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Green writes: "The suspense is over. The barbarians are not at the gates, they're inside."

Russian president Vladimir Putin. (photo: Reuters)
Russian president Vladimir Putin. (photo: Reuters)

Seven Theses

By Philip Green, Reader Supported News

09 July 18


. The Present

Engels proclaimed in the 19th century that the choice was “Socialism or Barbarism.” The suspense is over. The barbarians are not at the gates, they’re inside. More, they’re inside the Temple: ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, Orthodox Christians in Russia, fundamentalists in the Islamic world, evangelical Christians in America. The New Testament as a blueprint for theocratic tyranny and contempt for the weak, the stateless, the needy. No need for Attila; any minister will do.

II. The Constitution

Stalin famously asked, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” The answer is not recorded, though we know the Pope won in the end. Donald Trump has asked, over and over again, “How many divisions does the Constitution have?” And the answer, over and over, has been crystal clear to him: None. Lots of handwringing by liberal lawyers on MSNBC, exegeses of what this or that passage really means, outcries by Democrats. Drops of fresh tears in the ocean of salt. The 14th and 15th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act are dead. In the latter case, Vladimir Putin, the international gangster whose boots he lovingly licks, will help cement the elimination of “free and fair” elections. The 1st and 2nd Amendments are perverted beyond recovery; due process (Amendments 4, 5, and 6) and the Rule of Law have been effectively abolished, the DOJ turned into a “Handmaid” of tyranny.

The President is the most powerful person on the Planet; nothing he has done or does can be overturned) no matter what happens in the Midterms. The Supremes, soon to be instantiated as the High Court of Theocracy and Autocracy, as well as an obeisant Republican Party, will ensure all that. The Constitution is indeed, as has sometimes been said, but a piece of parchment. Shreddable. Or like Wiley E. Coyote, it’s been running off the edge of a cliff while pretending it wasn’t falling. Gravity has won.

III. The Police State

Concentration camps. A legitimized Gestapo that rules at will, wherever it goes, with brute force behind it. Geheimestaatspolizei. Violence cannot be contained at a border. The knock on the door is the Law. Militarized police enforce White Supremacy. As one German commentator put it, we have “Anti-Semitism without Jews.” On this Continent, Muslims and Central Americans will serve just as well. Not to mention transsexuals. And uppity young blacks. And women who don’t treat their fetuses with proper respect.

IV. “Totalization”

Let us celebrate all those clever accommodationists who predicted the “end of ideology,” the “triumph of liberal democracy,” and best of all, the end of “totalizing theories,” i.e. Marxism, i.e., “totalitarianism.” Just as the final totalization of all, the unregulated “free” market, was taking over everywhere. Like those TV sports analysts who lucidly explain why something is happening one play before the opposite comes crashing to life.

Totalization: in a perfect inversion of Michael Walzer’s Spheres of Justice, there is no sphere of social living that can justly resist that takeover, nothing that can’t be bought or sold, no scrap of welfare that can’t be dispensed with, except of course the military budget, the first-resort instrument of white male justice and the capitalism with which it has made its peace. Ralph Miliband coined the term “totalitarian capitalism” to describe China. Or coming to a theater near you, government by the Kochs, the Adelson, the Thieles, the Mercers. But sure, Leon Golub can hang his art anywhere.

V. Fascism

The climb may have been difficult, but the descent is proving to be easy. The recipe is simple. The Devil’s Bargain: the plutocracy gets the votes of the white supremacy tribe – by no means limited to the so-called “working class.” In return, the Authoritarian Populist mob, its appeal to violence unrestrained, gets to rule over its opponents in the name of “The People.” When I hear that phrase I reach for my passport. In the immortal words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Liberals keep complaining incredulously, “but they’re voting against their own interests!” Fateful misunderstanding. For nihilism and bigotry, there’s always work to be done. The only requirement is a leader who will call that spirit from the vasty deep. The mob then votes for the grandest self-interest of all: revenge. Schadenfreude. Ressentiment. Straight out of Central Europe. Smash families? Steal children? The best “fuck you” money can buy. Melted ice caps lapping at our shores? “There will be rain tonight ... Let it come down.” “Find what occurred at Linz/What huge imago made a psychopathic god.” Or in Queens. The license to say “Fuck you” to everyone you hate, or feel hard done by, or envy, or above all, feel dispossessed by, robbed of your centuries-old reward of over-representation.

