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On the Conflation of Flirting with Sexual Harassment: Nov 16, 2017

November 16, 2017 6 comments

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of (mostly) women publicizing their past experiences of being sexual harassed and assaulted by powerful men from a wide cross-section of society. While the current spate of accusations started with revelations about Harvey Weinstein- men in sectors as diverse as entertainment, venture capital and politics have now been accused of being serial sexual predators.

To be clear, most notable accusations made to date are clearly undefendable. I mean.. jerking off in front of unwilling women trapped in rooms is pretty beyond normal flirting behavior. Forcing your erect penis into the mouth, or any other orifice, of an unwilling woman is also not defendable. There is of course the question of how many other woman went along with such behavior and saw it as the cost of career advancement.

But that is not what this post is about. Instead, we will talk about the odd response of both MSM and the internet to this turn of events. After a couple of days of the initial Weinstein allegations, the conversation shifted from how this was about an abuse of power to how almost men are sexual harassers and potential rapists. So what is behind this rather perplexing shift in focus? Why go after made-up problems than tackle real ones?

At the risk of sounding cynical (lol), it appears that “feminists” and their “male allies” are using these events to push their old agenda- namely, the criminalization of normal male sexuality. So how did I come to this pessimistic conclusion? For starters, I looked at a number of recent articles, posts and tweets about the causes of such behavior. The majority (over 80%) of them blamed all men for the abuses perpetrated by a rather small percentage.

A significant percentage of those articles also appeared to be rehashed versions of previous material by the same authors. In that respect it was very similar to how anti-gun media types keep on publishing the same old crap after every new mass shooting. In other words, the response of media types to such events is similar to how 9/11 was used to introduce security theater and legitimize mass surveillance in USA

So, what does any of this have to do with attempts at conflate sad attempts at flirting with sexual harassment or even assault? Are people stupid enough to believe that a drunken attempt to grope a woman’s tits or ass in a crowded bar is the same as making her suck your dick at gunpoint (real of financial)? Surely people are not stupid enough to equate a woman having regrets about having sex with some guy to him sodomizing her by force? Right??..

Except that they are and always have been that stupid. Between justifying mass murders because of their belief in an invisible sky friend or the defense of some equally ludicrous ideology, human beings (as a species) do not exhibit much rational behavior- even in 2017. A large percentage of people will go along with anything that seems popular regardless of its inherent stupidity or impracticality as long as it does not hurt them immediately.

Consider for example, how each new publicized incident of obvious sexual assault is used to push further for concepts like “affirmative consent”. Some of you might have seen many posters and signs on large university campuses about how consensual sex between two somewhat inebriated people is equivalent to violent rape. Other posters approved by university administrations suggest that male students could be prosecuted as rapists unless their female partner provides continuous “affirmative consent”.

What is a bit less obvious is that every publicized incident of overt and obvious sexual assault is used to push for more funding for such “programs” and regulations. It is basically the equivalent of using the publicity generated by bank robbers to pass laws for prosecuting panhandlers. However such ‘mission creep’ is to be expected when impersonal institutions of any type pretend to act in the “best interests” of the public. It is really about accumulating more power and jobs, rather than doing the right thing.

The careers of an increasing number of people under late capitalism depend on enforcing often totally arbitrary rules and regulations. They will continue doing so regardless of the consequences of their actions. Treating a drunk guy who feels up some woman as a sexual deviant rather than a sad human being should therefore be seen as an attempt to increase the power and job security of some people, rather than making society a “better and safer place” for women.

Curiously, all of these rules and regulations seem to be for ordinary men without much power or status. I should remind you that people like Weinstein, Spacey and a host of other powerful men got away with far worse behavior for decades in spite of older versions of those rules and laws because none of their victims were willing to follow-up on their accusations for reasons ranging from effect on career prospects to lack of money.

In that respect, the situation is a lot like how the police are willing to kill innocent black men holding cellphones while giving a pass to a bunch of racist white men walking around with AR-15s in some cities. Or how financial crimes worth billions of dollars are either never prosecuted or legalized in contrast to the system going after small time offenders over sums of money often less than a hundred dollars.

