Les dents du singe (The Monkey’s Teeth) is the directorial debut of René Laloux, the animator who made Fantastic Planet and Time Masters. This, his first short, came out of the experimental La Borde clinic at Cour-Cheverny. As supervisor of artistic activities at La Borde, Laloux staged therapeutic puppet shows with the resident malades mentaux during the years before he gave them their big break in the motion picture business.
According to his obit in Positif, Laloux and his patients were aided in writing the screenplay for Les dents du singe by Félix Guattari, later the co-author of a number of influential books with the philosopher Gilles Deleuze; the group’s screenwriting method was something like a combination of “automatic writing, exquisite corpse, and Jung’s tests.” In 1960, Guattari was working at La Borde as a therapist. He had been drawn to the clinic by its founder, the Lacanian psychiatrist Jean Oury.
Oury baptized his clinic as soon as it opened in April 1953, writing a constitution that he dated Year I (a tongue-in-cheek reference to the French Revolution) and that defined the three guiding principles for this collective therapeutic undertaking. The mangers were protected by democratic centralism, reflecting the Marxist-Leninist ideal that was still popular in the year of Stalin’s death. The second principle reflected the idea of a communist utopia whereby each staff member would alternate between manual labor and intellectual work, which effectively made any status temporary. Tasks were assigned on a rotating basis: everyone in the clinic switched from medical care to housekeeping, from running workshops to preparing theatrical activities. The last principle was antibureaucratic, so things were organized in a communitarian way whereby responsibilities, tasks, and salaries were all shared. Although the term “institutional psychotherapy” had not yet been coined, many of its themes were already in evidence: spatial permeability, freedom of movement, a critique of professional roles and qualifications, institutional flexibility, and the need for a patients’ therapy club.
Hollywood has not yet produced many tales about bike-riding simians meting out justice at the dentist’s office, but I expect we’ll see a “reboot” of The Monkey’s Teeth before long.
Within a few years of the end of World War II, a perceived need to stamp out any trace of leftist ideas led to the scourge of McCarthyism and a heavy emphasis on what I consider to be the Chamber of Commerce outlook on life, which led to brittle pro-capitalist maxims such as “what’s good for General Motors is good for America,” which derived from a comment made by Charles Erwin Wilson (formerly an executive at that company) during his confirmation hearings to become Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense.
As Jeet Heer pointed out in an insightful tweetstorm over the weekend, the election of Labour candidate Clement Attlee to become British Prime Minister in 1945 was a deeply unsettling moment for U.S. capitalist interests. After all, if SOCIALISM could (gasp) prosper in the United Kingdom of all places, why, it could happen anywhere, couldn’t it? Within just a few years you had the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (started by some other GM muckety-muck) shoveling money in the general direction of Isadore “Friz” Freleng to concoct a few amusing cartoons featuring Sylvester and Elmer Fudd to promote the wisdom of the capitalist techniques of using stockholder investments to finance much-needed infrastructure, a process that would inevitably enrich the working masses.
At what might be called the high point of McCarthy’s paranoid blacklist—1954 to 1956—the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation sponsored three Warner Bros. cartoons—the titles were “By Word of Mouse” (1954), “Heir-Conditioning” (1955), and “Yankee Dood It” (1956). A friend points out that Warner Bros., in taking the Sloan money, would have had every incentive to take the heat off of their own creative staff, which (it can be presumed) had more than a few left-leaning types on it. If you ever made a habit of watching Looney Tunes cartoons after school (my era for that hobby was the late 1970s), it’s almost certain that you saw these animated attempts to convince you of the superiority of capitalism—not exactly the usual subject matter of afternoon cartoon antics.
The capitalist propaganda hardly have been more overt—in all three cartoons the antics grind to a halt while a favored character steps up and explicitly feeds the audience a condensed presentation of the virtues of the capitalist system. In “By Word of Mouse,” German mouse Hans visits his American cousin Willy, who lives in a department store named “Stacy’s.” Hans spends much of the cartoon goggling at the unimaginable vitality of the American system—gesturing at a highway crammed with vrooming jalopies, Hans can’t grok how many plutocrats could possibly have so many new cars. Street-smart Willy blandly replies that those are regular workers, and a lot of those cars aren’t all that new—a nation full of car owners being old hat to him. Eventually they visit a professor mouse who explains via multiple charts why the existence of Rival Department Store (yes, that’s the name) obliges Stacy’s to cut costs in order to maximize sales, which ends up enriching the labor force.
