Tag Archives: country

Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Three weeks ago, around a quarter of the American population elected a demagogue with no prior experience in public service to the presidency. In the eyes of many of his supporters, this lack of preparation was not a liability, but a strength. Donald Trump had run as a candidate whose primary qualification was that he was not a politician. Depicting yourself as a maverick or an outsider crusading against a corrupt Washington establishment is the oldest trick in American politics but Trump took things further. He broke countless unspoken rules regarding what public figures can or cannot do and say.

Every demagogue needs an enemy. Trumps was the ruling elite, and his charge was that they were not only failing to solve the greatest problems facing Americans, they were trying to stop anyone from even talking about those problems. The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, dont want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country, Trump said in one late September speech. They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.

Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else, Trump declared after a Muslim gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I refuse to be politically correct. What liberals might have seen as language changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society in which citizens attempt to avoid giving needless offence to one another Trump saw a conspiracy.

Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was part of the war on women.

Youve called women you dont like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Kelly pointed out. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees

I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct, Trump answered, to audience applause. Ive been challenged by so many people, I dont frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesnt have time either.

Trump used the same defence when critics raised questions about his statements on immigration. In June 2015, after Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, NBC, the network that aired his reality show The Apprentice, announced that it was ending its relationship with him. Trumps team retorted that, NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.

In August 2016, after saying that the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel of San Diego was unfit to preside over the lawsuit against Trump Universities because he was Mexican American and therefore likely to be biased against him, Trump told CBS News that this was common sense. He continued: We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. During the second presidential debate, Trump answered a question about his proposed ban on Muslims by stating: We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.

Trump and his followers never defined ‘political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to

Every time Trump said something outrageous commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasnt afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.

Trump and his followers never defined political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.

There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use is trending globally right now. Britains rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of political correctness gone mad and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the metropolitan elite. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Years Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness.

Trumps incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive political correctness. Some have argued that Hillary Clinton failed because she was too invested in that close relative of political correctness, identity politics. But upon closer examination, political correctness becomes an impossibly slippery concept. The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an exonym: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it. Nobody ever describes themselves as politically correct. The phrase is only ever an accusation.

If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong the adverb before correct implies a but. However, to say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious. Namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being politically correct discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it.

If you go looking for the origins of the phrase, it becomes clear that there is no neat history of political correctness. There have only been campaigns against something called political correctness. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right. Opposition to political correctness has proved itself a highly effective form of crypto-politics. It transforms the political landscape by acting as if it is not political at all. Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet.

Most Americans had never heard the phrase politically correct before 1990, when a wave of stories began to appear in newspapers and magazines. One of the first and most influential was published in October 1990 by the New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who warned under the headline The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct that the countrys universities were threatened by a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.

Bernstein had recently returned from Berkeley, where he had been reporting on student activism. He wrote that there was an unofficial ideology of the university, according to which a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of correct attitude toward the problems of the world. For instance, Biodegradable garbage bags get the PC seal of approval. Exxon does not.

Bernsteins alarming dispatch in Americas paper of record set off a chain reaction, as one mainstream publication after another rushed to denounce this new trend. The following month, the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz decried the brave new world of ideological zealotry at American universities. In December, the cover of Newsweek with a circulation of more than 3 million featured the headline THOUGHT POLICE and yet another ominous warning: Theres a politically correct way to talk about race, sex and ideas. Is this the New Enlightenment or the New McCarthyism? A similar story graced the cover of New York magazine in January 1991 inside, the magazine proclaimed that The New Fascists were taking over universities. In April, Time magazine reported on a new intolerance that was on the rise across campuses nationwide.

If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase politically correct rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the thought police spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Hitler Youth, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.

Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvards brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.

In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened. There had been one editorial in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper criticising his decision to read extensively from the diaries of plantation owners in his lectures. But the description of his harried state was pure artistic licence. No matter: the image of college students conducting witch hunts stuck. When Richard Bernstein published a book based on his New York Times reporting on political correctness, he called it Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for Americas Future a title alluding to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In the book he compared American college campuses to France during the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed within months.

None of the stories that introduced the menace of political correctness could pinpoint where or when it had begun. Nor were they very precise when they explained the origins of the phrase itself. Journalists frequently mentioned the Soviets Bernstein observed that the phrase smacks of Stalinist orthodoxy but there is no exact equivalent in Russian. (The closest would be ideinost, which translates as ideological correctness. But that word has nothing to do with disadvantaged people or minorities.) The intellectual historian LD Burnett has found scattered examples of doctrines or people being described as politically correct in American communist publications from the 1930s usually, she says, in a tone of mockery.

The phrase came into more widespread use in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s most likely as an ironic borrowing from Mao, who delivered a famous speech in 1957 that was translated into English with the title On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.

Until the late 1980s, ‘political correctness’ was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically

Ruth Perry, a literature professor at MIT who was active in the feminist and civil rights movements, says that many radicals were reading the Little Red Book in the late 1960s and 1970s, and surmises that her friends may have picked up the adjective correct there. But they didnt use it in the way Mao did. Politically correct became a kind of in-joke among American leftists something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically, Perry says, always calling attention to possible dogmatism.

In 1970, the African-American author and activist Toni Cade Bambara, used the phrase in an essay about strains on gender relations within her community. No matter how politically correct her male friends thought they were being, she wrote many of them were failing to recognise the plight of black women.

Until the late 1980s, political correctness was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically as a critique of excessive orthodoxy. In fact, some of the first people to organise against political correctness were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia. In 1982, they held a Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex at a theatre in New Yorks East Village a rally against fellow feminists who had condemned pornography and BDSM. Over 400 women attended, many of them wearing leather and collars, brandishing nipple clamps and dildos. The writer and activist Mirtha Quintanales summed up the mood when she told the audience, We need to have dialogues about S&M issues, not about what is politically correct, politically incorrect.

By the end of the 1980s, Jeff Chang, the journalist and hip-hop critic, who has written extensively on race and social justice, recalls that the activists he knew then in the Bay Area used the phrase in a jokey way a way for one sectarian to dismiss another sectarians line.

But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, political correctness became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions and they were determined to stop it.

The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and training institutes offering programmes in everything from leadership to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.

Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987. For hundreds of pages, The Closing of the American Mind argued that colleges were embracing a shallow cultural relativism and abandoning long-established disciplines and standards in an attempt to appear liberal and to pander to their students. It sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired numerous imitations.

In April 1990, Roger Kimball, an editor at the conservative journal, The New Criterion, published Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Like Bloom, Kimball argued that an assault on the canon was taking place and that a politics of victimhood had paralysed universities. As evidence, he cited the existence of departments such as African American studies and womens studies. He scornfully quoted the titles of papers he had heard at academic conferences, such as Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl or The Lesbian Phallus: Does Heterosexuality Exist?

In June 1991, the young Dinesh DSouza followed Bloom and Kimball with Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Whereas Bloom had bemoaned the rise of relativism and Kimball had attacked what he called liberal fascism, and what he considered frivolous lines of scholarly inquiry, DSouza argued that admissions policies that took race into consideration were producing a new segregation on campus and an attack on academic standards. The Atlantic printed a 12,000 word excerpt as its June cover story. To coincide with the release, Forbes ran another article by DSouza with the title: Visigoths in Tweed.

These books did not emphasise the phrase political correctness, and only DSouza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.

In some respects, these books and articles were responding to genuine changes taking place within academia. It is true that scholars had become increasingly sceptical about whether it was possible to talk about timeless, universal truths that lay beyond language and representation. European theorists who became influential in US humanities departments during the 1970s and 1980s argued that individual experience was shaped by systems of which the individual might not be aware and particularly by language. Michel Foucault, for instance, argued that all knowledge expressed historically specific forms of power. Jacques Derrida, a frequent target of conservative critics, practised what he called deconstruction, rereading the classics of philosophy in order to show that even the most seemingly innocent and straightforward categories were riven with internal contradictions. The value of ideals such as humanity or liberty could not be taken for granted.

It was also true that many universities were creating new studies departments, which interrogated the experiences, and emphasised the cultural contributions of groups that had previously been excluded from the academy and from the canon: queer people, people of colour and women. This was not so strange. These departments reflected new social realities. The demographics of college students were changing, because the demographics of the United States were changing. By 1990, only two-thirds of Americans under 18 were white. In California, the freshman classes at many public universities were majority minority, or more than 50% non-white. Changes to undergraduate curriculums reflected changes in the student population.

The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the militancy of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat. (An arsonist burned down the Africana Studies Center, founded in response to these protests, in 1970.)

More than any particular obfuscation or omission, the most misleading aspect of these books was the way they claimed that only their adversaries were political. Bloom, Kimball, and DSouza claimed that they wanted to preserve the humanistic tradition, as if their academic foes were vandalising a canon that had been enshrined since time immemorial. But canons and curriculums have always been in flux; even in white Anglo-America there has never been any one stable tradition. Moby Dick was dismissed as Herman Melvilles worst book until the mid-1920s. Many universities had only begun offering literature courses in living languages a decade or so before that.

In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and DSouza were funded by networks of conservative donors particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new counter-intelligentsia. (The New Criterion, where Kimball worked, was also funded by the Olin and Scaife Foundations.) In his 1978 book A Time for Truth, William Simon, the president of the Olin Foundation, had called on conservatives to fund intellectuals who shared their views: They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.

These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people.

By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (The Lesbian Phallus), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign others.

PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. Political correctness became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the ordinary people and the liberal elite, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.

Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, Bush said. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land, but, he warned, In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.

After 2001, debates about political correctness faded from public view, replaced by arguments about Islam and terrorism. But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did.

As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than difference and multiculturalism, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, privilege and cultural appropriation.

This time, students received more scorn than professors. If the first round of anti-political-correctness evoked the spectres of totalitarian regimes, the more recent revival has appealed to the commonplace that millennials are spoiled narcissists, who want to prevent anyone expressing opinions that they happen to find offensive.

In January 2015, the writer Jonathan Chait published one of the first new, high-profile anti-PC thinkpieces in New York magazine. Not a Very PC Thing to Say followed the blueprint provided by the anti-PC thinkpieces that the New York Times, Newsweek, and indeed New York magazine had published in the early 1990s. Like the New York article from 1991, it began with an anecdote set on campus that supposedly demonstrated that political correctness had run amok, and then extrapolated from this incident to a broad generalisation. In 1991, John Taylor wrote: The new fundamentalism has concocted a rationale for dismissing all dissent. In 2015, Jonathan Chait claimed that there were once again angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas.

Chait warned that the dangers of PC had become greater than ever before. Political correctness was no longer confined to universities now, he argued, it had taken over social media and thus attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old. (As evidence of the hegemonic influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.)

Chaits article launched a spate of replies about campus and social media cry bullies. On the cover of their September 2015 issue, the Atlantic published an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The title, The Coddling Of the American Mind, nodded to the godfather of anti-PC, Allan Bloom. (Lukianoff is the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, another organisation funded by the Olin and Scaife families.) In the name of emotional wellbeing, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they dont like, the article announced. It was shared over 500,000 times.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness stories to spread

These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced.

The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness (and anti-anti-political correctness) stories to spread even further and faster than they had in the 1990s. Anti-PC and anti-anti-PC stories come cheap: because they concern identity, they are something that any writer can have a take on, based on his or her experiences, whether or not he or she has the time or resources to report. They are also perfect clickbait. They inspire outrage, or outrage at the outrage of others.

Meanwhile, a strange convergence was taking place. While Chait and his fellow liberals decried political correctness, Donald Trump and his followers were doing the same thing. Chait said that leftists were perverting liberalism and appointed himself the defender of a liberal centre; Trump said that liberal media had the system rigged.

The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.

The original critics of PC were academics or shadow-academics, Ivy League graduates who went around in bow ties quoting Plato and Matthew Arnold. It is hard to imagine Trump quoting Plato or Matthew Arnold, much less carping about the titles of conference papers by literature academics. During his campaign, the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes shunned Trump, citing concerns about the populist promises he was making. Trump came from a different milieu: not Yale or the University of Chicago, but reality television. And he was picking different fights, targeting the media and political establishment, rather than academia.

As a candidate, Trump inaugurated a new phase of anti-political-correctness. What was remarkable was just how many different ways Trump deployed this tactic to his advantage, both exploiting the tried-and-tested methods of the early 1990s and adding his own innovations.

First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trumps swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.

Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited. The first wave of conservative critics of political correctness claimed they were defending the status quo, but Trumps mission was to destroy it. In 1991, when George HW Bush warned that political correctness was a threat to free speech, he did not choose to exercise his free speech rights by publicly mocking a man with a disability or characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists. Trump did. Having elevated the powers of PC to mythic status, the draft-dodging billionaire, son of a slumlord, taunted the parents of a fallen soldier and claimed that his cruelty and malice was, in fact, courage.

This willingness to be more outrageous than any previous candidate ensured non-stop media coverage, which in turn helped Trump attract supporters who agreed with what he was saying. We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. Its an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends.

Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. Thats just common sense.

The most alarming part of this approach is what it implies about Trumps attitude to politics more broadly. His contempt for political correctness looks a lot like contempt for politics itself. He does not talk about diplomacy; he talks about deals. Debate and disagreement are central to politics, yet Trump has made clear that he has no time for these distractions. To play the anti-political-correctness card in response to a legitimate question about policy is to shut down discussion in much the same way that opponents of political correctness have long accused liberals and leftists of doing. It is a way of sidestepping debate by declaring that the topic is so trivial or so contrary to common sense that it is pointless to discuss it. The impulse is authoritarian. And by presenting himself as the champion of common sense, Trump gives himself permission to bypass politics altogether.

Now that he is president-elect, it is unclear whether Trump meant many of the things he said during his campaign. But, so far, he is fulfilling his pledge to fight political correctness. Last week, he told the New York Times that he was trying to build an administration filled with the best people, though Not necessarily people that will be the most politically correct people, because that hasnt been working.

Trump has also continued to cry PC in response to criticism. When an interviewer from Politico asked a Trump transition team member why Trump was appointing so many lobbyists and political insiders, despite having pledged to drain the swamp of them, the source said that one of the most refreshing parts of the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. Apparently it would have been politically correct to hold him to his campaign promises.

As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that political correctness fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future.

The opponents of political correctness always said they were crusaders against authoritarianism. In fact, anti-PC has paved the way for the populist authoritarianism now spreading everywhere. Trump is anti-political correctness gone mad.

Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

Visit link:

Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Posted in Political Correctness | Comments Off on Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom …

Historical Nihilism | CounterOrder.com

Posted: at 11:23 pm

Although nihilism is often thought of as a vague concept relegated to the arena of philosophy, or perhaps as the unavoidable conclusion to post-modernist thought, nihilism does have a strong historical background that deserves greater recognition. The most significant manifestation of nihilism in recent history also coincides with its most active and organized expression, that of the Russian nihilist revolutionaries who rose to prominence in the 1860s.

The Russian nihilists (the Russian word for nihilist is nigilist) tend to be associated with violence, revolution, and terrorist acts such as the assassination of Czar Alexander II by the Will of the People group. But although violent acts get recorded in the history books often the lasting impact is carried through non-violent ideas and identities. The Russian Nihilists were intriguing in this regard for their history is like that of an iceberg only a small portion of their total character is readily visible. Indeed, much of the violent acts associated with the attempted overthrow of the monarchy occurred under the auspices of other groups such as anarchists, Marxists and narodnichestvo populists in the 1870s, rather than those directly associated with the Nihilists themselves who were much more complex than the over-simplified terrorist label attached to them by autocratic authorities.

Nihilism was not so much a corpus of formal beliefs and programs (like populism, liberalism, Marxism) as it was a cluster of attitudes and social values and a set of behavioral affectsmanners, dress, friendship patterns. In short, it was an ethos. [2]

Historical Context

In order to understand who the Russian Nihilists were we first have to understand what they fought against and why. Europe in the 19th century was a time of dramatic changes — political, economic, and social. Industrialization created fantastic wealth disparities and entirely new classes of people as the old aristocratic power system transformed into a plutocratic one. Cities grew rapidly and traditional agrarian lifestyles were decimated in favor of the cramped urban life of wage slavery. Imperial Russia experienced many of these difficult changes but events often took on a more extreme character than that of Western Europe and social development for Russia has always been both painful and slow.