In a future post I will explore the likely consequences (intentional and unintentional) of ongoing attempts to conflate, what is at most, occasional unpleasant behavior with much more serious accusations such as sexual assault.

What do you think? Comments?

Why do Supposedly Mighty Hollywood Men Jerk Off in Front of Women?

November 11, 2017 16 comments

One peculiar detail common to the many recent claims of sexual harassment by supposedly powerful men in the entertainment industry aka ‘Hollywood’ concerns the unusual prominence of an otherwise uncommon sexual act, namely masturbating in front of a woman. It seems that others have also noticed the unusual prominence of this act in the seemingly endless flow of accusations against supposedly powerful men in that industry.

The current favored explanation by “credentialed experts” is that masturbation in front of an unwilling woman is some sort of dominance move, like a dog pissing on some tree down the street. But there is a small problem with that explanation. It is.. you see.. totally made up bullshit without any connection to reality. If the “expert” explanation was true, this act would be far more common- especially in a country as full of dysfunctional relationships as USA.

So why is this otherwise uncommon sexual act so common for supposedly powerful men in Hollywood? I mean.. what sexual pleasure can you get out of jerking off in front of an unwilling woman? More curiously, why are there so few accounts of white or non-white sport-stars, actors or musicians jerking off in front of unwilling women? Why don’t they have to jerk off in front of women to establish dominance?

Part of the answer is obvious once you look at photos of those accused of that sexual act. Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Mark Halperin, Brett Ratner, James Tobback etc are not what you would call handsome or physically desirable to most women. They are just plain middle-management types who happened to get lucky and become powerful in that industry. Their social status and alleged importance is linked to the position they have come to occupy in the hierarchy of late capitalism.

In other words, they have virtually no intrinsic sexual appeal to women. If it were not for a lucky break or two, these men would have been the semi-castrated money earning “yes, dear” slaves found within stucco suburban shitboxes and office parks all across USA and pretty much every other ‘developed’ country. In an older post about why women prefer “bad boys” over “responsible men”, I talked about why men who display autonomous agency are far more attractive to women than those who are, for all practical purposes, well-paid slaves.

All these supposedly powerful men in Hollywood derive that power from working within a matrix of rules, regulations and conventions. For all their alleged power, they are completely subservient to the system. In that respect, they are comparable to powerful eunuchs who served in Chinese imperial courts over the centuries. Between that and their rather mediocre physical appearance, it is no surprise that most women do not find them sexually attractive.

Readers can now see why uncompensated sexual advances from such men might cause outright revulsion within most women. In contrast to this, most women would be quite happy to receive such attention from men who are either good-looking, display some degree of autonomous agency or both. That is why sport stars, music stars, physically attractive actors, “criminals”, drug dealers and narcissistic sociopaths do not have to jerk off in front of unwilling women.

But we are still left with the question about why these mediocre middle-management types jerk off in front of women rather than physically threaten them to have sex or have sex with them by force? What stops them from pointing a gun at the head of some woman and asking her to suck their cock or take it in the ass? Why do almost none of the women allegedly harassed or assaulted by these men report feeling afraid of being killed? Also, why didn’t these men just hire escorts to act out their fantasies?

The answer to that set of questions requires us to first confront an unpleasant fact about living in decaying societies full of institutions. The thing is.. large and hierarchical institutions of any type are full of spineless men (and women) because only they will willingly take stupid orders and endure humiliation from their immediate superiors who have to endure if from somebody above them, ad infinitum. It is therefore not surprising that such spineless behavior manifests itself in other aspects of their life.

That is why physical assaults are far more common in dysfunctional blue-collar marriages than their white-collar equivalents. That is why most people living in suburbs and working in office parks threaten legal action than beat the crap out of someone offensive. Now, we can certainly argue if this is good thing or bad thing. My point is that this type of systematic passive-aggressive behavior is not natural to human beings. Anyway, the consequence of living in such a society is that the most supposedly powerful people in it are almost always the biggest pussies.