In “Heir-Conditioning,” Sylvester the Cat inherits multiple millions of dollars, so understandably, the alley cats in the neighborhood descend on his residence in order to get ahold of some moola. Elmer Fudd plays a “financial advisor” who tries to get the unwilling feline to invest his piles of cash in order to increase his own profits while enriching the rest of society—Elmer even hauls out a film projector to demonstrate the relative poverty of workers 50 years previous—after all, they hadn’t reaped the benefits of mass production yet. Hilariously, when Sylvester temporarily absconds with a large satchel full of paper currency and offers to give it to the alley cats, they tell him to listen to his bald-headed analyst and invest the money.
The oddest entry in the Sloan/WB canon might be the last one, titled “Yankee Dood It.” That short takes its plot elements from the 19th-century story “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” which became one of the Grimms’ collection of fairy tales. Here, Elmer is the “King of industrial Elves” and magically materializes at the workshop of the “Elf Shoe Company,” whose proprietor refuses to infest in the needed machinery to increase his profits, etc. This time, instead of showing a film, Elmer causes a screen to materialize, on which he walks the timid entrepreneur through a sort of slide show about the need to use a proper factory instead of unpaid artisanal elves. Reason magazine writer Tim Cavanaugh noted that “Yankee Dood It” is “an interesting window on the politics of the fabulous fifties: not just that somebody felt the need to argue that productivity benefits somebody besides greedy bosses, but that they made the argument through the commander of a militarized corps of elves.”
The ‘domestic violence issue’ of International Anthem, 1979
This deserves more press than it’s received: a new book collects every issue of International Anthem: A Nihilist Newspaper for the Living, including two never before published. The volume is an official product of “the publishing wing of Crass and beyond,” the venerable Exitstencil Press.
International Anthem was Gee Vaucher’s newspaper, but denying its connection to the band would be a challenge. Its 1978-‘83 run coincided, roughly, with Crass’s (as opposed to, say, Exit‘s), and the Crass logo sometimes appeared on the paper’s cover (see above). Eve Libertine, $ri Hari Nana B.A., Penny Rimbaud, G. Sus (aka Gee Vaucher) and Dave King contributed to its pages.
Gee Vaucher collage from International Anthem #2 (via ArtRabbit)
The book contains scans of the originals (“bad printing, creases, mistakes and all”), reproduced at full size. If it is good to buy quality art books, it is better to buy them directly from the artist. Buddhists call it “accumulating merit,” and they say you want to do a lot of it in this life, so you don’t have to come back as Eric Trump. Below, consume two hours of Crass programming broadcast on Australia’s JJJ Radio in 1987, featuring some Crass texts read in Australian accents and contemporary interviews with Gee and Penny at Dial House.
“If you obey, they are happy because you are ruined. Then they are cool because they have crushed you.”
Right before she embarked on a campaign of left-wing terror, Ulrike Meinhof produced her screenplay for Bambule, a TV movie about the miserable lot of girls in a juvenile reform institution. It was supposed to air in 1970, but the broadcast was canceled after Meinhof helped the Red Army Faction bust Andreas Baader out of prison.
The title means “prison riot,” though apparently the bambule originated as a form of nonviolent prison protest, making a “Jailhouse Rock”-style racket by drumming on anything available. “You lousy screws!”
Bambule means rebellion, resistance, counter-violence – efforts toward liberation. Such things happen mostly in summer, when it is hot, and the food is even less appealing than usual, and anger festers in the corners with the heat. Such things are in the air then – it could be compared to the hot summers in the black ghettoes of the United States.
Meinhof based the screenplay on her conversations with girls at the Eichenhof Youth Custody Home, for which Bambule is not much of an advertisement. They had a prescription for teens like Monika, expelled from a convent for kissing another girl: discipline and work, with occasional breaks for obeying the rules. The only pleasures in Bambule are the small acts of disobedience available to teenagers. They smoke cigarettes, curse out a few fuckwords, write graffiti about LSD and hash, play the Bee Gees’ “Massachusetts.” All relationships with adults are characterized by violence, cruelty and exploitation; everyone over 20 is dead inside. It’s like watching an episode of Dragnet written by a militant leftist.