All of the wiser Russian monarchs realized that their system of serfdom, with a social structure of the very few existing on the backs of the very many, was not sustainable and would end in bloody rebellion sooner or later. The problem was implementing reforms that were both effective and politically realistic. By the middle of the 19th century the forces of state repression coupled with the longevity of the problem had already created such an intolerable situation that fixing the system through reform was essentially impossible. The only reasonable answer to this kind of situation is nihilism; the only way to live is to destroy. Russia had become a stifling, backwards country run by a ruling elite grown fabulously wealthy through rampant natural resource extraction. The Russian government had become completely disconnected from its subjects and new information and new ideas were impossible to prevent from seeping into the country from the heated and bubbling social scene in Western Europe. Even a brutal and violent police-state could not stop the Nihilists, other dedicated revolutionaries, or the inevitable outcome of the conflict.

Jewel encrusted Faberg eggs were an emblematic expression of late 19th century Imperial Russian wealth and a grossly distorted society where the monarchy could commission dozens of these eggs while the general public worked and starved to death.

The heart of Russian Nihilism was about breaking with the failures of the past and about crafting a new identity. This was the meaning of the Fathers and Sons phrase used at the time and remembered today in Turgenevs novel of the same name.

Whereas the “fathers” grew up on German idealistic philosophy and romanticism in general, with its emphasis on the metaphysical, religious, aesthetic, and historical approaches to reality, the “sons,” led by such young radicals as Nicholas Chernyshevsky, Nicholas Dobroliubov, and Dmitrii Pisarev, hoisted the banner of utilitarianism, positivism, materialism, and especially “realism.” “Nihilism” and also in large part “realism,” particularly “critical realism” meant above all else a fundamental rebellion against accepted values and standards: against abstract thought and family control, against lyric poetry and school discipline, against religion and rhetoric. The earnest young men and women of the 1860’s wanted to cut through every polite veneer, to get rid of all conventional sham, to get to the bottom of things. What they usually considered real and worthwhile included the natural and physical sciences for that was the age when science came to be greatly admired in the Western world simple and sincere human relations, and a society based on knowledge and reason rather than ignorance, prejudice, exploitation, and oppression. [1]

This was about the destruction of idols, about burning the dead wood of society. And the Russian Nihilists were quite revolutionary, especially given the context of the time and location they existed in, for they include sections of the population that had little if any representation before. Women for example played a key role and included some of the most motivated and charismatic characters of the time period, like Vera Figner and Sophia Perovskaia. If the feminists wanted to change pieces of the world, the nihilists wanted to change the world itself, though not necessarily through political action. [3] The Russian word for a female nihilist is nigilistka.

Its important to point out that the nihilist ethos of the time was primarily individualistic and not always politically revolutionary; some radical nihilist attitudes precluded ideological or political orientation. While nihilism emancipated the young Russian radicals from any allegiance to the established order, it was, to repeat a point, individual rather than social by its very nature and lacked a positive program both Pisarev and Turgenev’s hero Bazarov died young. [7] Clothing, attitude, communications style, all were portions of the new nihilist outlook. The clothing style sought functionality and usefulness over frivolous fashion. The revolt in the dress of the nigilistka went something like this:

One of the most interesting and widely remarked features of the nigilistka was her personal appearance. Discarding the “muslin, ribbons, feathers, parasols, and flowers” of the Russian lady, the archetypical girl of the nihilist persuasion in the 1860’s wore a plain dark woolen dress, which fell straight and loose from the waist with white cuffs and collar as the only embellishments. The hair was cut short and worn straight, and the wearer frequently assumed dark glasses. [4]

Nigilistka fashion was about more than just juvenile rebellion against bourgeoisie fashion because instead of simply contradicting established forms it went on to create its own identity. Self-empowerment was the reason behind much of this. The machinery of sexual attraction through outward appearance that led into slavery was discarded by the new woman whose nihilist creed taught her that she must make her way with knowledge and action rather than feminine wiles. [4] Even deeper than changes in superficial appearance existed a new and quite profound realization, for the nigilistka understood that life had to be defined internally and not solely by external authorities or values. “To establish her identity, she needed a cause or a “path,” rather than just a man. [4] An interesting departure also occurred in communications style. The typical nigilistka, like her male comrade, rejected the conventional hypocrisy of interpersonal relations and tended to be direct to the point of rudeness [4]

Severe times call for severe measures

Seeing their efforts at social change only being met with police brutality and increasing repression by despotic authority, the revolutionaries reassessed their tactics. Peter Tkachev and Sergei Nechayev were two that felt severe times call for severe measures the revolution was only getting started.

Several years of revolutionary conspiracy, terrorism, and assassination ensued. The first instances of violence occurred more or less spontaneously, sometimes as countermeasures against brutal police officials. Thus, early in 1878 Vera Zasulich shot and wounded the military governor of St. Petersburg, General Theodore Trepov, who had ordered a political prisoner to be flogged; a jury failed to convict her, with the result that political cases were withdrawn from regular judicial procedure. But before long an organization emerged which consciously put terrorism at the center of its activity. The conspiratorial revolutionary society “Land and Freedom,” founded in 1876, split in 1879 into two groups: the “Black Partition,” or “Total Land Repartition,” which emphasized gradualism and propaganda, and the “Will of the People” which mounted an all-out terroristic offensive against the government. Members of the “Will of the People” believed that, because of the highly centralized nature of the Russian state, a few assassinations could do tremendous damage to the regime, as well as provide the requisite political instruction for the educated society and the masses. They selected the emperor, Alexander II, as their chief target and condemned him to death. What followed has been described as an “emperor hunt” and in certain ways it defies imagination. The Executive Committee of the “Will of the People” included only about thirty men and women, led by such persons as Andrew Zheliabov who came from the serfs and Sophia Perovskaia who came from Russia’s highest administrative class, but it fought the Russian Empire. [6]

After the assassination of the tsar some began to question the strategic usefulness of the spiraling violence, but few alternatives existed in the oppressive milieu of Imperial Russia. Subsequent monarchs Alexander III and Nicholas II only became more reactionary and narrow-minded while simultaneously voiding even minimal public freedoms. “Murder and the gibbet captivated the imagination of our young people; and the weaker their nerves and the more oppressive their surroundings, the greater was their sense of exaltation at the thought of revolutionary terror. Vera Figner [5]

The Russian Nihilists were smart, dedicated, and possessed a tenacity that was unparalleled. These were revolutionaries that were well aware of the nature of the political system they were in conflict with but nonetheless they still failed to acquire two critical elements. Without a clear and cohesive social program the Nihilists lacked strategic sustainability for their revolutionary movement. Although they achieved their tactical goal of assassinating the top-level authority figures their wider objective of gaining greater freedom of movement and ideas still remained elusive. It seems that the necessary time-scale of their struggle was longer than anticipated and the entrenched nature of the system and the culture of fear and subservience to autocratic rulers that it rested upon was much deeper than realized; 1000 years of tradition simply cant be thrown out in a decade. But since the social program is secondary to immediate plans in a larger sense I think the primary problem affecting the 19th century Russian revolutionaries had more to do with communications limitations than anything else because they had most everything going for them except numbers. Lacking the ability to reach the Russian public except on the smallest scale made widespread, coordinated revolt practically impossible. Publishing technology was easy for despotic regimes to control while radio and cheap printing didn’t arrive in widespread use until the early 20th century.

Although the political violence may have had questionable strategic value the cultural shift in views, attitudes, and ideas made significant contributions that lasted long after the Russian Nihilists themselves had left the scene. 06.12.03

References

A) A History of Russia, sixth edition, by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Oxford University Press 2000.

B) The Womens Liberation Movement in Russia Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism 1860-1930, by Richard Stites, Princeton University Press, 1978.

Nechayev’s Catechism

There are notable differences between the cultural and political situation of late 19th century Europe and our 21st century world. The weight of oppressive authority is nowhere near as crushing today as then, especially in comparison to Tsarist Russia. The situation for the masses was so bleak as to make death through violence more attractive than life in slavery; America is no Palestine and California is no Gaza Strip, if you know what I mean.

The severity of revolutionary action has to be matched to the lack of freedom to express dissenting ideas within the region of operations. Otherwise you’ll just be blown out of the water by public rejection and police reaction. Fortunately, today we have many (peaceful) tools they did not.

Sergei Nechayev’s tenacity was admirable and his methodology scores points for attempting to address more than merely the physical infrastructure so typical of Marxism and other one dimensional “revolutions”. And if nothing else, ‘The Catechism’ certainly stirred up debate and generated enthusiasm for the revolutionary effort. – Freydis 17.05.02

From ‘Catechism of a Revolutionist’ (1869) By Sergei Nechayev

* * *

PRINCIPLES BY WHICH THE REVOLUTIONARY MUST BE GUIDED IN THE ATTITUDE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TOWARDS HIMSELF

1. The revolutionary is a dedicated man. He has no interests of his own, no affairs, no feelings, no attachments, no belongings, not even a name. Everything in him is absorbed by a single exclusive interest, a single thought, a single passion – the revolution.

2. In the very depths of his being, not only in words but also in deeds, he has broken every tie with the civil order and the entire cultivated world, with all its laws, proprieties, social conventions and its ethical rules. He is an implacable enemy of this world, and if he continues to live in it, that is only to destroy it more effectively.

3. The revolutionary despises all doctrinarism and has rejected the mundane sciences, leaving them to future generations. He knows of only one science, the science of destruction. To this end, and this end alone, he will study mechanics, physics, chemistry, and perhaps medicine. To this end he will study day and night the living science: people, their characters and circumstances and all the features of the present social order at all possible levels. His sole and constant object is the immediate destruction of this vile order.

4. He despises public opinion. He despises and abhors the existing social ethic in all its manifestations and expressions. For him, everything is moral which assists the triumph of revolution. Immoral and criminal is everything which stands in its way.

5. The revolutionary is a dedicated man, merciless towards the state and towards the whole of educated and privileged society in general; and he must expect no mercy from them either. Between him and them there exists, declared or undeclared, an unceasing and irreconcilable war for life and death. He must discipline himself to endure torture.

6. Hard towards himself, he must be hard towards others also. All the tender and effeminate emotions of kinship, friendship, love, gratitude and even honor must be stifled in him by a cold and single-minded passion for the revolutionary cause. There exists for him only one delight, one consolation, one reward and one gratification – the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, one aim – merciless destruction. In cold-blooded and tireless pursuit of this aim, he must be prepared both to die himself and to destroy with his own hands everything that stands in the way of its achievement.

7. The nature of the true revolutionary has no place for any romanticism, any sentimentality, rapture or enthusiasm. It has no place either for personal hatred or vengeance. The revolutionary passion, which in him becomes a habitual state of mind, must at every moment be combined with cold calculation. Always and everywhere he must be not what the promptings of his personal inclinations would have him be, but what the general interest of the revolution prescribes.

THE ATTITUDE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TOWARDS HIS COMRADES IN REVOLUTION

8. The revolutionary considers his friend and holds dear only a person who has shown himself in practice to be as much a revolutionary as he himself. The extent of his friendship, devotion and other obligations towards his comrade is determined only by their degree of usefulness in the practical work of total revolutionary destruction.

9. The need for solidarity among revolutionaries is self-evident. In it lies the whole strength of revolutionary work. Revolutionary comrades who possess the same degree of revolutionary understanding and passion should, as far as possible, discuss all important matters together and come to unanimous decisions. But in implementing a plan decided upon in this manner, each man should as far as possible rely on himself. In performing a series of destructive actions each man must act for himself and have recourse to the advice and help of his comrades only if this is necessary for the success of the plan.

10. Each comrade should have under him several revolutionaries of the second or third category, that is, comrades who are not completely initiated. He should regard them as portions of a common fund of revolutionary capital, placed at his disposal. He should expend his portion of the capital economically, always attempting to derive the utmost possible benefit from it.

Himself he should regard as capital consecrated to the triumph of the revolutionary cause; but as capital which he may not dispose of independently without the consent of the entire company of the fully initiated comrades.

11. When a comrade gets into trouble, the revolutionary, in deciding whether he should be rescued or not, must think not in terms of his personal feelings but only of the good of the revolutionary cause.

Therefore he must balance, on the one hand, the usefulness of the comrade, and on the other, the amount of revolutionary energy that would necessarily be expended on his deliverance, and must settle for whichever is the weightier consideration.

THE ATTITUDE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY TOWARDS SOCIETY

12. The admission of a new member, who has proved himself not by words but by deeds, may be decided upon only by unanimous agreement.

13. The revolutionary enters into the world of the state, of class and of so-called culture, and lives in it only because he has faith in its speedy and total destruction.

He is not a revolutionary if he feels pity for anything in this world. If he is able to, he must face the annihilation of a situation, of a relationship or of any person who is part of this world – everything and everyone must be equally odious to him. All the worse for him if he has family, friends and loved ones in this world; he is no revolutionary if he can stay his hand.

14. Aiming at merciless destruction the revolutionary can and sometimes even must live within society while pretending to be quite other than what he is. The revolutionary must penetrate everywhere, among all the lowest and the middle classes, into the houses of commerce, the church, the mansions of the rich, the world of the bureaucracy, the military and of literature, the Third Section [Secret Police] and even the Winter Palace.

15. All of this putrid society must be split up into several categories: the first category comprises those to be condemned immediately to death. The society should compose a list of these condemned persons in order of the relative harm they may do to the successful progress of the revolutionary cause, and thus in order of their removal.

16. In compiling these lists and deciding the order referred to above, the guiding principal must not be the individual acts of villainy committed by the person, nor even by the hatred he provokes among the society or the people. This villainy and hatred, however, may to a certain extent be useful, since they help to incite popular rebellion. The guiding principle must be the measure of service the persons death will necessarily render to the revolutionary cause.

Therefore, in the first instance all those must be annihilated who are especially harmful to the revolutionary organization, and whose sudden and violent deaths will also inspire the greatest fear in the government and, by depriving it of its cleverest and most energetic figures, will shatter its strength.

17. The second category must consist of those who are granted temporary respite to live, solely in order that their goofy behavior shall drive the people to inevitable revolt.

18. To the third category belong a multitude of high-ranking cattle, or personages distinguished neither for any particular intelligence no for energy, but who, because of their position, enjoy wealth, connections, influence and power. They must be exploited in every possible fashion and way; they must be enmeshed and confused, and, when we have found out as much as we can about their dirty secrets, we must make them our beasts of burden, as if they were but mere oxen of the field. Their power, connections, influence, gold and energy thus become an inexhaustible treasure-house and an effective aid to our various enterprises.

19. The fourth category consists of politically ambitious persons and liberals of various hues. With them we can conspire according to their own programs, pretending that we are blindly following them, while in fact we are taking control of them, rooting out all their secrets and compromising them to the utmost, so that they are irreversibly implicated and can be employed to create disorder in the state.

20. The fifth category is comprised of doctrinaires, conspirators, revolutionaries, all those who are given to drunken bullshitting, whether before audiences or on paper. They must be continually incited and forced into making violent declarations of practical intent, as a result of which the majority will vanish without trace and real revolutionary gain will accrue from a few.

21. The sixth, and an important category is that of women. They should be divided into three main types: first, those frivolous, thoughtless, and fluff-headed women who we may use as we use the third and fourth categories of men; second, women who are ardent, gifted, and devoted, but do not belong to us because they have not yet achieved a real, passionless, and practical revolutionary understanding: these must be used like the men of the fifth category; and, finally there are the women who are with us completely, that is, who have been fully initiated and have accepted our program in its entirety. We should regard these women as the most valuable of our treasures, whose assistance we cannot do without.

THE ATTITUDE OF OUR SOCIETY TOWARDS THE PEOPLE

22. Our society has only one aim – the total emancipation and happiness of the people, that is, the common laborers. But, convinced that their emancipation and the achievement of this happiness can be realized only by means of an all-destroying popular revolution, our society will employ all its power and all its resources in order to promote an intensification and an increase I those calamities and horrors which must finally exhaust the patience of the people and drive it to a popular uprising.

