Those with power have always manipulated reality and created ideologies defined as progress to justify systems of exploitation. Monarchs and religious authorities did this in the Middle Ages. Today this is done by the high priests of modernity—the technocrats, scholars, scientists, politicians, journalists and economists. They deform reality. They foster the myth of preordained inevitability and pure rationality. But such knowledge—which dominates our universities—is anti-thought. It precludes all alternatives. It is used to end discussion. It is designed to give to the forces of science or the free market or globalization a veneer of rational discourse, to persuade us to place our faith in these forces and trust our fate to them. These forces, the experts assure us, are as unalterable as nature. They will lead us forward. To question them is heresy. ~Chris Hedges
This is the final installment in Adriana Gamondes' ouevre. She looked into the future and here we are. living in a state of plague. Join us in wishing her well.
By Adriana Gamondes
Neoliberal Noir and the Globalized Junta
On April 28th, 2015, New York University law professor Mary Holland testified before the California Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to SB277, a bill that would remove all personal exemptions to vaccination—religious and philosophical— except medical for California’s school children.
On the issue of consent, Holland drew sharp parallels that angered Chairwoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).
MARY HOLLAND: Without some measure of realistic choice—and I do not believe that medical exemptions or homeschooling present viable options for the majority who have resolute convictions against vaccination—this bill will be coercive. Parents will be vaccinating their children under duress, invalidating any notion of informed consent.
In employment, lack of consent is forced labor. In military service, it’s conscription. In contracts, it leads to invalid contracts. In intimate relations, it’s called rape. And in medical treatment, it’s battery.
SEN. JACKSON: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a minute. Wait a second... Rape is a loaded word and as the Chair of the Women’s Caucus, I don’t take the use of the word lightly.
MARY HOLLAND: I don’t either.
Sen. Jackson chastised further on use of the rape analogy, then asked Holland to provide examples of Supreme Court or other rulings dealing specifically with the issue of informed consent and vaccination. It was some time before Holland could continue with her testimony, at which point she discussed the potential denial of public education that would result from instituting such a law, the fact that the laws already in place in all states ensured high vaccination rates as it is, then asked whether the state would criminalize dissent.
MARY HOLLAND: Furthermore, a problem with SB277 would be in its enforcement.
The parents here today are unlikely to comply with the vaccine schedule. They will either be forced—it would violate the covenant with their God or their conscience because, rightly or wrongly, they believe that they would be putting their children at risk of severe injury or death by vaccinating them.
How will you possibly enforce this with parents who won’t vaccinate and cannot, for economic or other reasons, home school?
Will you be willing to remove children and force-vaccinate them as wards of the state?
Will you be willing to throw non-vaccinating parents in prison?
And what happens if the state does vaccinate a child who is removed and that child is severely injured or dies?
What will the state do?
SEN. JACKSON: Where in this bill does it talk about throwing parents in prison?
MARY HOLLAND: No, but what will you do? The parents—many of the parents who are…
SEN. JACKSON: I’m sorry but there is nothing in this… I mean, there are enough concerns raised. To kind of push it to a level… Now we are talking about putting parents in prison…
Senator Jackson sputtered for several more minutes about Holland’s “inflammatory” suggestions, to which Holland replied, “But I don’t know what you will do.”
We don’t know but we can guess. To quote G.K. Chesterton, “If you let loose a law, it will do as a dog does. It will obey its own nature, not yours. Such sense as you have put into the law (or the dog) will be fulfilled. But you will not be able to fulfill a fragment of anything you have forgotten to put into it.” In other words, if 277 passes, children will be taken and parents will go to jail since there’s absolutely nothing in the bill that guards against this.
Senator Jackson’s objections to Mary Holland’s use of analogy and Orwellian rhetorical inquiry were transparent and Jackson’s reasons for demonstrating outrage didn’t make sense. Any “disservice” these references rendered was not to consumer advocates but to the bill’s sponsors and Jackson’s biased censorship.
