Thursday, February 18, 2021

Just What the Doctor Ordered: An "Insurrection"


Just What the Doctor Ordered: An “Insurrection”

Peter Schultz


            There is a marvelously revealing book about American politics entitled The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went To War Against Its Own Citizens,” authored by Bernard E. Harcourt of Columbia University. In it, early on, he makes the following observations:


“We are now witnessing the triumph of a counterinsurgency model of government on American soil in the absence of an insurgency or uprising or rebellion. The perfected logic of counterinsurgency now applies regardless of whether there is a domestic insurrection. We now face a counterinsurgency without an insurgency. A counterrevolution without a revolution. The pure form of counterrevolution, without a revolution, as a simple modality of governing at home – what could be called “The Counterrevolution.” [p. 12, emphasis in the original]


            Harcourt published his book in 2018, obviously much before the “insurrection” that took place on 1/6/2021. But it is fair to say that given the creation by our government of a counterrevolution, of a counterinsurgency model of government, even in the absence of a domestic insurrection, the claim that the 1/6 protests, involving the “occupation” of the Capitol, constituted an “insurrection” was to be expected. Not only was it to be expected, it was even to be almost welcomed insofar as this “insurrection” fortified the counterrevolution our elites had already embraced. “The counterinsurgency model of government on American soil” no longer wanted an “insurrection,” a “revolution,” an “insurgency” to justify itself. For those who have embraced the counterinsurgency model of government on American soil, the 1/6 “insurrection” was almost like manna from heaven.


            So of course that those embracing the counterinsurgency model of government would exaggerate the violence of the 1/6 “insurrection,” claiming that it was an attack on law enforcement personnel that targeted and proved to be deadly for at least one law enforcement officer, should come as no surprise. Moreover, that those embracing this model of government would move against Trump based on the Fourteenth Amendment is in no way surprising, because in that way they could equate the events of 1/6 with the insurrection created when several slave states seceded from the union, thereby leading to the Civil War. Such are the fantasies that now support and fortify the counterinsurgency model of government.


            So even if there were no actions taken or not taken by our elites that facilitated the events of 1/6, it can be said with certainty that those elites saw those events as almost perfectly suited for fortifying their counterrevolution. And, of course, that Nancy Pelosi and others want a 9/11-type commission to “investigate” the events of 1/6 should not be surprising either. And you can bet that this commission will do all in can to paint as dark a picture of those events as is possible, just as the 9/11 commission painted a picture that allowed Dick Cheney to assert, almost without objection, the US needed “to go to the dark side.” That many are recommending the waging of a war on domestic terrorism confirms this. The lights are going out all over the US and it’s anyone’s guess how the nation will fare in the coming darkness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Hunting of Hillary: It's Not Just About Hillary


The Hunting of Hillary: It’s Not Just About Hillary

Peter Schultz


            The full title of Michael D’Antonio’s book is The Hunting of Hillary: The Forty-Year to Destroy Hillary Clinton. There is certainly no adequate reason to suspect those who were hunting Hillary Clinton were not out to destroy her. But these “hunters” weren’t only after Hillary; she wasn’t the only or perhaps even the real target. The real target was any political reform, any political change that could be plausibly deemed significant. And because this is the case, the “hunters” don’t care if their charges against Hillary successfully destroy Hillary or not. Because she’s not their real target, even if she were not destroyed, their campaign could still be considered successful. As a result, the truth or accuracy of their charges against Hillary is irrelevant.


            Also, as a result, attempts like D’Antonio’s to refute the charges made against Hillary – which is quite easy to do – are irrelevant. D’Antonio does a decent job of exposing most of the lies told about Hillary, her husband, and her life. But, actually, this exposure doesn’t really matter because what is being conducted is a political campaign disguised as a personal attack on Hillary. In other words, those “hunters” who appear to be targeting after Hillary are political operatives practicing a kind of politics aimed at undermining the possibility of any significant political reforms and, thereby, preserving the status quo.


            And, of course, because this is a kind of politics, it shouldn’t be seen as the preserve of the right wing partisans, as the result of “a vast right-wing conspiracy,” as the Clintons have charged and as D’Antonio asserts time and time again. Right-wing politicians can and do employ this political strategy, but it is a kind of political strategy than can be and has been employed by left-wing types, for example, with regard to Donald Trump. And left-wing politicians employ this strategy for the same reasons that it is employed by right-wing politicians, viz., to undermine the possibility of significant political reform and to preserve and even fortify the status quo.