Europe after the Rain, the Arts Council of Great Britain’s 1978 documentary on Dada and Surrealism, looks at the careers of André Breton, Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dalí, Antonin Artaud, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters, Yves Tanguy, John Heartfield, Giorgio de Chirico, Francis Picabia and René Magritte, among others. Sure, there are better ways to see these artists’ work than on YouTube, but this film is worth watching, because it makes both movements’ commitment to revolutionary left-wing politics explicit as few other surveys do.
Take this list from 1919, drawn up by Richard Huelsenbeck and Raoul Hausmann on behalf of the Dadaist Revolutionary Central Council:
1) The international revolutionary union of all creative and intellectual men and women on the basis of radical Communism;
2) The introduction of progressive unemployment through comprehensive mechanization of every field of activity. Only by unemployment does it become possible for the individual to achieve certainty as to the truth of life and finally become accustomed to experience;
3) The immediate expropriation of property (socialization) and the communal feeding of all; further, the erection of cities of light, and gardens which will belong to society as a whole and prepare man for a state of freedom.
(The full manifesto goes on to demand free meals on Potsdamer Platz for “all creative and intellectual men and women,” the requisition of churches, “immediate organization of a Dadaist propaganda campaign with 150 circuses for the enlightenment of the proletariat,” and “immediate regulation of all sexual relations according to the views of international Dadaism through establishment of a Dadaist sexual center.”)
‘Europe after the Rain II’ by Max Ernst, 1940-1942
The movie is full of treasures: BBC interviews with Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp from the Sixties, a reading of Artaud’s “Address to the Dalai Lama,” an account of Freud’s meeting with Dalí. As usual in a film of this type, the attempts to dramatically recreate speeches by historical figures are embarrassing. I am not extra fond of the portrayal of Tzara as a supercilious toff. But the re-enactment of Breton’s dialogue with an official of the Parti communiste français is illuminating, and complements the other valuable material on the “Pope of Surrealism”: his work with shell-shocked soldiers in World War I, trials and expulsions of other Surrealists, collaboration with Leon Trotsky in Mexico, less-than-heroic contributions to the French Resistance, and study of the occult.
A VHS rip of the movie has been up on YouTube for some time, but this sharpened upload only recently appeared through the good offices of Manufacturing Intellect. It’s worth noting that the original VHS rip is nearly six minutes longer.
Eduardo Ugarte, Luis Buñuel, Jose Lopez Rubio, Leonor and Tono at Charlie Chaplin’s house, 1930
Whenever someone voices alarm about the “war on Christmas,” I think of my hero, Luis Buñuel, and smile. In 1930, Buñuel disrupted a Christmas party in Los Angeles by leading an attack on the tree and, when it proved hard to destroy, jumping up and down on the presents. Among the guests was Charlie Chaplin, whose house Buñuel often visited “to play tennis, swim, or use the sauna”; sometimes, he sat by the pool drinking with Sergei Eisenstein.
I seem to remember Buñuel or his son, Juan Luis, saying somewhere or other that Buñuel and his comrades attacked the Christmas tree because they found both it and the custom of gift-giving intolerably bourgeois. In My Last Sigh, however, the director writes that he was offended by a patriotic gesture.
He and his roommate, the screenwriter Eduardo Ugarte, were at the house of the Spanish comedian Tono and his wife Leonor, who had been Buñuel’s companions on the recent voyage from Le Havre to Hollywood:
At Christmastime, Tono and his wife gave a dinner party for a dozen Spanish actors and screenwriters, as well as Chaplin and Georgia Hale. We all brought a present that was supposed to have cost somewhere between twenty and thirty dollars, hung them on the tree, and began drinking. (Despite Prohibition, there was, of course, no shortage of alcohol.) Rivelles, a well-known actor at that time, recited a grandiloquent Spanish poem by Marquina, to the glory of the soldiers in Flanders. Like all patriotic displays, it made me nauseous.
“Listen,” I whispered to Ugarte and an actor named Peña at the dinner table, “when I blow my nose, that’s the signal to get up. Just follow me and we’ll take that ridiculous tree to pieces!”
Which is exactly what we did, although it’s not easy to dismember a Christmas tree. In fact, we got a great many scratches for some rather pathetic results, so we resigned ourselves to throwing the presents on the floor and stomping on them. The room was absolutely silent; everyone stared at us, openmouthed.
“Luis,” Tono’s wife finally said. “That was unforgivable.”