As for Jackson invoking her position with the Women’s Caucus, the majority of parents who spoke in opposition to the bill were women and, given the mounting evidence that vaccines do in fact cause neurological and other injuries, there’s nothing particularly feminist about forcing a technology that may relegate a subset of mothers to pre-liberation status as many are forced to give up careers to care for catastrophically disabled children into adulthood and beyond. And as a sexual assault survivor myself, Jackson’s objection seems completely disconnected from both the issue of rape and the fallout of mandated immunization.
Almost 20 years after my own experience with assault, I still walk with a limp and am partly hearing impaired. But I had my day in court with a jury of peers and full due process including discovery, rule of law, etc. I saw justice for myself that I’ll never see for my vaccine-injured children.
Otherwise the two experiences are very similar. For cooperating with the prosecution, survivors of rape are regarded in some corners as anti-male. For reporting children’s vaccine injuries, parents are called anti-vaccine. Being branded extremists for speaking out is par for the course. And in both situations, injuries are minimized, witness testimony is discredited as “clouded by trauma” and irrational, apologists extol the faultless virtues of perpetrators while bystanders and those who are supposed to help either do nothing or quarantine blame to the victims.
I can testify to both and to the fact that it’s far worse when these weapons are aimed at children. To make the parallel darker, one experience doesn’t necessarily preclude the other since roughly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 6 men will have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes and, what’s more, disabled children have a vastly elevated risk of also being sexually assaulted.
And the parallels become much more literal within the vaccine injury controversy. For example, members of the biotech industry PR front discussed in Part 9—a sort of web-age Pinkerton squad known as the organized Skeptics that leads the charge in demonizing vaccine injury claimants, attacking industry whistleblowers and rationalizing repressive domestic and foreign policy— is suffering from its own internal rape scandal. This was followed by attempts to silence victims using language usually reserved for attacks on consumer activists, then followed by a sort of table cloth trick within the group to oust the most prominent offenders while still preserving the group's PR value, never mentioning the infamous “underage sex tapes” involving Skeptic founder James “The Amazing” Randi which are found on zip files all over the web.
Skeptic figureheads including Randi also founded the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, an organization that specializes in debunking sexual abuse claims based on controversial theories on memory—both the idea that repressed memory does not exist and that all witness memory is fatally flawed. Political and crime reporter Steven Elbow covered the controversial history of FMSF and its founders for Capital Times:
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mike Stanton, in a 1997 article in the Columbia Journalism Review, weighed the impact the False Memory Syndrome Foundation had on the discussion as society began to grapple with the concept of recovered memories. At a time when the media were sensationalizing cases of repressed memory, the foundation stepped in and swung the pendulum the other way.
"Rarely has such a strange and little-understood organization had such a profound effect on media coverage of such a controversial matter," Stanton wrote. "The foundation is an aggressive, well-financed PR machine adept at manipulating the press, harassing its critics, and mobilizing a diverse army of psychiatrists, outspoken academics, expert defense witnesses, litigious lawyers, Freud bashers, critics of psychotherapy, and devastated parents."
Elbow notes that the number of sexual abuse allegations based on the repressed memory of victims tapered off so dramatically as a result of attacks on repressed memory that the False Memory Syndrome Foundation was gradually ceasing to be relevant. The group’s theories and figures remain an “item” nevertheless, getting recent credulous coverage in the New York Times, and the group has expanded its theory for corporate and political exculpation. Elizabeth Loftus, the star expert witness of FMSF and member of the organization’s board — who referred a colleague for the defense of the “Butcher of Treblinka,” John Demjanjuk (whose first case was won on the theory of “flawed memory” of concentration camp victims), and who once testified on behalf of OJ Simpson, the Hillside Stranglers, Ted Bundy, Scooter Libby and two Yugoslav commanders convicted in the Hague of raping political prisoners (Loftus’s testimony and her science were deemed specious and irrelevant in the latter two trials)— has acted as a consultant for the CDC. In fact, Loftus was interviewed by Seth Mnookin for his vaccine defense screed, Panic Virus, to disparage witness testimony in vaccine injury claims cases.
