How Australia ended up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television – Jason Wilson. 

Australia doesn’t need a Breitbart, our conservative media does the job just as well.
Australia’s ‘African gang crisis’ has been brewing for years.

How do you end up with a neo-fascist propounding his views on immigration on national television? To answer this question, you need to understand how a racially motivated moral panic has brewed in right-leaning media over months, and even years. You then need to see how such a panic is part of a political project, which includes state and federal politicians.
The panic over Sudanese immigrant gangs has reached fever pitch in this new year of 2018. Even though it’s rooted in selective distortions, both of crime rates, and the concept of a “gang”, it’s triggered a hasty policy response.

This month, it has dominated the news in Victoria to such an extent that it seems that premier, Daniel Andrews, is unable to talk about much else. After his immigration minister, Peter Dutton, inflamed the situation, the prime minister has recently chosen to weigh in on an issue which is clearly not on his constitutional patch.
But if the panic has only come into bloom in recent weeks, it has been nurtured like a delicate sapling for two years. This long-term effort has been made by the rightwing outlets that still dominate print and online media in Australia.

If you search Australia’s news archives, there are relatively few mentions of the “Apex gang”, a group which has increasingly come to stand in for the Sudanese-Australian community as a whole, before 2016. On 13 March that year, people identifying as members of the group were involved in a brawl in Melbourne’s CBD, during the Moomba Festival.

That led to an initial flurry of coverage. Some of this was in the Age, but the story was led by News Corp’s Melbourne tabloid, the Herald Sun, and the Australian edition of the Daily Mail, which presented the brawl in populist terms.
By 14 March, the Mail and the Hun had established the habit of referring to the young men in these groups as “thugs”, a term which has, in the USA, been described as a “nominally polite way of using the N-word”.

The same day, Andrew Bolt wrote in a column that “there seems almost a conspiracy to stop the public knowing that our refugee and immigration policies have become a threat, introducing new levels of violence and gun crime to our cities”.
This take was dutifully, and approvingly, reposted on several far right forums. That’s unsurprising – the idea that refugees are in themselves social poison, and that this is being covered up, is a central claim of the contemporary far right.

From this moment on, the “Apex gang” became a way for right-leaning media to establish a connection between crime, immigration, race, and even terrorism.
While Fairfax, the ABC and Guardian Australia gradually turned to other matters, rightwing outlets continued their focus on the gang over the succeeding two years.

According to Nexis searches, the Australian edition of the Daily Mail has published the largest number of articles on the “Apex gang”, with 344 in the last five years. But the Herald Sun is close on its heels with 320. Each have run more than four times the number of articles that the Age has run, with a mere 76. The Age only just beat out News Corp’s national daily, the Australian, with the quantity of its coverage.

Many of the Age’s articles came around specific incidents. But the combined News outlets and the Daily Mail kept things bubbling along even when there was little to write about.

News and MailOnline breathlessly reported run of the mill property crimes as the work of “Africans”. The Australian took the opportunity, to try to connect the Flinders Street car attack to Sudanese youth, as did Peta Credlin in News tabloids. Stories about ”African” crime persisted in the face of efforts by police to point out that the story had been blown out of proportion, and the refusal of local residents to say there was a problem.

On the other hand, the same outlets soft-soaped far right vigilantism when it emerged in 2016. When the Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group, announced that they would be the patrolling Melbourne’s CBD, the Daily Mail ran their comments uncritically, including the idea that they were representing “old-school Aussie values”.

In a way, Channel Seven’s uncritical interview with Blair Cottrell was just following the precedent set in moments like this, and in the fawning coverage given to Milo Yiannopoulos late last year.

Rightwing politicians picked up this ball and ran as far and fast as they could with it. Their interventions show the symbiotic relationship between racial politics, ginned up in conservative newspapers, and conservative politics. Last November, federal liberal MP Jason Wood was calling for 16 year olds who had offended to be deported to their home countries. In December, Liberals worked hard to insert a discussion of Sudanese crime into a parliamentary committee report on immigration late last year. So the ground was well prepared for Peter Dutton to threaten deportation of young offenders, too.

This is all part of the normal, repetitive functioning of Australia’s conservative media and its conservative politics. The reason Australia has never given birth to a Breitbart-style far right outlet is that there is no niche for them to occupy. The country’s print media market is dominated by outlets whose politics – on immigration, culture wars, and the “war on terror” – are indistinguishable from websites that elsewhere, dwell on the margins.

So we shouldn’t be shocked when far right ideologues, whose views on immigration don’t really differ much from the conservative consensus in Australia, get on TV. Tabloids and mainstream politicians have worked long and hard to push ideas that, as a by-product, accord legitimacy to the far right. All sides benefit from a project that leads to heightened fear, demands for a crackdown, and political problems for a Labor government.

The reason that Channel Seven felt that Blair Cottrell’s views on Sudanese crime needed to be aired – despite his history of far right street activism, and his criminal history – is that by degrees, Australia’s right-leaning media have come to frame the issue in terms of reactionary populism for some years.

This is what they do.

The Guardian 

    Memes, Wed Jan 17, 2018. 

    Trump’s positive medical/mental checkup. Baloney! A world of professional assessment has serious concerns, based on daily observation. This clown is dangerous. #impeachtrump2018.

    Is Global Warming a Public Nuisance? – Richard A. Epstein. 

    New York City and a number of California municipalities, including San Francisco and Oakland, have filed law suits against five major oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—for contributing to the increased risk of global warming. These complaints cite recent scientific reports that project that sea levels will rise from 0.2 meters to 2.0 meters (or 0.66 to 6.6 feet) by 2100, with a major loss of land surface area and serious climate disruptions. They further allege that the “Defendants had full knowledge that the fossil fuels would cause catastrophic harm.” The complaints rely chiefly upon public nuisance law, which prohibits unreasonably interfering with public rights in air and water through discharges of dangerous substances—in this instance, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

    These cities are demanding that each oil company named in the complaint contribute to an abatement fund to counteract the perceived future threats to the environment from global warming.

    In this essay, I confine my attention to the soundness of the public nuisance theory offered by San Francisco and New York in order to explain why private lawsuits are the wrong instrument for dealing with the global warming threat.  In full disclosure, in this essay, I provide my own independent legal analysis of these complaints, which I prepared for the Manufacturer’s Accountability Project, an organization that focuses on the impact of litigation on the manufacturing industry.

    The basic law of nuisance is divided into two parts, public and private, which complement each other. Private nuisances require at a minimum “an invasion of another’s interest in the private use and enjoyment of land.” The defendant must release, emit, or discharge the offensive materials—such as filth, odors, or noise—onto the plaintiff’s property. The relevant causal connection has to be so tight that there are no intervening forces between the discharge and the ensuing physical invasion of the plaintiff’s property. So, for example, the supplier of various materials and chemicals is not responsible for the waste that a manufacturer emits from their use.

    The typical private nuisance dispute usually involves one party (or a very few) who either makes the discharges or suffers consequences from them. The basic intuition behind this limitation on private suits is that administrative costs balloon out of control when the number of parties who suffer some degree of harm increases, as happens when pollution is discharged into a public waterway used by hundreds of different people. Yet it is a mistake to ignore large pollution discharges simply because private law suits are an ineffective instrument to secure damages, an injunction, or both. As early as 1536, the English judges filled this gap by developing the law of public nuisances that rested, both then and now, on the key distinction between general and special damages. Thus, if the defendant erected an obstruction along a public road, none of the parties delayed by the blockage had a private right of action. But any individual who ran into the obstacle and suffered physical injuries or property damage could recover in tort. Now, the shortfall in deterrence attributable from not compensating the delayed travelers was offset by a fine against the wrongdoer, the money from which could be used to remove the obstacle or placed in the public treasury.

    It is important to understand the enormous stretch in moving from traditional public nuisances to the modern global warming cases. The first point of difference is that only five companies—but no other carbon-dioxide-emitting polluter in the world—are joined as defendants. That is to say, the cities are apparently seeking to recover virtually all of their alleged abatement costs from the five named oil companies, instead of holding each only for its pro rata share of total emissions from all sources. But just what fraction of total carbon dioxide emissions can be traced to the named defendants? Note first that any release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has the same impact on global warming regardless of its source.

    These five oil companies are responsible at most for a tiny fraction of the global total of carbon dioxide emissions. First, just looking at the American scene, some good chunk of the carbon dioxide releases are from other oil companies not named in the complaint. Another, probably larger, chunk comes from burning coal, making cement, and human and animal respiration. Carbon dioxide is also released in large quantities by forest fires, including those that recently overwhelmed Northern and Southern California. And that’s just in America; vast amounts of carbon dioxide are released from a similar range of human activities all across the globe.

    Here are some numbers: As of 2015, all carbon dioxide emissions from the United States comprised 14.34 percent of the global total, while China’s emissions stood at 29.51 percent. Even if the five oil companies were somehow responsible for, say, 10 percent of the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions, that would be less than one percent of the total human releases. Under standard tort rules, the liability of each defendant must be limited to its own pro rata share of the total harm given that under Section 433A of the Restatement of Torts, there is a “reasonable basis for determining the contribution of each cause to a single harm,” in this instance measured by market shares.

    Indeed, these public nuisance lawsuits are especially dubious, given that the oil companies did not by their sales emit any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The dangerous releases came from many different parties, both private and public, including the municipalities bringing these lawsuits. These numerous parties used these products in countless different ways, with as much knowledge of their asserted effects on global warming as these five defendants. How could the oil companies have known about the anticipated course of global warming forty years ago when key government studies done today are uncertain about the magnitude of the effects of emissions on sea levels and the economic consequences?

    The first paragraph of the New York City complaint ducks these factual complexities by insisting, falsely, that crude oil was “a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended.” But the end uses of crude oil are so varied (including, for example, the creation of various plastics in common use today) that the effective control of emissions is best done through the regulation of these end users and not the oil companies. Indeed, even for gasoline, the level of carbon dioxide emissions critically depends on the operation and maintenance of the many different types of facilities, equipment, and vehicles, all of which are beyond the direct control of the oil companies. Yet all these end users are already subject to extensive emissions controls under the Clean Air Act and countless other environmental directives, both at the state and federal level.

    This sensible distribution of regulatory authority rests on the superior ability of government agencies (at least compared to the courts), often in cooperation with each other, to formulate and maintain coherent policies to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide, as well as methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, which the EPA calculates account for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

    The issues here are especially complex for many technical and logistical reasons. One critical task is to decide the optimal level of emissions. The implicit assumption of the New York and San Francisco lawsuits is that the world would become a better place if all emissions of carbon dioxide were stopped. But that position ignores the enormous benefits that come from the use of fossil fuels, which continue to supply over 80 percent of the nation’s energy needs. No other fuel source could keep manufacturing, transportation, and commerce alive. And it is just exaggeration to claim, as the city plaintiffs do, that these oil companies “have done nearly all they could to create [the] existential threat” of global warming when in fact energy efficiency in the United States has consistently improved, particularly in generating electrical power.

    No public nuisance suits for global warming can solve a problem that must be addressed by a coherent regulatory program. Instead, chaos will follow if hundreds of different states, counties, and cities are allowed to bring separate actions under state law. It bears emphasis that in 2011, a unanimous Supreme Court decision in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut held that the combination of the Clean Air Act and actions by the Environmental Protection Agency “against carbon-dioxide emitters . . . displace the claims that the plaintiffs seek to pursue” under a public nuisance theory brought under federal law. The Court left open the question of whether the federal regulation at the time preempted any state law cause of action for public nuisance.

    But, as I argued at the time, the only viable solution was for the federal government and the EPA to “orchestrate” the effort to control emissions. The point is doubly true against these remote, upstream defendants who have not emitted anything themselves. The standard analysis of federal preemption has long held that states may not engage in their own remedial efforts, even by actions in tort, when extensive federal regulation occupies the field, or when state activity either frustrates federal action or is in conflict with it. If anything, the scope of federal oversight, actual and prospective, is far more comprehensive than it was when American Electric Power was decided. And so federal preemption alone should block a set of dubious public nuisance claims that should never have been brought in the first place.

    Hoover Institute 

    Why Bitcoin is Stupid – Pete Adeney. 

    Well, shit. I’ve been watching this situation for a few years, and assuming it would just blow over so we wouldn’t have to talk about it here in this place where we are supposed to be busy improving our lives.

    But a collective insanity has sprouted around the new field of ‘cryptocurrencies’, causing a totally irrational worldwide gold rush. It has reached the point that a big percentage of stories in the financial news and questions in Mr. Money Mustache’s email inbox are about whether or not we should all ‘invest’ in BitCoin.

    We’ll start with the answer: No, you should not invest in Bitcoin. The reason is that it’s not an investment. Just like gold, tulip bulbs, Beanie Babies, 1999 dotcoms without any hope of a product plan, “pre-construction pricing” Toronto condominiums you have no intent to occupy or rent out, and rare baseball cards are not investments.

    These are all things that people have bought in the past, and driven to completely irrational prices, not because they did anything useful or produced any money and value to society, but solely because they thought they would be able to sell them to someone else for more in the future.

    When you make this kind of purchase, which you should never do, you are speculating, which is not a useful activity. You’re playing a psychological, win-lose battle against other humans with money as the only objective. Even if you win some money through dumb luck, you have lost some time and life energy, which means you have lost.

    Investing means buying an asset that actually creates products and services and cashflow for an extended period of time. Like a piece of a profitable business or a rentable piece of real estate. An investment is something that has intrinsic value – that is, it would be worth owning from a financial perspective, even if you could never sell it.

    Now, with that moral sermon out of the way, we might as well talk about why Bitcoin has become such a big thing, so we can separate the usefulness of the underlying technology called “Blockchain”, from the mania about how people have turned Bitcoin it into a big dumb lottery.

    This separation is important because the usefulness of Blockchain is the primary justification people use for the big dumb Bitcoin lottery.

    Once you make this separation in your mind, you can see that Blockchain is a simply a nifty new software invention (which is open-source and free for anyone to use), whereas Bitcoin is just one well-known way to use it.

    Blockchain is just a computer protocol, which allows two people (or machines) to do transactions even if they don’t trust each other or the network between them. It can have applications in the monetary system, contracts, and even as a component in higher level protocols like sharing files. But it’s not some spectacular Instant Trillionaire piece of magic.

    As a real world comparison, I quote this nifty piece from a reader named The Unassuming Banker:

    … imagine that someone had found a cure for cancer and posted the step-by-step instructions on how to make it on-line, freely available for anyone to use.

    Now imagine that the same person also created a product called Cancer-Pill using their own instructions, trade marked it, and started selling it to the highest bidders.

    I think we can all agree a cure for cancer is immensely valuable to society (blockchain may or may not be, we still have to see), however, how much is a Cancer-Pill worth?

    Our Banker friend goes on to explain that the first Cancer-Pill might initially see some great sales. Prices would rise, especially if the supply of these pills was limited (just as an artificial supply limit is built right into the Bitcoin algorithm.)

    But since the formula is open and free, other companies would quickly come out with their own cancer pills. Cancer-Away, CancerBgone, CancEthereum, and any other number of competitors would spring up. Anybody can make a pill, and it costs only a few cents per dose.

    And yet imagine everybody started bidding up Cancer-Pills, to the point that they cost $17,000 each and fluctuate widely in price, seemingly for no reason. Because of this, newspapers start reporting on prices daily, triggering so many tales of instant riches that you notice even your barber and your massage therapist are offering tips on how to invest in this new “asset class”.

    But instead of seeing how ridiculous this is, even more people start piling in and bidding up every new variety of pills (cryptocurrency), over and over and on and on, until they are some of the most “valuable” things on the planet.

    NO, right?

    And yet this is exactly what’s happening with Bitcoin. And if you haven’t been digging into the cryptocurrency world much, it gets way weirder than this. Take a look at this shot from the website coinmarketcap.com, and observe the preposterous herd behavior in real life:

    “Holy Shit!” is the only reasonable reaction. You’ve got Bitcoin with a market value of $234 Billion Dollars, then Ripple at $92 billion with Ethereum right behind at $85,792,800,592.
    These are preposterous numbers. The imaginary value of these valueless bits of computer data represents enough money to change the course of the entire human race, for example eliminating all poverty or replacing the entire world’s 800 gigawatts of coal power plants with solar generation. Why? WHY???

    An Aside: Why should we listen to you, Mustache?

    I’m only a mediocre computer scientist. But coincidentally, after I got my computer engineering degree I ended up specializing in security and encryption technologies for most of my career. So I did learn a bit about locking and unlocking information, hacking, and ensuring that independent brains (whether they are two adjacent CPUs on a circuit board or two companies negotiating across the Pacific) can trust each other and coordinate their actions in lockstep. I even read about these things for fun, with Simon Singh’s The Code Book and the Neil Stephenson novel Cryptonomicon being particularly fun shortcuts to pick up some of the workings and the context of cryptography.

    But that’s just the software side (Blockchain). Bitcoin (aka CancerPills) has become an investment bubble, with the complementary forces of Human herd behavior, greed, fear of missing out, and a lack of understanding of past financial bubbles amplifying it.

    Mustachianism – the mental training that gets you to very early financial freedom – requires you to evaluate inefficiencies in our culture and call bullshit upon them. Even if you are the only one in the room willing to do it.

    In the field of personal wealth, this means walking your children past the idling lineup of your neighbors’ Mercedes SUVs, over the snowy grass and up to the door of the school – and being confident that you are doing the right thing. Even if you’re the only one doing it.

    When evaluating investment bubbles, it means looking at where everyone is throwing their money – no matter how many billions – and being willing to say “Bull. Shit. Guys. Not going to do this with you.”

    So I also read a lot about investment bubbles and fundamentals and how to tell those apart. One book that I found very useful in understanding the greed-fear cycle (and Central Banking and the Federal Reserve system to boot) is the 2001 classic Towards Rational Exuberance by Mark Smith. For a shortcut to understanding good investing, you can also simply look up Warren Buffet’s thinking on almost any topic – he’s careful enough about offering opinions that by the time he makes a statement on something, you can be pretty sure it will be among the best answers out there.

    And of course, the purpose of this whole aside is that I want to establish credibility with you, so you will give this article some consideration. I believe the current Cryptocurrency “investment” mania is a huge waste of human energy, and our rate of waste has been growing exponentially.

    The sooner we debunk the myth and come to our senses, the richer our world will be. So we need more credible people to speak out against it. If you’re one of these credible people, please do so in the comments or in a blog post on Medium that we can all read.

    Why was Bitcoin Even Invented?

    Understanding the motivation is a big part of understanding Bitcoin. As the legend goes, an anonymous developer published this whitepaper in 2008 under the fake name Satoshi Nakamoto. It’s well written and pretty obviously by a real software and math person. But it also has some ideology built in – the assumption that giving national governments the ability to monitor flows of money in the financial system and use it as a form of law enforcement is wrong.

    This financial libertarian streak is at the core of Bitcoin, and you’ll hear echoes of that sentiment in all the pro-crypto blogs and podcasts. The sensible-sounding ones will say, “Sure the G20 nations all have stable financial systems, but Bitcoin is a lifesaver in places like Venezuela where the government can vaporize your wealth when you sleep.”

    The harder-core pundits say “Even the US Federal Reserve is a bunch ‘a’ CROOKS, stealing your money via INFLATION, and that nasty Fiat Currency they issue is nothing but TOILET PAPER!!”

    It’s all the same stuff that people say about Gold, which is also a totally irrational waste of human investment energy.

    Government-issued currencies have value because they represent human trust and cooperation. There is no wealth and no trade without these two things, so you might as well go all-in and trust people. There are no financial instruments that will protect you from a world where we no longer trust each other.

    So, Bitcoin is a protocol invented to solve a money problem that simply does not exist in the rich countries, which is where most of the money is. Sure, an anonymous way to exchange money and escape the eyes of a corrupt government is a good thing for human rights. But at least 98% of MMM readers do not live in countries where this is an issue.

    So just relax, lean into it, and grow rich with me.

    OK, But What if Bitcoin Becomes the World Currency?

    The other argument for Bitcoin’s “value” is that there will only ever be 21 million of them, and they will eventually replace all other world currencies, or at least become the “new gold”, so the fundamental value is either the entire world’s GDP or at least the total value of all gold, divided by 21 million.

    People then go on to say, “If there’s even a ONE PERCENT CHANCE that this happens, Bitcoins are severely undervalued and they should really be worth, like, at least a quadrillion dollars each!!”

    This is not going to happen. After all, you could make the same argument about Mr. Money Mustache’s fingernail clippings: they may have no intrinsic value, but at least they are in limited supply so let’s use them as the new world currency!

    Why not somebody else’s fingernail clippings? Why not one of the other 1500 cryptocurrencies? Shut up, just send me $100 via PayPal and I’ll send you a bag of my fingernail clippings.

    Let’s get this straight: in order for Bitcoin to be a real currency, it needs several things:

    – easy and frictionless trading between people

    – to be widely accepted as legal tender for all debts, public and private

    – a stable value that does not fluctuate (otherwise it’s impossible to set prices)

    Bitcoin has none of these things, and even safely storing it is difficult (see Mt. Gox, Bitfinex, and the various wallets and exchanges that have been hacked)

    The second point is also critical: Bitcoin is only valuable if it truly becomes a critical world currency. In other words, if you truly need it to buy stuff, and thus you need to buy coins from some other person in order to conduct important bits of world commerce that you can’t do any other way. Right now, the only people driving up the price are other speculators. The bitcoin price isn’t rising because people are buying the coins to conduct real business. It’s rising because people are buying it up, hoping someone else will buy it at an even higher price later. It’s only valuable when you cash it out to a real currency again, like the US dollar, and use it to buy something useful like a nice house or a business. When the supply of foolish speculators dries up, the value evaporates – often very quickly.

    Also, a currency should not be artificially sparse. It needs to expand with the supply of goods and services in the world, otherwise we end up with deflation and hoarding. It also helps to have wise, centralized humans (the Federal Reserve system and other central banks) guiding the system. In a world of human trust, putting the wisest and most respected people in a position of Adult Supervision is a useful tactic.

    Finally, nothing becomes a good investment just because “it’s been going up in price lately.”

    If you disagree with me on that point, the price of my fingernails has just increased by 70,000% and they are now $70,000 per bag. Quick, get me that money on PayPal before you miss out on any more of this incredible “performance!”

    The world’s governments are not going to let everyone start trading money anonymously and evading taxes using Bitcoin. If cryptocurrency does take off, it will be in a government-backed form, like a new “Fedcoin” or “G20coin.” Full anonymity and government evasion will not be one of its features.

    And you don’t want it for this purpose anyway – after all, do you currently hide your money in offshore tax havens and transact your business on black markets? Do you practice illegal tax evasion as your primary wealth strategy? Probably not, because life is better and wealthier when you aren’t living a life of crime.

    The Cryptocurrency bubble is really a replay of the past: A good percentage of Humans are prone to mass delusions which lead to irrational behavior. This is a known bug in our operating system, and we have designed some parts of our society to protect us against it.

    These days, stocks are regulated by the SEC, precisely because in the olden days, there were many, many stocks issued that were much like Bitcoin. Marketed to unsophisticated investors as a get-rich-quick scheme. The very definition of an unsophisticated investor is “Being more willing to buy something, the more its price goes up.”

    Don’t be one of these fools.

    Mr Money Mustache 

    Passing panorama: New Zealand’s glory from a train window – Susan Grossman. 

    It’s 8.15am on the dot and with one mellow toot the TranzAlpine passenger train is off on its journey from Christchuch to Greymouth. As we rattle through the flat and fertile Canterbury plains we are soon climbing up steep gorges in the foothills of the Southern Alps, the backbone of South Island. Below, I can see the startling blue water of the Waimakariri river valley. Pink and blue lupins line the tracks along with rows of pines.
    The railway covers 223km, tracking its way over four viaducts and through 16 tunnels, taking four and a half hours to Greymouth on the west coast – a tad faster than the stage coaches that took two days to get food across to gold prospectors in 1866. The stage coach was once known as “The Perishable” because of the fruit and vegetables it used to transport along the way.

    It’s a very different story now the train has reached its 30th anniversary year. The carriages are modern, with wide, non-reflective windows, wifi and a running commentary in Mandarin and English. The seats are spacious and windows panoramic, perfect for enjoying the wide-screen scenery – from the pastoral Canterbury plains, through forest and lowland rivers, up to tussock sheep stations. The landscape we pass through from the comfort of our carriage tells the story of New Zealand’s prosperity. There are defunct coal mines, stubbly hillsides and saw mills, while the temperate rainforest is dense with native pines, beech and conifers – the same ones used by the Maori to make their traditional canoes.

    Two hours into the train journey we arrive at Arthur’s Pass, where, through rolling white mist, we can just about spot snow-capped mountain peaks. This pass, the highest over the Southern Alps, was used by Maori hunting parties long before the railway was built. We approach the 8.5km Otira tunnel, completed in 1923; up to 18 trains a day still climb up and down its 1:33 gradient, transporting coal from west to east. Even now it’s a hazardous process preventing locomotives from overheating and shutting down. The train stops while our duty manager uncouples the carriages to get us through safely.

    Soon after, we are in Greymouth, a town known for its hunting and jade-mining past, and also the end of our journey. You can while away an hour or two on a tasting tour at the local brewery or a visit to Shantytown to learn about gold mining. But for most visitors it’s a setting-off point to see the spectacular Fox Glacier, a 13km-long maritime glacier on the west coast that is perfect for ice-climbing and walking. Instead, I stop for a pie and a cup of tea in a local cafe and an hour later start the return journey back to Christchurch.

    There, in New Zealand’s third-largest city, badly damaged by the earthquake of 2011, I am surprised to see hoardings and bulldozers, and the cathedral still propped up on splints. When British settlers arrived in 1880, Christchurch was destined to become a model of class-structured England, with churches rather than pubs, and land owned by gentry with English-style gardens.
    The earthquake fortunately had little impact on the botanical gardens. Here, the smell of eucalyptus and mock orange wafts through avenues of trees while visitors take a leisurely punt along the Avon river. Creative Christchurch survives in the “container city”, where pop-up shops and banks do business. Cycleways have helped the revival, but those who live there are frustrated with the slow progress of its regeneration.

    I head to the Heritage Hotel, a historic local government landmark which now offers 32 stately suites, “Italian renaissance palazzo style”, each with state-of-the-art kitchens. A sweeping central staircase and long corridors remind me of the grand hotels in London’s Park Lane. From Christchurch, I fly back up to Wellington and then I am off again, this time on the Northern Explorer train that runs from Wellington to Auckland and takes 10 hours.

    Completed in 1908, after 23 years of construction, it is New Zealand’s longest-running passenger service. My journey starts at 8.55am, rumbling through the heart of the North Island and an ever-changing landscape of baize-green hills with folds like origami and gorges plunging into turquoise lakes. As we cross the Wellington fault line, Kapiti Island, a predator-free bird sanctuary, sits slumped in the Tasman Sea like a giant jelly baby. Photographers pile into the open-sided observation carriage, greedy to capture every vista.
    By lunchtime we reach a stop named National Park, where some passengers get off to trek the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand’s oldest national park and a World Heritage area. The rest of us stay put and enjoy lamb shanks and mashed potato with a glass of Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc.

    We reach Hamilton at 4.30pm, a small land-locked town on New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato. I disembark to catch a bus to Rotorua, well known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. The bad-egg smell of sulphur that greets me is no deterrent. My final destination, the Polynesian Spa, offers mud wraps and a Priori Coffeeberry Yoga Facial for $179NZ (£95), but I decline. Instead, I steam in mineral pools overlooking the lake, and admire the sunset. What better way to unwind after New Zealand’s two most scenic railway trips?
    Way to go.

    The Guardian 

    How Black Businesses Helped Save the Civil Rights Movement – Louis Ferleger and Matthew Lavallee. 

    News that Montgomery police had arrested Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus spread quickly. Within twenty-four hours, leaders of the city’s black community called a meeting to propose a bus boycott. The next evening, leaders in the African American community gathered in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The leaders included small business owners, lawyers, clergy, teachers, postal workers and union leaders. Though all agreed on the necessity of a boycott, alternate transportation lingered as the final question of the meeting. The city’s relatively large network of black-owned taxi companies – eighteen companies operating approximately 210 cabs – provided the first solution. Each small taxi business eagerly offered its assistance, lowering its fares so that passengers paid the same as they would to ride the bus, lending critical tactical support to the early days of the boycott.

    But when city authorities learned that this network of small black-owned businesses was providing critical organizational support to the protest, the police began enforcing a minimum fare law, prohibiting the cabs from offering the same low fare as the busses. But this did not hinder the boycott in the way that white city leaders hoped because a volunteer carpool replaced the cheap taxi service. And with this solution, too, the assistance of the organizational network of small businesses proved vital. Black pharmacist Richard Harris worked tirelessly to orchestrate the carpool and offered his drugstore as a makeshift dispatch hub. Although city authorities prohibited one sector of small businesses from supporting the protest, another black-owned business filled the taxi companies’ void.

    The story of the Montgomery bus boycott usually focuses on two key figures: Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. But without the development of car pools and the support of small businesses, the boycott could not have succeeded. These stories demonstrate that the support of small black-owned businesses helped the civil rights movement to succeed in a variety of ways. King, for example, traveled widely during the civil rights movement. One magazine estimated that King travelled nearly 780,000 miles per year in the late 1950s as he preached against segregation. Such wide travel would have necessitated considerable material support. Local businesses played a key role.

    In Mississippi, black business owners were also on the front lines, enduring pressure from the white community. In addition to preaching at four different congregations, Reverend George Lee ran a prosperous printing business and a grocery store, positioning him as a prominent leader in Belzoni, Mississippi’s black community. He was the first African American in Humphreys County to get his name on the voting list and organized the Belzoni, Mississippi branch of the NAACP in 1953 along with his friend Gus Courts, another grocery store owner. Lee and Courts registered hundreds of black voters in a county where no black person had voted since Reconstruction. In 1955, after regularly receiving telephone threats that said, “You’re number one on a list of people we don’t need around here anymore,” Lee was shot and killed while returning from picking up his preaching suit at the dry cleaners. The investigating sheriff dismissed the death as merely an automobile accident and said the lead pellets lodged in what remained of his jaw were just dental fillings. Gus Courts then endured threats that wholesalers would not deliver goods to his grocery store and a local bank refused to do business with him unless he handed over NAACP records. But this did not deter Courts.

    Despite threats that he would face a similar fate as Lee, he continued to push for voter registration. In response, white-owned gas stations stopped selling gasoline to him. Recognizing the power of black-owned enterprise, Courts started pooling money within the black community so that it could purchase its own gas station. After refusing to remove his name from the voter registration list, Courts was shot twice while standing inside his store, but survived.

    Black small business-owner George Washington refused to stop supporting the civil rights movement, leading a local oil supplier to remove the pumps at his gasoline station and distributors to refuse to deliver groceries to his store. In retaliation, his property was bombed and police arrested Washington for “failing to report the bombing.” As in other states, Mississippi’s black community developed effective measures to counter such economic pressure thanks to the power of black-owned enterprise. In response to the economic reprisals conducted by the Citizens’ Councils, the national office of the NAACP established a war chest at the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Memphis. These funds could be lent to Mississippi activists to help evade the possibility of losing their homes, farms, or businesses.

    Amzie Moore, a World War II veteran, owned a gas station in Mississippi. He also endured frequent threats and a reporter in 1964 noted that Moore would receive three calls threatening his life in an evening. Moore developed a relationship with Bob Moses when Moses was recruiting SNCC volunteers from Mississippi. But Moore flipped the recruitment drive on its head. Moore felt that, while it was fine for SNCC to recruit young people from Mississippi as it was doing, it would be even better if SNCC sent students into Mississippi to register voters.

    Moore’s position in the community as the owner of a gas station also enabled him to assist with logistics, such as transportation for the volunteers. Moore even presented his proposal for SNCC students to assist voter registration to the SNCC conference and hosted meetings of leaders of the voter registration drive at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi.

    Histories of the civil rights movement that emphasize the glory and successes of charismatic leaders only tell part of the story. Small black-owned businesses were critical because they were empowered to engage in civic participation. These businesses were uniquely situated to support the civil rights movement and also parted the waters.

    Institute For New Economic Thinking 

    Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires – Senator Bernie Sanders. 

    Here is where we are as a planet in 2018: after all of the wars, revolutions and international summits of the past 100 years, we live in a world where a tiny handful of incredibly wealthy individuals exercise disproportionate levels of control over the economic and political life of the global community.

    Difficult as it is to comprehend, the fact is that the six richest people on Earth now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people. Further, the top 1% now have more money than the bottom 99%. Meanwhile, as the billionaires flaunt their opulence, nearly one in seven people struggle to survive on less than $1.25 (90p) a day and – horrifyingly – some 29,000 children die daily from entirely preventable causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

    The American people – not Big Oil – must decide our climate future.

    At the same time, all over the world corrupt elites, oligarchs and anachronistic monarchies spend billions on the most absurd extravagances. The Sultan of Brunei owns some 500 Rolls-Royces and lives in one of the world’s largest palaces, a building with 1,788 rooms once valued at $350m. In the Middle East, which boasts five of the world’s 10 richest monarchs, young royals jet-set around the globe while the region suffers from the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, and at least 29 million children are living in poverty without access to decent housing, safe water or nutritious food. Moreover, while hundreds of millions of people live in abysmal conditions, the arms merchants of the world grow increasingly rich as governments spend trillions of dollars on weapons.

    In the United States, Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon, and currently the world’s wealthiest person – has a net worth of more than $100bn. He owns at least four mansions, together worth many tens of millions of dollars. As if that weren’t enough, he is spending $42m on the construction of a clock inside a mountain in Texas that will supposedly run for 10,000 years. But, in Amazon warehouses across the country, his employees often work long, gruelling hours and earn wages so low they rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing paid for by US taxpayers.

    Not only that, but at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, people all over the world are losing their faith in democracy – government by the people, for the people and of the people. They increasingly recognise that the global economy has been rigged to reward those at the top at the expense of everyone else, and they are angry.

    Millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages than they did 40 years ago, in both the United States and many other countries. They look on, feeling helpless in the face of a powerful few who buy elections, and a political and economic elite that grows wealthier, even as their own children’s future grows dimmer.

    In the midst of all of this economic disparity, the world is witnessing an alarming rise in authoritarianism and rightwing extremism – which feeds off, exploits and amplifies the resentments of those left behind, and fans the flames of ethnic and racial hatred.

    Now, more than ever, those of us who believe in democracy and progressive government must bring low-income and working people all over the world together behind an agenda that reflects their needs. Instead of hate and divisiveness, we must offer a message of hope and solidarity. We must develop an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world of economic, social and environmental justice. Will this be an easy struggle? Certainly not. But it is a fight that we cannot avoid. The stakes are just too high.

    As Pope Francis correctly noted in a speech at the Vatican in 2013: “We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.” He continued: “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalised: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”

    A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations. Such a movement must overcome “the cult of money” and “survival of the fittest” mentalities that the pope warned against. It must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people – from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change.

    Here is just one example of what we have to do. Just a few years ago, the Tax Justice Network estimated that the wealthiest people and largest corporations throughout the world have been stashing at least $21tn-$32tn in offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. If we work together to eliminate offshore tax abuse, the new revenue that would be generated could put an end to global hunger, create hundreds of millions of new jobs, and substantially reduce extreme income and wealth inequality. It could be used to move us aggressively toward sustainable agriculture and to accelerate the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of power.

    Taking on the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations and the influence of the global billionaire class is not only the moral thing to do – it is a strategic geopolitical imperative. Research by the United Nations development programme has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support rightwing extremism and violent groups. When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem.

    This is a pivotal moment in world history. With the explosion in advanced technology and the breakthroughs this has brought, we now have the capability to substantially increase global wealth fairly. The means are at our disposal to eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy and create an inexpensive and non-polluting global energy system.

    This is what we can do if we have the courage to stand together and take on the powerful special interests who simply want more and more for themselves. This is what we must do for the sake of our children, grandchildren and the future of our planet.

    • Bernie Sanders is a US senator for Vermont

    The Guardian 

    10 Weird Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the Milky Way –  Sci-Tech Universe. 

    On a dark night, the dense plane of the Milky Way winds like a ribbon across the sky. On a really dark night, in areas free from light pollution, that ribbon becomes so intensely spangled with stars that it’s possible to see the dark, dusty clouds of dust and gas deep in space that blot out their light. Those clouds are so prominent that Australia’s Aboriginal people saw them create the shape of an emu.

    Our galactic home is one of trillions of galaxies in the universe. Astronomers have been ardently studying them for almost a century, ever since Edwin Hubble discovered that neighboring Andromeda was not just another nearby dusty nebula, but a galaxy in its own right. And yet, humans are still trying to unravel the secrets of our galactic home and how it fits in the tapestry of the universe.

    “I would love to see a movie in time of the assembly of the Milky Way,” says Jay Lockman of the Green Bank Observatory, who presented new observations about our galaxy this week at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Maryland.

    Here are some of the fun, weird facts and questions we have about the 13.6-billion-year-old space oddity we inhabit.

    The Milky Way Is (Mostly) Flat

    Our galaxy is, on average, a hundred thousand light-years across but only a thousand light-years thick. Within this flattened (though somewhat warped) disc, the sun and its planets are embedded in a curving arm of gas and dust, putting the solar system about 26,000 light-years away from the galaxy’s turbulent core. A bulge of dust and stars swaddles the galactic center, looking like a dollop of whipped cream plopped on both sides of a pancake.

    Earth Is 18 Galactic Years Old

    The solar system is zooming through interstellar space at around 500,000 miles an hour. Even at that rate, it takes about 250 million years to travel once around the Milky Way. The last time our 4.5-billion-year-old planet was in this same spot, continents fit together differently, dinosaurs were just emerging, mammals had yet to evolve, and the most profound mass extinction in the planet’s history—an event called the Great Dying—was in progress.

    There’s a Monster Black Hole in the Galaxy’s Middle

    Called Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole weighs in at more than four million times the mass of the sun. We’ve never seen this object directly—it’s hidden behind thick clouds of dust and gas. But astronomers have been able to follow the orbits of stars and gas clouds near the galactic center, which allowed them to infer the mass of the cosmic heavyweight hiding behind the curtain. It’s thought that supermassive black holes are parked in the cores of most galaxies, and some are feeding on nearby matter so greedily they shoot out jets of powerful radiation visible from millions of light-years away. 

    The Milky Way Won’t Live Forever

    In about four billion years, the Milky Way will collide with its nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. The two spiral galaxies are currently hurtling toward each other at 250,000 miles an hour. When they do smash into one another, it won’t be as cataclysmic as you might imagine—Earth will likely survive, and very few stars will actually be destroyed. Instead, the newly formed mega-galaxy will offer a night skyscape with a spectacular blend of stars and streamers unlike anything we see today.

    Our Sun Is One Star among Several Hundred Billion

    There are a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way. Or is it 300 billion? Or 400 billion? That’s right—we don’t actually know how many stars are in our galaxy. Many of them are dim, low-mass stars that are hard to detect over vast cosmic distances, and there are massive clouds obscuring the bulge of stars nearest to Sagittarius A*. Astronomers have estimated the total number of stars based on the Milky Way’s mass and brightness, but more precise numbers are still elusive.

    We’re Surrounded By a Dark Halo

    The Milky Way is embedded in a clump of dark matter that is far larger and more massive than the galaxy itself. In the late 1960s, astronomer Vera Rubin inferred the presence of these invisible halos around galaxies when she observed that stars near the edge of Andromeda were whipping around the galaxy’s center at speeds that should send them flying off into space. And yet, they weren’t, meaning that some sort of cosmic glue held everything together. That glue, we now know, is dark matter.

    We Hang Out With Ancient Stars

    The Milky Way is also surrounded by more than 150 ancient groups of stars, some of which are among the oldest in the universe. Called globular clusters, these primordial stellar conglomerates live in the Milky Way’s halo and orbit the galactic center. Each is crammed with hundreds of thousands of stars. Also hanging around the Milky Way are dozens of satellite galaxies; most of these are tough to see, but the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds glisten each night in the southern sky.

    The Galaxy Is an Island in a Stream of Stars

    The Milky Way eats galaxies that come too close. Over the years, scientists studying the galaxy’s fringe have detected some two dozen faint streamers of stars that are the remnants of galaxies past. These ghostly stellar rivers formed when the Milky Way’s more powerful gravity ripped apart smaller galaxies, leaving behind glittering strands of leftovers. At the AAS meeting, the Dark Energy Survey team announced that it had detected 11 more of these streamers, some of which have been given Aboriginal names.

    The Galactic Center Is Blowing Hot Air

    The Milky Way is blowing massive bubbles of extremely hot gas and energetic particles. Stretching far above and below the galactic plane, these so-called Fermi bubbles balloon straight out of the galaxy’s center, fueled by a wind blowing at two million miles an hour. Unknown until 2010, it’s not entirely clear why the bubbles exist, but scientists think they could be linked to the frenzy of star death and formation in the region around Sagittarius A*.

    Gas Clouds Are Fleeing the Galaxy

    Observed recently with the Green Bank Telescope, more than a hundred hydrogen gas clouds are zooming away from the galaxy’s core at 738,000 miles an hour. Scientists studying the deserting swarm say the clouds can act as tracers for the powerful processes that produce the giant Fermi bubbles.

    Sci-Tech Universe 

    The president is a disgrace to his country at so many levels. The Observer view on Donald Trump. 

    It is almost one year since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th US president. Will he last another 12 months? Day after tumultuous day since 20 January 2017, Trump has provided fresh evidence of his unfitness for America’s highest office.

    It is not only that his politics and policies, from tax cuts and climate change to Palestine and nuclear weapons, are disastrously wrong-headed. It is not just that his idea of leadership is divisive, confrontational and irresponsible. Nor does the problem lie solely with his blatant racism, misogyny and chauvinism, though these are indeed massive problems.

    His latest foul-mouthed outrage – describing developing countries as “shitholes” – is appalling even by his crude standards.

    The fundamental failing underlying Trump’s presidency is his wilful ignorance. His frequently petulant, childish behaviour combines with a staggering lack of knowledge and contempt for facts to produce serial, chronic misjudgments. Trump, in power, cannot be trusted. He has been exposed as lacking in empathy, shamelessly mendacious, cynical and unversed or uninterested in the enduring human and constitutional values his office is sworn to uphold. Trump is the first and hopefully the last of his kind: an anti-American president. He is a disgrace and a danger to his country. The sooner he is sent packing, the better.

    How much longer will Americans tolerate his embarrassing presence in the White House? His tenancy runs until November 2020, when he could seek a second term. But the problem is getting worse, not better. A series of scenarios, fuelled by his endlessly damaging, unacceptable words and actions, is beginning to unfold that could bring about his early departure.

    The first and, democratically speaking, the most desirable scenario is that the electorate will simply reject Trump. This process is already well under way, if opinion polls are to be believed. Trump’s personal approval rating has averaged below 40% over the past year, a record for presidential unpopularity. More telling, perhaps, were the findings of a Pew Research Center poll last month that debunked the myth that Trump’s “base” – his core support – is impervious to his daily blundering. Trump’s backing among key groups that helped elect him – white men, Protestant evangelicals, the over-50s and the non-college educated – has fallen significantly across the board. At the same time, a Gallup survey found the number of voters redefining themselves as uncommitted “independents” rose to 42%.

    Trump’s fading electoral appeal was cruelly exposed in shock defeats in Virginia and Alabama. Anger and disappointment with Trump among white voters was said to be a decisive factor, assisted by record turnout among African Americans. Nationally, evidence that the Trump rump is shredding is on the rise. A Monmouth University poll last August found that 61% of Trump voters said they could not think of anything he might do that would turn them against him. A poll last month put that figure at 37%. It is plain that many ordinary voters who trusted Trump to make a positive difference have been repelled and disgusted.

    Pollsters and pundits are looking to November’s midterm congressional elections. Forecasts suggest a stunning repudiation of a “toxic” Trump, with the Alabama upset being replicated nationwide. The GOP could lose control of the House of Representatives, where large numbers of moderate Republicans are retiring, and its grip on the Senate may be loosened by an anti-Trump tsunami. No party since 1950 has hung on to the house in a midterm poll when the president’s approval was below 40%.

    A humiliating nationwide slap in the face from voters this year, coupled with the loss of Congress, could bring Trump’s presidency shuddering to a halt, leaving him wounded, deserted by most Republicans and doomed to one-term ignominy. Meanwhile, another scenario prospectively leading to his political demise is playing out simultaneously. Nobody knows, as yet, whether the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian agents in 2016 will ultimately irretrievably compromise the president himself. But claims that Trump conspired to obstruct justice by putting pressure on the FBI and firing its unbiddable director, James Comey, appear to have substance and are potentially fatal to his presidency. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is proposing a formal interview under oath.

    It’s not over yet. Supporters of Trump point to what they see as a string of successes. They cite a stock market that has added $7tn in value, 2m new jobs and radical tax reform. They credit Trump with defeating Islamic State (a vain boast) and reducing illegal immigration. The number of Americans saying the US economy is in “excellent shape” has jumped from 2% in November 2016 to 18%. About 48% say the economy is “good”, up 11% in the same period. By these measures, his trademark vow to “make America great again” may be beginning to work – and this is likely to slow the pace of desertions from his electoral base.

    Elsewhere, conservatives will point to some significant triumphs that give the lie to the idea that Trump has been a hapless figure unable to bend America to his will. On many fronts, his administration is landing significant blows to the Obama-Clinton legacy. The environment secretary, Scott Pruitt, has effectively disembowelled the Environment Protection Agency, sacking scores of advisers and scientists. He is intent on scrapping many Obama-era regulations on water, climate, pollution and more. There has been a bonfire of environmental rules. New rules on chemicals previously declared toxic are being relaxed.

    The president is busy appointing predominantly young, white male, conservative judges to federal appeal and district courts. While the supreme court hears only a handful of cases a year, it is in these lower courts where America’s settlement on issues of gender, race, work, relationships and much more is decided.

    Meanwhile, the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, is shrinking America’s national monuments. Part of the Obama-designated Bears Ears in Utah (1.3m acres) and the Clinton-designated Grand Staircase-Escalante (1.9m acres) will likely be opened up for mining and other industrial pursuits. (Trump was lobbied by the uranium mining company Energy Fuels to open up Bears Ears for its uranium rich deposits.)

    Then there are the quiet revolutions under way by Betsy DeVos at the education department, while former presidential candidate Ben Carson, at the department of housing and urban development, is slashing government spending on affordable housing. And on and on. These are some of the wins that conservatives are happy to bank while tolerating the intolerable in the White House.

    The overwhelming impression of Trump’s first 12 months is not of steady progress but chaos. Tantrums, tears and irrational rage dominate the reality TV scene inside the White House, according to Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury. On the national stage, Trump has displayed open bigotry over migrant and race issues. His lowest point, among numerous low points, was his implied support for white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Internationally, Trump made nuclear war with North Korea more likely, dismayed the entire world by rejecting the Paris climate accord, insulted and threatened the UN over Jerusalem, did his best to wreck the landmark 2015 treaty with Iran and did next to nothing to halt the terrible conflicts in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and Afghanistan. Worse still, in a way, he has scorned US friends and allies in Europe and cosied up to authoritarian leaders in China, Russia and the Middle East. Britain has been treated with condescension and contempt, as in his abrupt (but welcome) cancellation of next month’s London visit.

    Is this dysfunction evidence of an unhinged personality, as many people suggest? Rather than invoking the 25th amendment and dumping Trump, it would be better if he was held responsible for his actions. For his wilful ignorance, his dangerous lies and his unAmerican bigotry, Trump must be held to account. Perhaps 2018 will be the year.

    The Guardian 

    ‘Damn … I missed’: the incredible story of the day the Queen was nearly shot – Eleanor Ainge Roy. 

    In 1981 a New Zealand teenager fired at the British monarch – and a new investigation claims the assassination attempt was brushed aside by officials

    It may be the closest anyone has ever come to assassinating Queen Elizabeth II.

    In 1981, Christopher John Lewis, a disturbed New Zealand teenager aimed his .22 rifle at the British monarch during her tour of the country, lining up her jade outfit in his scope.

    The bullet missed, but according to an investigation by reporter Hamish McNeilly for the website Stuff, the 17-year-old became obsessed with wiping out the royal family, as the government scrambled to conceal how close the self-styled terrorist had come to killing the head of state.

    Two years after shooting at the Queen, the teenager, planning to murder Prince Charles, attempted to escape from a psychiatric ward. In 1995, New Zealand police sent him on a taxpayer-funded holiday during the Queen’s November tour – believing him to be safer snoozing on a beach than anywhere within firing distance of the monarch. He killed himself in prison in 1997.

    By the age of 17, Lewis had a history of armed robbery, arson and animal torture. He idolised the Australian bandit Ned Kelly and American serial killer Charles Manson.

    On Wednesday 14 October 1981, Lewis pulled on gloves and loaded his rifle inside a deserted toilet cubicle in New Zealand’s oldest city, Dunedin, aiming his scope at the Queen’s motorcade five storeys below.

    Later, police found clippings on the royal family in Lewis’s squalid flat as well as a detailed map of the Queen’s route that day, with the words “Operation = Ass QUEB” written on the paper.

    The Queen had just stepped out of a Rolls-Royce to greet 3,500 wellwishers when a distinctive crack rang out across the grassy reserve.

    According to former Dunedin police det sgt Tom Lewis (no relation to the shooter), police immediately attempted to disguise the seriousness of the threat, telling the British press the noise was a council sign falling over. Later, under further questioning from reporters, they said someone had been letting off firecrackers nearby.

    According to Tom Lewis, the then prime minister Robert Muldoon feared if word got out about how close the teenager had come to killing the Queen, the royals would never again visit New Zealand.

    The 1981 annual police report reads: “The discharge of a firearm during the visit of Her Majesty the Queen serves to remind us all of the potential risks to royalty, particularly during public walks.”

    Police interviewed the teenager eight times, during which he claimed he had been instructed to kill the Queen by an Englishman known to him as “the Snowman”, of whom Lewis was frightened.

    The Snowman allegedly told Lewis about the pro-Nazi, rightwing National Front in England, and said Lewis could be part of similar groups that were popping up in New Zealand.

    Lewis later claimed to have been visited by high-ranking officials from the government in Wellington during his 13-day interrogation, and was told never to discuss the incident.

    “If I was ever to mention the events surrounding my interviews or the organisation, or that I was in the building, or that I was shooting from it – that they would make sure I ‘suffered a fate worse than death’,” Lewis wrote in a draft autobiography found beside his body after he killed himself. It was published posthumously.