“On the contrary,” I replied. “It wasn’t unforgivable at all. It was subversive.”
The following morning dawned with a delicious coincidence, an article in the paper about a man in Berlin who tried to take apart a Christmas tree in the middle of the midnight Mass.
On New Year’s Eve, Chaplin—a forgiving man—once again invited us to his house, where we found another tree decorated with brand-new presents. Before we sat down to eat, he took me aside.
“Since you’re so fond of tearing up trees, Buñuel,” he said to me, “why don’t you get it over with now, so we won’t be disturbed during dinner?”
I replied that I really had nothing against trees, but that I couldn’t stand the kind of ostentatious patriotism I’d heard that evening.
Below, the French TV series Cinéastes de notre temps catches up with Luis Buñuel in ‘63 or ‘64.
“We’re certainly the most highly educated band in the world.” Those are the words of a man named Stephan Michelson, quoted in the Washington Post in 1979. At first blush, the statement seems preposterous, but it might not have been far wrong.
Red Shadow was an odd outfit performing polemical rock and roll from the mid-1970s. The core of the group was three ideologically minded economists who met at the University of Michigan in the early 1970s. They decided to form a band to preach the urgent message of left-wing economics. When three of the dudes in your band have a Ph.D., a label like “most highly educated” at least begins to seem plausible.
Red Shadow put out two albums, Live at the Panacea Hilton (1975) and Better Red (1978). The music on the tracks I was able to find is competent but by no means memorable; the songs are either out-and-out song parodies à la “Weird Al” Yankovic (only with a left-wing tilt) or else highly derivative. “Stagflation,” for instance, strikes me as more than a little Stones-influenced.
The three economists that made up the band were Michelson, Dan Luria, and Ev Ehrlich. All three, as far as I can tell, are still alive and active in the field of economics to this day. Michelson runs a firm called Longbranch Research Associates that supplies statistical analysis for litigation purposes. Luria is an economist at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, and as recently as 2014 took part in a round table hosted by the Boston Review on the topic of “How Finance Gutted Manufacturing.” Luria also runs a company with the suggestive name Occupy Dan LLC. And Ev Ehrlich (born Everett M. Ehrlich) has a website on which he describes himself as “one of the nation’s leading business economists.”
Red Shadow’s song “Gone Gone Gone” is a parody of the Beach Boys’ “Fun Fun Fun” in which the malign corporate overlords will be “gone gone gone when the workers take their power away.” Similarly, “Anything Good” reworks Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” to accommodate the following lyric:
They may know how to serve the ruling corporate brass
But they’ll never have the knowledge of the working class
No no, no they don’t know know know
One of the songs is called “Commodity Fetishism”—it’s only 42 seconds long, according to Discogs. The same page notes that two of the tracks from off of Live at the Panacea Hilton are spoken-word pieces. I suppose two is about par.
Here’s a bit more info from that useful Washington Post profile mentioned above:
“All of us would rather be musicians,” says Stephan Michelson, a research economist at the Urban Institute whose stage name is Delta X. His fellow band members include Ev Ehrlich (Beta Hat), an energy economist with the congressional budget office, and Dan Luria (Al Phabar), an economist with the United Auto Workers in Detroit. Alpha, Beta and Delta are common coefficients used by economists.
Luria and Ehrlich began writing guerrilla theater as graduate students in economics at the University of Michigan in 1971. A couple of years later they met Michelson, who owns a recording studio in Cambridge and distributes records under the Physical label. All three, in their late 20s or early 30s, consider themselves radical economists, and some of their songs reflect their opinion of establishment colleagues.
Honestly, the music sounds like the fellas (quite rightly) spent most of their time hitting the books, but the tunes are still pretty fun. “Understanding Marx” was the best song I was able to get ahold of, it has a female vocalist and it’s also the most about textbook Marxism (obviously), which makes it a bit funnier.
Creepy politicians and media personalities are losing their jobs and stature left and right over revelations of sexual importuning, and we fully support that (just as we support more rapey conservative policymakers stepping into the light of the shining beacon that was Dan Johnson—grab that brass ring, Roy, you’ve got nothing left to lose!). And yet, open, unreconstructed, virulent racism no longer costs anyone face—it’s become a positive boon in right wing careering. For nostalgia’s sake, we decided to revisit an incident when a conservative figure lost his job for a racist remark, albeit one that went on to bear some rather unlikely but utterly glorious cultural fruit.
