Radical Second Things

“Whenever you do something that is not aligned with the yearning or your soul—you create suffering.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Friday, September 23, 2016

Introducing Yakov Germanov and Explaining Radical Second Things' Positions

The world is not getting better. In fact, I think it is going to get a whole lot worse.

I can't lie about where my attitudes are going. Life experience is continually slapping me out of various notions that American society laid in to me. I am determined to survive and to even contribute to the world no matter how bad things get (and I think the world is shaped to get WW2 or even worse bad).

Radical Second Things is a blog that has a sustained and diverse readership and, given some of the people I'm bringing on board and also given the history of this blog, I feel like explanations are in order. So here goes.

Anyone who knows this blog and me probably knows about my run ins with Augustus Invictus, the perennial Alternative Right candidate who ran for senate this year in Florida. My friend Larry Bernard and I were super nice to him and in the process, I became his friend on Facebook and engaged his readers. We also ran two interviews here which are still up (I took down critiques of him after he took issue). One of his readers called me a kike, a super offensive racial slur, and in the process I lashed out. I apologized to Augustus for the things I said when he made a show of it, he blocked me on Facebook, ending the feud, I assume.

One would think that would end RST's flirtation with the Alt Right but, well ....

While living in Portland, I had several disappointing encounters. I made friends with two homosexual acquaintances, one who I rented from and the other who had Jewish roots and became my friend on that commonality. I had a panic attack while staying with the former and he suddenly laid in to me with some of the most ugly, sad and pathetic insults I ever heard, many of which were aimed at the deficiencies I have from epilepsy. The other friend, despite giving him all sorts of gifts, was getting gradually toward the same direction.

I sort of predicted something like that would occur when I met them and no task of being nice stopped it. I didn't want to believe that such assumptions were correct and I wanted to have friends who weren't white, straight or Hispanic for once (i.e. people who are like me or are in the same cultural space). In the process of that, one of his roommates, who was black, actually asked if I knew how to speak English the first time she saw me. People don't wake up wanting to be prejudiced - having people you make overtures to reject them creates it.

That in graduation mixed with many encounters I've had with American women has really shattered assumptions I had about alot of things. The bigotry and unwarranted hate I experienced from seemingly progressive people when I really tried to be their friend has made me consider different answers. I had seen this sort of thing before - I had a gay landlord in Seattle who harassed and bullied tenants, heartlessly driving some in to homelessness or mental health rehabilitation, often using his chosen identity to deflect criticism as homophobic and I had a gay roommate in Oakland who would literally throw bottles of urine at homeless people.

That's not saying all gay people have such attitudes, which is absurd, only that is striking how people who put their identity as an oppressed victim at the forefront can so often do it only as a shield for being exactly what they claim to despise. In fact, the neoliberal order seems to have produced a class of self-created "minorities" who see their fictional oppression as a reason to further western hegemony.

Ableism, racism and classism - doesn't sound "progressive" to me... In fact it sounds a bit like the itinerary of ISIS, which has killed people on the basis of such things. Maybe some progressives meet continued assaults by Islamists with warnings of "Islamaphobia" because they actually agree with jihadists. I'm just thinking aloud - anything is possible in this weird, changing world.

I found one of RST's new contributors, Yakov Germanov, while I was on a Facebook group called Patriotic Socialist Ideology. Yakov writes for an Alternative Right publication called Right On. Whatever the Alt Right circles that Augustus hung out with, my friend Yakov actually is of Jewish ancestry and even lived in Israel. In our short correspondence, we've gained some trust and learned alot from one another. He has actually listened to me, and I him, and not made assumptions based on all sorts of stereotypes, something that American progressives are supposed to oppose as their raison d'etre but that they can apparently not get past in 2016. We were actually able to talk about relationships and family like normal people.

In addition to all of this, we live in a world in which Barack Obama is helping ISIS commit genocide while Vladimir Putin is trying to save civilization. Perhaps the people we think are "progressive" are really the bigots and monsters now. I actually think that, while family is a big part of many leftist movements throughout the developing world (Latin American leftist movements often rest on a healthy bedrock of community solidarity), the US "left" with its bourgeois progressive ideology may actually be philosophically opposed to community, family and normal social life. If that's the case, it doesn't matter what we may actually have in common on other matters. That difference is irreconciable. I believe in family, Radical Second Things believes in family and I don't want to be part of anything or anyone that doesn't share that belief.