23. By popular revolution our society does not mean a regulated movement on the classical French model – a movement which has always been restrained by the notion of property and the traditional social order of our so-called civilization and morality, which has until now always confined itself to the overthrow of one political structure merely to substitute another, and has striven thus to create the so-called revolutionary state. The only revolution that can save the people is one that eradicates the entire state system and exterminates all state traditions of the regime and classes on Earth.

24. Therefore our society does not intend to impose on the people any organization from above. Any future organization will undoubtedly take shape through the movement and life of our people, but that is a task for future generations. Our task is terrible, total, universal, merciless destruction.

25. Therefore, in drawing closer to the people, we must ally ourselves above all with those elements of the popular life which, ever since the very foundation of the state power of Moscow, have never ceased to protest, not only in words but in deeds, against everything directly or indirectly connected with the state: against the nobility, against the bureaucracy, against the priests, against the world of the merchant guilds, and against the tight-fisted hillbilly land pirate. But we shall ally ourselves with the intrepid world of brigands, who are the only true revolutionaries in Russia.

26. To knit this world into a single invincible and all-destroying force – that is the purpose of our entire organization, our conspiracy, and our task.

Notes: Original source unknown. Electronic editing of the ‘Catechism’ provided by kampahana; formatting and condensation done by Freydis, 2002.

Atheist Manifesto

It is hard to say when human thought first conceived of the existence of God. But once having conceived of him, it proceeded to reject him. Possibly the rejection of God occurred immediately after the first conception of him, the first recognition of his existence. In any event, the rejection of God is very old, and the seeds of unbelief appeared very early in the history of mankind. In the course of several centuries, however, these modest seeds of atheism were strangled by the poisonous nettles of theism. But the striving of human thought and feeling for freedom is too great not to prevail. And it has indeed prevailed. Beneath its pressures all religions have broadened their horizons, yielding one point after another and casting off much that only a generation ago was deemed indispensable. Religion, striving to preserve its existence, has made various compromises, piling one absurdity upon another, combining the uncombinable.

The naive legends concerning the origins of the earth, legends created by pastoral folk at the dawn of life, were cast off and relegated to the mythology of ‘holy books’. Beneath the pressure of science, religion repudiated the Devil and repudiated the personification of the deity. Instead, God now reveals himself to us as Reason, Justice, Love, Mercy, etc., etc. Since it was impossible to salvage the contents of religion, men preserved its forms, knowing full well that the forms would give shape to whatever contents were placed in them.

The whole so-called progress of religion is nothing but a series of concessions to emancipated will, thought and feeling. Without their persistent attacks, religion would to this day preserve its original crude and naive character. Thought, moreover, achieved other triumphs as well. Not only did it compel religion to become more progressive, or, more accurately, to give birth to new forms, but it also took an independent creative step, moving ever more boldly towards open, militant atheism.

And our atheism is militant atheism. We believe it is time to begin an open, ruthless struggle with all religious dogmas, whatever they may be called, whatever philosophical or moral systems may conceal their religious essence. We shall fight against all attempts to reform religion or to smuggle the outmoded concepts of past ages into the spiritual baggage of contemporary humanity. We find all gods equally repulsive, whether blood thirsty or humane, envious or kind, vengeful or forgiving. What is important is not what sort of gods they are but simply that they are gods that is, our lords, our sovereigns and that we love our spiritual freedom too dearly to bow before them.

Therefore we are atheists. We shall boldly carry our propaganda of atheism to the toiling masses, for whom atheism is more necessary than anyone else. We fear not the reproach that by destroying the people’s faith we are pulling the moral foundation from under their feet, a reproach uttered by ‘lovers of the people’ who maintain that religion and morality are inseparable. We assert, rather, that morality can and must be free from any ties with religion, basing our conviction on the teachings of contemporary science about morality and society. Only by destroying the old religious dogmas can we accomplish the great positive task of liberating thought and feeling from their old and rusty fetters. And what can better break such bonds?

We hold that there are no objective ideas either in the existing universe or in the past history of peoples. An objective world is nonsense. Desires and aspirations belong only to the individual personality, and we place the free individual in the main corner. We shall destroy the old, repulsive morality of religion which declares: ‘Do good or God will punish you.’ We oppose this bargaining and say: ‘Do what you think is good without making deals with anyone but only because it is good.’ Is this really only destructive work?

So much do we love the human personality that we must therefore hate gods. And therefore we are atheists. The ageold and difficult struggle of the workers for the liberation of labour may continue even longer. The workers may have to toil even more than they already have, and to sacrifice their blood in order to consolidate what has already been won. Along the way, the workers will doubtless experience further defeats and, even worse, disillusionment. For this very reason they must have an iron heart and a mighty spirit which can withstand the blows of fate. But can a slave really have an iron heart? Under God all men are slaves and nonentities. And can men possess a mighty spirit when they fall on their knees and prostrate themselves, as do the faithful?

We shall therefore go to the workers and try to destroy the vestiges of their faith in God. We shall teach them to stand proud and upright as befits free men. We shall teach them to seek help only from themselves, in their own spirit and in the strength of free organizations. We are slandered with the charge that all our best feelings, thoughts, desires and acts are not our own, are not experienced by us, but are God’s, are determined by God, and that we are not ourselves but a mere vehicle carrying out the will of God or the Devil. We want to take responsibility for everything upon ourselves. We want to be free. We do not want to be marionettes or puppets. Therefore we are atheists.

Religions recognize their inability to sustain man’s belief in the Devil, and are rejecting that already discredited figure. But this is inconsistent, for the Devil has as much claim to existence as God that is, none at all. Belief in the Devil was once very strong. There was a time when demonism held exclusive sway over men’s minds, yet now this menacing figure and tempter of humanity has been transformed into a petty demon, more comical than frightening. The same fate must likewise befall his blood-brother God.

God, the Devil, faith mankind has paid for these awful words with a sea of blood, a river of tears, and endless suffering. Enough of this nightmare! Man must finally throw off the yoke, must become free. Sooner or later labour will win. But man must enter the society of equality, brotherhood and freedom ready and spiritually free, or at least free of the divine rubbish which has clung to him for a thousand years. We have shaken this poisonous dust from our feet, and we are therefore atheists.

Come with us all who love man and freedom and hate gods and slavery. Yes, the gods are dying! Long live man! – Union of Atheists

Original source: Soiuz Ateistov, ‘Ateisticheskii manifest’, Nabat (Kharkov),12 May 1919, p. 3., extracted from: The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution, edited by Paul Avrich, Cornell University Press, 1973.

Michael Bakunin: “Founder of Nihilism and apostle of anarchy.” – Herzen

Michael Bakunin was born in 1814 and came from a large wealthy family in Russia. Even from an early age Bakunins rebellious personal nature and outlook set him at odds against the ruling class he emerged from although at the same time he never truly identified with the proletarian masses either. Bakunin wanted action, he placed movement over passive thought but this was his charm because he meshed so well with the revolutionary milieu of his era. In another time or place Bakunin would have been simply written off as a fringe element but because of the rapidly changing social and political landscape of the 19th century he became an icon and a legend. Rumor and myth about his escapes from the secret police and his own talk of direct action created an aura of the superhuman revolutionary, fulfilling the eras need for a leader and hero even if his actual deeds failed to fulfill the myths around him.

Bakunins Philosophy

Even at the time Bakunin was often difficult to describe and even more difficult to categorize ideologically within the context of his contemporaries, revolutionaries and other great-thinkers of the 19th century. Bakunin gained from process rather than accomplishment in life, whether the process had aim or not wasnt so much the issue as the act itself, finished things were a source of weariness to him [Lampert (1957), pg 123]

Bakunin never really connected with any of the ideologies of his time, he just saw opportunities either for his own advancement or the pure, ground-up revolution he desired to see happen. Destruction, action and revolution as a way of life were primary themes that emerged. Bakunin went so far as to define destruction as the moving force of history. Simple but powerful statements were typical of Bakunin and indeed this was the appeal.

Keeping with the destruction paradigm, Bakunins analysis of Hegel was remarkable:

Bakunin argues that the dialectic refutes both those whose ideal is in the past (primitive wholeness, as the dialectical source of the divisions of the present, can never be regained), and those who seek a middle way between extremes. No compromise is possible: ‘the whole essence, content, and vitality of the negative consists in destruction of the positive’: only thereby can divisions be resolved in a ‘new, affirmative, organic reality. [Kelly (1987), pg. 93-94]

Organizing and Direct Action

Bakunin had little interest in the nuances and details of revolutionary and political organizing because he thought they only contained his energy rather than magnified it and also because he couldnt focus or stay on task long enough to take an organization towards a goal. Bakunin was no Lenin. But that doesnt mean he didnt try to organize a revolution and then try again because he always wanted to see the revolution happen before his eyes even if he had no idea how to actually carry it out! Bakunin lacked planning and organizing skills as much as he had a surfeit of revolutionary zeal and a limitless capacity for making motivating speeches.

After many false starts Bakunin finally found the action he wanted in Dresden in May of 1849 where he ingratiated himself into the local resistance and fought Prussian troops. But despite best efforts the rebel forces were hopelessly outnumbered and eventually the Saxon government arrested Bakunin. After being transferred from one prison to another the governments finally came to an agreement and Bakunin was shipped off to the dreaded Peter and Paul fortress in Russia. Bakunin was imprisoned and later exiled to Siberia for ten years. A long prison sentence broke him physically but not mentally.

After an amazing confluence of chance and opportunity in 1861, Bakunin managed to escape on a ship to Japan and then to San Francisco eventually ending up back in Europe. Bakunin went back to what he did best trying to stir up revolutionary action, somewhere, anywhere even if more than before his long imprisonment he lacked any substantive connections to the real revolutionary planning on the streets.

Nechayev and Bakunin

In 1869 a mysterious Russian named Sergei Nechayev met with Michael Bakunin. The two immediately found a use for each other amid their collective desire to foment revolution inside Russia a daunting task that had so far eluded the best of Bakunins efforts. But Nechayev was a very crafty man and Bakunin was often nave and trusting, blinded by his own enthusiasm – trouble emerged. Nechayev for his part probably never had any delusions as to his own aim and kept silent letting Bakunin do the talking.

Nechayev and Bakunin seemed to complement each other in attributes, one was a great speaker, the other not, one a formidable plotter where the other wasnt, but in the end Nechayevs selfish view on revolution coupled with Bakunins gullibility led to a falling out and the two departed on unfriendly terms without notable revolutionary success but still attracting the concerted attention of the secret police.

Marx versus Bakunin

Trying to fit Bakunin into the larger scheme of political philosophy is challenging because he wrote very little and his own views were often a confusing mix of others ideas and his own interpretations. A comparison of Karl Marx and Michael Bakunin is interesting in the very different path two thinkers with differing personalities took in analyzing and attempting to solve the problems of their day and to then direct it into revolutionary action. Bakunin was not a theorist or a planner like Marx, rather he was a promoter of the process of action even regardless of the outcome or eventual effect. He was by nature a solipsist, despite all his superficial gregariousness and his later advocacy of anti-individualist anarchism, and the world existed for him for the exercise of personal freedom and creative action. [Lampert (1957), pg. 123]

Atheism

Although he may have had private discussions that placed him more in the agnostic category, his public message was a consistent one of staunch atheism once asserting that “If God really existed it would be necessary to abolish him. Bakunins individualist credo also influenced the Russian anarchists that followed him as well as more modern forms of individual, libertarian anarchism. Bakunin died in 1876 but the revolution continued. His primary surviving work is the book God and the State, a potent patchwork of ideas and musings on history, revolution, religion and authority.

Further Influence

Although his direct involvement in revolutionary activities was limited, Bakunin had a much greater impact on contemporary and even future ideas. Bakunins destructive words influenced the Nihilists in the 1860s characterized by the clean-sweep revolution. the modern rebels believe, as Bazarov and Pisarev and Bakunin believed, that the first requirement is the clean sweep, the total destruction of the present system; the rest is not their business. The future must look after itself. Better anarchy than prison; there is nothing in between. [Berlin, p. 301] And despite Bakunins organizing faults its agreed that he was actually a generous and very friendly person and for all his exhortations to violence like his most famous maxim The urge to destroy is also a creative urge, it was not the people he was targeting so much as the actual institutions of oppression. – October, 2004

References

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V., A History of Russia, New York, Oxford University Press, sixth edition, 2000.

Read the original:

Historical Nihilism | CounterOrder.com

Posted in Nihilism | Comments Off on Historical Nihilism | CounterOrder.com

Political Correctness Watch

Posted: December 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm

The subtext here is that male ballet dancers are frequently homosexual — and a mother is entitled to discourage her son from such an unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle. Just for starters, there is a very high incidence of spousal abuse among homosexual couples

It may have once been traditional for boys to play football and girls to do ballet but nowadays many children feel free to take up activities regardless of gender.

However, one pushy parent took to Mumsnet to ask for advice on how to discourage her son from taking ballet lessons.

The woman said her son is an aspiring model and explained that she doesn’t think the extra-curricular activity ‘is going to fit in’.

In her post, Mumsnet user Ironriver said: ‘How do I put my son off wanting to do ballet? I’m showing him how cool football, rugby and karate are but he’s having none of it. ‘He does modelling and I don’t think ballet is going to fit in. Lots of the boys do football and other sports so I would like him to do that. Any ideas?’

Many commenters were outraged at the mother’s behaviour and suggested she should let her son pursue his own interests.

Concerned commenter OohhThatsMe said: ‘Your poor child, having such a sexist mother.’

Shocked reader coolaschmoola added: ‘Stop being so bloody sexist and let him do the thing he is interested in and actually wants to do.

‘It’s 2016! Boys don’t just play football. Just like not all girls do ballet.’

Other commenters were surprised that the woman had already decided her should would become a model.

Dodobookends said: ‘He’s nine and you have already chosen his career for him? Absurd.’

Some even suggested that taking up ballet would be beneficial to any future modelling aspirations.

OlennasWimple said: ‘Ballet would give him excellent posture, teach him to move well and have a better idea how to use his body effectively. ‘And less chance he’ll break his nose or get a cauliflower ear.’

OohhThatsMe added: ‘Actually ballet would REALLY help a modelling career. In what way would football do that?

‘Look at the girls doing modelling – most will have studied ballet.’

SOURCE

Israeli Bill to Hush Mosque Call to Prayer Stokes Controversy Among Muslims–Others Too

Proposed legislation in Israels parliament to prohibit the use of loudspeakers to transmit the five-times daily Muslim call to prayer is causing dismay among adherents of more than one religious group.

A preliminary vote on the so-called muezzin bill (a muezzin is the mosque official who recites the call to prayer) is scheduled for early next week.

It is not clear how the legislation, if adopted, would impact numerous areas of Israel and the West Bank that are under complex jurisdictional ruling and home to a mixture of religions.

In Jerusalem and elsewhere throughout the country, the three monotheistic faiths contribute to the cacophony of sounds at various times and on different days of the week.

The daily Muslim calls to prayer begin at about 4 a.m. and can be heard to differing degrees, depending on where you are. Where mosques are in close proximity to one another, there is a lot of overlap and duplication.

In Jerusalem, the Jewish shabbat alarm, which is essentially an air-raid siren, sounds every Friday at sundown to tell residents the sabbath has begun. Church bells ring on Sunday and important holidays.

Yaakov Litzman, Israels ultra-Orthodox deputy health minister, initially blocked the bill over concerns that it could be extended to include the shabbat alarm. Last week, Litzman withdrew his opposition after a loophole was added for the alarm, Haaretz reported.

In Bethlehem, which is heavily dependent on Christian pilgrims for tourism at several points during the year, the towns main tourist center is home to a mosque with a loudspeaker set at a very high volume. The mosque towers over Manger Square, and faces the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

The towns Christmas tree stands right in front of the church and numerous Christmas holiday traditions take place in or near the square.

Local business owners, many of whom are Arab Christians, dont seem to mind the blend of sounds, though.

Im not against it, for sure, said Sami Khouri, general manager of the Visit Palestine visitor center and gift shop-cafe a few hundred feet from Manger Square. Turning down the volume is somewhat okay, but preventing them from doing it isnt right.