To make a long story short, all these supposedly powerful men in Hollywood were jerking off in front of unwilling women because they were mediocre men without intrinsic sexual appeal who were also too chicken to actually physically force themselves on those women. Personally, I find all of this darkly comic and absurdist rather than tragic.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Connection Between ‘Hollywood’ and Establishment Democrats

November 8, 2017 7 comments

One interesting feature of the so-called “#resistance” formed in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory concerns its highly skewed membership composition. Most readers might have noticed that almost every single person associated with that useless hashtag is from either the entertainment industry and mainstream media or is a political consultant of some sort.

While it is easy to figure out why opportunistic cocksuckers.. I mean political consultants.. have jumped on the “#resistance” bandwagon, the extensive support for such useless “activism” within the ranks of the entertainment industry and mainstream media is a bit harder to understand- especially since their fortunes have not been negatively affected by Trump’s election.

And yet, not a day (or hour) goes by without some “celebrity” from one of those two industries making some negative or controversial statement about Trump which is then widely circulated on Twitter, FaceBook and other social media platforms. This is followed by another “celebrity” doing something similar resulting in another wave of worthless online activism, seemingly ad infinitum.

To be clear, Donald Trump is a shitty president. However his actions and decisions to date have not been significantly different from his equally shitty predecessors such as Clinton42, Bush43 and Obama44, to name a few. He has yet to pass sweeping neoliberal “reforms” like Clinton42, start large disastrous wars like Bush43 or enable systemic abuses of the 99% by the 1% like Obama44.

So what is the real source of the profound hatred towards Trump from members of the entertainment industry and mainstream media? Why are they so anti-Trump? Also, why are they still pro-HRC and supportive of democratic party establishment? And why were so few of them pro-Bernie during the democratic party primaries or even after Trump defeated their anointed candidate aka HRC.

Now, it is well-known that the entertainment industry aka ‘Hollywood’ has always been a strong supporter of the post-1940s democratic party. But why is that the case? And has the nature of that support changed over time? Conventional explanations for this phenomena have ranged from percentage of Jewish people in that sector, the high degree of unionization within some parts of that industry to the republican party supporting socially regressive causes since 1968.

While there is some truth to all those common explanations, they cannot explain the incredibly high levels of support for the democratic party establishment (especially the establishment) within that industry. This level of support is especially apparent once you start looking at the amount of money contributed by people within that sector to the democratic party establishment. So why is that industry so eager and willing to support the democratic establishment?

In my opinion, a comprehensive explanation for this phenomena can be divided into two components. So let us begin with the first and easier component of the answer, namely why the industry favors the democratic party over its republican counterpart. The answer to that question is fairly easily and comes down to the profile of those who vote for republicans and the type of people they elect.

Simply put, average republican voters (despite what they might themselves believe) are not the sharpest tool in the shed. Almost nobody who works in an industry that is highly image conscious wants to be associated with fat, bland and mediocre white working class types or suburbanites. This is doubly so if the group in question also openly professes to belief in traditional religion, white supremacy and other retrograde beliefs.

The people elected by republican voters are no better. Have a look at both elected establishment republicans and tea-party types. Would anybody possessing even a moderate degree of image consciousness want to hang out with them? And what would you talk about with them, anyway? How about crowd pleasers such “jesus wants to ban abortion” or “let people die on the street because medical care is a privilege, rather than a right (as it is in every other developed country)”.

My point is that associating with republican voters or elected representatives is bad for your image especially in a sector as heavily dependent on image projection and public personas as the entertainment industry. So that explains why the entertainment industry does not spend much time trying to appeal to republicans. But why are they so willing to support the democratic party establishment?