And, as it happens, a theory of “false memory” was wielded in Vaccine Court by Special Master George Hastings in the ruling against the Cedillo family’s vaccine injury case. In Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Hastings stated,
To be sure, I do not conclude that Mrs. Cedillo was ever, in her affidavits or her hearing testimony, intentionally failing to tell the truth as she remembered it at that time. After observing her testimony during the evidentiary hearing, I certainly have a favorable impression of her as an honest person. It is simply the case that human memories often become less accurate with the passage of time, especially with respect to emotionally-charged events…
In reality, medical documents showed the Cedillo family had remembered events quite accurately, though the court ignored evidence, as if to make Michelle Cedillo’s medical history fit a predetermined theory on memory originally designed for a parallel purpose-- to shut down testimony of sexual abuse, the mention of which nearly shut down a senate hearing in California.
Because Vaccine Court does not operate under the normal rules of civil procedure and has no pre-trial discovery, it may never be known if the Department of Justice consulted with Loftus or other members of the FMSF to fight the Cedillo claim. If Loftus's theories of flawed memory were used in Cedillo, it would have been despite the fact the DOJ knew perfectly well that the theory has not stood unchallenged, either in court or in clinical literature. In Libby's "Plamegate" trial for instance, the DOJ's Patrick Fitzgerald tore apart Loftus's methodology and forced her to admit to the use of altered and flawed data. And according to Canadian criminologist and domestic abuse expert Donald Dutton—who, like Loftus, also testified as an expert witness in the OJ Simpson trial, though for the prosecution— victims of traumatic perpetration tend to have far more accurate recall than perpetrators:
Severe Wife Assault and Deindividuated Violence
Ganley (1980) has confirmed the tendency of women victims to have comprehensive recall of the battering incident (since their lives depended on being able to defend themselves) and of the male batterers to blank it out
When I started to collect questionnaire data on abusive men, I found the same issue with fuzzy memories. (p. 91, Dutton, The Domestic Assault of Women: psychological and criminal justice perspectives 2001)
For another example of relevance, the rape and death threats against Australian medical choice advocate Meryl Dorey led back to Whyweprotest.net, a fringe hub of the hacktivist group, Anonymous, and then traced to Australian Skeptic Dan Buzzard according to Dorey’s attorneys.
In short, the issue of rape is all over the vaccine mandate and vaccine injury controversy whether Mary Holland had drawn the analogy or not. But regardless, Senator Jackson showed only warm appreciation for the testimony of Skeptic-affiliated law professor and neoliberal maven Dorit Reiss, who incidentally applauds state child removal as a tool of biotech enforcement, helpfully binding together the themes that so deeply disturbed Jackson when Mary Holland merely made reference to them. It’s talking about certain issues that appears to be the problem, not the issues themselves.
The point of illustrating the parallel is not to make the case that rape culture only exists in certain spheres; it exists everywhere, but this sphere in particular happens to be emblematic of another parallel— total lack of accountability for those proximate to power and double standards. While critics and whistleblowers of institutional and industrial policy are easily brought down, evangelists for state and institutional policy enjoy relative immunity. For instance, Whyweprotest.net is also where Skeptic mouthpieces like Buzzard and others have campaigned to make institutional and industrial platforms like compulsory medicine and state child removal as a tool of biotech enforcement seem somehow in keeping with Wikileaks’ platform of corporate and state transparency in a clear attempt to rope hacktivist wannabes into the industrial cause. And while these Skeptic hacktivist entryists have never been properly investigated, Wikileaks’ founder remains imprisoned in the Ecuadoran embassy in London due to rape allegations that even the alleged victims have protested.
It’s all particularly curious since hacktivist hubs are deeply infiltrated, leading to a steady stream of prosecutions of Anonymous-affiliated hacktivists. According to a report by Glenn Greenwald’s for The Intercept based on a 50-page presentation by the UK’s GCHQ shared with the NSA and other agencies, British and US intelligence agencies are employing covert tactics to monitor and subvert an array of online activist groups.
And all the while, Skeptic figureheads like Randi, Michael Shermer and others embroiled in alleged crimes are frequently guest editors or commentators in pop-science and mainstream publications like Scientific American (also here), Discover Magazine, New York Times Magazine, etc. and set the tone for public health discourse. It’s no surprise: case after modern case has shown that rendering service to power provides a degree of indemnity while doing the reverse risks bringing about a full Freudian transference of guilt.