Khouri, who also runs a tourism company and lives in Jerusalem, says its just part of life in the region.

Even where I live in Jerusalem, there are two mosques [making the call to prayer] nearby, five times a day. I just think this is co-existence, he said. The mosque has been there for who knows how long and we also ring the church bells. For tourists, its part of the flavor. For me its part of the sounds of Jerusalem, the ambience.

However, Khouri and others do suggest that if multiple mosques are situated in a given area they could possibly coordinate their broadcasts. The caveat is popular sentiment, but is not part of the bill before the Israeli parliament.

Some areas in the West Bank technically under full Palestinian Authority control have protested by staging multifaith demonstrations, with hundreds of Muslims, Christians, and Jewish Samaritans singing the call to prayer together.

Nablus is the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank and home to hundreds of mosques, which together produce a wall of uncoordinated sound.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is almost evenly divided on the issue, according to a poll on one of the communitys websites, Kikar HaShabat (Sabbath Corner). The poll found that 42 percent of respondents were against the bill.

There are also individuals working together behind the scenes, with unlikely, discreet alliances between some Arab and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, according to a report in Al-Monitor.

Disputes over mosque calls to prayer are not uncommon, both in Western and Muslim countries. In 2004, some of the 23,000 residents of the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Michigan were at odds over mosque loudspeakers, with some telling local media they were simply too loud.

In Dubai in 2011, the volume of a mosque was checked twice for decibel level after residents complained about crying children being woken up at 4 a.m.

An online Indonesian housing forum for expats recommends visiting a potential new home to make sure you can handle the disruption to the peace and quiet of your home during the call to prayer.

SOURCE

The left is creating a new kind of apartheid

The student union at Kings College London will field a team in University Challenge that contains at least 50 per cent self-defining women, trans or non-binary students. The only bad thing Ken Livingstone could bring himself to say about the brutal dictator Fidel Castro was that initially he wasnt very good on lesbian and gay rights. The first page of Hillary Clintons campaign website (still up) has links to African Americans for Hillary, Latinos for Hillary, Asian Americans and Pacific islanders for Hillary, Women for Hillary, Millennials for Hillary, but none to men for Hillary, let alone white people for Hillary.

Since when did the left insist on judging people by to paraphrase Martin Luther King the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character? The left once admirably championed the right of black people, women and gays to be treated the same as white, straight men. With only slightly less justification, it then moved on to pushing affirmative action to redress past prejudice. Now it has gone further, insisting everybody is defined by his or her identity and certain victim identities must be favoured.

Given the history of such stereotyping, it is baffling that politicians on the left cannot see where this leads. The prime exponents of identity politics in the past were the advocates of apartheid, of antisemitism, and of treating women as the legal chattels of men. We are sleepwalking our way to segregation, Trevor Phillips says.

Identity politics is thus very old-fashioned. Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism, says equality feminism fair treatment, respect and dignity is being eclipsed in universities by a Victorian fainting couch feminism, which views women as fragile flowers who require safe spaces, trigger warnings and special protection from micro-invalidations. Sure enough, when she said this at Oberlin College, Ohio, 35 students and a therapy dog sought refuge in a safe room.

It is just bad biology to focus on race, sex or sexual orientation as if they mattered most about people. Weve known for decades and Marxist biologists such as Dick Lewontin used to insist on this point that the genetic differences between two human beings of the same race are maybe ten times as great as the average genetic difference between two races. Race really is skin deep. Sex goes deeper, for sure, because of developmental pathways, but still the individual differences between men and men, or women and women, or gays and gays, are far more salient than any similarities.

The Republican sweep in the American election cannot be blamed solely on the culture wars, but they surely played a part. Take the bathroom wars that broke out during the early stages of the campaign. North Carolinas legislature heavy-handedly required citizens to use toilets that corresponded to their birth gender. The Obama administration heavy-handedly reacted by insisting that every school district in the country should do no such thing or lose its federal funding. This was a gift to conservatives: Should a grown man pretending to be a woman be allowed to use . . . the same restroom used by your daughter? Your wife?, asked Senator Ted Cruz.

White men played the identity card at the American ballot box There is little doubt that to some extent white men played the identity card at the ballot box in reaction to the identity politics of the left. In a much-discussed essay for The New York Times after the election, Mark Lilla of Columbia University mused that Hillary Clintons tendency to slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters at every stop was a mistake: If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them.

He argues that the fixation on diversity in our schools and the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life . . . By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good. As many students woke up to discover on November 9, identity politics is expressive, not persuasive.

Last week, in an unbearably symbolic move, Hampshire College in Massachusetts removed the American flag a symbol of unity if ever there was one from campus in order to make students feel safer. The university president said the removal would enable us to instead focus our efforts on racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviours. There are such attitudes in America, for sure, but I am willing to bet they are not at their worst at Hampshire College, Massachusetts.

The one group that is increasingly excluded from campuses, with never a peep of complaint from activists, is conservatives. Data from the Higher Education Research Institute show the ratio of left-wing professors to right-wing professors went from 2:1 in 1995 to 6:1 today. The 1 is usually in something such as engineering and keeps his or her head down. Fashionable joke: whats the opposite of diversity? University.

This is not a smug, anti-American argument. British universities are hurtling down the same divisive path. Feminists including Germaine Greer, Julie Bindel and Kate Smurthwaite have been no-platformed at British universities, along with speakers for Ukip and Israel, but not Islamic State. Universities are becoming like Victorian aunts, brooking no criticism of religion, treating women as delicate flowers and turning up their noses at Jews.

The government is conducting an independent review into Britains sharia courts, which effectively allow women to be treated differently if they are Muslim. The review is chaired by a Muslim and advised by two imams. And far too many government forms still insist on knowing whether the applicant is (I have taken the list from the Office for National Statistics guidance): Gypsy or Irish Traveller, White and Black Caribbean, White and Black African, White and Asian, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, African, Caribbean, Arab, or any other ethnic group. So bleeding what?

The left has vacated the moral high ground on which it won so many fine battles to treat human beings equally. The right must occupy that ground and stand for universal human values and equal treatment for all.

SOURCE

Fake news and posttruth: the handmaidens of Western relativism

It isnt Macedonian teens who killed truth and objectivity

Internet-savvy 16-year-old boys in Macedonia are undermining Western journalism and democracy. Have you ever encountered a faker news story than that? This is the great irony of the fake-news panic that has swept the Western media in recent days, with observers now claiming that the promotion of made-up news on Facebook may have swung the election for Donald Trump and done GBH to the Western ideals of objectivity and reason: it is underpinned by illusions of its own; by a refusal to grapple with hard truths about the Wests own jettisoning of those values; and by an urge to invent bogeymen that is every bit as dislocated from reality as are those myth-peddling kids in the East.

Still reeling from the failure of their idol Hillary Clinton to get to the White House, mainstream observers and politicians this week came up with another thing to blame: BS news. They claim the spread of stories like The pope loves Trump and Hillary is a paedophile, many of which originate on phoney-news websites in Eastern Europe and get loads of likes among Westerners on Facebook, is a threat to truth and to the very practice of democracy. Angela Merkel bemoaned the fake sites, bots, trolls which manipulate public opinion and make politics and democracy harder. President Obama slammed this active misinformation, arguing that if everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we lose so much of what weve gained in terms of democratic freedoms.

Liberal columnists, wounded that so much of the public ignored their overtures first on Brexit and then on Trump, claim good, decent, supposedly elitist journalism must now assert itself. Our role in seeking the truth must be harnessed with steely determination, says one. CNNs Christiane Amanpour says the tsunami of fake-news sites is an affront to journalism and the thing that journalism helps to facilitate: democracy. We must now fight hard for the truth in this world where the Oxford English Dictionary just announced that its word of 2016 [is] post-truth, she says. Numerous hacks have been despatched to Macedonia and Russia to confront the fresh-faced youths who run these fake-news sites for cash. How teens in the Balkans are duping Trump supporters, says one headline. Russian propaganda effort helped spread fake news during election, says another. The image were left with is of dastardly Easterners suckering stupid Westerners and undermining the democratic tradition, and now pain-faced, well-minded columnists must stand up to this foreign threat to reason.

Its the fakest news story of the week. It might not be as utterly invented as the one about Hillarys people abusing children in a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC. But it involves a profounder avoidance of truth, a deeper unwillingness to face up to facts. In particular the fact that the rise of fake news, alternative news and conspiracy theories speaks not to the wicked interventions of myth-spreaders from without, but to the corrosion of reason within, right here in the West. It speaks to the declining moral and cultural authority of our own political and media class. It is the Western worlds own abandonment of objectivity, and loss of legitimacy in the eyes of its populace, that has nurtured something of a free-for-all on the facts and news front. Those Macedonian kids arent denting democracy or damaging objectivity theyre merely milking a Western crisis of objectivity that began long before they were born.

The first striking thing about the fake-news panic is its naked paternalism. The suggestion is that voters, especially those of a low-information, redneck variety, were hoodwinked into voting Trump by outlandish stories about how evil Hillary is. Fake news whacks people who could not recognise [or] fact-check, says Amanpour. Its a post-truth era where you can play [people] like a fiddle, says a liberal writer in the US. A Guardian columnist says people easily believe lies that play to their prejudices and then pass them on thoughtlessly. Were given the impression that masses of people are incapable of deciphering fact from fiction. They cast their votes on the basis of a daft pizza-paedo link they saw on Facebook. With a loud sneer, observers write off the general publics capacity for reason and willingness to engage seriously with democratic decisions. Ironically, this demeaning of the demos, this calling into question of the very idea that underpins modern politics that the public is reasoned and must be allowed to steer the fate of their nation does far greater damage to the value and standing of democracy than any spotty Macedonian with a laptop could ever do.

Then came the paternalistic solutions. We need new gatekeepers, columnists claim: professionals who have the resources and brains to work out whats true and whats a lie and ensure that people see more of the former. Obama and others suggest Facebook must get better at curating news, sorting truth from falsehood on behalf of its suggestible users. The suggestion is that the internet, having thrown open the world of reportage and commentary to everyone, having enabled anyone with a computer or phone to say their piece, has disoriented truth and democracy and now must be tamed, or at least better managed.

This echoes the elite fears that greeted the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. Then, the religious authorities the gatekeepers of their day worried that all sorts of heresy might now find its way into the publics minds and hearts, unfiltered by their wise, godly counsel. Todays aspiring gatekeepers panic that fake news will get into and warp the minds of the little people in this era when knowledge filtering has been stripped back even further, so that increasingly the citizen stands alone before the claims and counter-claims of those who publish. And apparently this fake news often contains heresies of its own. In his interview with the New Yorker, Obama strikingly bemoaned the fake news of climate-change scepticism, where an explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers payroll. This cuts to the 15th-century-echoing fear that motors the panic over fake news: the belief that it will allow not only outright lies, but new heresies, new blasphemies, different ways of thinking, to make an appeal to peoples beliefs and convictions. The call to filter social media is a paternalistic call to protect the public from bad or mad or dangerous thoughts, in a similar way that early clampdowns on the printing press were designed to keep evil from the swarm.

What this censorious, anti-demos view overlooks is the positive side to todays unprecedented throwing-open of debate and news and politics: the fact that it implicitly calls on the citizen to use his own mental and moral muscles, to confront the numerous different versions of the world offered to him and decide which one sounds most right. Surely the internets downside of fake news is more than outweighed by its invitation to us to negotiate the rapids of public debate for ourselves and make up our own minds? Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is a consequence of man-made behaviour, because thats what 99 per cent of scientists tell us, said Obama in his handwringing over fake news. No. The ideal thing in a democracy isnt that we believe something because scientists, or politicians, or priests, have told us its true; its that we believe something because we have considered it, thought about it, weighed it up against other things, and then deployed our own judgement. Believing something because others tell you its true isnt democracy its oligarchy.

Even the extent to which fake news is a bad thing and of course it can be its rise is not a result of wicked foreign poking into Western politics and debate. Rather, it speaks to the hollowing-out of the whole idea of truth in the West, to the march of the relativistic notion that objectivity is not only difficult but undesirable. The image of the old gatekeepers of knowledge, or just news, being elbowed aside either by new technologies or by interfering Easterners is wrong; it is more accurate to say that these gatekeepers gave up, and abandoned their posts, on the basis that it is arrogant to assume that any one way of seeing or reporting the world is better than another.

For the past two decades, Western news reporting has openly called into question its own definitiveness. It has thrown open news items to ceaseless commenting below the line, on the basis that news coverage is a partnership, as the BBCs Richard Sandbrook said in 2005. It celebrated citizen journalism as a realer, less top-down form of newsgathering. And it has jettisoned the very thing that distinguished it from other, more opinionated views on world events: its objectivity. From the rise of the journalism of attachment in the 1990s, in which journalists eschewed the apparently cold, forensic habit of objectivity and took sides with the most victimised groups in certain conflicts and situations, to the medias embrace of data journalism in the 2000s, where churning through thousands of leaked documents took the place of discovering stories and faithfully reporting them, Western journalism has redefined its mission from one of objectively discovering truth to simply offering its increasingly technical or emotional take on what might, or might not, have happened.

Journalists have explicitly disavowed objectivity, and with it their gatekeeping role. It is time to toss out objectivity as a goal, said Harvard journalism expert Dan Gilmor in 2005. By 2010, even Time magazine, self-styled epitome of the Western journalistic style, was celebrating The End of Objectivity. The new-media openness [has] upended the old medias poker-faced stoicism and its about time, it said. The Western media started to replace the ideal of objectivity with values such as fairness, transparency and balance. And as one European observer pointed out, these are very different to objectivity: where objectivity points to the active quest for truth, these newer, more technical values reduce the news media to just another voice among the many voices in a pluralistic world. When someone like Amanpour says Western journalism and democracy are in mortal peril, largely thanks to foreign powers like Russia paying to churn out false news, she overlooks journalisms weakening of its own ideals and authority, including by her and others in the 1990s when they ditched objectivity in preference for taking sides in conflicts like the one in Bosnia. She conspiratorially displaces on to Russia a crisis of objectivity that has its origins in the newsrooms and academies and political chambers of the West.

The abandonment of objectivity in journalism did not happen in a vacuum. It sprung from, and in turn intensified, a rejection of reason in the West, a disavowal of the idea of truth, and its replacement either by the far more technical ambition of being evidence-based or by highly emotional responses to world events. Indeed, the greatest irony in the fake-news panic, and in the whole post-Brexit, post-Trump talk of a new post-truth era, is that it was the very guardians of Western culture and knowledge, the very establishment now horrified by how the little people think and vote, who made us post-truth; who oversaw the turn against Enlightenment in the academy, the calling into question of male science, the throttling of the idea of any one, clear morality to which people might subscribe, and the rubbishing of the entire project of objectivity, even of news as we understood it. When Obama says we live in an era where everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, he isnt wrong. Only that refusal to distinguish, to judge, to elevate truer things over questionable things, is not down to Facebook or Macedonians or allegedly dumb Trump voters it is an accomplishment of the very post-Enlightenment, self-doubting, technocratic elites Obama is part of.

And what happens when you give up your conviction that truth can be discovered, and instead promote the idea that all ways of looking at the world, and interpreting the world, and feeling the world, have validity? You disorientate public discussion. You slay your own cultural authority. You create a situation where people doubt you, often with good reason, and go looking for other sources of information. You create the space for other claims of truth, some of them good and exciting, some of them mad and fake. Dont blame Russia, or us, for the crisis of journalism and democracy or for our so-called post-truth times. You did this. You, the gatekeepers. Well be our own gatekeepers now, thanks.

SOURCE

*************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American “liberals” often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America’s educational system — particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if “liberals” had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.

***************************

Read more:

Political Correctness Watch

Posted in Political Correctness | Comments Off on Political Correctness Watch

FBI and NSA Poised to Gain New Surveillance Powers Under …

Posted: at 12:24 pm

The FBI, National Security Agency and CIA are likely to gain expanded surveillance powers under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, a prospect that has privacy advocates and some lawmakers trying to mobilize opposition.

