because the Florida House of Representatives Republicans and the Tea Party decided that we are not worth living. We are not worth healthcare. We are not worth Medicaid expansion.”

Woolrich added:

“I’ll never have her back. I’ll never see my friend again. I’ll never have another day with her because of the [Florida] Republican House of Representatives.”

(Ironically, Scott’s hospital company, that he sold just before becoming governor, paid a $1.7 billion fine after being convicted of the largest Medicare fraud in the history of our country, all on his watch. He walked away with nearly $100 million that he used to leverage himself into the Governor’s office and then the US Senate. And now he’s pushing the end of both Medicare and Social Security.)

Charlene’s then-Congressman Alan Grayson, wrote for The Tampa Bay Tribune, “This young mother didn’t have to die.” Charlene Dill, a hardworking, loving single mother of three young children, was just 32 years old.

Charlene died because multi-multi-millionaire Republican and then-Florida Governor (now US Senator) Rick Scott—and the entire US Republican Party—don’t believe government should provide healthcare to the working poor.

Just like Republicans running this November are still chanting the mantra of “small government” while the closest they’ll get to anything having to do with medicine is trying to insert themselves between women and their physicians.

Or that the GOP today wants to end Social Security and has already half-privatized Medicare.

Or that they’re lying to refugee seekers in order to get their cruel treatment of brown-skinned people in the headlines.

The world was shocked by the callous way Republicans governed when given a chance, and The Lancet gave credible voice to this horror.

The world’s top medical journal, a British publication, has put it on the record for posterity as we head toward the 2022 election, and the GOP hasn’t budged an inch toward helping working people instead of just billionaires.

They’re pushing abortion policies that kill women even as Greg Abbott is hiding maternal death numbers in Texas from the federal government.

Florida’s Senator Rick Scott is continuing his deadly war on healthcare for non-millionaires with his “11 Point Plan” that would end Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, programs that help low-income pregnant women, and Social Security.

President Biden is building back federal agencies like the EPA that protect the lives of Americans, even as Republicans use the filibuster to block the best of his efforts to expand green power and reduce the poisonous emissions of the fossil fuel industry that are, today, killing Americans every week while destroying our planet.

Across-the-board federally, and in state-after-state, Republicans consistently prioritize tax cuts for the morbidly rich, loopholes for giant corporations, and death and destruction for working class and poor families.

Death, disease, and racism are the coin of the realm for today’s GOP.

But to Americans this was nothing new; it’s what Republicans always do.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Thom Hartmann

THOM HARTMANN

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of “The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream” (2020); “The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America” (2019); and more than 25 other books in print.