    Further evidence of Lewis’s obsession with the royal family had emerged in 1983 when he attempted to overpower a guard at a psychiatric hospital where he was being detained in order to assassinate Prince Charles, who visited the country in April with the Princess of Wales and their young son, William.

    Fourteen years after Lewis’s attempt on the Queen’s life, the monarch returned to tour New Zealand in November 1995.

    Lewis, then 31, was deemed a serious threat to her safety, so New Zealand police dispatched him to Great Barrier Island in the north of the country, with free accommodation, daily spending money and the use of a vehicle. He was not, however, under 24-hour surveillance.

    “I started to feel like royalty,” Lewis wrote of his 10-day exile.

    Tom Lewis, who worked on the 1981 case, said police were eager to keep the troubled man out of the spotlight during the second tour and downplay how close he had come to the Queen on her earlier visit.

    “You will never get a true file on that: it was reactivated, regurgitated, bits pulled off it, other false bits put on it,” Lewis told Stuff, adding that Christopher Lewis’s original statement to police was destroyed. “They were in damage control so many times.”

    Murray Hanan, Lewis’s former lawyer, said police did not want to press ahead with a charge of treason – which in 1981 still carried the death penalty – and he believed they had received an order from “up-top, politically” to hush up the attempted murder.

    “The fact an attempted assassination of the Queen had taken place in New Zealand … it was just too politically hot to handle,” said Hanan. “I think the government took the view that he is a bit nutty and has had a hard upbringing, so it won’t be too harsh.”

    When Lewis faced court, his potshot at the Queen was downgraded to possession of a firearm in a public place and discharging it. The attempted assassination – an embarrassment to the police protection squad, and to the government – was being quietly and conveniently forgotten.

    Lewis killed himself in prison at the age of 33, while awaiting trial for the murder of a young mother and the kidnapping of her child. Shortly before his death Lewis told his partner about his infamous attempt to assassinate the Queen of England.

    “Damn,” he told her, “damn … I missed.”

    The Guardian 

    *

    The Snowman and the Queen: Christopher John Lewis’ young life of crime.

    The Snowman and the Queen is a five-part series looking at the life and crimes of Christopher John Lewis, a self-styled teen terrorist and trained ‘ninja’ whose bizarre criminal antics kept police busy from his school days until his strange suicide in prison at age 33.
    *

    Timeline 

    Christopher John Lewis was born in Dunedin on September 7, 1964. His life of crime started young, when he was expelled from kindergarten for pushing another child off a slide, and continued until his suicide in prison at age 33.

    This crimeline covers major criminal incidents involving Lewis, starting from when he was just 16.

    1980

    January 20: Sent to Cherry Farm psychiatric hospital in Dunedin for a risk assessment after a minor criminal matter. Later escaped.

    December 13: Lewis burgled his former school, Otago Boys’ High School, stealing five .22 rifles.

    1981

    January 20: Lewis is committed under the Mental Health Act to Cherry Farm, after taking a vehicle at gunpoint. Released in May.

    August 5-October 9: Dunedin crimespree of arsons, burglaries, vandalism and an armed robbery, with his guerilla group N.I.G.A claiming responsibility for most.

    October 14: The Queen and Prince Philip walk around Dunedin’s Octagon as part of their royal tour of New Zealand. After lunch their motorcade heads to the Otago Museum Reserve, arriving just before 3pm. As they exit the car, a shot is heard.

    October 22: Lewis is brought in for questioning.

    October 23: Lewis takes police to Dunedin’s Adams Building and they recover a missing .22 rifle. Under questioning, Lewis confirms he took a shot at the Queen.

    November 2: Lewis is charged in connection with firing a weapon on the day of the Royal visit.

    November 17: Lewis pleads guilty in court to 17 charges including aggravated robbery and unlawfully discharging a firearm.

    December 10: Lewis is sentenced to three years imprisonment.1982-1985

    Lewis serves time at an Invercargill youth institution and at the maximum security Lake Alice Hospital in Whanganui, where it is revealed he was behind a detailed plot to kill visiting Prince Charles. He serves the last part of his sentence at Dunedin’s Cherry Farm psychiatric hospital.

    He is jailed for further burglary and theft offending.

    1987

    April: Lewis, after four robberies, sparks a major West Coast manhunt and flees via the underside of a bus.

    June: Lewis is captured in Auckland trying to buy a car. He appears in court on aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery and burglary. He is sentenced to eight years’ jail.

    1992

    Days after his release he is sentenced to four years for the hold-up of a bank at Waikanae.

    1995

    Lewis parolled.

    November: Lewis and his then partner sent to Great Barrier Island by authorities worried he may threaten the Queen once more.

    1996

    July 26: Tania Furlan found bashed to death in her Auckland home.

    November: Lewis sent to jail for six months over making a false statement for the purpose of procuring a New Zealand passport. He is later charged with Furlan’s murder.

    1997

    September 23: Yet to face trial, Lewis, 33, electrocutes himself in his prison cell at Mt Eden.

    *

    Chapter one

    The schoolboy with the strawberry blonde hair goes unnoticed as he walks up the stairs carrying a gun wrapped in a pair of old jeans.

    The wannabe assassin leaves his 10-speed bike outside the seven-storey Adams Building; chosen at the last minute.

    He enters a deserted toilet cubicle on the fifth floor, removes the stolen .22, puts on gloves, opens the window, and waits.

    After a nerve-racking five minutes, the teenager spots a Rolls Royce driving down the closed road.

    A few hundred metres away a large crowd of people erupts in cheers as the motorcade stops outside the Otago Museum Reserve.

    This is the moment. After this, he’d be New Zealand’s greatest criminal.

    He puts the rifle against his shoulder, and aims at the Queen of England.

    THE BOY CRIMINAL

    This is the story of how a 17-year-old from Dunedin made the world’s closest attempt to kill Queen Elizabeth II, our longest-living reigning monarch, and how police allegedly covered it up to save face.

    As far as assassins go, Christopher John Lewis hardly looked the part. The short, bespectacled teen with a slight frame was described by police as “something out of the Boy Scout manual” and having a “Joe 90” appearance – after the 1960s spy character.

    But a note on his file read: “Not to be trusted.”

    Born in Dunedin on September 7, 1964, Lewis’ life of offending began with his expulsion from kindergarten. According to his memoirs, Last Words, published after his death, he was kicked out for pushing a child off a slide.

    His father left after a few years and his mother remarried. According to Lewis, his stepfather was a harsh disciplinarian who frequently beat him with a strap.

    “This taste of violence made me resentful and turn inwards,” Lewis said.

    A self-described loner, he struggled at school and was unable to read or write until he was 8.

    Expulsions became a way of life. At Anderson Bay Primary it was for “stirring up teachers”; at Tahuna Intermediate for taking a porn magazine to school; at Otago Boys’ High he was “always having fights and getting in the s…”.

    “I had the most detentions and the most canings of anyone in the high school,” he would tell police.

    As his criminal ambitions escalated, Lewis, who idolised cult outlaws such as Ned Kelly and Charles Manson, styled himself as the leader of his own guerilla army: the National Imperial Guerilla Army (N.I.G.A.). He enlisted former primary school buddy Geoffrey Rothwell and friend Paul Taane to join.

    Taane, who now lives in Christchurch, said Lewis often appeared “angry at the world, people were afraid of him”.

    Lewis, simply, had no regard for human life, he said.

    Taane remembers Lewis sticking pins into a kitten for fun. Once, Lewis pointed a loaded shotgun in his face.

    In late 1980, the three-man army launched a crimewave in Dunedin, beginning with the theft of five .22s from Lewis’ former high school, a church burglary and the arson of a video store. The boys claimed responsibility for four-break ins and a safe cracking. A letter to police during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour claimed that N.I.G.A. would “continue to steal, rob or even kill … unless if the Springbok team leaves New Zealand”. [sic]

    Rothwell, now a lawyer, declined to be interviewed for this story.

    The burglary of a secondhand sporting store and then a gun store gave the fledgling army an arsenal of weapons, some of which were later found buried at Lewis’ Albany St flat in the heart of Dunedin’s student quarter.

    As Taane recalls, the trio would bike on their 10-speeds to a park for target practice with a sawn-off shotgun.

    With an eye on sourcing cash to expand their criminal activities, the burgeoning teen terrorists embarked on their most daring plan yet: the armed robbery of the Anderson’s Bay Post Office.

    THE UNLIKELY ROBBERS

    On the day of the robbery, Taane and Rothwell left nearby Bayfield High School at morning tea break, so they wouldn’t be missed.

    They joined Lewis and pulled on camouflage coats to hide their school uniforms, before cycling to the target.

    The trio donned balaclavas and Lewis – wielding a sawn-off shotgun and with an ammunition belt slung across his skinny frame – burst into the post office.

    “This is a f….. hold-up,” he yelled at the startled postmistress and female clerk.

    Lewis leapt over the counter and ordered his large backpack filled with cash.

    Two terrified teenage girls waiting outside were forced into the building and ordered to sit on the floor by the shotgun-wielding Taane, who was acting as a lookout.

    When Lewis jumped back over the counter his shotgun went off, missing a post office worker by centimetres.

    With $5244.31 in cash, the boy robbers then made their getaway on their bikes.

    Bizarrely, as he rode back to his flat with his stolen loot, Lewis stopped to help a police car that had crashed on the way to the scene. The cop suspected nothing.

    Back at school Taane and Rothwell sat an exam, alongside their unwitting classmates.

    Former constable Frank Van Der Eik was one of the officers called to set up a cordon around the post office.

    He and other officers were amazed to discover it was schoolboys who carried out the brazen daylight armed robbery.

    “You would never think to look for a high school kid in school clothes,” Van Der Eik said.

    Ten days after the robbery a letter posted at Otago University said “N.I.G.A. claimed responsibility for the Post Office robbery and the Centrefire Sports shop”.

    Taane recalled telling Rothwell in the days after the robbery, “normal life will be boring after this”.

    Lewis had never been one for boring. In later years, he boasted to his lawyer, Murray Hanan, that he would be “New Zealand’s greatest criminal”. What he planned next was his ticket to notoriety.

    THE MOMENT

    Christopher John Lewis is only 17 when he finds himself perched inside the Adams Building, with a rifle cocked and aimed at Queen Elizabeth II, on Wednesday October 14, 1981.

    The eight-day royal visit, her sixth to New Zealand, is a short one, just a month after the divisive Springbok rugby tour.

    Hundreds of police, fresh from clashing with anti-apartheid protesters, are tasked with protecting the Queen.

    Security is tight, or so they believe.

    Wearing a jade-coloured wool dress, coat and hat, the Queen steps out of a Rolls Royce and onto the sunny Otago Museum Reserve, while the Duke observes police shielding about 15 demonstrators.

    Then a loud crack echoes around.

    How close did this sandy-haired boy burglar come in his attempt on Queen Elizabeth’s life?

    What made New Zealand police so afraid of Lewis that they sent him on a taxpayer-funded holiday 14 years after the assassination attempt during another of the Queen’s visits?

    And who was the mysterious ‘Snowman’ whom Lewis claimed gave him the order to shoot?

    *

    Chapter two

    At just 17, Christopher John Lewis fears nothing. Nothing except one person. 
    “I have no unnatural phobias at all. I am scared of the Snowman,” he tells police.

    The Snowman is English, about 22 years old, 172 centimetres tall, of average build, with short black hair and a “rough temper”, teen criminal Lewis says.

    He first meets the Snowman by chance at Dunedin’s Manor House Coffee Lounge.
    Snowman tells Lewis about the pro-Nazi, right-wing National Front in England and says similar groups are “sprouting up” across New Zealand.
    Lewis is keen to get involved, and has visions of leading his own local terrorist cell.

    When the Snowman asks Lewis whether the Queen should be “knocked off”, the young bandit knows this is his chance for a promotion.

    He starts planning to kill Queen Elizabeth II.

    THE ORDER

    One might have expected panic among the 3500-strong crowd when the crack of gunfire rang out across the Otago Museum Reserve on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 14, 1981.

    Engraver Garth Simpson and two workmates had just downed tools to watch the Rolls Royce cruise along Malcolm St.
    Garth Simpson was in Dunedin when the Queen visited the city. As she was driven past, he remembers hearing a gun-shot nearby.

    They waved, but Queen Elizabeth II did not return their greeting.
    Annoyed, Simpson turned his back. That’s when he heard it.
    “It was clearly a gunshot.”
    A former territorial soldier for more than a decade, Simpson was adamant the shot came from a .22 calibre rifle.

    “I assumed it was a shot at the Queen.”
    Sue Cutfield, who was near the reserve, heard the shot as the Queen, wearing her trademark matching hat, coat and dress, emerged from the car.

    Former Constable Frank Van Der Eik, one of hundreds of officers at the scene, described it as a “crack”.

    “You hear that noise and all the cops are looking around: scanning, scanning, scanning,” Van Der Eik said.

    But nothing happened. “The Queen just carried on.”

    Media reports later quoted police saying the noise was merely a council sign falling over, but an inquiry was launched.

    Eight days later, police stumbled across 17-year-old Christopher Lewis by chance.
    Officers were going door-to-door to find possible witnesses to an unrelated armed robbery, when they discovered nervous schoolboy Geoffrey Rothwell, wearing a camouflage jacket matching the description of the robbers.

    Rothwell, Lewis, and another mate, Paul Taane, were taken in for questioning.
    Soon the boys were talking – none more so than Lewis.

    Described by police as looking like “something out of a boy scout manual”, he admitted to a string of burglaries, and to being the supposed head of the National Imperial Guerilla Army (N.I.G.A), which only months earlier had sent letters to police threatening violence over the Springbok tour.

    Officers seized a cache of weapons from the teen’s flat, but something was missing: a BSA .22 bolt action.

    Later, Lewis led police to the non-descript Adams Building, to a toilet overlooking the Queen’s route through Dunedin. There police found the weapon, along with a spent .22 cartridge.

    At Lewis’ flat, officers found newspaper clippings on the royal family and a hand-drawn map of the Octagon with the words: Operation = Ass QUEB.

    They realised this sandy-haired schoolboy was not just a robber, but a would-be assassin.

    Lewis was officially interviewed eight times over a 13-day period, on suspicion of attempting to kill the Queen, the police file shows.

    The teen potentially faced a charge of treason. The penalty? Death.
    Lewis claimed the order for the assassination came from the Snowman.
    Transcripts of those interviews, obtained for the first time under the Official Information Act, said Lewis portrayed “a real fear” of the Snowman.

    “He … considers him to be very powerful, with access to firearms,” a detective noted.
    According to Lewis, school mates Taane, 17, and Rothwell, 16, were directly under his command in N.I.G.A, with another person, the Polar Bear, higher ranked in the group.

    The Snowman was the leader, and under his orders the fledgling army aimed “to terrorise Dunedin” and police with “fear tactics, terrorism, firearms and explosives”.

    He told police he thought killing the Queen would get him promoted within N.I.G.A.
    Detectives had “grave doubts” about the existence of the Snowman and the Polar Bear.

    One interviewing detective put it to Lewis that, if the Snowman wanted a person of such international prestige as the Queen assassinated, he wouldn’t get a boy to do the job for him.

    “I … suggested that he was the Snowman,” the officer said.

    But Lewis put on a convincing show.
    In one interview, he asked to sit away from the window over fears he would be shot by a sniper. If the Snowman found out Lewis had exposed him, he would be killed, he said.

    Lewis said his last meeting with the Snowman was on Monday October 12, 1981, two days before the royal visit.
    “It was his idea that I shoot the Queen.”

    THE PLOT

    In several statements to police between October 22 to November 3, 1981, Lewis gave varying versions of how he carried out his plot to assassinate the Queen.

    He first said he originally planned to shoot the monarch in the Octagon, but aborted the location because there wasn’t an escape route.

    “I wanted to find a good place to get her from. I wanted to find a place where I wouldn’t get caught.”

    When he realised the Octagon wouldn’t work, he biked to the Adams Building, his Plan B.

    With no-one around he walked up to the fifth floor and then into a toilet block.
    There he found a window facing towards the museum.

    “The window was open just a fraction, I didn’t open it any further, just a fraction was enough for what I wanted it for.”
    Lewis told detectives he waited a few minutes for the Queen to arrive before letting a shot off.

    “I don’t know if I hit anything or not.”
    Lewis left the rifle in a locker just outside the toilet, and took the lift to the ground floor, before cycling back to his flat.

    Two days later he gave another version of events. This time he told detectives that on the day of the attempt he went to scope out the museum before playing Space Invaders in the foyer of the nearby University Union.

    Walking back to his flat he changed into his dark blue suit trousers, jersey and gym shoes.

    He then went to his garden, dug up a stolen .22 rifle, and gave it a clean.
    Wrapping the rifle up in a pair of old jeans he placed it on the handlebars of his green 10 speed Healing and headed to the Adams Building.

    “Right up until this stage it was my intention to kill the Queen by shooting her with the loaded .22 calibre I was carrying.”
    “At about the fifth floor I changed my mind.”

    Lewis told police that he could no longer see the museum reserve, and developed second thoughts.

    “My mind was in turmoil. I was tearing my insides out. I didn’t know what to do.'”
    Regardless, he unwrapped the gun, putting gloves on to avoid fingerprints.
    Opening the window a fraction, he waited in the locked toilet area with his gun aimed at the street below.

    “I was going to make a spur of the moment decision if I saw her.”

    Five minutes later that opportunity came.
    A car travelled down Malcolm St.
    “I had no idea who was in this car,” Lewis said.

    “I never thought it was the Queen.”
    He put the rifle against his shoulder, sighted the road and fired a shot.
    Lewis maintained he had no idea where the Queen was when he fired the shot and he “definitely could not see her”.

    Later, when shown three photos in order to pinpoint the location of the bullet, Lewis could not orientate himself and asked to be taken to the Adams Building.

    In the toilet cubicle, he demonstrated how he latched the window, before simulating firing a gun.

    Lewis told police he was confused and uncertain as to where he had fired the shot.

    Eventually, Lewis gave the police the true identity of the Snowman: his imagination.
    “I have been telling a number of untruths… I now wish to correct a few things.

    “The major issue concerns two persons I have code-named the Snowman and Polar Bear.

    “These persons do not exist. They are a figment of my imagination.”

    On November 2, Lewis was charged with the possession of a .22 rifle in a public place, and another charge of discharging it.
    He seemed disappointed.

    “Only two charges, what?” “S…,” Lewis said, before letting out a long whistle.

    “Had the bullet hit her, would it be treason?” he asked.

    “I ignored the question,” the officer wrote.

    THE SHED

    The bedroom is bare apart from a bed, and bullet holes from a .22 rifle peppering the walls.

    It is the day after Lewis is charged and he guides police working on the case outside to a small shed at the rear of his ramshackle villa in the heart of Dunedin’s student quarter.

    It’s in this shed, where the budding scientist carries out experiments, the 17-year-old tells the officers.

    Among the books and chemicals he uses for his correspondence schooling are his mice which he uses for testing.

    Lewis, concerned that no-one will be able to look after the two mice while he is in prison, says he will have to kill them.

    Without hesitation he picks up a live mouse and pulls its head clean off in front of his guarding officers, before doing the same to the other.

    Police have the boy who took a shot at Queen Elizabeth II, but they’re discovering this young, bookish criminal is more fearsome than he looks, and they don’t want the world to know about him.

    ***

    Lewis, his lawyer, and a senior officer-turned-whistleblower, claim the truth never came out. Why was Lewis allegedly told by police officers he would suffer a “fate worse than death” if he talked?

    If they didn’t believe he had really tried to assassinate the Queen that day, what were police trying to protect by sending Lewis on a publicaly-funded island holiday during a future royal visit?

    And what other criminal exploits meant Lewis spent most of his 20s in and out of jail?

    ***

    Chapter three

    It has been 14 years since Christopher John Lewis took a shot at the Queen in Dunedin, when the teen terrorist-turned-Buddhist finds himself on a taxpayer-funded holiday.

    He and his partner are fishing and kayaking on Great Barrier Island, with free accommodation, daily spending money and a 4WD – courtesy of the New Zealand police.

    “I started to feel like royalty,” Lewis writes in his memoir of the 10-day trip in November 1995.

    So great are police fears that the now 31-year-old will again try to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II, their solution is to exile him while the monarch and a swag of heads of states are in Auckland for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) talks.

    “My name came up on a list which the police drew up, of suspected radicals with political ideals that had seen them (at some point or another) clash with the law,” Lewis writes.

    While police later confirm Lewis was sent to the island for security reasons, he is not under 24-hour surveillance.

    Lewis writes: “All in all I had a great holiday and wasn’t at all fazed to spend 10 days away from Auckland.

    “Of course had I wanted to shoot someone from CHOGM it would have been a simple task to just fly back to Auckland and do so.”

    THE TRUTH?

    Given how paranoid police were about Lewis’ threat to the Queen’s life in the 1990s, their subdued response to his 1981 assassination attempt in Dunedin was surprising.

    Former Dunedin Detective Sergeant Tom Lewis, who is no relation of Christopher Lewis, has no doubt there was a police cover-up.

    “You will never get a true file on that, it was reactivated, regurgitated, bits pulled off it, other false bits put on it . . . they were in damage control so many times.”

    According to Tom Lewis, who was initially the officer assigned to the case, orders to cover up the assassination attempt came from the top – then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.

    It was feared New Zealand would never get another royal tour and that police would be the laughing stock of the British press.

    Paul Taane, a childhood mate of Lewis who carried out several burglaries and arsons with him, said Lewis confided in him about the plot.

    When asked if the assassination attempt was covered-up by authorities, Taane replied “guaranteed”.

    “You don’t hear about it. And they don’t want to talk about it.”

    On October 14, 1981, the day a shot was heard across Otago Museum Reserve as the Queen greeted thousands of Kiwi fans, police downplayed the incident, telling reporters the sound was merely a council sign falling over.

    However, rumours persisted, fuelled by a tip to the British press from within the royal entourage.

    Police later said it may have been a person letting off firecrackers near the Medical School Library.

    Despite these public denials, Christopher Lewis was in police custody just over a week later.

    Tom Lewis alleges the 17-year-old’s first statement to police was destroyed.
    Under questioning, Christopher Lewis claimed he had the Queen lined up for a shot as the royal couple met fans, the former detective said.

    “He was just about to pull the trigger. He was just tightening the trigger, he could just see her hat and was lining up the hat.”
    Now based on the Gold Coast, Tom Lewis claimed a “very accurate” hand-drawn map recovered from the teenager’s bedroom showed how he planned to shoot from the Octagon.

    But that plan was thwarted when two policemen walked in front of the teen’s view.

    The Adams Building, where Christopher Lewis let off a shot from his perch in a toilet cubicle on the fifth floor, was his “Plan B”.

    Tom Lewis said he was with the suspect when police re-enacted his assassination plans in the Octagon, and later from the Adams Building.

    And the teen got close. Very close.
    “If he had waited until she walked a wee bit closer . . . it could have been less than 50 metres.”

    Tom Lewis wrote extensively about the cover-up in his book, Coverups and Copouts, published in 1998.

    Some years earlier the former cop had gone public, prompting top brass to deny allegations of a cover-up while claiming all details of the incident were made public.
    The 1995 police statement said the case was widely reported at the time, with the incident referenced in the 1981 police annual report.

    That report, obtained by Stuff, reads: “The discharge of a firearm during the visit of Her Majesty the Queen serves to remind us all of the potential risks to royalty, particularly during public walks.”
    Christopher Lewis, in his memoir Last Words, claimed that, while in custody, he was visited by “high-ranking police officers” from Wellington.

    “The Dunedin police were rocking from the pressure the ‘top-brass’ were putting on them from Wellington.

    “Many heads rolled because of this.”

    “And the cover-up did not stop there,” Lewis wrote.

    Interviewed by senior NZSIS officers, Lewis claimed he was offered a “new deal”.

    “That if I was ever to mention the events surrounding my interviews or the organisation, or that I was in the building, or that I was shooting from it – that they would make sure I ‘suffered a fate worse than death’.”

    THE CHARGE

    Police job sheets released to Stuff reveal that Christopher John Lewis initially faced a charge of treason, or attempted treason.
    Tom Lewis, who was later taken off the case, said he was dumbfounded to learn the charge was downgraded.

    Lewis’ former lawyer, Murray Hanan, said police did not want to hear any talk of his client shooting at the Queen.

    “They kept on saying ‘oh no, oh no’.”
    Hanan believed a message had come from “up-top, politically” to downplay the incident.

    “The fact an attempted assassination of the Queen had taken place in New Zealand with a nutcase who later said he was trying to establish a new IRA movement . . . it was just too politically hot to handle.”

    Hanan was puzzled as to why Lewis was never charged with treason, with capital punishment remaining on the government books until 1989.

    “I think the Government took the view that he is a bit nutty and has had a hard upbringing, so it won’t be too harsh.”

    Hanan did not believe anyone else was involved in the assassination attempt, with Lewis ultimately claiming full responsibility.

    “That was typical Christopher.”

    On December 10, 1981 in the Dunedin High Court, Christopher Lewis was sentenced to three years jail, after pleading guilty to 17 charges from his exploits in the months leading up to the royal visit. They included aggravated robbery, arson and burglary.

    He was never charged with attempting to kill the Queen. Instead, it was possession of a firearm in a public place and discharging a firearm.

    “From their investigation the police were satisfied that at no time could the accused have been close enough to the Royal party to have been within effective range of any member of that party and, in fact, when he discharged that rifle, the Royal party would not have been visible to him,” the official police summary said.

    “Subsequently, the accused admitted that he had in fact discharged the firearms directly into the ground.”

    Five days after his arrest a confidential letter, obtained by Stuff under OIA, was sent to the then Commissioner of Police about the incident.

    “Because of the lack of the physical evidence and Lewis’ psychiatric history, we may never know exactly what happened.”

    THE RELEASE

    ‘FREED – The BOY GUERILLA’ screams the 

    headline on The Truth in June 1984.
    Christopher Lewis’ release from custody does not go unnoticed.

    Having tried to escape youth prison and then finishing his sentence in a psychiatric hospital, his freedom sparks a flurry of official correspondence between government departments.

    One letter, seen by Stuff, cites a visiting psychiatrist warning that the former teen terrorist has the “potential to plan and carry out criminal activities on a very large scale”.

    They are right to be worried.

    “I don’t think that anything before or after, has ever made me feel so happy as when I finally drove out the gate of the hospital and headed south to Dunedin,” Lewis writes in his memoir.
    He is finally free, but far from reformed.

    ***

    A trained ninja, Christopher Lewis is still to rob a handful of banks, spark a major West Coast manhunt, fake a passport and allegedly, to murder.

    He will spend most of his 20s inside some of New Zealand’s harshest prisons.
    Does his ‘enlightenment’ through Buddhism and yoga change his criminal course?

    ***

    Chapter four

    Christopher John Lewis steps into the hot bath, takes a sip of brandy and lights a cigar.

    On the television in his motel room is a news report of a large police manhunt for the fugitive.

    The problem for police is they are searching on the West Coast, but Lewis is in Wellington, watching the drama unfold.

    A week earlier, the 23-year-old had grabbed his pet kitten and the $20,000 in cash he robbed from a Christchurch bank and gone on the run.

    Armed police and an Iroquois helicopter comb rugged Buller Gorge bush looking for Lewis, but he escapes by using his ninja skills to wedge himself into the underside of a bus for 200km to flee the area.

    Now, as he savours his drink and his criminal success in equal parts, he has another destination in mind: Australia.

    THE PRINCE

    By the time Lewis finds himself holed up in a Wellington motel in May 1987, the young man has already been jailed three times.
    His longest stint was more than three years in custody for a crime spree in 1981, which ended with the then-17-year-old firing a shot at Queen Elizabeth II during her Dunedin visit that year.

    Lewis narrowly escaped a treason charge for the assassination plot – instead police charged him with possession of a firearm in a public place and discharging a firearm, adding to the other 15 charges he admitted to, including aggravated robbery, arson and burglary.

    Lewis served the first year of his sentence in an Invercargill youth detention centre.
    He was later given an extra three months inside, after an hour-long prison break (he made a run for it while bringing in milk containers from outside the wire) which landed him in solitary confinement for weeks.

    In 1983 he was transferred to Lake Alice psychiatric hospital, near Whanganui, where he planned another attack on the Royal family.

    After he tried to overpower a guard with a knife, staff found in Lewis’ room detailed plans to murder Prince Charles, who was at the time touring New Zealand with his then-wife Princess Diana and their young son, William.

    That prompted justice officials to try to have Lewis committed under the Mental Health Act. One letter between government departments, seen by Stuff, noted Lewis could “be a real danger to others”.

    Regardless, the bid failed and Lewis spent the latter part of his sentence in Otago psychiatric hospital Cherry Farm, before returning to Dunedin to live with his parents.

    Lewis remained on the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) watch list.

    After serving more time for burglary (including that of his former primary school) in 1985, Lewis was in his 20s and ready to make headlines again: It was time to put his ninjutsu training into practise.

    THE RUN

    The former boy burglar appeared to be going straight.

    Now living in Christchurch, the 23-year-old had a partner, regularly attended church, and had set-up his own ninja dojo.

    But his new civilian life did not last.

    “Robbery was the only area of crime that I felt fitted my disposition,” he wrote in his memoir.

    First, he hit a Christchurch BNZ bank and three post offices – two in Dunedin – netting about $20,000.

    Armed with a fake pistol and a ninja sword, he eluded police and headed for the West Coast.

    Posing as a writer, he rented a small flat in Westport, where he hunkered down for the next six weeks with his adopted kitten, Tiger.

    Running out of cash, he returned to Christchurch to rob another bank.

    In a stolen Ford Telstar, Lewis fled back to the Westport flat. But three days in and with police hot on his trail, Lewis packed his belongings and put Tiger in the front seat of the Ford, planning to drive to Dunedin and then fly to Auckland.

    He was soon being followed by police, and after a high-speed pursuit in torrential rain through the Buller Gorge, Lewis deliberately drove off the road, plunging 10 metres into dense bush and coming to a stop metres from the flooded Buller River.
    Grabbing a radio, provisions and $20,000 cash, he abandoned Tiger and went bush.
    Ninja skills may benefit fugitive’, The Dominion reported on May 5, 1987.

    Dozens of police, including the Armed Offender Squad and an Iroquois helicopter scoured the gorge.

    Police told media the chance of Lewis surviving was “very slim” given the cold and wet conditions, but noted a diary found in his crashed car showed he previously survived in the bush for days on end.

    That was thanks to his ninja skills, Lewis wrote in his memoir.

    He’d first learnt the martial art Tae Kwon Do as a 14-year-old, but was drawn to the art of the ninja under the tutelage of the so-called Master Leong.

    His martial arts training showed him “how to injure, or even kill someone with my bare hands”.

    He eventually ran his own “terrorism” courses in Christchurch under the guise of a Ninjutsu class, telling students he was a black belt, first dan.

    According to reports in the Christchurch Press from his time on the run, lessons included using darts, knives and spikes, poisons, world politics and bush survival.
    He expected students to run hundreds of kilometres cross-country, tread water for three hours, swim 5km by breast-stroke and swim under 30 logs.

    “He professes to be a ninja, but it is highly doubtful,” a martial arts expert told the newspaper.

    “There is no governing body. If you wanted to start a ninjutsu school you could call yourself a ninja.”

    Trained ninja or not, Lewis remained at large following his daring plunge in the Buller Gorge.

    After a week evading police in the bush, he came to a road where he spied an empty bus he hoped would take him south to Greymouth.

    Placing his cash-filled backpack under the bus, he nestled on some pipes to make his escape. Unfortunately for Lewis, the bus travelled 100km to Karamea, and he was forced to return to Westport the same way.
    Lewis then walked along railway tracks and at the Inangahua Junction he hitched a ride to Blenheim and flew to Wellington the next day.

    After securing passage to Melbourne by boat in a month’s time, Lewis flew to Auckland and stayed in a bedsit to await departure.

    After a tip-off, he was finally captured at gunpoint by police while buying a Mini.
    He pleaded guilty to eight robberies and burglaries and was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years’ jail.

    Considered a security risk, Lewis was sent to the toughest prison in the country – Paremoremo – where he found enlightenment.

    THE BUDDHIST

    Monks visit the young criminal who once tried to kill the Queen, and he writes to The Truth newspaper in 1989 about his “newfound enlightenment” in prison.
    The self-styled terrorist has converted to Buddhism and is working on his rehabilitation. He writes that he regrets his offending and asks that prisoners who “show initiative to clean up their life” are let go.

    Five years into his sentence, he is released on parole.

    It takes just four weeks before he is back inside following another bank robbery.
    Freed again in 1995, Lewis and his then-partner move to Karekare, a small coastal settlement west of Auckland, to practise yoga and start a business selling herbal medicine for dogs.

    He finds a studio in an old warehouse on Auckland’s North Shore and starts teaching the Korean martial art Hapkido, and later Ninjutsu.

    But in a year, he will be awaiting trial again. This time the stakes are higher than ever: he is accused of murdering an Auckland housewife.

    ***

    Lewis maintained he was framed for murder by a former cellmate dubbed ‘Jimmy the Weasel’, who was paid $30,000 by police for his information.

    Did Lewis really bludgeon 27-year-old Tania Furlan to death in her own home? How did his shoe print end up at the murder scene?

    And how did the young criminal manage to take his own life while under prison watch?

    ***

    The final chapter

    It’s 1pm at Mt Eden Prison when guards unlock the room of murder-accused Christopher John Lewis and his cellmate.
    It is a chance for them to stretch their legs in the small exercise yard, after lunch.

    But Lewis wishes to stay in his room with a newspaper and biscuits for “some time” to himself.

    Earlier that day, his girlfriend visited. The woman, who calls him “Chris”, is deeply in love with him, and doesn’t notice signs of anything out of the ordinary, despite her lover turning down an offer to put money in his account.

    Lewis’ shared cell in the maximum security wing has artist’s paints set up, a TV and a typewriter in the corner, where Lewis has been working on his memoir.

    About 3.15pm, when a Corrections Officer checks the cell, Lewis is slumped in a metal chair “in a lifeless state”.

    The guard initially thinks Lewis is asleep. Then he notices his colour.

    At 33, the man infamous for attempting to assassinate the Queen in Dunedin, is dead.

    THE MURDER

    It came down to a pair of shoes: Reebok sneakers that would connect Lewis to the murder of 27-year-old Auckland mother-of-three Tania Furlan, though he always denied killing her.

    Furlan was bashed to death with a hammer in her Howick home in July 1996.
    Her then 6-week-old daughter, Tiffany, was later found at a church, some 18 kilometres from her home.

    Police were puzzled over the brutal death, but their investigation soon zeroed in on Lewis, after they talked to one of his former Paremoremo cellmates.

    Lewis had served five years in Paremoremo – the country’s toughest prison – from 1987, for a string of robberies and burglaries.

    Although Lewis, a bookish, sandy-haired man who wore glasses, had a police record spanning two decades back to his early teens, extreme violence was not his usual MO. He was most well-known for plots to kill the Queen and Prince Charles, as well as numerous bank robberies, arsons and elaborate escapes from authorities.

    During pre-trial depositions hearings, his former jail mate, who had name suppression at the time, claimed Lewis confessed to murdering Furlan.

    He alleged Lewis posed as a delivery man, with a hammer in a cardboard box. When Furlan answered the door, Lewis asked for a pen and then hit her on the head, intending just to knock her out.

    “He said he must have hit her too hard because the blood was p…ing out,” NZPA reported the witness saying.

    “He hit her another five times, because he knew he had f….. up.”

    The informant alleged Lewis, who was a self-proclaimed ninja and survival expert, needed money for a martial arts centre. As part of the plot Lewis wanted to take Furlan hostage to extort money from her husband, Victor, who managed his local Big Fresh supermarket in Glenfield.

    After taking baby Tiffany instead, and leaving a ransom note, he changed his mind, dropped the girl at the Royal Oak Baptist Church and returned to the house to retrieve the note.

    The police case centred around a shoe print forensic scientists found at the crime scene, which matched a pair of Reebok Aztrek Plus sneakers Lewis owned. Police also recovered a notepad from Lewis’ home with indentation, indicating a ransom note had been written.

    Lewis and his partner were staying with his mother in Christchurch when police came for him.

    The couple were planning a sailing holiday to South America, but were struggling to get a passport for Lewis due to his criminal convictions. They offered money to a mate to get one under his name, but the friend got cold feet.

    When the cops came knocking, Lewis was wearing his Reeboks. Both Lewis and his partner were initially arrested on passport charges, but police soon began asking about Lewis’ whereabouts on the night Furlan was bludgeoned to death.

    On Friday November 1, 1996, Lewis was sent to jail for six weeks after admitting making a false statement for procuring a New Zealand passport.

    His partner, a first offender, was fined $350 plus court costs.

    Later that day, after he was taken to Addington Prison, a police officer with results from testing his pair of Reeboks visited.

    “You killed Tania Furlan,” the officer said.
    Lewis, who avoided a charge of treason as a teen, was charged with murder.

    The next day he was transferred to Mt Eden Prison, Auckland.

    In his memoir Last Words, Lewis maintained his former Paremoremo cellmate, who he dubbed “Jimmy the Weasel”, framed him.

    “Words alone cannot express the feelings of fear and anxiety that weigh upon me as I write this book,” Lewis’ opening sentence read.

    “I have tossed and turned, sleeping briefly then staring blankly into the cell ceiling wondering how I can possibly cope with this accusation levelled against me by an ex-inmate and former rapist and violent thug.”

    That “thug” informant was later revealed to have been paid $30,000 by police for accusing Lewis of Furlan’s murder.

    THE ‘WEASEL’

    The man who pointed the finger at Lewis to police was later revealed to be Travis Burns, a former Paremoremo prison mate who shared Lewis’ interest in martial arts and cannabis.

    Lewis, who claimed he could smash bricks and punch concrete blocks without flinching, argued his ninja training meant he would not have killed Furlan by battering her with a hammer.

    “If I had wanted to kill her, I could have done so in a hundred more able, efficient and cleaner ways,” he wrote in his book.
    Lewis’ mother, who declined to be named, said her son was no killer and “got hung out to dry”.

    “He told me he didn’t do it.”

    The now Christchurch-based woman said her son was diagnosed with a mental disorder as a pre-teen, and was involved with criminal activity, but “never hurt anyone ever”.

    Lewis maintained his innocence. He believed Burns, who had the same shoe size as him, wore his sneakers during the murder and secretly returned them to Lewis’ flat.

    Lewis claimed he and his former cellmate “often borrowed each other’s shoes and prison clothing anyway, so it wasn’t such a big thing to do”. Lewis alleged Burns wrote notes on a pad at his home, but took the piece of paper with him.

    Those impressions on the note pad included the references “come alone”, “when you get money you will get child 36 hours later” and “no ringing pigs”.

    Lewis’ ex-partner believes in his innocence. She told Stuff she would have taken the stand in his defence.

    The woman, who Stuff is not naming, said Lewis was driving her to a yoga class at the time police say Furlan was murdered.
    “Potentially he orchestrated it, but did he do it? I still don’t believe that.

    “I think that would have been beneath him to do something so stupid.”

    Two years after Furlan’s murder, Whangaparaoa mother Joanna McCarthy was battered to death in front of her two children in a flurry of hammer blows, kicks and punches in November 1998.

    DNA later identified Travis Burns as her killer.

    In August 1997, Lewis wrote in his memoir a message to Furlan’s husband and family: “May your hearts be softened by my sincere words, and I hope to one day look you in the eye and say with infinite truth that I did not commit this crime, not ever would I do such a thing.”

    A month later Lewis would take his own life.

    THE DEATH OF CHRISTOPHER JOHN LEWIS

    A Mt Eden prison guard finds Lewis in a “lifeless state in his cell” about 3.15pm on Tuesday September 23, 1997.

    The inmate, who has a Japanese Kanji tattoo on the right side of his chest and a wizard on his thigh, is sitting on a metal chair, slumped forward towards his bed.
    “My first impression was that Lewis was asleep,” the guard said, according to the coroner’s report.

    But noticing the murder-accused prisoner looks off-white, he calls for help.
    Attempts to resuscitate Lewis fail and he is declared dead at 4.10pm.

    With permission from the coroner, Stuff can report that Lewis committed suicide in his prison cell by tampering with a junction box and electrocuting himself.
    Other details of his death remain suppressed.

    After his suicide at Mt Eden the coroner made three recommendations to reduce the chances of further deaths occurring in similar circumstances, which led to a nationwide change to ensure prisoners were unable to access the junction boxes.

    A suicide note was recovered from the cellroom toilet, next to Lewis’ body.
    Lewis’ ex-partner, who visited him that morning, saw a copy of the note and said it “stated that he had nothing to do with the [Furlan] crime”.

    She described Lewis as a highly intelligent but manipulative person who was damaged mentally and emotionally by a violent upbringing.

    “He could have done really good things, but he chose to do really bad things.”

    She said with Lewis, it was always “hard to tell what is true and what isn’t true”.

    That included his notorious attempt to shoot the Queen in Dunedin, back in 1981.
    Lewis confessed to her he did not shoot at the road, or at some seagulls, but at the Queen herself.

    “Damn,” he told her “damn . . . I missed.”

    Stuff.co.nz

    ***

    Climate Change in My Backyard. Santa Barbara, California – Leah C. Stokes. 

    On Tuesday morning, half an inch of water fell in nearby Montecito — half an inch in five minutes. Even in the best of conditions, this pace could cause flooding. But it wasn’t the best of conditions. 

    Last month, we endured the largest wildfire in California history. For two and a half weeks straight, the fire burned closer every day. Air quality turned unhealthy and forced schools to close. Businesses had to shut their doors during the peak holiday season. The local economy was decimated. I moved out of my home for weeks, as did many others. But at least I had a home to return to. Hundreds of others lost theirs. Thousands more lost their livelihoods. As a climate policy researcher, I was seeing the consequences of climate inaction in my own backyard.

    Life was just beginning to get back to normal when the rains came this week, hard and fast. The scorched land could not absorb the water, and so the mudslides began.

    Many residents, exhausted from weeks of displacement, were at home that night despite evacuation warnings. The forecast called for heavy rains, and the county was persistent in its preparation for mudslides and flooding. But the rain’s intensity was extreme. Rain was not supposed to fall this fast, not in our memory. No one thought it would be so bad.
    Houses were ripped from their foundations. City streets were unrecognizable. Helicopters flew back and forth in a near continuous line for days, hoisting people from roofs. The names of the missing and the dead swelled.

    We say the extreme rain caused this disaster. We say it was the fire. And we say that multiple years of drought didn’t help. But what caused the rain, the fire and the drought?

    There is a clear climate signature in the disaster in Santa Barbara. We know that climate change is making California’s extreme rainfall events more frequent. We know it’s worsening our fires. We know that it contributed substantially to the latest drought.

    There are simpler stories we could tell. Stories with more proximate causes: Those people bought in dangerous places. Those people should have left their homes. Those people are somehow to blame. These events are normal. These things just happen there.

    But these simple stories mask a larger truth. How many times do we need to hear adjectives in their superlative form before we spot a pattern: largest, rainiest, driest, deadliest? Records, by their nature, are not meant to be set annually. And yet that’s what is happening. The costliest year for natural disasters in the United States was 2017. One of the longest and most severe droughts in California history concluded for most parts of the state in 2017. The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2006, with 2017 expected to be one of the warmest yet again.

    I have researched climate change policy for over a decade now. For a long time, we assumed that climate policy was stalled because it was a problem for the future. Or it would affect other people. Poorer people. Animals. Ecosystems. We assumed those parts of the world were separate from us. That we were somehow insulated. I didn’t expect to see it in my own backyard so soon.

    Climate change devastated ecosystems, species and neighborhoods in Houston and much of struggling Puerto Rico last year. Now climate change has ravaged one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. We know now that even the richest among us is not insulated.

    These extreme events are getting worse. But when I read the news after each fresh disaster, I rarely see a mention of climate change. Whether it’s coverage of a fire in my backyard or a powerful hurricane in the Caribbean, this bigger story is usually missing. To say that it is too soon to talk about the causes of a crisis is wrongheaded. We must connect the dots.

    Climate change helped cost my friends’ businesses’ revenue. Climate change helped put my community in chaos for weeks. Climate change paved the way for lost lives next door. If climate victims here and across the globe understood that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels played a role in their losses, perhaps they would rise up to demand policy changes.

    We know this could happen because research from the political scientist Regina Bateson, now a congressional candidate in California, shows that being a crime victim can spur people into activism. Perhaps some of the people affected by the fires in California, the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Texas, and the drought in the Dakotas will be similarly motivated. Maybe some of these climate change victims will become the climate policy champions we sorely need.

    It is never too soon after one of these disasters to speak truth about climate change’s role. If anything, it is too late. If we do not name the problem, we cannot hope to solve it. For my community, as much as yours, I hope we will.

    *

    Leah C. Stokes is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    New York Times 

    Empirical Facts * Comparing Islam – Hunter Stuart. * Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world – Pew Research Center. 

    A Religion of Peace? Comparing Islam – Hunter Stuart.

    Just because medieval Islamic scripture decrees certain things doesn’t mean that contemporary Muslims do them. The vast majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are peaceful people. Indeed, Islam itself is based on peaceful values: the word “Islam” comes from the Arabic word for peace (salaam). Muslims’ primary way of greeting each other is salaam alaykum, or “Peace be upon you.”


    The Koran also contradicts itself about the whole accepting-people-of-other-religions thing. Though some verses advocate killing infidels, others say the opposite. “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith,” says the 2nd sura, for example. The Koran also encourages its followers time and again to be kind, generous and loving to each other. “Compete with each other in doing good,” says one verse. “Allah is with those who are of service to others,” says another.

    The Koran says that those who “wage war against Allah” should be punished with execution, crucifixion, or the “cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides,” which sounds particularly unpleasant. Again, “waging war against Allah” is vague. That very vagueness is exactly what terror groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda exploit to increase their own power.

    The Koran was written in the 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula during a time of war. The prophet Muhammad and his early followers had to fight constantly for survival in a brutal desert environment where various tribes were competing for resources. In other words, the first Muslims were a scrappy, persecuted crew in a dog-eat-dog world and this experience almost definitely influenced the way they wrote the holy texts that later became Islamic scripture.

    Knowing the historical context of the birth of Islam helps us understand why parts of the Koran and other Islamic texts are so brutal. There are over 100 verses that appear to condone violence in one way or another in the Koran alone — and that’s not even getting into the hadiths, or sayings, of the prophet Muhammad, which include some pretty gruesome stuff, too.

    Some Koranic verses are explicitly violent. “Kill [nonbelievers] wherever you find them,” says a line in the 2nd sura, or chapter. “Strike off their heads and strike from them every fingertip,” says another, also referring to what Muslims should do when they encounter someone of another faith.

    Other verses in the Koran do not explicitly condone violence but could be interpreted that way. One widely quoted (and sometimes misquoted — even by Obama) verse occurs in the holy book’s 5th sura. It states that murder is bad unless someone has “spread mischief in the land.” Obviously “spreading mischief” or “villainy” (as it’s sometimes translated) in “the land” can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, which has proved problematic for Islam over the years.

    In Islamic scripture, it’s not just infidels who deserve to die. The hadiths (which are the second-most important piece of Islamic scripture after the Koran) contain stories of gay people and adulterers being put to death for their abominable crimes — and some people have taken this to mean that Islam allows for homosexuality and adultery to be punished by execution.

    It’s also important to remember that Islam is a younger religion than Christianity or Judaism and therefore may just be going through a kind of rebellious adolescent phase. Christianity was the age that Islam is now about 1300 years ago. Remember what Christianity was doing 1300 years ago? Gearing up to savage the Western world with the systematic rape-pillage-and-murder campaign known as The Crusades — that’s what.

    But don’t think Christianity has since grown up and stopped mass murdering people since then. The Holocaust, after all, happened in Europe — one of the most Christian and supposedly enlightened places in the world — a mere 70 years ago. Radical Christians have committed contemptible crimes more recently, too. Look at the dozens of Christians who have murdered abortion doctors or bombed abortion clinics, for example. Most of those killers believed they were following Christian doctrine the same way a suicide bomber from Libya or Pakistan believes he’s acting in accordance with Islam.

    What’s more, many of the white American men who’ve committed horrifying mass shootings in the US in recent years — from Dylann Roof to Adam Lanza to Jared Lee Loughner — came from Christian backgrounds, but the media rarely scrutinizes their religious heritage when searching for a motive. Instead, news outlets choose to employ the very morally problematic double standard of suggesting that black and brown killers are terrorists while white people are “mentally ill” or merely “lone wolves.”

    The Bible, like the Koran, contains plenty of violent stuff. The book of Deuteronomy is clear about what Christians should do if they encounter someone who believes in another god: “Take the man or woman who has done this evil deed … and stone that person to death.” The Pentateuch in the Old Testament notoriously suggests that gay people should be executed. “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Sheesh!

    Judaism has plenty of violence in it, too. Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism also suggests that homosexuals should be punished with death for their “detestable” acts. Jewish law also prescribes violent punishment for women who cheat on their husbands (controversially, it doesn’t consider a married man cheating on his wife to technically be adultery).

    Headlines are dominated by stories of Muslim terrorism; stories about Jewish terrorism are few and far between. That’s partly explained by there being far fewer Jews in the world than there are Muslims (16 million Jews compared to 1.6 billion Muslims). So to some extent, you not hearing about Jewish terrorism is just statistical: Since terrorists come from all religions and all cultures, it follows that the larger ones will have more terrorists, numerically speaking.

    But Jewish terrorism still happens. In fact, the Jews were masters of guerrilla warfare thousands of years before Al Qaeda was even born. More recently, in the 1930s and 40s, Jewish militant groups in pre-state Israel, like the Irgun and the Stern Gang, carried out insurgent attacks on the British military and government workers who were in charge of Palestine at that time. Some of the leaders of these underground Jewish militias went on to occupy top roles in the government of Israel when the country was created in 1948.

    Jewish terrorism still happens in Israel today. In Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank, a secretive ultra-Zionist group called The Hilltop Youth carries out assaults on Muslim and Christian Palestinians and their property. They also attack the IDF, which they view as illegitimate. The gang has perpetrated hundreds of attacks in recent years. In July 2015, for example, suspected Hilltop Youth members firebombed the home of the Dawabshes, a family of Palestinian Muslims, and spray-painted Jewish stars on the side of the house before fleeing the scene. The attack destroyed the home and killed both the Dawabshe parents and their 18-month-old baby.