Trumps first two choices to head law enforcement and intelligence agencies — Republican Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Republican Representative Mike Pompeo for director of the Central Intelligence Agency — are leading advocates for domestic government spying at levels not seen since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Exclusive insights on technology around the world.

Get Fully Charged, from Bloomberg Technology.

Business

Your guide to the most important business stories of the day, every day.

Politics

The latest political news, analysis, charts, and dispatches from the campaign trail.

Markets

The most important market news of the day. So you can sleep an extra five minutes.

Pursuits

What to eat, drink, wear and drive in real life and your dreams.

Game Plan

The school, work and life hacks you need to get ahead.

An already over-powerful surveillance state is about to be let loose on the American people, said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, an internet and privacy advocacy organization.

In a reversal of curbs imposed after Edward Snowdens revelations in 2013 about mass data-gathering by the NSA, Trump and Congress may move to reinstate the collection of bulk telephone records, renew powers to collect the content of e-mails and other internet activity, ease restrictions on hacking into computers and let the FBI keep preliminary investigations open longer.

Read more: Apple, the FBI and encryption — a QuickTake

A first challenge for privacy advocates comes this week: A new rule is set to go into effect on Dec. 1 letting the FBI get permission from a judge in a single jurisdiction to hack into multiple computers whose locations arent known.

Under the proposed rules, the government would now be able to obtain a single warrant to access and search thousands or millions of computers at once; and the vast majority of the affected computers would belong to the victims, not the perpetrators, of a cybercrime, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who serves on the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

Wyden is one of seven senators, including libertarian Republican Rand Paul, who have introduced a bill, S. 3475, to delay the new policy until July to give Congress time to debate its merits and consider amendments.

Sessions, Pompeo and officials with national security and law enforcement agencies have argued that expanded surveillance powers are needed, especially because of the threat of small, deadly terrorist plots that are hard to detect, like the killing of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June and 14 people in San Bernardino, California, last year.

The FBI had at one point opened a preliminary investigation into the Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, but didnt have the authority to keep it going for lack of evidence of wrongdoing.

Whats needed is a fundamental upgrade to Americas surveillance capabilities, Pompeo and a co-author wrote in a Wall Street Journal commentary in January. Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed.

Pompeo and Sessions want to repeal a 2015 law that prohibits the FBI and NSA from collecting bulk phone records — metadata such as numbers called and dates and times — on Americans who arent suspected of wrongdoing.

“Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database,” Pompeo wrote.

Press aides for Sessions and Pompeo declined to comment.

Sessions has opposed restraints on NSA surveillance and said in June that he supported legislation to expand the types of internet data the FBI can intercept without warrants.

Congress is also expected to consider legislation early next year that would renew the governments ability to collect the content of e-mail and other internet activity from companies such as Google and Facebook Inc.

Under the Prism program, investigators pursuing suspected terrorists can intercept the content of electronic communications believed to come from outside the U.S. without specific warrants even if one end of the communications is inside the country or involves an American.

Prism came under criticism when it was exposed by Snowden, the former NSA contractor who stole hundreds of thousands of documents on agency surveillance programs. Section 702 of the USA Patriot Act, under which Prism and other spy programs are conducted, is set to expire at the end of 2017 if it isnt reauthorized by Congress.

James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has said he also wants to renew a debate early next year about whether Apple and other companies can resist court warrants seeking to unlock encrypted communications. The agency went to court trying to force Apple to create new software to crack password protection on a phone used by the shooter in San Bernardino.

Boycott Apple until they give up the information, Trump said at a rally in South Carolina in February. He said Tim Cook, Apples chief executive officer, is looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is. Apple should give up.

While the FBI dropped that case against Apple after buying a tool to hack into the phone, the increasing use of encryption on mobile devices and messaging services remains a challenge to national security and law enforcement agencies.

Republicans led by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina are expected to re-introduce legislation requiring companies to give investigators access to encrypted communications.

The FBI is also seeking legislation that would allow it to obtain non-content electronic communication transactional records, such as browsing histories and computer Internet Protocol addresses, without court oversight or a warrant.

Sessions and Burr supported the legislation earlier this year, while it was opposed by major technology groups as well as Google and Facebook.

See the original post:
FBI and NSA Poised to Gain New Surveillance Powers Under …

Posted in NSA | Comments Off on FBI and NSA Poised to Gain New Surveillance Powers Under …

Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your …

Posted: at 12:24 pm

In a dangerously flawed decision unsealed today, a federal district court in Virginia ruled that a criminal defendant has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his personal computer, located inside his home. According to the court, the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual’s computer.

This decision is the latest in, and perhaps the culmination of, a series of troubling decisions in prosecutions stemming from the FBIs investigation of Playpena Tor hidden services site hosting child pornography. The FBI seized the server hosting the site in 2014, but continued to operate the site and serve malware to thousands of visitors that logged into the site. The malware located certain identifying information (e.g., MAC address, operating system, the computers Host name; etc) on the attacked computer and sent that information back to the FBI. There are hundreds of prosecutions, pending across the country, stemming from this investigation.

Courts overseeing these cases have struggled to apply traditional rules of criminal procedure and constitutional law to the technology at issue. Recognizing this, we’ve been participating as amicus to educate judges on the significant legal issues these cases present. In fact, EFF filed an amicus brief in this very case, arguing that the FBIs investigation ran afoul of the Fourth Amendment. The brief, unfortunately, did not have the intended effect.

The implications for the decision, if upheld, are staggering: law enforcement would be free to remotely search and seize information from your computer, without a warrant, without probable cause, or without any suspicion at all. Tosay the least, the decision is bad news for privacy. But it’s also incorrect as a matter of law, and we expect there is little chance it would hold up on appeal. (It also was not the central component of the judge’s decision, which also diminishes the likelihood that it will become reliable precedent.)

But the decision underscores a broader trend in these cases: courts across the country, faced with unfamiliar technology and unsympathetic defendants, are issuing decisions that threaten everyone’s rights. As hundreds of these cases work their way through the federal court system, we’ll be keeping a careful eye on these decisions, developing resources to help educate the defense bar, and doing all we can to ensure that the Fourth Amendment’s protections for our electronic devices aren’t eroded further. We’ll be writing more about these cases in the upcoming days, too, so be sure to check back in for an in-depth look at the of the legal issues in these cases, and the problems with the way the FBI handled its investigation.

More here:
Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your …

Posted in Fourth Amendment | Comments Off on Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your …

List of Atlas Shrugged characters – Wikipedia

Posted: November 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

This is a list of characters in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.

The following are major characters from the novel.[1]

Dagny Taggart is the protagonist of the novel. She is Vice-President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, under her brother, James Taggart. Given James’ incompetence, Dagny is responsible for all the workings of the railroad.

Francisco d’Anconia is one of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged, an owner by inheritance of the world’s largest copper mining operation. He is a childhood friend, and the first love, of Dagny Taggart. A child prodigy of exceptional talents, Francisco was dubbed the “climax” of the d’Anconia line, an already prestigious family of skilled industrialists. He was a classmate of John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjld and student of both Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler. He began working while still in school, proving that he could have made a fortune without the aid of his family’s wealth and power. Later, Francisco bankrupts the d’Anconia business to put it out of others’ reach. His full name is given as “Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastin d’Anconia”.[2]

John Galt is the primary male hero of Atlas Shrugged. He initially appears as an unnamed menial worker for Taggart Transcontinental, who often dines with Eddie Willers in the employees’ cafeteria, and leads Eddie to reveal important information about Dagny Taggart and Taggart Transcontinental. Only Eddie’s side of their conversations is given in the novel. Later in the novel, the reader discovers this worker’s true identity.

Before working for Taggart Transcontinental, Galt worked as an engineer for the Twentieth Century Motor Company, where he secretly invented a generator of usable electric energy from ambient static electricity, but abandoned his prototype, and his employment, when dissatisfied by an easily corrupted novel system of payment. This prototype was found by Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden. Galt himself remains concealed, throughout much of the novel, in a valley concealed by himself, where he unites the most skillful inventors and business leaders under his leadership. Much of the book’s third division is given to his broadcast speech, which presents the author’s philosophy of Objectivism.

Henry (known as “Hank”) Rearden is one of the central characters in Atlas Shrugged. He owns the most important steel company in the United States, and invents Rearden Metal, an alloy stronger than steel (with similar properties to stainless steel). He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Lillian, his brother Philip, and his elderly mother. Rearden represents a type of self-made man or prototypical hero, and illustrates Rand’s theory of sex in so far as he accepts the traditional view of sexual congress as a subhuman instinct, but responds sexually to Dagny Taggart.

Edwin “Eddie” Willers is the Special Assistant to the Vice-President in Charge of Operations at Taggart Transcontinental. His father and grandfather worked for the Taggarts, and himself likewise. He is completely loyal to Dagny and to Taggart Transcontinental. Willers does not possess the creative ability of Galt’s associates, but matches them in moral courage and is capable of appreciating and making use of their creations. After Dagny shifts her attention and loyalty to saving the captive Galt, Willers maintains the railroad until its collapse.

One of Galt’s first followers, and world-famous as a pirate, who seizes relief ships sent from the United States to the People’s States of Europe. He works to ensure that once those espousing Galt’s philosophy are restored to their rightful place in society, they have enough capital to rebuild the world. Kept in the background for much of the book, Danneskjld makes a personal appearance to encourage Rearden to persevere in his increasingly difficult situation, and gives him a bar of gold as compensation for the income taxes he has paid over the last several years. Danneskjld is married to the actress Kay Ludlow; their relationship is kept hidden from the outside world, which only knows of Ludlow as a retired film star. Considered a misfit by Galt’s other adherents, he views his actions as a means to speed the world along in understanding Galt’s perspective.

According to Barbara Branden, who was closely associated with Rand at the time the book was written, there were sections written describing Danneskjld’s adventures at sea, cut from the final published text.[3] In a 1974 comment at a lecture, Ayn Rand admitted that Danneskjld’s name was a tribute to Victor Hugo’s novel, Hans of Iceland, wherein the hero becomes the first of the Counts of Danneskjld. In the published book, Danneskjld is always seen through the eyes of others (Dagny Taggart or Hank Rearden), except for a brief paragraph in the very last chapter.

The President of Taggart Transcontinental and the book’s most important antagonist. Taggart is an expert influence peddler but incapable of making operational decisions on his own. He relies on his sister, Dagny Taggart, to actually run the railroad, but nonetheless opposes her in almost every endeavor because of his various anti-capitalist moral and political beliefs. In a sense, he is the antithesis of Dagny. This contradiction leads to the recurring absurdity of his life: the desire to overcome those on whom his life depends, and the horror that he will succeed at this. In the final chapters of the novel, he suffers a complete mental breakdown upon realizing that he can no longer deceive himself in this respect.

The unsupportive wife of Hank Rearden, who dislikes his habits and (secretly at first) seeks to ruin Rearden to prove her own value. Lillian achieves this, when she passes information to James Taggart about her husband’s affair with his sister. This information is used to persuade Rearden to sign a Gift Certificate which delivers all the property rights of Rearden Metal to others. Lillian thereafter uses James Taggart for sexual satisfaction, until Hank abandons her.

Ferris is a biologist who works as “co-ordinator” at the State Science Institute. He uses his position there to deride reason and productive achievement, and publishes a book entitled Why Do You Think You Think? He clashes on several occasions with Hank Rearden, and twice attempts to blackmail Rearden into giving up Rearden Metal. He is also one of the group of looters who tries to get Rearden to agree to the Steel Unification Plan. Ferris hosts the demonstration of the Project X weapon, and is the creator of the Ferris Persuader, a torture machine. When John Galt is captured by the looters, Ferris uses the device on Galt, but it breaks down before extracting the information Ferris wants from Galt. Ferris represents the group which uses brute force on the heroes to achieve the ends of the looters.

A former professor at Patrick Henry University, and along with colleague Hugh Akston, mentor to Francisco d’Anconia, John Galt and Ragnar Danneskjld. He has since become a sell-out, one who had great promise but squandered it for social approval, to the detriment of the free. He works at the State Science Institute where all his inventions are perverted for use by the military, including the instrument of his demise: Project X (Xylophone). The character was, in part, modeled on J. Robert Oppenheimer, whom Rand had interviewed for an earlier project, and his part in the creation of nuclear weapons.[4] To his former student Galt, Stadler represents the epitome of human evil, as the “man who knew better” but chose not to act for the good.

The incompetent and treacherous lobbyist whom Hank Rearden reluctantly employs in Washington, who rises to prominence and authority throughout the novel through trading favours and disloyalty. In return for betraying Hank by helping broker the Equalization of Opportunity Bill (which, by restricting the number of businesses each person may own to one, forces Hank to divest most of his companies), he is given a senior position at the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. Later in the novel he becomes its Top Co-ordinator, a position that eventually becomes Economic Dictator of the country.

The following secondary characters also appear in the novel.[5]

See original here:

List of Atlas Shrugged characters – Wikipedia

Posted in Atlas Shrugged | Comments Off on List of Atlas Shrugged characters – Wikipedia

Banned Books That Shaped America | Banned Books Week

Posted: at 9:44 am

The Library of Congress created an exhibit, “Books that Shaped America,” that explores books that “have had a profound effect on American life.” Below is a list of books from that exhibit that have been banned/challenged.

(To learn more about challenges to books since the inception of Banned Books Week, check out the timeline created by ALA.)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884

The first ban of Mark Twains American classic in Concord, MA in 1885 called it trash and suitable only for the slums. Objections to the book have evolved, but only marginally. Twains book is one of the most-challenged of all time and is frequently challenged even today because of its frequent use of the word nigger. Otherwise it is alleged the book is racially insensitive, oppressive, and perpetuates racism.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965 (Grove Press)

Objectors have called this seminal work a how-to-manual for crime and decried because of anti-white statements present in the book. The book presents the life story of Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X, who was a human rights activist and who has been called one of the most influential Americans in recent history.

Beloved, Toni Morrison, 1987

Again and again, this Pulitzer-prize winning novel by perhaps the most influential African-American writer of all time is assigned to high school English students. And again and again, parental complaints are lodged against the book because of its violence, sexual content and discussion of bestiality.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown, 1970

Subtitled An Indian History of the American West, this book tells the history of United States growth and expansion into the West from the point of view of Native Americans. This book was banned by a school district official in Wisconsin in 1974 because the book might be polemical and they wanted to avoid controversy at all costs. If theres a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it, the official stated.

The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903

Generally hailed as Jack Londons best work, The Call of the Wild is commonly challenged for its dark tone and bloody violence. Because it is seen as a man-and-his-dog story, it is sometimes read by adolescents and subsequently challenged for age-inappropriateness. Not only have objections been raised here, the book was banned in Italy, Yugoslavia and burned in bonfires in Nazi Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s because it was considered too radical.

Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961

A school board in Strongsville, OH refused to allow the book to be taught in high school English classrooms in 1972. It also refused to consider Cats Cradle as a substitute text and removed both books from the school library. The issue eventually led to a 1976 District Court ruling overturning the ban in Minarcini v. Strongsville.

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger, 1951

Young Holden, favorite child of the censor. Frequently removed from classrooms and school libraries because it is unacceptable, obscene, blasphemous, negative, foul, filthy, and undermines morality. And to think Holden always thought people never notice anything.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953

Rather than ban the book about book-banning outright, Venado Middle school in Irvine, CA utilized an expurgated version of the text in which all the hells and damns were blacked out. Other complaints have said the book went against objectors religious beliefs. The books author, Ray Bradbury, died this year.

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway, 1940

Shortly after its publication the U.S. Post Office, which purpose was in part to monitor and censor distribution of media and texts, declared the book nonmailable. In the 1970s, eight Turkish booksellers were tried for spreading propaganda unfavorable to the state because they had published and distributed the text. This wasnt Hemingways only banned book A Farewell to Arms and Across the River and Into the Trees were also censored domestically and abroad in Ireland, South Africa, Germany and Italy.

Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Pulitzer-prize winning novel (which three years after its publication became an Academy-Award Winning film) follows the life of the spoiled daughter of a southern plantation owner just before and then after the fall of the Confederacy and decline of the South in the aftermath of the Civil War. Critically praised for its thought-provoking and realistic depiction of ante- and postbellum life in the South, it has also been banned for more or less the same reasons. Its realism has come under fire, specifically its realistic portrayal though at times perhaps tending toward optimistic — of slavery and use of the words nigger and darkies.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

Kern County, California has the great honor both of being the setting of Steinbecks novel and being the first place where it was banned (1939). Objections to profanityespecially goddamn and the likeand sexual references continued from then into the 1990s. It is a work with international banning appeal: the book was barred in Ireland in the 50s and a group of booksellers in Turkey were taken to court for spreading propaganda in 1973.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

Perhaps the first great American novel that comes to the mind of the average person, this book chronicles the booze-infused and decadent lives of East Hampton socialites. It was challenged at the Baptist College in South Carolina because of the books language and mere references to sex.

Howl, Allen Ginsberg, 1956

Following in the footsteps of other Shaping America book Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsbergs boundary-pushing poetic works were challenged because of descriptions of homosexual acts.

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1966

The subject of controversy in an AP English class in Savannah, GA after a parent complained about sex, violence and profanity. Banned but brought back.

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952

Ellisons book won the 1953 National Book Award for Fiction because it expertly dealt with issues of black nationalism, Marxism and identity in the twentieth century. Considered to be too expert in its ruminations for some high schools, the book was banned from high school reading lists and schools in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington state.

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, 1906

For decades, American students have studied muckraking and yellow journalism in social studies lessons about the industrial revolution, with The Jungle headlining the unit. And yet, the dangerous and purportedly socialist views expressed in the book and Sinclairs Oil led to its being banned in Yugoslavia, East Germany, South Korea and Boston.

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855

If they dont understand you, sometimes they ban you. This was the case when the great American poem Leaves of Grass was first published and the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice found the sensuality of the text disturbing. Caving to pressure, booksellers in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania conceded to advising their patrons not to buy the filthy book.

Moby-Dick; or The Whale, Herman Melville,1851

In a real head-scratcher of a case, a Texas school district banned the book from its Advanced English class lists because it conflicted with their community values in 1996. Community values are frequently cited in discussions over challenged books by those who wish to censor them.

Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940

Richard Wrights landmark work of literary naturalism follows the life of young Bigger Thomas, a poor Black man living on the South Side of Chicago. Bigger is faced with numerous awkward and frustrating situations when he begins working for a rich white family as their chauffer. After he unintentionally kills a member of the family, he flees but is eventually caught, tried and sentenced to death. The book has been challenged or removed in at least eight different states because of objections to violent and sexually graphic content.

Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston Womens Health Book Collective, 1971

Challenges of this book about the female anatomy and sexuality ran from the books publication into the mid-1980s. One Public Library lodged it promotes homosexuality and perversion. Not surprising in a country where some legislators want to keep others from saying the word vagina.

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane, 1895

Restricting access and refusing to allow teachers to teach books is still a form of censorship in many cases. Cranes book was among many on a list compiled by the Bay District School board in 1986 after parents began lodging informal complaints about books in an English classroom library.

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

According to many critics, Hawthorne should have been less friendly toward his main character, Hester Prynne (in fairness, so should have minister Arthur Dimmesdale). One isnt surprised by the moralist outrage the book caused in 1852. But when, one hundred and forty years later, the book is still being banned because it is sinful and conflicts with community values, you have to raise your eyebrows. Parents in one school district called the book pornographic and obscene in 1977. Clearly this was before the days of the World Wide Web.

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred C. Kinsey, 1948

How dare Alfred Kinsey ask men and women questions about their sex lives! The groundbreaking study, truly the first of its scope and kind, was banned from publication abroad and highly criticized at home.

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein, 1961

The book was actually retained after a 2003 challenge in Mercedes, TX to the books adult themes. However, parents were subsequently given more control over what their child was assigned to read in class, a common school board response to a challenge.

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, 1947

The sexual content of this play, which later became a popular and critically acclaimed film, raised eyebrows and led to self-censorship when the film was being made. The director left a number of scenes on the cutting room floor to get an adequate rating and protect against complaints of the plays immorality.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

Parents of students in Advanced English classes in a Virginia high school objected to language and sexual content in this book, which made TIME magazines list of top 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960

Harper Lees great American tome stands as proof positive that the censorious impulse is alive and well in our country, even today. For some educators, the Pulitzer-prize winning book is one of the greatest texts teens can study in an American literature class. Others have called it a degrading, profane and racist work that promotes white supremacy.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

Like Huck Finn, Of Mice and Men and Gone With the Wind, the contextual, historically and culturally accurate depiction of the treatment of Black slaves in the United States has rankled would-be censors.

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, 1963

Sendaks work is beloved by children in the generations since its publication and has captured the collective imagination. Many parents and librarians, however, did much hand-wringing over the dark and disturbing nature of the story. They also wrung their hands over the babys penis drawn in In the Night Kitchen.

The Words of Cesar Chavez, Cesar Chavez, 2002

The works of Chavez were among the many books banned in the dissolution of the Mexican-American Studies Program in Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson Unified School District disbanded the program so as to accord with a piece of legislation which outlawed Ethnic Studies classes in the state. To read more about this egregious case of censorship, click here.

Read the rest here:
Banned Books That Shaped America | Banned Books Week

Posted in Censorship | Comments Off on Banned Books That Shaped America | Banned Books Week

New Jersey Casinos & Gambling in New Jersey

Posted: November 21, 2016 at 11:15 am

Top Online Casinos New Jersey Casino Information

New Jersey has 20 casinos in which you’ll find more than 26,560 slots and gaming machines. There are a total of 1305 table games. The minimum bet we’ve found at casinos in New Jersey is $0.01 and the maxium bet is $50,000. Click a casino on the left for more information on a particular property.

If you wish to stay at some nice casino hotels in New Jersey, visit the New Jersey casino hotels page. We actually have 7 New Jersey hotels you can book directly from World Casino Directory. Click here to see a list of all New Jersey hotels available.

There is poker in New Jersey! You will find over 204 live poker tables to play at. You will find the following games in New Jersey casinos: NL Holdem, Limit Holdem, PLO – 9, No Limit Holdem, Texas Hold’em, NL Texas Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, Mixed Games. Some New Jersey casinos also offer convention centers and meeting spaces. Over the entire town, you will find a total of 531,922 conference sq/ft space in the various casino properties.

Gambling opportunities in New Jersey include casino gambling in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Lottery, bingos & raffles, amusement games with risk and reward seaside and at county fairs, thoroughbred horse racing and standardbred harness racing, off-track betting, and online poker and casino gambling. New Jersey’s gambling laws are among the most permissive in the United States. Sportsbetting is not allowed but the case may be headed to the United States Supreme Court.

There are no Tribal casinos in the state and all casinos are currently located within Atlantic City. Online gaming and Atlantic City casino gambling are regulated by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, and race betting is handled by the New Jersey Racing Commission. Bingo, raffles, and amusement games are administered by the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission under the direction of the Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Jersy voters legalized gambling in Atlantic City on November 2, 1976, by a vote of 1,535,249 (56.53%) to 1,180,799 (43.47%). The New Jersey Casino Control Act was signed into law the next year and Resorts International Casino was the first to open in 1978.

After several stalled attempts and a veto by Governor Chris Christie, Online gambling was finally approved on February 26, 2013, with overwhelming support. Five of the seven remaining casinos in Atlantic City offer online casinos with a total of 20 domain names between them. Online players must be within the state’s borders to log on or play.

When the only commercial casinos in the eastern United States were located in Atlantic City, properties there did quite well and the planned economic benefits to the seashore city were manifold. However with the eventual market saturation of dozens of “racinos” and state supplied lottery casinos nearby in New York and elsewhere, along with the great recession, the casino’s fortunes faded. For an in-depth and up-to-date guide, including history, news, statistics and the current state of the industry in the Boardwalk City, please see our Atlantic City Gambling Guide.

At their peak in 2006, Atlantic City casinos were powerful economic engines. But the numbers have gone downhill since then. At the beginning of 2014 there were 12 casinos in operation. Four casinos closed that year, and another in 2016. The Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza, Showboat, and Revel closed in 2014. Carl Icahn closed Trump Taj Mahal in 2016. The Revel may reopen as TEN Atlantic City in early 2017. The surviving casinos are doing well with less competition. Online gambling revenues are also making a slow but steady climb in AC.

Live horse racing in New Jersey occurs at three locations – Freehold Raceway (standardbred only) Monmouth Park (thoroughbred only) and Meadowland Racetrack (thoroughbred and standardbred). Atlantic City Racecourse closed in early 2015.

Each of the live racing facilities also has daily simulcast race betting. Borgata is the only casino left to offer simulcasting and a race book. Caesars closed theirs in 2015. So expect big crowds fighting for one of the 105 seats in Borgata’s simulcast room on big race days like the Kentucky Derby.

Six off-track betting or Off Track Wagering (OTW) facilities are licenced including Favorites at Tom’s River and Winners Bayonne.

As the state struggles to come to terms with their new place in the Eastern gambling landscape, plans are in the works for a Hard Rock Casino to open at Meadowlands, and for a $5 billion casino in Jersey City.The election November 8, 2016, will determine if that’s possible when voters say yes or no to Question 1: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit casino gambling in two additional counties in this State? At present, casino gambling is allowed only in Atlantic City in Atlantic County. Only one casino in each of the two counties would be permitted. Each casino is to be located in a town that is at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. The amendment would allow certain persons to apply first for a casino license.”

‘Certain Persons’ are existing Atlantic City casino license holders who would have 6 months to present plans before anyone else got a chance to bid.

Although the days of being the number two casino town in the world are over, Atlantic City can not be counted out and still offers visitors a full range of gambling venues ranging from the new “locals” favorite Resorts Casino Hotel to the Borgata, Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Caesar’s, Harrah’s or Bally’s.

Horse racing is alive and well with some of the best tracks in the country, and online gambling for those playing from within the state’s borders offers exciting opportunities. If you are playing from your hotel room at, say,Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino, you can simply walk to the cashier’s cage and collect your online winnings. Now that beats asking for an account flush, or waiting out a pending period at most online casinos!

If you are looking for something special to do with your special other one and you are in the Atlantic City / New Jersey area, try this website:New Jersey Romantic Getaways for some good ideas.

Public relations and casino security experience desirable. Must be able to obtain a NJ Casino Employee License….

Responsible for emptying and cleaning ashtrays in showroom and casino areas. Must be able to obtain a NJ Casino Service Employee License….

Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Protected Veterans/Disabled. Knowledgeable of the Casino Control Act and Attendant Regulations, as well as company…

Testing including writing test cases, executing test cases, performing ad hoc and exploratory testing, creating test automations and coordinating testing…

Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Protected Veterans/Disabled. Knowledgeable of the Casino Control Act and Attendant Regulations, as well as company…

Excerpt from:

New Jersey Casinos & Gambling in New Jersey

Posted in Gambling | Comments Off on New Jersey Casinos & Gambling in New Jersey

Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

Posted: at 11:15 am

Atlas Shrugged: Part I is a 2011 American political science fiction drama film directed by Paul Johansson. An adaptation of part of Ayn Rand’s controversial 1957 novel of the same name, the film is the first in a trilogy encompassing the entire book. After various treatments and proposals floundered for nearly 40 years,[4] investor John Aglialoro initiated production in June 2010. The film was directed by Paul Johansson and stars Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden.

The film begins the story of Atlas Shrugged, set in a dystopian United States where John Galt leads innovators, from industrialists to artists, in a capital strike, “stopping the motor of the world” to reassert the importance of the free use of one’s mind and of laissez-faire capitalism.[5]

A sequel film, Atlas Shrugged: Part II was released on October 12, 2012. The third part in the series, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt? was released on September 12, 2014.[6]

It is 2016 and the United States is in a sustained economic depression. Industrial disasters, resource shortages, and gasoline at $37/gallon have made railroads the primary mode of transportation, but even they are in disrepair. After a major accident on the Rio Norte line of the Taggart Transcontinental railroad, CEO James Taggart shirks responsibility. His sister Dagny Taggart, Vice-President in Charge of Operation, defies him by replacing the aging track with new rails made of Rearden Metal, which is claimed to be lighter yet stronger than steel. Dagny meets with its inventor, Hank Rearden, and they negotiate a deal they both admit serves their respective self-interests.

Politician Wesley Mouchnominally Rearden’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C.is part of a crowd that views heads of industry as persons who must be broken or tamed. James Taggart uses political influence to ensure that Taggart Transcontinental is designated the exclusive railroad for the state of Colorado. Dagny is confronted by Ellis Wyatt, a Colorado oil man angry to be forced to do business with Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny promises him that he will get the service he needs. Dagny encounters former lover Francisco d’Anconia, who presents a faade of a playboy grown bored with the pursuit of money. He reveals that a series of copper mines he built are worthless, costing his investors (including the Taggart railroad) millions.

Rearden lives in a magnificent home with a wife and a brother who are happy to live off his effort, though they overtly disrespect it. Rearden’s anniversary gift to his wife Lillian is a bracelet made from the first batch of Rearden Metal, but she considers it a garish symbol of Hank’s egotism. At a dinner party, Dagny dares Lillian to exchange it for Dagny’s diamond necklace, which she does.

As Dagny and Rearden rebuild the Rio Norte line, talented people quit their jobs and refuse all inducements to stay. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Stadler of the State Science Institute puts out a report implying that Rearden Metal is dangerous. Taggart Transcontinental stock plummets because of its use of Rearden Metal, and Dagny leaves Taggart Transcontinental temporarily and forms her own company to finish the Rio Norte line. She renames it the John Galt Line, in defiance of the phrase “Who is John Galt?”which has come to stand for any question to which it is pointless to seek an answer.

A new law forces Rearden to sell most of his businesses, but he retains Rearden Steel for the sake of his metal and to finish the John Galt Line. Despite strong government and union opposition to Rearden Metal, Dagny and Rearden complete the line ahead of schedule and successfully test it on a record-setting run to Wyatt’s oil fields in Colorado. At the home of Wyatt, now a close friend, Dagny and Rearden celebrate the success of the line. As Dagny and Rearden continue their celebration into the night by fulfilling their growing sexual attraction, the shadowy figure responsible for the disappearances of prominent people visits Wyatt with an offer for a better society based on personal achievement.

The next morning, Dagny and Rearden begin investigating an abandoned prototype of an advanced motor that could revolutionize the world. They realize the genius of the motor’s creator and try to track him down. Dagny finds Dr. Hugh Akston, working as a cook at a diner, but he is not willing to reveal the identity of the inventor; Akston knows whom Dagny is seeking and says she will never find him, though he may find her.

Another new law limits rail freight and levies a special tax on Colorado. It is the final straw for Ellis Wyatt. When Dagny hears that Wyatt’s oil fields are on fire, she rushes to his home but finds a handwritten sign that reads, “I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”

Wyatt declares in an answering machine message that he is “on strike”.

