Archive for the ‘Attacks on Civil Liberties’ Category
Tags: fast track, tisa, trade in service agreement, trump
The Mass Psychology of Fascism
By Wilhelm Reich (1933)
Free PDF: Mass Psychology of Fascism
In the the recent US election, Donald Trump successfully used false right wing populism to lure working people to vote against their own economic interests – as did Adolf Hitler during the 1930s. Writing in 1933, Reich foreshadows the present failure of the left to engage the working class. He also predicts the steady creep of western democracy towards greater authoritarianism and the recent rise of the populist New Right (via the Tea Party, Patriot and Alt-Right movement).
Why the Working Class Votes Against Their Own Economic Interest
Reich is the first major sociologist to offer a convincing analysis of the allure of fascism and reactionary politics for low income workers. Ever since the Reagan era, progressives have struggled to understand why blue collar workers are so easily persuaded to vote for politicians who go on to worsen the basic conditions of their lives. Reich pins the blame on authoritarian family structures most working people grow up in.
According to Reich, the strong allure of reactionary politics – and overt fascism – is based in mankind’s 6,000 year history of rigid patriarchal, authoritarian and hierarchical social organization.
He devotes a large portion of his book to the concept of sexual repression and the political, religious and economic institutions that deny women and adolescents full expression of their sexuality. These institutions support authoritarian family structures that enforce sexual repression. For millennia, this authoritarian control was exerted through political and religious mandates under which women literally became the property of men.
He contrasts modern society with early matriarchal societies in which children were free to “play doctor” with each other and both men and women were free to have sex with any other willing adults. These societies dealt with the potential for sexual excess or exploitation via self-regulation and group pressure. As Reich and many anthropologists have noted, murder, war, rape, prostitution and slavery were extremely rare in these societies.
Although women are no longer regarded as property in industrialized society, both women and adolescents continue to be denied full enjoyment of their sexuality under male-controlled political, economic and religious institutions.
Why the Working Class Craves Authority
As Reich convincingly argues, it’s not just women who suffer the adverse psychological effects of these structures. Being raised in excessively authoritarian family, educational and religious structures denies both men and women any experience of the natural capacity of self-regulation. Deeply fearful, anxious, guilty and confused about their perplexing inner drives, they have no confidence in their ability to conduct their lives without an external authority to guide and compel them.
The reactionary right knows exactly how to appeal to these unconscious fears and anxieties. First by creating even more rigid and authoritarian structures (eg outright bans on sex education, premarital sex, abortion, birth control and gay rights). These provide immediate (though temporary) relief by limiting choice. Secondly by promoting racist ideology that projects unhappiness and perceived loss of freedom away from ourselves onto an external “enemy) – Jews, Muslims, socialists, immigrants, terrorists, Hispanics, blacks, feminists, liberals, intellectuals and, increasingly, baby boomers.
Why Americans Don’t Vote
In the US only half of eligible adults register and a little over fifty percent of registered voters actually vote. Reich argues that it’s typical in highly authoritarian “democracies” for the passive, non-voting population to constitute the majority. He’s highly critical of the left for attempting to engage this demographic by addressing their appalling economic conditions – a strategy he insists is doomed to failure.
What the left needs to grasp, in his view, is that this politically inactive majority are too caught up in their own internal struggles to think in terms of their economic needs. To put it crudely, status-related needs, such as getting laid, fast cars and flat screen TVs will always be a much higher priority than wages or working conditions.
Instead of educating low income workers about economic and political injustice, Reich argues that leftists should directly address the emotional baggage the working poor carry from authoritarian family and school experiences. He proposes the best way to do this is through politically enlightened social reform activities, particularly directed towards youth and women.
Tags: alec, american legislative exchange council, corrections corporation of america, detention facilities, immigrants, koch brothers, littlewood, mental illness, private prisons
Immigrants for Sale
Directed by Axel Caballero (2012)
Immigrants For Sale is a documentary about the $5 billion a year private detention industry. Corrections Corporation of America, The Geo Group, and the Management and Training Corporation run over 200 facilities across the US, a total of 150,000 bed spaces. Because these facilities are paid by the number of beds they fill, they have absolutely no incentive to speed up the legal process that might lead to detainees’ release. As one facility auctioneer puts it, thanks to harsh immigration laws and skyrocketing refugee numbers, there’s an “endless supply of product.”
The film closely examines the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right wing corporate lobby group founded by the Koch brothers, in writing anti-immigrant legislation adopted by various states and championing the construction of new private detention facilities. In most cases, state legislators with cozy relationships with ALEC and industry lobbyists impose these monstrosities on local communities against their wishes.
The filmmakers interview detainees’ families, immigrant rights groups and even former correctional officers who describe scandalous human rights violations by CCA et al, as well as their failure to provide nutritional food or adequate medical care or toilet facilities.
As a psychiatrist I was most appalled by the negligent and abusive treatment of mentally ill detainees. Because these facilities earn $197 a night to house detainees, they have no motivation to identify detainees with mental illness and transfer them to more appropriate treatment facilities. Detainees have no legal right to legal representation and often their families have no idea where they are. Both make their situation even more precarious. One mentally ill detainee featured in the film was beaten (one beating required hospitalization) and humiliated by corrections officers for three years before his mother secured his release.