    So are we right to be wary of Islam? Yes, but no more so than all of the Abrahamic faiths, all of which are rooted in scripture that at times condones violence. Islam is no exception. But are Muslims innately more violent than anyone else? No. And singling them out that way is misguided and dangerous.

    *
    Hunter Stuart, Dose.com

    I’m a 34-year-old writer in Chicago, working as a senior editor at Dose, a digital media agency. 
    I have nine years of experience as an editor, journalist and video producer. I recently spent 1.5 years working as a reporter in Jerusalem, where I covered conflict, culture and technology for Vice, Al Jazeera English, The Jerusalem Post and others.
    From 2010-2015, I was a staff editor at HuffPost in New York City, where I worked in a number of different roles, including as a business reporter, a video producer and a social media editor.

    ***

    Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

    By Michael Lipka, Pew Research Center.

    Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – have said they know little or nothing about Islam.
    Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years:

    How many Muslims are there? Where do they live?

    There were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of 2015 – roughly 24% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.

    Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region, where the religion originated in the seventh century, are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

    Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050 (while remaining a majority-Hindu country), with more than 300 million Muslims.
    The Muslim population in Europe also is growing; we project 10% of all Europeans will be Muslims by 2050.

    How many Muslims are there in the United States?

    According to our estimate, there are about 3.45 million Muslims of all ages in the U.S., or about 1.1% of the U.S. population. This is based on an analysis of census statistics and data from a 2017 survey of U.S. 
    Muslims, which was conducted in English as well as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. Based on the same analysis, Pew Research Center also estimates that there are 2.15 million Muslim adults in the country, and that a majority of them (58%) are immigrants.

    Our demographic projections estimate that Muslims will make up 2.1% of the U.S. population by the year 2050, surpassing people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion as the second-largest faith group in the country (not including people who say they have no religion).

    A 2013 Pew Research Center report estimated that the Muslim share of immigrants granted permanent residency status (green cards) increased from about 5% in 1992 to roughly 10% in 2012, representing about 100,000 immigrants in that year.


    Why is the global Muslim population growing?

    There are two major factors behind the rapid projected growth of Islam, and both involve simple demographics. For one, Muslims have more children than members of other religious groups. 
    Around the world, each Muslim woman has an average of 2.9 children, compared with 2.2 for all other groups combined.

    Muslims are also the youngest (median age of 24 years old in 2015) of all major religious groups, seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims. As a result, a larger share of Muslims already are, or will soon be, at the point in their lives when they begin having children. This, combined with high fertility rates, will fuel Muslim population growth.
    While it does not change the global population, migration is helping to increase the Muslim population in some regions, including North America and Europe.


    How do Americans view Muslims and Islam?

    A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2017 asked Americans to rate members of nine religious groups on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating. Overall, Americans gave Muslims an average rating of 48 degrees, similar to atheists (50).

    Americans view more warmly the seven other religious groups mentioned in the survey (Jews, Catholics, mainline Protestants, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons). But views toward Muslims (as well as several of the other groups) are now warmer than they were a few years ago; in 2014, U.S. adults gave Muslims an average rating of 40 degrees in a similar survey.

    Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party gave Muslims an average rating of 39, considerably cooler than Democrats’ rating toward Muslims (56).

    This partisan gap extends to several other questions about Muslims and Islam. Indeed, Republicans and Republican leaners also are more likely than Democrats and those who lean Democratic to say they are very concerned about extremism in the name of Islam, both around the world (67% vs. 40%) and in the U.S. (64% vs. 30%). In addition, a December 2016 survey found that more Republicans than Democrats say Islam is likelier than other religions to encourage violence among its believers (63% vs. 26% of Democrats). And while most Americans (69%) believe there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in the U.S. today, views are again split by party: 85% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic and 49% of Republicans and GOP leaners hold this view.

    Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to say that Islam is not part of mainstream American society (68% vs. 37%) and that there is a natural conflict between Islam and democracy (65% vs. 30%).

    About half of Americans (49%) think at least “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American, greater than the share who say “just a few” or “none” are anti-American, according to a January 2016 survey. Views on this question have become much more partisan in the last 14 years (see graphic). 
    But most Americans do not see widespread support for extremism among Muslims living in the U.S., according to a February 2017 survey. Overall, 40% say there is not much support for extremism among U.S. Muslims, while an additional 15% say there is none at all. About a quarter say there is a fair amount of support (24%) for extremism among U.S. Muslims; 11% say there is a great deal of support.


    How do Europeans view Muslims?

    In spring 2016, we asked residents of 10 European counties for their impression of how many Muslims in their country support extremist groups, such as ISIS. In most cases, the prevailing view is that “just some” or “very few” Muslims support ISIS, but in Italy, 46% say “many” or “most” do.
    The same survey asked Europeans whether they viewed Muslims favorably or unfavorably. Perceptions varied across European nations: Majorities in Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece say they view Muslims unfavorably, while negative attitudes toward Muslims are much less common in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Northern and Western Europe. People who place themselves on the right side of the ideological scale are much more likely than those on the left to see Muslims negatively.

    What characteristics do people in the Muslim world and people in the West associate with each other?

    A 2011 survey asked about characteristics Westerners and Muslims may associate with one another. Across the seven Muslim-majority countries and territories surveyed, a median of 68% of Muslims said they view Westerners as selfish. 
    Considerable shares also called Westerners other negative adjectives, including violent (median of 66%), greedy (64%) and immoral (61%), while fewer attributed positive characteristics like “respectful of women” (44%), honest (33%) and tolerant (31%) to Westerners.

    Westerners’ views of Muslims were more mixed. A median of 50% across four Western European countries, the U.S. and Russia called Muslims violent and a median of 58% called them “fanatical,” but fewer used negative words like greedy, immoral or selfish. A median of just 22% of Westerners said Muslims are respectful of women, but far more said Muslims are honest (median of 51%) and generous (41%).


    What do Muslims around the world believe?

    Like any religious group, the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims vary depending on many factors, including where in the world they live. But Muslims around the world are almost universally united by a belief in one God and the Prophet Muhammad, and the practice of certain religious rituals, such as fasting during Ramadan, is widespread.

    In other areas, however, there is less unity. For instance, a Pew Research Center survey of Muslims in 39 countries asked Muslims whether they want sharia law, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture, to be the official law of the land in their country. Responses on this question vary widely. Nearly all Muslims in Afghanistan (99%) and most in Iraq (91%) and Pakistan (84%) support sharia law as official law. But in some other countries, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – including Turkey (12%), Kazakhstan (10%) and Azerbaijan (8%) – relatively few favor the implementation of sharia law.


    How do Muslims feel about groups like ISIS?

    Recent surveys show that most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94% in Jordan. Relatively small shares say they see ISIS favorably. In some countries, considerable portions of the population do not offer an opinion about ISIS, including a majority (62%) of Pakistanis.

    Favorable views of ISIS are somewhat higher in Nigeria (14%) than most other nations. Among Nigerian Muslims, 20% say they see ISIS favorably (compared with 7% of Nigerian Christians). The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, which has been conducting a terrorist campaign in the country for years, has sworn allegiance to ISIS.

    More generally, Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq. In the United States, a 2011 survey found that 86% of Muslims say such tactics are rarely or never justified. An additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified and 1% say they are often justified.

    In a few countries, a quarter or more of Muslims say these acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 40% in the Palestinian territories, 39% in Afghanistan, 29% in Egypt and 26% in Bangladesh.

    In many cases, people in countries with large Muslim populations are as concerned as Western nations about the threat of Islamic extremism, and have become increasingly concerned in recent years. 
    About two-thirds of people in Nigeria (68%) and Lebanon (67%) said in 2016 that they are very concerned about Islamic extremism in their country, both up significantly since 2013.


    What do American Muslims believe?

    Our 2017 survey of U.S. Muslims finds that Muslims in the United States perceive a lot of discrimination against their religious group. Moreover, a solid majority of U.S. 
    Muslims are leery of President Donald Trump and think their fellow Americans do not see Islam as part of mainstream U.S. society. At the same time, however, Muslim Americans overwhelmingly say they are proud to be Americans, believe that hard work generally brings success in this country and are satisfied with the way things are going in their own lives.

    Half of Muslim Americans say it has become harder to be Muslim in the U.S. in recent years. And 48% say they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months. But alongside these reports of discrimination, a similar – and growing – share (49%) of Muslim Americans say someone has expressed support for them because of their religion in the past year. And 55% think Americans in general are friendly toward U.S. Muslims, compared with just 14% who say they are unfriendly.

    Living in a religiously pluralistic society, Muslim Americans are more likely than Muslims in many other largely Muslim-majority nations to have a lot of non-Muslim friends. Only about a third (36%) of U.S. Muslims say all or most of their close friends are also Muslims, compared with a global median of 95% in the 39 countries we surveyed.

    Roughly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims (65%) say religion is very important in their lives. About six-in-ten (59%) report praying at least daily and 43% say they attend religious services at least weekly. By some of these traditional measures, Muslims in the U.S. are roughly as religious as U.S. Christians, although they are less religious than Muslims in many other nations.

    When it comes to political and social views, Muslims are far more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (66%) than the Republican Party (13%) and to say they prefer a bigger government providing more services (67%) over a smaller government providing fewer services (25%). And about half of U.S. Muslims (52%) now say homosexuality should be accepted by society, up considerably from 2011 (39%) and 2007 (27%).


    What is the difference between Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims?

    Sunnis and Shiites are two subgroups of Muslims, just as Catholics and Protestants are two subgroups within Christianity. The Sunni-Shiite divide is nearly 1,400 years old, dating back to a dispute over the succession of leadership in the Muslim community following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. While the two groups agree on some core tenets of Islam, there are differences in beliefs and practices, and in some cases Sunnis do not consider Shiites to be Muslims.

    With the exception of a few countries, including Iran (which is majority Shiite) as well as Iraq and Lebanon (which are split), most nations with a large number of Muslims have more Sunnis than Shiites. In the U.S., 55% identify as Sunnis and 16% as Shiites (with the rest identifying with neither group, including some who say they are just a Muslim).

    *
    Note: This post was updated on Aug. 9, 2017. It was originally published Dec. 7, 2015.

    Correction: U.S. Muslim population estimates in this post, including the chart “Number of Muslims in the U.S. continues to grow,” were corrected on Nov. 14, 2017. For details, see Appendix B: Survey Methodology, note 37, of the report “U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream.”
    Michael Lipka is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center

    Pew Research 

    Narcissistic parenting. The Six Faces of Maternal Narcissism – Karyl McBride Ph.D. * The Legacy of a Narcissistic Parent – Goop. 

    Narcissistic parenting. The Six Faces of Maternal Narcissism – Karyl McBride Ph.D.

    The disorder of narcissistic parenting creates significant emotional damage to children. If not understood, children raised by narcissistic parents grow up in a state of denial, thinking it is their fault and they are simply not good enough. If good enough, they would have been loved by that parent. While this is a cognitive distortion about self, the myriad of internal messages gleaned from childhood have a haunting effect on adult children of narcissistic parents. “Will I ever be good enough?” “Am I lovable?” “Am I only valued for what I do and how I look?” “Can I trust my own feelings?” Sound familiar?


    The word “narcissism” is becoming more of a household term, but is usually used in disparaging others. It is not funny, sometimes not understood, and often used to describe a haughty or arrogant person. The reality is, true narcissism is a serious disorder that harms children. I don’t find the humor. Narcissists are truly all about themselves and cannot show genuine empathy. They have a limited capacity for giving unconditional love to their children. The alarming effects are cause for concern.

    Identifying parental narcissism is not about encouraging another category of victims. Carrying anger, blame, resentment or rage for that parent is not the point. It is about love, education and understanding so that healing can happen. Children and parents need some common points of connection to be able to recover and move forward with a deeper template. Being able to identify childhood internal messages is significant to thousands. Often a narcissistic parent is not a full-blown narcissist, but has many narcissistic traits. The impact of understanding can assist in repairing past damage. It is true that full-blown narcissists are unlikely to change, but the adult child can do his or her own internal work for recovery.

    That said, the six faces of maternal narcissism are identified as: the flamboyant-extrovert, the accomplishment-oriented, the psychosomatic, the addicted, the secretly mean, and the emotionally needy. A parent can be a mixture of these types and often that is the case.

    The Flamboyant-Extrovert: This is the mother about whom movies are made. She’s a public entertainer, loved by the masses, but secretly feared by her intimate house partners and children. She’s the show biz or stage mom and is all about performing. She’s noticeable, flashy, fun and “out there.” Some love her but you despise the masquerade she performs for the world. You know that you don’t really matter to her and her show, except in how you make her look to the rest of the world.

    The Accomplishment-Oriented: To the accomplishment-oriented mother, what you achieve in your life is paramount. Success depends on what you do, not who you are. This mom is about grades, best colleges and pertinent degrees. But… if you don’t accomplish what she thinks you should, she is deeply embarrassed and may even respond with fury and rage.

    The Psychosomatic: The psychosomatic mother uses illness and aches and pains to manipulate others, to get her way, and to focus attention on herself. She cares little for those around her. The way to get attention from this kind of mother is to take care of her. This kind of mother uses illness to escape from her own feelings or from having to deal with difficulties in life. You cannot be sicker than she. She will up the ante.

    The Addicted: A parent with a substance abuse issue will always seem narcissistic because the addiction will speak louder than anything else. Sometimes when the addict sobers up the narcissism seems less but not always. The bottle or drug of choice will always come before the child.

    The Secretly Mean: The secretly mean mother does not want others to know that she is abusive to her children. She will have a public self and a private self, which are quite different. These mothers can be kind and loving in public but are abusive and cruel at home. The unpredictable, opposite messages to the child are crazy-making.

    The Emotionally Needy: While all narcissistic mothers are emotionally needy, this mother shows the characteristic more openly than others. This is the mother you have to emotionally take care of which is a losing proposition to the child. The child’s feelings are neglected and the child is unlikely to receive the same nurturance that he or she is expected to provide for the parent.

    If your parent had some of the above traits, it is important to note that they were not born that way. They likely had their own insurmountable barriers to receiving love and empathy when they were children. This does not take away your pain. We cannot ever condone child abuse. But, this knowledge does help accomplish a deeper understanding.

    If your mirror is empty and your childhood lacked in proper nurturing, remember as an adult that recovery is the answer. It is mostly internal work that must be done. The healing five-step recovery model is outlined in Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Once we understand, we can move forward and build an internal mother who is always there when you need her. Unlike the narcissistic mother who is always there when she needs you.

    Will I Ever Be Good Enough? – Karyl McBride Ph.D.

    Are you in relationship with a narcissist?

    Adult children of narcissistic parents commonly grow up with this nagging feeling that they flunked childhood and it’s all their fault. They internalize the message they are not good enough no matter how hard they try.  While everyone has times they don’t feel up to par in some area of life, this “not good enough” feeling that emerges in childhood and results from narcissistic families is different. It seems to permeate the total being of the person and causes damaging emotional effects and life-long patterns in adult life.

    Where does this feeling come from and how do we understand it? From twenty-five years of research, which culminated in the writing of, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, I found several significant factors seen in adult children raised by narcissistic parents. When raised by a narcissist, there are some common psychological dynamics that ensue for the child.

    In the narcissistic family usually the parental hierarchy is reversed so the child is taking care of the parent instead of the other way around. When a child is put in the position of parental care taking, they are being asked to do a job they cannot do based on their maturity and development. In this impossible role of “parentified child,” the child learns that he or she is not capable of changing or fixing their parents which results in an internalized message of “I’m not good enough.”  This same message is internalized in adult children of alcoholic families. This, of course, is not usually understood until adulthood.

    A narcissist cannot give empathy and unconditional love to their children. This causes a child to keep trying to find ways to win this approval and attention to no avail. As time passes, the child assumes it is about him or her and feels unlovable. If my own mother or father can’t love me, who will?

    Narcissists are not in touch with their own feelings and don’t embrace and heal those feelings. This causes them to project feelings onto others. If angry, sad or lonely, for instance, the narcissist will project the emotion onto their children or other people leaving the poor unsuspecting “other” wondering what hit them. For example, a narcissist may experience anger and instead of own the anger, they ask, “why are you upset with me?” If you are a young child and experiencing this, it not only causes emotional confusion but also creates a sense of shame without knowing why.

    Because narcissists are all about image and how it looks to others, this becomes more important than the person or the child. It becomes about how you look and what you do, rather than who you are as a person. This causes the narcissistic parent to not emotionally tune into the child and that child grows up with a parent who does not know who they really are. The child is left with unmet emotional needs and proceeds to adulthood with an empty emotional tank. The emotional development is stunted.

    Narcissists don’t tune into feelings and therefore do not acknowledge and validate their child’s feelings. This causes the child to repress or deny feelings, and to determine that their feelings are not important. It translates into adult life as the child grows up not trusting themselves or their own feelings and thus creates crippling self-doubt.

    Because narcissistic parents tend to use their children as a reflection of themselves, it is a mixed bag if the child does well or not so well. If the child does badly in life or makes mistakes, the narcissistic parent is mortified because it reflects on them as being a bad parent. If the child does well and outshines the narcissistic parent, then it can cause a jealous reaction in the parent. Imagine how confusing this is to the child. They can’t win either way.

    Being critical and judgmental is the way of the narcissist. They do this to make themselves feel bigger and larger than they are. It manifests from their own fragile sense of self and/or lack of self. When around narcissists you will notice them being critical of others on a constant basis, including their own children. Children of narcissists grow up to have a great deal of sensitivity around being judged and criticized by others and understandably so. It feeds into the “not good enough” feeling that began early in life.

    You may have been raised by a narcissist or are currently involved in some relationships with narcissists now. One way to determine is to assess if you constantly feel “not good enough” in the presence of this person. It may be a spouse, significant other, sibling, family member, co-worker, boss or friend. If you plug in some of the factors above, you will begin to know how to spot a narcissist and can learn to protect yourself. How do you feel in the presence of this person?  A healthy relationship brings out the best in you and you are allowed to be your authentic self. You don’t feel put down or judged but rather feel valued for who you are. The real you comes alive in a healthy connection.

    If you grew up with the “not good enough feeling” and feel you were raised by a narcissistic parent, we welcome you to join our recovery work beginning with learning more about the insidious disorder of narcissism. See additional resources below that can be of assistance.  There is always hope for recovery and not passing on the legacy of distorted love to your children and grandchildren. If you are wounded from your past, through recovery you can become inspired by it as well. It can be the catalyst for changing how we treat our children and others we love. It does take a village of support but it always begins at home.

    Psychology Today

    *

    The Legacy of a Narcissistic Parent – Goop

    When Dr. Robin Berman was first establishing her own practice, she intended to work solely with kids—until she realized that she couldn’t do much for little ones without re-parenting the grown-ups. Per Dr. Berman, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA, the vicious cycle can be intense. But there’s hope, which she details in a compelling read, Permission to Parent: How to Raise your Child With Love and Limits, which combines her own insights with feedback from kids and adults who turned out well. The themes of the book are straightforward and profound: In short, this generation’s take on parenting—overbearing, enabling, overindulgent—is a pendulum swing in the opposite direction from the way they were parented (ignored, abandoned, unseen).

    One of the more vicious cycles that Berman has addressed in her practice is the legacy of the narcissist parent—because it often begets narcissistic children. Here, her thoughts on how it manifests, plus ways to break the cycle.

    ———

    I was in the grocery store when a three-year-old girl burst into tears in line after her mom said that she could not have candy. Looking agitated, her mom barked, “I have no time for this nonsense right now!” Then came the clincher: “Why do you always do this to me when I am in a hurry? You sure know how to ruin my day.”

    Ugh. My heart sank. I felt badly for this little girl, not because her mom said no to her candy request, but because her mom was so blinded by her own feelings that she could not have empathy for her daughter. A less narcissistic mother would have taken her daughter’s hand, looked her in the eye and calmly said: “I get how much you want this candy, but we don’t have candy before lunch.” If the mom had shown she understood her daughter’s feelings, instead of dumping her own, the girl would have felt heard and the tantrum could have subsided.

    Children need to feel seen, heard, known and cherished. To be adored for who you really are is the highest form of love. Giving unconditional love is our greatest legacy as parents. Long after we die, our children will be able to tap into the feeling of being celebrated for their true selves.

    By spewing out her issues, the mom skipped over her daughter’s emotions and made it about her. But as parents, we often have to set aside our own feelings to be in service to our children. Children learn when parents mirror their feelings and help them understand their experiences. When narcissism interferes, the mirror is reversed. Narcissistic parents need their kids to mirror them.

    WHAT IS NARCISSISM?

    Narcissism runs on a spectrum, from healthy narcissism to malignant narcissism, with a lot of gray in between. Many people can have a narcissistic trait or two without actually being a narcissist.

    HEALTHY NARCISSISM is basically good self-esteem. You believe in yourself and what you can do, and your self-evaluation is realistic. You can empathize with other people, and understand their feelings and perspectives. You aren’t devastated by criticism, mistakes, or failure. Your sense of self can withstand life’s ups and downs and people’s opinions.

    MALIGNANT NARCISSISTS have a very fragile and reactive sense of self. They are extremely self-involved and have a highly inflated view of themselves, which masks profound vulnerability and shame. They are fueled by praise and admiration, and deeply injured by criticism and even honest feedback. Benign comments or constructive criticism threaten their fragile self-esteem and can trigger anger. All of these qualities interfere with a narcissists’ ability to form healthy relationships. Those partnered with narcissists can feel quite lonely and exhausted by trying to shore up their partners and tiptoe around their sensitivities.


    MODELING KIDS IN YOUR OWN IMAGE

    Narcissism doesn’t have to be absolute. It can show up in little ways and often under the guise of doing “what’s best” for your children or giving them opportunities you were deprived of when you were little. For example, it’s understandable that you’d want to enroll your kids in soccer because you didn’t get the chance to play, but you also have to notice if they even like soccer. You might bring home clothes in monochromatic colors because that’s your style, but you have to notice what colors your child gravitates to. While you want your child to attend your alma mater because it worked for you, think about whether you’ve asked if it will work for him. To get narcissism out of the picture, make sure your motivation stacks up with what your kid wants.


    HOW NARCISSISM INTERFERES WITH PARENTING

    Narcissists have a way of making everything about them—they take up all of the air in the room. Their profound need for attention and praise subverts everyone else’s needs. Unchecked, a parent’s narcissism eclipses a child’s feelings. Narcissistic parents take their children’s every feeling or action personally. These parents are easily angered when a child does not agree with them or mirror them. Parents with narcissistic tendencies are so sensitive to praise and admiration as fuel that it makes them overly sensitive to criticism. So children learn to tiptoe around these emotional minefields, trying not to trigger that anger, or worse, have their parents withdraw love.

    Perceptive children will also pick up on the emotional vulnerability of their parents. They will compliment their parent or try to be a perfect reflection of them. They hope that taking care of mom or dad will shore the parent up enough so he or she can eventually get back to taking care of them. With all of that care directed at parents, these children will likely lose touch with their own emotions and needs.

    STEALING YOUR KIDS’ EXPERIENCES

    Audrey was trying on prom dresses in a department store dressing room. The store was getting ready to close, and Audrey was acutely aware of her mom’s desire to buy a dress and leave. Her mom’s need to be done dampened Audrey’s excitement about finding a dress she felt good in for this special rite of passage. Her mother said, ”I found the perfect dress for you!” and held up an ugly dress with red and white stripes. Audrey took one look and immediately hated it. Masking her disappointment, she put it on anyway.

    “It’s perfect, I love it!” Mom said, not even seeing how unhappy Audrey was. Now the girl was in a bind. Which mirror should she attend to: The literal one, which clearly showed a dress she would be embarrassed to wear, or the mirror she was used to reflecting and pleasing?

    The daughter tentatively expressed her discomfort. Her mom’s agitation flared. Audrey reflexively changed her tune: ”I guess you’re right, it does fit well,” she said flatly. Her mom smiled, feeling much better. And for just the moment, Audrey felt better, too. But not really.

    On prom night, Audrey walked self–consciously down the stairs to greet her date. His disappointed first words—“Red Stripes?”—were crushing.

    THE EMOTIONAL TOLL OF A NARCISSISTIC PARENT

    Long after the prom dress was discarded, Audrey’s memory of catering to her mom’s needs on her special night—and many other occasions—lingered. Children like Audrey often end up in therapy. They are trying to discover who they really are. They often don’t trust their instincts, and they have trouble expressing their feelings. The boundaries between mother and child become so blurred that surviving childhood means catering to their parent and subverting themselves. Children like this worry that if they assert themselves in their adult relationships, they will risk losing love. This is what happens when a parents’ narcissism engulfs their children.

    But narcissism can show itself in the opposite way: Neglect. These parents are so self-obsessed that their children feel invisible. Without being seen, these cannot develop a stable sense of self and may grow up to be narcissists themselves.

    BREAKING THE CYCLE

    If you grew up with narcissistic parents, never fear, the legacy can end with you! Your parents’ mistakes can be rocket fuel for your own development.

    – First, you have to grieve the loss of the parent you never had. Really grieve the fact that you didn’t get the parent you needed, the one who put you and your needs first. Part of that requires releasing the fantasy that your narcissistic parent can change and eventually give you what you need. They can evolve and grow, but they may never evolve enough to meet your deepest needs. Therefore, managing expectations is key, particularly when you see glimpses of the healthy parent you wish you had had, but in fact those glimpses are often not sustainable. Accept that your parent was limited—and could not give you unconditional love or even deep empathy because she could not get past herself to truly see you. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, the anger and the sadness. Emotion has the word motion in it; allow your emotions to move through you. You might not have lost your parent to death, but you lost what could have been—you lost an opportunity to be truly mothered—and that is really a profound loss. Accepting this, rather than denying it, is the first step in opening your heart to healing.

    – You are going to need to discover boundaries—where you begin and your parents end—to free your authentic self. When you choose who you want to be, rather than who your parents wanted you to be, you break free from their narcissistic grip. Tolerate their discomfort, even if they make a lot of noise. You are not misbehaving, rebelling, or rejecting them. You are being you, the real you—maybe for the first time. This is the first part of breaking the cycle. Next, you don’t want to repeat/generalize the relationship that you had with your narcissistic parent to your coworkers, partner, or friends. Realize where you are meeting the needs of other narcissists in your life, real or imagined. Sometimes children of narcissists assume that every person they’re close to will need the same kind of hyper-attention and appeasement that their parent did—and unconsciously begin doing mental backbends to please others. At times you may be tapping into the expectations of a narcissistic boss or partner, and reflexively playing that familiar role. At other times you may be making erroneous assumptions about what someone important to you really needs—perhaps they don’t want you to mirror their opinions or they don’t need you to sugarcoat your real feelings or soften constructive criticism. Breathe, pause, give yourself some psychic space and then test it. Try just being frank, try not to rush in and take care of their feelings. If being different from your loved one feels uncomfortable—or if you feel you’re risking love with that stance—just notice it. Watch how much stronger your bond is than what you secretly imagined it to be. This is the gift of evolving past the scene of the original crime—your own childhood. Surviving childhood meant taking care of the narcissist and swallowing your feelings. But now as an adult you can begin to surround yourself with people that you feel safe and at home with—like soul mate girlfriends—who know and love the real you, and this can be deeply transformative.

    – Children of narcissistic parents often wonder if they are really loveable. You are! Start loving and caring for yourself in ways that you wished your mom or dad had loved and cared for you. Start paying attention to what really matters to you; what makes you feel alive and moments when you feel authentically you. Maybe you will need help mothering yourself. Maybe that means getting re-parented by a therapist, or maybe the healing comes from an emotionally reparative romantic partnership. Maybe you have a friend’s mother who is nurturing to you, or a mentor who celebrates the real you. All of these people can become part of your collective parent. No one person is ever capable of meeting all of your needs so start building your collective parenting community. And once you have learned to mother yourself, you will be able to mother your child.

    Your journey is to love your children for their true, glorious, separate, authentic selves—and to give them what you may have not gotten enough of. It will not only be beneficial to them, it can be quite healing for you. You will grow and evolve enough to ask yourself, in difficult situations: “Is my reaction more about my child’s feelings or my own? What does he or she need right now?” This will prevent you from reacting with anger or withdrawing love, as your parent may have done to you. You are now a cycle breaker.

    Conscious, mindful parenting is the ultimate in damage control. When you get your ego out of the game, you can step back enough to see the soul of your children. Just nurture that, and watch them soar.

    Goop.com 

    How to Spot a Psychopath: Three Traits You Should Look For – Melissa Burkley Ph.D.

    When we think of the word “psychopath,” what usually comes to mind first are commonplace media portrayals of crazed killers. The kind you see in Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But these depictions are a far cry from what actual psychopaths are like. In fact, most psychopaths are not murderers. That’s the good news.


    The bad news is that this fact makes psychopaths harder to spot in a crowd than you might think (Hint: He’s usually not the crazy-eyed guy in the black trench coat walking down the abandoned street). Research suggests that 1 percent of the population meets the criteria for psychopathy. That may not sound like a lot, but it means that 1 in every 100 people you know is a psychopath. They could be your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend, or maybe even your favorite blogger. Perhaps there’s one sitting next to you right now as you read this! And to make things worse, the percentage doubles or even quadruples if we are talking about people in high-power positions, like business leaders, lawyers, and surgeons.

    With all these psychopaths running around, how do you spot one? After all, the quicker you can identify a psychopath in your midst, the less likely you are to become one of their victims. Fortunately, psychologists have been conducting research on psychopathic traits for years.

    Although theories of psychopathy may vary, most researchers tend to agree that real-world psychopaths demonstrate a cluster of three personality characteristics. This cluster is referred to as the “Dark Triad,” because people who possess these three traits often exhibit malevolent behaviors (e.g., crime, ethical violations, etc.).

    1. Machiavellianism

    People high in Machiavellianism are duplicitous, cunning, and manipulative. They place a higher priority than most on power, money, and winning. They easily disregard moral and social rules, and as a result, lie to others and manipulate them with little to no guilt. Think Gordon Gekko from Wall Street or Frank and Claire Underwood from House of Cards.
    For people high in this trait, manipulating others is an impulse, much like an alcoholic has an impulse to drink. Sometimes this manipulation is done to achieve personal gain (e.g., to get a promotion), but other times it is just done for fun, or because they can’t stop themselves (e.g., internet trolling). Depending on type, these people’s tools of the trade are deception, guilt, bullying, feigned weakness, or flattery. But whichever they choose, they regularly wield these tools in an attempt to twist the emotions and behaviors of those around them.

    Because such people are master manipulators, they are often charming and well-liked, at least on a superficial level. They may feign interest and compassion for a short time, but that façade wears off quickly, and it becomes clear that they only really care about themselves.
    A perfect literary example of this trait is Amy Dunne from Gone Girl. Amy Dunne goes to extreme lengths to victimize the men in her life, often because their only sin was not giving her the attention she thought she deserved. Her particular tools of manipulation are sex, lies, guilt, fame, and of course her well-crafted diary. Even we as the readers get duped by Amy’s lies, and it isn’t until midway through the book that we see her for what she really is: a master manipulator.

    2. Lack of Conscience or Empathy

    You know that little voice in your head that tells you to return a found wallet or treat others as you want to be treated? Well, people high in psychopathy don’t have that voice, or if they do, its volume is turned down very low. As a result, they lack many of the social emotions that normal people take for granted, including guilt, remorse, sympathy, and pity.
    It is this lack of a conscience that enables psychopaths to engage in behaviors that normal people may secretly fantasize about, but never actually do. When someone hurts us or makes us mad, we may think, “I just want to punch him!” or “I could kill him!” but we would never actually do it. Psychopaths don’t have that brake pedal. Generally speaking, if they want to do it, they’ll do it.
    This also hints at another quality associated with psychopathy — low impulse control. People high in psychopathy are quick to violence and aggression, they have many casual sex partners, and they engage in risky or dangerous behaviors. Their mantra is “Act first, think later.”
    Once again, Gillian Flynn crafted an excellent representation of this trait with Amy Dunne. Amy is cold and calculating and almost reptilian-like in her lack of compassion. She seems to lack any sense of right and wrong or empathy for what she puts others through. Instead, she has a calculating, pragmatic nature, regardless of whether she is lying to the police or getting rid of a human obstacle. Through her actions and lack of emotions, the reader finally sees Amy Dunne as a glacial beauty who lacks even a hint of warmth or humanity underneath.

    3. Narcissism

    People high in narcissism are self-centered, vain, and have an inflated sense of their qualities and achievements. They see themselves as perfect. Any flaws they may have they refuse to see in themselves and instead project onto those around them. For example, a narcissist who secretly worries she isn’t smart enough will accuse those around her of being dumb as a way to boost her own ego.

    Narcissists love compliments — they can’t get enough and lavishly praise anyone who admires or affirms them. The flip side of this coin means they are extremely sensitive to insults and often respond to criticism with seething rage and retribution. They have what psychologists refer to as “unstable self-esteem.” This means they put themselves on a very high pedestal, but it doesn’t take much to topple them to the ground. What a normal person would perceive as constructive criticism, narcissists see as a declaration of war.

    Because of their self-focus, they don’t get along well with others. They have problems sustaining healthy, satisfying relationships, and so they tend to seek positions of authority where they can work over, rather than beside, their colleagues. Such authority also helps, because narcissists never blame themselves for their problems. It is ALWAYS someone else’s fault.

    There are lots of examples of narcissists in popular literature (and many more in historical literature), but in my opinion, one that holds true to this description in a non-obvious and non-stereotypical way is Annie Wilkes from Misery. Annie doesn’t immediately come off as arrogant or boastful (although her claim to be Paul Sheldon’s “number-one fan” is our first hint of her inflated sense of self). But as the book unfolds, we are subjected to her constant complaining about the world and those in it. These rants demonstrate that she does see herself as superior. Everyone else is a “lying ol’ dirty birdy,” and anyone who falls into this dreaded category is not worthy of sympathy or even basic human dignity. The character of Annie Wilkes is an excellent example of how to incorporate narcissism (or any of these three traits) in a way that is subtle and unique, but still clearly present.

    Now, let’s put it all together. Keep in mind that just being high in one of these traits doesn’t automatically mean a person is a psychopath. People can be risk-seekers or arrogant and not necessarily engage in malevolent behavior. In fact, some research suggests that real-world heroes share some, but not all, of these traits. What matters is the combination of these three traits. Real-world psychopaths are the perfect storm of egotism, manipulation, and a lack of conscience.

    Psychology Today 

    Migration can benefit the world. This is how we at the UN plan to help – António Guterres. 


    The global compact on migration aims to change a source of abuse and conflict into a driver of prosperity. Now what’s needed is the support of governments.

    Managing migration is one of the most profound challenges for international cooperation in our time. Migration powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. Yet it is also a source of political tension and human tragedies. The majority of migrants live and work legally. But a desperate minority are putting their lives at risk to enter countries where they face suspicion and abuse.
    Demographic pressures and the impact of climate change on vulnerable societies are likely to drive further migration in the years ahead. As a global community, we face a choice. Do we want migration to be a source of prosperity and international solidarity, or a byword for inhumanity and social friction?

    This year, governments will negotiate a global compact on migration through the United Nations. This will be the first overarching international agreement of its kind. 


    It will not be a formal treaty. Nor will it place any binding obligations on states. Instead, it is an unprecedented opportunity for leaders to counter the pernicious myths surrounding migrants, and lay out a common vision of how to make migration work for all our nations.

    This is an urgent task. We have seen what happens when large-scale migration takes place without effective mechanisms to manage it. The world was shocked by recent video of migrants being sold as slaves.

    Grim as these images were, the real scandal is that thousands of migrants suffer the same fate each year, unrecorded. Many more are trapped in demeaning, precarious jobs that border on slavery anyway. There are nearly six million migrants trapped in forced labour today, often in developed economies.

    How can we end these injustices and prevent them recurring in future? 

    In setting a clear political direction about the future of migration, I believe that three fundamental considerations should guide discussions of the compact.

    The first is to recognise and reinforce the benefits of migration, so often lost in public debate. Migrants make huge contributions to both their host countries and countries of origin.

    They take jobs that local workforces cannot fill, boosting economic activity. Many are innovators and entrepreneurs. Nearly half of all migrants are women, looking for better lives and work opportunities.

    Migrants also make a major contribution to international development by sending remittances to their home countries. Remittances added up to nearly $600bn ($445bn) last year, three times all development aid. 

    The fundamental challenge is to maximise the benefits of this orderly, productive form of migration while stamping out the abuses and prejudice that make life hell for a minority of migrants.

    Second, states need to strengthen the rule of law underpinning how they manage and protect migrants – for the benefit of their economies, their societies and the migrants themselves. Authorities that erect major obstacles to migration – or place severe restrictions on migrants’ work opportunities – inflict needless economic self-harm, as they impose barriers to having their labour needs met in an orderly, legal fashion.

    Worse still, they unintentionally encourage illegal migration. Aspiring migrants, denied legal pathways to travel, inevitably fall back on irregular methods. This not only puts them in vulnerable positions, but also undermines governments’ authority. The best way to end the stigma of illegality and abuse around migrants is, in fact, for governments to put in place more legal pathways for migration, removing the incentives for individuals to break the rules, while better meeting the needs of their labour markets for foreign labour.

    States also need to work together more closely to share the benefits of migration, for example through partnering to identify significant skills gaps in one country that migrants from another are qualified to fill.

    Third and finally, we need greater international cooperation to protect vulnerable migrants, as well as refugees, and we must reestablish the integrity of the refugee protection regime in line with international law. 

    The fate of the thousands who die in doomed efforts to cross seas and deserts is not just a human tragedy. It also represents the most acute policy failure: unregulated, mass movements in desperate circumstances fuel a sense that borders are under threat and governments not in control. In turn this leads to draconian border controls that undermine our collective values and help perpetuate the tragedies we have too often seen unfold in recent years.

    We must fulfil our basic obligations to safeguard the lives and human rights of those migrants that the existing system has failed. We must take urgent action to assist those now trapped in transit camps, or at risk of slavery, or facing situations of acute violence, whether in North Africa or Central America. We have to envisage ambitious international action to resettle those with nowhere to go.

    We should also take steps – through development aid, climate mitigation efforts and conflict prevention – to avoid such unregulated large movements of people in future. Migration should not mean suffering.

    We must aim for a world in which we can celebrate migration’s contributions to prosperity, development and international unity. It is in our collective power to achieve this goal. This year’s global compact can be a milestone on the road to making migration truly work for all.

    *

    António Guterres is secretary general of the United Nations. 

    The Guardian 

    WILD AT HEART: HOW ONE WOMAN AND HER HUSBAND LIVE OUT IN THE WOODS

    For seven years, Miriam Lancewood and her husband Peter have lived a nomadic life in the New Zealand bush. She is the hunter and he is the cook. 

    See also A Life In The Bush

    I’d expected Miriam to look bedraggled, maybe with a couple of teeth missing, but she’s immaculate and smiling broadly, her teeth shiny white (she usually cleans them with ash); no dandruff, legs shaven, she smells of campfire. She is powerfully built; almost the double of Sarah Connor from The Terminator. A Dutch Sarah Connor – she was born in Holland. Her husband, Peter, proudly tells me she could beat most men in a fight: “Miriam is the hunter and I’m the cook. She’s much stronger than me. Women are better shots,” he says. “And they’re more careful,” adds Miriam. “They are less driven by trophy hunting. They have less of a need to prove themselves.”


    Randolph Bourne’s 1911 essay on disability shocked society. But what’s changed since? – Christopher Reardon. 

    I hadn’t heard of Randolph Bourne until my cousin, a writer, suggested I seek him out. It turns out that 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Bourne’s death. He was a wunderkind among American intellectuals, one of the country’s leading social critics, and a pioneer for people with disabilities – including me.
    My ignorance of Bourne was embarrassing, because I have also written about my physical handicaps. When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and other ailments, and for the past 21 years have lived in a wheelchair.

    Bourne’s troubles began at birth, in Bloomfield, New Jersey in 1886, when his face was mangled by misused forceps and an umbilical cord that wrapped around his left ear. When he was four years old, he contracted tuberculosis of the spine, which led to the stunting of his growth and a hunched back.

    From high school at 17, he was scheduled to be a member of Princeton University’s class of 1907, but could not afford to attend (even though his wealthy uncle would later pay his two sisters’ college tuition) and needed to help his mother with living expenses. So Bourne taught piano lessons; in between, he acquired his writing voice by being a proofreader and doing secretarial work.

    Undaunted by years of discrimination, Bourne studied on a scholarship at Columbia University under famed anthropologist Franz Boas and renowned eduction reformer (and later pro-war adversary) John Dewey. While in college Bourne began publishing essays in the Atlantic. His rise was meteoric – but amid the acclaim he began to be “blackballed” because of the fierce anti-war essays he penned in response to the war raging in Europe.

    This bellicose atmosphere was exacerbated by the Woodrow Wilson administration’s enactment of the Sedition Act of 1918, which made it a crime to criticise the constitution, government, or military. That year, at age 32, Bourne died of Spanish influenza, during the infamous pandemic.

    After reading his early essay The Handicapped – By One of Them, published in the Atlantic in 1911, I observed Bourne and I to be kindred spirits. An impassioned pacifist, his progressive politics would have made him a great millennial.

    In a time when influential voices such as Helen Keller, HG Wells and TS Eliot supported eugenics, and when cities like Chicago passed “ugly laws” that barred anyone who was “diseased, maimed, mutilated, or deformed” from public view, The Handicapped was a truly revolutionary essay. Bourne published it anonymously for fear of being “discovered”. When an Atlantic editor did just that, he abruptly cancelled a lunch with Bourne so as not to be seen with him.

    What astounds me most is how emotionally prescient The Handicapped feels today. I’m not sure if this uncanny time-ghost is a case of history repeating itself, or simply evidence that little in society has changed for the disabled individual. I hope it is the former; I fear it is the latter.

    In The Handicapped, Bourne explores the inner thoughts of a disabled person, the way the world perceives that person, and how a disabled person forms his or her identity. Throughout, he brings up the lack of confidence that is endemic to disabled individuals, describing how, as a young person, he felt out of place “when the world became one of dances and parties and social evenings and boy-and-girl attachments – the world of youth”.

    Bourne concludes that “admiration and gayety [sic] and smiles and favors and quick interests and companionship [are] only for the well-begotten and the debonair”.

    I can attest to this. Insecurity is why I befriended the popular kids in high school, instead of gravitating towards the outsiders I had more in common with. Insecurity is why I say “sorry” when there is no need to. It is also, at least in part, the reason I have never had a significant other – and the reason I don’t voice my opinion in a myriad of social situations, even though I have two degrees and have self-published four books. How could I be confident when, as Bourne points out, I have grown up in an environment where nobody has been very confident in me? am not referring to my family and friends – who have been supportive throughout – but rather a culture where disability-shaming is the norm. As an adolescent, I watched Damon Wayans mock disabled people with his character Handi-man on In Living Color. More recently, I’ve tuned in to see people with disabilities constantly dehumanised on Family Guy and Modern Family.

    In film, it seems like every other villain has a deformity. The movies Million Dollar Baby and Me Before You are praised, despite possessing a subtext that people with disabilities should mercy-kill themselves so they are not a burden to others. Just last year, a presidential candidate appeared to mock a reporter with a disability, and 63 million citizens were comfortable enough with that act to vote him into the highest office in the land. No wonder I doubt myself.

    It was with hesitation that Bourne republished The Handicapped in his 1913 collection of essays Youth and Life, because his anonymity would be no more. He renamed it “A Philosophy of the Handicapped” and placed it last in the collection because he knew it was his best, and that his disability was the driving force behind his political motivations.

    ‘Doors of the deformed’

    Another theme in The Handicapped is that the deck is stacked against disabled people from the start, making it twice as difficult to achieve what an able-bodied person does, even though disabled individuals are already at twice the disadvantage.

    “The doors of the deformed man are always locked, and the key is on the outside,” Bourne writes. “He may have treasures of charm inside, but they will never be revealed unless the person outside cooperates with him in unlocking the door.”

    I can’t button my shirt, tie my shoes or pour myself a glass of orange juice – and this is all before I start the day. The world is still not designed to include disabled people: streets and sidewalks have potholes and tree roots; every friend, neighbour or business has at least one step at the entrance (or a “special” side entrance); accessible bathrooms (when there are any) are often insufficient in size, or occupied by an able-bodied individual.

    Infrastructurally, we have a long way to go. But I think Bourne would be pleased with the progress we have made in daily living: from Dragon voice-recognition programs for disabled people to Motion Savvy UNI for deaf people to Kurzweil 3000 for the visually impaired, it is plain to see that a hundred years of technological advancements to aid the disabled have been nothing short of phenomenal.

    Equally profound have been the landmarks reached in the medical fields. We are healthier than ever, curing illnesses at an exponential rate, and are improving the quality of life for all individuals. At what point, however, does the populous begin to show disdain for someone’s lack of health?

    This inevitable disdain may have been the reason The Handicapped was overlooked by many historians compared to Boune’s pre-war political critiques. Since then, however, John Dos Passos has dedicated a chapter to Bourne in his modernist novel 1919, and The Handicapped was published in 2000 in Joyce Carol Oates’s collection of the best American essays of the 20th century.

    My fear is that the public, instead of harbouring disdain, will become so besotted with medical advancements such as gene therapy and designer babies that those with disabilities will be edited out of existence, left to fade away like a dying language. I understand that new ailments will always arise and that disabilities will more likely change than be eradicated, but I believe this generation of disabled people must cultivate empathy by permeating every sector of society, because they may be the last agents of innovation and inclusivity before disability as we know it is gone from the public consciousness.

    But there is a reason to be hopeful, I think – because of the able-bodied people around us. In The Handicapped, Bourne discusses his dependency on friends and how much they mean to him. Disabled people cannot win the battles for inclusivity and accessibility on their own; they need that person on the other side of the door.

    And, especially in the last decade, my spirit has been lifted by the public focus on the rights and humanity of every individual.

    When I hear of an engineer building a new product to include or make life easier for disabled users, when an architect designs a stylish building or public transport system that has universal design, when couples decide to raise a disabled child with all their love instead of having an abortion or putting it up for adoption, I’m reminded that we are living in a socially progressive time – and that is not something to be forgotten.

    In the last paragraph of The Handicapped, Bourne writes, “And if misfortune comes, it will only be something flowing from the common lot of men, not from my own particular disability.” These are freeing words that those with disabilities should heed and live by.
    A century later, The Handicapped is as relevant as ever. I wish someone had made me read it when I was young, to validate my experiences, confirm my confusion between how much of my character was moulded by disability vs personality, and to assure me that I was not alone in my struggle. The Handicapped is an essay that should be included in textbooks because it is so accurate in its depiction of the disabled experience: it would raise awareness for able-bodied readers, while offering solace to disabled readers.

    Whatever you do, don’t grow bitter at the world, even though you may have ample opportunity; know that maturing and finding self-respect may be a long process, no matter your age; and do not consider your life a perpetual effort in making the best of a bad situation – it is not. It is a chance to live and breathe and be happy.

    Or as Bourne wrote: “Do not take the world too seriously, nor let too many social conventions oppress you. Keep sweet your sense of humor, and above all do not let any morbid feelings of inferiority creep into your soul.”

    The Guardian 

    *

    The Handicapped by Randolph Bourne

    First published anonymously as “The Handicapped — By One of Them” in The Atlantic Monthly, 1911; revised and collected in Youth and Life, 1913.

    It would not perhaps be thought, ordinarily, that the man whom physical disabilities have made so helpless that he is unable to move around among his fellows can bear his lot more happily, even though he suffer pain, and face life with a more cheerful and contented spirit, than can the man whose deformities are merely enough to mark him out from the rest of his fellows without preventing him from entering with them into most of their common affairs and experiences. But the fact is that the former’s very helplessness makes him content to rest and not to strive. I know a young man so helplessly deformed that he has to be carried about, who is happy in reading a little, playing chess, taking a course or two in college, and all with the sunniest goodwill in the world, and a happiness that seems strange and unaccountable to my restlessness. He does not cry for the moon.

    When one, however, is in full possession of his faculties, and can move about freely, bearing simply a crooked back and an unsightly face, he is perforce drawn into all the currents of life. Particularly if he has his own way in the world to make, his road is apt to be hard and rugged, and he will penetrate to an unusual depth in his interpretation both of the world’s attitude toward such misfortunes, and of the attitude toward the world which such misfortunes tend to cultivate in men like him. For he has all the battles of a stronger man to fight, and he is at a double disadvantage in fighting them. He has constantly with him the sense of being obliged to make extra efforts to overcome the bad impression of his physical defects, and he is haunted with a constant feeling of weakness and low vitality which makes effort more difficult and renders him easily fainthearted and discouraged by failure. He is never confident of himself, because he has grown up in an atmosphere where nobody has been very confident of him; and yet his environment and circumstances call out all sorts of ambitions and energies in him which, from the nature of his case, are bound to be immediately thwarted. This attitude is likely to keep him at a generally low level of accomplishment unless he have an unusually strong will, and a strong will is perhaps the last thing to develop under such circumstances.

    That vague sense of physical uncomfortableness which is with him nearly every minute of his waking day serves, too, to make steady application for hours to any particular kind of work much more irksome than it is even to the lazy man. No one but the deformed man can realize just what the mere fact of sitting a foot lower than the normal means in discomfort and annoyance. For one cannot carry one’s special chair everywhere, to theatre and library and train and schoolroom. This sounds trivial, I know, but I mention it because it furnishes a real, even though usually dim, “background of consciousness” which one had to reckon with during all one’s solid work or enjoyment. The things that the world deems hardest for the deformed man to bear are perhaps really the easiest of all. I can truthfully say, for instance, that I have never suffered so much as a pang from the interested comments on my personal appearance made by urchins in the street, nor from the curious looks of people in the street and public places. To ignore this vulgar curiosity is the simplest and easiest thing in the world. It does not worry me in the least to appear on a platform if I have anything to say and there is anybody to listen. What one does get sensitive to is rather the inevitable way that people, acquaintances and strangers alike, have of discounting in advance what one does or says.

    The deformed man is always conscious that the world does not expect very much from him. And it takes him a long time to see in this a challenge instead of a firm pressing down to a low level of accomplishment. As a result, he does not expect very much of himself; he is timid in approaching people, and distrustful of his ability to persuade and convince. He becomes extraordinarily sensitive to other people’s first impressions of him. Those who are to be his friends he knows instantly, and further acquaintance adds little to the intimacy and warm friendship that he at once feels for them. On the other hand, those who do not respond to him immediately cannot by any effort either on his part or theirs overcome that first alienation.