In 1972, Albert S. Ruddy approached Rand to produce a cinematic adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. Rand agreed that Ruddy could focus on the love story. “That’s all it ever was,” Rand said.[9][10][11] Rand insisted on having final script approval, which Ruddy refused to give her, thus preventing a deal. In 1978, Henry and Michael Jaffe negotiated a deal for an eight-hour Atlas Shrugged television miniseries on NBC. Jaffe hired screenwriter Stirling Silliphant to adapt the novel and he obtained approval from Rand on the final script. However, in 1979, with Fred Silverman’s rise as president of NBC, the project was scrapped.[12]

Rand, a former Hollywood screenwriter herself, began writing her own screenplay, but died in 1982 with only one third of it finished. She left her estate, including the film rights to Atlas Shrugged, to her student Leonard Peikoff, who sold an option to Michael Jaffe and Ed Snider. Peikoff would not approve the script they wrote and the deal fell through. In 1992, investor John Aglialoro bought an option to produce the film, paying Peikoff over $1 million for full creative control.[12]

In 1999, under John Aglialoro’s sponsorship, Albert Ruddy negotiated a deal with Turner Network Television for a four-hour miniseries, but the project was killed after the AOL Time Warner merger. After the TNT deal fell through, Howard and Karen Baldwin, while running Phillip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment, obtained the rights. The Baldwins left Crusader, taking the rights to Atlas Shrugged with them, and formed Baldwin Entertainment Group in 2004. Michael Burns of Lions Gate Entertainment approached the Baldwins to fund and distribute Atlas Shrugged.[12] A two-part draft screenplay written by James V. Hart[13] was re-written into a 127page screenplay by Randall Wallace, with Vadim Perelman expected to direct.[14] Potential cast members for this production had included Angelina Jolie,[15]Charlize Theron,[16]Julia Roberts,[16] and Anne Hathaway.[16] Between 2009 and 2010, however, these deals came apart, including studio backing from Lions Gate, and therefore none of the stars mentioned above appear in the final film. Also, Wallace did not do the screenplay, and Perelman did not direct.[1][17] Aglialoro says producers have spent “something in the $20 million range” on the project over the last 18 years.[2]

In May 2010, Brian Patrick O’Toole and Aglialoro wrote a screenplay, intent on filming in June 2010. While initial rumors claimed that the films would have a “timeless” settingthe producers say Rand envisioned the story as occurring “the day after tomorrow”[18]the released film is set in late 2016. The writers were mindful of the desire of some fans for fidelity to the novel,[18] but gave some characters, such as Eddie Willers, short shrift and omitted others, such as the composer Richard Halley. The film is styled as a mystery, with black-and-white freeze frames as each innovator goes “missing”. However, Galt appears and speaks in the film, solving the mystery more clearly than in the first third of the novel.

Though director Johansson had been reported as playing the pivotal role of John Galt, he made it clear in an interview that with regard to who is John Galt in the film, the answer was, “Not me.”[7] He explained that his portrayal of the character would be limited to the first film as a silhouetted figure wearing a trenchcoat and fedora,[8] suggesting that another actor will be cast as Galt for the subsequent parts of the trilogy.

Though Stephen Polk was initially set to direct,[19] he was replaced by Paul Johansson nine days before filming was scheduled to begin. With the 18-year-long option to the films rights set to expire on June 15, 2010, producers Harmon Kaslow and Aglialoro began principal photography on June 13, 2010, thus allowing Aglialoro to retain the motion picture rights. Shooting took five weeks, and he says that the total production cost of the movie came in on a budget around US$10 million,[20] though Box Office Mojo lists the production cost as $20 million.[3]

Elia Cmiral composed the score for the film.[21] Peter Debruge wrote in Variety that “More ambitious sound design and score, rather than the low-key filler from composer Elia Cmiral and music supervisor Steve Weisberg, might have significantly boosted the pic’s limited scale.”[22]

In a lot of ways, this project reflects the ethos of the Tea Party. You had both Republicans and Democrats who felt rejected by the establishment, and the same process is going to happen with Atlas Shrugged: We’re going to build a constituency of people who believe in limited government and individual liberty.

The film had a very low marketing budget and was not marketed in conventional methods.[24] Prior to the film’s release on the politically symbolic date of Tax Day, the project was promoted throughout the Tea Party movement and affiliated organizations such as FreedomWorks.[23] The National Journal reported that FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-allied group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, (R-Texas), had been trying to get the movie opened in more theaters.[23] FreedomWorks also helped unveil the Atlas Shrugged movie trailer at the February 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.[23] Additionally, it was reported that Tea Party groups across the country were plugging the movie trailer on their websites and Facebook pages.[23] Release of the movie was also covered and promoted by Fox News TV personalities John Stossel and Sean Hannity.[25][26]

The U.S. release of Atlas Shrugged: Part I opened on 300 screens on April 15, 2011, and made US$1,676,917 in its opening weekend, finishing in 14th place overall.[27] Producers announced expansion to 423 theaters several days after release and promised 1,000 theaters by the end of April,[28] but the release peaked at 465 screens. Ticket sales dropped off significantly in its second week of release, despite the addition of 165 screens; after six weeks, the film was showing on only 32 screens and total ticket sales had not crossed the $5 million mark, recouping less than a quarter of the production budget.[29]

Atlas Shrugged: Part I was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on November 8, 2011 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[30] More than 100,000 DVD inserts were recalled within days due to the jacket’s philosophically incorrect description of “Ayn Rand’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice”.[31] As of April, 2013, 247,044 DVDs had been sold, grossing $3,433,445.[32]

The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 11% based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 3.6 out of 10. The site’s consensus was: “Passionate ideologues may find it compelling, but most filmgoers will find this low-budget adaptation of the Ayn Rand bestseller decidedly lacking.”[33]Metacritic gives the film a “generally unfavorable” rating of 28%, as determined by averaging 19 professional reviews.[34] Some commentators noted differences in film critics’ reactions from audience members’ reactions; from the latter group, the film received high scores even before the film was released.[35][36][37]

Let’s say you know the novel, you agree with Ayn Rand, you’re an objectivist or a libertarian, and you’ve been waiting eagerly for this movie. Man, are you going to get a letdown. It’s not enough that a movie agree with you, in however an incoherent and murky fashion. It would help if it were like, you know, entertaining?

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film only one star, calling it “the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault.”[1] Columnist Cathy Young of The Boston Globe gave the film a negative review.[38]Chicago Tribune published a predominantly negative review, arguing that the film lacks Rand’s philosophical theme, while at the same time saying “the actors, none of them big names, are well-suited to the roles. The story has drive, color and mystery. It looks good on the screen.”[39] In the New York Post, Kyle Smith gave the film a mostly negative review, grading it at 2.5/4 stars, criticizing its “stilted dialogue and stern, unironic hectoring” and calling it “stiff in the joints”, but also adding that it “nevertheless contains a fire and a fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item.”[40]

Reviews in the conservative press were more mixed. American economist Mark Skousen praised the film, writing in Human Events, “The script is true to the philosophy of Ayn Rand’s novel.”[41]The Weekly Standard senior editor Fred Barnes noted that the film “gets Rand’s point across forcefully without too much pounding”, that it is “fast-paced” when compared with the original novel’s 1200-page length, and that it is “at least as relevant today as it was when the novel was published in 1957.”[42]Jack Hunter, contributing editor to The American Conservative, wrote, “If you ask the average film critic about the new movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged they will tell you it is a horrible movie. If you ask the average conservative or libertarian they will tell you it is a great movie. Objectively, it is a mediocre movie at best. Subjectively, it is one of the best mediocre movies you’ll ever see.”[43] In the National Post, Peter Foster credited the movie for the daunting job of fidelity to the novel, wryly suggested a plot rewrite along the lines of comparable current events, and concluded, “if it sinks without trace, its backers should at least be proud that they lost their own money.”[44]

The poor critical reception of Atlas Shrugged: Part I initially made Aglialoro reconsider his plans for the rest of the trilogy.[45] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said he was continuing with plans to produce Part II and Part III for release on April 15 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.[46] In a later interview with The Boston Globe, Aglialoro was ambivalent: “I learned something long ago playing poker. If you think you’re beat[en], don’t go all in. If Part 1 makes [enough of] a return to support Part 2, I’ll do it. Other than that, I’ll throw the hand in.”[47]

In July 2011, Aglialoro planned to start production of Atlas Shrugged: Part II in September, with its release timed to coincide with the 2012 U.S. elections.[48] In October 2011, producer Harmon Kaslow stated that he hoped filming for Part II would begin in early 2012, “with hopes of previewing it around the time of the nominating conventions”. Kaslow anticipated that the film, which would encompass the second third of Atlas Shrugged, would “probably be 30 to 40 minutes longer than the first movie.” Kaslow also stated his intent that Part II would have a bigger production budget, as well as a larger advertising budget.[49]

On February 2, 2012, Kaslow and Aglialoro, the producers of Atlas Shrugged: Part II, announced a start date for principal photography in April 2012 with a release date of October 12, 2012.[50] Joining the production team was Duncan Scott, who, in 1986, was responsible for creating a new, re-edited version with English subtitles of the 1942 Italian film adaptation of We the Living. The first film’s entire cast was replaced for the sequel.

The sequel film, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, was released on October 12, 2012.[51] Critics gave the film a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews.[52] One reviewer gave the film a “D” rating,[53] while another reviewer gave the film a “1” rating (of 4).[54] In naming Part II to its list of 2012’s worst films, The A.V. Club said “The irony of Part II’s mere existence is rich enough: The free market is a religion for Rand acolytes, and it emphatically rejected Part I.”[55]

View original post here:

Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

Posted in Atlas Shrugged | Comments Off on Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

European Space Agency – Wikipedia

Posted: at 11:11 am

European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA; French: Agence spatiale europenne, ASE) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, with 22 member states. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,000[3] and an annual budget of about 5.25 billion / US$5.77 billion (2016).[4]

ESA’s space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station programme); the launch and operation of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle.

Its facilities are distributed among the following 5 research centres:

After World War II, many European scientists left Western Europe in order to work with the United States. Although the 1950s boom made it possible for Western European countries to invest in research and specifically in space-related activities, Western European scientists realized solely national projects would not be able to compete with the two main superpowers. In 1958, only months after the Sputnik shock, Edoardo Amaldi and Pierre Auger, two prominent members of the Western European scientific community at that time, met to discuss the foundation of a common Western European space agency. The meeting was attended by scientific representatives from eight countries, including Harrie Massey (UK).

The Western European nations decided to have two different agencies, one concerned with developing a launch system, ELDO (European Launch Development Organization), and the precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). The latter was established on 20 March 1964 by an agreement signed on 14 June 1962. From 1968 to 1972, ESRO launched seven research satellites.

ESA in its current form was founded with the ESA Convention in 1975, when ESRO was merged with ELDO. ESA has 10 founding member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.[5] These signed the ESA Convention in 1975 and deposited the instruments of ratification by 1980, when the convention came into force. During this interval the agency functioned in a de facto fashion.[2] ESA launched its first major scientific mission in 1975, Cos-B, a space probe monitoring gamma-ray emissions in the universe first worked on by ESRO.

ESA joined NASA in the IUE, the world’s first high-orbit telescope, which was launched in 1978 and operated very successfully for 18 years. A number of successful Earth-orbit projects followed, and in 1986 ESA began Giotto, its first deep-space mission, to study the comets Halley and GriggSkjellerup. Hipparcos, a star-mapping mission, was launched in 1989 and in the 1990s SOHO, Ulysses and the Hubble Space Telescope were all jointly carried out with NASA. Recent scientific missions in cooperation with NASA include the CassiniHuygens space probe, to which ESA contributed by building the Titan landing module Huygens.

As the successor of ELDO, ESA has also constructed rockets for scientific and commercial payloads. Ariane 1, launched in 1979, brought mostly commercial payloads into orbit from 1984 onward. The next two developments of the Ariane rocket were intermediate stages in the development of a more advanced launch system, the Ariane 4, which operated between 1988 and 2003 and established ESA as the world leader[citation needed] in commercial space launches in the 1990s. Although the succeeding Ariane 5 experienced a failure on its first flight, it has since firmly established itself within the heavily competitive commercial space launch market with 56 successful launches as of September 2011. The successor launch vehicle of Ariane 5, the Ariane 6 is already in the definition stage and is envisioned to enter service in the 2020s.

The beginning of the new millennium saw ESA become, along with agencies like NASA, JAXA, ISRO, CSA and Roscosmos, one of the major participants in scientific space research. Although ESA had relied on cooperation with NASA in previous decades, especially the 1990s, changed circumstances (such as tough legal restrictions on information sharing by the United States military) led to decisions to rely more on itself and on cooperation with Russia. A 2011 press issue thus stated:[6]

Russia is ESA’s first partner in its efforts to ensure long-term access to space. There is a framework agreement between ESA and the government of the Russian Federation on cooperation and partnership in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and cooperation is already under way in two different areas of launcher activity that will bring benefits to both partners.

Most notable for its new self-confidence are ESA’s own recent successful missions SMART-1, a probe testing cutting-edge new space propulsion technology, the Mars Express and Venus Express missions as well as the development of the Ariane 5 rocket and its role in the ISS partnership. ESA maintains its scientific and research projects mainly for astronomy-space missions such as Corot, launched on 27 December 2006, a milestone in the search for extra-solar planets.

The treaty establishing the European Space Agency reads:[7]

ESA’s purpose shall be to provide for, and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems

ESA is responsible for setting a unified space and related industrial policy, recommending space objectives to the member states, and integrating national programs like satellite development, into the European program as much as possible.[7]

Jean-Jacques Dordain ESA’s Director General (2003-2015) outlined the European Space Agency’s mission in a 2003 interview:[8]

Today space activities are pursued for the benefit of citizens, and citizens are asking for a better quality of life on earth. They want greater security and economic wealth, but they also want to pursue their dreams, to increase their knowledge, and they want younger people to be attracted to the pursuit of science and technology.

I think that space can do all of this: it can produce a higher quality of life, better security, more economic wealth, and also fulfill our citizens’ dreams and thirst for knowledge, and attract the young generation. This is the reason space exploration is an integral part of overall space activities. It has always been so, and it will be even more important in the future.

ESA describes its work in two overlapping ways:

According to the ESA website the activities are:

Every member country must contribute to these programmes listed according to [1]:

Depending on their individual choices the countries can contribute to the following programmes listed according to [2]:

ESA member states

ESA associate members

ECS states

Signatories of the Cooperation Agreement

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states.[9] Member states participate to varying degrees in the mandatory (25% of total expenditures in 2008) and optional space programmes (75% of total expenditures in 2008).[10] The 2008 budget amounted to 3.0 billion the 2009 budget to 3.6 billion.[11] The total budget amounted to about 3.7 billion in 2010, 3.99 billion in 2011, 4.02 billion in 2012, 4.28 billion in 2013, 4.10 billion in 2014 and 4.33 billion in 2015.[12][13][14][15][16] Languages generally used are English and French. Additionally, official documents are also provided in German and documents regarding the Spacelab are also provided in Italian. If found appropriate, the agency may conduct its correspondence in any language of a member state.[2]

The following table lists all the member states and adjunct members, their ESA convention ratification dates, and their contributions in 2016:[1]

Currently the only associated member of ESA is Canada.[26] Previously associated members were Austria, Norway and Finland, all of which later joined ESA as full members.

Since 1 January 1979, Canada has had the special status of a Cooperating State within ESA. By virtue of this accord, the Canadian Space Agency takes part in ESA’s deliberative bodies and decision-making and also in ESA’s programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada.[28] The most recent Cooperation Agreement was signed on 2010-12-15 with a term extending to 2020.[29][30] For 2014, Canada’s annual assessed contribution to the ESA general budget was 6,059,449.00 Euros (CAD$8,559,050).[31]

ESA is funded from annual contributions by national governments as well as from an annual contribution by the European Union (EU).[32]

The budget of ESA was 5.250 billion in 2016.[4] Every 34 years, ESA member states agree on a budget plan for several years at an ESA member states conference. This plan can be amended in future years, however provides the major guideline for ESA for several years.[citation needed] The 2016 budget allocations for major areas of ESA activity are shown in the chart on the right.[4]

Countries typically have their own space programmes that differ in how they operate organisationally and financially with ESA. For example, the French space agency CNES has a total budget of 2015 million, of which 755 million is paid as direct financial contribution to ESA.[33] Several space-related projects are joint projects between national space agencies and ESA (e.g. COROT). Also, ESA is not the only European governmental space organisation (for example European Union Satellite Centre).

After the decision of the ESA Council of 21/22 March 2001, the procedure for accession of the European states was detailed as described the document titled “The Plan for European Co-operating States (PECS)”.[34] Nations that want to become a full member of ESA do so in 3 stages. First a Cooperation Agreement is signed between the country and ESA. In this stage, the country has very limited financial responsibilities. If a country wants to cooperate more fully with ESA, it signs a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement. The ECS Agreement makes companies based in the country eligible for participation in ESA procurements. The country can also participate in all ESA programmes, except for the Basic Technology Research Programme. While the financial contribution of the country concerned increases, it is still much lower than that of a full member state. The agreement is normally followed by a Plan For European Cooperating State (or PECS Charter). This is a 5-year programme of basic research and development activities aimed at improving the nation’s space industry capacity. At the end of the 5-year period, the country can either begin negotiations to become a full member state or an associated state or sign a new PECS Charter.[35] Many countries, most of which joined the EU in both 2004 and 2007, have started to cooperate with ESA on various levels:

During the Ministerial Meeting in December 2014, ESA ministers approved a resolution calling for discussions to begin with Israel, Australia and South Africa on future association agreements. The ministers noted that concrete cooperation is at an advanced stage with these nations and that prospects for mutual benefits are existing.[56]

A separate space exploration strategy resolution calls for further cooperation with the United States, Russia and China on “LEO exploration, including a continuation of ISS cooperation and the development of a robust plan for the coordinated use of space transportation vehicles and systems for exploration purposes, participation in robotic missions for the exploration of the Moon, the robotic exploration of Mars, leading to a broad Mars Sample Return mission in which Europe should be involved as a full partner, and human missions beyond LEO in the longer term.”[56]

The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014,[57] although this date was not met. The EU is already the largest single donor to ESA’s budget and non-ESA EU states are observers at ESA.