The problem with discussing any of it is that the current corporate defense scene is like something out of James Ellroy’s Hoover-era Underworld USA trilogy: World’s richest man (Howard Hughes/Bill Gates) obsessed with germs and looking to sanitize the world; shakedown artists and rogue operatives in a mix and match arrangement with racists and/or perverts wielding a Hooverian bio-behaviorist obsession with the genetics of crime and political dissent and programs to contain minorities while everyone glides around in progressive drag under the guise of philanthropic purity. And they all hate someone named Robert F. Kennedy.
It’s pure neoliberal noir, down to engineering juntas in the resource-rich third world. Who would believe it ever happened in the first place much less again? As Ellroy put it in American Tabloid, the first in his trilogy,
America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can't ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can't lose what you lacked at conception.
Mass-market nostalgia gets you hopped up for a past that never existed. Hagiography sanctifies shuck-and-jive politicians and reinvents their expedient gestures as moments of great moral weight. Our continuing narrative line is blurred past truth and hindsight. Only a reckless verisimilitude can set that line straight.
The grounds for Jackson’s outrage at Holland’s reference to draconian consequences of the bill—child removal and imprisonment of dissenting parents—also seems disconnected in every sense but in keeping with the noir theme. In 2009, I wrote about my husband’s family’s reaction to our twins’ vaccine injuries in light of their experience with political violence under the US-backed Argentine military junta—a regime infamous for child abduction among other horrors:
In Argentina, my husband’s place of birth, Operation Condor manifested as a one-sided “Dirty War”, which took place between 1976 and 1981. An identical number of people were murdered by the Argentine military junta as in [Pinochet’s] Chile, but in a quarter of the time. Argentina was the first country in South America to seek justice against the junta’s leaders, with criminal proceedings ongoing against former military dictator General Jorge Videla and collaborators.
Argentina suffered added atrocities, such as the theft of children. And here’s where the irony gets personal: I can’t even fathom how unreal our twins’ slow regressions must have been for my husband’s family, for his parents especially. They’d escaped one child-snatching regime, then saw both their children pass safely from another. They thought everyone got out— only to watch as two from the next generation were torn away in little pieces.
Because of Operation Condor, because then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the now-declassified “green light" for the Argentine junta to commence the killing and kidnapping of “domestic subversives”—including “dangerous” types such as trade unionists, journalists, Jews, students, homosexuals, women, children, conservative constitutionalists, religious humanitarians and liberals alike—my husband and his family lost their country.
When my husband was five, soldiers of the coup came to his home in Buenos Aires on a round of searches and “interviews”. At the time, my father in law was a relatively well known television writer, filmmaker and author. He and my mother in law had been outspoken regarding their unionist leanings, despair over the coup and sympathies for the cause of indigenous groups in Argentina. But their family was now on “the list” and the visit by the military wasn’t the occasion to make a case for humanity. Innocent people were being “disappeared”, their children taken and secretly adopted by members of the military elite. For the same purpose, pregnant women were being detained and then executed once they gave birth. The adoptions were part of a campaign of “societal reprogramming”…
At the time I wrote the article, I didn’t precisely put two and two together with other contemporary political trends and the neoliberal globalization agenda behind Operation Condor. My sense of "verisimilitude" was not that reckless, so I had no idea how the analogy would incrementally come to life six years later and how so many families would begin seriously discussing leaving the country out of fear their children may be literally “disappeared.”
Children are already being taken from their families for failure to vaccinate, despite various state guidelines saying that Child Protective Services are not authorized to remove children on these grounds. In view of this nationwide trend and in view of protests against excessive use of police force around the country, municipal violation traps, criminalization of American life, etc., Senator Jackson’s outrage at Mary Holland’s rhetorical references to enforcement is bleakly absurd.
The question haunting many is what the connection may be between all these various disasters from the epidemic to the militarization of domestic law enforcement, the explosion in private prisons, arrests of disabled children on school grounds, state child snatching, the destruction of education, incursions on civil and consumer rights, drones, torture, deregulation, surveillance, economic crashes and ecological damage—the list goes on.
