Monday, November 18, 2019

The Road to Nowhere

“The road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference.”

Was Ian Kershaw wrong to focus blame on ‘indifference’? Should we, today, be more concerned about “learned helplessness” or perhaps by a conditioned and inflicted “hopelessness” when it comes to deciphering the invisible forces roiling so much of our current events and politics?

“‘No One Believes Anything!’ Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News”

As the New York Times article written by Sabrina Tavernise and Aidan Gardiner proclaims, “Many Americans are throwing up their hands and tuning it all out.” This is exactly no accident. This is what trimp and the GOP idiotically depend upon. And it must not be forgotten that both trimp AND the 21st century configuration of the GOP are shameless creatures of a toxic accumulation of unaccountable concentrated wealth.

What’s even more important to remember is that washing one’s hands of “dirty politics” is also shameful. It is an abject surrender to the worst of us, and the worst in us. Politics and democracy are always so frustratingly difficult because politics and democracy are always as treacherous and confused as we are. Understanding media biases is so treacherous because we humans are ever so proficient in deceiving and confusing each other (and ourselves.)

Understanding media biases is, of course, critical for an informed electorate and the idea of self government. That there are no constantly reliable shortcuts is no reason to give up in despair. What it should be is a spur for us all to struggle on to the best of each of our abilities to make a world where human freedom and dignity is both protected and sustainable.

The Chomsky Herman “propaganda model” is probably the best approach to a partial understanding of how corporate interests have so much (but often limited) influence on the perceptions of various audiences. For example, the respectable mainstream media offers a chorus of condemnation for the GOP’s attacks on institutions, experience, and the rule of law. It does this while also promoting fresh new (“and improved”) faces of relative unknowns like Barack Obama and now Pete Buttegieg.

Ideologies, affiliations, and even critically questioned theories do offer valuable shortcuts for filtering the chaos of conflicting information and sensations. Such shortcuts are actually necessary. But blind faith in any perspective, ideology, or theoretical model is dangerously naive. (Including the Chomsky Herman approach!) Yet what's even more dangerous is giving up on the hope of ANY serious understanding. Fascism requires such hopelessness. 

Fascism engenders such hopelessness. 

The billionaire class and the institutional structure of profit centered corporations should be the prime focus of serious attention and reform efforts. Billionaires today are dangerously unaccountable and irresponsible in their accumulation and husbandry of concentrated wealth. But ultimately the responsibility is with us all as individuals, family members, and participants in significant affiliations, institutions, and concerted efforts.

Of course, it may be that we are now simply too oppressed and too corrupt to help ourselves. If so, crucial prospects for freedom and dignity will be set back for many more generations—if an insulted planet permits.

Joe Panzica (Author of Democracy STRUGGLES! and Saint Gredible and Her Fat Dad's Mass.  He is currently working on his second novel I Wanna Be Evil.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


A cadre of honest civil servants including an anonymous whistleblower. A coven of convicted (or yet to be caged) canaries including Rudi Giuliani just aching to sing. Pending court cases involving impunity regarding tax returns. A marked tendency to disrupt and self-shame.


“In ancient Greek religion, Nemesis (/ˈnɛməsɪs/; Ancient Greek: Νέμεσις), also called Rhamnousia or Rhamnusia ("the goddess of Rhamnous"), is the goddess who enacts retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods). Another name is Adrasteia (or Adrestia), meaning ‘the inescapable”’ — Wikipedia

But is Nemesis coming for trimp?

For democracy and the rule of law?

Or for us?

Is America condemned to pay for decades and centuries of hypocrisy and violence regarding racism and empire?

Or is insatiable humanity which hubristically despoils land, water, air (and even “outer space where there is no air) being sloughed off like a nagging infection with a global band of autocrats (of which trimp is only one) acting as implacable anti-bodies?

Who will tell our story when we are gone?

Joe Panzica (Author of Democracy STRUGGLES! and Saint Gredible and Her Fat Dad's Mass.  He is currently working on his second novel I Wanna Be Evil.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Why IS College So Cruel?

A recent piece by Frank Bruni in the New York Times examined this question in terms of the social and financial pressures on young people (and their families) - especially as they relate to the chances of being admitted into the Ivy leagues. This problem, of course, is related to the increasing crush of urgencies on young people growing up in a digitized social network, and also to the devastating impacts on opportunities and a sense of future in an economy becoming ever more unequal. Still, as Bruni points out, in the past we have turned to educational institutions (high schools) to, at least partially, address scarring perplexities involving inequity and status.