In the 1970s, Earl Butz was Secretary of Agriculture under GOP Presidents Nixon and Ford. He was a reactionary anti-New Dealer whose ridiculously pro-corporate policies arguably were main drivers of an environmental crisis North America now faces due to the various pollutants created by massive-scale factory farming, but his most memorable contribution to our culture was a terribly rude remark: When asked by I shit you not Pat Boone in 1976 to explain why African Americans tended not to vote Republican (I want to know how even Pat Boone could be that clueless—seriously how is that even a question?), he replied, “I’ll tell you what the coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit.”
That’s right: he actually said “the coloreds.” MAN, those were different times.
Initial reportage of the remark protected Butz’s identity, attributing the quote to “a Cabinet officer.” But once the remark’s author was outed, he resigned. He continued to serve the nation as an unholy piece of shit, being convicted of tax evasion and serving on agri-business boards of directors, until society was at long last relieved of him permanently in 2008. But his infamous remark proved enduring.
Loose Shoes is a comedy anthology movie roughly in the vein of The Groove Tube or Kentucky Fried Movie, except that unlike those films, Loose Shoes really, really sucks. It was shot in 1977, but not released until 1980—it was saved from obscurity by Bill Murray. A pre-fame Murray acted in one of its sketches, and as he had gone on to fame as Chevy Chase’s replacement in Saturday Night Live and the star of Meatballs and Caddyshack, disingenuous marketing claimed Loose Shoes as, ahem, “a Bill Murray movie.” None of the sketches are especially funny or memorable—not even Murray’s—save for one, the film’s closing set piece, “Dark Town After Dark,” an INSANE and wonderful fuck you to Butz, in the form of a Cab Calloway style revue embedded within a parody of ’30s black cinema! This clip is brilliant enough to justify the film’s existence—it features NY stage and character actor David Downing as the Calloway clone who dwells in abject poverty until MOVIE MAGIC™ transforms him into the singer of the film’s namesake song. It’s an incredible jazz arrangement performed by a fine (and sadly, uncredited) band, creatively shot, and sepia-toned to maintain a ’30s feel. I warn you: after you watch this, the obscene chorus will be stuck in your head indefinitely.
Here’s a rather more baffling take on the comment—one that not only pre-dates Loose Shoes’ release, but comes from The Netherlands. G.T. Walls is a singer about whom I can find almost no information except that he’s Dutch, and that he released in 1977 an album uncleverly titled Rhythm and Booze, which featured at the close of its A side a song called “A Tight Pussy, Loose Shoes And A Warm Place To Shit,” which was released as a single the following year. It features contributions from Holland’s somewhat better-known Arnie Treffers, and while it’s not remotely as catchy as the song in “Dark Town After Dark,” it boasts a pleasant enough ragtime influence.
Last year, I was very fortunate to see an early cut of Rupert Russell’s documentary on the rise of fake democracy Freedom of the Wolf, which will be on release soon and is currently screening at the International Documentary Festival (IDFA) over the next two weeks. The title of the film comes from the renowned philosopher Isaiah Berlin who once said, “Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.” This quote provides a starting-point for Russell who goes in search of the world’s most dangerous idea Freedom.
The end result is an excellent and indispensable documentary which provides one helluva ride across continents to meet the people battling on the frontline like the demonstrators occupying the streets of Hong Kong against the Chinese government’s removal of their democratic rights; or the youngsters in Tunisia who are left frustrated and isolated after the failure of the Arab Spring where telling a joke now can land them in jail; and to death on the streets of America, #BlackLivesMatter, and the game-changing election of Donald Trump in 2016. Freedom of the Wolf is the essential documentary to go and see if you want to get a handle on what is happening to freedom and democracy in the world right now .
I caught-up with Russell who has been screening Freedom of the Wolf at film festivals across the world to great acclaim. I started by asking him what had the response to his film been like at film the festivals?
Rupert Russell: The screenings have been fantastic; with a few cultural differences. In the UK, people have been responding to the dark humor – there’s a low-level absurdity that runs through the whole film, which the Brits pick up on pretty quickly. In Poland, the audiences were anxious to discuss how to mount successful protests; which, for them, is understandable!
DM: Was it what you expected?