Fortunately there is growing grassroots resistance to the private detention industry. One community successfully blocked – through sustained protest activity – the construction of a new detention facility. Another, Littlewood Texas, has been bankrupted by their decision to help bankroll a private detention facility. It remains vacant and unsold to this day.
Tags: abortions, aclu, american civil liberties unit, immigrants, muslims, torture, trump, water boarding
On Wednesday morning November 9, 2016, the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) published a personal message to president-elect on their website. It urges him “reconsider and change course” on certain campaign promises, going on to list some of the most troubling promises Trump has made:
- Promising to force 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country.
- Promising to ban Muslims from entering the country and heavily surveilling the ones who reside here.
- Promising to punish women who have abortions.
- Promising to reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture.
- Promising to revise the nation’s libel laws, restricting freedom of expression.
It goes on to warn Trump he will have to face the ACLU if he presses forward and tries to make good on promises they view as unconstitutional:
If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers and millions of card-carrying members and supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.
photo credit: AndrewDallos Donald Trump arriving at NBC tonight for Jimmy Fallon via photopin (license)
Tags: $15 minimum wage, free alabama movement, iwoc, iww, let the crops rot in the fields, prison strike, prison union
Prisoners across the United States are calling for a nationwide prisoner work stoppage against prison slavery on September 9th, 2016.
Their goal is to begin an action to shut down prisons, which are totally dependent on inmate labor, across the country. According to US Uncut, US prisoners are paid from 0 to 45 cents an hour for contract work for highly profitable corporations such as Whole Foods, Walmart, McDonald’s, Victoria’s Secret, BP and AT&T.
September 9th is the 45th anniversary of the 1971 uprising in which prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York’s most notorious state prison.
Non-violent protests, work stoppages, hunger strikes and other refusals to participate in prison routines have greatly increased in recent years. The 2010 Georgia prison strike, the massive rolling California hunger strikes, the Free Alabama Movement’s 2014 work stoppage, have drawn the most attention. There have also been large hunger strikes at Ohio State Penitentiary, Menard Correctional in Illinois, Red Onion in Virginia and elsewhere. The growing resistance movement includes inmates at immigrant detention centers, women’s prisons and juvenile facilities.
The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), created by the International Workers of the World (IWW), functions as a liaison to support prisoners in organizing and forging links between prisons and with fellow workers on the outside. IWOC, the only union representing prisoners, currently has 800 members.
As reported in the Nation, barriers to organizing prisoners are high. Most prisons deny inmates access to email, which makes communications between prisons difficult. Even within prisons, wardens block most prisoners’ union meetings. In 1977 the Supreme Court ruled prisoners have no First Amendment right to assemble if a warden feels a gathering threatens prison security.
In early 2015, the Free Alabama Movement published Let the Crops Rot in the Fields, laying out a new strategy –specifically tackling economic incentive – for ending mass incarceration. By refusing to work, prisoners directly attack the corporate profit motive underpinning mass incarceration. The IWOC has been sending copies of “Let the Crops Rot in the Fields” to prisoners all over the US.
According to the Nation article, the IWW were also instrumental in launching union drives at fast food restaurants in the early 2000s and the campaign for a $15 minimum wage.
For more information on IWOC and to help support the Sept 9 strike visit the IWOC Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/incarceratedworkers/
Tags: burkini, france, villeneuve-loubet
According to the BBC , France’s highest administrative court has suspended a ban on full-body “burkini” swimsuits that was imposed in a Villeneuve-Loubet on the Mediterranean coast.
The court found the ban “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms.”
The ruling could likely set a precedent for up to 30 other towns with similar bans.
Read more here
Tags: aids, chicago, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, illinois, mental illness, permanent supportive housing, veterans
Street Life: Faces Uncovered
By Neal Karski, George Min, Tyler Dubiak and Scott Hilburn (2016)
Street Life is a portrait of the Chicago’s homeless population. It begins by demolishing the myth that homelessness is a lifestyle choice. In addition to a wealth of statistics, the documentary includes interviews with homeless Chicagoans, social service workers, homeless advocates and random passersby. I found it intriguing that none of the women interviewed blamed the homeless for their predicament – while more than half the men did.
On any given night 750,000 Americans are homeless, and yearly 25-35 million spend some nights on the streets or in shelters. Worldwide 100 million people have no housing at all while one billion have grossly inadequate housing. Last year, over a million American children were homeless at some point.
In examining the causes of chronic homelessness, filmmakers identified the following breakdown (in Chicago):
- 48% suffer from chronic drug or alcohol addiction
- 32% are mentally ill
- 25% are victims of domestic violence
- 15% are unemployed veterans
- 4% have HIV or AIDS
Because the homeless make huge demands on the public health system, it costs taxpayers far less to pay for their housing than to leave them on the street. After starting a Permanent Supportive Housing program two years ago, Illinois lawmakers reduced emergency room visits by 40%, nursing home days by 975%, inpatient days by 83% and psychiatric services by 66%.