One of the more amusing features of the 2016 presidential election was the degree to which “celebrities” supported the stale and unpopular neoliberal aka HRC over the democratic socialist aka Bernie Sanders. While it is true that a few celebrities did support Sanders the bulk of such endorsements and more importantly fundraising by Hollywood-types was directed towards the spectacular failure of the HRC campaign. But why did that occur? What did so many Hollywood types see in an unpopular neoliberal politician?

Alternatively, why were Hollywood types still so eager to promote the presidencies of Clinton42 and Obama44? Why did HRC have no problems raising tons of money from the entertainment industry? Why were so many Hollywood-types despondent after she lost on Nov 8, 2016? As I have pointed out in previous posts, the policies and actions of neoliberal democrats have not significantly better than their republican counterparts. Why the love for establishment democrats?

Well.. it comes down the fact that the entertainment industry aka ‘Hollywood’ was always a fair neoliberal place and has become more so in the previous two decades. The structure of that industry- from a few powerful gatekeepers, their flunkies, good unions for a small percentage of people in that industry on top of a large and poorly paid workforce which does most of the real work is a microcosm of neoliberal society.

The entertainment industry also promotes the false ideology of meritocracy, when in fact sucking the cock of somebody like Harvey Weinstein is what really makes your career. The neoliberal ideology of democratic party establishment is, therefore, a perfect mental fit for people who run ‘Hollywood’. Their mutual association allows for many cross promotion opportunities and allow both to feel important, current and popular. Because, let us face it, both groups are into promoting and celebrating neofeudalism which is a little less socially regressive than their competition.

What do you think? Comments?

The Modern ‘Western’ Nation State Does Not Have a Viable Future: 1

November 4, 2017 20 comments

A couple of years ago, I first considered writing a series on the many, and now very apparent, failures of USA as a nation-state. However, every time I started writing, it became obvious that the failure de jour was not unique to USA. In fact, every single type of systemic failure attributed to the american system can be found in one or more other western-type nation states. It is just that the american state exhibits more signs of systemic dysfunction and failure than other similar nation states.

As many of you also know, predictions about the looming demise of modern (post-ww2) nation states have been a staple of libertarian public figures and their corporate funders for the past decade or two. It is therefore necessary to be very clear about what I am talking and how it is different from what those idiots and shills are peddling. Hence, I have compiled a short list of the precise meaning of each term being used how it differs from other usages and interpretations of that term.

So, let us begin..

1] Readers might have noticed the use of a peculiar word construct (modern ‘western’ state) in the title. So, what am I talking about? It goes something this.. the first iteration of the state as we understand it today came into being in nascent industrializing west-european countries during the early 1800s. This iteration accepted or tolerated slavery, had very limited electoral franchise, possessed limited bureaucracy and perhaps most importantly lacked the ability or desire to provide public goods and services to the majority of people living within its boundaries. In other words, it was a slightly more representative version of the previous setup.

The second iteration, which started appearing in the mid-1800s, was the first version that would be somewhat recognizable as a state to most people living today. Its most relevant advancement over the previous version was provision of some public goods and services such as clean drinking water, public sewer systems, free basic education etc. The third iteration, which started appearing towards the end of 1800s was marked by even greater public access to goods and services and the beginning of universal suffrage. It is also most associated with nationalism and the two world wars caused by that ideology.

But what does any of this background information have to do with the concept of a modern ‘western’ state’? and why put single quotation marks around the word ‘western’? Well.. it comes down to defining the fourth (post-ww2) iteration aka the modern nation-state which has become the default for all major countries in the world today. While it may have originated in western countries, this type of nation-state organization is now seen in countries as diverse as Russia, China, India. So what made it acceptable to people in so many different countries, some of whom never went through the first three iterations?

It comes down to an implicit deal offered by this particular mode of organisation- to all parties involved. The ruling elite of a country and their flunkies can maintain popular legitimacy as long as they can provide (or facilitate the provision of) extensive public goods and services including an environment conducive to continual increases in material well-being of the general population. In return, the general population provides a safe and predictable environment for elites and their flunkies to live big and lord over others. This deal is how things used to work in USA from 1945 to mid-2000s and is still how things work (for the most part) in many other countries.