The only current EU member state that has not signed an ESA Cooperation Agreement is Croatia. In December 2014, the ESA Ministerial Council authorized officials to begin discussions to establish formal cooperation with Croatia.[58]

ESA has a fleet of different launch vehicles in service with which it competes in all sectors of the launch market. ESA’s fleet consists of three major rocket designs: Ariane 5, Soyuz-2 and Vega. Rocket launches are carried out by Arianespace, which has 23 shareholders representing the industry that manufactures the Ariane 5 as well as CNES, at ESA’s Guiana Space Centre. Because many communication satellites have equatorial orbits, launches from French Guiana are able to take larger payloads into space than from spaceports at higher latitudes. In addition, equatorial launches give spacecraft an extra ‘push’ of nearly 500m/s due to the higher rotational velocity of the Earth at the equator compared to near the Earth’s poles where rotational velocity approaches zero.

The Ariane 5 rocket is ESA’s primary launcher. It has been in service since 1997 and replaced Ariane 4. Two different variants are currently in use. The heaviest and most used version, the Ariane 5 ECA, delivers two communications satellites of up to 10 tonnes into GTO. It failed during its first test flight in 2002, but has since made 71 consecutive successful flights (as of March 2016). The other version, Ariane 5 ES, was used to launch the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to the International Space Station (ISS) and will be used to launch four Galileo navigational satellites at a time.[59][60]

In November 2012, ESA agreed to build an upgraded variant called Ariane 5 ME (Mid-life Evolution) which will increase payload capacity to 11.5 tonnes to GTO and feature a restartable second stage to allow more complex missions. Ariane 5 ME is scheduled to fly in 2018.[61] Some of its new features will also be adopted by the next-generation launcher, Ariane 6, planned to replace Ariane 5 in the 2020s.

ESA’s Ariane 1, 2, 3 and 4 launchers (the last of which was ESA’s long-time workhorse) have been retired.

Soyuz-2 (also called the Soyuz-ST or Soyuz-STK) is a Russian medium payload launcher (ca. 3 metric tons to GTO) which was brought into ESA service in October 2011.[62][63] ESA entered into a 340 million joint venture with the Russian Federal Space Agency over the use of the Soyuz launcher.[6] Under the agreement, the Russian agency manufactures Soyuz rocket parts for ESA, which are then shipped to French Guiana for assembly.

ESA benefits because it gains a medium payload launcher, complementing its fleet while saving on development costs. In addition, the Soyuz rocketwhich has been the Russian’s space launch workhorse for some 40 yearsis proven technology with a very good safety record. Russia benefits in that it gets access to the Kourou launch site. Due to its proximity to the equator, launching from Kourou rather than Baikonur nearly doubles Soyuz’s payload to GTO (3.0 tonnes vs. 1.7 tonnes).

Soyuz first launched from Kourou on 21 October 2011, and successfully placed two Galileo satellites into orbit 23,222 kilometres above Earth.[62]

Vega is ESA’s carrier for small satellites. Developed by seven ESA members led by Italy, it is capable of carrying a payload with a mass of between 300 and 1500kg to an altitude of 700km, for low polar orbit. Its maiden launch from Kourou was on 13 February 2012.[64]

The rocket has three solid propulsion stages and a liquid propulsion upper stage (the AVUM) for accurate orbital insertion and the ability to place multiple payloads into different orbits.[65][66]

Historically, the Ariane family rockets have been funded primarily “with money contributed by ESA governments seeking to participate in the program rather than through competitive industry bids. This [has meant that] governments commit multiyear funding to the development with the expectation of a roughly 90% return on investment in the form of industrial workshare.” ESA is proposing changes to this scheme by moving to competitive bids for the development of the Ariane 6.[67]

At the time ESA was formed, its main goals did not encompass human space flight; rather it considered itself to be primarily a scientific research organisation for unmanned space exploration in contrast to its American and Soviet counterparts. It is therefore not surprising that the first non-Soviet European in space was not an ESA astronaut on a European space craft; it was Czechoslovak Vladimr Remek who in 1978 became the first non-Soviet or American in space (the first man in space being Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union) on a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, followed by the Pole Mirosaw Hermaszewski and East German Sigmund Jhn in the same year. This Soviet co-operation programme, known as Intercosmos, primarily involved the participation of Eastern bloc countries. In 1982, however, Jean-Loup Chrtien became the first non-Communist Bloc astronaut on a flight to the Soviet Salyut 7 space station.

Because Chrtien did not officially fly into space as an ESA astronaut, but rather as a member of the French CNES astronaut corps, the German Ulf Merbold is considered the first ESA astronaut to fly into space. He participated in the STS-9 Space Shuttle mission that included the first use of the European-built Spacelab in 1983. STS-9 marked the beginning of an extensive ESA/NASA joint partnership that included dozens of space flights of ESA astronauts in the following years. Some of these missions with Spacelab were fully funded and organizationally and scientifically controlled by ESA (such as two missions by Germany and one by Japan) with European astronauts as full crew members rather than guests on board. Beside paying for Spacelab flights and seats on the shuttles, ESA continued its human space flight co-operation with the Soviet Union and later Russia, including numerous visits to Mir.

During the latter half of the 1980s, European human space flights changed from being the exception to routine and therefore, in 1990, the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany was established. It selects and trains prospective astronauts and is responsible for the co-ordination with international partners, especially with regard to the International Space Station. As of 2006, the ESA astronaut corps officially included twelve members, including nationals from most large European countries except the United Kingdom.

In the summer of 2008, ESA started to recruit new astronauts so that final selection would be due in spring 2009. Almost 10,000 people registered as astronaut candidates before registration ended in June 2008. 8,413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. Of the applicants, 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing, which narrowed down the field to 192. After two-stage psychological tests and medical evaluation in early 2009, as well as formal interviews, six new members of the European Astronaut Corps were selected – five men and one woman.[68]

The astronauts of the European Space Agency are:

In the 1980s, France pressed for an independent European crew launch vehicle. Around 1978 it was decided to pursue a reusable spacecraft model and starting in November 1987 a project to create a mini-shuttle by the name of Hermes was introduced. The craft was comparable to early proposals for the Space Shuttle and consisted of a small reusable spaceship that would carry 3 to 5 astronauts and 3 to 4 metric tons of payload for scientific experiments. With a total maximum weight of 21 metric tons it would have been launched on the Ariane 5 rocket, which was being developed at that time. It was planned solely for use in Low-Earth orbit space flights. The planning and pre-development phase concluded in 1991; the production phase was never fully implemented because at that time the political landscape had changed significantly. With the fall of the Soviet Union ESA looked forward to cooperation with Russia to build a next-generation space vehicle. Thus the Hermes programme was cancelled in 1995 after about 3 billion dollars had been spent. The Columbus space station programme had a similar fate.

In the 21st century, ESA started new programmes in order to create its own crew vehicles, most notable among its various projects and proposals is Hopper, whose prototype by EADS, called Phoenix, has already been tested. While projects such as Hopper are neither concrete nor to be realised within the next decade, other possibilities for human spaceflight in cooperation with the Russian Space Agency have emerged. Following talks with the Russian Space Agency in 2004 and June 2005,[73] a cooperation between ESA and the Russian Space Agency was announced to jointly work on the Russian-designed Kliper, a reusable spacecraft that would be available for space travel beyond LEO (e.g. the moon or even Mars). It was speculated that Europe would finance part of it. A 50 million participation study for Kliper, which was expected to be approved in December 2005, was finally not approved by the ESA member states. The Russian state tender for the project was subsequently cancelled in 2006.

In June 2006, ESA member states granted 15 million to the Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) study, a two-year study to design a spacecraft capable of going beyond Low-Earth orbit based on the current Soyuz design. This project was pursued with Roskosmos instead of the cancelled Kliper proposal. A decision on the actual implementation and construction of the CSTS spacecraft was contemplated for 2008. In mid-2009 EADS Astrium was awarded a 21 million study into designing a crew vehicle based on the European ATV which is believed to now be the basis of the Advanced Crew Transportation System design.[74]

In November 2012, ESA decided to join NASA’s Orion programme. The ATV would form the basis of a propulsion unit for NASA’s new manned spacecraft. ESA may also seek to work with NASA on Orion’s launch system as well in order to secure a seat on the spacecraft for its own astronauts.[75]

In September 2014, ESA signed an agreement with Sierra Nevada Corporation for cooperation in Dream Chaser project. Further studies on the Dream Chaser for European Utilization or DC4EU project were funded, including the feasibility of launching a Europeanized Dream Chaser onboard Ariane 5.[76][77]

ESA has signed cooperation agreements with the following states that currently neither plan to integrate as tightly with ESA institutions as Canada, nor envision future membership of ESA: Argentina,[78] Brazil,[79] China,[80] India[81] (for the Chandrayan mission), Russia[82] and Turkey.[83]

Additionally, ESA has joint projects with the European Union, NASA of the United States and is participating in the International Space Station together with the United States (NASA), Russia and Japan (JAXA).

ESA and EU member states

ESA-only members

EU-only members

ESA is not an agency or body of the European Union (EU), and has non-EU countries Switzerland and Norway as members. There are however ties between the two, with various agreements in place and being worked on, to define the legal status of ESA with regard to the EU.[84]

There are common goals between ESA and the EU. ESA has an EU liaison office in Brussels. On certain projects, the EU and ESA cooperate, such as the upcoming Galileo satellite navigation system. Space policy has since December 2009 been an area for voting in the European Council. Under the European Space Policy of 2007, the EU, ESA and its Member States committed themselves to increasing coordination of their activities and programmes and to organising their respective roles relating to space.[85]

The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 reinforces the case for space in Europe and strengthens the role of ESA as an R&D space agency. Article 189 of the Treaty gives the EU a mandate to elaborate a European space policy and take related measures, and provides that the EU should establish appropriate relations with ESA.

Former Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni, during his tenure as a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009, stressed the importance of the European Union as a driving force for space exploration, “since other players are coming up such as India and China it is becoming ever more important that Europeans can have an independent access to space. We have to invest more into space research and technology in order to have an industry capable of competing with other international players.”[86]

The first EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration took place in Prague on 22 and 23 October 2009.[87] A road map which would lead to a common vision and strategic planning in the area of space exploration was discussed. Ministers from all 29 EU and ESA members as well as members of parliament were in attendance.[88]

ESA has a long history of collaboration with NASA. Since ESA’s astronaut corps was formed, the Space Shuttle has been the primary launch vehicle used by ESA’s astronauts to get into space through partnership programmes with NASA. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Spacelab programme was an ESA-NASA joint research programme that had ESA develop and manufacture orbital labs for the Space Shuttle for several flights on which ESA participate with astronauts in experiments.

In robotic science mission and exploration missions, NASA has been ESA’s main partner. CassiniHuygens was a joint NASA-ESA mission, along with the Infrared Space Observatory, INTEGRAL, SOHO, and others. Also, the Hubble space telescope is a joint project of NASA and ESA. Future ESA-NASA joint projects include the James Webb Space Telescope and the proposed Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. NASA has committed to provide support to ESA’s proposed MarcoPolo-R mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth for further analysis. NASA and ESA will also likely join together for a Mars Sample Return Mission.

Since China has started to invest more money into space activities, the Chinese Space Agency has sought international partnerships. ESA is, beside the Russian Space Agency, one of its most important partners. Recently the two space agencies cooperated in the development of the Double Star Mission.[89]

ESA entered into a major joint venture with Russia in the form of the CSTS, the preparation of French Guiana spaceport for launches of Soyuz-2 rockets and other projects. With India, ESA agreed to send instruments into space aboard the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 in 2008.[90] ESA is also cooperating with Japan, the most notable current project in collaboration with JAXA is the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

Speaking to reporters at an air show near Moscow in August 2011, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said ESA and Russia’s Roskosmos space agency would “carry out the first flight to Mars together.”[91]

With regard to the International Space Station (ISS) ESA is not represented by all of its member states:[92] 10 of the 21 ESA member states currently participate in the project: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Austria, Finland and Ireland chose not to participate, because of lack of interest or concerns about the expense of the project. The United Kingdom withdrew from the preliminary agreement because of concerns about the expense of the project. Portugal, Luxembourg, Greece, the Czech Republic, Romania and Poland joined ESA after the agreement had been signed. ESA is taking part in the construction and operation of the ISS with contributions such as Columbus, a science laboratory module that was brought into orbit by NASA’s STS-122 Space Shuttle mission and the Cupola observatory module that was completed in July 2005 by Alenia Spazio for ESA. The current estimates for the ISS are approaching 100 billion in total (development, construction and 10 years of maintaining the station) of which ESA has committed to paying 8 billion.[93] About 90% of the costs of ESA’s ISS share will be contributed by Germany (41%), France (28%) and Italy (20%). German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter was the first long-term ISS crew member.

ESA has developed the Automated Transfer Vehicle for ISS resupply. Each ATV has a cargo capacity of 7,667 kilograms (16,903lb).[94] The first ATV, Jules Verne, was launched on 9 March 2008 and on 3 April 2008 successfully docked with the ISS. This manoeuvre, considered a major technical feat, involved using automated systems to allow the ATV to track the ISS, moving at 27,000km/h, and attach itself with an accuracy of 2cm.

As of 2013, the spacecraft establishing supply links to the ISS are the Russian Progress and Soyuz, European ATV, Japanese Kounotori (HTV), and the USA COTS program vehicles Dragon and Cygnus.

European Life and Physical Sciences research on board the International Space Station (ISS) is mainly based on the European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences in Space programme that was initiated in 2001.

According to Annex 1, Resolution No. 8 of the ESA Convention and Council Rules of Procedure,[95] English, French and German may be used in all meetings of the Agency, with interpretation provided into these three languages. All official documents are available in English and French with all documents concerning the ESA Council being available in German as well.

The EU flag is the one to be flown in space during missions (for example it was flown by ESA’s Andre Kuipers during Delta mission)

The Commission is increasingly working together towards common objectives. Some 20 per cent of the funds managed by ESA now originate from the supranational budget of the European Union.

However, in recent years the ties between ESA and the European institutions have been reinforced by the increasing role that space plays in supporting Europes social, political and economic policies.

The legal basis for the EU/ESA cooperation is provided by a Framework Agreement which entered into force in May 2004. According to this agreement, the European Commission and ESA coordinate their actions through the Joint Secretariat, a small team of ECs administrators and ESA executive. The Member States of the two organisations meet at ministerial level in the Space Council, which is a concomitant meeting of the EU and ESA Councils, prepared by Member States representatives in the High-level Space Policy Group (HSPG).

ESA maintains a liaison office in Brussels to facilitate relations with the European institutions.

In May 2007, the 29 European countries expressed their support for the European Space Policy in a resolution of the Space Council, unifying the approach of ESA with those of the European Union and their member states.

Prepared jointly by the European Commission and ESAs Director General, the European Space Policy sets out a basic vision and strategy for the space sector and addresses issues such as security and defence, access to space and exploration.

Through this resolution, the EU, ESA and their Member States all commit to increasing coordination of their activities and programmes and their respective roles relating to space.[98]

Coordinates: 485054N 21815E / 48.8482N 2.3042E / 48.8482; 2.3042

Here is the original post:

European Space Agency – Wikipedia

Posted in Space Exploration | Comments Off on European Space Agency – Wikipedia