At this point, it’s unavoidable that AT LEAST two years of very affordable post-secondary education/training be made available to everyone. But that’s only a start. We need to continue to develop creative ways to ensure that everyone also has affordable, broadly based, LIFE LONG educational and training opportunities.

One of the pitfalls to avoid is profiteering and price gauging from educational institutions, new or established, ostensibly non profit or not.

The most important pitfall is the idea that such education and training is primarily for “the job market” as it is projected in then near or even long term.

Citizenship and especially the associated habits of mind should always be the focus. (Most employers already agree in confidential surveys where they repeatedly say most of what they looking for are certain “soft skills” along with more measurable abilities to communicate and analyze.) These habits of mind, including more nuanced abilities to think systematically, abstractly, and critically, are more likely to be developed in humane environments where efforts are made to differentially balance the need for Challenge & Standards on one side with the equally important need for support and nurture on the other. The need for such a balance is even critical in the many individualized online learning environments epitomized right now by DuoLingo and Kahn Academy.

Life-Long Educational Opportunities FOR ALL delivered via many types of technology and varieties of non profit institutions is possible with guidance, support, and informative promotion from federal and state departments of education, and local school districts (which would still be primary), public & private universities — as well as by many independent (community or expert based) supporters and evaluators. It is not only possible but is even being developed all around us even now.

Joe Panzica (Author of Democracy STRUGGLES! and Saint Gredible and Her Fat Dad's Mass.  He is currently working on his second novel I Wanna Be Evil.

Monday, July 15, 2019

trimp WANTS An Incident

Liberals and progressives may comfort themselves imagining our current administration* orchestrated by a fulminating wretch perched tensely on a toilet angrily tweeting juvenile spite in the wee dark hours of every empty morning.

But the taunting provocative threats of nationwide armed raids against migrants with deportation orders should frame this image in a much bleaker and more dangerous context. What is being spun above us is more than improvised performative cruelty intended to roil a racist base of bitter, sullen, and hair on fire revanchists whether they manifest as comfortable retirees, lost soul unemployables, or anxiously overworked members of the growing precariat.

Some very clever, and nominally well educated, “masterminds” are assiduously generating similar razor wire policy options for the grifting bully now soiling the sleeping places of people like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While trimp soaks up emoluments with more suction force than a terrorized squid exerts to spurt foul black protective ink, crafty “advisors” are gleefully generating copious new policy menus of an atrociously similar ilk.

Clearly, communities across the nation are rallying to protest the promised raids as well as to protect their designated victims. And as “masters of war” well know, the anticipation of “shock and awe” can generate terror, despairing enervation, and all manner of rash miscalculation.

The power of the nativist trimp backlash is, in large part, contingent on a sense of victimhood. 

Honest, white, good, hardworking, Germans (er I mean “Americans”!) are being WRONGED by illegals who break the laws just by being here even when they DON’T take OUR jobs and murder/rape OUR women/children. The invasion by these swarthy disease-ridden hordes is facilitated by sanctimonious left-wing extremists who have NEVER valued hard work, the glorious homeland or its pure values (both the latter of which are vividly reified whenever thick toothed blond children raise their voices in innocent joyful song).
The (barely) latent fascism of trimp enablers (who now include the apparatus of the Republican Party) is not, however, confined merely in the noisome coils of racism. Just as potentially deadly are the provocations themselves. Empires, great powers, bullies, and insurgent cabals inveterately seek to instigate overreactions to be exploited as justifications for additional outrages, clampdowns, invasions, and assaults. No doubt some three-pieced trimp minion in the White House, dreaming of his own Reichstag Fire, is eagerly anticipating a meme of some overwrought ANTIFA abusing a Federal ICE official.

It’s time to brace ourselves while also steeping everyone with an open mind and a decent heart in the resources, traditions, power, and promise of non-violent resistance.

A.J. Muste, Gandhi M.L. King, and Gene Sharp are the names that should be on all our lips as their ideas guide our "best-laid" plans and hopes.

Some Resources:

Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns: second edition | War Resisters League
All over the world, activists are taking nonviolent action for a more just, more peaceful world.

NVC Instruction Self-Guide | Center for Nonviolent Communication

A manual for a new era of direct action | Waging Nonviolence

[PDF] Everyday Rebellion Training_Manual.pdf by CA Miller
Strategic Nonviolent Struggle: A Training Manual discusses strategies for embarking on the path of peace by applying nonviolent approaches to resolving issues ...

[PDF]Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns Resisters' International (WRI) is a network of mutual support, where we learn and support each other.