            Each in the same way, left-wing types and right-wing types are pursuing the same political strategy, a strategy that aims at preserving and fortifying the status quo. Which helps explain why, as so many people have noticed, nothing or so little changes issue forth from Washington D.C. It’s not so much that “the system is broken” as it is that our politicians, both those of the left and those of the right, don’t want significant change. They are satisfied with the status quo. Of course, given the fact that most Americans are not satisfied with the status quo, to say the least, our politicians must practice a kind of politics that reaffirms the status quo. Hence, the “politics of personal destruction” that has been and is practiced by our elites. They may pretend to be offended by such a politics but they continually practice it because it serves to preserve their power. It also preserves the political order, which has elevated them to their elite status. As a means of personal destruction, it doesn’t even work, as illustrated by the fact that despite all the attacks on Hillary Clinton, she still go three million more votes than Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. But as a means of preventing any significant change in our politics, this kind of politics has worked admirably well. Therefore, don’t expect it to be abandoned any time soon.

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Hunting of Hillary: A Review of Sorts


The Hunting of Hillary: A Review of Sorts

Peter Schultz


            Michael D’Antonio has written a book entitled The Hunting of Hillary: The Forty-Year Campaign to Destroy Hillary Clinton. It is very much a book worth reading, as it chronicles how, over four decades, Hillary Clinton has been attacked repeatedly and dishonestly in order to destroy her political career and her personally.


            But what D’Antonio describes as a campaign to destroy Hillary wasn’t only that in fact. To be sure, Hillary  was attacked and her political and personal demise sought. No doubt about it. But the real campaign wasn’t directed only at Hillary or the Clintons. Rather, it was directed against popular government in the United States.


            This might seem to be a strange thing to write but those attacking the Clintons were – and are – elitists, people convinced that they are, with or without popular support, entitled to govern the United States and control its government. Their attacks on the Clintons and especially on Hillary were not made on behalf of the people or popular government, even though they like to pretend they are by charging the Clintons as elitists. But the elitist charge against the Clintons was not a charge against elitism itself. Rather, it was a charge against the Clintons’ alleged corruption, their personal corruption. The Clintons represented a corrupt elite, while those making the charges represented a decent, an American elite.


            And this distinction helps us understand the prevalence and implications of what has been called, appropriately, “the politics of personal destruction.” Such a politics is prevalent because it allows existing, predominant elites to pretend they are opposed to elitism and if favor of a popular politics, when in fact their goal is to fortify their own elite status, even at the expense of popular government.


            One measure of a genuinely popular government is the fact that its policies change to reflect popular desires and needs. Another measure is a capacity for changing institutional arrangements when the existing arrangements prove to be obstacles to political change. The politics of personal destruction, however, points away from such changes toward personnel changes. If the Clintons – or Trump – are corrupt, get rid of the Clintons. Problems solved. As a result though, despite personnel changes, the existing policies and institutional arrangements don’t change, which is why people turn off to politics as a futile activity. And these people are correct because the politics of personal destruction has short-circuited popular government.


            And because human beings have a seemingly limitless capacity for capricious, immoral, or amoral behavior, there will always be fuel feeding the fire of a politics of personal destruction. Add to this the capacity of human beings to embrace, even wallow in scandals, and the fuel for the fire of a politics of personal destruction seems never ending.


            That Hillary was “hunted” for forty years is both shameful and despicable. Hillary deserved better, to be sure. And the US is worse off as a result of those who sought to destroy her political career, as well as her personally. Like so many Vietnam vets, Hillary must feel that she’s been betrayed by her country, a betrayal that might be more traumatic than any personal betrayal she has suffered. How she copes with such trauma – as she has obviously done – is beyond my imagination.


            But “the hunting of Hillary” has political implications that go beyond the injustices to which she has been subjected. That hunting reflects a politics of personal destruction that undermines popular government and serves to fortify the elites and their policies that have brought us to the quagmire that currently characterizes our politics. Replacing one “hunter” with other “hunters” only solidifies and fortifies a kind of politics that will not and cannot rescue us from our quagmire. And unlike in Vietnam, we cannot “pull out” to go home. “The hunting of Hillary” was shameful. The politics it reflects is just as shameful and even more dangerous.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

If I Were Advising Trump


If I Were Advising Trump

Peter Schultz


            If I were advising Trump on confronting the latest impeachment trial against him, here’s what I would advise him to do.


            First, he should deny the legitimacy of the trial itself on the grounds that it is unconstitutional to impeach and try a former government official. Personally, I don’t this argument is valid; former officials may be impeached, tried and convicted. But by making the argument that such a proceeding violates the Constitution’s provisions regarding impeachment, Trump would provide cover for those Senators who do think that such impeachments and trials are unconstitutional, an argument they are free to make and follow.  


            Second, he should argue that attempts to “incite insurrections” against the established government are, in fact, the essence of politics, at least of radical politics. Of course, he should argue that his attempt to incite such an insurrection was not meant to lead to violence and that he regrets that such violence occurred. But he should point out that even the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. was guilty of “inciting insurrection” against the established order, which is one reason King ended up in an Alabama jail. Trump could follow that up by referencing Malcolm X who once gave a speech, now rather famous, entitled “The Ballot or the Bullet.” And Malcolm X also claimed that blacks should fight for their freedom and equality “by any means necessary.” Again, this was obviously a call for an “insurrection,” which is why Malcolm X was targeted by the FBI, as was MLK also. The FBI was created to oppose and repress “subversive political activity,” and has remained true to its roots, e.g., in the 60s when it targeted anti-war, black power, and even civil rights groups, attempting to undermine them.