Tom Englehardt of TomDispatch claims he doesn’t have a name for it, though he frames the issue neatly nevertheless:
Though the marriage of the state and the corporation has a pre-history, the full-scale arrival of the warrior corporation only occurred after 9/11. Someday, that will undoubtedly be seen as a seminal moment in the formation of whatever may be coming in this country. Only 13 years later, there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The U.S. military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases, and being involved in just about all of its activities, including training the militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, including torture, drone strikes, and -- to the tune of hundreds of thousands of contract employees like Edward Snowden -- intelligence gathering and spying. You name it and, in these years, it’s been at least partly privatized.
All you have to do is read reporter James Risen’s recent book, Pay Any Price, on how the global war on terror was fought in Washington, and you know that privatization has brought something else with it: corruption, scams, and the gaming of the system for profits of a sort that might normally be associated with a typical third-world kleptocracy. And all of this, a new world being born, was reflected in a tiny way in Hillary Clinton’s very personal decision about her emails.
Though it’s a subject I know so much less about, this kind of privatization (and the corruption that goes with it) is undoubtedly underway in the non-war-making, non-security-projecting part of the American state as well.
More than ten years ago, Noam Chomsky said of the spate of international “free trade” deals, “the major tendency is towards transfer of power to private tyranny and away from the public sphere… It’s happening in different countries at different rates, it’s happening internationally, and I think that’s going to be very harmful to values that we ought to share, like democracy.”
What “it” is is neoliberal globalization. It's what's driven so much violent corporate adventurism abroad and it's now coming home to roost in identifiable ways as many have predicted it would, since these markets cannot expand outward forever.
For clarification, the definition of globalization varies from source to source. Like Englehardt, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. For instance, the Wikipedia entry for “Globalization” describes it in almost entirely positive if completely snooze-worthy terms. Wikipedia employs economic meta-terminology mingled with kinder-gentler references to connections between human beings around the world. Wikipedia pretends, as do most corporatized media, that neoliberal globalization and globalized human connection are inseparable concepts although they are not. For the purposes of this article, “globalization” is a reference is to the mature form of unfettered monopoly corporatocracy on a global scale which relies on international treaties using acronyms such as NAFTA, AFTA, CEFTA, CISFTA, COMESA, GAFTA, GCC, SAFTA, SICA, TPP, and MEFTA. These so-called free-trade treaties promote globalization with a neoliberal agenda to hand democratic functions of sovereign countries to private corporations which naturally seek to minimize regulations that inhibit profits and control.
The globalization scheme apparently often rides in on the “free market” mantra of both neoliberalism and neoconservatism—though laissez-faire capitalism is not new and is neither “liberal” nor “conservative” but an old form of economic radicalism. British economist Adam Smith is often misleadingly held up as an icon of this economic view, though Smith himself warned in 1776, “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.” Smith’s concept of the free market was also intended as a “better world” exercise, not necessarily possible in reality. But the point is moot since there’s nothing actually “free” or even laissez-faire about an oligopoly favoring corporations or financial institutions that pay off politicians and result in no-bid government contracts. There’s nothing “free” about a population that lives under a system where these corporations buy favorable legislation. There’s nothing liberating about the fact that 80% of the National Security Agency is run by private industry with multinational ties. It represents the blowback of hegemony and, in a domestic sense, a type of foreign invasion.
Under globalization, domestic law is supplanted by international treaties largely created by international corporations. With the Trans Pacific Partnership, a treaty being convened in secret and pushed for fast track authorization to avoid public input, more Americans might at last start to feel the pain formerly reserved for the working classes and foreign losers of the trade treaty game.
The Trans Pacific Partnership may even explain the mad rush to mandate vaccination since what little has been leaked about the document demonstrates that, once ratified, corporations could sue states that attempt to alter existing legislation in ways that could “harm future corporate profits.” So in theory, if personal vaccine exemptions no longer exist by the time the treaty passes, they could not be reinstated.
According to documents leaked by Wikileaks, there may be something worse in the works—TISA or the Trade in Service Agreement:
TISA is a controversial global trade agreement which brings with it concerns that it will make it easier for corporations to operate and profit across borders with impunity.
This global trade agreement, promoted by the United States and the European Union, covers 50 countries and is being opposed by anti-globalization activists and global trade unions. The TISA deal is expected to promote privatization of public services in countries across the world, and ease regulations in other sectors.