In future parts, I will explain the many interconnected systemic contradictions which unraveled this deal and why the rise of neoliberalism is more of a symptom rather than the main cause of the slow motion demise of modern ‘western’ nation states.

2] The other somewhat odd term used in the title is ‘does not have a viable future’. While it does sound a bit like ass-covering legalese, that term is used to convey a very specific concept. Unlike many libertarians and other assorted retards, I do not think that modern ‘western’ nation states will collapse all over the world within a very short timespan. Nor do I think that they will be replaced by largely autonomous and small libertarian city states. In fact, it is quite possible that nothing will be able to fill the giant gaping hole left in the aftermath of their slow demise.

What I am trying to tell you is that the current system will lose viability as it loses popular legitimacy. Think of it as analogous to people slowly losing faith in a religion which no longer provides a believable explanation of the world around them. Or people slowly losing faith in a god or deity who has apparently stopped answering their prayers. But how can the most successful system of socio-economic organization in human history lose popular legitimacy, especially given lack of a well-known alternative? Well.. for starters, the legitimacy of a system or belief in it are not linked to the availability of alternative options.

As mentioned earlier, popular legitimacy of the current setup is almost completely linked to its ability to provide an extensive list of public goods and services in addition to continual improvements in living standards. Consequently the inability of provide them, even if that occurs gradually, will result in the system losing popular legitimacy. Note that I am talking about actually providing public goods and services, rather than simply possessing the means to provide them. Observant readers might have noticed that I have not linked a government being democratically to it being perceived as legitimate by the general population. Once again, I will explain that concept in more detail in future posts.

I will try to make future posts in this series sound less stilted and explain each concept with multiple contemporary examples.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: Oct 28, 2017

October 28, 2017 6 comments

Here are three interesting articles I came across in the previous few days. They are about three distinct topics, namely deterrence and revenge, vertical vs horizontal censorship and the repulsive logic behind the process of financialization.

Link # 1: The Psychology of Revenge and Deterrence

Why is the instinct for vengeance so strong even when it is clear that widespread death and destruction would be a much more likely outcome than any kind of “victory”? In the event of a nuclear war, why is second-strike retaliation so certain when it may gain nothing of social or material value? We believe these things because humans share a universal thirst for retaliation in the face of threat and in the wake of loss, no matter what classical economists may say to the contrary about how people “should” behave. Indeed, the psychology of revenge and the hatred on which it rests make a seemingly irrational second strike entirely credible. We can apply this analysis to nuclear weapons, but the basic drive is no different than the one that makes most people want to kill anyone who threatens their child, or to hurt a cheating spouse. The instinct for revenge is universal, automatic and immediate. It also serves a function: to deter the threat of future exploitation.

Link # 2: The geometry of censorship and satire

As Dorenko explained it, Kremlin censorship under Putin is “vertical”—top-down censorship that is brutal and frightening when you’re targeted; but also flawed and inefficient as censorship strategies go, because the top-down vertical approach is too narrow, too concentrated under one tyrannical locus at the top. There are too few censors, and too many people and too much material to censor, meaning there’ll always be someone you miss, and there’ll always be journalists or satirists looking for ways to circumvent the narrow-minded censors. This was contrasted to our “horizontal” censorship in the West: rather than coming from a tyrannical top-down force, our censorship is carried out horizontally, between colleagues and peers and “society”; through public pressure and peer pressure; through morality-policing; and from within oneself, one’s fears for one’s career, and fears one can’t necessarily articulate, fears that feel natural rather than imposed upon.

Link # 3: Finance isn’t just an industry. It’s a system of social control.