VI. Resistance

The police are either legitimate or they are not. If they are, nothing more to be said. If not, nothing will come out of nothing. Not marches in the park, not articles in The Nation, not even female veterans of combat running for office everywhere. Good for morale. But they only understand force. Masses: blocking the Courthouse steps, as in Poland; taking over the forbidden voting places; keeping ICE out of churches, workplaces, homes. Fighting back. Not going gentle: making them know what they have to do, and forcing them to do it – letting everyone see their true colors, the stakes, the cost. Losing, but not surrendering.

VII. The Future?

Nothing is fixed; it’s not only shit that happens. But, “imagine a boot, stamping on a human face ...”

~ Philip Green

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

Philip Green is Professor Emeritus, Smith College, and author of Taking Sides: A Memoir in Stories, and American Democracy: Theory, Practice, Critique.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-07-09 14:45
These are interesting Nietzsche-like aphorisms. It was actually Rosa Luxemburg who coined this phrase "Socialism or Barbarism." She attributed it to Engels but actually she invented it for her 1915 book "The Crisis in Germany Social Democracy." She wrote this in prison at the depths of WW I, which she and most other communists considered a capitalist war and a harbinger of the future of capitalism -- total and permanent war. She was right. So for her barbarism is capitalism and war. We know this perfectly well, not.

The rise of fundamentalism has been stimulated by western imperialism. The real power is in capitalism, not the fundamentalists . They are victims.

I also think the US president is not the most powerful person on earth. Presidents come and go. The Deep State remains and runs the presidency as a figure head or a puppet show to entertain the masses.

Thanks for the final line of T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Wasteland." This was Eliot's vision of the coming barbarism of the 20th century. His response was to turn to fascism and Anglicanism. He, too, was a harbinger of the rest of the 20th century. Still, it is the best poem of all of the 20th century.
+3 # Farafalla 2018-07-09 17:51
As dark a read as this is, it nonetheless itemizes the ways in which the fascist state and its components are being assembled right under our jaded noses.

I wonder what our now growing army of trolls will comment if they do at all. Maybe RR will come to TrumPutin's defense.
+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-07-10 11:09
No need to defend Putin or Trump. The comments he makes about both are anachronistic. For example,

"The 14th and 15th Amendments and the Voting Rights Act are dead. In the latter case, Vladimir Putin, the international gangster whose boots he lovingly licks, will help cement the elimination of “free and fair” elections."

Free and fair election in the US died long before Putin even came on the scene. Remember the Supreme court and Bush v. Gore? Remember Diebold and voting computers? The CIA has been rigging elections around the world, including inside the US, since it was founded in 1948. Putin was not even born then. Trump was 1 year old.

What's wrong with MOFOs like this is that they think the world began last year. Like most TV watchers, they don't remember much of anything that is not currently on TV.
+1 # librarian1984 2018-07-10 12:43
You wouldn't recognize a troll if it bit you in the arse, FlufferNutter, and you fixate on nonsense like rsn supposedly harassing you, just you. #Sad

But props for at least talking about the article first. That's an improvement at least.
+9 # Bruce-Man-Do 2018-07-09 18:31
Wow. Just, wow. This guy's even more depressing than Chris Hedges, and that's saying something!
Let's see what the midterm bring, before we enervate all our friends with our despair, OK?
+5 # librarian1984 2018-07-10 12:48
haha I love Chris Hedges but he REALLY is fatalistic, and you're right -- the midterms may be a game changer.