Even without TPP or TISA, the trend has already led to a domestic push for privatization/liberalization of schools, social security, pension plans, health care, utilities, military, prisons, mail, port authority, disaster relief, and police.
In any event, the various barriers that protect local business, banks, workers, unions, citizens and the environment are being removed and, once privatized, these institutions become immune to Freedom of Information Act requests and are no longer accountable to the public. And as each institution is corrupted, it can be more easily bent to serve other wings of the assault, demonstrated by the militarization of public health and its use as cover for foreign exploits or domestic incursions on rights. After all, what is corruption other than the larval stage of privatization? Consequently, there have been discussions of privatizing the CDC.
It’s easy to extend that model to corporate power over state and federal legislation on environment, medicine and everything else. In the NAFTA treaty, for example, there are 900 pages of clauses, most of which seek to override various national environmental, safety, drug, labor, commerce, and tariff laws. NAFTA sets up its own treaty-court system to accomplish this.
One of the simplest way to explain privatization is a short documentary on Halliburton’s conduct during the war in Iraq.
It’s also not much of a stretch to see how this is relevant to vaccine mandates and autism. After discussing the privatization of public schools with one of the teachers who participated in the mass walk out in Oklahoma to protest Common Core, we hatched a few tentative theories.
Drawing from the Halliburton model, it might appear that the autism epidemic and other explosions in childhood chronic disease and disability— aside from setting off a marketing bonanza for mainstream drugs, screening and treatment— have been so instrumental to the campaign to privatize/Halliburtonize public education in the US that it may disincentivize finding a cause for autism and ending the epidemic.
According to Dianne Ravitch, author of Reign of Error and one of the chief critics of Common Core, in order for public education to need “rescuing” by private industry, first it had to start failing.
As public money is dispersed, so is public oversight and accountability for the spending of public money… Corporate reformers want education decisions in the hands of a powerful executive who is immune to public opinion. They like the idea of a governor who appoints a commission to override the decisions of local school boards that resist charter schools. They like the idea of a superintendent at the state level who has unlimited power to impose his (their) policies…Corporate reformers don’t like checks and balances. They want executives who can ignore the protests of parents, students, teachers and community leaders, no matter how loudly they complain and no matter how many show up at public hearings or protest at rallies.
Much of the engineered failure of public schools was achieved through defunding. But as many in the environmental autism arena have brought up, another likely reason for the plummeting global ranking of American secondary education might have to do with the plummeting health status of public school children— 1 in 6 with cognitive diagnoses, 1 in 6 with severe allergies, 1 in 12 with asthma, 1 in 68 with autism, etc.
Without discussing the reasons for rising rates in childhood disability, Ravitch clearly outlines the benefits the epidemic has had for the privatization crusade:
Jonathan Pelto reports that 70% of students will fail the Common Core test called Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC); the tests were designed to “fail” 70% of students, as is the PARCC test. Both Common Core tests are aligned with the “cut scores” (passing marks) of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP “proficient” is set very high; Massachusetts is the only state where 50% of students rate proficient on NAEP.
Pelto points out that 90% of students with special needs are expected to fail SBAC.
It may not be incidental that rates of all these conditions are far lower in, for example, Finland—the country that holds the #1 spot for secondary education in the world. Finland also has far better child mortality ranking, a far lower rate of autism and a voluntary vaccination program with roughly 1/3 the number of vaccine doses recommended for birth to 18.
Also according to Ravitch, among the corporations behind Common Core and the Charter school push in the US, several are very familiar within the vaccine safety/autism arena: Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers. All either own or control publications that push compulsory vaccination and orchestrate attacks on safety critics. All have been able to use failing public education in the US as an entering wedge to argue that government cannot be entrusted with the task and that, on the “free market” credo, private corporations must now come in and rescue the system using competitive strategies. The opening phase of this is Common Core and the “testocracy.” As with vaccine mandate campaigns, public resistance has exposed the anti-democratic face of the high priests of corporate progress: Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan now threatens to turn to force if students continue to opt out of endless testing.