    This sensitiveness has both its good and bad sides. It makes friendship that most precious thing in the world to him, and he finds that he arrives at a much richer and wider intimacy with his friends than do ordinary men with their light, surface friendships, based on good fellowship or the convenience of the moment. But on the other hand this sensitiveness absolutely unfits him for business and the practice of a profession, where one must be “all things to all men,” and the professional manner is indispensable to success. For here, where he has to meet a constant stream of men of all sorts and conditions, his sensitiveness to these first impressions will make his case hopeless. Except with those few who by some secret sympathy will seem to respond, his deformity will stand like a huge barrier between his personality and other men’s. The magical good fortune of attractive personal appearance makes its way almost without effort in the world, breaking down all sorts of walls of disapproval and lack of interest. Even the homely person can attract by personal charm. But deformity cannot even be charming.

    The doors of the deformed man are always locked, and the key is on the outside. 

    He may have treasures of charm inside, but they will never be revealed unless the person outside cooperates with him in unlocking the door. A friend becomes, to a much greater degree than with the ordinary man, the indispensable means of discovering one’s own personality. One only exists, so to speak, with friends. It is easy to see how hopelessly such a sensitiveness incapacitates a man for business, professional, or social life, where the hasty and superficial impression is everything, and disaster is the fate of the man who has not all the treasures of his personality in the front window, where they can be readily inspected and appraised.

    It thus takes the deformed man a long time to get adjusted to his world. Childhood is perhaps the hardest time of all. As a child he is a strange creature in a strange land. It was my own fate to be just strong enough to play about with the other boys, and attempt all their games and “stunts” without being strong enough actually to succeed in any of them. It never used to occur to me that my failures and lack of skill were due to circumstances beyond my control, but I would always impute them, in consequence of my rigid Calvinistic bringing-up, I suppose, to some moral weakness of my own. I suffered tortures in trying to learn to skate, to climb trees, to play ball, to conform in general to the ways of the world. I never resigned myself to the inevitable, but overexerted myself constantly in a grim determination to succeed. I was good at my lessons, and through timidity rather than priggishness, I hope, a very well-behaved boy at school; I was devoted, too, to music, and learned to play the piano pretty well. But I despised my reputation for excellence in these things, and instead of adapting myself philosophically to the situation, I strove (and have been striving ever since) to do the things I could not.

    As I look back now it seems perfectly natural that I should have followed the standards of the crowd, and loathed my high marks in lessons and deportment, and the concerts to which I was sent by my aunt, and the exhibitions of my musical skill that I had to give before admiring ladies. Whether or not such an experience is typical of handicapped children, there is tragedy there for those situated as I was. For had I been a little weaker physically, I should have been thrown back on reading omnivorously and cultivating my music, with some possible results; while if I had been a little stronger, I could have participated in the play on an equal footing with the rest. As it was, I simply tantalized myself, and grew up with a deepening sense of failure, and a lack of pride in what I really excelled at.

    When the world become one of dances and parties and social evenings and boy-and-girl attachments — the world of youth — I was to find myself still less adapted to it. And this was the harder to bear because I was naturally sociable, and all these things appealed tremendously to me. This world of admiration and gayety and smiles and favors and quick interest and companionship, however, is only for the well-begotten and the debonair. It was not through any cruelty or dislike, I think, that I was refused admittance; indeed they were always very kind about inviting me. But it was more as if a ragged urchin had been asked to come and look through the window at the light and warmth of a glittering party; I was truly in the world, but not of the world. Indeed there were times when one would almost prefer conscious cruelty to this silent, unconscious, gentle oblivion. And this is the tragedy, I suppose, not only of the deformed, but of all the ill-favored and unattractive to a greater or less degree. The world of youth is a world of so many conventions, and the abnormal in any direction is so glaringly and hideously abnormal.

    Although it took me a long time to understand this, and I continue to attribute my failure mostly to my own character, trying hard to compensate for my physical deficiencies by skill and cleverness, I suffered comparatively few pangs, and got much better adjusted to this world than to the other, For I was older, and I had acquired a lively interest in all the social politics; I would get so interested in watching how people behaved, and in sizing them up, that only at rare intervals would I remember that I was really having no hand in the game. This interest just in the ways people are human has become more and more a positive advantage in my life, and has kept sweet many a situation that might easily have cost me a pang. Not that a person with my disabilities should be a sort of detective, evil-mindedly using his social opportunities for spying out and analyzing his friends’ foibles, but that, if he does acquire an interest in people quite apart from their relation to him, he may go into society with an easy conscience and a certainty that he will be entertained and possibly entertaining, even though he cuts a poor enough social figure. He must simply not expect too much.

    Perhaps the bitterest struggles of the handicapped man come when he tackles the business world. If he has to go out for himself to look for work, without fortune, training, or influence, as I personally did, his way will indeed be rugged. His disability will work against him for any position where he must be much in the eyes of men, and his general insignificance has a subtle influence in convincing those to whom he applies that he is unfitted for any kind of work. As I have suggested, his keen sensitiveness to other people’s impressions of him makes him more than unusually timid and unable to counteract that fatal first impression by any display of personal force and will. He cannot get his personality over across that barrier. The cards seem stacked against him from the start. With training and influence something might be done, but alone and unaided his case is almost hopeless. At least, this was my own experience. We were poor relations, and our prosperous relatives thought they had done quite enough for us without sending me through college, and I did not seem strong enough to work my way through (although I have since done it). I started out auspiciously enough, becoming a sort of apprentice to a musician who had invented a machine for turning out music-rolls. Here, with steady work, good pay, and the comfortable consciousness that I was “helping support the family,” I got the first pleasurable sensation of self-respect, I think, that I ever had. But with the failure of this business I was precipitated against the real world.

    It would be futile to recount the story of my struggles: how I besieged for nearly two years firm after firm, in search of a permanent position, trying everything in New York in which I thought I had the slightest chance of success, meanwhile making a precarious living by a few music lessons. The attitude toward me ranged from “You can’t expect us to create a place for you,” to, “How could it enter your head that we should find any use for a man like you?” My situation was doubtless unusual. Few men handicapped as I was would be likely to go so long without arousing some interest and support in relative or friend. But my experience serves to illustrate the peculiar difficulties that a handicapped man meets if he has his own way to make in the world. He is discounted at the start: it is not business to make allowances for anybody; and while people were not cruel or unkind, it was the hopeless finality of the thing that filled one’s heart with despair.

    The environment of a big city is perhaps the worst possible that a man in such a situation could have. For the thousands of seeming opportunities lead one restlessly on and on, and keep one’s mind perpetually unsettled and depressed. There is a poignant mental torture that comes with such an experience — the urgent need, the repeated failure, or rather the repeated failure even to obtain a chance to fail, the realization that those at home can ill afford to have you idle, the growing dread of encountering people — all this is something that those who have never been through it can never realize. Personally I know of no particular way of escape. One can expect to do little by one’s own unaided efforts. I solved my difficulties only by evading them, by throwing overboard some of my responsibility, and taking the desperate step of entering college on a scholarship. Desultory work is not nearly so humiliating when one is using one’s time to some advantage, and college furnishes an ideal environment where the things at which a man handicapped like myself can succeed really count. One’s self-respect can begin to grow like a weed.

    For at the bottom of all the difficulties of a man like me is really the fact that his self-respect is so slow in growing up. Accustomed from childhood to being discounted, his self-respect is not naturally very strong, and it would require pretty constant success in a congenial line of work really to confirm it. If he could only more easily separate the factors that are due to his physical disability from those that are due to his weak will and character, he might more quickly attain self-respect, for he would realize what he is responsible for, and what he is not. But at the beginning he rarely makes allowances for himself, he is his own severest judge. He longs for a “strong will,” and yet the experience of having his efforts promptly nipped off at the beginning is the last thing on earth to produce that will.

    Life, particularly if he is brought into harsh and direct touch with the real world, is a much more complex thing to him than to the ordinary man. Many of his inherited platitudes vanish at the first touch. Life appears to him as a grim struggle, where ability does not necessarily mean opportunity and success, nor piety sympathy, and where helplessness cannot count on assistance and kindly interest. Human affairs seem to be running on a wholly irrational plan, and success to be founded on chance as much as on anything. But if he can stand the first shock of disillusionment, he may find himself enormously interested in discovering how they actually do run, and he will want to burrow into the motives of men, and find the reasons for the crass inequalities and injustices of the world he sees around him. He has practically to construct anew a world of his own, and explain a great many things to himself that the ordinary person never dreams of finding unintelligible at all. He will be filled with a profound sympathy for all who are despised and ignored in the world. When he has been through the neglect and struggles of a handicapped and ill-favored man himself, he will begin to understand the feelings of all the horde of the unpresentable and the unemployable, the incompetent and the ugly, the queer and crotchety people who make up so large a proportion of human folk.

    We are perhaps too prone to get our ideas and standards of worth from the successful, without reflecting that the interpretations of life which patriotic legend, copybook philosophy, and the sayings of the wealthy give us are pitifully inadequate for those who fall behind in the race. Surely there are enough people to whom the task of making a decent living and maintaining themselves and their families in their social class, or of winning and keeping the respect of their fellows, is a hard and bitter task, to make a philosophy gained through personal disability and failure as just and true a method of appraising the life around us as the cheap optimism of the ordinary professional man. And certainly a kindlier, for it has no shade of contempt or disparagement about it.

    It irritates me as if I had been spoken of contemptuously myself, to hear people called “common” or “ordinary,” or to see that deadly and delicate feeling for social gradations crop out, which so many of our upper-middle-class women seem to have. It makes me wince to hear a man spoken of as a failure, or to have it said of one that he “doesn’t amount to much.” Instantly I want to know why he has not succeeded, and what have been the forces that have been working against him. He is the truly interesting person, and yet how little our eager-pressing, onrushing world cares about such aspects of life, and how hideously though unconsciously cruel and heartless it usually is.

    Often I had tried in arguments to show my friends how much of circumstance and chance go to the making of success; and when I reached the age of sober reading, a long series of the works of radical social philosophers, beginning with Henry George, provided me with the materials for a philosophy which explained why men were miserable and overworked, and why there was on the whole so little joy and gladness among us — and which fixed the blame. Here was suggested a goal, and a definite glorious future, toward which all good men might work. My own working hours became filled with visions of how men could be brought to see all that this meant, and how I in particular might work some great and wonderful thing for human betterment. In more recent years, the study of history and social psychology and ethics has made those crude outlines sounder and more normal, and brought them into a saner relation to other aspects of life and thought, but I have not lost the first glow of enthusiasm, nor my belief in social progress as the first right and permanent interest for every thinking and truehearted man or woman.

    I am ashamed that my experience has given me so little chance to count in any way toward either the spreading of such a philosophy or toward direct influence and action. Nor do I yet see clearly how I shall be able to count effectually toward this ideal. Of one thing I am sure, however: that life will have little meaning for me except as I am able to contribute toward some such ideal of social betterment, if not in deed, then in word. For this is the faith that I believe we need today, all of us — a truly religious belief in human progress, a thorough social consciousness, an eager delight in every sign and promise of social improvement, and best of all, a new spirit of courage that will dare. I want to give to the young men whom I see -who, with fine intellect and high principles, lack just that light of the future on their faces that would give them a purpose and meaning in life — to them I want to give some touch of this philosophy — that will energize their lives, and save them from the disheartening effects of that poisonous counsel of timidity and distrust of human ideals which pours out in steady stream from reactionary press and pulpit.

    It is hard to tell just how much of this philosophy has been due to my handicaps. If it is solely to my physical misfortunes that I owe its existence, the price has not been a heavy one to pay. For it has given me something that I should not know how to be without. For, however gained, this radical philosophy has not only made the world intelligible and dynamic to me, but has furnished me with the strongest spiritual support. I know that many people, handicapped by physical weakness and failure, find consolation and satisfaction in a very different sort of faith — in an evangelical religion, and a feeling of close dependence on God and dose communion with him. But my experience has made my ideal of character militant rather than long-suffering.

    I very early experienced a revulsion against the rigid Presbyterianism in which I had been brought up — a purely intellectual revulsion, I believe, because my mind was occupied for a long time afterward with theological questions, and the only feeling that entered into it was a sort of disgust at the arrogance of damning so great a proportion of the human race. I read T. W. Higginson’s The Sympathy of Religions with the greatest satisfaction, and attended the Unitarian Church whenever I could slip away. This faith, while it still appeals to me, seems at times a little too static and refined to satisfy me with completeness. For some time there was a considerable bitterness in my heart at the narrowness of the people who could still find comfort in the old faith. Reading Buckle and Oliver Wendell Holmes gave me a new contempt for “conventionality,” and my social philosophy still further tortured me by throwing the burden for the misery of the world on these same good neighbors. And all this, although I think I did not make a nuisance of myself, made me feel a spiritual and intellectual isolation in addition to my more or less effective physical isolation.

    Happily these days are over. The world has righted itself, and I have been able to appreciate and realize how people count in a social and group capacity as well as in an individual and personal one, and to separate the two in my thinking. Really to believe in human nature while striving to know the thousand forces that warp it from its ideal development — to call for and expect much from men and women, and not to be disappointed and embittered if they fall short — to try to do good with people rather than to them -this is my religion on its human side. And if God exists, I think that He must be in the warm sun, in the kindly actions of the people we know and read of, in the beautiful things of art and nature, and in the closeness of friendships. He may also be in heaven, in life, in suffering, but it is only in these simple moments of happiness that I feel Him and know that He is there.

    Death I do not understand at all. I have seen it in its cruelest, most irrational forms, where there has seemed no excuse, no palliation. I have only known that if we were more careful, and more relentless in fighting evil, if we knew more of medical science, such things would not be. I know that a sound body, intelligent care and training, prolong life, and that the death of a very old person is neither sad nor shocking, but sweet and fitting. I see in death a perpetual warning of how much there is to be known and done in the way of human progress and betterment. And equally, it seems to me, is this true of disease. So all the crises and deeper implications of life seem inevitably to lead back to that question of social improvement, and militant learning and doing.

    This, then, is the goal of my religion — the bringing of fuller, richer life to more people on this earth. All institutions and all works that do not have this for their object are useless and pernicious. And this is not to be a mere philosophic precept which may well be buried under a host of more immediate matters, but a living faith, to permeate one’s thought, and transfuse one’s life. Prevention must be the method against evil. To remove temptation from men, and to apply the stimulus which shall call forth their highest endeavors — these seem to me the only right principles of ethical endeavor. Not to keep waging the agelong battle with sin and poverty, but to make the air around men so pure that foul lungs cannot breathe it — this should be our noblest religious aim.

    Education — knowledge and training — I have felt so keenly my lack of these things that I count them as the greatest of means toward making life noble and happy. The lack of stimulus has tended with me to dissipate the power which might otherwise have been concentrated in some one productive direction. Or perhaps it was the many weak stimuli that constantly incited me and thus kept me from following one particular bent. I look back on what seems a long waste of intellectual power, time frittered away in groping and moping, which might easily have been spent constructively. A defect in one of the physical senses often means a keener sensitiveness in the others, but it seems that unless the sphere of action that the handicapped man has is very much narrowed, his intellectual ability will not grow in compensation for his physical defects. He will always feel that, had he been strong or even successful, he would have been further advanced intellectually, and would have attained greater command over his powers. For his mind tends to be cultivated extensively, rather than intensively. He has so many problems to meet, so many things to explain to himself, that he acquires a wide rather than a profound knowledge. Perhaps eventually, by eliminating most of these interests as practicable fields, he may tie himself down to one line of work; but at first he is pretty apt to find his mind rebellious. If he is eager and active, he will get a smattering of too many things, and his imperfect, badly trained organism will make intense application very difficult.

    Now that I have talked a little of my philosophy of life, particularly about what I want to put into it, there is something to be said also of its enjoyment, and what I may hope to get out of it. I have said that my ideal of character was militant rather than long-suffering. It is true that my world has been one of failure and deficit — I have accomplished practically nothing alone, and can count only two or three instances where I have received kindly counsel and suggestion; moreover it still seems a miracle to me that money can be spent for anything beyond the necessities without being first carefully weighed and pondered over — but it has not been a world of suffering and sacrifice, my health has been almost criminally perfect in the light of my actual achievement, and life has appeared to me, at least since my more pressing responsibilities were removed, as a challenge and an arena, rather than a vale of tears. I do not like the idea of helplessly suffering one’s misfortunes, of passively bearing one’s lot. The Stoics depress me. I do not want to look on my life as an eternal making the best of a bad bargain. Granting all the circumstances, admitting all my disabilities, I want too to “warm both hands before the fire of life.” What satisfactions I have, and they are many and precious, I do not want to look on as compensations, but as positive goods.

    The difference between what the strongest of the strong and the most winning of the attractive can get out of life, and what I can, is after all so slight. Our experiences and enjoyments, both his and mine, are so infinitesimal compared with the great mass of possibilities; and there must be a division of labor. If he takes the world of physical satisfactions and of material success, I at least can occupy the far richer kingdom of mental effort and artistic appreciation. And on the side of what we are to put into life, although I admit that achievement on my part will be harder relatively to encompass than on his, at least I may have the field of artistic creation and intellectual achievement for my own. Indeed, as one gets older, the fact of one’s disabilities fades dimmer and dimmer away from consciousness. One’s enemy is now one’s own weak will, and the struggle is to attain the artistic ideal one has set.

    But one must have grown up, to get this attitude. And that is the best thing the handicapped man can do. Growing up will have given him one of the greatest, and certainly the most durable satisfaction of his life. It will mean at least that he is out of the woods. Childhood has nothing to offer him; youth little more. They are things to be gotten through with as soon as possible. For he will not understand, and he will not be understood. He finds himself simply a bundle of chaotic impulses and emotions and ambitions, very few of which, from the nature of the case, can possibly be realized or satisfied. He is bound to be at cross-grains with the world, and he has to look sharp that he does not grow up with a bad temper and a hateful disposition, and become cynical and bitter against those who turn him away. But grown up, his horizon will broaden; he will get a better perspective, and will not take the world so seriously as he used to, nor will failure frighten him so much. He can look back and see how inevitable it all was, and understand how precarious and problematic even the best regulated of human affairs may be. And if he feels that there were times when he should have been able to count upon the help and kindly counsel of relatives and acquaintances who remained dumb and uninterested, he will not put their behavior down as proof of the depravity of human nature, but as due to an unfortunate blindness which it will be his work to avoid in himself by looking out for others when he has the power.

    When he has grown up, he will find that people of his own age and experience are willing to make those large allowances for what is out of the ordinary which were impossible to his younger friends, and that grown-up people touch each other on planes other than the purely superficial. With a broadening of his own interests, he will find himself overlapping other people’s personalities at new points, and will discover with rare delight that he is beginning to be understood and appreciated — at least to a greater degree than when he had to keep his real interests hid as something unusual. For he will begin to see in his friends, his music and books, and his interest in people and social betterment, his true life; many of his restless ambitions will fade gradually away, and he will come to recognize all the more clearly some true ambition of his life that is within the range of his capabilities. He will have built up his world, and have sifted out the things that are not going to concern him, and participation in which will only serve to vex and harass him. He may well come to count his deformity even as a blessing, for it has made impossible to him at last many things in the pursuit of which he would only fritter away his time and dissipate his interest. He must not think of “resigning himself to his fate”; above all he must insist on his own personality. For once really grown up, he will find that he has acquired self-respect and personality. Grown-upness, I think, is not a mere question of age, but of being able to look back and understand and find satisfaction in one’s experience, no matter how bitter it may have been.

    So to all who are situated as I am, I would say — Grow up as fast as you can. Cultivate the widest interests you can, and cherish all your friends. Cultivate some artistic talent, for you will find it the most durable of satisfactions, and perhaps one of the surest means of livelihood as well. Achievement is, of course, on the knees of the gods; but you will at least have the thrill of trial, and, after all, not to try is to fail. Taking your disabilities for granted, and assuming constantly that they are being taken for granted, make your social intercourse as broad and as constant as possible. Do not take the world too seriously, nor let too many social conventions oppress you. Keep sweet your sense of humor, and above all do not let any morbid feelings of inferiority creep into your soul. You will find yourself sensitive enough to the sympathy of others, and if you do not find people who like you and are willing to meet you more than halfway, it will be because you have let your disability narrow your vision and shrink up your soul. It will be really your own fault, and not that of your circumstances. In a word, keep looking outward; look out eagerly for those things that interest you, for people who will interest you and be friends with you, for new interests and for opportunities to express yourself. You will find that your disability will come to have little meaning for you, that it will begin to fade quite completely out of your sight; you will wake up some fine morning and find yourself, after all the struggles that seemed so bitter to you, really and truly adjusted to the world.

    I am perhaps not yet sufficiently out of the wilderness to utter all these brave words. For, I must confess, I find myself hopelessly dependent on my friends, and my environment. My friends have come to mean more to me than almost anything else in the world. If it is far harder work for a man in my situation to make friendships quickly, at least friendships once made have a depth and intimacy quite beyond ordinary attachments. For a man such as I am has little prestige; people do not want to impress him. They are genuine and sincere, talk to him freely about themselves, and are generally far less reticent about revealing their real personality and history and aspirations. And particularly is this so in friendships with young women. I have found their friendships the most delightful and satisfying of all. For all that social convention that insists that every friendship between a young man and woman must be on a romantic basis is necessarily absent in our case. There is no fringe around us to make our acquaintance anything but a charming companionship. With all my friends, the same thing is true. The first barrier of strangeness broken down, our interest is really in each other, and not in what each is going to think of the other, how he is to be impressed, or whether we are going to fall in love with each other. When one of my friends moves away, I feel as if a great hole had been left in my life. There is a whole side of my personality that I cannot express without him. I shudder to think of any change that will deprive me of their constant companionship. Without friends I feel as if even my music and books and interests would turn stale on my hands. I confess that I am not grown up enough to get along without them.

    But if I am not yet out of the wilderness, at least I think I see the way to happiness. With health and a modicum of achievement, I shall not see my lot as unenviable. And if misfortune comes, it will only be something flowing from the common lot of men, not from my own particular disability. Most of the difficulties that flow from that I flatter myself I have met by this time of my twenty-fifth year, have looked full in the face, have grappled with, and find in nowise so formidable as the world usually deems them; no bar to my real ambitions and ideals.

    *

    John Dos Passos, from his novel 1919 (published 1932)

    Randolph Bourne came as an inhabitant of this earth without the pleasure of choosing his dwelling or his career.
    He was a hunchback, grandson of a congregational minister, born in 1886 in Bloomfield, New Jersey; there he attended grammarschool and highschool.

    At the age of seventeen he went to work as a secretary to a Morristown businessman.
    He worked his way through Columbia working in a pianola record factory in Newark, working as proofreader, pianotuner, accompanist in a vocal studio in Carnegie Hall.

    At Columbia he studied with John Dewey, got a traveling fellowship that took him to England Paris Rome Berlin Copenhagen, wrote a book on the Gary schools.
    In Europe he heard music, a great deal of Wagner and Scriabine and bought himself a black cape.

    This little sparrowlike man, tiny twisted bit of flesh in a black cape, always in pain and ailing, put a pebble in his sling and hit Goliath square in the forehead with it.
    War, he wrote, is the health of the state.

    Half musician, half educational theorist (weak health and being poor and twisted in body and on bad terms with his people hadn’t spoiled the world for Randolph Bourne; he was a happy man, loved die Meistersinger and playing Bach with his long hands that stretched so easily over the keys and pretty girls and good food and evenings of talk. When he was dying of pneumonia a friend brought him an eggnog; Look at the yellow, its beautiful, he kept saying as his life ebbed into delirium and fever. He was a happy man.) 

    Bourne seized with feverish intensity on the ideas then going around at Columbia he picked rosy glasses out of the turgid jumble of John Dewey’s teaching through which he saw clear and sharp the shining capitol of reformed democracy, Wilson’s New Freedom; but he was too good a mathematician; he had to work the equations out; with the result that in the crazy spring of 1917 he began to get unpopular where his bread was buttered at the New Republic; for New Freedom read Conscription, for Democracy, Win the War, for Reform, Safeguard the Morgan Loans for Progress Civilization Education Service, Buy a Liberty Bond, Strafe the Hun, Jail the Objectors.

    He resigned from the New Republic; only The Seven Arts had the nerve to publish his articles against the war. The backers of the Seven Arts took their money elsewhere; friends didn’t like to be seen with Bourne, his father wrote him begging him not to disgrace the family name. The rainbowtinted future of reformed democracy went pop like a pricked soapbubble.

    The liberals scurried to Washington; some of his friends pled with him to climb up on Schoolmaster Wilson’s sharabang; the war was great fought from the swivel chairs of Mr. Creel’s bureau in Washington.
    He was cartooned, shadowed by the espionage service and the counter-espionage service; taking a walk with two girl friends at Wood’s Hole he was arrested, a trunk full of manuscript and letters stolen from him in Connecticut. (Force to the utmost, thundered Schoolmaster Wilson)

    He didn’t live to see the big circus of the Peace of Versailles or the purplish normalcy of the Ohio Gang. Six weeks after the armistice he died planning an essay on the foundations of future radicalism in America.

    If any man has a ghost Bourne has a ghost, a tiny twisted unscared ghost in a black cloak hopping along the grimy old brick and brownstone streets still left in downtown New York, crying out in a shrill soundless giggle;

    “War is the health of the state.” 

    *

    War is the Health of the State, 

    by Randolph Bourne

    To most Americans of the classes which consider themselves significant the war [World War I] brought a sense of the sanctity of the State which, if they had had time to think about it, would have seemed a sudden and surprising alteration in their habits of thought. In times of peace, we usually ignore the State in favour of partisan political controversies, or personal struggles for office, or the pursuit of party policies. It is the Government rather than the State with which the politically minded are concerned. The State is reduced to a shadowy emblem which comes to consciousness only on occasions of patriotic holiday.

    Government is obviously composed of common and unsanctified men, and is thus a legitimate object of criticism and even contempt. If your own party is in power, things may be assumed to be moving safely enough; but if the opposition is in, then clearly all safety and honor have fled the State. Yet you do not put it to yourself in quite that way. What you think is only that there are rascals to be turned out of a very practical machinery of offices and functions which you take for granted. 
    When we say that Americans are lawless, we usually mean that they are less conscious than other peoples of the august majesty of the institution of the State as it stands behind the objective government of men and laws which we see. In a republic the men who hold office are indistinguishable from the mass. Very few of them possess the slightest personal dignity with which they could endow their political role; even if they ever thought of such a thing. And they have no class distinction to give them glamour. In a republic the Government is obeyed grumblingly, because it has no bedazzlements or sanctities to gild it. If you are a good old-fashioned democrat, you rejoice at this fact, you glory in the plainness of a system where every citizen has become a king. If you are more sophisticated you bemoan the passing of dignity and honor from affairs of State. But in practice, the democrat does not in the least treat his elected citizen with the respect due to a king, nor does the sophisticated citizen pay tribute to the dignity even when he finds it. The republican State has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man’s emotions. What it has are of military origin, and in an unmilitary era such as we have passed through since the Civil War, even military trappings have been scarcely seen. In such an era the sense of the State almost fades out of the consciousness of men.

    With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again. The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.

    The moment war is declared, however, the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves. They then, with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction toward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come within the range of the Government’s disapprobation. The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part.

    The patriot loses all sense of the distinction between State, nation, and government. In our quieter moments, the Nation or Country forms the basic idea of society. We think vaguely of a loose population spreading over a certain geographical portion of the earth’s surface, speaking a common language, and living in a homogeneous civilization. Our idea of Country concerns itself with the non-political aspects of a people, its ways of living, its personal traits, its literature and art, its characteristic attitudes toward life. We are Americans because we live in a certain bounded territory, because our ancestors have carried on a great enterprise of pioneering and colonization, because we live in certain kinds of communities which have a certain look and express their aspirations in certain ways. We can see that our civilization is different from contiguous civilizations like the Indian and Mexican. The institutions of our country form a certain network which affects us vitally and intrigues our thoughts in a way that these other civilizations do not. We are a part of Country, for better or for worse. We have arrived in it through the operation of physiological laws, and not in any way through our own choice. By the time we have reached what are called years of discretion, its influences have molded our habits, our values, our ways of thinking, so that however aware we may become, we never really lose the stamp of our civilization, or could be mistaken for the child of any other country. Our feeling for our fellow countrymen is one of similarity or of mere acquaintance. We may be intensely proud of and congenial to our particular network of civilization, or we may detest most of its qualities and rage at its defects. This does not alter the fact that we are inextricably bound up in it. The Country, as an inescapable group into which we are born, and which makes us its particular kind of a citizen of the world, seems to be a fundamental fact of our consciousness, an irreducible minimum of social feeling.

    Now this feeling for country is essentially noncompetitive; we think of our own people merely as living on the earth’s surface along with other groups, pleasant or objectionable as they may be, but fundamentally as sharing the earth with them. In our simple conception of country there is no more feeling of rivalry with other peoples than there is in our feeling for our family. Our interest turns within rather than without, is intensive and not belligerent. We grow up and our imaginations gradually stake out the world we live in, they need no greater conscious satisfaction for their gregarious impulses than this sense of a great mass of people to whom we are more or less attuned, and in whose institutions we are functioning. The feeling for country would be an uninflatable maximum were it not for the ideas of State and Government which are associated with it. Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition: it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects. And we have the misfortune of being born not only into a country but into a State, and as we grow up we learn to mingle the two feelings into a hopeless confusion.

    The State is the country acting as a political unit, it is the group acting as a repository of force, determiner of law, arbiter of justice. International politics is a “power politics” because it is a relation of States and that is what States infallibly and calamitously are, huge aggregations of human and industrial force that may be hurled against each other in war. When a country acts as a whole in relation to another country, or in imposing laws on its own inhabitants, or in coercing or punishing individuals or minorities, it is acting as a State.

    The history of America as a country is quite different from that of America as a State. In one case it is the drama of the pioneering conquest of the land, of the growth of wealth and the ways in which it was used, of the enterprise of education, and the carrying out of spiritual ideals, of the struggle of economic classes. But as a State, its history is that of playing a part in the world, making war, obstructing international trade, preventing itself from being split to pieces, punishing those citizens whom society agrees are offensive, and collecting money to pay for all. 

    Government on the other hand is synonymous with neither State nor Nation. It is the machinery by which the nation, organized as a State, carries out its State functions. Government is a framework of the administration of laws, and the carrying out of the public force. Government is the idea of the State put into practical operation in the hands of definite, concrete, fallible men. It is the visible sign of the invisible grace. It is the word made flesh. And it has necessarily the limitations inherent in all practicality. Government is the only form in which we can envisage the State, but it is by no means identical with it. That the State is a mystical conception is something that must never be forgotten. Its glamour and its significance linger behind the framework of Government and direct its activities. Wartime brings the ideal of the State out into very clear relief, and reveals attitudes and tendencies that were hidden. In times of peace the sense of the State flags in a republic that is not militarized. For war is essentially the health of the State. The ideal of the State is that within its territory its power and influence should be universal. As the Church is the medium for the spiritual salvation of man, so the State is thought of as the medium for his political salvation. Its idealism is a rich blood flowing to all the members of the body politic. 

    And it is precisely in war that the urgency for union seems greatest, and the necessity for universality seems most unquestioned. The State is the organization of the herd to act offensively or defensively against another herd similarly organized. The more terrifying the occasion for defense, the closer will become the organization and the more coercive the influence upon each member of the herd. War sends the current of purpose and activity flowing down to the lowest level of the herd, and to its most remote branches. All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or a military defense, and the State becomes what in peacetimes it has vainly struggled to become — the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men’s business and attitudes and opinions. The slack is taken up, the cross-currents fade out, and the nation moves lumberingly and slowly, but with ever accelerated speed and integration, toward the great end, toward the “peacefulness of being at war,” of which L.P. Jacks [Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, Oxford philosopher and Unitarian clergyman] has so unforgettably spoken.

    The classes which are able to play an active and not merely a passive role in the organization for war get a tremendous liberation of activity and energy. Individuals are jolted out of their old routine, many of them are given new positions of responsibility, new techniques must be learned. Wearing home ties are broken and women who would have remained attached with infantile bonds are liberated for service overseas. A vast sense of rejuvenescence pervades the significant classes, a sense of new importance in the world. 

    Old national ideals are taken out, re-adapted to the purpose and used as universal touchstones, or molds into which all thought is poured. Every individual citizen who in peacetimes had no function to perform by which he could imagine himself an expression or living fragment of the State becomes an active amateur agent of the Government in reporting spies and disloyalists, in raising Government funds, or in propagating such measures as are considered necessary by officialdom. Minority opinion, which in times of peace, was only irritating and could not be dealt with by law unless it was conjoined with actual crime, becomes, with the outbreak of war, a case for outlawry. Criticism of the State, objections to war, lukewarm opinions concerning the necessity or the beauty of conscription, are made subject to ferocious penalties, far exceeding in severity those affixed to actual pragmatic crimes. 

    Public opinion, as expressed in the newspapers, and the pulpits and the schools, becomes one solid block. “Loyalty,” or rather war orthodoxy, becomes the sole test for all professions, techniques, occupations. Particularly is this true in the sphere of the intellectual life. There the smallest taint is held to spread over the whole soul, so that a professor of physics is ipso facto disqualified to teach physics or to hold honorable place in a university — the republic of learning — if he is at all unsound on the war. Even mere association with persons thus tainted is considered to disqualify a teacher. Anything pertaining to the enemy becomes taboo. His books are suppressed wherever possible, his language is forbidden. His artistic products are considered to convey in the subtlest spiritual way taints of vast poison to the soul that permits itself to enjoy them. So enemy music is suppressed, and energetic measures of opprobrium taken against those whose artistic consciences are not ready to perform such an act of self-sacrifice. The rage for loyal conformity works impartially, and often in diametric opposition to other orthodoxies and traditional conformities, or even ideals. The triumphant orthodoxy of the State is shown at its apex perhaps when Christian preachers lose their pulpits for taking in more or less literal terms the Sermon on the Mount, and Christian zealots are sent to prison for twenty years for distributing tracts which argue that war is unscriptural.
    War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them. Of course, the ideal of perfect loyalty, perfect uniformity is never really attained. The classes upon whom the amateur work of coercion falls are unwearied in their zeal, but often their agitation instead of converting, merely serves to stiffen their resistance. Minorities are rendered sullen, and some intellectual opinion bitter and satirical. But in general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war. 

    Loyalty — or mystic devotion to the State — becomes the major imagined human value. Other values, such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them.

    War — or at least modern war waged by a democratic republic against a powerful enemy — seems to achieve for a nation almost all that the most inflamed political idealist could desire. Citizens are no longer indifferent to their Government, but each cell of the body politic is brimming with life and activity. We are at last on the way to full realization of that collective community in which each individual somehow contains the virtue of the whole. In a nation at war, every citizen identifies himself with the whole, and feels immensely strengthened in that identification. The purpose and desire of the collective community live in each person who throws himself wholeheartedly into the cause of war. The impeding distinction between society and the individual is almost blotted out. At war, the individual becomes almost identical with his society. He achieves a superb self-assurance, an intuition of the rightness of all his ideas and emotions, so that in the suppression of opponents or heretics he is invincibly strong; he feels behind him all the power of the collective community. The individual as social being in war seems to have achieved almost his apotheosis. Not for any religious impulse could the American nation have been expected to show such devotion en masse, such sacrifice and labor. 

    Certainly not for any secular good, such as universal education or the subjugation of nature, would it have poured forth its treasure and its life, or would it have permitted such stern coercive measures to be taken against it, such as conscripting its money and its men. But for the sake of a war of offensive self-defense, undertaken to support a difficult cause to the slogan of “democracy,” it would reach the highest level ever known of collective effort.

    For these secular goods, connected with the enhancement of life, the education of man and the use of the intelligence to realize reason and beauty in the nation’s communal living, are alien to our traditional ideal of the State. The State is intimately connected with war, for it is the organization of the collective community when it acts in a political manner, and to act in a political manner towards a rival group has meant, throughout all history — war. There is nothing invidious in the use of the term “herd” in connection with the State. It is merely an attempt to reduce closer to first principles the nature of this institution in the shadow of which we all live, move, and have our being. Ethnologists are generally agreed that human society made its first appearance as the human pack and not as a collection of individuals or of couples. The herd is in fact the original unit, and only as it was differentiated did personal individuality develop. 

    All the most primitive surviving tribes of men are shown to live in a very complex but very rigid social organization where opportunity for individuation is scarcely given. These tribes remain strictly organized herds, and the difference between them and the modern State is one of degree of sophistication and variety of organization, and not of kind.

    Psychologists recognize the gregarious impulse as one of the strongest primitive pulls which keeps together the herds of the different species of higher animals. Mankind is no exception. Our pugnacious evolutionary history has prevented the impulse from ever dying out. This gregarious impulse is the tendency to imitate, to conform, to coalesce together, and is most powerful when the herd believes itself threatened with attack. Animals crowd together for protection, and men become most conscious of their collectivity at the threat of war.

    Consciousness of collectivity brings confidence and a feeling of massed strength, which in turn arouses pugnacity and the battle is on. In civilized man, the gregarious impulse acts not only to produce concerted action for defense, but also to produce identity of opinion. Since thought is a form of behavior, the gregarious impulse floods up into its realms and demands that sense of uniform thought which wartime produces so successfully. And it is in this flooding of the conscious life of society that gregariousness works its havoc.

    For just as in modern societies the sex instinct is enormously oversupplied for the requirements of human propagation, so the gregarious impulse is enormously oversupplied for the work of protection which it is called upon to perform. It would be quite enough if we were gregarious enough to enjoy the companionship of others, to be able to cooperate with them, and to feel a slight malaise at solitude. Unfortunately, however, this impulse is not content with these reasonable and healthful demands, but insists that like-mindedness shall prevail everywhere, in all departments of life. So that all human progress, all novelty, and nonconformity, must be carried against the resistance of this tyrannical herd instinct which drives the individual into obedience and conformity with the majority. Even in the most modern and enlightened societies this impulse shows little sign of abating. As it is driven by inexorable economic demand out of the sphere of utility, it seems to fasten itself ever more fiercely in the realm of feeling and opinion, so that conformity comes to be a thing aggressively desired and demanded.

    The gregarious impulse keeps its hold all the more virulently because when the group is in motion or is taking any positive action, this feeling of being with and supported by the collective herd very greatly feeds that will to power, the nourishment of which the individual organism so constantly demands. You feel powerful by conforming, and you feel forlorn and helpless if you are out of the crowd. While even if you do not get any access of power by thinking and feeling just as everybody else in your group does, you get at least the warm feeling of obedience, the soothing irresponsibility of protection.

    Joining as it does to these very vigorous tendencies of the individual — the pleasure in power and the pleasure in obedience — this gregarious impulse becomes irresistible in society. War stimulates it to the highest possible degree, sending the influences of its mysterious herd-current with its inflations of power and obedience to the farthest reaches of the society, to every individual and little group that can possibly be affected. And it is these impulses which the State — the organization of the entire herd, the entire collectivity — is founded on and makes use of.

    There is, of course, in the feeling toward the State a large element of pure filial mysticism. The sense of insecurity, the desire for protection, sends one’s desire back to the father and mother, with whom is associated the earliest feelings of protection. It is not for nothing that one’s State is still thought of as Father or Motherland, that one’s relation toward it is conceived in terms of family affection. The war has shown that nowhere under the shock of danger have these primitive childlike attitudes failed to assert themselves again, as much in this country as anywhere. If we have not the intense Father-sense of the German who worships his Vaterland, at least in Uncle Sam we have a symbol of protecting, kindly authority, and in the many Mother-posters of the Red Cross, we see how easily in the more tender functions of war service, the ruling organization is conceived in family terms. A people at war have become in the most literal sense obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naïve faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them, imposes his mild but necessary rule upon them and in whom they lose their responsibility and anxieties. 

    In this recrudescence of the child, there is great comfort, and a certain influx of power. On most people the strain of being an independent adult weighs heavily, and upon none more than those members of the significant classes who have had bequeathed to them or have assumed the responsibilities of governing. The State provides the convenientest of symbols under which these classes can retain all the actual pragmatic satisfaction of governing, but can rid themselves of the psychic burden of adulthood. They continue to direct industry and government and all the institutions of society pretty much as before, but in their own conscious eyes and in the eyes of the general public, they are turned from their selfish and predatory ways, and have become loyal servants of society, or something greater than they — the State. The man who moves from the direction of a large business in New York to a post in the war management industrial service in Washington does not apparently alter very much his power or his administrative technique. But psychically, what a transfiguration has occurred! His is now not only the power but the glory! And his sense of satisfaction is directly proportional not to the genuine amount of personal sacrifice that may be involved in the change but to the extent to which he retains his industrial prerogatives and sense of command.

    From members of this class a certain insuperable indignation arises if the change from private enterprise to State service involves any real loss of power and personal privilege. If there is to be pragmatic sacrifice, let it be, they feel, on the field of honor, in the traditionally acclaimed deaths by battle, in that detour to suicide, as Nietzsche calls war. The State in wartime supplies satisfaction for this very real craving, but its chief value is the opportunity it gives for this regression to infantile attitudes. In your reaction to an imagined attack on your country or an insult to its government, you draw closer to the herd for protection, you conform in word and deed, and you insist vehemently that everybody else shall think, speak, and act together. And you fix your adoring gaze upon the State, with a truly filial look, as upon the Father of the flock, the quasi-personal symbol of the strength of the herd, and the leader and determinant of your definite action and ideas.
    The members of the working classes, that portion at least which does not identify itself with the significant classes and seek to imitate it and rise to it, are notoriously less affected by the symbolism of the State, or, in other words, are less patriotic than the significant classes. For theirs is neither the power nor the glory. The State in wartime does not offer them the opportunity to regress, for, never having acquired social adulthood, they cannot lose it. If they have been drilled and regimented, as by the industrial regime of the last century, they go out docilely enough to do battle for their State, but they are almost entirely without that filial sense and even without that herd-intellect sense which operates so powerfully among their “betters.” They live habitually in an industrial serfdom, by which, though nominally free, they are in practice as a class bound to a system of machine-production the implements of which they do not own, and in the distribution of whose product they have not the slightest voice, except what they can occasionally exert by a veiled intimidation which draws slightly more of the product in their direction. From such serfdom, military conscription is not so great a change. But into the military enterprise they go, not with those hurrahs of the significant classes whose instincts war so powerfully feeds, but with the same apathy with which they enter and continue in the industrial enterprise.

    From this point of view, war can be called almost an upper-class sport. The novel interests and excitements it provides, the inflations of power, the satisfaction it gives to those very tenacious human impulses — gregariousness and parent-regression — endow it with all the qualities of a luxurious collective game which is felt intensely just in proportion to the sense of significant rule the person has in the class division of his society. A country at war — particularly our own country at war — does not act as a purely homogeneous herd. The significant classes have all the herd-feeling in all its primitive intensity, but there are barriers, or at least differentials of intensity, so that this feeling does not flow freely without impediment throughout the entire nation. A modern country represents a long historical and social process of disaggregation of the herd. The nation at peace is not a group, it is a network of myriads of groups representing the cooperation and similar feeling of men on all sorts of planes and in all sorts of human interests and enterprises. In every modern industrial country, there are parallel planes of economic classes with divergent attitudes and institutions and interests — bourgeois and proletariat, with their many subdivisions according to power and function, and even their interweaving, such as those more highly skilled workers who habitually identify themselves with the owning and the significant classes and strive to raise themselves to the bourgeois level, imitating their cultural standards and manners. Then there are religious groups with a certain definite, though weakening sense of kinship, and there are the powerful ethnic groups which behave almost as cultural colonies in the New World, clinging tenaciously to language and historical tradition, though their herdishness is usually founded on cultural rather than State symbols. There are even certain vague sectional groupings. All these small sects, political parties, classes, levels, interests, may act as foci for herd-feelings. They intersect and interweave, and the same person may be a member of several different groups lying at different planes. Different occasions will set off his herd-feeling in one direction or another. In a religious crisis he will be intensely conscious of the necessity that his sect (or sub-herd) may prevail, in a political campaign, that his party shall triumph.

    To the spread of herd-feeling, therefore, all these smaller herds offer resistance. To the spread of that herd-feeling which arises from the threat of war, and which would normally involve the entire nation, the only groups which make serious resistance are those, of course, which continue to identify themselves with the other nation from which they or their parents have come. In times of peace they are for all practical purposes citizens of their new country. They keep alive their ethnic traditions more as a luxury than anything. Indeed these traditions tend rapidly to die out except where they connect with some still unresolved nationalistic cause abroad, with some struggle for freedom, or some irredentism. If they are consciously opposed by a too invidious policy of Americanism, they tend to be strengthened. And in time of war, these ethnic elements which have any traditional connection with the enemy, even though most of the individuals may have little real sympathy with the enemy’s cause, are naturally lukewarm to the herd-feeling of the nation which goes back to State traditions in which they have no share. But to the natives imbued with State-feeling, any such resistance or apathy is intolerable. This herd-feeling, this newly awakened consciousness of the State, demands universality. The leaders of the significant classes, who feel most intensely this State compulsion, demand a 100 percent Americanism, among 100 percent of the population. The State is a jealous God and will brook no rivals. Its sovereignty must pervade every one, and all feeling must be run into the stereotyped forms of romantic patriotic militarism which is the traditional expression of the State herd-feeling.

    Thus arises conflict within the State. War becomes almost a sport between the hunters and the hunted. The pursuit of enemies within outweighs in psychic attractiveness the assault on the enemy without. The whole terrific force of the State is brought to bear against the heretics. The nation boils with a slow insistent fever. A white terrorism is carried on by the Government against pacifists, socialists, enemy aliens, and a milder unofficial persecution against all persons or movements that can be imagined as connected with the enemy. War, which should be the health of the State, unifies all the bourgeois elements and the common people, and outlaws the rest. The revolutionary proletariat shows more resistance to this unification, is, as we have seen, psychically out of the current. Its vanguard, as the I.W.W., is remorselessly pursued, in spite of the proof that it is a symptom, not a cause, and its persecution increases the disaffection of labor and intensifies the friction instead of lessening it.

    But the emotions that play around the defense of the State do not take into consideration the pragmatic results. A nation at war, led by its significant classes, is engaged in liberating certain of its impulses which have had all too little exercise in the past. It is getting certain satisfactions, and the actual conduct of the war or the condition of the country are really incidental to the enjoyment of new forms of virtue and power and aggressiveness. If it could be shown conclusively that the persecution of slightly disaffected elements actually increased enormously the difficulties of production and the organization of the war technique, it would be found that public policy would scarcely change. The significant classes must have their pleasure in hunting down and chastising everything that they feel instinctively to be not imbued with the current State enthusiasm, though the State itself be actually impeded in its efforts to carry out those objects for which they are passionately contending. The best proof of this is that with a pursuit of plotters that has continued with ceaseless vigilance ever since the beginning of the war in Europe, the concrete crimes unearthed and punished have been fewer than those prosecutions for the mere crime of opinion or the expression of sentiments critical of the State or the national policy. The punishment for opinion has been far more ferocious and unintermittent than the punishment of pragmatic crime. Unimpeachable Anglo-Saxon Americans who were freer of pacifist or socialist utterance than the State-obsessed ruling public opinion, received heavier penalties and even greater opprobrium, in many instances, than the definitely hostile German plotter. A public opinion which, almost without protest, accepts as just, adequate, beautiful, deserved, and in fitting harmony with ideals of liberty and freedom of speech, a sentence of twenty years in prison for mere utterances, no matter what they may be, shows itself to be suffering from a kind of social derangement of values, a sort of social neurosis, that deserves analysis and comprehension.

    On our entrance into the war, there were many persons who predicted exactly this derangement of values, who feared lest democracy suffer more at home from an America at war than could be gained for democracy abroad. That fear has been amply justified. The question whether the American nation would act like an enlightened democracy going to war for the sake of high ideals, or like a State-obsessed herd, has been decisively answered. The record is written and cannot be erased. History will decide whether the terrorization of opinion and the regimentation of life were justified under the most idealistic of democratic administrations. It will see that when the American nation had ostensibly a chance to conduct a gallant war, with scrupulous regard to the safety of democratic values at home, it chose rather to adopt all the most obnoxious and coercive techniques of the enemy and of the other countries at war, and to rival in intimidation and ferocity of punishment the worst governmental systems of the age. For its former unconsciousness and disrespect of the State ideal, the nation apparently paid the penalty in a violent swing to the other extreme. It acted so exactly like a herd in its irrational coercion of minorities that there is no artificiality in interpreting the progress of the war in terms of the herd psychology. It unwittingly brought out into the strongest relief the true characteristics of the State and its intimate alliance with war. It provided for the enemies of war and the critics of the State the most telling arguments possible. The new passion for the State ideal unwittingly set in motion and encouraged forces that threaten very materially to reform the State. It has shown those who are really determined to end war that the problem is not the mere simple one of finishing a war that will end war.

    For war is a complicated way in which a nation acts, and it acts so out of a spiritual compulsion which pushes it on, perhaps against all its interests, all its real desires, and all its real sense of values. It is States that make wars and not nations, and the very thought and almost necessity of war is bound up with the ideal of the State. Not for centuries have nations made war; in fact the only historical example of nations making war is the great barbarian invasions into southern Europe, the invasions of Russia from the East, and perhaps the sweep of Islam through northern Africa into Europe after Mohammed’s death. And the motivations for such wars were either the restless expansion of migratory tribes or the flame of religious fanaticism. Perhaps these great movements could scarcely be called wars at all, for war implies an organized people drilled and led: in fact, it necessitates the State. Ever since Europe has had any such organization, such huge conflicts between nations — nations, that is, as cultural groups — have been unthinkable. It is preposterous to assume that for centuries in Europe there would have been any possibility of a people en masse (with their own leaders, and not with the leaders of their duly constituted State) rising up and overflowing their borders in a war raid upon a neighboring people. The wars of the Revolutionary armies of France were clearly in defense of an imperiled freedom, and, moreover, they were clearly directed not against other peoples, but against the autocratic governments that were combining to crush the Revolution. There is no instance in history of a genuinely national war. There are instances of national defenses, among primitive civilizations such as the Balkan peoples, against intolerable invasion by neighboring despots or oppression. But war, as such, cannot occur except in a system of competing States, which have relations with each other through the channels of diplomacy.