Hell, I'm not happy about much of anything going on lately -- but we survived Attila and Caligula and Hitler and Joe McCarthy et al.
Evil does a lot of harm but life finds a way, and is not nearly as fragile as glass. I learned that from gardening.
+11 # Jaax88 2018-07-09 18:51
Hell of a scenario, but that is what we are getting, unless people get off their butts resist, organize, say hello no and vote.
+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-07-10 10:56
jaax -- vote for whom? Hillary. She is showing signs of running in 2020.

I think most people on this site did vote and we still got screwed. To me, the answer is that we need a new democratic party. Throw the bums out.
+18 # suzyskier 2018-07-09 19:02
That was most depressing and frightening! At first I thought it was hopeless too, like we should just cave in and accept this 4th Reich. But I just can’t! Where do I sign up? I will not sit by and let these fascists steal this country! Help!
+3 # librarian1984 2018-07-11 11:59
I am just too ornery to let those SOBs win.

The young people are with us. That improves our odds considerably.
+10 # Porfiry 2018-07-09 19:13
I strenuously object to the contention that the so-called "evangelical Christians" (I contend they are neither) are imposing the New Testament on us. The New Testament stresses care for "the weak, the stateless, the needy." If you stoop to opening the New Testament read what Jesus says in Matthew 25:31-46: care for the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, and sick. "Whatever you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done unto me." It's just the opposite to what you contend. Care for the least has its roots in the New Testament which has its roots in the Old. You are absolutely wrong in your contention -- just like the so-called "evangelical Christians."
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-07-10 11:02
Porf -- I agree. He must be mistaken about the New Testament. There have been a lot of readers of the New Testament who were totalitarians -- Augustine, Jerome, and others.

St. Paul is a bit crazy but his readers have taken him to an extreme.

Actually, the Christian Fundamentalists are pushing the Old Testament. Now that is a vile and destructive book. We should reject the linking of the Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ with the Hebrew Tribal Epic which was an innovation by Clement of Alexandria. The god of many Evangelicals is Yahweh, not Jesus. Two totally different dieties.
+10 # tedrey 2018-07-10 11:39
It's never as simple as that. People generally pick and choose the texts that they'd like to follow. Evangelicals show a marked preference for St. Paul and the Old Testament. Liberal Christians tend to add Jesus of Nazareth. Some atheists, myself for one, follow Jesus (not Christ) just to the verge of idolatry. Many adherents of Eastern religions add Jesus to their traditional pantheon.

In a courtyard in Bali I found a votive statue which my host explained was of Jesus (as a baby). He explained that they thought He should have a place to receive offerings if he ever came to that corner of the world.

The evangelical who accompanied me called that "devil worship." I suppose a Baptist would have sighed at their ignorance. I myself just said a prayer.
+13 # tedrey 2018-07-09 20:18
Professor Green, you write as if all the evils you so powerfully portray are already finalized, and that resistance, though necessary, is useless. America is not all the world. There are alternate possibilities, and I offer another view of the next century or two (if climate change is promptly faced.)

Trump can only rouse rabble, and destroy social norms. Neither he, nor any of his retinue, nor the rabble itself, can build or lead. And the rest of the world is not going to tolerate him. Civilization will manage to do an end run around his disasterous but mercifully short reign. It's true that returning the United States to a tolerable social organism may take a considerable time, but as a geographical entity cooperating with other more advanced nations it may manage to survive long enough to absorb its painful lesson.

This may be an unpleasant comedown for an arrogant "superpower", but better than Professor Green's forecast, and perhaps better than it deserves.

Either way, I won't be around to see it, but I wish for the best.
+11 # Adoregon 2018-07-09 20:35
According to these theses,
'Merica's in deep feces.
+1 # Salburger 2018-07-10 05:07
"The President is the most powerful person on the Planet" except perhaps for his employer Vladimir Putin.
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-07-10 08:23
‘“There will be rain tonight ... Let it come down.”’