            Many people seem to think that being investigated by the FBI means that one is a subversive and, therefore, being a subversive is a criminal act. But being a subversive is, in fact, the heart and soul of oppositional politics, of a politics, like Trump’s, which seeks to overthrow the established order. In our republic, subversion is constitutionally protected in several ways, for example, by the first amendment that protects freedom of speech and religious freedom. Both free speech and religion, when the Constitution was written, were recognized as potentially subversive activities and, nonetheless, they were granted constitutional protection. Not only the possibility but the legitimacy of subversive political activity in a republic should be taken for granted now as it was in 1787, when the Constitution was written and then a few years later when it was amended by the addition of the Bill of Rights.


            This is the tradition that Trump should draw on because by doing so he not only would throw a monkey wrench into the Democrats’ attempts to convict him, but he would educate a nation about republicanism and its requirements. And this is the kind of education that is desperately needed in the United States today.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Inciting Insurrection: How Trump Should Respond


Inciting Insurrection: How Trump Should Respond

Peter Schultz


“This trial arises from President Donald J. Trump’s incitement of insurrection against the Republic he swore to protect. The House of Representatives impeached him for that constitutional offense.” So begins the articles of impeachment drawn up and passed by the House of Representatives as the basis of Trump’s second impeachment.


Now, this charge raises or should raise an interesting question or two. For example, what constitutes “incitement” and what constitutes “insurrection?” Depending on answers to these questions turns some important implications, leading to another question: Have other presidents, government officials, or politicians incited insurrection against the US government and the alleged republic it represents?


Of course, one possibility that comes to mind is the alleged treason by Aaron Burr, when he allegedly tried to organize an insurrection in what was then the western US in order to create a new government there. However, because Burr was acquitted of the treason charge, his “insurrection” rarely receives the attention it deserves.


Lincoln, in his campaign for the presidency, raised the possibility that the then president, Buchanan, along with Chief Justice Taney, was involved in a plot to make slavery legitimate throughout the nation, that is, to make the US a slave nation. Certainly, this plot was an insurrection, insofar as it existed, even if not an armed insurrection in the stereotypical form of insurrections. While not advocating an armed invasion and take-over of the national government, it would have resulted in such a take-over on behalf of slavery and slave owners.


Were the Republicans who sought to stop the vote recounts in Florida guilty of inciting and engaging in an insurrection? Were the Republicans in 1876, including President Grant, guilty of engaging in an insurrection when they sought, successfully, to deny Tilden the presidency he had clearly won in that election? Grant has national troops at the ready to ensure that Hayes, “Rutherfraud” as he was called, won the presidency. Was Mayor Daley of Chicago guilty of engaging in an insurrection when he made it possible for JFK to win the presidency in 1960 by withholding electoral returns until he knew how many Chicago votes Kennedy would need to offset Nixon’s votes in the rest of Illinois? In fact, can’t any serious political protest be labeled an incitement to insurrection?


There are, obviously, different ways to incite the take over of governments, other than by inciting people to take up arms and over throw the established and sitting government forcefully or violently.  One could even say that Trump’s campaign in 2016 was an incitement to take over the US government, was a call to “insurrection.” Isn’t that what Trump meant by “draining the swamp?” And isn’t it also plausible to characterize Trump’s presidency as an incitement to insurrection? Isn’t that what Trump’s first impeachment was about, e.g., the charges of abuse of power?  And isn’t that what makes Trump so attractive to so many people who feel shafted by the established order, viz., that his very persona is an “incitement” to “insurrection?”


Inciting insurrection seems then to be the very stuff of politics, insofar as almost any serious challenge to the established government, challenges seeking significant or even radical changes in US policies, may be called an incitement to insurrection. And this is what makes or should make any decision to prosecute people for “inciting insurrection” controversial. It is all-too-easy to use charges of inciting insurrections to stifle political “unrest,” to repress such unrest in order to preserve the established order, however corrupt it might be.


And is it possible to say that this danger is non-existent today, as so many are so committed to impeaching Trump for inciting insurrection? If I were advising Trump, I would tell him to embrace the charges, and criticize this second impeachment as just another tactic by the swamp dwellers to preserve their habitat. He should point out how his impeachment on these charges will spill over to include anyone who, whether a Trump supporter or not, advocates or “incites” an “insurrection” against the established order, because it should be acknowledged that not everyone who wishes to “incite” an “insurrection” against the reigning militaristic oligarchy supports Trump. And in this way, Trump could illustrate how his impeachment, so far from rescuing the republic as its proponents proclaim it will do, actually will serve to undermine that republic.