And as with Mary Holland's rhetorical inquiry in her testimony before the California Senate Judiciary Committee, we're not meant to ask what that force might entail but this is also not hard to guess. The privatization trap has been laid in that sense as well and is ready to spring: the infamous bill mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC—which is behind Common Core as well as prison privatization and includes past and present members such as Microsoft, Murdoch's News Corp., and Koch industries– has worked for years to privatize foster care, adoption and child protective services, making state child removal a for-profit industry and arguably resulting in children being taken for increasingly trivial causes.
As a side note, something else Holland would not have been allowed to mention in her testimony is that the rate of sexual abuse in state care is 8-fold that of the worst homes in the US and the risk of death is five times greater. Both the privatization of this system and the way that the privatization of other systems is feeding it have only made the situation worse. comes to mind
As another side note, it’s a common mistake to assume school privatization equates to “private schools” when it's really more along the lines of “Monsanto High,” “Microsoft Elementary,” or “Eli Lilly Middle School.” One can only imagine what curriculum would be like in that final phase, though Bill Gates’ pet concept of teaching “Big History” has already been equated to "historicism”—the mystical, tribal ideological basis of totalitarianism outlined in Part 3. According to political philosopher Karl Popper, historicism refers to the mythical “laws of history which enable [rulers] to prophesy the course of historical events,” a type of trickery that Popper contends is partly motivated by the fact that self-anointed “prophets who announce that certain events are bound to happen make propaganda for them, and help to bring them about"— bringing to mind Gates' disturbingly specific pronouncement in Berlin that a global pandemic equivalent to the Spanish flu may strike humanity within a year.
It’s not reassuring that, as mentioned throughout the series, Gates’ globalization schemes appear to be suspiciously meshed with the use of medical philanthropy as cover for military and intelligence missions, surveillance and coordinated assaults on domestic consumer activists. Gates concluded his Berlin presentation with panoptic recommendations that humanity organize against the coming plague and against "anti-vaccine" views as if “preparing for war.”
To the extent that groups like Anonymous are frequently involved in consumer and environmental causes and in light of government targeting of nonviolent Occupy activists on behalf of international corporate clients, it’s clear those who resist corporate policy are interchangeable with enemies of the state and will receive the same treatment. This in turn illustrates the ties between the globalization process, the war on terror, domestic militarization and increasing incursions on civil rights.
A report from The Guardian brings the chilling point home: an extrajudicial “black site” facility has been discovered in Chicago into which detainees are periodically “disappeared.”
Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.
“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.
“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”
The implication is that, even if a controlled media fail to inform the citizens of a country about what is done in their name abroad, these populations will eventually learn of the exploits from first hand experience as they’re eventually subjected to their own state’s foreign policy medicine—the main reason for writing this series. The state of plague is highly contagious.
In some ways, the series is a pathetic attempt to throw a rock at a tank. But even if reports like this are eventually wiped off the web, they would still leave traces and the traces bleed together with other political events and with history.
As a growing human rights movement, I think the consumer safety collective has a duty to track the path of the sword that came down on our heads, to account for other victims of it, to warn those who may be next, to be active in pointing out parallel abuses— the parallel “story within the story”— beyond simply using them as analogies for our own cause. If we don’t, if we shirk the controversy ballast, we’re not much different than those who participate in fraud and coercion to defend their own careers and institutions and blame the collateral.
The lie that this isn’t the case is comforting to some degree, since it pretends that we, as Americans, have not participated in supporting bits and pieces of the system that’s now destroying us. If the cause is ever to succeed, and there’s no guarantee that it will, we should divest and boycott that machine when possible. At the very least, those serious about rights and ecology should not buy from companies that profit from prison and slave labor, wars of aggression, conflict minerals, repression, environmental devastation and fraud. When it's not possible nor wise to fully divest— such as with public education and public health—the fight is to reclaim these institutions. Obviously if we want others to work for change and resist participation in things that harm us even when it hurts, we’ll have to do the same. What makes it simpler is that, in many cases, it’s been the same sword cutting through all of us. We’re connected to the world through these parallels—a more unsettling view of “globalization” from the perspective of those responsible.
Adriana Gamondes is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and one of the blog’s Facebook administrators.