    War is a function of this system of States, and could not occur except in such a system. Nations organized for internal administration, nations organized as a federation of free communities, nations organized in any way except that of a political centralization of a dynasty, or the reformed descendant of a dynasty, could not possibly make war upon each other. They would not only have no motive for conflict, but they would be unable to muster the concentrated force to make war effective. There might be all sorts of amateur marauding, there might be guerrilla expeditions of group against group, but there could not be that terrible war en masse of the national State, that exploitation of the nation in the interests of the State, that abuse of the national life and resource in the frenzied mutual suicide, which is modern war.

    It cannot be too firmly realized that war is a function of States and not of nations, indeed that it is the chief function of States. War is a very artificial thing. It is not the naïve spontaneous outburst of herd pugnacity; it is no more primary than is formal religion. War cannot exist without a military establishment, and a military establishment cannot exist without a State organization. War has an immemorial tradition and heredity only because the State has a long tradition and heredity. But they are inseparably and functionally joined. We cannot crusade against war without crusading implicitly against the State. And we cannot expect, or take measures to ensure, that this war is a war to end war, unless at the same time we take measures to end the State in its traditional form. The State is not the nation, and the State can be modified and even abolished in its present form, without harming the nation. On the contrary, with the passing of the dominance of the State, the genuine life-enhancing forces of the nation will be liberated. If the State’s chief function is war, then the State must suck out of the nation a large part of its energy for its purely sterile purposes of defense and aggression. It devotes to waste or to actual destruction as much as it can of the vitality of the nation. No one will deny that war is a vast complex of life-destroying and life-crippling forces. If the State’s chief function is war, then it is chiefly concerned with coordinating and developing the powers and techniques which make for destruction. And this means not only the actual and potential destruction of the enemy, but of the nation at home as well. For the very existence of a State in a system of States means that the nation lies always under a risk of war and invasion, and the calling away of energy into military pursuits means a crippling of the productive and life-enhancing processes of the national life.

    All this organization of death-dealing energy and technique is not a natural but a very sophisticated process. Particularly in modern nations, but also all through the course of modern European history, it could never exist without the State. For it meets the demands of no other institution, it follows the desires of no religious, industrial, political group. If the demand for military organization and a military establishment seems to come not from the officers of the State but from the public, it is only that it comes from the State-obsessed portion of the public, those groups which feel most keenly the State ideal. And in this country we have had evidence all too indubitable how powerless the pacifically minded officers of State may be in the face of a State obsession of the significant classes. If a powerful section of the significant classes feels more intensely the attitudes of the State, then they will most infallibly mold the Government in time to their wishes, bring it back to act as the embodiment of the State which it pretends to be. In every country we have seen groups that were more loyal than the king — more patriotic than the Government — the Ulsterites in Great Britain, the Junkers in Prussia, l’Action Française in France, our patrioteers in America. These groups exist to keep the steering wheel of the State straight, and they prevent the nation from ever veering very far from the State ideal.

    Militarism expresses the desires and satisfies the major impulse only of this class. The other classes, left to themselves, have too many necessities and interests and ambitions, to concern themselves with so expensive and destructive a game. But the State-obsessed group is either able to get control of the machinery of the State or to intimidate those in control, so that it is able through use of the collective force to regiment the other grudging and reluctant classes into a military program. State idealism percolates down through the strata of society; capturing groups and individuals just in proportion to the prestige of this dominant class. So that we have the herd actually strung along between two extremes, the militaristic patriots at one end, who are scarcely distinguishable in attitude and animus from the most reactionary Bourbons of an Empire, and unskilled labor groups, which entirely lack the State sense. But the State acts as a whole, and the class that controls governmental machinery can swing the effective action of the herd as a whole. The herd is not actually a whole, emotionally. But by an ingenious mixture of cajolery, agitation, intimidation, the herd is licked into shape, into an effective mechanical unity, if not into a spiritual whole. Men are told simultaneously that they will enter the military establishment of their own volition, as their splendid sacrifice for their country’s welfare, and that if they do not enter they will be hunted down and punished with the most horrid penalties; and under a most indescribable confusion of democratic pride and personal fear they submit to the destruction of their livelihood if not their lives, in a way that would formerly have seemed to them so obnoxious as to be incredible.

    In this great herd machinery, dissent is like sand in the bearings. The State ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push toward military unity. Any difference with that unity turns the whole vast impulse toward crushing it. Dissent is speedily outlawed, and the Government, backed by the significant classes and those who in every locality, however small, identify themselves with them, proceeds against the outlaws, regardless of their value to the other institutions of the nation, or to the effect their persecution may have on public opinion. The herd becomes divided into the hunters and the hunted, and war enterprise becomes not only a technical game but a sport as well. It must never be forgotten that nations do not declare war on each other, nor in the strictest sense is it nations that fight each other. Much has been said to the effect that modern wars are wars of whole peoples and not of dynasties. Because the entire nation is regimented and the whole resources of the country are levied on for war, this does not mean that it is the country qua country which is fighting. It is the country organized as a State that is fighting, and only as a State would it possibly fight. So literally it is States which make war on each other and not peoples. Governments are the agents of States, and it is Governments which declare war on each other, acting truest to form in the interests of the great State ideal they represent. There is no case known in modern times of the people being consulted in the initiation of a war. The present demand for “democratic control” of foreign policy indicates how completely, even in the most democratic of modern nations, foreign policy has been the secret private possession of the executive branch of the Government.

    However representative of the people Parliaments and Congresses may be in all that concerns the internal administration of a country’s political affairs, in international relations it has never been possible to maintain that the popular body acted except as a wholly mechanical ratifier of the Executive’s will. The formality by which Parliaments and Congresses declare war is the merest technicality. Before such a declaration can take place, the country will have been brought to the very brink of war by the foreign policy of the Executive. A long series of steps on the downward path, each one more fatally committing the unsuspecting country to a warlike course of action, will have been taken without either the people or its representatives being consulted or expressing its feeling. When the declaration of war is finally demanded by the Executive, the Parliament or Congress could not refuse it without reversing the course of history, without repudiating what has been representing itself in the eyes of the other States as the symbol and interpreter of the nation’s will and animus. To repudiate an Executive at that time would be to publish to the entire world the evidence that the country had been grossly deceived by its own Government, that the country with an almost criminal carelessness had allowed its Government to commit it to gigantic national enterprises in which it had no heart. In such a crisis, even a Parliament which in the most democratic States represents the common man and not the significant classes who most strongly cherish the State ideal, will cheerfully sustain the foreign policy which it understands even less than it would care for if it understood, and will vote almost unanimously for an incalculable war, in which the nation may be brought well nigh to ruin. That is why the referendum which was advocated by some people as a test of American sentiment in entering the war was considered even by thoughtful democrats to be something subtly improper. The die had been cast. Popular whim could only derange and bungle monstrously the majestic march of State policy in its new crusade for the peace of the world. The irresistible State ideal got hold of the bowels of men. Whereas up to this time, it had been irreproachable to be neutral in word and deed, for the foreign policy of the State had so decided it, henceforth it became the most arrant crime to remain neutral. The Middle West, which had been soddenly pacifistic in our days of neutrality, became in a few months just as soddenly bellicose, and in its zeal for witch-burnings and its scent for enemies within gave precedence to no section of the country. The herd-mind followed faithfully the State-mind and, the agitation for a referendum being soon forgotten, the country fell into the universal conclusion that, since its Congress had formally declared the war, the nation itself had in the most solemn and universal way devised and brought on the entire affair.

    Oppression of minorities became justified on the plea that the latter were perversely resisting the rationally constructed and solemnly declared will of a majority of the nation. The herd coalescence of opinion which became inevitable the moment the State had set flowing the war attitudes became interpreted as a prewar popular decision, and disinclination to bow to the herd was treated as a monstrously antisocial act. So that the State, which had vigorously resisted the idea of a referendum and clung tenaciously and, of course, with entire success to its autocratic and absolute control of foreign policy, had the pleasure of seeing the country, within a few months, given over to the retrospective impression that a genuine referendum had taken place. When once a country has lapped up these State attitudes, its memory fades; it conceives itself not as merely accepting, but of having itself willed, the whole policy and technique of war. The significant classes, with their trailing satellites, identify themselves with the State, so that what the State, through the agency of the Government, has willed, this majority conceives itself to have willed.

    All of which goes to show that the State represents all the autocratic, arbitrary, coercive, belligerent forces within a social group, it is a sort of complexus of everything most distasteful to the modern free creative spirit, the feeling for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. War is the health of the State. Only when the State is at war does the modern society function with that unity of sentiment, simple uncritical patriotic devotion, cooperation of services, which have always been the ideal of the State lover. With the ravages of democratic ideas, however, the modern republic cannot go to war under the old conceptions of autocracy and death-dealing belligerency. If a successful animus for war requires a renaissance of State ideals, they can only come back under democratic forms, under this retrospective conviction of democratic control of foreign policy, democratic desire for war, and particularly of this identification of the democracy with the State. How unregenerate the ancient State may be, however, is indicated by the laws against sedition, and by the Government’s unreformed attitude on foreign policy. One of the first demands of the more farseeing democrats in the democracies of the Alliance was that secret diplomacy must go. The war was seen to have been made possible by a web of secret agreements between States, alliances that were made by Governments without the shadow of popular support or even popular knowledge, and vague, half-understood commitments that scarcely reached the stage of a treaty or agreement, but which proved binding in the event. Certainly, said these democratic thinkers, war can scarcely be avoided unless this poisonous underground system of secret diplomacy is destroyed, this system by which a nation’s power, wealth, and manhood may be signed away like a blank check to an allied nation to be cashed in at some future crisis. Agreements which are to affect the lives of whole peoples must be made between peoples and not by Governments, or at least by their representatives in the full glare of publicity and criticism.

    Such a demand for “democratic control of foreign policy” seemed axiomatic. Even if the country had been swung into war by steps taken secretly and announced to the public only after they had been consummated, it was felt that the attitude of the American State toward foreign policy was only a relic of the bad old days and must be superseded in the new order. The American President himself, the liberal hope of the world, had demanded, in the eyes of the world, open diplomacy, agreements freely and openly arrived at. Did this mean a genuine transference of power in this most crucial of State functions from Government to people? Not at all. When the question recently came to a challenge in Congress, and the implications of open discussion were somewhat specifically discussed, and the desirabilities frankly commended, the President let his disapproval be known in no uncertain way. No one ever accused Mr. Wilson of not being a State idealist, and whenever democratic aspirations swung ideals too far out of the State orbit, he could be counted on to react vigorously. Here was a clear case of conflict between democratic idealism and the very crux of the concept of the State. However unthinkingly he might have been led on to encourage open diplomacy in his liberalizing program, when its implication was made vivid to him, he betrayed how mere a tool the idea had been in his mind to accentuate America’s redeeming role. Not in any sense as a serious pragmatic technique had he thought of a genuinely open diplomacy. And how could he? For the last stronghold of State power is foreign policy. It is in foreign policy that the State acts most concentratedly as the organized herd, acts with fullest sense of aggressive-power, acts with freest arbitrariness. In foreign policy, the State is most itself. States, with reference to each other, may be said to be in a continual state of latent war. The “armed truce,” a phrase so familiar before 1914, was an accurate description of the normal relation of States when they are not at war. Indeed, it is not too much to say that the normal relation of States is war. Diplomacy is a disguised war, in which States seek to gain by barter and intrigue, by the cleverness of wits, the objectives which they would have to gain more clumsily by means of war. Diplomacy is used while the States are recuperating from conflicts in which they have exhausted themselves. It is the wheedling and the bargaining of the worn-out bullies as they rise from the ground and slowly restore their strength to begin fighting again. If diplomacy had been a moral equivalent for war, a higher stage in human progress, an inestimable means of making words prevail instead of blows, militarism would have broken down and given place to it. But since it is a mere temporary substitute, a mere appearance of war’s energy under another form, a surrogate effect is almost exactly proportioned to the armed force behind it. When it fails, the recourse is immediate to the military technique whose thinly veiled arm it has been. A diplomacy that was the agency of popular democratic forces in their non-State manifestations would be no diplomacy at all. It would be no better than the Railway or Education commissions that are sent from one country to another with rational constructive purpose. The State, acting as a diplomatic-military ideal, is eternally at war. Just as it must act arbitrarily and autocratically in time of war, it must act in time of peace in this particular role where it acts as a unit. Unified control is necessarily autocratic control.

    Democratic control of foreign policy is therefore a contradiction in terms. Open discussion destroys swiftness and certainty of action. The giant State is paralyzed. Mr. Wilson retains his full ideal of the State at the same time that he desires to eliminate war. He wishes to make the world safe for democracy as well as safe for diplomacy. When the two are in conflict, his clear political insight, his idealism of the State, tells him that it is the naïver democratic values that must be sacrificed. The world must primarily be made safe for diplomacy. The State must not be diminished.

    What is the State essentially? The more closely we examine it, the more mystical and personal it becomes. On the Nation we can put our hand as a definite social group, with attitudes and qualities exact enough to mean something. On the Government we can put our hand as a certain organization of ruling functions, the machinery of lawmaking and law-enforcing. The Administration is a recognizable group of political functionaries, temporarily in charge of the government. But the State stands as an idea behind them all, eternal, sanctified, and from it Government and Administration conceive themselves to have the breath of life. Even the nation, especially in times of war — or at least, its significant classes — considers that it derives its authority and its purpose from the idea of the State. Nation and State are scarcely differentiated, and the concrete, practical, apparent facts are sunk in the symbol. We reverence not our country but the flag. We may criticize ever so severely our country, but we are disrespectful to the flag at our peril. It is the flag and the uniform that make men’s heart beat high and fill them with noble emotions, not the thought of and pious hopes for America as a free and enlightened nation.

    It cannot be said that the object of emotion is the same, because the flag is the symbol of the nation, so that in reverencing the American flag we are reverencing the nation. For the flag is not a symbol of the country as a cultural group, following certain ideals of life, but solely a symbol of the political State, inseparable from its prestige and expansion. The flag is most intimately connected with military achievement, military memory. It represents the country not in its intensive life, but in its far-flung challenge to the world. The flag is primarily the banner of war; it is allied with patriotic anthem and holiday. It recalls old martial memories. A nation’s patriotic history is solely the history of its wars, that is, of the State in its health and glorious functioning. So in responding to the appeal of the flag, we are responding to the appeal of the State, to the symbol of the herd organized as an offensive and defensive body, conscious of its prowess and its mystical herd strength.

    Even those authorities in the present Administration, to whom has been granted autocratic control over opinion, feel, though they are scarcely able to philosophize over, this distinction. It has been authoritatively declared that the horrid penalties against seditious opinion must not be construed as inhibiting legitimate, that is, partisan criticism of the Administration. A distinction is made between the Administration and the Government. It is quite accurately suggested by this attitude that the Administration is a temporary band of partisan politicians in charge of the machinery of Government, carrying out the mystical policies of State. The manner in which they operate this machinery may be freely discussed and objected to by their political opponents. The Governmental machinery may also be legitimately altered, in case of necessity. What may not be discussed or criticized is the mystical policy itself or the motives of the State in inaugurating such a policy. The President, it is true, has made certain partisan distinctions between candidates for office on the ground of support or nonsupport of the Administration, but what he means was really support or nonsupport of the State policy as faithfully carried out by the Administration. Certain of the Administration measures were devised directly to increase the health of the State, such as the Conscription and the Espionage laws. Others were concerned merely with the machinery. To oppose the first was to oppose the State and was therefore not tolerable. To oppose the second was to oppose fallible human judgment, and was therefore, though to be depreciated, not to be wholly interpreted as political suicide.

    The distinction between Government and State, however, has not been so carefully observed. In time of war it is natural that Government as the seat of authority should be confused with the State or the mystic source of authority. You cannot very well injure a mystical idea which is the State, but you can very well interfere with the processes of Government. So that the two become identified in the public mind, and any contempt for or opposition to the workings of the machinery of Government is considered equivalent to contempt for the sacred State. The State, it is felt, is being injured in its faithful surrogate, and public emotion rallies passionately to defend it. It even makes any criticism of the form of Government a crime.

    The inextricable union of militarism and the State is beautifully shown by those laws which emphasize interference with the Army and Navy as the most culpable of seditious crimes. Pragmatically, a case of capitalistic sabotage, or a strike in war industry would seem to be far more dangerous to the successful prosecution of the war than the isolated and ineffectual efforts of an individual to prevent recruiting. But in the tradition of the State ideal, such industrial interference with national policy is not identified as a crime against the State. It may be grumbled against; it may be seen quite rationally as an impediment of the utmost gravity. But it is not felt in those obscure seats of the herd mind which dictate the identity of crime and fix their proportional punishments. Army and Navy, however, are the very arms of the State; in them flows its most precious lifeblood. To paralyze them is to touch the very State itself. And the majesty of the State is so sacred that even to attempt such a paralysis is a crime equal to a successful strike. The will is deemed sufficient. Even though the individual in his effort to impede recruiting should utterly and lamentably fail, he shall be in no wise spared. Let the wrath of the State descend upon him for his impiety! Even if he does not try any overt action, but merely utters sentiments that may incidentally in the most indirect way cause someone to refrain from enlisting, he is guilty. The guardians of the State do not ask whether any pragmatic effect flowed out of this evil will or desire. It is enough that the will is present. Fifteen or twenty years in prison is not deemed too much for such sacrilege.

    Such attitudes and such laws, which affront every principle of human reason, are no accident, nor are they the result of hysteria caused by the war. They are considered just, proper, beautiful by all the classes which have the State ideal, and they express only an extreme of health and vigor in the reaction of the State to its nonfriends. Such attitudes are inevitable as arising from the devotees of the State. For the State is a personal as well as a mystical symbol, and it can only be understood by tracing its historical origin. The modern State is not the rational and intelligent product of modern men desiring to live harmoniously together with security of life, property, and opinion. It is not an organization which has been devised as pragmatic means to a desired social end. All the idealism with which we have been instructed to endow the State is the fruit of our retrospective imaginations. What it does for us in the way of security and benefit of life, it does incidentally as a by-product and development of its original functions, and not because at any time men or classes in the full possession of their insight and intelligence have desired that it be so. It is very important that we should occasionally lift the incorrigible veil of that ex post facto idealism by which we throw a glamour of rationalization over what is, and pretend in the ecstasies of social conceit that we have personally invented and set up for the glory of God and man the hoary institutions which we see around us. Things are what they are, and come down to us with all their thick encrustations of error and malevolence. Political philosophy can delight us with fantasy and convince us who need illusion to live that the actual is a fair and approximate copy — full of failings, of course, but approximately sound and sincere — of that ideal society which we can imagine ourselves as creating. From this it is a step to the tacit assumption that we have somehow had a hand in its creation and are responsible for its maintenance and sanctity.

    Nothing is more obvious, however, than that every one of us comes into society as into something in whose creation we had not the slightest hand. We have not even the advantage, like those little unborn souls in The Blue Bird, of consciousness before we take up our careers on earth. By the time we find ourselves here we are caught in a network of customs and attitudes, the major directions of our desires and interests have been stamped on our minds, and by the time we have emerged from tutelage and reached the years of discretion when we might conceivably throw our influence to the reshaping of social institutions, most of us have been so molded into the society and class we live in that we are scarcely aware of any distinction between ourselves as judging, desiring individuals and our social environment. We have been kneaded so successfully that we approve of what our society approves, desire what our society desires, and add to the group our own passionate inertia against change, against the effort of reason, and the adventure of beauty.

    Every one of us, without exception, is born into a society that is given, just as the fauna and flora of our environment are given. Society and its institutions are, to the individual who enters it, as much naturalistic phenomena as is the weather itself. There is, therefore, no natural sanctity in the State any more than there is in the weather. We may bow down before it, just as our ancestors bowed before the sun and moon, but it is only because something in us unregenerate finds satisfaction in such an attitude, not because there is anything inherently reverential in the institution worshiped. Once the State has begun to function, and a large class finds its interest and its expression of power in maintaining the State, this ruling class may compel obedience from any uninterested minority. The State thus becomes an instrument by which the power of the whole herd is wielded for the benefit of a class. The rulers soon learn to capitalize the reverence which the State produces in the majority, and turn it into a general resistance toward a lessening of their privileges. The sanctity of the State becomes identified with the sanctity of the ruling class, and the latter are permitted to remain in power under the impression that in obeying and serving them, we are obeying and serving society, the nation, the great collectivity of all of us. . . .

    From the first draft of an essay, “The State”, which was left unfinished by Bourne at the time of his death. It is now in the Bourne MSS, Columbia University Libraries.

    *

    Randolph Bourne Institute

    The Randolph Bourne Institute seeks to honor his memory by promoting a non-interventionist foreign policy for the United States as the best way of fostering a peaceful, more prosperous world. It publishes the website Antiwar.com.

    A nonprofit, tax-exempt, educational organization founded in 2001, the RBI centers its efforts around four major projects: a Web site, Antiwar.com; a fellows program for writers and researchers; a speakers program; and a student intern and campus outreach program. Every RBI project is designed for maximum inclusiveness, in the hope of enabling people from all points on the political spectrum – libertarian, left, right, and center – to join together on the vital issue of opposing war.

    The Antiwar.com Web site, launched in December 1995, is the Institute’s main project and the preeminent noninterventionist site on the Internet. It provides hourly coverage of breaking news, along with informed analysis of major world conflicts (with particular attention to the U.S. role in those conflicts) – something the establishment media utterly fails to offer. Toward this end, Antiwar.com relies on existing news sources as well as on its own columnists and reporters, many of whom file from within the various conflict areas covered on the site. Antiwar.com’s target audience includes members of the media, college students, and other concerned individuals and organizations. Antiwar.com has been a project of the RBI for seventeen years and has grown steadily in that time, as has its following – whether measured by numbers of readers or by the site’s demonstrated ability to affect the type and tenor of public debate about noninterventionism. Antiwar.com’s growing influence has been analyzed and discussed on such national TV news programs as the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, in such magazines as Mother Jones, The Atlantic, The Nation, and in such popular alternative weeklies as the New York Press and the SF (San Francisco) Bay Guardian.

    The RBI fellows program provides support for authors and researchers interested in the topic of nonintervention. Currently, the RBI boasts two particularly distinguished fellows. The editorial director of Antiwar.com, Justin Raimondo, is also a senior fellow of the Randolph Bourne Institute. Raimondo’s writings include Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (1993, reprinted 2008); Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996); An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (2000); The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection (2003); and numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, The American Conservative, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. Another RBI senior fellow is prominent journalist Jeff Riggenbach, author of In Praise of Decadence (1998), Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism (2009), and hundreds of articles in publications as diverse as USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, Reason, and Inquiry.

    The RBI speakers program has arranged for our fellows, our columnists, our staff members, and others to make informative and insightful presentations, primarily on U.S. interventionism, on college campuses and in other venues. We are actively seeking to expand in this area and to schedule more events in the future. If our readers have suggestions, we welcome them.

    A student intern/campus outreach program was initiated in the summer of 2002, when the RBI’s first two student interns worked on setting up the RBI campus outreach program and fielding assignments related to Antiwar.com, the RBI library project, and a series of face-to-face meetings between students and local experts on U.S. foreign policy (e.g., Hoover Institution scholars and Stanford and UC Berkeley students). We hope to expand the intern program to year-round in the near future.

    Randolph Silliman Bourne first emerged into the light of day on May 30, 1886, in Bloomfield, New Jersey, a small town less than 20 miles outside Manhattan. He came of comfortable middle-class parents and was the grandson of a respected Congregational minister. But his head and face were deformed at birth in a bungled forceps delivery. Then, at the age of four, after a battle with spinal tuberculosis, he found himself a hunchback. When he was seven, his parents lost everything in the Panic of 1893. Thereafter he was fatherless, as well. He and his mother lived in genteel poverty as the wards of a prosperous (if somewhat tightfisted) uncle. Meanwhile, his growth had been permanently stunted by the same pathogen that had reshaped his spine years before. By the time he graduated from high school at the age of 17, in 1903, he had attained his full adult height of five feet.

    Bourne had compiled an excellent academic record in high school. He was accepted as part of the Princeton class of 1907 and was expected to commence his freshman year at that institution in the fall of 1903. But he was broke. He could barely afford books, and his mother needed help with her living expenses. He went to work and stayed there for six years. He knew his way around a piano, so he took jobs as a piano teacher, piano tuner, and piano player (accompanying singers in a recording studio in Carnegie Hall). He cut piano rolls. He was also highly literate, so, between musical gigs, he took in proofreading and even did secretarial work.

    By 1909, at 23 years old, Bourne had saved enough to cut back on his working hours and try to catch up on the college experience he had been putting off. He enrolled at Columbia, fell under the sway of historian and political scientist Charles A. Beard (1874-1948) and philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952), and began publishing essays in the Dial, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. His first book, Youth and Life, a collection of his magazine essays, was published the year he graduated from Columbia, 1913. That fall, the 27-year-old recipient of what Louis Filler calls “Columbia’s most distinguished honor, the Gilder Fellowship for travel abroad,” he set out for Europe. After a year of travel and independent study there, he returned to America, took up residence in Greenwich Village, and resumed writing for the Dial and the Atlantic Monthly, along with a new, upstart weekly, The New Republic.

    Actually, Bourne fled Europe in August 1914. For it was in late July and early August of 1914 that Europe – virtually all of Europe – embarked upon the conflict we know today as World War I. Bourne opposed this conflict, and he was especially worried that his own country, the United States, would choose to enter it before long. He wrote about many subjects over the next four years; he wrote enough about education, for example, that he was able to fill two books – The Gary Schools (1916) and Education and Living (1917) – from his magazine pieces on that subject. But his main subject was the new world war and the urgent need for the United States to stay out of it.

    The problem was that what Casey Blake calls “Bourne’s insight that total war had made all modern nations increasingly totalitarian” neither won him friends nor influenced much of anyone to look kindly on his contributions to the public prints. Worse yet, according to Ben Reiner, Bourne “vehemently opposed all restrictions on dissent, bringing him into sharp conflict with the rising pro-war hysteria that preceded America’s entry into World War One. Bourne viewed Woodrow Wilson’s neutrality as a sham,” and he was also, as Charles Molesworth notes, openly contemptuous of “the weak logic of those who had to change their principles in order to justify joining the national call to arms.”

    In the words of Christopher Phelps, Bourne was an “elegant refuter of ‘pragmatic’ pretensions in those who believed that the state, even in a time of unleashed militarism, could be tamed simply by their own moral presence in the corridors of power.” And he “held fast to principle as his erstwhile colleagues at The New Republic accommodated the imperialist carnage of the First World War.” His principled stand cost him dearly, “for few 20th-century American dissenters have … suffered the wrath of their targets as greatly as Bourne did. By 1917, The New Republic stopped publishing his political pieces. The Seven Arts, a literary ‘little magazine’ Bourne helped to found, collapsed when its financial angel refused further support because of Bourne’s antiwar articles.” (According to Reiner, the problem was that once Bourne’s “biting attacks on government repression began to appear in The Seven Arts,” this gave “birth to rumors that the publisher, Mrs. A.K. Raskine, was supporting a pro-German magazine. She … withdrew her support, which closed the magazine down.”)

    “Even at the Dial, Bourne’s last hope among literary magazines,” Phelps continues, “he was stripped from editorial power in 1918 – the result of an uncharacteristically underhanded intervention by his former mentor John Dewey, one of the objects of Bourne’s disillusioned antiwar pen.” Phelps quotes a letter Bourne sent to a friend shortly thereafter, in which he laments that “I feel very much secluded from the world, very much out of touch with my times…. The magazines I write for die violent deaths, and all my thoughts are unprintable.” Robert Westbrook put the matter as memorably and eloquently as anyone when he said that “Bourne disturbed the peace of John Dewey and other intellectuals supporting Woodrow Wilson’s crusade to make the world safe for democracy, and they made him pay for it.”

    Yet the ruination of his career was far from the only price he had to pay. Westbrook quotes John Dos Passos’ claim, from his novel 1919 (1932), that, in addition to his professional setbacks, “friends didn’t like to be seen with Bourne,” and “his father” – who had walked out of his life a quarter-century before – “wrote him begging him not to disgrace the family name.” But according to Casey Blake, Bourne never lost his optimism. When the Armistice came at last in November 1918, he wrote his mother, hoping that “[n]ow that the war is over, people can speak freely and we can dare to think. It’s like coming out of a nightmare.”

    But for Bourne himself, this was not to be. In the words of Reiner, he “was stricken with influenza during the worldwide epidemic that took some 600,000 lives in our nation during the 1918-1919 winter” and succumbed at the age of 32 on Dec. 22. Having died so prematurely, so unexpectedly, he will, Christopher Phelps avers, “remain forever the intransigent, defiant outcast, forever young, forever the halfway revolutionary socialist with anarchist leanings. (‘War is the health of the State,’ runs that famous refrain from the unpublished, discarded manuscript rescued from his wastebasket at his death.)” 

    by Jeff Riggenbach

    *

    Wikipedia 

    Randolph Silliman Bourne, 1886–1918, was a progressive writer and intellectual born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and a graduate of Columbia University. Bourne is best known for his essays, especially his unfinished work “The State,” discovered after his death.

    Bourne’s face was deformed at birth by misused forceps and the umbilical cord was coiled round his left ear, leaving it permanently damaged and misshapen. At age four, he suffered tuberculosis of the spine, resulting in stunted growth and a hunched back. He chronicled his experiences in his essay titled, “The Handicapped.” Bourne’s articles appeared in journals including The Seven Arts and The New Republic.

    World War I divided American progressives, pitting an anti-war faction, including Bourne and Jane Addams, against a pro-war faction led by pragmatist philosopher and educational theorist John Dewey. Bourne was a student of Dewey at Columbia, but he rejected Dewey’s idea of using the war to spread democracy. (He was a member of the Boar’s Head Society.) 
    In his pointedly titled 1917 essay “Twilight of Idols”, he invoked the progressive pragmatism of Dewey’s contemporary William James to argue that America was using democracy as an end to justify the war, but that democracy itself was never examined. Although initially following Dewey, he felt that Dewey had betrayed his democratic ideals by focusing only on the facade of a democratic government rather than on the ideas behind democracy that Dewey had once professed to respect.

    Bourne was greatly influenced by Horace Kallen’s 1915 essay “Democracy Versus the Melting-Pot” and argued, like Kallen, that Americanism ought not to be associated with Anglo-Saxonism. In his 1916 article “Trans-National America,” Bourne argued that the US should accommodate immigrant cultures into a “cosmopolitan America,” instead of forcing immigrants to assimilate to Anglophilic culture.

    Bourne was an enthusiast for Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s belief in the necessity of a General Will. Bourne once exclaimed: “Yes, that is what I would have felt, done, said! I could not judge him and his work by those standards that the hopelessly moral and complacent English have imposed upon our American mind. It was a sort of moral bath; it cleared up for me a whole new democratic morality, and put the last touch upon the old English way of looking at the world in which I was brought up and which I had such a struggle to get rid of.”

    Bourne died in the Spanish flu pandemic after the war. His ideas have been influential in the shaping of postmodern ideas of cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism, and recent intellectuals such as David Hollinger have written extensively on Bourne’s ideology. John Dos Passos, an influential American modernist writer, eulogized Bourne in the chapter “Randolph Bourne” of his novel 1919 and drew heavily on the ideas presented in War Is The Health of the State in the novel.


    “Trans-National America”
    In this article, Bourne rejects the melting-pot theory and does not see immigrants assimilating easily to another culture. Bourne’s view of nationality was related to the connection between a person and their “spiritual country”, that is, their culture. 
    He argued that people would most often hold tightly to the literature and culture of their native country even if they lived in another. He also believed this was true for the many immigrants to the United States. Therefore, Bourne could not see immigrants from all different parts of the world assimilating to the Anglo-Saxon traditions, which were viewed as American traditions.

    This article goes on to say that America offers a unique liberty of opportunity and can still offer traditional isolation, which he felt could lead to a cosmopolitan enterprise. He felt that with this great mix of cultures and people, America would be able to grow into a Trans-National nation, which would have interconnecting cultural fibers with other countries. Bourne felt America would grow more as a country by broadening people’s views to include immigrants’ ways instead of conforming everyone to the melting-pot ideal. This broadening of people’s views would eventually lead to a nation where all who live in it are united, which would inevitably pull the country towards greatness. This article and most of the ideas in it were influenced by World War I, during which the article was written.

    Randolph Bourne Institute
    The Randolph Bourne Institute seeks to honor his memory by promoting a non-interventionist foreign policy for the United States as the best way of fostering a peaceful, more prosperous world. It publishes the website Antiwar.com.

    *

    Some parents call it a loving smack. I call it violence – Susanna Rustin. 

    The human rights case for “equal protection” from violence can no longer be ignored with regard to children.

    To say that English parents are uniquely keen on hitting their kids wouldn’t be fair, even on a day when the Welsh government’s announcement that it aims to outlaw corporal punishment leaves England looking isolated. 

    What can be said with confidence is that English parents, and the MPs who represent them, appear unusually determined to hold on to the legal right to “smack” their offspring.

    I say “smack” because that is the term most often used, though whether these blows or slaps are really distinguishable from others is a moot point. Certainly most smacks aren’t issued as formal penalties, as used to happen in schools or households in which discipline was a matter of “Wait till your dad gets home”. Currently the UK is one of just two countries in the EU (the other is the Czech Republic) neither to have banned corporal punishment, nor to be considering a ban.

    One survey by the NSPCC reported almost half of British parents of children aged between 11 and 17 as saying they had smacked them, but the lack of international research makes comparisons difficult. In one of the few surveys of families across Europe, 70% of French parents said they had slapped a child’s face, while just 8% claimed to be raising children without any violence.

    It is widely agreed that corporal punishment is becoming less common in the UK, as it is in most places. But the idea that British parents should be allowed to change at our own pace, and not be threatened with sanctions, is tenacious.
    The problem for politicians, when faced with the prospect of tabloid ire about a ban, is that the law matters. This is partly practical. Changing laws alters behaviour much more dramatically than any amount of nudging or peer pressure, though public education is important. But law is also a matter of principle. Bruce Adamson, the children’s commissioner for Scotland (where the government has thrown its weight behind a ban), is a lawyer who believes the human rights case for “equal protection” from violence can no longer be ignored with regard to children.

    Just how strange it is that British children don’t currently have the same protection as adults takes a bit of thinking about. Take me, a mother with a fairly quick temper. I would never set out to smack my children because I don’t believe in it, but I’ve more than once grabbed or handled them roughly, and once slapped a leg when furious.

    I’m not proud of this. In fact I’m sorry about it, and own up here only because it feels hypocritical not to. But my point is this: when it’s so obviously more wrong to swear at small children, or scream insults at them, than it is to do the same to your spouse or another adult, how can it not be worse to lash out physically as well? 

    “How can it be that a defence exists for an assault on a toddler, as long as it doesn’t leave a mark, that doesn’t exist for an assault on a grownup?” 

    There are two main answers to this. One of these is that smacks aren’t assaults, they are punishments. The evidence, however, doesn’t support this. Joan Durrant, a professor of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba in Canada, says that decades of research point to the idea of the orderly smack – delivered to teach a child a lesson, being a fallacy.

    Adults mostly hit their children when enraged and out of control, and language plays a key role in masking this. Just as the term once used to describe victims of domestic violence as “battered wives” had a useful (to abusers) double meaning, suggesting someone worn out rather than beaten up, so child-hitters have their own special word: “smack” is designed to dissociate thumping a child from other forms of violence.

    The other justification often given is that even if hitting children is wrong, it’s even more wrong for police and courts to interfere in family life. The fear of spurious prosecutions, of good and loving parents being criminalised, looms large in arguments against change. 

    Here New Zealand offers a reassuring lesson: in the three years after the banning of physical punishment, the government found that the dreaded “unnecessary state intervention” in private homes did not happen.

    How can it be that a defence exists for an assault on a toddler that doesn’t exist for an assault on a grown-up?

    Hardly anyone defends smacking per se any more. A growing body of evidence since the 1980s has shown it to be harmful rather than beneficial – as was once believed by many Christians influenced by such teachings as “spare the rod, spoil the child” – and to have links to violence of other sorts, including spousal abuse.

    Such evidence is one reason why the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children exists, and also explains why countries including Canada have imposed age restrictions. There, smacking is only legal between the ages of two and 12. In the UK, there is no bar to parents (or any babysitter who has a parent’s permission) hitting babies or older children, while the government’s recently updated definition of domestic violence includes a paragraph on adolescent abusers, and another on male victims, but almost nothing about victims under 16.

    Durrant believes the real reason why hitting children is still allowed is that they lack political representatives. The “reasonable punishment” defence, she points out, dates back to ancient Rome, when it was applied to slaves, along with women and children; and a key development in the common law was the 1860 trial of Thomas Hopley, a London schoolmaster who flogged a 15-year-old boy, Reginald Cancellor, to death, in an effort to “cure” bad behaviour. While Hopley was convicted of manslaughter, the judgment asserted that “reasonable” beating was allowed – an idea subsequently exported to British colonies worldwide.

    For many children, occasional displays of temper by a parent, sometimes accompanied by a light slap or uncomfortably firm hold, are part of life. What is increasingly clear is that the strenuous efforts to deny any connection between what is sometimes called a “loving smack” (that is, an occasional blow from a good parent) and “abuse”, don’t stand up. 

    Research on the mistreatment of children shows that in many cases the cycle begins with punishment.
    There is no guarantee that a smacking ban would lead to a diminution in the kinds of child cruelty cases that make us flinch when we read about them. But it is worth noting that Sweden, the first country in the world to outlaw hitting children, has one of the lowest child abuse and homicide rates in the world.

    Change takes time and people are resistant, as the Welsh government has acknowledged, not least because we feel protective of the methods used by our own parents. But with smacking either prohibited or on the way to being so in more than 100 countries worldwide, and the UN convention on the rights of the child clear in its commitment to “end violence” of all kinds, England has some catching up to do. 

    Children’s commissioners in all four nations of the UK, along with the NSPCC and campaigns including End Violence Against Women, are convinced it’s a case of when, and not if. 

    Now would be good! 

    The Guardian 

    A Brief History of Environmentalism –  Rex Weyler, Greenpeace International. 

    “The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.” – Zeno ~ 450 BC (from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers)

    Awareness of our delicate relationship with our habitat likely arose among early hunter-gatherers when they saw how fire and hunting tools impacted their environment. Anthropologists have found evidence of human-induced animal and plant extinctions from 50,000 BCE, when only about 200,000 Homo sapiens roamed the Earth. We can only speculate about how these early humans reacted, but migrating to new habitats appears to be a common response.

    Ecological awareness first appears in the human record at least 5,000 years ago. Vedic sages praised the wild forests in their hymns, Taoists urged that human life should reflect nature’s patterns and the Buddha taught compassion for all sentient beings.

    In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, we see apprehension about forest destruction and drying marshes. When Gilgamesh cuts down sacred trees, the deities curse Sumer with drought, and Ishtar (mother of the Earth goddess) sends the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh.

    In ancient Greek mythology, when the hunter Orion vows to kill all the animals, Gaia objects and creates a great scorpion to kill Orion. When the scorpion fails, Artemis, goddess of the forests and mistress of animals, shoots Orion with an arrow.

    In North America, Pawnee Eagle Chief, Letakots-Lesa, told anthropologist Natalie Curtis that “Tirawa, the one Above, did not speak directly to humans… he showed himself through the beasts, and from them and from the stars, the sun, and the moon should humans learn.”

    Some of the earliest human stories contain lessons about the sacredness of wilderness, the importance of restraining our power, and our obligation to care for the natural world.

    Early environmental response

    Five thousand years ago, the Indus civilisation of Mohenjo Darro (an ancient city in modern-day Pakistan), were already recognising the effects of pollution on human health and practiced waste management and sanitation. In Greece, as deforestation led to soil erosion, the philosopher Plato lamented, “All the richer and softer parts have fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land remains.” Communities in China, India, and Peru understood the impact of soil erosion and prevented it by creating terraces, crop rotation, and nutrient recycling.

    The Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen began to observe environmental health problems such as acid contamination in copper miners. Hippocrates’ book, De aëre, aquis et locis (Air, Waters, and Places), is the earliest surviving European work on human ecology.

    Advancing agriculture boosted human populations but also caused soil erosion and attracted insect infestations that led to severe famines between 200 and 1200 CE.

    In 1306, the English king Edward I limited coal burning in London due to smog. In the 17th century, the naturalist and gardener John Evelyn wrote that London resembled “the suburbs of Hell.” These events inspired the first ‘renewable’ energy boom in Europe, as governments started to subsidise water and wind power.

    In the 16th century, the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted scenes of raw sewage and other pollution emptying into rivers, and Dutch lawyer Hugo Grotius wrote The Free Sea, claiming that pollution and war violate natural law.

    Environmental rights

    Perhaps the first real environmental activists were the Bishnoi Hindus of Khejarli, who were slaughtered by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in 1720 for attempting to protect the forest that he felled to build himself a palace.

    The 18th century witnessed the dawn of modern environmental rights. After a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin petitioned to manage waste and to remove tanneries for clean air as a public “right” (albeit, on land stolen from Indigenous nations). Later, American artist George Catlin proposed that Indigenous land be protected as a “natural right”.

    At the same time in Britain, Jeremy Benthu, wrote An Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation which argued for animal rights. Thomas Malthus wrote his famous essay warning that human overpopulation would lead to ecological destruction. Knowledge of global warming began 200 years ago, when Jean Baptiste Fourier calculated that the Earth’s atmosphere trapped heat like a greenhouse.

    Then, in 1835, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Nature, encouraging us to appreciate the natural world for its own sake and proposing a limit on human expansion into the wilderness. American Botanist William Bartram and ornithologist James Audubon dedicated themselves to the conservation of wildlife. Henry David Thoreau wrote his seminal ecological treatise, Walden, which has since inspired generations of environmentalists.

    A few decades later, George Perkins Marsh wrote Man and Nature, denouncing humanity’s indiscriminate “warfare” upon wilderness, warning of climate change, and insisting that “The world cannot afford to wait” – a plea we still hear today.

    At the end of the 19th century, in Jena, Germany, zoologist Ernst Haeckel wrote Generelle Morphologie der Organismen in which he discussed the relationships among species and coined the word ‘ökologie’ (from the Greek oikos, meaning home), the science we now know as ecology.

    In 1892, John Muir founded the Sierra Club in the US to protect the country’s wilderness. Seventy years later, a chapter of the Sierra Club in western Canada broke away to become more active. This was the beginning of Greenpeace.

    Environmental action

    “That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology,” wrote Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac, “but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics … a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

    In the early 20th century, the chemist Alice Hamilton led a campaign against lead poisoning from leaded gasoline, accusing General Motors of willful murder. The corporation attacked Hamilton, and it took governments 50 years to ban leaded gasoline. Meanwhile, industrial smog choked major world cities. In 1952, 4,000 people died in London’s infamous killer fog, and four years later the British Parliament passed the first Clean Air Act.

    Ecology grew into a full-fledged, global movement with the development of nuclear weapons. Albert Einstein, who felt morally troubled by his contribution to the nuclear bomb, drafted an anti-nuclear manifesto in 1955 with British philosopher Bertrand Russell, signed by ten Nobel Prize winners. The letter inspired the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in the UK – a model for modern, non-violent civil disobedience. In 1958, the Quaker Committee for Non-Violent Action launched two boats – the Golden Rule and Phoenix – into US nuclear test sites, a direct inspiration for Greenpeace a decade later.

    Rachel Carson brought the environmental movement into focus with the 1962 publication of Silent Spring, describing the impact of chemical pesticides on biodiversity. “For the first time in the history of the world,” she wrote, “every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals.” Shortly before her death she expressed the emerging ecological ethic in a magazine essay: “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the Earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”

    Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss cited Silent Spring as a key influence for his concept of ‘Deep Ecology’ – ecological awareness that goes beyond the logic of biological systems to a deep, personal experience of the self as an integrated part of nature.

    In The Subversive Science, Paul Shepard described ecology as a “primordial axiom,” revealed in ancient cultures, which should guide all human social constructions. Ecology was “subversive” to Shepard because it supplanted human exceptionalism with interdependence.

    In India, villagers in Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand, inspired by Gandhi and the 18th century Bishnoi Hindus, defended the forest against commercial logging by encircling and embracing trees. Their movement spread across northern India, known as Chipko (“to embrace”) – the original tree-huggers.

    In 1968, the American writer Cliff Humphrey founded Ecology Action. One media stunt involved Humphrey gathering 60 people in Berkeley, California, to smash his 1958 Dodge Rambler into the street, declaring, “these things pollute the earth.” Prophetically, Humphrey told Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter, “This thing has just begun.”

    A year later, inspired by the writings of Carson, Shepard, and Naess, and by the actions of Chipko and Ecology Action, a group of Canadian and American activists set out to merge peace with ecology, and Greenpeace was born.

    Co-founder Ben Metcalfe commissioned 12 billboard signs around Vancouver that read:

    Ecology, Look it up., You’re involved.

    It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1969, most people did have to look it up. Ecology was still not a household word, although it soon would be.

    In 1977, after two anti-nuclear bomb campaigns and confrontations with Soviet whalers and Norwegian sealers, Greenpeace purchased a retired trawler in London and renamed it the Rainbow Warrior, after a indigenous legend from Canada. The Cree story (recounted in Warriors of the Rainbow, by William Willoya and Vinson Brown) tells of a time when the land, rivers, and air are poisoned, and a group of people from all nations of the world band together to save the Earth.

    Nearly a half-century after the foundation of Greenpeace, the global ecology movement has reached every corner of the world, with thousands of groups springing up to defend the environment. Meanwhile, the challenges facing us grow ever more daunting. The next half-century will test whether or not humanity can respond to the challenge.

    Greenpeace 

    The Guardian view on cryptocurrencies: a greater fool’s gold

    The apparently endless rise in the prices of cryptocurrencies is a monument to greed and gullibility.

    Last month a plague of kittens brought down one of the most fashionable cryptocurrencies on the internet. This might not have been news, except that the cryptocurrency, Ethereum, bills itself as “the world computer” – a distributed program that can replace large parts of both the legitimate banking system and the legal system itself, since contracts can be written into computer code. 

    Unless, that is, Ethereum becomes the plaything of an imaginary kitten. Like all other cryptocurrencies that have appeared in the wake of bitcoin, and like bitcoin itself, Ethereum is useless as a medium of exchange because the price fluctuates violently and unpredictably. 

    But it turns out to be an excellent medium for the propagation of imaginary kittens and when a small Canadian company introduced a game that let players buy and breed cartoon cats, the resulting popularity brought the whole network briefly to its knees. Had Ethereum been a real currency, this would have been as if the Beanie Baby craze of the last century had crashed the world’s credit card system. 

    But of course Ethereum is not a real currency, and neither is bitcoin; nor are Ripple, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin, or any of the other thousands of cryptocurrencies that are the focus of intense speculation today.

    They are the latest manifestation of the eternal dream that we could, by magic, become really rich really quickly. Why, if only you had bought bitcoin a year ago, they would now be worth 16 or 17 times as much, or, last week, only 13 times as much. What could possibly go wrong?

    Nonetheless the bubble must one day pop and the fool’s gold vanish, leaving only fools.

    The central paradox of all these currencies is that we’re told they have eliminated the need for trust between humans and replaced it by mathematical guarantees; but all their tradeable value depends on blind faith and ignorance of computer code. 

    Only last week a Google researcher discovered a hole in some software widely used to store bitcoins which would leak all their contents to any suitably malicious webpage that the owner visited. This had in fact been pointed out to the developers months ago, but they had not bothered to fix it. 

    Flaws in the code of Ethereum led to the theft of $30m in the summer of 2016 and the disappearance of $170m last autumn, though all these sums are entirely notional. Even software built by gigantic, legitimate companies can turn out to have catastrophic bugs in it, as we learned last week from the publication of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, which between them affect almost all modern computer chips.

    There is even less reason to trust software developed by small teams of programmers who hope both to become insanely rich and to circumvent all efforts by governments to control them – and that is how all cryptocurrencies have been built. 
    But there is not much use in sober realism here. So long as ordinary people can expect to make their fortunes overnight, they will step up to the gaming table and play – at least while the cryptokittens are away.

    Mirror Neuron Activity May Predict How We Respond to Moral Dilemmas – Traci Pedersen. 

    In a new study published in Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, researchers found that they were able to predict a person’s ethical actions based on their mirror neuron activity.

    Mirror neurons are brain cells that fire equally whether a person is performing an action or watching another person perform the same action. These neurons play a vital role in how people feel empathy for others or learn through mimicry. For example, if you wince while seeing another person in pain — a phenomenon called “neural resonance” — mirror neurons are responsible.

    For the study, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) wanted to know whether neural resonance might play a role in how people make complicated choices that require both conscious deliberation and consideration of another’s feelings.

    The findings suggest that by studying how a person’s mirror neurons respond while watching someone else experience pain, scientists can predict whether that person will be more likely to avoid causing harm to others when faced with a moral dilemma.

    “The findings give us a glimpse into what is the nature of morality,” said Dr. Marco Iacoboni, director of the Neuromodulation Lab at UCLA’s Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center and the study’s senior author. “This is a foundational question to understand ourselves, and to understand how the brain shapes our own nature.”

    The researchers showed 19 volunteers two videos: one of a hypodermic needle piercing a hand, and another of a hand being gently touched by a cotton swab. During both videos, the scientists used a functional MRI machine to measure activity in the participants’ brains.

    The participants were later asked how they would behave in a variety of moral dilemmas: Would they smother and silence a baby to keep enemy forces from finding and killing everyone in their group? Would they torture another person to prevent a bomb from killing several other people? Would they harm research animals to cure AIDS?

    Participants also responded to scenarios in which causing harm would make the world worse — for example, causing harm to another person in order to avoid two weeks of hard labor — to gauge their willingness to inflict harm for moral reasons as well as less-noble motives.

    As expected, the findings reveal that people who showed greater neural resonance while watching the hand-piercing video were less likely to choose direct harm, such as smothering the baby in the hypothetical dilemma.

    No link was found between brain activity and participants’ willingness to hypothetically harm one person in the interest of the greater good, such as silencing the baby to save more lives. Those decisions are thought to stem from more cognitive, deliberative processes.

    The findings confirm that genuine concern for others’ pain plays a causal role in moral dilemma judgments, Iacoboni said. In other words, a person’s refusal to silence the baby is due to concern for the baby, not just the person’s own discomfort in taking that action.

    Iacoboni’s next study will investigate whether a person’s decision-making in moral dilemmas can be influenced by decreasing or enhancing activity in the areas of the brain that were targeted in the current study.