Russell: To be honest, I think it’s wise to have no expectations. Sure, you screen the film to your friends and family who are supportive and tell you it’s great. I’m sure even Ed Wood had words of encouragement when he played a cut of Plan 9 From Outer Space or Tommy Wiseau with The Room. So I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the reaction.
DM: What do you think Trump will do? Where do you think he’s going as President?
Russell: After the Republicans take a pummeling in the 2018 elections, Trump will be rattled. He’ll provoke a foreign war to consolidate his base and divide the Democrats. Where? Who knows. Australia and Canada appear as villains in Trump’s twitter feed as much as North Korea. I’m guessing that Trump is going to surprise us by invading a U.S. territory. Remember in 2015 how the InfoWars crowd was stoking a heated conspiracy for months that Obama was going to “invade” Texas? It may sound insane, but Trump’s favorite website reported that this kind of action is a normal response to a “hostile” enemy – even if it is already under the control of the Pentagon. Puerto Rico would be the obvious contender for a self-invasion. But Trump is never predictable, so I’m putting my money on California.
DM: Do you think revolutionary acts “keep the status in the quo”?—as a character in one of Derek Jarman’s films once ironically pointed out?
Russell: If your bar for success is the elimination of inequality, sexism, racism and other forms of oppression in their entirety, then yes, every act – revolutionary or not – is unlikely to eliminate them. There’s something ingrained in us to create distinctions and hierarchies. Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels captured this flaw in human nature elegantly in the sectarian conflict between Big-Endians and the Little-Endians; that is, between those who crack open an egg on the big or little end. If we can’t find a real reason to divide ourselves, we’ll find one: no matter how arbitrary or absurd.
But if you lower the bar, to say, improvement, then I think even small – let alone revolutionary – acts can make a big difference. If you thought the global women’s marches on January 21 were going to lead to the removal of Donald Trump or the overthrow of patriarchy, then yes, you will have been disappointed. But the current pushback against famous men who have sexually assaulted, harassed, and demeaned women, then I think you have the Women’s March to thank for it. It generated grassroots organizations - in both real life and online - that gave women spaces, opportunities, and platforms to articulate and understand what, until then, had been largely private interactions.
And if you take the two most successful civil disobedient campaigns in history – the civil rights struggle in the US and campaign for independence in India – the striking thing is how long they took. Change takes decades. Sometimes a protest resulted in a step backward with more oppression; other times they moved things forward. But the individuals knew that their struggle was historic and may even take multiple generations to complete. That’s why the arc of history is “long” – and not conveniently contained within a 24-hour news cycle.
DM: What do you think will happen in Hong Kong? And in Tunisia?
Russell: In Hong Kong, the short term looks very bleak. Young leaders are in prison, and pro-democracy legislators have been banned from the legislature. In the long term, I’m optimistic. There’s a body of research in psychology that has found that the events that happen in your early adult life – from 18 to 22 – have an incredible impact on the rest of your life. So in Hong Kong, you have an entire generation who has teargassed by the police and slept under highways for democracy; they’re not going to forget that. And in twenty, thirty years, these will be the people who will be running the banks, the civil service, and even the police in Hong Kong.
Tunisia is sadly predictable. The President, Beji Essebsi, has used the police to drive motorcycles in protests and kept laws that prohibit the criticizing of public officials on the books (inherited from the dictatorship, which he served in). He has made some important reforms on women’s issues, freeing Muslim women from the necessity of having to marry another Muslim. This shouldn’t surprise us though. He was the Minister of the Interior – the heart of the police state – under the secular dictator Ben Ali. So a mixture of authoritarianism and anti-Islamism was to be expected. The unfortunate thing is that while progress on women’s issue is reported in the Western press, his illiberal actions are not. Perhaps this is because we want to keep in our (Western) minds the notion that Tunisia is a “success” and “progress” is being made. It’s a narcissistic reflection of our own ideals; our values flourishing outside of our immediate cultural orbit. And if we look too closely, we may not like what we see.
DM: What next for you? What are you making?
Russell: I have just completed an animated web-series for the online streaming platform, Yaddo. It’s called How the World Went Mad and it uses a mixture of satire and science to try to explain the rise of Trump. Each episode takes a lesson from social science to explain a different aspect of this “disease” – diagnosis, symptoms, transmission, epidemic, and cure. It’s been a lot of fun and I can’t wait to put them out there. Not sure how the episode on suicide bombing is going to be received. But I’m ready for the trolls (the episode might be the one thing that will unite ISIS and the Alt-Right).