Our way of thinking about it starts from the idea that the logic of the market doesn’t enforce itself — the logic of the market has to be enforced. And one way of looking at the role of finance is that it enforces the logic of the market and ensures that a whole range of decisions that could potentially be made in many different ways in fact end up being made according to the logic of commodities and of accumulation. Here we’ve been inspired by the economists Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, among others. So, the most obvious case we highlight is the corporation. On one level, we think of the corporation as a typical organizational form of modern capitalism. But in another sense it’s simply a body of people with some sort of hierarchy and defined roles, engaged in some kind of productive process.It’s not inherently engaged in producing commodities for profit. And if we go back to the prehistory of the corporation, the corporation was just a legally chartered body that carried out some kind of function.

It got appropriated as an organizational form for capitalism specifically, but it didn’t start out as that. The other side of the coin is that there’s a long tradition of thinkers, including Galbraith, Keynes, Veblen, and many others, who saw a natural, or at least possible, evolution of the corporation into the basis of some kind of planning or collective organization of production —that it could easily cease to be oriented toward the needs of profit maximization. So if you think that type of evolution is possible, then you ask, why hasn’t it happened? I would argue that the answer is that somebody stopped it from happening — that there are people in society whose job it is to prevent that from happening. There are people and institutions whose job it is to ensure that corporations remain within capitalist logic, that they remain oriented towards production for sale and for profit. On some level, this is the fundamental role of shareholders and their advocates, and of institutions like private equity.

What do you think? Comments?

The Obama Presidency was a Disaster for Establishment Democrats: 3

October 26, 2017 2 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about why electoral success of Obama in 2008 and 2012 presidential elections did not translate into gains for the democratic party at either the national or state level in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. To make a long story short, Obama’s electoral success was largely due to the fact that the republicans candidates in both elections had way more negative baggage than him. Also, Obama’s presidency was reasonably free of personal scandals and outright PR disasters, such as those which plagued the previous two presidents.

As I have documented in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, a number of things which were allowed to occur (legalized impoverishment of black families, greatly increased enforcement against undocumented hispanic immigrants, continued hollowing out of the 99% through more “free trade” treaties) or not allowed to occur (transition to single-payer health care system, any real reform of the banking and financial sector) show us that his presidency was about furthering the interests of neoliberal establishment types who financed his rise to power. As I have mentioned in a previous post of this series, Obama44 is best understood as the more media-savvy and black version of Reagan40.

Obama worked to further the interests of the neoliberal establishment and their “professional” flunkies while pretending to be in “touch with the common people”. While it was plainly obvious that he was a neoliberal shill as far back as 2004, many chose to believe otherwise. The especially disastrous second term of Bush43 and financial crisis of 2008 had left people desperately seeking a modern-day messiah who would finally ‘reset’ the system. It certainly helped that his main opponent in the democratic primary (Hillary Clinton) and presidential election (John McCain) simply did not look like they could effect change.

The decisions made by Obama mentioned in the first two parts of this series, from ignoring the needs and concerns of black and hispanic voters to blocking progress towards universal single-payer healthcare and promoting “free trade” policies, damaged the democratic party by reducing enthusiasm and turnout of predominantly democratic voters. However, there was another category of.. shall we call them.. “social trends” which occurred when Obama was president that may have further damaged the cause of establishment democrats. I have sorta talked about issue in a standalone post from a few months ago.

To recapitulate, the main point I made in that post was as follows: elite support for fringe cultural and identity based movements under the guise of promoting social justice is a way to distract the 99% from talking about systemic socio-economic exploitation while simultaneously feeling morally superior to them. But what does the rise of elite support for fake social justice have to do with the Obama presidency? Isn’t most of the rise of such pseudo-activism related to generational changes in the worldview of people? The answer to that is a bit complicated.

There is no doubt that some changes in social norms are generational. Examples include support for gay marriage, marijuana legalization, inter-racial dating and marriage, single payer healthcare etc. Readers might have noticed that these widely accepted generational changes are about greater fairness, equality and rationality. In other words, the most broadly popular generational changes in worldview are about more rights for more people and more humane treatment of other people. Their broad popularity is, therefore, hardly surprising.