    “It would be fascinating to see if we can use brain stimulation to change complex moral decisions through impacting the amount of concern people experience for others’ pain,” Iacoboni said. “It could provide a new method for increasing concern for others’ well-being.”

    The research could point to a way to help people with mental disorders such as schizophrenia that make interpersonal communication difficult, Iacoboni said.

    Source: University of California. Los Angeles

    Psych Central 

    *

    Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand 

    Schizophrenia

    When a person has schizophrenia they go through patches where it is hard to think clearly, manage their emotions, distinguish what is real and what is not, and relate to others.

    They may have times when they lose contact with reality. This can all be very frightening.

    Schizophrenia most often begins between the ages of 15 and 30 years, occurring for the first time slightly earlier in men than in women. Schizophrenia happens in approximately the same numbers across all ethnic groups.

    The onset of schizophrenia can be quite quick. Someone who has previously been healthy and coped well with their usual activities and relationships can develop psychosis (loss of contact with reality) over a number of weeks. That said, symptoms may also develop slowly, with the ability to function in everyday life declining over a number of years.

    The course of schizophrenia is very variable

    Everyone experiences it differently and most will make a reasonable recovery, going on to lead a fulfilling life. About one third of people experiencing schizophrenia will have ongoing problems, perhaps with continuing symptoms such as hearing voices.

    The effects of the illness do reduce with time. With early, effective, recovery-oriented treatment and care (including knowing how to look after yourself well), schizophrenia can be successfully managed. There is also some suggestion that as people progress into their later years, that the signs and symptoms of schizophenia may lessen.

    It’s very important to get a diagnosis and treatment as early as possible. Schizophrenia can be effectively treated and you can recover. It is now an accepted fact that the earlier effective treatment is started, the better your chances of recovery.

    Recovery is not defined as the complete absence of symptoms, but living well with or without symptoms – and will have a different meaning for each person.

    If you think you have schizophrenia, or you are worried about a loved one, it’s important to talk to your doctor or counsellor, or someone else you can trust as a first step to getting the important help you or they need.

    Myths about schizophrenia

    Schizophrenia means the person has a split personality.

    NOT TRUE Split or multiple personality is an extremely rare condition that does not cause psychosis. So this statement is untrue. On the other hand, the behaviour of people with acute psychosis does change, but this is due to the illness not to any personality change. When the illness resolves the behaviour returns to normal.

    People with schizophrenia are aggressive violent people.

    NOT TRUE It is clear that outside times of acute illness, people with schizophrenia are no more violent than any other member of the community. With good care and treatment, risk during times of acute illness can be minimised. However, people with schizophrenia, especially if it’s not treated well, can be violent or victims of violence.

    What causes schizophrenia?

    The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. Different causes may operate in different people. This may be why there is wide variation in the way the condition develops, in its symptoms and in the way it develops.

    It is known that there is genetic (inherited) component to schizophrenia. If someone in your family/whānau has schizophrenia, you and your relatives have an increased chance of developing it – about a one in 10 chance. Childhood stresses and trauma, such as abuse, are also being shown to be linked to increased chance of developing mental illnesses in adults.

    Signs to look for (symptoms)

    The symptoms of schizophrenia can vary between individuals and, over time, within an individual. They are often divided into two categories – psychotic symptoms and mood symptoms.

    Psychotic symptoms

    These symptoms are not there all the time and occur when you are having a severe, or acute episode. They include the following:

    – Delusions – an unusual belief that seems quite real to you, but not to those around you. A delusional person is convinced their belief is true. An example might be they strongly believe the FBI are trying to hunt them down.

    – Thought disturbances – how you process thoughts or your ability to concentrate and maintain a train of thought may be affected. For example, you may feel like your thoughts are racing and friends may notice you constantly changing the topic of conversation or that you are easily distracted, or may laugh at irrational times. Your speech may become quite disorganised, and you may use made up words that only you understand.

    – Hallucinations – this is when someone hears, sees, feels or smells something that is not there. Hearing voices that others cannot hear or when there is no-one else in the room is very typical of psychosis. Sometimes these voices will talk about or to you. They will sometimes command you to do things. For some, these voices can be inside their head; occasionally they may seem to come from within their body.

    Mood symptoms

    These could include:

    – Loss of motivation, interest or pleasure in things. Everyday tasks such as washing up become difficult.

    – Mood changes –You’ll tell friends you’re feeling great or never better. However, your ‘happy’ behaviour will be recognised as excessive by friends or family. You may also be quite unresponsive and be unable to express joy or sadness.

    – Social withdrawal –people may notice that you become very careless in your dress and self-care, or have periods of seeming to do little and periods of being extremely active.

    Other symptoms include subtle difficulties with tasks like problem solving or you may show signs of depression – commonly experienced by people with schizophrenia.

    The strongest feature of schizophrenia is loss of insight – the loss of awareness that the experiences and difficulties you have are the result of your illness. It is a particular feature of psychotic illnesses, and is the reason why the Mental Health Act (1992) has been developed to ensure people with these conditions can get the assessment and treatment they need.

    How the doctor tests for schizophrenia (diagnosis)

    Once you have spent some time talking to your doctor, they will refer you to a psychiatrist qualified to diagnose and treat people with this condition. Psychiatrists diagnose schizophrenia when a person has some or all of the typical symptoms described above. For this reason it is important the psychiatrist gets a full picture of the difficulties you have had, both from you and your family/whānau or others who know you well.

    Before schizophrenia can be diagnosed, the symptoms or signs must have been present for at least six months, with symptoms of psychosis for at least one month.

    Treatment options

    The best treatment for schizophrenia involves a number of important components, each of which can be tailored to your needs and the stage of the condition. The main components are psychosocial (talking) therapies, medication, with complementary therapies potentially valuable as well.

    Talking therapies and counselling (psychosocial treatments)

    Talking therapies are effective in the treatment of schizophrenia, especially for the treatment of depressive symptoms. Sessions may be held on a one to one basis, sometimes include partners or family, or be held in a group.

    The focus of psychological therapy or counselling is on education and support for you to understand what is happening to you, to learn coping strategies and to pursue a path of recovery. Sessions help you regain the confidence and belief in yourself that is critical to recovery.

    All types of therapy/counselling should be provided in a manner which is respectful to you and with which you feel comfortable and free to ask questions. It should be consistent with and incorporate your cultural beliefs and practices.

    Medication

    In treating schizophrenia, medicines are most often used for making your mood more stable and for helping with depression (anti-depressants). If you are prescribed medication, you are entitled to:

    – know the names of the medicines

    – what symptoms they are supposed to treat

    – how long it will be before they take effect

    – how long you will have to take them for

    – and understand the side effects.

    Finding the right medication can be a matter of trial and error. There is no way to predict exactly how medicines will affect you but it is worth persevering to find what medication works best for you.

    If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding no medication is entirely safe. Before making any decisions about taking medication in pregnancy you should talk with your doctor.

    Complementary therapies

    The term complementary therapy is generally used to indicate therapies and treatments that differ from conventional western medicine and that may be used to complement and support it.

    Certain complementary therapies may enhance your life and help you to maintain wellbeing. In general, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, yoga, exercise, relaxation, massage, mirimiri and aromatherapy have all been shown to have some effect in alleviating mental distress.

    When considering taking any supplement, herbal or medicinal preparation you should consult your doctor to make sure it is safe and will not harm your health, for example, by interacting with any other medications you are taking.

    Physical health

    It’s also really important to look after your physical wellbeing. Make sure you get an annual check up with your doctor. Being in good physical health will also help your mental health.

    Thanks to Janet Peters, Registered Psychologist, for reviewing this content. Date last reviewed: September, 2014.

    Trump is now Dangerous That makes his mental health a matter of public interest – Bandy Lee. 

    A world authority in psychiatry, consulted by US politicians, argues that the president’s mental fitness deserves scrutiny. 

    Bandy Lee is on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine and is an internationally recognised expert on violence. She is editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.

    *

    Eight months ago, a group of us put our concerns into a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. It became an instant bestseller, depleting bookstores within days. We thus discovered that our endeavours resonated with the public.

    While we keep within the letter of the Goldwater rule – which prohibits psychiatrists from diagnosing public figures without a personal examination and without consent – there is still a lot that mental health professionals can tell before the public reaches awareness. These come from observations of a person’s patterns of responses, of media appearances over time, and from reports of those close to him. Indeed, we know far more about Trump in this regard than many, if not most, of our patients. Nevertheless, the personal health of a public figure is her private affair – until, that is, it becomes a threat to public health.

    To make a diagnosis one needs all the relevant information – including, I believe, a personal interview. But to assess dangerousness, one only needs enough information to raise alarms. It is about the situation rather than the person. The same person may not be a danger in a different situation, while a diagnosis stays with the person.

    It is Trump in the office of the presidency that poses a danger. Why? 

    Past violence is the best predictor of future violence, and he has shown: verbal aggressiveness, boasting about sexual assaults, inciting violence in others, an attraction to violence and powerful weapons and the continual taunting of a hostile nation with nuclear power. 

    Specific traits that are highly associated with violence include: impulsivity, recklessness, paranoia, a loose grip on reality with a poor understanding of consequences, rage reactions, a lack of empathy, belligerence towards others and a constant need to demonstrate power.

    There is another pattern by which he is dangerous. His cognitive function, or his ability to process knowledge and thoughts, has begun to be widely questioned. Many have noted a distinct decline in his outward ability to form complete sentences, to stay with a thought, to use complex words and not to make loose associations. This is dangerous because of the critical importance of decision-making capacity in the office that he holds. 

    Cognitive decline can result from any number of causes – psychiatric, neurological, medical, or medication-induced – and therefore needs to be investigated. Likewise, we do not know whether psychiatric symptoms are due to a mental disorder, medication, or a physical condition, which only a thorough examination can reveal.

    A diagnosis in itself, as much as it helps define the course, prognosis, and treatment, is Trump’s private business, but what is our affair is whether the president and commander-in-chief has the capacity to function in his office. Mental illness, or even physical disability, does not necessarily impair a president from performing his function. Rather, questions about this capacity mobilised us to speak out about our concerns, with the intent to warn and to educate the public, so that we can help protect its own safety and wellbeing.

    Indeed, at no other time in US history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president’s dangerousness. This is not because he is an unusual person – many of his symptoms are very common – but it is highly unusual to find a person with such signs of danger in the office of presidency. For the US, it may be unprecedented; for parts of the world where this has happened before, the outcome has been uniformly devastating.

    Pathology does not feel right to the healthy. It repels, but it also exhausts and confuses. There is a reason why staying in close quarters with a person suffering from mental illness usually induces what is called a “shared psychosis”. Vulnerable or weakened individuals are more likely to succumb, and when their own mental health is compromised, they may develop an irresistible attraction to pathology. No matter the attraction, unlike healthy decisions that are life-affirming, choices that arise out of pathology lead to damage, destruction, and death. This is the definition of disease, and how we tell it apart from health.

    Politics require that we allow everyone an equal chance; medicine requires that we treat everyone equally in protecting them from disease. That is why a liberal health professional would not ignore signs of appendicitis in a patient just because he is a Republican. Similarly, health professionals would not call pancreatic cancer something else because it is afflicting the president. When signs of illness become apparent, it is natural for the physician to recommend an examination. But when the disorder goes so far as to affect an individual’s ability to perform her function, and in some cases risks harm to the public as a result, then the health professional has a duty to sound the alarm.

    The progress of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations was worrisome to us for the effects it would have on the president’s stability. We predicted that Trump, who has shown marked signs of psychological fragility under ordinary circumstances, barely able to cope with basic criticism or unflattering news, would begin to unravel with the encroaching indictments. And if his mental stability suffered, then so would public safety and international security.

    Indeed, that is what began to unfold: Trump became more paranoid, espousing once again conspiracy theories that he had let go of for a while. He seemed further to lose his grip on reality by denying his own voice on the Access Hollywood tapes. Also, the sheer frequency of his tweets seemed to reflect an agitated state of mind, and his retweeting some violent anti-Muslim videos showed his tendency to resort to violence when under pressure.

    Trump views violence as a solution when he is stressed and desires to re-establish his power. Paranoia and overwhelming feelings of weakness and inadequacy make violence very attractive, and powerful weapons very tempting to use – all the more so for their power. His contest with the North Korean leader about the size of their nuclear buttons is an example of that and points to the possibility of great danger by virtue of the power of his position.

    It does not take a mental health professional to see that a person of Trump’s impairments, in the office of the presidency, is a danger to us all. What mental health experts can offer is affirmation that these signs are real, that they may be worse than the untrained person suspects, and that there are more productive ways of handling them than deflection or denial.

    Screening for risk of harm is a routine part of mental health practice, and there are steps that we follow when someone poses a risk of danger: containment, removal from access to weapons and an urgent evaluation. When danger is involved, it is an emergency, where an established patient-provider relationship is not necessary, nor is consent; our ethical code mandates that we treat the person as our patient.

    In medicine, mental impairment is considered as serious as physical impairment: it is just as debilitating, just as objectively observable and established just as reliably through standardised assessments. Mental health experts routinely perform capacity or fitness for duty examinations for courts and other legal bodies, and offer their recommendations. This is what we are calling for, urgently, in doing our part as medical professionals. The rest of the decision is up to the courts or, in this case, up to the body politic.

    The Guardian 

    Fire and Fury confirms our worst fears – Jonathan Freedland. 

    What did you think would be the Republican reaction to the latest revelations about Donald Trump? Did you expect the party’s luminaries to drop their collective head into their hands, or to crumple into a heap in despair at the state of the man they anointed as president of the United States?

    They’d certainly have had good reason. In the book Fire and Fury, which on Thursday received the greatest possible endorsement – namely a “cease and desist” order from Trump’s personal lawyers – the journalist Michael Wolff paints a picture of a man whose own closest aides, friends and even family believe is congenitally unfit to be president.
    The Trump depicted in the book is ignorant: the adviser who tried to teach him about the constitution could get no further than the fourth amendment before Trump’s eyes glazed over. He doesn’t read, or even skim, barely having the patience to take in a headline. Some allies try to persuade Wolff that attention deficit disorder is part of Trump’s populist genius: he is “post-literate – total television”.

    The Republicans have predicted many times that Trump would change. They’ve been wrong every time. He won’t change

    He is also loathsome: we read that a favourite sport of Trump’s was tricking friends’ wives to sleep with him. He is weird, especially in the bedroom: having clashed with his secret service bodyguard over his insistence that he be able to lock himself into his quarters (Melania has separate accommodation), he demanded the installation of two extra TV sets, so he could watch three cable news channels at once. He heads back under the covers as early as 6.30pm, munching a cheeseburger as he soaks up hours of Fox and CNN. If there are crumbs, the chambermaid can’t change the sheets: he insists that he strip the bed himself.

    We learn that Trump believes Saturday Night Live is damaging to the nation and that it is “fake comedy”; that daughter Ivanka wants to be president herself and that privately she mocks her father’s nature-defying combover. 

    And, perhaps most amusingly, we get an answer to the question that has long enraged Trump: the identity of the mystery leaker behind the stream of stories of White House chaos and fratricidal dysfunction that have appeared since he took office. It turns out that the president rants endlessly on the phone to his billionaire friends, who feel no duty of confidentiality. In other words, the leaker Trump seeks is … himself.
    Given all this material, you’d forgive congressional Republicans for being glum. Alternatively, you’d understand if they tried to denounce the book, perhaps joining those who question Wolff’s methods, believing he too often strays from corroborated facts and cuts journalistic corners. But that has not been the reaction.

    Instead, the official campaign account for Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, tweeted a gif of McConnell grinning mightily. And that smirk captured the mood of many of his colleagues. What do they have to smile about? They’re pleased because they believe Fire and Fury marks the downfall of Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to Trump and source of some of the book’s most scathing lines. It was Bannon who told Wolff that Trump had “lost it”, and Bannon who described the meeting Donald Trump Jr had with a Russian lawyer – convened for the express purpose of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton – as “treasonous”.

    Trump’s response came in the form of a long and furious statement that loosely translates into New Yorkese as “You’re dead to me” – which delighted establishment Republicans who have long seen Bannon as the enemy within.

    It would be nice if this loathing were rooted in ideological principle, with Republicans despising Bannon as the apostle of an ultra-nationalist isolationism and xenophobia that could tip the US and the world towards a 1930s-style catastrophe. (Recall that Bannon once promised Wolff the Trump administration would be “as exciting as the 1930s”.)

    But the truth is that Bannon posed a threat to McConnell and his ilk, vowing to run insurgent, Trump-like candidates against establishment Republicans in primary contests (just as he did, in vain, in Alabama last year). If Bannon is broken, they can sleep more easily.

    Some go further, believing that, as Bannon dies, so does Bannonism. They speculate that, with the ties to his onetime evil genius severed, Trump might now moderate, becoming a more conventional, focused occupant of the Oval Office. This is delusional, twice over.

    First, it’s true that things look bad for Bannon now: he has apparently lost the financial backing of the billionaire Mercer family, and it’s possible he stands to lose control of his far-right Breitbart media empire. But he understands Trump and knows that, if you’re ready to grovel and flatter, a rapprochement is always possible. Hence Bannon’s declaration on Thursday that Trump is a “great man”.

    But the more enduring delusion is that Trump is poised to moderate. Republicans predicted he would change once the primaries of 2016 were under way. Then they said he would change once he’d won the party nomination. Or when the presidential election campaign proper began. Or when he’d won the election. Or once he’d taken the oath of office. They were wrong every time. He won’t change. Trump is Trump.

    The sheer persistence of this delusion points to another one: the hope that Republicans will finally decide enough is enough and do the right thing by ousting this unfit president. The Wolff book has prompted another flurry of that speculation, focused this time on the 25th amendment of the constitution, which allows for the removal of a president deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.

    In an article this week, Wolff provides arresting evidence of mental deterioration. He writes that Trump would tell the same three stories, word-for-word, inside 30 minutes, unaware he was repeating himself. “Now it was within 10 minutes.” He adds: “At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognise a succession of old friends.” 

    But the 25th amendment requires the agreement of the vice-president, a majority of the cabinet and, ultimately, both houses of Congress. We are, once again, up against the sobering truth of the US constitution: it is only as strong as those willing to enforce it. And, today, that means the Republican party.

    These latest revelations prove – yet again – what a vile, narcissistic and dangerous man we have in the Oval Office, wielding, among other things, sole, unchecked authority over the world’s mightiest nuclear arsenal. But the reaction to them proves something else too. That he remains in place only thanks to the willing connivance of his Republican enablers. As culpable as he is, they share in his damnation.

    The Guardian 

    A Superpower Trade War Looms – Liam Dann. 

    “If America, China relations become very difficult, our position becomes tougher because then we will be coerced to choose.”

    It’s a nightmare scenario for a small trading nation with historic cultural and political links to the US, but an increasing economic reliance on China. A full blown trade war between China and the US could have devastating political consequences for us all.

    In this case, it’s not New Zealand’s Prime Minister doing the worrying, it’s Singaporean leader Lee Hsien Loong.

    His simple, blunt assessment of the risk posed by Donald Trump’s anti-China trade rhetoric caused a minor uproar in the diplomatically cautious Asian nation.

    Here in New Zealand, where we face the same risks, we’re yet to officially confront the issue. And as issues go, it’s a big one: in the year to June 2016, New Zealand’s total trade (imports and exports) with China was $22.86 billion, compared to $16.25b with the US.

    Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler has spoken most openly about his fears for the economic risk to New Zealand if the Trump Administration does some of the things it has threatened to do.

    In a speech last month, Wheeler suggested that Trump’s Administration represents the greatest source of uncertainty for our economy – both in terms of his impact on the domestic economy and his potential to increase global trade protectionism. “Rationally speaking, there shouldn’t be a reason we should go into a trade war. But we have to be prepared,” says Auckland University Business School trade economist Dr Asha Sandra. China and the US are like Siamese twins, she says. In other words, their economies are now so intertwined that doing damage to one must hurt the other.

    “I think they both know that if they start this, they will both go down. So I don’t think it should be a big risk. But the thing with Donald Trump, is you just don’t know. He has been running the most incoherent Administration we have seen,” Sandaram says. “What he says today is not correlated with what he says tomorrow … and what he’ll actually do. So we have to consider the possibility of an escalating trade war.”

    For anyone who relies on global trade, Trump has said some frightening things. On the campaign trail, he talked about hitting Chinese imports with 45 per cent tariffs and accused China of currency manipulation. Since becoming President, he has pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. In a leaked recording, he has talked about imposing 10 per cent tariffs on all imports and is said to be considering border taxes.

    His key trade adviser has been China hawk Peter Navarro, author of Death by China: Confronting the Dragon. And he has nominated Robert Lighthizer – who has accused China of unfair trade practices – as his US Trade Representative. Bloomberg has surfaced an article Lighthizer wrote in 2011 praising Ronald Reagan’s aggressive trade stance when Japan’s economic rise threatened the US.

    There are concerns that Trump may look to follow those Reagan-era tactics, invoking section 301 of the US Trade Act, which allows a President to bestow “unfavourable trading status” on certain nations. It’s a measure the US hasn’t used since it adopted World Trade Organisation rules in 1995. And, as the many critics have warned, the world has changed. China is not like Japan, politically and militarily dependent on the US.

    Last month, Wheeler told the Herald that his trade concerns deepened after visiting Washington DC at the start of the year. “I was in Washington recently talking to a number of senior people – very well connected to the Trump Administration. They were saying that the concerns around China are deeply felt. In other words, the Trump Administration has very strong views about currency manipulation and trade practices out of China. I found that deeply worrying.” Wheeler warns that the Trump risk comes on top of a protectionist trend which is already dampening global trade and threatening growth.

    Long-time New Zealand trade advocate Stephen Jacobi agrees. “Undoubtedly it is a concern,” he says of Trump’s protectionist rhetoric. “It was already a concern. Protection was already on the rise and we had seen a slowing in trade growth as well.” The advent of the Trump Administration has thrown the spotlight on this he says. Jacobi, who was head of the NZ US Council as executive director from 2005 to 2014, is now executive director of the NZ China Council, so has a good perspective on New Zealand’s relationship with both economies.

    “It is early days for the [Trump] Administration,” he says. “In fact the Administration isn’t even in place yet. We just have to withhold our judgment for a bit, however much it might pain us to do so, to see what actually happens.” From discussions he has had in Wellington, Jacobi believes New Zealand officials are very much taking that wait and see approach. That said, the Government has been working on a new trade policy strategy and is expected to release it this month. It will have to acknowledge the growing risks and look at alternatives to the TPP, Jacobi says. “But I doubt whether they will have given up on the US just yet. “So concern, yes. Panic no,”

    Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart, with the Department of Management and International Business at Auckland University, says one of the direct risks to New Zealand is the prospect that Trump scores an own goal with his economic policies. “I know the markets seem to be pricing in good times on the horizon but I’m pretty sceptical that that is going to last. She doesn’t see a sustainable growth trajectory coming out of either the tax or infrastructure programme.

    Things like border taxes and tariffs would be distortionary and depress consumer spending, she says. “We will see an increase in military spending and with the tax cut will start to see an increase in the deficit, which is going to have implications for US interest rates. “There are potentially quite contractionary processes in the medium term. They just don’t seem to have a coherent, workable plan.”

    Then there are the diplomatic risks around a President who tweets his midnight thoughts to the world.. Trump’s impact on Asia-Pacific trading relationships is a serious concern. “This might be overly optimistic,” Hamilton-Hart says. “I’m doubtful that it will come to a 45 per cent tariff on Chinese exports because that would be so disrupting and damaging to US firms and US consumers. It’s going to double the price of everything in Walmart.”

    “What I think is more likely is that we will see a stronger line of creeping protectionism … so cancelling the TPP, looking at alternatives to dispute settlements outside the WTO, that kind of thing. I imagine we’ll see a lot more of that. And I imagine that is what China is gearing up for. So yeah, a less rule based trading system.”

    The irony of Trump’s trade deficit obsession is that running big deficits is what actually gives you power on the global economic stage, Hamilton-Hart says. In other words, a big net importer is the customer and the customer is always right. “So if you stop running those trade deficits, then you no longer have the ability to throw your weight around. If Donald Trump were to significantly withdraw the US from world trade by putting up barriers and shrinking the US economy … that can only go with a reduction in US influence.”

    China, for its part, doesn’t appear keen on a trade war and isn’t rushing to fill the trade leadership void left by the US . For example, it appears to be carefully maintaining the strength of the Renminbi to avoid inflaming US currency hawks. “They certainly do not want a trade war,” Jacobi says. “They’ve got enormous economic interests with the United States. And I think you can rely on the Chinese to manage all of that in a very sensible way.”

    What worries Jacobi more is the risk of America over-playing its hand on security and sovereignty issues – like Taiwan. “That’s much more worrying because you can’t always guarantee how a nationalistic China might react,” he says. “When you touch on issues of national sovereignty with the Chinese, you don’t get the same sort of reaction that you do on other things.”

    Jacobi does have faith that the US system, with its constitutional checks and balances on executive power, will work – in time. “But he [Trump] has a lot of power to do things in the short term. While congress catches up.” Likewise, there will be powerful lobbying forces in the US business community who will push back at things he might want to do. “But they also take time,” Jacobi says. “I’m confident that over time the right decisions should be made. But what damage will be done in the meantime is a bit of an unknown. And the world has lost a whole lot of leadership around open markets and free trade.”

    So where does that leave the New Zealand and its Asia-Pacific trading partners?

    The remaining TPP signatories head to Chile later this month to discuss what, if anything, is salvageable without America. The Americans have said they will send a representative to that meeting, although it’s not clear who that will be or what level of interest they will take, say Jacobi. “And China will also be around. Because there is a Pacific Alliance meeting [a Latin American trading bloc] and the Chinese have been invited to that.”

    There is a need for quiet diplomacy behind the scenes and New Zealand could play a key role in that, says Jacobi. But we need to be careful not to upset the other members of the TPP. Particularly the Japanese who, says Jacobi, “are in a very invidious position”. “They had this ballistic missile sent from North Korea the other day. They have got real security concerns, for which they have to rely on the US. They are not going to be drawn to take issue with the United States unnecessarily.”

    China is already a member of an alternative multilateral trade group – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which also includes New Zealand. If completed, that free trade agreement (FTA) would include the 10 member states of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).

    There have been suggestions that China may look to push this deal as a TPP alternative. But China hasn’t yet shown any signs of taking the lead, says Jacobi. On the one hand, we’ve heard rhetoric from Chinese President Xi Jinping about China’s global leadership, but the reality is that they haven’t taken a major role in multilateral negotiations yet, Jacobi says. “Maybe it’s time. They do have an enormous ability now to fill a vacuum.”

    It is a different game now, says Hamilton-Hart, who believes the TPP is effectively dead. “So do we make a much better effort to get on board with RCEP?” she says. “Or are we going to hang in there and hope that we could do a bilateral with the US … which I think would be a bad thing to do as we’d be massively disadvantaged in the negotiations.” 

    Jacobi agrees that the bilateral path is problematic. “We can’t afford not to push on any open door,” he says. “But the reality is that is bloody hard going. Look at the experience we had with Korea, very complicated.”

    Trump has said he’ll do bilateral deals with TPP partners. But we would want dairy concessions and the US would want a lot of movement on medicines, says Jacobi. And neither would play well politically for either nation. “We’ve got to talk, but will we be high up on the list? And will it be better than TPP? Most unlikely”

    “I don’t want to be too pessimistic,” says Auckland University’s Sandaram. “There may be some opportunities as a small country where you could fly under the radar. It’s harder for a big country to be non-aligned.” This could be a unique opportunity, she says. “We could try and stay neutral and expand into both markets.” Sandaram, who has been based in New Zealand for only a year, feels New Zealand is sometimes overly cautious about Chinese sensitivities. “It’s not a traditional link like the UK or Australia, so maybe it is because it is new that we are so cautious.”

    Jacobi believes the Chinese have a good understanding of our deep political and economic ties with the Western nations, and particularly the US. “In fact, one of the positive aspects they see in our relationship is that we are an interesting interlocutor because of our attachment to the West,” he says. “But they also know our trade and economic ties are towards China. So whether that will amount to cutting slack … I’m not sure.”

    Both Sandaram and Jacobi believe we have more options than we did a generation ago. “We need to diversify,” says Sandaram. “China is decelerating. But we have Asian powers that are fast growing economies. India, Malaysia, Indonesia – with the emerging middle class there is going to be demand for goods that New Zealand exports. “That’s a great opportunity I think we’re uniquely placed.”

    New Zealand, both at a government and a business level, has to be proactive about trade, now more so than ever, says Jacobi. “This is not something that New Zealand can just sit back and observe. We don’t have that luxury. This is about our economic livelihood and we have to have a say in it.”

    NZ Herald 

    Big Mind. How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World – Geoff Mulgan. 

    PREFACE 

    THIS BOOK HAS BEEN SEVERAL DECADES in the making. It grows out of both experience and research. The experience has been the practical work of trying to help businesses, governments, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) solve problems, use technologies, and act smarter. 

    Alongside that, much of my research and writing has essentially been about how thought happens on a large scale. 
    Communication and Control: Networks and the New Economies of Communication (Blackwell, 1990) was about the nature of the new networks being made possible by digital technologies and the kinds of control they brought with them. It showed how networks could both empower and disempower (and was intended as a corrective to the hopes that networks would automatically usher in an era of greater democracy, equality, and freedom). 

    Connexity: How to Live in a Connected World (Harvard Business Press, 1997) was a more philosophical essay about the morality of a connected world, and the types of people and character that would be needed in a networked environment. 
    Good and Bad Power: The Ideals and Betrayals of Government (Penguin, 2005) and The Art of Public Strategy: Mobilizing Power and Knowledge for the Common Good (Oxford University Press, 2009) were about how the state could use its unique powers to the greatest good, including mobilizing and working with the brainpower of citizens. 

    The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future (Princeton University Press, 2013) set out a new agenda for economics, suggesting how economies could expand collective intelligence and creative potential while reining in predatory tendencies. 
    What follows here builds on each of these, weaving them into what I hope is both a convincing theory and useful guide. The ideas draw on my previous work , but have also benefited greatly from many conversations, readings, and arguments.

    *

    BIG MIND 

    Introduction 

    Collective Intelligence as a Grand Challenge 

    THERE ARE LIBRARIES FULL OF BOOKS on individual intelligence, investigating where it comes from, how it manifests, and whether it’s one thing or many. 
    Over many years, I’ve been interested in a less studied field. Working in governments and charities, businesses and movements, I’ve been fascinated by the question of why some organizations seem so much smarter than others—better able to navigate the uncertain currents of the world around them. 

    Even more fascinating are the examples of organizations full of clever people and expensive technology that nevertheless act in stupid and self-destructive ways. 
    I looked around for the theories and studies that would make sense of this, but found little available. And so I observed, assessed, and drew up hypotheses. I was helped in this study by having been trained in things digital, completing a PhD in telecommunications. Digital technologies can sometimes dumb people down. But they have the virtue of making thought processes visible. Someone has to program how software will process information, sensors will gather data, or memories will be stored. 

    All of us living in a more pervasively digital age, and those of us who have to think digitally for our work, are inevitably more sensitive to how intelligence is organized, where perhaps in another era we might have thought it a fact of nature, magical, and mysterious. 

    The field that led me to has sometimes been given the label collective intelligence. In its narrow variants, it’s mainly concerned with how groups of people collaborate together online. In its broader variants it’s about how all kinds of intelligence happen on large scales. At its extreme, it encompasses the whole of human civilization and culture, which constitutes the collective intelligence of our species, passed down imperfectly through books and schools, lectures and demonstrations, or by parents showing children how to sit still, eat, or get dressed in the morning. 

    My interest is less ambitious than this. I’m concerned with the space between the individual and the totality of civilization—an equivalent to the space in biology between individual organisms and the whole biosphere. Just as it makes sense to study particular ecologies—lakes, deserts, and forests—so it also makes sense to study the systems of intelligence that operate at this middle level, in individual organizations, sectors, or fields. 
    Within this space, my primary interest is narrower still: How do societies, governments, or governing systems solve complex problems, or to put it another way, how do collective problems find collective solutions? 

    Individual neurons only become useful when they’re connected to billions of other neurons. In a similar way, the linking up of people and machines makes possible dramatic jumps in collective intelligence. When this happens, the whole can be much more than the sum of its parts. Our challenge is to understand how to do this well; how to avoid drowning in a sea of data or being deafened by the noise of too much irrelevant information; how to use technologies to amplify our minds rather than constrain them in predictable ruts. 
    What follows in this book is a combination of description and theory that aims to guide design and action. 

    Its central claim is that every individual, organization, or group could thrive more successfully if it tapped into a bigger mind—drawing on the brainpower of other people and machines. 

    There are already some three billion people connected online and over five billion connected machines. But making the most of them requires careful attention to methods, avoidance of traps, and investment of scarce resources. 
    As is the case with the links between neurons in our brain, successful thought depends on structure and organization, not just the number of connections or signals. This may be more obvious in the near future. Children growing up in the twenty-first century take it for granted that they are surrounded by sensors and social media, and their participation in overlapping group minds—hives, crowds, and clubs—makes the idea that intelligence resides primarily in the space inside the human skull into an odd anachronism. 

    Some feel comfortable living far more open and transparent lives than their parents, much more part of the crowd than apart. The great risk in their lifetimes, though, is that collective intelligence won’t keep up with artificial intelligence. As a result, they may live in a future where extraordinarily smart artificial intelligence sits amid often-inept systems for making the decisions that matter most. 

    To avoid that fate we need clear thinking. For example, it was once assumed that crowds were by their nature dangerous, deluded, and cruel. More recently the pendulum swung to an opposite assumption: that crowds tend to be wise. 
    The truth is subtler. There are now innumerable examples that show the gains from mobilizing more people to take part in observation, analysis, and problem solving. But crowds, whether online or off-line, can also be foolish and biased, or overconfident echo chambers. Within any group, diverging and conflicting interests make any kind of collective intelligence both a tool for cooperation and a site for competition, deception, and manipulation. 

    Taking advantage of the possibilities of a bigger mind can also bring stark vulnerabilities for us as individuals. We may, and often will, find our skills and knowledge quickly superseded by intelligent machines. If our data and lives become visible, we can more easily be exploited by powerful predators. 

    For institutions, the rising importance of conscious collective intelligence is no less challenging, and demands a different view of boundaries and roles. Every organization needs to become more aware of how it observes, analyses, remembers, and creates, and then how it learns from action: correcting errors, sometimes creating new categories when the old ones don’t work, and sometimes developing entirely new ways of thinking. 

    Every organization has to find the right position between the silence and the noise: the silence of the old hierarchies in which no one dared to challenge or warn, and the noisy cacophony of a world of networks flooded by an infinity of voices. That space in between becomes meaningful only when organizations learn how to select and cluster with the right levels of granularity—simple enough but not simplistic; clear but not crude; focused but not to the extent of myopia. 

    Few of our dominant institutions are adept at thinking in these ways. Businesses have the biggest incentives to act more intelligently, and invest heavily in hardware and software of all kinds. But whole sectors repeatedly make big mistakes, misread their environments, and harvest only a fraction of the know-how that’s available in their employees and customers. 

    Many can be extremely smart within narrow parameters, but far less so when it comes to the bigger picture. Again and again, we find that big data without a big mind (and sometimes a big heart) can amplify errors of diagnosis and prescription. 

    Democratic institutions, where we, together, make some of our most important decisions, have proven even less capable of learning how to learn. Instead, most are frozen in forms and structures that made sense a century or two ago, but are now anachronisms. A few parliaments and cities are trying to harness the collective intelligence of their citizens. But many democratic institutions—parliaments, congresses, and parties—look dumber than the societies they serve. 
    All too often the enemies of collective intelligence are able to capture public discourse, spread misinformation, and fill debates with distractions rather than facts. 

    So how can people think together in groups? How might they think and act more successfully? How might the flood of new technologies available to help with thinking—technologies for watching, counting, matching, and predicting—help us together solve our most compelling problems? 

    In this book, I describe the emerging theory and practice that points to different ways of seeing the world and acting in it. Drawing on insights from many disciplines, I share concepts with which we can make sense of how groups think, ideas that may help to predict why some thrive and others falter, and pointers as to how a firm, social movement, or government might think more successfully, combining the best of technologies with the best of the gray matter at its disposal. 

    I sketch out what in time could become a full-fledged discipline of collective intelligence, providing insights into how economies work, how democracies can be reformed, or the difference between exhilarating and depressing meetings. 
    Hannah Arendt once commented that a stray dog has a better chance of surviving if it’s given a name, and in a similar way this field may better thrive if we use the name collective intelligence to bring together many diverse ideas and practices. 
    The field needs to be both open and empirical. Just as cognitive science has drawn on many sources—from linguistics to neuroscience, psychology to anthropology—to understand how people think, so will a new discipline concerned with thought on larger scales need to draw on many disciplines, from social psychology to computer science, economics to sociology, and use these to guide practical experiments. 

    Then, as the new discipline emerges—and is hopefully helped by neighboring disciplines rather than attacked for challenging their boundaries—it will need to be closely tied into practice: supporting, guiding, and learning from a community of practitioners working to design as well as operate tools that help systems think and act more successfully. 

    Collective intelligence isn’t inherently new, and throughout the book I draw on the insights and successes of the past, from the nineteenth-century designers of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to the Cybersyn project in Chile, from Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), from Taiwanese democracy to Finnish universities, and from Kenyan web platforms to the dynamics of football teams. 

    In our own brains, the ability to link observation, analysis, creativity, memory, judgment, and wisdom makes the whole much more than the sum of its parts. In a similar way, I argue that assemblies that bring together many elements will be vital if the world is to navigate some of its biggest challenges, from health and climate change to migration. Their role will be to orchestrate knowledge and also apply much more systematic methods to knowledge about that knowledge—including metadata, verification tools, and tags, and careful attention to how knowledge is used in practice. 

    Such assemblies are multiplicative rather than additive: their value comes from how the elements are connected together. Unfortunately they remain rare and often fragile. 

    To get at the right answers, we’ll have to reject appealing conventional wisdoms. One is the idea that a more networked world automatically becomes more intelligent through processes of organic self-organization. Although this view contains important grains of truth, it has been deeply misleading. 

    Just as the apparently free Internet rests on energy-hungry server farms, so does collective intelligence depend on the commitment of scarce resources. Collective intelligence can be light, emergent, and serendipitous. But it more often has to be consciously orchestrated, supported by specialist institutions and roles, and helped by common standards. 

    In many fields no one sees it as their role to make this happen, as a result of which the world acts far less intelligently than it could. 

    The biggest potential rewards lie at a global level. We have truly global Internet and social media. But we are a long way short of a truly global collective intelligence suitable for solving global problems—from pandemics to climate threats, violence to poverty. There’s no shortage of interesting pilots and projects. Yet we sorely lack more concerted support and action to assemble new combinations of tools that can help the world think and act at a pace as well as scale commensurate with the problems we face. 

    Instead, in far too many fields the most important data and knowledge are flawed and fragmented, lacking the organization that’s needed to make them easy to access and use, and no one has the means or capacity to bring them together. 

    Perhaps the biggest problem is that highly competitive fields—the military, finance, and to a lesser extent marketing or electoral politics—account for the majority of investment in tools for large-scale intelligence. Their influence has shaped the technologies themselves. Spotting small variances is critical if your main concern is defense or to find comparative advantage in financial markets. So technologies have advanced much further to see, sense, map, and match than to understand. 

    The linear processing logic of the Turing machine is much better at manipulating inputs than it is at creating strong models that can use the inputs and create meanings. In other words, digital technologies have developed to be good at answers and bad at questions, good at serial logic and poor at parallel logic, and good at large-scale processing and bad at spotting nonobvious patterns. Fields that are less competitive but potentially offer much greater gains to society—such as physical and mental health, environment, and community—have tended to miss out, and have had much less influence on the direction of technological change. 

    The net result is a massive misallocation of brainpower, summed up in the lament of Jeff Hammerbacher, the former head of data at Facebook, that “the best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” 

    The stakes could not be higher. Progressing collective intelligence is in many ways humanity’s grandest challenge since there’s little prospect of solving the other grand challenges of climate, health, prosperity, or war without progress in how we think and act together. 

    We cannot easily imagine the mind of the future. The past offers clues, though. Evolutionary biology shows that the major transitions in life—from chromosomes to multicellular organisms, prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, plants to animals, and simple to sexual reproduction—all had a common pattern. Each transition led to a new form of cooperation and interdependence so that organisms that before the transition could replicate independently, afterward could only replicate as “part of a larger whole.”
    Each shift also brought with it new ways of both storing and transmitting information. 
    It now seems inevitable that our lives will be more interwoven with intelligent machinery that will shape, challenge, supplant, and amplify us, frequently at the same time. The question we should be asking is not whether this will happen but rather how we can shape these tools so that they shape us well—enhancing us in every sense of the word and making us more of what we most admire in ourselves. 

    We may not be able to avoid a world of virtual reality pornography, ultrasmart missiles, and spies. But we can create a better version of collective intelligence alongside these—a world where, in tandem with machines, we become wiser, more aware, and better able to thrive and survive. 

    *


    THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK 

    The rest of this book is divided into four main sections. 

    The first section (chapters 1 and 2) maps out the issue and explains what collective intelligence is. I offer illustrations of collective intelligence in practice, outline ways of thinking about it, and describe some of the most interesting contemporary examples. 

    The next section focuses on how to make sense of collective intelligence (chapters 3 to 10). It provides a theoretical framework that describes the functional elements of intelligence and how they are brought together, how collectives are formed, and how intelligence struggles with its enemies. 

    Chapters 11 to 17 then look at collective intelligence in the wild along with the implications of the theories for specific fields: the organization of meetings and places, business and the economy, democracy, the university, social change, and the new digital commons. In each case, I show how thinking about collective intelligence can unlock new perspectives and solutions. 

    Finally, in chapter 18, I pull the themes together and address the politics of collective intelligence, demonstrating what progress toward greater collective wisdom might look like.

     *

    PART I 

    What Is Collective Intelligence? 

    IN THIS FIRST SECTION, I explain what collective intelligence means in practice and how we can recognize it in the world around us, helping us to plan a journey, diagnose an illness, or track down an old friend. 

    It’s an odd paradox that ever more intelligent machines can be found at work within systems that behave foolishly. Despite the unevenness of results, however, there are many promising initiatives to support intelligence on a large scale that have drawn on a cascade of advances in computing, from web science to machine learning. These range from household names like Google Maps and Wikipedia to more obscure experiments in math and chess. 
    Connecting large numbers of machines and people makes it possible for them to think in radically new ways—solving complex problems, spotting issues faster, and combining resources in new ways.
    How to do this well is rarely straightforward, and crowds aren’t automatically wise. But we are beginning to see subtler forms of what I call assemblies emerge. These bring together many elements of collective intelligence into a single system. They show how the world could think on a truly global scale, tracking such things as outbreaks of disease or the state of the world’s environments, and feeding back into action. For example, an observatory that spots global outbreaks of Zika can predict how the virus might spread and guide public health services to direct their resources to contain any outbreaks. 

    Within cities, combining large data sets can make it easier to spot which buildings are at most risk of fires or which hospital patients are most at risk of becoming sick, so that government can be more adept at predicting and preventing rather than curing and fixing. These ways of organizing thought on a large scale are still in their infancy. They lack a convincing guiding theory and professional experts who know the tricks of the trade. In many cases, they lack a reliable economic base. Yet they suggest how in the future, almost every field of human activity could become better at harnessing information and learning fast.

    *

    The Paradox of a Smart World 

    WE LIVE SURROUNDED BY NEW WAYS of thinking, understanding, and measuring that simultaneously point to a new step in human evolution and an evolution beyond humans. Some of the new ways of thinking involve data—mapping, matching, and searching for patterns far beyond the capacity of the human eye or ear. Some involve analysis—supercomputers able to model the weather, play chess, or diagnose diseases (for example, using the technologies of firms like Google’s DeepMind or IBM’s Watson). Some pull us ever further into what the novelist William Gibson described as the “consensual hallucination” of cyberspace. 

    These all show promise. But there is a striking imbalance between the smartness of the tools we have around us and the more limited smartness of the results. The Internet, World Wide Web, and Internet of things are major steps forward in the orchestration of information and knowledge. Yet it doesn’t often feel as if the world is all that clever. Technologies can dumb down as well as smarten up. 

    Many institutions and systems act much more stupidly than the people within them, including many that have access to the most sophisticated technologies. 
    Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of “guided missiles but misguided men,” and institutions packed with individual intelligence can often display collective stupidity or the distorted worldview of “idiots savants” in machine form. New technologies bring with them new catastrophes partly because they so frequently outstrip our wisdom (no one has found a way to create code without also creating bugs, and as the French philosopher Paul Virilio put it, the aircraft inevitably produces the air disaster). 

    In the 1980s, the economist Robert Solow commented, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Today we might say again that data and intelligence are everywhere—except in the productivity statistics, and in many of the things that matter most. The financial crash of the late 2000s was a particularly striking example. 

    Financial institutions that had spent vast sums on information technologies failed to understand what was happening to them, or understood the data but not what lay behind the data, and so brought the world to the brink of economic disaster. 

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet government had at its disposal brilliant minds and computers, but couldn’t think its way out of stagnation. During the same period, the US military had more computing power at its disposition than any other organization in history, but failed to understand the true dynamics of the war it was fighting in Vietnam. A generation later the same happened in Iraq, when a war was fought based on a profound error of intelligence launched by the US and UK governments with more invested than any other countries in the most advanced intelligence tools imaginable. 

    Many other examples confirm that having smart tools does not automatically lead to more intelligent results. 

    Health is perhaps the most striking example of the paradoxical combination of smart elements and often-stupid results. We now benefit from vastly more access to information on diseases, diagnoses, and treatments on the Internet. There are global databases of which treatments work; detailed guidance for doctors on symptoms, diagnoses, and prescriptions; and colossal funds devoted to pushing the frontiers of cancer, surgery, or pharmaceuticals. But this is far from a golden age of healthy activity or intelligence about health. The information available through networks is frequently misleading (according to some research, more so than face-to-face advice).  

    There are well over 150,000 health apps, yet only a tiny fraction can point to any evidence that they improve their users’ health. The dominant media propagate half-truths and sometimes even lies as well as useful truths. And millions of people make choices every day that clearly threaten their own health. 

    The world’s health systems are in many ways pioneers of collective intelligence, as I will show later, but much doesn’t work well. It’s estimated that some 30 to 50 percent of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, 25 percent of medicines in circulation are counterfeit, somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of diagnoses are incorrect, and each year 250,000 die in the United States alone because of medical error (the third leading cause of death there). 

    In short, the world has made great strides in improving health and has accumulated an extraordinary amount of knowledge about it, yet still has a long way to go in orchestrating that knowledge to best effect. 

    Similar patterns can be found in many fields, from politics and business to personal life: unprecedented access to data, information, and opinions, but less obvious progress in using this information to guide better decisions. 

    We benefit from a cornucopia of goods unimaginable to past generations, yet still too often spend money we haven’t earned to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. 

    We have extraordinary intelligence in pockets, for specific, defined tasks. Yet there has been glacial, if any, progress in handling more complex, interconnected problems, and paradoxically the excitement surrounding new capacities to sense, process, or analyze may distract attention from the more fundamental challenges. 

    In later chapters, I address what true collective intelligence would look like in some of the most important fields. How could democracy be organized differently if it wanted to make the most of the ideas, expertise, and needs of citizens? Various experiments around the world suggest what the answers might be, but they baffle most of the professionals brought up in traditional politics. 

    How could universities become better at creating, orchestrating, and sharing knowledge of all kinds? There are seeds of different approaches to be found, but also extraordinary inertia in the traditional models of three-year degrees, faculty hierarchies, lecture halls, and course notes. 

    Or again, how could a city administration, or national government, think more successfully about solving problems like traffic congestion, housing shortages, or crime, amplifying the capabilities of its people rather than dumbing them down? 
    We can sketch plausible and achievable options that would greatly improve these institutions. In every case, however, the current reality falls far short of what’s possible, and sometimes tools that could amplify intelligence turn out to have the opposite effect. 

    Marcel Proust wrote that “nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect.” The same may be true of collective intelligence. 

    *

    The Nature of Collective Intelligence in Theory and Practice 

    THE WORD INTELLIGENCE HAS A COMPLEX HISTORY. 

    In medieval times, the intellect was understood as an aspect of our souls, with each individual intellect linked into the divine intellect of the cosmos and God. 

    Since then, understandings of intelligence have reflected the dominant technologies of the era. René Descartes used hydraulics as a metaphor for the brain and believed that animating fluids connected the brain to limbs. Sigmund Freud in the age of steam power saw the mind in terms of pressure and release. The age of radio and electrics gave us the metaphors of “crossed wires” and being “on the same wavelength,” while in the age of computers the metaphors turned to processing and algorithmic thinking, and the brain as computer. 

    There are many definitions of intelligence. But the roots of the word point in a direction that is rather different from these metaphors. Intelligence derives from the Latin word inter, meaning “between,” combined with the word legere, meaning “choose.” This makes intelligence not just a matter of extraordinary memory or processing speeds. Instead it refers to our ability to use our brains to know which path to take, who to trust, and what to do or not do. It comes close in this sense to what we mean by freedom. 

    The phrase collective intelligence links this with a related idea. The word collective derives from colligere. This joins col, “together,” and once again, legere, “choose.” The collective is who we choose to be with, who we trust to share our lives with. 

    So collective intelligence is in two senses a concept about choice: who we choose to be with and how we choose to act. The phrase has been used in recent years primarily to refer to groups that combine together online. But it should more logically be used to describe any kind of large-scale intelligence that involves collectives choosing to be, think, and act together. 

    That makes it an ethical as well as technical term, which also ties into our sense of conscience—a term that is now usually understood as individual, but is rooted in the combination of con (with) and scire (to know). 


    POSSIBILITY
     

    We choose in a landscape of possibilities and probabilities. In every aspect of our lives we look out into a future of possible events, which we can guess or estimate, though never know for certain. Many of the tools I describe through the course of this book help us make sense of what lies ahead, predicting, adapting, and responding. We observe, analyze, model, remember, and try to learn. Although mistakes are unavoidable, repeated mistakes are unnecessary. But we also learn that in every situation, there are possibilities far beyond what data or knowledge can tell us—possibilities that thanks to imaginative intelligence, we can sometimes glimpse. 