&, as someone else sang, ‘It’s a hard rain gonna fall….’
+8 # librarian1984 2018-07-10 12:34
It's a good thing Bernie Sanders doesn't have this attitude! The author sounds like ericlipps on downers.

I still think W and his D!ck were worse. Maybe slightly more palatable, but dangerous because at least one of them knew what he was doing. I was upset at how much damage they did but it was the Democrats not going after them when they came to power that cemented the harm. We didn't even investigate torture or lying us into war!

We need a party with hundreds of Bernie Sanders- and Maxine Waters-types, fighting every day again. And, I have to give Schumer credit, he's held his caucus solid a few times that were important.

There were times people said there was no point trying to outlaw cigarettes or pass gay marriage -- and then, because many people worked hard, those things happened.

We are seeing robust defenses coming from state AGs and the courts. It's too early to give up. Don't get depressed, get angry! Don't sit in a corner and whine, go out and work for progressive candidates.

The saying about it being 'darkest before the dawn' -- these times seem insurmountably bleak, but we're almost halfway through Trump's (hopefully only) term, and so far many of our institutions are blocking his worst abuses. The opportunity we have is that these abuses may motivate reform -- particularly if the DP gets new leadership.
+1 # worriedforusa 2018-07-10 12:41
I think what Mr. Green is saying is "Get your head out of your A** before it is no more."
0 # economagic 2018-07-11 20:10
Yes, had it been anyone other than Philip Green, whom I had never heard of, or had I not taken the time to look him up, I would have been accusing him of nay-saying, defeatism, and nihilism, along with some others here.

His credential are impeccable--rad ical socialist with decades in at least the academic trenches. I think your analysis is spot on, like that of Yeats in an RSN article by William Boardman the following day.
0 # Benign Observer 2018-07-13 15:02
If so, is there some reason liberals can't just speak plain English, maybe TRY to win some hearts and minds?

Or is it more important that we be impenetrable, so we can continue to look down our noses at conservatives, minorities and blue collars?
0 # MikeAF48 2018-07-10 19:40
Ralph Peters USA Army Intelligence Officer has written many books about Russia you will shutter at how inhuman they treat there people. Very backward country.
+4 # tedrey 2018-07-11 02:02
Ralph Peters is a typical neocon. America should dominate the world, and we'll have to kill a lot of people to do it. Run through his Wikipedia article if you must.
+3 # Salus Populi 2018-07-11 13:25
"Plow through it" is right. Nothing about any presumed controoversy in any of his far-right, fascist and racist views. I read elsewhere just what a vile specimen of the human race he is, with quotes that are Nazoid rather than merely to the right. Of course, since he's anti-Trump, the supposedly "liberal" but neo-con-control led hot media has hired him since he left Fox, as an "objective" spokesperson. Not dissimilar to hring David Duke or Erik Prince to pretend to an "objective" viewpoint. Incidentally, we recently passed the landmark of the second entire year without any independent or public evidence of what this author writes as "fact" regarding the Russian "interference" with the 2016 election. Incidentally, as Caitlin Johnstone has pointed out, even if there were such interference, which, again, is presented as fact without any supporting evidence at all, it would just be blowback from the U.S.-centralize d empire's interference in the elections of at least 81 countries since WWII, and at that not even including any of the violent coups we have sponsored, the bombings, the invasions, etc. Apparently, the Divine White Nationalist God has seen fit to allow only the U.S. ruling class the prerogative of treating sovereignty and international laws as toilet paper.

Brainwashington, Dorian Gray called; he wants to know when you're planning on picking up his portrait.
+4 # krazykwiltkatt 2018-07-12 00:00
At least the 'F' word is being used: Fascism, a uniquely American style, carrying the bible and wrapped in the flag. Of course sometimes that flag has a swastika.Who could have imagined that? This pee-Resident has pissed on the graves of the 'Greatest Generation'.
0 # economagic 2018-07-12 19:14
Kootenay Coyote (above) has referred to him as "Pestilent Trump." The sobriquets may be counterproducti ve, but some of them are just undeniable.

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