Now contrast that with far less popular changes such as censoring idiots (campus activism against right-wing provocateurs), agitating on fringe issues few care about (ambiguous sexual identity in children) or empty political activism to become a paid spokesperson for some cause which most people do not care about (gamergate controversy and ‘woke’ feminism). The biggest difference between the very broadly popular generational changes and the largely unpopular ones is the later, rather than the former, have far more corporate and media support. But why?

Well.. as I mentioned in that standalone post, supporting attention grabbing fringe “social justice” causes allow corporations to feign social responsibility while providing cover for continued exploitation of everybody else. It just so happens that democratic establishment went full-bore in that direction after 2008. To be clear, Obama is not the only reason for establishment democrats supporting attention grabbing pseudo “social justice” causes. The neoliberal credentialed “professional” class being their second most important class of supporters was definitely an important contributing factor.

Having said that, there is no doubt that the peculiar public relation style of Obama was widely copied by other establishment democrats because it was seen as successful and respectable. And what was that style about.. Short answer, it was almost completely about perceived style and image management over substance and actions. Readers might have noticed that many positive media stories about Obama were about him meeting and acting nice towards people disadvantaged in a ridiculously uncommon but attention grabbing manner. You might also remember that Twitter, FaceBook and popular listicle sites used to have daily stories about Obama meeting some disadvantaged or ill person almost every single day since 2010.

It is my opinion that many establishment types in his party saw that type of fake behavior and subsequent positive MSM coverage as key to winning elections- especially after he won re-election in 2012. The fact that they had no real progressive socio-economic message for voters made them double down on that strategy. The net result was that establishment democrats put an inordinate amounts of effort in publicly supporting causes which bolstered their pseudo-enlightened image but were not popular. Doing so also allowed them to ignore truly popular causes such as raising the minimum wage, implementing single-payer healthcare, reigning in corporate monopolies etc.

They assumed that portraying themselves as more enlightened and credentialed republicans combined with inevitable demographic changes would help them become the permanent ruling party without having to support real progressive causes. They assumed that all those non-white voters would just vote for them in even larger numbers than previous elections- because they had no options. It turns out that many, if not all, their major assumptions were wrong and they lost the presidential election to a second-rate reality TV star, could not win back the house or senate and not win back almost any of the over 1,000 seats they have lost in state legislatures since 2009.

What do you think? Comments?

Three Erroneous Assumptions Made by Most Americans about DPRK

October 25, 2017 5 comments

As regular readers know, I have written more than a few posts about the current situation caused by DPRK aka North Korea testing nuclear weapons and ICBMs. The gist of those posts is as follows: Accepting DPRK as a bonafide nuclear weapon state with a rational foreign policy and acting towards it accordingly is infinitely better than pretending otherwise.

Having said that, I have noticed that a lot of americans keep on making a number of erroneous, and unrealistic, assumptions about DPRK and the current situation. While we certainly cannot go over every one of them in a single post, I thought it would be a good idea to cover the three most important erroneous assumptions (or beliefs) about that country and the current situation.

Erroneous Belief # 1
: Current situation between DPRK & USA can be resolved by military force.

While jingoists, keyboard warriors and many west-point educated generals might want to believe that the USA could resolve its current situation with DPRK through military force, even a basic reality check and some knowledge of relevant history suggests otherwise. Let me remind you that the decision by USA to not attempt a Korean War 2.0 after the 1953 armistice was based in military calculations, rather than humanitarian considerations- to put it mildly.

As many of you know, DPRK has hundreds (if not thousands) of artillery pieces capable of bombarding Seoul on a moment’s notice- not to mention the tens of thousands of rocket artillery and swarms of short-range missiles. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by DPRK in the later half of 2000s makes the destruction of Seoul Capital Area (about 25 million people) almost inevitable if a serious war was to break out between DPRK and USA. To make a long story short, Korean War 2.0 = No Seoul

Then there is the question of whether large urban aggregations in Japan, specifically the Greater Tokyo Area, would get nuked in the event of such a war. It is no secret that DPRK has a number of liquid and solid fueled SRBMs which could deliver a few nukes on top of such large urban aggregations. While Japan claims to have many types of “effective” anti-ballistic missiles, it is highly doubtful that they can do much against a swarm of dozens of warheads within a 2-3 minute window, especially if only 5-6 of them were nuclear.