    GROUPS
     

    One of the first historical accounts of collective intelligence is Thucydides’s description of how an army went about planning the assault on a besieged town. “They first made ladders equal in length to the height of the enemy’s wall, which they calculated by the help of the layers of bricks on the side facing the town, at a place where the wall had accidentally not been plastered. A great many counted at once, and, although some might make mistakes, the calculation would be more often right than wrong; for they repeated the process again and again, and, the distance not being great, they could see the wall distinctly enough for their purpose. In this manner they ascertained the proper length of the ladders, taking as a measure the thickness of the bricks.”

    Understanding how we work together—the collective part of collective intelligence—has been a central concern of social science for several centuries. Some mechanisms allow individual choices to be aggregated in a socially useful way without requiring any conscious collaboration or shared identity. This is the logic of the invisible hand of the market and some of the recent experiments with digital collective intelligence like Wikipedia. 

    In other cases (such as communes, friends on vacation, or work teams), there is the conscious mutual coordination of people with relatively equal power, which usually involves a lot of conversation and negotiation. Loosely networked organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous are similar in nature. In others (for instance, big corporations like Google or Samsung, ancient Greek armies, or modern global NGOs), hierarchy organizes cooperation, with a division of labor between different tiers of decision making. Each of these produces particular kinds of collective intelligence. Each feels radically different, and works well for some tasks and not others. 

    In some cases there is a central blueprint, command center, or plan—someone who can see how the pieces fit together and may end up as a new building, a business plan, or initiative. In other cases the intelligence is wholly distributed and no one can see the big picture in advance. But in most cases the individual doesn’t need to know much about the system they’re part of: they can be competent without comprehension. 

    The detailed study of how groups work shows that we’re bound together not just by interests and habit but also by meanings and stories. But the very properties that help a group cohere can also impede intelligence. These include shared assumptions that don’t hold true, a shared willingness to ignore uncomfortable facts, groupthink, group feel, and mutual affirmation rather than criticism. Shared thought includes not only knowledge but also delusions, illusions, fantasies, the hunger for confirmation of what we already believe, and the distorting pull of power that bends facts and frames to serve itself. 

    The Central Intelligence Agency informing President George H. W. Bush that the Berlin Wall wouldn’t fall, just as the news was showing it doing just that; investment banks in the late 2000s piling into subprime mortgages when all the indicators showed that they were worthless; Joseph Stalin and his team ignoring the nearly ninety separate, credible intelligence warnings that Germany was about to invade in 1941—all are examples of how easily organizations can be trapped by their frames of thinking. 

    We succumb all too readily to illusions of control and optimism bias, and when in a crowd can suspend our sense of moral responsibility or choose riskier options we would never go for alone. And we like to have our judgments confirmed, behaving all too often like the Texas sharpshooter who sprays the walls with bullets and then draws the target around where they hit. 

    These are just a few reasons why collective intelligence is so frequently more like collective stupidity. They show why most groups face a trade-off between how collective they are and how intelligently they can behave. The more they bond, the less they see the world as it really is. Yet the most successful organizations and teams learn how to combine the two—with sufficient suspension of ego and sufficient trust to combine rigorous honesty with mutual commitment. 


    GENERAL AND SPECIFIC 

    How we think can then be imagined as running in a continuum from general, abstract intelligence to intelligence that is relevant to specific places, people, and times. 

    At one extreme there are the general laws of physics or the somewhat less general laws of biology. There are abstracted data, standardized algorithms, and mass-produced products. Much of modernity has been built on an explosion of this kind of context-free intelligence. 

    At the other end of the spectrum there is rooted intelligence—intelligence that understands the nuances of particular people, cultures, histories, or meanings, and loses salience when it’s removed from them. 

    The first kinds of intelligence—abstract, standardized, and even universal—are well suited to computers, global markets, and forms of collective intelligence that are more about aggregation than integration. By contrast, the ones at the other extreme—like knowing how to change someone’s life or regenerate a town—entangle multiple dimensions, and require much more conscious iteration and integration along with sensitivity to context. 

    COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE AND CONFLICT 

    The simplest way to judge individual intelligence is by how well it achieves goals and generates new ones. But this is bound to be more complex for any large group, which is likely to have many different goals and often-conflicting interests. This is obviously true in the economy, since information is usually hoarded and traded rather than shared  .  .  .
    *

    from

    Big Mind. How Collective Intelligence Can Change Our World

    by

    Geoff Mulgan

    get it at Amazon.com

     

    The ungrateful refugee: ‘We have no debt to repay’ – Dina Nayeli. 

    Dina Nayeli was just a child when she fled Iran as an asylum seeker. But as she settled into life in the US and then Europe, she became suspicious of the idea that refugees should shed their old identities and be eternally thankful. 

    A few weeks ago I dusted off my expired Iranian passport photo, an unsmiling eight-year-old version of me – stunned, angry, wearing tight grey hijab and staring far beyond the camera. It’s not the face of a child on the verge of rescue, though I would soon escape Iran. I have kept that old photograph hidden since the day I threw away my last headscarf, and now it’s the bewildered face and parted lips, not the scarf, that capture my interest.

    No matter how hard I try, I can’t reconcile this child with the frazzled American writer in my recent pictures.

    In 1985, when I was six years old, my family left our home in Isfahan for several months to live in London. The move was temporary, a half-hearted stab at emigration; nonetheless, I was enrolled in school. In Iran I had only attended nursery, never school, and I spoke only Farsi.

    At first, the children were welcoming, teaching me English words using toys and pictures, but within days the atmosphere around me had changed. Years later, I figured that this must have been how long it took them to tell their parents about the Iranian kid. After that, a group of boys met me in the yard each morning and, pretending to play, pummelled me in the stomach. They followed me in the playground and shouted gibberish, laughing at my dumbfounded looks.

    A few weeks later, two older boys pushed my hand into a doorjamb and slammed it shut on my little finger, severing it at the first segment. I was rushed to the hospital, carrying a piece of my finger in a paper napkin. The segment was successfully reattached.

    I never went back to that school, but later, in the chatter of the grownups from my grandmother’s church and even in my parents’ soothing whispers, I heard a steady refrain about gratefulness. God had protected me and so I shouldn’t look at the event in a negative light. It was my moment to shine! Besides, who could tell what had motivated those boys? Maybe they were just playing, trying to include me though I didn’t speak a word of their language. Wasn’t that a good thing?

    Eventually we returned to Iran. I was put under a headscarf and sent to an Islamic girls’ school.

    Three years later, my mother, brother and I left Iran for real, this time after my mother had been dragged to jail for converting to Christianity, after the moral police had interrogated her three times and threatened her with execution.

    We became asylum seekers, spending two years in refugee hostels in Dubai and Rome. By that time I had lived my first eight years in the belly of wartime Iran – for most of the 80s, the Iran-Iraq war wrecked our country and trapped us in a state of almost constant fear. I had grown accustomed to the bomb sirens, the panicked dashes down to the basement, the taped-up windows.

    So the time that followed, the years in refugee hostels, felt peaceful, a reprieve from all the noise. My mother urged me to thank God in my prayers.

    When I was 10, we were accepted by the United States and sent to Oklahoma, just as the first gulf war began. By the time of our arrival in the American south, the nail on my pinkie had grown back, my hair was long, and I was (according to my mother) pretty and funny and smart.

    The first thing I heard from my classmates, however, was a strange “ching-chongese” intended to mock my accent. I remember being confused, not at their cruelty, but at their choice of insult. A dash of racism I had expected – but I wasn’t Chinese; were these children wholly ignorant to the shape of the world outside America? If you want to mock me, I wanted to say, dig down to the guttural “kh”s and “gh”s, produce some phlegm, make a camel joke; don’t “ching-chong” at me, you mouth-breather. (See? I had learned their native insults well enough.)

    Of course, I didn’t say that. And I didn’t respond when they started in on the cat-eating and the foot-binding. I took these stories home and my mother and I laughed over chickpea cookies and cardamom tea – fragrant foods they might have mocked if only they knew. By then it was clear to me that these kids had met one foreigner before, and that unfortunate person hailed from south-east Asia.

    I needn’t have worried, though; the geographically correct jokes were coming. Like the boys in London, these kids soon spoke to their parents, and within weeks, they had their “turban jockeys” and their “camel-fuckers” loaded and ready to go.

    Meanwhile, I was battling with my teacher over a papier-mache topographical map of the US, a frustrating task that was strangely central to her concerns about my American assimilation. When I tried to explain to her that only a few months before I had lived with refugees outside Rome, and that most of the social studies work baffled me, she looked at me sleepily and said: “Awww, sweetie, you must be so grateful to be here.”

    Grateful. There was that word again. Here I began to notice the pattern. This word had already come up a lot in my childhood, but in her mouth it lost its goodness. It hinted and threatened. Afraid for my future, I decided that everyone was right: if I failed to stir up in myself enough gratefulness, or if I failed to properly display it, I would lose all that I had gained, this western freedom, the promise of secular schools and uncensored books.

    The children were merciless in their teasing, and soon I developed a tic in my neck. Other odd behaviours followed. Each time something bad happened, I would repeat a private mantra, the formula I believed was the reason for my luck so far, and my ticket to a second escape – maybe even a life I would actually enjoy. I said it again and again in my head, and sometimes accidentally aloud:

    I’m lucky. I’m grateful. I’m the smartest in my class. I’m lucky. I’m grateful. I’m the smartest in my class.

    That last sentiment (which I did a poor job of hiding) didn’t go over too well. What right did I, a silly Iranian, have to think I was better than anyone?

    Still, my mother suffered more. In Iran, she had been a doctor. Now she worked in a pharmaceuticals factory, where her bosses and co-workers daily questioned her intelligence, though they had a quarter of her education. The accent was enough. If she took too long to articulate a thought, they stopped listening and wrote her off as unintelligent. They sped up their speech and, when she asked them to slow down, they sighed and rolled their eyes. If someone messed up a formula, she was the sole target for blame.

    The hate did eventually wane; some would say that that’s the natural cycle of things. We assimilated. No longer dark strangers from war-torn lands, at some point we stopped frightening them. We went to work, to school, to church. We grew familiar, safe, no longer the outsiders.

    I don’t believe in that explanation. What actually happened was that we learned what they wanted, the hidden switch to make them stop simmering. After all, these Americans had never thought we were terrorists or Islamic fundamentalists or violent criminals. From the start, they knew we were a Christian family that had escaped those very horrors. And they, as a Protestant community, had accepted us, rescued us.

    But there were unspoken conditions to our acceptance, and that was the secret we were meant to glean on our own: we had to be grateful. The hate wasn’t about being darker, or from elsewhere. It was about being those things and daring to be unaware of it. As refugees, we owed them our previous identity. We had to lay it at their door like an offering, and gleefully deny it to earn our place in this new country. There would be no straddling. No third culture here.

    That was the key to being embraced by the population of our town, a community that openly took credit for the fact that we were still alive, but wanted to know nothing of our past. Month after month, my mother was asked to give her testimony in churches and women’s groups, at schools and even at dinners. I remember sensing the moment when all conversation would stop and she would be asked to repeat our escape story.

    The problem, of course, was that they wanted our salvation story as a talisman, no more. No one ever asked what our house in Iran looked like, what fruits we grew in our yard, what books we read, what music we loved and what it felt like now not to understand any of the songs on the radio. No one asked if we missed our cousins or grandparents or best friends. No one asked what we did in summers or if we had any photos of the Caspian Sea.

    “Men treat women horribly there, don’t they?” the women would ask. Somehow it didn’t feel OK to tell them about my funny dad with his pockets full of sour cherries, or my grandpa who removed his false teeth when he told ghost stories.

    Such memories, of course, would imply the unthinkable: that Iran was as beautiful, as fun, as energising and romantic, as Oklahoma or Montana or New York.

    From then on, we sensed the ongoing expectation that we would shed our old skin, give up our former identities – every quirk and desire that made us us – and that we would imply at every opportunity that America was better, that we were so lucky, so humbled to be here.

    My mother continued giving testimonials in churches. She wore her cross with as much spirit as she had done in Islamic Iran. She baked American cakes and replaced the rosewater in her pastries with vanilla.

    I did much worse: over years, I let myself believe it. I lost my accent. I lost my hobbies and memories. I forgot my childhood songs.

    In 1994, when I was 15, we became American citizens. I was relieved, overjoyed and genuinely grateful. We attended a citizenship ceremony on the football field of a local college campus. It was the Fourth of July and dozens of other new citizens would be sworn in with us.

    It was a bittersweet day, the stadium filled with cheering locals, a line of men, women and children winding around and around the field towards a microphone at the end zone, where each of us would be named and sworn in.

    I remember staring in wonder at the others in line: I didn’t realise there were this many other brown and yellow people in Oklahoma. Yes, there were a handful of black people, a few Jews here or there. But this many Indians? This many Sri Lankans and Pakistanis and Chinese and Bangladeshis and Iranians and Afghans? Where had they been hiding? (Not that I had looked.)

    Halfway through the ceremony, an Indian man, around 80 years old, was led to the microphone, where he introduced himself and swore allegiance to the United States. When he was finished, he raised his fists and thrashed the sky. “I AM AMERICAN!” he shouted into the microphone. “FINALLY, I AM AMERICAN!” The crowd erupted, joining his celebration. As he stepped away, he wobbled and collapsed from the effort, but someone caught him. He turned back and smiled to the crowd to show he was OK, that this fit of joy hadn’t killed him, then walked away.

    That’s my favourite day as an American, my first one, still unsurpassed. No one was putting on a face that day. No one felt obliged or humbled, imagining their truer home. That old man was heaving with love. The people in the stands were roaring with it.

    It’s a complicated memory for me now. I refuse to deny the simple and vast beauty of it, though I know they cheered not the old man himself, but his spasm of gratitude, an avowal of transformation into someone new, into them.

    Years passed. I became as American as a girl can be, moved far away, grew into my mind and body and surrounded myself with progressive, educated friends. The bad feelings disappeared. I started to love the western world and thought of myself a necessary part of it. I moved around with ease, safely flashing my American passport, smiling brightly when customs officers squinted at my place of birth. It didn’t matter: I was no longer an asylum seeker. I had long ago been accepted. I had a stellar education.

    My confidence showed (and maybe it helped that I had caramel highlights in my hair). Again and again I was welcomed “home” at JFK with a polite nod or a smile.

    Other immigrants have written about this moment: the “welcome home” at JFK, its power on the psyche after long flights. For me, as soon as those words leave the officer’s mouth, my confidence is replaced by a gush of gratitude. “Thank you!” I say breathlessly. Thank you for saying it’s my home. Thank you for letting me in again. In that instant before my passport is returned to me, I’m the old man punching the air.

    When I was 30, I had another citizenship ceremony. This one wasn’t the sleepless obsession that the American one had been. It was simply that I had married a French citizen, he had applied on my behalf, and, having passed the language and culture tests by a whisker, I became a Frenchwoman of sorts. I travelled a lot in those days and so I decided to have my fingerprints taken (the last step in the paperwork) on a stopover in New York.

    The police officer whose job it was to oversee the process asked why a nice girl like me needed fingerprints. I told him, to which he replied: “Couldn’t you find an American man?”

    Though I hadn’t given it much thought back then, I said: “American men don’t like me.” He gave me a puzzled look, so I added, “The American men I know never try to impress you … or not me, at least. They think I should feel lucky to have them.”

    He gave a weary sigh. “No man likes to work for it.”

    “Some men work for it,” I said, trying to sound defiant.

    He laughed and bashed my fingers into the ink.

    My second citizenship ceremony was held at the French embassy in Amsterdam (my then home) beside families from Lebanon, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and a number of sub-Saharan countries. The image that stays with me is of families singing the French national anthem, the Marseillaise. The awe in their faces as they sang that song, every word practised, moved me. Even the small children straightened their shoulders and sang from memory. I had made a stab at memorising the words, but mostly I read off a sheet. I was proud, but they were experiencing something else: a transformation, a rebirth. They were singing their way into a joyous new life. I took a moment to think of that old Indian man from years before, to do an imaginary fist-pump in his honour.

    I’ve been moving back and forth between New York and Europe pretty much my entire adult life. When I lived in Amsterdam, even highly educated people openly complained of “too many Moroccans and Turks” in certain neighbourhoods. Geert Wilders, the head of the far-right Party for Freedom, had warned that the country would soon become “Nether-Arabia”.

    In Amsterdam, I got to know Iranian refugees who didn’t have my kind of luck with their asylum applications. One man in our community set himself on fire in Dam Square in 2011. He had lived in Amsterdam for a decade, following their rules, filling out their papers, learning their culture, his head always down. He did all that was asked of him and, in the end, he was driven to erase his own face, his skin.

    Remembering Kambiz Roustayi, a man who only wanted a visa, his family and his own corner of the world, I want to lash out at every comfortable native who thinks that his kind don’t do enough. You don’t know what grateful is, I want to say. You haven’t seen a young man burn up from despair, or an old man faint on a football field from relief and joy, or a nine-year-old boy sing the entire Marseillaise from memory. You don’t know how much life has already been spent settling into the cracks of your walls. Sometimes all that’s left of value in an exile’s life is his identity. Please stop asking people to rub out their face as tribute.

    With the rise of nativist sentiment in Europe and America, I’ve seen a troubling change in the way people make the case for refugees. Even those on the left talk about how immigrants make America great. They point to photographs of happy refugees turned good citizens, listing their contributions, as if that is the price of existing in the same country, on the same earth.

    Friends often use me as an example. They say in posts or conversations: “Look at Dina. She lived as a refugee and look how much stuff she’s done.” As if that’s proof that letting in refugees has a good, healthy return on investment.

    But isn’t glorifying the refugees who thrive according to western standards just another way to endorse this same gratitude politics? Isn’t it akin to holding up the most acquiescent as examples of what a refugee should be, instead of offering each person the same options that are granted to the native-born citizen? Is the life of the happy mediocrity a privilege reserved for those who never stray from home?

    This semester, I’m teaching an American literature course at a private international school in London. My students have come with their families from all over the world and have empathy and insight, but for the most part, they have lived privileged lives.

    For the last semester, I’ve forced them to read nothing but “outsider fiction”. Stories by immigrants and people of colour. Stories about poverty. Stories about being made to sit on the periphery.

    Most are loving it, but some are frustrated. “I’ve already learned the race stuff,” one said, after our third story with a protagonist of colour. More than one parent advised me that Bharati Mukherjer and James Baldwin are not important when these kids have yet to read “classic writers” such as Harper Lee (because how could they develop their literary taste if they hadn’t first grounded themselves in the point of view of the impossibly saintly white family?).

    Even among empathetic, worldly students, I’m finding a grain of this same kind of expectation: the refugee must make good. If, in one of our stories, an immigrant kills himself (Bernard Malamud’s The Refugee), they say that he wasted his opportunity, that another displaced person would have given anything for a shot at America. They’re right about that, but does that mean that Malamud’s refugee isn’t entitled to his private tragedies? Is he not entitled to crave death? Must he first pay off his debt to his hosts and to the universe?

    Despite a lifetime spent striving to fulfil my own potential, of trying to prove that the west is better for having known me, I cannot accept this way of thinking, this separation of the worthy exile from the unworthy. Civilised people don’t ask for resumes when answering calls from the edge of a grave. It shouldn’t matter what I did after I cleaned myself off and threw away the last of my asylum-seeking clothes. My accomplishments should belong only to me. There should be no question of earning my place, of showing that I was a good bet. My family and I were once humans in danger, and we knocked on the doors of every embassy we came across: the UK, America, Australia, Italy. America answered and so, decades later, I still feel a need to bow down to airport immigration officers simply for saying “Welcome home”.

    But what America did was a basic human obligation. It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks. It is your duty to answer us, even if we don’t give you sugary success stories. Even if we remain a bunch of ordinary Iranians, sometimes bitter or confused. Even if the country gets overcrowded and you have to give up your luxuries, and we set up ugly little lives around the corner, marring your view.

    If we need a lot of help and local services, if your taxes rise and your street begins to look and feel strange and everything smells like turmeric and tamarind paste, and your favourite shop is replaced by a halal butcher, your schoolyard chatter becoming ching-chongese and phlegmy “kh”s and “gh”s, and even if, after all that, we don’t spend the rest of our days in grateful ecstasy, atoning for our need.

    In 2015, I moved to England again, a place I no longer associated with the permanently numb tip of my little finger, or the strange half-sensation of typing the letter “a” on a keyboard.

    I became a mother in a London hospital. Now I have a little girl who already looks Iranian. The first major event of her life was Brexit. The second was Trump’s election. At 5am on Brexit morning, as I was feeding her, the memory of my pinkie returned. We had just learned of the referendum results. On Facebook, every former immigrant I knew released a collective shudder – all of them recalling their first days in England or America or Holland. They began sharing their stories.

    What I remembered was that boy who pushed my finger into the hinge of a door. That other boy who slammed the door shut. They’re adults now. Most likely, they’ve lived lives much like their parents, the ones who taught them to hate me in 1985. Most likely they believe the same things. England doesn’t want us, I thought. It doesn’t want my daughter. It doesn’t want me.

    Nowadays, I often look at the white line through my pinkie nail, and I think I finally understand why gratefulness matters so much. The people who clarified it for me were my students, with their fresh eyes and stunning expectations, their harsh, idealistic standards that every person should strive and prove their worth, their eagerness to make sense of the world. They saw right through to the heart of the uneasy native.

    During our discussion of Flannery O’Connor’s A Displaced Person, the class began unpacking Mrs Shortley’s hatred of Mr Guizac, the Polish refugee whose obvious talents on the farm would soon lead to her mediocre husband’s dismissal as a farmhand. “She’s seen the images from the Holocaust, the piles of bodies in Europe,” said one student. “So if one of those bodies in the pile can escape death and come to America and upend her life, then how much is she worth?”

    I was stunned silent (a rare thing for me). By the time I formulated my next question the conversation had moved on, and so I presented the question to my next class. “Would anything be any different, then, if Mr Guizac had been grateful to Mrs Shortley for making room for him?”

    Around the table every head shook. No. Of course not. Nothing would change. “Mrs Shortley wants to be above him, to be benevolent, to have control,” said one insightful student. “Once the guy starts doing better on his own, control goes, no matter how grateful he acts.”

    The refugee has to be less capable than the native, needier; he must stay in his place. That’s the only way gratitude will be accepted.

    Once he escapes control, he confirms his identity as the devil. All day I wondered, has this been true in my own experience? If so, then why all the reverence for the refugees who succeed against the odds, the heartwarming success stories?

    And that’s precisely it – one can go around in this circle forever, because it contains no internal logic. You’re not enough until you’re too much. You’re lazy until you’re a greedy interloper.

    In many of the classes I’ve taught, my quietest kids have been Middle Eastern. I’m always surprised by this, since the literature I choose should resonate most with them, since I’m an Iranian teacher, their ally, since the civilised world yearns for their voices now. Still, they bristle at headlines about the refugee crisis that I flash on the screen, hang their heads, and look relieved when the class is finished.

    Their silence makes me angry, but I understand why they don’t want to commit to any point of view. Who knows what their universe looks like outside my classroom, what sentiments they’re expected to display in order to be on the inside.

    Still, I want to show those kids whose very limbs apologise for the space they occupy, and my own daughter, who has yet to feel any shame or remorse, that a grateful face isn’t the one they should assume at times like these. Instead they should tune their voices and polish their stories, because the world is duller without them – even more so if they arrived as refugees.

    Because a person’s life is never a bad investment, and so there are no creditors at the door, no debt to repay. Now there’s just the rest of life, the stories left to create, all the messy, greedy, ordinary days that are theirs to squander.

    *

    Dina Nayeri’s new novel, Refuge will be published by Riverhead Books in July

    The Guardian 

    Israel Digs a Grave for the Two-State Solution – NYT Editorial Board. 

    Encouraged by supportive signals from Washington and disarray in Israeli politics, Israeli right-wing politicians are enacting measures that could deal a death blow to the creation of a separate state for Palestinians, the so-called two-state solution that offers what tiny chance there is for a peace settlement. That hope, however remote, should not be allowed to die.

    Israeli nationalists have long sought a single Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has paid lip service to supporting the two-state solution, he has continually undermined it. Palestinians have also acted in ways that thwarted their goal of an independent state.

    The United States, Europe and a majority of Israelis have opposed such territorial expansion into the West Bank and supported a negotiated peace.

    But President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, in contravention of longstanding American policy, followed by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s threat to cut off aid to Palestinian refugees, were seen by the right-wingers as an opening to end any pretense of supporting the two-state idea.

    These hard-liners, taking advantage of the political damage that corruption investigations have done to Mr. Netanyahu, have staked out positions to the right of his. The prime minister was not even present at a meeting of the Likud leadership that for the first time urged the formal annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli Parliament, meanwhile, voted to require a two-thirds majority vote for any legislation ceding parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, raising an obstacle to any land-for-peace deal involving Jerusalem. 

    This should be the moment for the United States, Israel’s strongest supporter in the world, to step in and say no, that path can lead only to greater strife and isolation for Israel. But it is evident that for Mr. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is supposed to be leading the president’s Middle East efforts, diplomacy is a one-sided affair.

    Furthermore, the threat to cut the substantial American contribution to the United Nations agency that supports more than five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria would foment a humanitarian crisis in refugee camps, threaten continuing Palestinian security cooperation with Israel and prompt more censure around the world.

    Mr. Trump still claims he is in favor of peace talks. All he has done so far has been to create greater obstacles and fan the ardor of extremists on both sides. If he was really interested in a Middle East deal, as he claimed in his campaign, this would be a good time to reaffirm America’s longstanding commitment to a two-state solution and tell the Israeli right that it is going too far.

    New York Times 


    “Better decision-making for the planet” by Yasemin Saplakoglu – “Richard Thaler Explains How ‘Choice Architecture’ Makes the World a Better Place by Phil Rockrohr. 

    Better decision-making for the planet – Yasemin Saplakoglu 

    We might think we have control of the mix of decisions we make during the day. But it turns out that our brain gives us subconscious nudges, preferring some choices over others.

    Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, studies how the science of human behavior can inform policies that encourage people to make good choices for the environment.

    “For far too long, we’ve assumed that people’s decisions are rational,” said Weber, who is also a professor of psychology and public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

    “My research asks, in what ways can we understand what goes on in the brain and use that knowledge to help us all make better decisions?”

    Weber researches how to design solutions to society’s greatest problems, such as climate change. “It turns out we can do some psychological jiujitsu to convert seemingly negative choices into something positive,” Weber said.

    In the psychology field this is called “choice architecture.”

    For example, merely renaming a choice to avoid negative associations can make an impact on people’s decisions. Weber and colleagues found that airline passengers were far more willing to pay a surcharge to combat climate change if the fee was called a “carbon offset” instead of a “carbon tax.”

    Another aspect of choice architecture comes into play when talking about present versus future activities. Climate change seems far off to many people. But people tend to make choices based on the present or the immediate future, which psychologists call presence bias. “We focus on the here and now, which makes evolutionary sense,” Weber said. “If you might not survive until tomorrow, what’s the point of planning for next year?”

    One way to combat presence bias is by tapping into people’s desires to be remembered in a positive light, Weber and colleagues at Columbia University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found. If first prompted with questions about how they would like to be remembered, individuals are more likely to think about their future rather than their present selves, and therefore make pro-environmental choices. The research, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, was published in Psychological Science in 2015.

    Then there’s our inability to concentrate on more than one option at a time when we are presented with a choice. Weber and her colleague Eric Johnson, a business and marketing professor at Columbia, coined the “query theory” to explain how people internally generate more arguments favoring the first option they consider, temporarily inhibiting arguments in favor of all other options.

    When a “default” option is given, it becomes the option we think of first, which puts it at an advantage. Weber gives the example of a hypothetical electric utility company that offers customers the opportunity to switch to “green” energy.  Typically, fossil fuel energy is the default option, and few customers end up switching to the cleaner though somewhat more expensive green power. In contrast, when in lab and field studies the company made it the default option to choose “green” energy, a large majority of customers did just that. “In terms of what influences people’s decisions, the million-dollar question is which option gets considered first,” Weber said.

    Weber’s research demonstrates that changing the way choices are presented can play a role in conserving the environment through influencing people, the instigators of our warming planet.

    Princeton University 

    *

    Richard Thaler Explains How “Choice Architecture” Makes the World a Better Place – Phil Rockrohr 

    Because of limitations in neoclassical economic theory, the world needs to nudge people toward the right choices to make their lives better, said Richard Thaler, Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics.

    “Although libertarianism and paternalism appear to be two of the most reviled terms in America, both of these terms are actually lovable,” Thaler said. Thaler spoke at the 56th Annual Management Conference, which drew nearly 1,000 alumni and friends of Chicago GSB to his luncheon address at the Chicago Marriott Hotel and a series of panel discussions at Gleacher Center on May 16.

    Thaler and fellow author Cass Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence at the Law School, coined the phrase “libertarian paternalism” to describe their approach, which they outline in their book Nudge.

    “By libertarianism we mean protecting peoples’ right to choose,” Thaler said. “By paternalism, all we mean is caring about peoples’ outcomes. We want to devise policies that will make people better off, not worse off, as judged by them. It’s not that Cass and I think we know what’s best for you or anyone else. It’s that we think we can help people make choices that they themselves think are better.”

    That goal can be achieved with “choice architecture,” or the careful design of the environments in which people make choices, he said. “If anything you do influences the way people choose, then you are a choice architect,” Thaler said. “If you remember one thing from this lecture, remember the following: Choice architects must choose something. You have to meddle. For example, you can’t design a neutral building. There is no such thing. A building must have doors, elevators, restrooms. All of these details influence choices people make.

    “Three key features of choice architecture are the default, giving feedback, and expecting error, he said. “Default is what happens if you do nothing, such as leaving your computer unused until the screen saver appears,” Thaler said. “The main lesson from psychology on this is that default options are sticky.

    Whatever you choose as the default has a very good chance of being selected. If you are the choice architect, you need to spend a lot of time thinking about what those default options should be. “People respond to feedback; for instance, someone designed light bulbs that glow darker shades of red as homes use higher levels of energy. 

    Such devices helped reduce energy use in peak periods by 40 percent in Southern California. By expecting error, Thaler points to the design of the Paris subway card, which allows users to insert it into an electronic turnstile in any of four ways to gain entrance to the subway. “Compare that to exiting the parking garages of Chicago,” he said. “You have to put your credit card in and there are four possible ways up, down, left, right and exactly one works. This is the difference between good and bad design.” Google is developing choice architecture to remind Gmail users when they forget an attachment or may be about to send a rude email, Thaler said.

    “If you mention the word attachment in the text of your email and you don’t include an attachment, it would prompt you,” he said. “Even better would be an emotion detection system that will send you a warning if you are about to send an angry email.”

    More important economic applications of choice architecture include the Save More Tomorrow program, which helps employees set aside future pay hikes for retirement.

    “Save More Tomorrow is based on the same principle of expecting error,” he said. “We ask people if they want to commit now to saving more later, because all of us have more self-control in the future. The first company that adopted it tripled savings rates, and the program is now spreading worldwide.

    “Thaler and Sunstein’s newest idea, can be applied to many domains, including credit cards, mortgages, Medicare, and cell phone contracts, Thaler said. Called Record, Evaluate, and Compare Alternative Prices, or RECAP, it would require credit card issuers to provide each customer with an annual spread sheet showing the formulas for each way they bill and a second spread sheet of the ways in which the customer incurred charges during the previous year, he said.”What would people do with these spreadsheets?” Thaler said.

    “We predict that websites would emerge immediately that would analyze these spreadsheets. In one click you could upload these to, say, comparisoncredit.com, which would explain to you what your credit card company is doing to you and suggest three other providers if you plan to continue to use your credit card in the same ways.”

    Chicago Booth

    *

    Wikipedia 

    Research from the field of behavioral economics has shown that individuals tend to be subject to predictable biases that may lead to decision errors. The following sections describe these biases and describe the ways that they can be minimized by changing decision context through choice architecture.

    Reducing choice overload

    Classical economics predicts that providing more options will generally improve consumer utility, or at least leave it unchanged. However, each additional choice demands additional time and consideration to evaluate, potentially outweighing the benefits of greater choice. Behavioral economists have shown that in some instances presenting consumers with many choices can lead to reduced motivation to make a choice and decreased satisfaction with choices once they are made.[7] This phenomenon is often referred to as choice overload,[11] Overchoice or the tyranny of choice.[12] However, the importance of this effect appears to vary significantly across situations.[7] Choice architects can reduce choice overload by either limiting alternatives or providing decision support tools.

    Choice architects may choose to limit choice options; however, limits to choice may lead to reductions of consumer welfare. This is because the greater the number of choices, the greater the likelihood that the choice set will include the optimal choice for any given consumer. As a result, the ideal number of alternatives will depend upon the cognitive effort required to evaluate each option and the heterogeneity of needs and preferences across consumers.[7] There are examples of consumers faring worse with many options rather than fewer in social-security investments[4] and Medicare drug plans[13]

    As consumption decisions increasingly move online, consumers are relying upon search engines and product recommendation systems to find and evaluate products and services. These types of search and decision aids both reduce the time and effort associated with information search, but also have the power to subtly shape decisions dependent upon what products are presented, the context of the presentation, and the way that they are ranked and ordered. For example, research on consumer goods like wine has shown that the expansion of online retailing has made it simpler for consumers to gather information on products and compare alternatives, making them more responsive to price and quality information.[14]

    Defaults

    A large body of research has shown that, all things being equal, consumers are more likely to choose options that are presented as a default.[15] A default is defined as a choice frame in which one selection is pre-selected so that individuals must take active steps to select another option.[16] Defaults can take many forms ranging from the automatic enrollment of college students in university health insurance plans to forms which default to a specific option unless changed.

    Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the influence of defaults. For example, individuals may interpret defaults as policymaker recommendations, cognitive biases related to loss aversion like the status quo bias or endowment effect might be at work, or consumers may fail to opt out of the default due to associated effort.[15] It is important to note that these mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and their relative influence will likely differ across decision contexts.

    Types of default include simple defaults where one choice is automatically selected for all consumers, forced choice in which a product or service is denied until the consumer makes a proactive selection, and sensory defaults in which the choice is pre-selected based upon other information that was gathered about specific consumers. Choices that are made repeatedly may also be affected by defaults, for instance persistent defaults may be continually reset regardless of past decisions, whereas reoccurring defaults “remember” past decisions for use as the default, and predictive defaults use algorithms to set defaults based upon other related behavior.[7]

    One of the most commonly cited studies on the power of defaults is the example of organ donation. One study found that donor registration rates were twice as high when potential donors had to opt out versus opt into donor registration.[3] However, the influence of defaults has been demonstrated across a range of domains including investment[4][17] and insurance[18]

    Choice over time

    Choices with outcomes that manifest in the future will be influenced by several biases. For example, individuals tend to be myopic, preferring positive outcomes in the present often at the expense of future outcomes. This may lead to behaviors like overeating or overspending in the short-term at the expense of longer term health and financial security outcomes. In addition, individual projections about the future tend to be inaccurate. When the future is uncertain they may overestimate the likelihood of salient or desirable outcomes,[19][20] and are generally overly optimistic about the future, for example assuming that they will have more time and money in the future than they will in actuality.[21][22]

    However research indicates that there are several ways to structure choice architecture to compensate for or reduce these biases. For example, researchers demonstrated improved decision-making by drawing attention to the future outcomes of decisions[23] or by emphasizing second best options.[20] In addition, limited time offers can be successful in reducing procrastination.[7]

    Partitioning options and attributes

    The ways in which options and attributes are grouped influence the choices that are made. Examples of such partitioning of options include the division of a household budget into categories (e.g. rent, food, utilities, transportation etc.), or categories of investments within a portfolio (e.g. real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.), while examples of partitioning attributes include the manner in which attributes are grouped together for example a label may group several related attributes together (e.g. convenient) or list them individually (e.g. short running time, little cleanup, low maintenance). The number and type of these categories is important because individuals have a tendency to allocate scarce resources equally across them. People tend to divide investments over the options listed in 401K plans[24] they favor equal allocation of resources and costs across individuals (all else being equal),[25] and are biased to assign equal probabilities to all events that could occur.[26][27] As a result, aggregate consumption can be changed by the number and types of categorizations. For instance, car buyers can be nudged toward more responsible purchases by itemizing practical attributes (gas mileage, safety, warranty etc.) and aggregating less practical attributes (i.e. speed, radio, and design are grouped together as “stylishness”).[28]

    Avoiding attribute overload

    Consumers would optimally consider all of a product’s attributes when deciding between options. However, due to cognitive constraints, consumers may face similar challenges in weighing many attributes to those of evaluating many choices. As a result, choice architects may choose to limit the number of attributes, weighing the cognitive effort required to consider multiple attributes[29] against the value of improved information. This may present challenges if consumers care about different attributes, but online forms that allow consumers to sort by different attributes should minimize the cognitive effort to evaluate many options without losing choice.

    Translating attributes

    The presentation of information about attributes can also reduce the cognitive effort associated with processing and reduce errors. This can generally be accomplished by increasing evaluability and comparability of attributes.[7] One example is to convert commonly used metrics into those that consumers can be assumed to care about. For example, choice architects might translate non-linear metrics (including monthly credit payments or miles per gallon) into relevant linear metrics (in this case the payback period associated with a credit payment or the gallons per 100 miles).[2] Choice architects can also influence decisions by adding evaluative labels (e.g. good versus bad or high versus low) to numerical metrics,[30] explicitly calculating consequences(for instance translating energy consumption into greenhouse gas emissions), or by changing the scale of a metric (for instance listing monthly cost versus yearly cost).[31]

    The Bank of England is planning a bitcoin-style virtual currency, but could it really replace cash? –  Bill Buchanan. * What is cryptocurrency: 21st-century unicorn, or the money of the future? – BlockGeeks. 

    Governments are extremely worried about cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. These virtual currencies mean you can make payments without involving the banks that most economies and government financial models are built on. People can transfer large amounts of money without the authorities knowing, potentially making it easier to evade tax or launder money.

    So several countries’ central banks, including the Bank of England and the Bank of Israel, are reportedly planning to launch their own digital currencies. This could help lure people back into using an official system that combines some of the benefits of both traditional and crypto- currencies. But the risks involved may be too great for many typical cash users to bear.

    One of the major drawbacks of existing cryptocurrencies is that their value tends to swing widely and it is often difficult to pinpoint how much they are really worth. National cryptocurrencies would be tied to the value of the country’s official currency, making them less volatile and easier to actually use as a way of spending.

    National cryptocurrencies would also make payments much faster because transactions would be recorded instantly and wouldn’t have to be cleared by a bank (although some implementations require around eight minutes to be verified). The existing systems for electronic payments and transfers can often involve several banks and companies sending each other data and running security checks that add time and expense to transactions. Cryptocurrencies are able to bypass this clearing process altogether because they don’t actually involve transfers from one entity to another.

    Cryptocurrencies don’t actually involve transfers from one entity to another.

    Instead they use a technology known as a blockchain, which keeps a public but encrypted record of all transactions. Basically, as illustrated in the figure below, the payer (in this case, Bob) signs a transaction to agree to pay someone (Alice) a given amount. The transaction is then validated using Bob’s personal encryption code known as his “private key”. If the transaction is valid, it is added onto the blockchain, recording how much money Alice and Bob now have.

    Outline of traditional transactions and blockchain based ones. 

    Because all transactions would be recorded in this way, the government would have much greater oversight of who is paying whom and how much, helping to crack down on financial crime. Unfortunately, because transactions on blockchain ledger are typically kept as a public record, it might also be possible for other people to access this information and see how much you or anyone else is spending and what you’re buying.

    Your money might also be at greater risk if it’s stored as a cryptocurrency. Currently banks guard your wealth and will always release it if you can prove your identity, while credit card companies insure you against fraud. If your bank account is hacked, there is a good chance you will get your money back. But cryptocurrencies store money in independent digital wallets that can be lost or broken into. If that happens there is no one who can help you.

    Currency needs trust

    For a typical shopper, there would be little difference between using a national cryptocurrency and something like Apple Pay, which makes payments at the click of a trusted application on a mobile device. I love using Apple Pay on my iPhone to purchase my coffee in the morning, as well as my bus tickets and even my parking. I now have little use of cash and only carry around my credit cards in a wallet as a backup in case my battery fails.

    Having found out over Christmas that most supermarkets now do not have a limit on Apple Pay, I see it as one of the most trusted methods of payment, especially as I trust the fingerprint scanner on my phone. I also know that my bank is involved in the transaction. So I believe the days of paper money – and even carrying around cards – are rapidly fading. Our mobile phone and our trust in our apps provide us with more trusted ways of making transactions.

    But Apple Pay is still backed up by trusted financial institutions. The step to cryptocurrency may be one step too far for most people. Few people would actually understand the risks of storing the cryptocurrency in a digital wallet and could leave themselves open to losing all their money.

    I believe that most countries will deal with cryptocurrencies by regulating them and monitoring their use rather than co-opting them. But it will be interesting to see whether regulation or competition will win in the battle of crytocurrencies. While the encryption of crytocurrencies can create strong digital trust in the technology, human trust in the transactions themselves will likely be the key factor that determines whether citizens adopt government-backed cryptocurrencies.

    The Conversation 

    *

    What is cryptocurrency: 21st-century unicorn, or the money of the future?

    This introduction explains the most important thing about cryptocurrencies. After you‘ve read it, you‘ll know more about it than most other humans.

    Today cryptocurrencies have become a global phenomenon known to most people. While still somehow geeky and not understood by most people, banks, governments and many companies are aware of its importance.

    In 2016, you‘ll have a hard time finding a major bank, a big accounting firm, a prominent software company or a government that did not research cryptocurrencies, publish a paper about it or start a so-called blockchain-project.

    But beyond the noise and the press releases the overwhelming majority of people – even bankers, consultants, scientists, and developers – have a very limited knowledge about cryptocurrencies. They often fail to even understand the basic concepts.

    So let‘s walk through the whole story. What are cryptocurrencies?

    • Where did cryptocurrency originate?
    • Why should you learn about cryptocurrency?
    • And what do you need to know about cryptocurrency?

    What is cryptocurrency and how cryptocurrencies emerged as a side product of digital cash

    Few people know, but cryptocurrencies emerged as a side product of another invention. Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown inventor of Bitcoin, the first and still most important cryptocurrency, never intended to invent a currency.

    In his announcement of Bitcoin in late 2008, Satoshi said he developed “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.“

    His goal was to invent something; many people failed to create before, digital cash.

    Announcing the first release of Bitcoin, a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending. It’s completely decentralized with no server or central authority.  – Satoshi Nakamoto, 09 January 2009, announcing Bitcoin on SourceForge.

    The single most important part of Satoshi‘s invention was that he found a way to build a decentralized digital cash system. In the nineties, there have been many attempts to create digital money, but they all failed.

    … after more than a decade of failed Trusted Third Party based systems (Digicash, etc), they see it as a lost cause. I hope they can make the distinction, that this is the first time I know of that we’re trying a non-trust based system. – Satoshi Nakamoto in an E-Mail to Dustin Trammell

    After seeing all the centralized attempts fail, Satoshi tried to build a digital cash system without a central entity. Like a Peer-to-peer network for file sharing.

    This decision became the birth of cryptocurrency. They are the missing piece Satoshi found to realize digital cash. The reason why is a bit technical and complex, but if you get it, you‘ll know more about cryptocurrencies than most people do. So, let‘s try to make it as easy as possible:

    To realize digital cash you need a payment network with accounts, balances, and transaction. That‘s easy to understand. One major problem every payment network has to solve is to prevent the so-called double spending: to prevent that one entity spends the same amount twice. Usually, this is done by a central server who keeps record about the balances.

    In a decentralized network, you don‘t have this server. So you need every single entity of the network to do this job. Every peer in the network needs to have a list with all transactions to check if future transactions are valid or an attempt to double spend.

    But how can these entities keep a consensus about this records?

    If the peers of the network disagree about only one single, minor balance, everything is broken. They need an absolute consensus. Usually, you take, again, a central authority to declare the correct state of balances. But how can you achieve consensus without a central authority?

    Nobody did know until Satoshi emerged out of nowhere. In fact, nobody believed it was even possible.

    Satoshi proved it was. His major innovation was to achieve consensus without a central authority. Cryptocurrencies are a part of this solution – the part that made the solution thrilling, fascinating and helped it to roll over the world.

    What are cryptocurrencies really?

    If you take away all the noise around cryptocurrencies and reduce it to a simple definition, you find it to be just limited entries in a database no one can change without fulfilling specific conditions. This may seem ordinary, but, believe it or not: this is exactly how you can define a currency.

    Take the money on your bank account: What is it more than entries in a database that can only be changed under specific conditions? You can even take physical coins and notes: What are they else than limited entries in a public physical database that can only be changed if you match the condition that you physically own the coins and notes? Money is all about a verified entry in some kind of database of accounts, balances, and transactions.

    How miners create coins and confirm transactions

    Let‘s have a look at the mechanism ruling the databases of cryptocurrencies. A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin consists of a network of peers. Every peer has a record of the complete history of all transactions and thus of the balance of every account.

    A transaction is a file that says, “Bob gives X Bitcoin to Alice“ and is signed by Bob‘s private key. It‘s basic public key cryptography, nothing special at all. After it’s signed, a transaction is broadcast in the network, sent from one peer to every other peer. This is basic p2p-technology. Nothing special at all, again.

    The transaction is known almost immediately by the whole network. But only after a specific amount of time it gets confirmed.

    Confirmation is a critical concept in cryptocurrencies. You could say that cryptocurrencies are all about confirmation.

    As long as a transaction is unconfirmed, it is pending and can be forged. When a transaction is confirmed, it is set in stone. It is no longer forgeable, it can‘t be reversed, it is part of an immutable record of historical transactions: of the so-called blockchain.

    Only miners can confirm transactions. This is their job in a cryptocurrency-network. They take transactions, stamp them as legit and spread them in the network. After a transaction is confirmed by a miner, every node has to add it to its database. It has become part of the blockchain.

    For this job, the miners get rewarded with a token of the cryptocurrency, for example with Bitcoins. Since the miner‘s activity is the single most important part of cryptocurrency-system we should stay for a moment and take a deeper look on it.

    What are miners doing?

    Principally everybody can be a miner. Since a decentralized network has no authority to delegate this task, a cryptocurrency needs some kind of mechanism to prevent one ruling party from abusing it. Imagine someone creates thousands of peers and spreads forged transactions. The system would break immediately.

    So, Satoshi set the rule that the miners need to invest some work of their computers to qualify for this task. In fact, they have to find a hash – a product of a cryptographic function – that connects the new block with its predecessor. This is called the Proof-of-Work. In Bitcoin, it is based on the SHA 256 Hash algorithm.

    You don‘t need to understand details about SHA 256. It‘s only important you know that it can be the basis of a cryptologic puzzle the miners compete to solve. After finding a solution, a miner can build a block and add it to the blockchain. As an incentive, he has the right to add a so-called coinbase transaction that gives him a specific number of Bitcoins. This is the only way to create valid Bitcoins.

    Bitcoins can only be created if miners solve a cryptographic puzzle. Since the difficulty of this puzzle increases the amount of computer power the whole miner’s invest, there is only a specific amount of cryptocurrency token that can be created in a given amount of time. This is part of the consensus no peer in the network can break.

    Revolutionary properties

    If you really think about it, Bitcoin, as a decentralized network of peers which keep a consensus about accounts and balances, is more a currency than the numbers you see in your bank account. What are these numbers more than entries in a database – a database which can be changed by people you don‘t see and by rules you don‘t know?

    Basically, cryptocurrencies are entries about token in decentralized consensus-databases. They are called CRYPTOcurrencies because the consensus-keeping process is secured by strong cryptography. Cryptocurrencies are built on cryptography. They are not secured by people or by trust, but by math. It is more probable that an asteroid falls on your house than that a bitcoin address is compromised.

    Describing the properties of cryptocurrencies we need to separate between transactional and monetary properties. While most cryptocurrencies share a common set of properties, they are not carved in stone.

    Transactional properties:

    1.) Irreversible: After confirmation, a transaction can‘t be reversed. By nobody. And nobody means nobody. Not you, not your bank, not the president of the United States, not Satoshi, not your miner. Nobody. If you send money, you send it. Period. No one can help you, if you sent your funds to a scammer or if a hacker stole them from your computer. There is no safety net.

    2.) Pseudonymous: Neither transactions nor accounts are connected to real-world identities. You receive Bitcoins on so-called addresses, which are randomly seeming chains of around 30 characters. While it is usually possible to analyze the transaction flow, it is not necessarily possible to connect the real world identity of users with those addresses.

    3.) Fast and global: Transaction are propagated nearly instantly in the network and are confirmed in a couple of minutes. Since they happen in a global network of computers they are completely indifferent of your physical location. It doesn‘t matter if I send Bitcoin to my neighbour or to someone on the other side of the world.

    4.) Secure: Cryptocurrency funds are locked in a public key cryptography system. Only the owner of the private key can send cryptocurrency. Strong cryptography and the magic of big numbers makes it impossible to break this scheme. A Bitcoin address is more secure than Fort Knox.

    5.) Permissionless: You don‘t have to ask anybody to use cryptocurrency. It‘s just a software that everybody can download for free. After you installed it, you can receive and send Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. No one can prevent you. There is no gatekeeper.

    Monetary properties:

    1.) Controlled supply: Most cryptocurrencies limit the supply of the tokens. In Bitcoin, the supply decreases in time and will reach its final number somewhere in around 2140. All cryptocurrencies control the supply of the token by a schedule written in the code. This means the monetary supply of a cryptocurrency in every given moment in the future can roughly be calculated today. There is no surprise.

    2.) No debt but bearer: The Fiat-money on your bank account is created by debt, and the numbers, you see on your ledger represent nothing but debts. It‘s a system of IOU. Cryptocurrencies don‘t represent debts. They just represent themselves. They are money as hard as coins of gold.

    To understand the revolutionary impact of cryptocurrencies you need to consider both properties. Bitcoin as a permissionless, irreversible and pseudonymous means of payment is an attack on the control of banks and governments over the monetary transactions of their citizens. You can‘t hinder someone to use Bitcoin, you can‘t prohibit someone to accept a payment, you can‘t undo a transaction.

    As money with a limited, controlled supply that is not changeable by a government, a bank or any other central institution, cryptocurrencies attack the scope of the monetary policy. They take away the control central banks take on inflation or deflation by manipulating the monetary supply.