This blog is not about to become Alt Right. It does not support the campaign of Donald Trump at all whatsoever and, with its roots in liberation theology and Latin American Catholicism, stands with Hispanics 150 percent against scapegoating. I also have heritage, which I am very proud of, that would make never be a part of any white nationalist movement. This blog also is very firmly rooted in liberation theology and Biblical principles - but it's alarming that I'm finding people who share these principles where I am finding them. We really are in a changing world.

BTW you can find Yakov on the RST page and I hope to have him posting here. I am very interested especially in exploring topics adherent to that part of the world, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, with him. Thanks, Yakov!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Obama, Putin and the Prospect of Being Wrong About Everything

Due to colonialism and world events leading in to World War II, including the rise and fall of fascism and then the Civil Rights era in the United States have solidified a notion in most people's head, even if it is not outwardly expressed - persecution and oppression is a fault of white men, with "people of color" always the oppressed.

This assumption of how the world works is so deeply ingrained in the minds of many that it takes on religious proportions. As a transitionary global conflict seems to engulf most of the world, violence between the black community and the larger US community (and it needs to be remembered that it is both groups who perpetuate it) is amplified and politicized while other groups caught in whatever it is going on get not nearly as much attention given to them. It's an act of hanging on to a fading narrative as the world transforms and re-aligns itself on a level that could be even more dramatic than the second world war.

Unfortunately, that narrative just doesn't apply. It's not "white men" that are scaring the crap out of the world and using the tools of genocide to dominate and instill fear in 2016 (at least not in the sense of what Americans seem to think of as "white," as many Muslims probably are technically "white," if white really is even a thing). It's Islamists, who from Orlando to Paris to Aleppo, are carrying on a path of genocide like nothing seen since WW2.

And on their side, making the whole job easier, is a political class of neoliberals - the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and neoconservatives like George W. Bush and his camp before them. An implied belief of "post-racialism" and diversity engulfed all three of them, even if they seemed seperate from one another in US politics. What would happen if this class of American and European leaders became historically tied, through oafishness and greed, to the rise and acceleration of one of history's abominations?

Imagine the last two American presidents tied in history as helping to coddle, create the environment for and then even defend radical Islam. Then imagine Vladimir Putin in the role of a historical hero - a Russian Dwight Eisenhower or George S. Patton - who has helped to sweep ISIS and Islamism from the world with the harshness that requires. The current contrast between Russian and American behavior could not be more stark. The United States allows terrorists to gain weapons domestically to kill its own people while then bombing the Syrian Army, which is fighting ISIS. On the other hand, Russia clears towns of ISIS and then holds Bach concerts for survivors. Who is really the civilized country?

If Russia, with its "sovereign democracy," and a host of authoritarian but socially stable countries, often with senses of national identity that would seem bigoted by US progressives, in tow came out from this current crisis relatively unscathed, how would that change how we perceive this world? I'm not sure how we would but I'm confident that such a result, which seems to be what we're headed for, would absolutely devastate the social assumptions that American and other western progressives have taken as a given. The world simply is not like they think it is and it is proving it every day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How The New Silk Road is Flattening the World

Hey everybody,

For the last month or so, I have been working steadily with the Blue Ocean Network, a Chinese based content provider. I have the sense that the east is the future and it has been a great pleasure to write for Chinese publication after so much time spent in the US publishing world. Please check out my work for them, "How The New Silk Road Is Flattening The World:"
"Knowledge and innovation are key factors in economic growth and poverty reduction." - The World Bank

The growth and development of China's economy over the last forty years has been unprecedented. The opening and reform of the nation began with western powers, such as the United States, reaching out in hopes the struggling Asian country would be a good client for its brand. The game has flipped.  America is nowhere close to the sort of superpower it was when President Richard Nixon met with Chairman Mao and China is the undisputed global manufacturing leader, making nearly a quarter of the world's goods.With such output comes integration, to ensure Chinese goods can reach every corner of the world, including traditionally underserved regions. The most audacious act of Chinese infrastructure is certainly the reconvening of China's ancient Silk Road which, in today's context, is a series of freight and transit lines binding China with the former Soviet Union, Europe and the Middle East. 