My point is that even the most optimistic projections of casualties caused by DPRK’s response to a military strike by USA involve millions of dead and dying people in South Korea and Japan plus long-term (potentially irreversible) damage to two of the largest and most prosperous urban areas in the world. And we have not even started talking about the effects of a few nuclear weapon tipped ICBMs going off over large cities in mainland USA.

Erroneous Belief # 2: DPRK is a vassal state of China.

One belief constantly resurfacing in regards to the current situation with DPRK is that China is somehow the real power behind the show. Another version of this belief is that China possess extraordinary leverage over DPRK. The reality is, however, quite different. While China has always been the most important trading partner for DPRK and was its most important weapons provider in the past, its actual leverage over DPRK has been rather limited. Even worse, the political relationship between them has never been especially warm.

China’s support for DPRK has to be understood through the lens of history and pragmatism. To put it bluntly, China intervened in the Korean war because it did not want an american puppet state on its eastern border- which is also why it got involved in the Vietnam war. Of course, China is quite happy to let DPRK poke and prod South Korea, Japan and generally undermine the rationale for american military presence in that region. But let us clear about one thing, Beijing does not control Pyongyang. Nor do they want, or can afford, the current regime in DPRK to fail.

A related delusion still popular among americans is the belief China will help the USA secure DPRK after a “successful” invasion of DPRK. Even if we discount the possibility that major urban centers in South Korea and Japan will be nuked within the first few minutes of a serious armed confrontation, we have to contend with the reality that DPRK’s leadership (or their population) do not see China as their master and will not hesitate to use their weapons against China. Yes.. you heard that right. If DPRK feels that China is cooperating with USA to invade it, there is a pretty high likelihood that some of their nukes will go off over Chinese cities.

Erroneous Belief # 3: DPRK will agree to give up its nuclear weapons.

Another popular delusion harbored by the establishment in USA is that they can somehow convince DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons. While this delusion is especially funny, it is worthwhile to point out that “denuclearization” of DPRK is still the main and only focus of any talks USA is willing to have with DPRK. Let us be clear about one thing, only one nation (namely, South Africa) has ever voluntarily gave up its arsenal of self-developed. Also they had less than a dozen of very primitive nuclear weapons- so it wasn’t exactly a big sacrifice to begin with.

In spite of all the sanctimonious talk about global denuclearization, no other nuclear weapon power has seriously considered giving up its nuclear weapon arsenal. In fact, all nuclear weapon powers have kept on improving their weapons even if two of them (Russia and USA) did reduce the absolute numbers in their inventory in the 1990s. However the total number of nuclear weapons in the world had remained largely constant since those early post-cold war reductions. It is not realistic to expect any nuclear weapon power, let alone one who needs such deterrent capability, to give up nuclear weapons- especially if they were developed indigenously.

Furthermore, the experience of DPRK of negotiating with USA in the mid-1990s, and then again in the early-2000s, has left them with the correct impression that any treaty with the USA is not worth the paper on which it was printed. They correctly recognized that credible lethal force is necessary for any future talks with USA. In other words, DPRK now rightly believes that acquisition of a credible capability to launch a nuclear attack on american cities is a prerequisite to any worthwhile talks between the two parties. The recent fiasco over Trump decertifying a multinational nuclear deal with Iran has simply demonstrated that their strategy towards USA is correct.

In this situation and environment, it is supremely delusional to believe that a regime whose survival is predicated on possessing a credible nuclear deterrent will give it up to satisfy another country which has consistently demonstrated its unwillingness to respect the terms of any agreement it has ever signed. In other words, DPRK (and many other countries) will require a credible nuclear deterrent as long as the USA continues to exist in its current form. Also, USA is no longer seen as an omnipotent military power- especially after its recent humiliating defeats in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

What do you think? Comments?