So this week, the Trump administration, already in the midst of an ongoing assault on the horrific-to-Republicans spectre of normal people getting to go to see doctors AND an effort to turn the Boy Scouts into the Trumpenjugend, staged a two-pronged official offensive against sexual and gender minorities.
Our tweet-happy president, all by himself, without alerting the Pentagon to the policy change or offering the Department of Defense anything resembling an implementation plan, informed the world that transgender soldiers would no longer be permitted to serve in the US armed forces. Then, hours later, the Department of Justice, directed by the increasingly beleaguered Attorney General/fucking evil elf Jeff Sessions, submitted a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stating that the Civil Rights Act did not apply to LGBTQ Americans.
That’s right—at a time when we’re supposedly locked into an epochal clash of civilizations against brown foreigners, people SO INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS that society must protect itself at all costs from letting them take a shit at the department store evidently aren’t fit to be trained to kill brown foreigners.
You KNOW what they’re doing, right? I mean aside from being toxic, spiteful, nasty, bigoted, chauvinistic pigfuckers who wield social privilege as a weapon; we’re used to them doing all that. This is different. This isn’t just hateful, this is tactical. They’re prepping to turn the midterms into an equality showdown so it won’t be a referendum on Trump. GOP mouthbreathers will be out in force telling voters “Look, those out-of-touch elitist Democrats are letting our fine fighting forces be overrun by trannies! They care more about protecting fags’ jobs than they care about protecting YOUR jobs!”
This is almost certain to work. It already happened in recent memory, when they used a handful of statewide marriage equality initiatives to mobilize a national troglodyte voter base against John Kerry. Just wait and see if I’m wrong. Hell, someone in the know already admitted it. Click for a more readable enlargement:
These scumbags are 100% on-script right now, and the Dems are fucked: if they do the right thing and stand for equality, they’re taking the bait. If they recognize this as bait and join the GOP in throwing sexual and gender minorities under the bus to keep the focus on Trump’s unyielding streak of outrages, then they will have not just thrown vulnerable sexual and gender minorities under the bus, but done so for electoral reasons, which DUH is fucking double-evil, AND they will have depressed their own voter turnout due to being no different than the Republicans on an issue as existentially significant as human rights.
Gerrymandering and racist voter ID laws that are definitely going to go national ASAFuckingP (the architect of Kansas’ SAFE Act has been appointed to Mike Pence’s farcical Commission on Election Integrity) will take care of the rest, and boom, midterm sweep, the Republicans retain or increase their majority in both houses, and the fascist takeover of the USA has an electoral “mandate.”
THIS is why they have governed and will continue to govern from a national electoral minority for decades to come: they know how to play these numbers games and they’re Machiavellian enough to handwave any pearl-clutching about “democracy” or “norms.” And the milquetoast DNC centrists who inexplicably STILL run the show in that utterly debased excuse for a national political party still think there’s intrinsic value in “taking the high road” and in playing the legislative chambers’ ineffectual rules-of-order parlor games. There is not. The vaunted “high road” has all too often been their road to defeat. The intrinsic value in being in government is in being the people who actually get to make the laws. The DNC’s failure to see the reality that’s repeatedly smacked them in the face has ceded those privileges to authoritarian monsters for the foreseeable future, while the people they’ve failed are left to gaze upon Trump’s works and despair.
I don’t pretend to know what needs to be done, but doing what we’re used to doing won’t accomplish shit while the corridors of power are overrun, and I sure don’t expect institutions to help. The idea that Speaker of the House/other evil elf Paul Ryan will move to impeach before mid-terms (if at all, ever) is laughable, and forget about treason charges. Horseshoe theory-poisoned major media have already been dutifully demonizing Antifa—what do you expect happens when the people who put their personal safety on the line to oppose fascism are summarily demonized while actual genocide fanboys are greeted with “let’s hear what they have to say before we go condemning them?” What gets normalized, then?
At anti-Trump demonstrations, police conspicuously opt to protect racists and fascists over the assembled masses of protesters who’re demonstrating precisely because they’re terrified of racist and fascist encroachment. The barbarians are at the gates not because they’re preparing to crash them but because they’re the gatekeepers. Something to think about while you’re making your 10,000th phone call to a disinterested Republican Senator to express your strongly-worded displeasure into the voicemail s/he doesn’t listen to. Vive la resistance.