Drivers on a block train in China's less developed interiorThe Silk Road takes its name from an economic infrastructure established two millennia ago. The creation of it precipitated an era in which Asian and Middle Eastern empires, from the spread of Islam to the Mongol empire, ruled the world. The recreation of the Silk Road may represent a new pivot toward the East after centuries of Western dominance.The most diversified element of the initiative is arguably the Zhengzhou-Hamburg rail line, crossing from the heart of China all the way into the lungs of Europe, with a detour through the outer regions of the former Soviet Union.


The block trains from Zhengzhou pass through the steppes of Kazakhstan

These underserved regions include the former Soviet republics, many of which – due to their role in the outskirts of the Soviet empire – are very new to the game of global capitalism. One prominent country that could benefit from this is Kazakhstan, the country whose perceived backwardness was famously mocked by Sacha Baron Cohen in his hit film Borat.The Zhengzhou-Hamburg rail line crosses into the former capital of Almaty, an urban center of almost 2 million people. I can attest from experience how valued the goods this new Silk Road will be to many of those. A friend of mine from the Ukraine (also a post-Soviet state) was sure to make the most of a Chinese-made computer he acquired when he arrived in the United States. This equipment allowed Sergei access to his Russian based bank from Portland, Oregon and to buy specialized products such as survival food for his extensive bike trips through the United States.Laptop ownership is almost ubiquitous in the United States but far from it in many parts of the world.The website of The World Bank, an organization dedicated to relieving poverty in developing countries, is a huge repository of information on such projects as the ambitiously titled One Laptop Per Child and their own work in the development of technology commercialization within the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan through a program set up with the country's Ministry of Education and Science. The cooperation led to several developmental research projects through Nazarbayev University, including one aimed at creating filtration nanostructures that would help curb bacteria and viruses before they spread.Nazarbayev_University_in_Astana_Kazakhstan.jpg

Nazarbayev University in Astana, KazakhstanA recent BON video took me further west along the New Silk Road to a terminal in Hamburg where Samir Turkovic, a young crane operator, talks of his appreciation of Chinese economic integration and the small role he plays helping freight containers on their journey between China to Germany. Speaking of his job, Samir says,

"With the train, I see what China is for this world.”

What that is, of course, is still very much the world's workshop, but with an intriguing new element of the ability for that workshop to drop its goods off at your front door, and perhaps even rebalance the cultural world order.Laptops and electronics will remain significant for the Zhengzhou region – companies such as Sony and Hewlett Packard, mentioned prior, intend to maintain large levels of their supply on the freight. Hewlett Packard has even been called a pioneer of the route that other companies are following.Easy access to a supply of cheaply produced laptops would give Kazakhs and others from the former USSR economic leverage traditionally not afforded to them. The "global flattening" from this kind of supply chain disruption will be familiar to readers of Thomas FriedmanBut the benefit of greater integration is not simply afforded to the developing countries surrounding China. Labor costs in China's eastern cities have surged in the last decade, so manufacturers are trying to reduce costs by moving production west to the nation's interior. Trucking products from the new inland factories to coastal ports is costly and slow. In fact, China is so big it is in the process of flattening itself.  That is, the poorer, interior regions are also now benefitting from the New Silk Road in the same way as Kazakhstan.

"China is so big it is flattening itself."

In the midst of China's economic growth comes the threat of enmity and prejudice. I currently live in Berkeley, California. The city enjoys a flood of Chinese students and investors who provide a great deal of energy and new thought in otherwise stale and decaying American social and economic climate. I have overheard Americans speak with disdain at the new-found leverage that Chinese have in Northern California. As China increases in power, size and influence, I expect this to continue.China's growth and development is a double-edged sword. It's a blessing to countries like Kazakhstan to be able to own computers and equipment usually afforded to a sliver of the world's population. However, China will have enormous, possibly unprecedented leverage due to its economic infrastructure, possibly retarding the economic development and redevelopment of much of the world. There is, for instance, nothing even close to the Silk Road in development or even proposed in North or South America or Africa. Hopefully, as more countries benefit from China's integration effort, they make efforts of their own.
Author description Michael Orion Powell–Deschamps has been writing professionally since he was a teenager. Born in Seattle, Washington, he started at the newspaper for Roosevelt High School, graduated to the local Pacific Publishing Company, the San Francisco Examiner and on to the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. Currently most of his time has been dedicated to writing for the political website Dagblog, his own website Radical Second Things, and contributing to Asian themed websites.