    Cryptocurrencies: Dawn of a new economy

    Mostly due to its revolutionary properties cryptocurrencies have become a success their inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, didn‘t dare to dream of it. While every other attempt to create a digital cash system didn‘t attract a critical mass of users, Bitcoin had something that provoked enthusiasm and fascination. Sometimes it feels more like religion than technology.

    Cryptocurrencies are digital gold. Sound money that is secure from political influence. Money that promises to preserve and increase its value over time. Cryptocurrencies are also a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous enough to serve as a means of payment for black markets and any other outlawed economic activity.

    But while cryptocurrencies are more used for payment, its use as a means of speculation and a store of value dwarfs the payment aspects. Cryptocurrencies gave birth to an incredibly dynamic, fast-growing market for investors and speculators. Exchanges like Okcoin, poloniex or shapeshift enables the trade of hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Their daily trade volume exceeds that of major European stock exchanges.

    At the same time, the praxis of Initial Coin Distribution (ICO), mostly facilitated by Ethereum‘s smart contracts, gave live to incredibly successful crowdfunding projects, in which often an idea is enough to collect millions of dollars. In the case of “The DAO” it has been more than 150 million dollars.

    In this rich ecosystem of coins and tokens, you experience extreme volatility. It‘s common that a coin gains 10 percent a day – sometimes 100 percent – just to lose the same the next day. If you are lucky, your coin‘s value grows up to 1000 percent in one or two weeks.

    While Bitcoin remains by far the most famous cryptocurrency and most other cryptocurrencies have zero non-speculative impact, investors and users should keep an eye on several cryptocurrencies. Here we present the most popular cryptocurrencies of today.

    Bitcoin

    The one and only, the first and most famous cryptocurrency. Bitcoin serves as a digital gold standard in the whole cryptocurrency-industry, is used as a global means of payment and is the de-facto currency of cyber-crime like darknet markets or ransomware. After seven years in existence, Bitcoin‘s price has increased from zero to more than 650 Dollars, and its transaction volume reached more than 200.000 daily transactions.

    There is not much more to say: Bitcoin is here to stay.

    Ethereum

    The brainchild of young crypto-genius Vitalik Buterin has ascended to the second place in the hierarchy of cryptocurrencies. Different to Bitcoin, it’s blockchain does not only validate a set of accounts and balances but also of so-called states. This means that Ethereum can not only process transactions but complex contracts and programs.

    This flexibility makes Ethereum the perfect instrument for blockchain application. But it comes at a cost. After the Hack of the DAO – an Ethereum based smart contract – the developers decided to do a hard fork without consensus, which resulted in the emergence  of Ethereal Classic. Besides this, there are several clones of Ethereum, and Ethereal itself is a host of several Tokens like DigixDAO and Augur. This makes Ethereum more a family of cryptocurrencies than a single currency.

    Ripple

    Maybe the least popular – or most hated – project in the cryptocurrency community is Ripple. While Ripple has a native cryptocurrency – XRP – it is more about a network to process IOUs than the cryptocurrency itself. XRP, the currency, doesn‘t serve as a medium to store and exchange value, but more as a token to protect the network against spam.

    Ripple Labs created every XRP-token, the company running the Ripple network, and is distributed by them at will. For this reason, Ripple is often called pre-mined in the community and dissed as no real cryptocurrency, and XRP is not considered a good store of value.

    Banks, however, seem to like Ripple. At least they are adopt the system with increasing pace.

    Litecoin

    Litecoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies after Bitcoin and tagged as the silver to the digital gold bitcoin. Faster than bitcoin, with a larger amount of tokens and a new mining algorithms, Litecoin was a real innovation, perfectly tailored to be the smaller brother of bitcoin. “It facilitated the emergence of several other cryptocurrencies which used its codebase but made it, even lighter“. Examples are Dogecoin or Feathercoin.

    While Litecoin failed to find a real use and lost its second place after bitcoin, it is still actively developed and traded and is hoarded as a backup if Bitcoin fails.

    Monero

    Monero is the most prominent example of the cryptonite algorithm. This algorithm was invented to add the privacy features Bitcoin is missing. If you use Bitcoin, every transaction is documented in the blockchain and the trail of transactions can be followed. With the introduction of a concept called ring-signatures, the cryptonite algorithm was able to cut through that trail.

    The first implementation of cryptonite, Bytecoin, was heavily premined and thus rejected by the community. Monero was the first non-premined clone of bytecoin and raised a lot of awareness. There are several other incarnations of cryptonote with their own little improvements, but none ever achieved the same popularity as Monero.

    Monero’s popularity peaked in summer 2016 when some darkness markets decided to accept it as a currency. This resulted in a steady increase in the price, while the actual usage of Monero seems to remain disappointingly small.

    Besides those, there are hundreds of other cryptocurrencies of several families. Most of them are nothing more than attempts to reach investors and quickly make money, but a lot of them promise playgrounds to test innovations in cryptocurrency-technology.

    What is the future of Cryptocurrency?

    The market of cryptocurrencies is fast and wild. Nearly every day new cryptocurrencies emerge, old die, early adopters get wealthy and investors lose money. Every cryptocurrency comes with a promise, mostly a big story to turn the world around. Few survive the first months, and most are pumped and dumped by speculators and live on as zombie coins until the last bagholder loses hope ever to see a return on his investment.

    Markets are dirty. But this doesn‘t change the fact that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – and here to change the world. This is already happening. People all over the world buy Bitcoin to protect themselves against the devaluation of their national currency. Mostly in Asia, a vivid market for Bitcoin remittance has emerged, and the Bitcoin using darknets of cybercrime are flourishing. More and more companies are discovering the power of Smart Contracts or tokens on Ethereum, the first real-world application of blockchain technologies to emerge.

    The revolution is already happening. Institutional investors are starting to buy cryptocurrencies. Banks and governments are realizing that this invention has the potential to draw their control away. 

    Cryptocurrencies change the world. Step by step. You can either stand aside and observe – or you can become part of history in the making.

    Block Geeks

    THE NEW BOOK TRUMP IS TRYING TO BAN. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff. 

    Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President.


    One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days
    .

    Election Night: It “looked as if he had seen a ghost.”

    On the afternoon of November 8, 2016, Kellyanne Conway settled into her glass office at Trump Tower. Right up until the last weeks of the race, the campaign headquarters had remained a listless place. All that seemed to distinguish it from a corporate back office were a few posters with right-wing slogans.

    Conway, the campaign’s manager, was in a remarkably buoyant mood, considering she was about to experience a resounding, if not cataclysmic, defeat. Donald Trump would lose the election — of this she was sure — but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under six points. That was a substantial victory. As for the looming defeat itself, she shrugged it off: It was Reince Priebus’s fault, not hers.

    She had spent a good part of the day calling friends and allies in the political world and blaming Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors whom she had been carefully courting since joining the Trump campaign — and with whom she had been actively interviewing in the last few weeks, hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.

    Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the effective head of the campaign, wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.

    As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. “I can be the most famous man in the world,” he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.

    “This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,” he told Ailes a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”

    From the start, the leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was, and how everybody involved in it was a loser. In August, when he was trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 12 points, he couldn’t conjure even a far-fetched scenario for achieving an electoral victory. He was baffled when the right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, a Ted Cruz backer whom Trump barely knew, offered him an infusion of $5 million. When Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Conway, Trump didn’t resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. “This thing,” he told the Mercers, “is so fucked up.”

    Bannon, who became chief executive of Trump’s team in mid-August, called it “the broke-dick campaign.” Almost immediately, he saw that it was hampered by an even deeper structural flaw: The candidate who billed himself as a billionaire — ten times over — refused to invest his own money in it. Bannon told Kushner that, after the first debate in September, they would need another $50 million to cover them until Election Day.

    “No way we’ll get 50 million unless we can guarantee him victory,” said a clear-eyed Kushner.
    “Twenty-five million?” prodded Bannon.
    “If we can say victory is more than likely.”

    In the end, the best Trump would do is to loan the campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money. Steve Mnuchin, the campaign’s finance chairman, came to collect the loan with the wire instructions ready to go so Trump couldn’t conveniently forget to send the money.

    Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” Flynn assured them.

    Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

    Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.

    There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.

    From the moment of victory, the Trump administration became a looking-glass presidency: Every inverse assumption about how to assemble and run a White House was enacted and compounded, many times over. The decisions that Trump and his top advisers made in those first few months — from the slapdash transition to the disarray in the West Wing — set the stage for the chaos and dysfunction that have persisted throughout his first year in office. This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump’s inner circle — that they would lose the election — wound up exposing them for who they really were.

    On the Saturday after the election, Trump received a small group of well-­wishers in his triplex apartment in Trump Tower. 
    Even his close friends were still shocked and bewildered, and there was a dazed quality to the gathering. But Trump himself was mostly looking at the clock. Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. “He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,” Trump said. “You have to stay to see him.” Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.

    Few people who knew Trump had illusions about him. That was his appeal: He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul. Everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance. Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” Nunberg recalled, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

    The day after the election, the bare-bones transition team that had been set up during the campaign hurriedly shifted from Washington to Trump Tower. The building — now the headquarters of a populist revolution —­ suddenly seemed like an alien spaceship on Fifth Avenue. 
    But its otherworldly air helped obscure the fact that few in Trump’s inner circle, with their overnight responsibility for assembling a government, had any relevant experience.

    Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 administrations, tried to impress on Trump the need to create a White House structure that could serve and protect him. “You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff,” he told Trump. “And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington. You’ll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don’t know Washington.” Ailes had a suggestion: John Boehner, who had stepped down as Speaker of the House only a year earlier.
    “Who’s that?” asked Trump.

    As much as the president himself, the chief of staff determines how the Executive branch — which employs 4 million people — will run. The job has been construed as deputy president, or even prime minister. 
    But Trump had no interest in appointing a strong chief of staff with a deep knowledge of Washington. Among his early choices for the job was Kushner — a man with no political experience beyond his role as a calm and flattering body man to Trump during the campaign.

    It was Ann Coulter who finally took the president-elect aside. “Nobody is apparently telling you this,” she told him. “But you can’t. You just can’t hire your children.”

    Bowing to pressure, Trump floated the idea of giving the job to Steve Bannon, only to have the notion soundly ridiculed. 
    Murdoch told Trump that Bannon would be a dangerous choice. Joe Scarborough, the former congressman and co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, told the president-elect that “Washington will go up in flames” if Bannon became chief of staff.

    So Trump turned to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, who had became the subject of intense lobbying by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If congressional leaders were going to have to deal with an alien like Donald Trump, then best they do it with the help of one of their own kind.

    Jim Baker, chief of staff for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and almost everybody’s model for managing the West Wing, advised Priebus not to take the job. 
    Priebus had his own reservations: He had come out of his first long meeting with Trump thinking it had been a disconcertingly weird experience. Trump talked nonstop and constantly repeated himself.

    “Here’s the deal,” a close Trump associate told Priebus. “In an hour meeting with him, you’re going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they’re going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.”

    But the Priebus appointment, announced in mid-November, put Bannon on a co-equal level to the new chief of staff. Even with the top job, Priebus would be a weak figure, in the traditional mold of most Trump lieutenants over the years. There would be one chief of staff in name — the unimportant one — and others like Bannon and Kushner, more important in practice, ensuring both chaos and Trump’s independence.

    Priebus demonstrated no ability to keep Trump from talking to anyone who wanted his ear. The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.

    “Oh, great, just great,” said Trump. “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”
    “Donald,” said Murdoch, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

    “Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.”
    Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”
    “What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

    *

    Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world’s most powerful men, was running late. It was the evening of January 3, 2017 — a little more than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration — and Bannon had promised to come to a small dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village townhouse to see Roger Ailes.

    Snow was threatening, and for a while the dinner appeared doubtful. But the 76-year-old Ailes, who was as dumbfounded by his old friend Donald Trump’s victory as everyone else, understood that he was passing the right-wing torch to Bannon. 
    Ailes’s Fox News, with its $1.5 billion in annual profits, had dominated Republican politics for two decades. Now Bannon’s Breit­bart News, with its mere $1.5 million in annual profits, was claiming that role. For 30 years, Ailes — until recently the single most powerful person in conservative politics — had humored and tolerated Trump, but in the end Bannon and Breitbart had elected him.

    At 9:30, having extricated himself from Trump Tower, Bannon finally arrived at the dinner, three hours late. Wearing a disheveled blazer, his signature pairing of two shirts, and military fatigues, the unshaven, overweight 63-year-old immediately dived into an urgent download of information about the world he was about to take over.

    “We’re going to flood the zone so we have every Cabinet member for the next seven days through their confirmation hearings,” he said of the business-and-military, 1950s-type Cabinet choices. “Tillerson is two days, Sessions is two days, Mattis is two days …”

    Bannon veered from James “Mad Dog” Mattis — the retired four-star general whom Trump had nominated as secretary of Defense — to the looming appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser. “He’s fine. He’s not Jim Mattis and he’s not John Kelly … but he’s fine. He just needs the right staff around him.” Still, Bannon averred: “When you take out all the Never Trump guys who signed all those letters and all the neocons who got us in all these wars … it’s not a deep bench.” 
    Bannon said he’d tried to push John Bolton, the famously hawkish diplomat, for the job as national-security adviser. Bolton was an Ailes favorite, too.

    “He’s a bomb thrower,” said Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. 
    Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.”

    “Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”
    “Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.”
    “If I told Trump that,” Bannon said slyly, “he might have the job.”

    Bannon was curiously able to embrace Trump while at the same time suggesting he did not take him entirely seriously. Great numbers of people, he believed, were suddenly receptive to a new message — the world needs borders — and Trump had become the platform for that message.
    “Does he get it?” asked Ailes suddenly, looking intently at Bannon. Did Trump get where history had put him?

    Bannon took a sip of water. “He gets it,” he said, after hesitating for perhaps a beat too long. “Or he gets what he gets.”

    Pivoting from Trump himself, Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon” — Adelson, the casino billionaire and far-right Israel defender — “is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this … Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. 
    Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.”

    “Where’s Donald on this?” asked Ailes, the clear implication being that Bannon was far out ahead of his benefactor.
    “He’s totally onboard.”

    “I wouldn’t give Donald too much to think about,” said an amused Ailes.
    Bannon snorted. “Too much, too little — doesn’t necessarily change things.”

    “What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?” pressed Ailes.

    “Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”

    Again, as though setting the issue of Trump aside — merely a large and peculiar presence to both be thankful for and to have to abide — Bannon, in the role he had conceived for himself, the auteur of the Trump presidency, charged forward. The real enemy, he said, was China. China was the first front in a new Cold War.

    “China’s everything. Nothing else matters. We don’t get China right, we don’t get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they’re not. And they’re gonna flip like Germany in the ’30s. You’re going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

    “Donald might not be Nixon in China,” said Ailes, deadpan.

    Bannon smiled. “Bannon in China,” he said, with both remarkable grandiosity and wry self-deprecation.

    “How’s the kid?” asked Ailes, referring to Kushner.

    “He’s my partner,” said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message.

    “He’s had a lot of lunches with Rupert,” said a dubious Ailes.

    “In fact,” said Bannon, “I could use your help here.” He then spent several minutes trying to recruit Ailes to help kneecap Murdoch. Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch.
    Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.

    “I’ll call him,” said Ailes. “But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down. I just worry about who’s jerking whose chain.”

    *

    Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.

    The first senior staffer to enter the White House that day was Bannon. On the inauguration march, he had grabbed 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the newly appointed deputy chief of staff, and together they had peeled off to inspect the now-vacant West Wing. The carpet had been shampooed, but little else had changed. It was a warren of tiny offices in need of paint, the décor something like an admissions office at a public university. Bannon claimed the non­descript office across from the much grander chief of staff’s suite and immediately requisitioned the whiteboards on which he intended to chart the first 100 days of the Trump administration. He also began moving furniture out. The point was to leave no room for anyone to sit. Limit discussion. Limit debate. This was war.

    Those who had worked on the campaign noticed the sudden change. Within the first week, Bannon seemed to have put away the camaraderie of Trump Tower and become far more remote, if not unreachable. “What’s up with Steve?” Kushner began to ask. “I don’t understand. We were so close.” Now that Trump had been elected, Bannon was already focused on his next goal: capturing the soul of the Trump White House.

    He began by going after his enemies. Few fueled his rancor toward the standard-issue Republican world as much as Rupert Murdoch — not least because Murdoch had Trump’s ear. It was one of the key elements of Bannon’s understanding of Trump: The last person the president spoke to ended up with enormous influence. Trump would brag that Murdoch was always calling him; Murdoch, for his part, would complain that he couldn’t get Trump off the phone.

    “He doesn’t know anything about American politics, and has no feel for the American people,” Bannon told Trump, always eager to point out that Murdoch wasn’t an American. Yet in one regard, Murdoch’s message was useful to Bannon. 
    Having known every president since Harry Truman — as Murdoch took frequent opportunities to point out — the media mogul warned Trump that a president has only six months, max, to set his agenda and make an impact. After that, it was just putting out fires and battling the opposition.

    This was the message whose urgency Bannon had been trying to impress on an often distracted Trump, who was already trying to limit his hours in the office and keep to his normal golf habits. Bannon’s strategic view of government was shock and awe. In his head, he carried a set of decisive actions that would not just mark the new administration’s opening days but make it clear that nothing ever again would be the same. He had quietly assembled a list of more than 200 executive orders to issue in the first 100 days. The very first EO, in his view, had to be a crackdown on immigration. After all, it was one of Trump’s core campaign promises. Plus, Bannon knew, it was an issue that made liberals batshit mad.

    Bannon could push through his agenda for a simple reason: because nobody in the administration really had a job. Priebus, as chief of staff, had to organize meetings, hire staff, and oversee the individual offices in the Executive-branch departments. But Bannon, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump had no specific responsibilities — they did what they wanted. And for Bannon, the will to get big things done was how big things got done. 
    “Chaos was Steve’s strategy,” said Walsh.

    On Friday, January 27 — only his eighth day in office — Trump signed an executive order issuing a sweeping exclusion of many Muslims from the United States. In his mania to seize the day, with almost no one in the federal government having seen it or even been aware of it, Bannon had succeeded in pushing through an executive order that overhauled U.S. immigration policy while bypassing the very agencies and personnel responsible for enforcing it.

    The result was an emotional outpouring of horror and indignation from liberal media, terror in immigrant communities, tumultuous protests at major airports, confusion throughout the government, and, in the White House, an inundation of opprobrium from friends and family. What have you done? You have to undo this! 
    You’re finished before you even start! But Bannon was satisfied. He could not have hoped to draw a more vivid line between Trump’s America and that of liberals. 
    Almost the entire White House staff demanded to know: Why did we do this on a Friday, when it would hit the airports hardest and bring out the most protesters?

    “Errr … that’s why,” said Bannon. “So the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.” That was the way to crush the liberals: Make them crazy and drag them to the left.

    On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, arrived for lunch at the White House. 
    Trump proudly showed them into the Oval Office. “So how do you think the first week has gone?” he asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery. When Scarborough ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better, Trump turned defensive and derisive, plunging into a long monologue about how well things had gone. “I could have invited Hannity!” he told Scarborough.

    After Jared and Ivanka joined them for lunch, Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week. Scarborough praised the president for having invited leaders of the steel unions to the White House. At which point Jared interjected that reaching out to unions, a Democratic constituency, was Bannon’s doing, that this was “the Bannon way.”

    “Bannon?” said the president, jumping on his son-in-law. “That wasn’t Bannon’s idea. That was my idea. It’s the Trump way, not the Bannon way.”

    Kushner, going concave, retreated from the discussion.

    Trump, changing the topic, said to Scarborough and Brzezinski, “So what about you guys? What’s going on?” He was referencing their not-so-secret secret relationship. The couple said it was still complicated, but good.

    “You guys should just get married,” prodded Trump.

    “I can marry you! I’m an internet Unitarian minister,” Kushner, otherwise an Orthodox Jew, said suddenly.

    “What?” said the president. “What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when I could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!”

    The First Children couple were having to navigate Trump’s volatile nature just like everyone else in the White House. And they were willing to do it for the same reason as everyone else — in the hope that Trump’s unexpected victory would catapult them into a heretofore unimagined big time. Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.

    Bannon, who had coined the term “Jarvanka” that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him. “They didn’t say that?” he said. “Stop. 
    Oh, come on. They didn’t actually say that? Please don’t tell me that. Oh my God.”

    The truth was, Ivanka and Jared were as much the chief of staff as Priebus or Bannon, all of them reporting directly to the president. The couple had opted for formal jobs in the West Wing, in part because they knew that influencing Trump required you to be all-in. 

    From phone call to phone call — and his day, beyond organized meetings, was almost entirely phone calls — you could lose him. He could not really converse, not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation. He neither particularly listened to what was said to him nor particularly considered what he said in response. 

    He demanded you pay him attention, then decided you were weak for groveling. In a sense, he was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance — without making him angry or petulant.

    Ivanka maintained a relationship with her father that was in no way conventional. She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments. If it wasn’t pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. For Ivanka, it was all business — building the Trump brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House. 
    She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.

    Kushner, for his part, had little to no success at trying to restrain his father-in-law. Ever since the transition, Jared had been negotiating to arrange a meeting at the White House with Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican president whom Trump had threatened and insulted throughout the campaign. On the Wednesday after the inauguration, a high-level Mexican delegation — the first visit by any foreign leaders to the Trump White House — met with Kushner and Reince Priebus. That afternoon, Kushner triumphantly told his father-in-law that Peña Nieto had signed on to a White House meeting and planning for the visit could go forward.

    The next day, on Twitter, Trump blasted Mexico for stealing American jobs. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall,” the president declared, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” At which point Peña Nieto did just that, leaving Kushner’s negotiation and statecraft as so much scrap on the floor.

    *

    Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump’s own behavior. The big deal of being president was just not apparent to him. Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House from ordinary political life, could not help but be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with palacelike servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and downstairs a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But this wasn’t that different from Trump’s former life in Trump Tower, which was actually more commodious and to his taste than the White House.

    Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom — the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) 
    Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.

    If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.

    As details of Trump’s personal life leaked out, he became obsessed with identifying the leaker. The source of all the gossip, however, may well have been Trump himself. In his calls throughout the day and at night from his bed, he often spoke to people who had no reason to keep his confidences. He was a river of grievances, which recipients of his calls promptly spread to the ever-attentive media.

    On February 6, in one of his seething, self-pitying, and unsolicited phone calls to a casual acquaintance, Trump detailed his bent-out-of-shape feelings about the relentless contempt of the media and the disloyalty of his staff. The initial subject of his ire was the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, whom he called “a nut job.” Gail Collins, who had written a Times column unfavorably comparing Trump to Vice-President Mike Pence, was “a moron.”

    Then, continuing under the rubric of media he hated, he veered to CNN and the deep disloyalty of its chief, Jeff Zucker.

    Zucker, who as the head of entertainment at NBC had commissioned The Apprentice, had been “made by Trump,” Trump said of himself in the third person. He had “personally” gotten Zucker his job at CNN. 
    “Yes, yes, I did,” said the president, launching into a favorite story about how he had once talked Zucker up at a dinner with a high-ranking executive from CNN’s parent company. “I probably shouldn’t have, because Zucker is not that smart,” Trump lamented, “but I like to show I can do that sort of thing.” Then Zucker had returned the favor by airing the “unbelievably disgusting” story about the Russian “dossier” and the “golden shower” — the practice CNN had accused him of being party to in a Moscow hotel suite with assorted prostitutes.

    Having dispensed with Zucker, the president of the United States went on to speculate on what was involved with a golden shower. And how this was all just part of a media campaign that would never succeed in driving him from the White House. Because they were sore losers and hated him for winning, they spread total lies, 100 percent made-up things, totally untrue, for instance, the cover that week of Time magazine — which, Trump reminded his listener, he had been on more than anyone in history — that showed Steve Bannon, a good guy, saying he was the real president. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me?” Trump demanded. He repeated the question, then repeated the answer: “Zero! Zero!” And that went for his son-in-law, too, who had a lot to learn.

    The media was not only hurting him, he said — he was not looking for any agreement or even any response — but hurting his negotiating capabilities, which hurt the nation. And that went for Saturday Night Live, which might think it was very funny but was actually hurting everybody in the country. And while he understood that SNL was there to be mean to him, they were being very, very mean. It was “fake comedy.” He had reviewed the treatment of all other presidents in the media, and there was nothing like this ever, even of Nixon, who was treated very unfairly. “Kellyanne, who is very fair, has this all documented. You can look at it.”

    The point is, he said, that that very day, he had saved $700 million a year in jobs that were going to Mexico, but the media was talking about him wandering around the White House in his bathrobe, which “I don’t have because I’ve never worn a bathrobe. And would never wear one, because I’m not that kind of guy.” And what the media was doing was undermining this very dignified house, and “dignity is so important.” But Murdoch, “who had never called me, never once,” was now calling all the time. So that should tell people something.

    The call went on for 26 minutes.

    Without a strong chief of staff at the White House, there was no real up-and-down structure in the administration — merely a figure at the top and everyone else scrambling for his attention. It wasn’t task-based so much as response-oriented — whatever captured the boss’s attention focused everybody’s attention. Priebus and Bannon and Kushner were all fighting to be the power behind the Trump throne. 
    And in these crosshairs was Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff.

    Walsh, who came to the White House from the RNC, represented a certain Republican ideal: clean, brisk, orderly, efficient. A righteous bureaucrat with a permanently grim expression, she was a fine example of the many political professionals in whom competence and organizational skills transcend ideology. To Walsh, it became clear almost immediately that “the three gentlemen running things,” as she came to characterize them, had each found his own way to appeal to the president. Bannon offered a rousing fuck-you show of force; Priebus offered flattery from the congressional leadership; Kushner offered the approval of blue-chip businessmen. 
    Each appeal was exactly what Trump wanted from the presidency, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t have them all.
    He wanted to break things, he wanted Congress to give him bills to sign, and he wanted the love and respect of New York machers and socialites.

    As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. 
    Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise — no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”

    By the end of the second week following the immigration EO, the three advisers were in open conflict with one another. For Walsh, it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: Almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, it would be countermanded by one or another of them.

    “I take a conversation at face value and move forward with it,” she said. “I put what was decided on the schedule and bring in comms and build a press plan around it … And then Jared says, ‘Why did you do that?’ And I say, ‘Because we had a meeting three days ago with you and Reince and Steve where you agreed to do this.’ And he says, ‘But that didn’t mean I wanted it on the schedule …’ It almost doesn’t matter what anyone says: Jared will agree, and then it will get sabotaged, and then Jared goes to the president and says, see, that was Reince’s idea or Steve’s idea.”

    If Bannon, Priebus, and Kushner were now fighting a daily war with one another, it was exacerbated by the running disinformation campaign about them that was being prosecuted by the president himself. When he got on the phone after dinner, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. 
    Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like shit). Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short — a midget). Kushner was a suck-up. Sean Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too). Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.

    During that first month, Walsh’s disbelief and even fear about what was happening in the White House moved her to think about quitting. Every day after that became a countdown toward the moment she knew she wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. To Walsh, the proud political pro, the chaos, the rivalries, and the president’s own lack of focus were simply incomprehensible. In early March, not long before she left, she confronted Kushner with a simple request. “Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,” she demanded. “What are the three priorities of this White House?”

    It was the most basic question imaginable — one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer.

    “Yes,” he said to Walsh. “We should probably have that conversation.”

    *

    HOW HE GOT THE STORY

    This story is adapted from Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, to be published by Henry Holt & Co. on January 9. 

    Wolff, who chronicles the administration from Election Day to this past October, conducted conversations and interviews over a period of 18 months with the president, most members of his senior staff, and many people to whom they in turn spoke. 

    Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” — an idea encouraged by the president himself. 

    Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became “more a constant interloper than an invited guest.” There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.

    Since then, he conducted more than 200 interviews. In true Trumpian fashion, the administration’s lack of experience and disdain for political norms made for a hodgepodge of journalistic challenges. 
    Information would be provided off-the-record or on deep background, then casually put on the record. Sources would fail to set any parameters on the use of a conversation, or would provide accounts in confidence, only to subsequently share their views widely. And the president’s own views, private as well as public, were constantly shared by others. 

    The adaptation presented here offers a front-row view of Trump’s presidency, from his improvised transition to his first months in the Oval Office.

    New York Magazine 

    Work and the Loneliness Epidemic – Vivek H. Murthy. 

    On August 24, 1992, in the early hours of the morning, my family and I stepped out of our temporary shelter to find our city, and our lives, forever changed. We had spent the past several hours huddled together as Hurricane Andrew battered our South Florida neighborhood with torrential rain and winds near 170 miles per hour. We saw pieces of homes strewn across the landscape, power lines flung about like pieces of string, and sea creatures stranded in trees, having been blown far inland by the storm.

    Like thousands of others, we survived the storm and the many dark days that followed because of the kindness of strangers who brought food, water, and comfort. Hurricane Andrew forged a deep sense of connection and community in South Florida as the nation rallied around us and as we supported each other. But slowly, as normal life resumed, the distance between people returned. We went back to our homes, our work, our schools, and our lives, and once again we grew apart.

    Looking today at so many other places around the world ravaged by disasters of all kinds, I think about how often tragedy brings us together — and how fleeting that connection often is.

    There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher. Additionally, the number of people who report having a close confidante in their lives has been declining over the past few decades. In the workplace, many employees, and half of CEOs, report feeling lonely in their roles.

    During my tenure as U.S. surgeon general, I saw firsthand how loneliness affected people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds across the country. I met middle and high school students in urban and rural areas who turned to violence, drugs, and gangs to ease the pain of their loneliness. I sat with mothers and fathers who had lost sons and daughters to drug overdoses and were struggling to cope alone because of the unfortunate stigma surrounding addiction. And I met factory workers, doctors, small business owners, and teachers who described feeling alone in their work and on the verge of burnout.

    During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness. The elderly man who came to our hospital every few weeks seeking relief from chronic pain was also looking for human connection: He was lonely. The middle-aged woman battling advanced HIV who had no one to call to inform that she was sick: She was lonely too. I found that loneliness was often in the background of clinical illness, contributing to disease and making it harder for patients to cope and heal.

    This may not surprise you. Chances are, you or someone you know has been struggling with loneliness. And that can be a serious problem. Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity. But we haven’t focused nearly as much effort on strengthening connections between people as we have on curbing tobacco use or obesity. Loneliness is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety. At work, loneliness reduces task performance, limits creativity, and impairs other aspects of executive function such as reasoning and decision making. For our health and our work, it is imperative that we address the loneliness epidemic quickly.

    Once we understand the profound human and economic costs of loneliness, we must determine whose responsibility it is to address the problem. The government and health care system have important roles to play in helping us understand the impact of loneliness, identifying who is affected, and determining which interventions work. But to truly solve loneliness requires the engagement of institutions where people spend the bulk of their time: families, schools, social organizations, and the workplace. Companies in particular have the power to drive change at a societal level not only by strengthening connections among employees, partners, and clients but also by serving as an innovation hub that can inspire other organizations to address loneliness.

    The Roots of Loneliness

    Loneliness is the subjective feeling of having inadequate social connections. Why has this feeling increased over past decades? Partly because people are more geographically mobile and are thus more likely to be living apart from friends and family. Indeed, more people report living alone today than at any time since the census began collecting this data. In the workplace, new models of working — such as telecommuting and some on-demand “gig economy” contracting arrangements — have created flexibility but often reduce the opportunities for in-person interaction and relationships. And even working at an office doesn’t guarantee meaningful connections: People sit in an office full of coworkers, even in open-plan workspaces, but everyone is staring at a computer or attending task-oriented meetings where opportunities to connect on a human level are scarce.

    Happy hours, coffee breaks, and team-building exercises are designed to build connections between colleagues, but do they really help people develop deep relationships? On average, we spend more waking hours with our coworkers than we do with our families. But do they know what we really care about? Do they understand our values? Do they share in our triumphs and pains?

    These aren’t just rhetorical questions; from a biological perspective, we evolved to be social creatures. Long ago, our ability to build relationships of trust and cooperation helped increase our chances of having a stable food supply and more consistent protection from predators. Over thousands of years, the value of social connection has become baked into our nervous system such that the absence of such a protective force creates a stress state in the body. Loneliness causes stress, and long-term or chronic stress leads to more frequent elevations of a key stress hormone, cortisol. It is also linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body. This in turn damages blood vessels and other tissues, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, joint disease, depression, obesity, and premature death. Chronic stress can also hijack your brain’s prefrontal cortex, which governs decision making, planning, emotional regulation, analysis, and abstract thinking.

    This isn’t just bad for our health; it’s also bad for business. Researchers for Gallup found that having strong social connections at work makes employees more likely to be engaged with their jobs and produce higher-quality work, and less likely to fall sick or be injured. Without strong social connections, these gains become losses. Connection can also help indirectly by enhancing self-esteem and self-efficacy while also shifting our experience toward positive emotions — all of which can buffer an individual during stressful situations and have positive effects on health. Indeed, studies have found that companies whose workers feel they have high-stress jobs have markedly higher health care expenditures than their counterparts with low-stress employees.

    Our understanding of biology, psychology, and the workplace calls for companies to make fostering social connections a strategic priority. A more connected workforce is more likely to enjoy greater fulfillment, productivity, and engagement while being more protected against illness, disability, and burnout.

    Forging Connections at Work

    My experience has been that people bring the most to their work when they feel connected to the mission and the people around them. While I was at the Surgeon General’s Office, our staff grew quickly as we sought to build a team that could address an array of pressing public health issues. Although team members got along well, it soon became clear that we didn’t fully recognize the rich life experience that each person brought to the team. We had a decorated Army nurse, a woman who had spent years providing medical care to prison inmates, an accomplished pianist and preacher, an Olympic-level runner, and several team members who had struggled with addiction in their family. Even though we were operating with the formality and hierarchy of a uniformed service, my team was hungry to know more about each other.

    To bring us closer, we developed “Inside Scoop,” an exercise in which team members were asked to share something about themselves through pictures for five minutes during weekly staff meetings. Presenting was an opportunity for each of us to share more of who we were; listening was an opportunity to recognize our colleagues in the way they wished to be seen.

    The impact was immediate. These sessions quickly became many people’s favorite time of the week, and they were more enthusiastic about participating at staff meetings. People felt more valued by the team after seeing their colleagues’ genuine reactions to their stories. Team members who had traditionally been quiet during discussions began speaking up. Many began taking on tasks outside their traditional roles. They appeared less stressed at work. And most of them told me how much more connected they felt to their colleagues and the mission they served.

    I remember one Inside Scoop from a team member who had proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps. I expected him to talk about his experiences in the military. Instead, he spoke about the complex relationship he had had with his father and how he could see his father’s spirit living on in the musical talent of his grandchildren. He described his mother as his hero and shared how remembering her in the face of a challenge would transform his doubts into strength. As he spoke, his eyes glistened. I felt a deep connection to him in that moment and was inspired by his honesty and compelled to reflect on my own relationships. Even though we were close before, my relationship with him became even stronger after that day.

    I share what my office did not as the antidote to loneliness but as proof that small steps can make a difference. And because small actions like this one are vital to improving our health and the health of our economy.

    Creating Connection

    We know that if we are to prioritize our health and the health of our companies, the workplace is one of the most important places to cultivate social connections. And while it may seem easy enough to organize a team-building event, grab a cup of coffee with a colleague, or chat with people around the water cooler about Game of Thrones, real connection requires creating an environment that embraces the unique identities and experiences of employees inside and outside the workplace. Here are five deliberate steps that can help build healthy and productive relationships:

    Evaluate the current state of connections in your workplace.

    Strong social connections are not simply about the number of friends and family members one has; it’s the quality of those connections that matters more. You can be surrounded by many people and have thousands of connections on LinkedIn or Facebook and still be lonely. Conversely, you can have just a handful of people with whom you interact and feel very connected. To assess the quality of the relationships at your organization, here are some questions to consider: Do employees feel that their colleagues genuinely value and care for them? Do they believe their institution has a culture that supports giving and receiving kindness? Would they characterize their relationships with colleagues as being driven more by love or by fear?

    Build understanding of high-quality relationships.

    Strong social connections are characterized by meaningful shared experiences and mutually beneficial two-way relationships, where both individuals give and receive. High-quality relationships must be grounded in love and informed by kindness, compassion, and generosity. There is a tendency to look at such positive emotions as “soft” and even as a liability that distorts judgment and impairs tough decision making. But research increasingly shows that positive emotions enhance performance and resilience. Be clear with employees and colleagues about the types of relationships you want to see at work and what types of actions, like generosity, foster those relationships.

    Make strengthening social connections a strategic priority in your organization.

    Designing and modeling a culture that supports connection is more important than any single program. It will require buy-in and engagement from all levels of the organization, particularly leadership. Having senior members of an organization invest in building strong connections with other team members can set a powerful example, especially when leaders are willing to demonstrate that vulnerability can be a source of strength, not weakness. Ask yourself if the current culture and policies in your institution support the development of trusted relationships.

    Encourage coworkers to reach out and help others — and accept help when it is offered.

    Although it may seem counterintuitive to assist others when you are feeling lonely, extending help to others and allowing yourself to receive help builds a connection that is mutually affirming. Late one night during my residency training, I was managing a busy intensive care unit when one of my colleagues stopped and offered to help with a sudden influx of critically ill patients. Because of his generosity, we were able to rapidly place specialized catheters in patients with bloodstream infections and get them life-saving antibiotics quickly. We worked together for only an hour that night, but the connection we built lasted years. Giving and receiving help freely is one of the most tangible ways we experience our connections with each other.

    Create opportunities to learn about your colleagues’ personal lives.

    The likelihood that authentic social connections will develop is greater when people feel understood and appreciated as individuals with full lives — as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, individuals with passions outside of work, concerned citizens and community members. Everyone in an organization has the power to create spaces for sharing, whether it is in a formal gathering or an informal conversation over lunch.

    Healing One Another

    When I think of loneliness, I think about the first day of my internal medicine residency program. A faculty member advised us to call the people we love and tell them that they wouldn’t be hearing from us much over the next year. As medical students, we’d heard about the trials of residency training: the unforgiving hours, the grueling intensity, and the crushing isolation. That morning, the idea of stepping away from our most trusted social relationships felt unnerving.

    Despite my initial fears about loneliness, those three years ended up being the best of my life. The hours and intensity were just as billed, if not even more so. As predicted, it was very difficult to stay in touch with friends. But in time I developed rich and fulfilling relationships with my colleagues in the hospital.

    Coming to work came to feel like spending time with friends. There were plenty of difficult moments when our emotional, intellectual, and physical reserves were tested — navigating a difficult end-of-life conversation, trying to find an elusive source of infection in a critically ill patient, or simply fighting back our own exhaustion — but my bonds with my colleagues softened the blows and saved me from plenty of others. Those bonds enabled me to do more, give more, appreciate more, and be a better doctor to thousands of patients. Today, years later, I wonder if these relationships provided deeper healing: if they made me not just a better doctor but a better colleague and leader, too.

    The world is suffering from an epidemic of loneliness. If we cannot rebuild strong, authentic social connections, we will continue to splinter apart — in the workplace and in society. Instead of coming together to take on the great challenges before us, we will retreat to our corners, angry, sick, and alone. We must take action now to build the connections that are the foundation of strong companies and strong communities — and that ensure greater health and well-being for all of us.

    Harvard Business Review 

    Grave New World. The end of Globalisation, the return of History – Stephen D. King. 

    PROLOGUE 


    A Victorian Perspective on Globalization

     … we have now reached the third stage in our history, and the true conception of our Empire. What is that conception? 
    As regards the self-governing colonies we no longer talk of them as dependencies. The sense of possession has given place to the sense of kinship. We think and speak of them as part of ourselves, as part of the British Empire, united to us, although they may be dispersed throughout the world, by ties of kindred, of religion, of history, and of language, and joined to us by the seas that formerly seemed to divide us. 

    But the British Empire is not confined to the self-governing colonies and the United Kingdom. It includes a much greater area, a much more numerous population in tropical climes, where no considerable European settlement is possible, and where the native population must always outnumber the white inhabitants …

    Here also the sense of possession has given way to a different sentiment – the sense of obligation. We feel now that our rule over these territories can only be justified if we can show that it adds to the happiness and prosperity of the people …

    In carrying out this work of civilization we are fulfilling what I believe to be our national mission, and we are finding scope for the exercise of those faculties and qualities which have made us a great governing race …

    No doubt, in the first instance, when those conquests have been made, there has been bloodshed, there has been loss of life among the native populations, loss of still more precious lives among those who have been sent out to bring these countries into some kind of disciplined order [but] …

    You cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs; you cannot destroy the practices of barbarism, of slavery, of superstition, which for centuries have desolated the interior of Africa, without the use of force …

    Great is the task, great is the responsibility, but great is the honour: and I am convinced that the conscience and the spirit of the country will rise to the height of its obligations, and that we shall have the strength to fulfil the mission which our history and our national character have imposed upon us. … the tendency of the time is to throw all power into the hands of the greater empires …

    But, if Greater Britain remains united, no empire in the world can ever surpass it in area, in population, in wealth, or in the diversity of its resources …

    Extracts from a speech by Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, at the annual dinner of the Royal Colonial Institute, 
    31 March 1897 

    *


    INTRODUCTION
     

    The Andalucían Shock ONE-WAY TRAFFIC 
    Globalization is often regarded as ‘one-way traffic’. In the modern age, we think of extraordinary advances in technology that allow us to connect in so many remarkable – and increasingly inexpensive – ways. 

    We can communicate verbally and pictorially through WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. We can talk to each other via FaceTime and Skype. We can search for recipes and the structure of the human brain through Google. We can purchase chicken madras and salmon nigiri over the internet and have them brought to our homes via local delivery services. We can stream music for free thanks to Spotify and watch our favourite artists and cat videos on YouTube or Vevo. We can download television programmes and movies to watch at our convenience. We can more easily pry into the affairs of the rest of the world (and, equally, the rest of the world can more easily pry into our affairs). 

    Seen through these technological advances, it is easy to believe that globalization is inevitable; that distances are becoming ever shorter; that national borders are slowly dissolving; and that, whether we like it or not, we live in a single global marketplace for goods, services, capital and labour. 


    IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT TECHNOLOGY 

    Technology alone, however, does not determine globalization, and nor does it rule out competing versions of globalization at any one moment in time. If technology was the only thing that mattered, the Western Roman Empire –among other things, an incredibly sophisticated technological and logistical infrastructure –would never have come to an ignominious end in ad 476; the Chinese, with their superior naval technologies, would have been busily colonizing the Americas in the early sixteenth century, preventing Spain and, by implication, the rest of Western Europe from gaining a foothold; the British Empire would today still be thriving, thanks to the huge advantages it gained from the Industrial Revolution; the Cold War – which ultimately offered two competing versions of globalization associated with an uneasy nuclear stand-off – would never have happened; and today’s ‘failed states’–suffering from disconnections both internally and with the rest of the world –would be a contradiction in terms. 

    Globalization is driven not just by technological advance, but also by the development – and demise – of the ideas and institutions that form our politics, frame our economies and fashion our financial systems both locally and globally. When existing ideas are undermined and institutional infrastructures implode, no amount of new technology is likely to save the day. Our ideas and institutions shift with alarming regularity. 

    Spanish conquistadors of the early sixteenth century – bounty-hunters hell bent on extracting silver from the New World, regardless of the human cost – would have been surprised to discover that Spain, at one point Europe’s superpower, is now one of the poorer Western European nations. 

    The Ottomans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – who had threatened to conquer Vienna and, by implication, much of the rest of Europe – would have been amazed to see how their empire, which had stretched from the Balkans into the Middle East and North Africa, completely imploded after the First World War (even if the seeds of its downfall were sown many years before). 
    Victorians would be shocked to find that their beloved British Empire – which provided the essential foundations for nineteenth-century globalization – had more or less disappeared by the late 1940s, by which time the UK itself was on the brink of bankruptcy. 

    Those many fans of the Soviet economic system during the 1930s Depression years would doubtless be astonished to discover that the entire edifice began to crumble following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. 

    SOUTHERN SPAIN 

    Even when patterns of globalization endure for many centuries, they can break down remarkably quickly, leading to dramatic changes in fortune. Consider, for example, the history of Andalucía in southern Spain, a story that veered from one seemingly permanent political structure (Islam) to another (Christianity) within just a handful of years. In AD 711, a Muslim Berber force travelled from North Africa across the Mediterranean to reach southern Spain. Six years later, and thanks to the Berbers’ defeat of the hitherto-ruling Christian Visigoths, Córdoba had become the capital of what was known as al-Andalus. 

    The conquering Moors then set about building their symbols of power. In 784, construction began on the Grand Mosque of Córdoba. By 987 – and following three further development stages – the mosque was complete. A truly remarkable building, it was designed above all to be a symbol of lasting Islamic dominance. Yet, following the defeat of the Almoravids by the Almohads, the centre of Islamic power later transferred from Córdoba to Seville, just under a hundred miles away. 
    Inevitably, a new mosque was required and, in 1171, it was provided: topped off by its minaret, known today as the Giralda, Seville’s Almohad Mosque was a marvel of the Moorish world. 

    For the citizens of southern Spain, it would have been easy to believe that medieval ‘globalization’ was ultimately dependent on the spread of Islam, a way of life which appeared to be intellectually, technologically and culturally much more advanced than anything Christian Europe had to offer. 

    Yet within a handful of years, Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula had descended into chaos. In 1213, following the death of the ruling caliph, his 10-year-old son took over. This inevitably triggered infighting among the grown-ups, each of whom jockeyed for power. Worse, the young caliph died a decade or so later without leaving a single heir: at a stroke, the ruling conventions of Moorish Spain had been totally undermined. 

    For the northern Christian kings, this was too good an opportunity to miss. By 1236, they had taken control of Córdoba. Twelve years later, they had their hands on Seville. Córdoba’s mosque was ‘converted’ into a cathedral, while Seville’s mosque was demolished (apart from the Giralda, which became a bell tower), to be replaced by what to this day remains the world’s largest cathedral. The ultimate irony, perhaps, is that Seville Cathedral  – or, to give it its full Spanish name, Catedral de Santa María de la Sede –houses the remains of Christopher Columbus. In 1492, the year in which Columbus discovered the New World, the Moors were finally expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, following the start of the Inquisition in 1478 (doubtless a surprise to the remaining Moors: after all, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition…). By then, Islamic power was being consolidated farther east. 


    AFTER COLUMBUS 

    Columbus had inadvertently discovered a new Western European-led and mostly Christian path towards global political and economic expansion. The next five hundred years witnessed the increasing dominance of so-called Western powers: either those based in Europe or those whose new populations were mostly sourced from Europe. And while these powers were often in conflict with each other, they all ultimately shared the same view of the rest of the world: it was there to be discovered, exploited and colonized for their individual and collective benefit. 
    It was the beginning of what might loosely be described as ‘post-Columbus’ globalization. 

    Yet while there were attempts to create lasting stability –ranging from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 through to the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15 – post-Columbus globalization was always vulnerable to imperial rivalries. 

    For a while, the British Empire, in all its pomp, appeared to provide an answer: its enthusiasm for free trade – enforced by the long arm of the Royal Navy – opened up a remarkable web of commercial connections worldwide. 

    Other nations, however, understandably wanted their share of the spoils, most obviously the Russians in the nineteenth century and the Germans in the first half of the twentieth. Eventually – and, in hindsight, inevitably – post-Columbus globalization collapsed, to be replaced by war, revolution and isolationism. 

    Only after the Second World War was it able to re-emerge, albeit under the shadow of the Cold War. This time the US was, in effect, both globalization’s leading architect and its main sponsor, even if Washington now rejected the empire-building it had partly sponsored during the nineteenth century. 

    The emergence of the US as the world’s dominant superpower was, in many ways, the apotheosis of post-Columbus globalization, signalling the triumph of Western liberal democratic values and free-market capitalism. 

    At the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, post-Columbus globalization is in serious trouble. Economic power is shifting eastwards and, as it does so, new alliances are being created, typically between countries that are not natural cheerleaders for Western political and economic values. There are signs that pre-Columbus versions of globalization – in which power was centred on Eurasia, not the West – are making a tentative reappearance. 

    The US is no longer sure whether its priorities lie across the Atlantic, on the other side of the Pacific or, following the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016, at home rather than abroad. Indeed, President Trump confirmed as much in his January 2017 inauguration speech, stating that ‘From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.’ 

    Free markets have been found wanting, particularly following the global financial crisis. Support and respect for the international organizations that provided the foundations and set the ‘rules’ for post-war globalization – most obviously, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the United Nations Security Council (whose permanent members anachronistically include the UK and France, but not Germany, Japan, India or Indonesia) –are rapidly fading. 
    Political narratives are becoming increasingly protectionist. It is easier, it seems, for politicians of both left and right to blame ‘the other’– the immigrant, the foreigner, the stranger in their midst – for a nation’s problems. Voters, meanwhile, no longer fit into neat political boxes. 
    Neglected by the mainstream left and right, many have opted instead to vote for populist and nativist politicians typically opposed to globalization. 

    Isolationism is, once again, becoming a credible political alternative. Without it, there would have been no Brexit and no Trump. 

    THE END OF POST-COLUMBUS GLOBALIZATION 

    In combination, these political and economic forces suggest that globalization, at least of the post-Columbus kind, is simply not inevitable. In this book – a deliberate mixture of economics, history, geography and political philosophy – I make six key claims: 

    • First, economic progress that reaches beyond borders is not, in any way, an inescapable truth. Globalization can all too easily go into reverse. 

    • Second, technology can both enable globalization and destroy it. 

    • Third, economic development that reduces inequality between nation states but appears to increase it within those states inevitably creates a tension between a desire for overall gains in global living standards and a yearning for economic and social stability at home.

    • Fourth the desire for domestic stability may be undermined by huge twenty-first-century migration flows. 

    • Fifth, the international institutions that have helped govern globalization’s advance are losing their credibility: rightly or wrongly, globalization is increasingly seen to work for the few, not the many. Creating new twenty-first-century institutions to combat this perception will not be easy, however, particularly given the potential clash in values between what might be described as Western democracies and Eastern autocracies. 

    • Sixth (and as the Western powers are belatedly beginning to recognize), there is more than one version of globalization. As US relative economic power declines, so other nascent superpowers will be looking to reshape the world around them in ways that serve their own interests and reflect their own histories. 

    If the Cold War was ultimately a binary rivalry, the twenty-first century is likely to see multiple rivalries, closer in nature to the imperial disputes of the nineteenth century. Indeed, President Xi’s speech in Davos in January 2017 only served to reinforce the sense that globalization is up for grabs. 

    There have been many cheerleaders for globalization, but ultimately my conclusion is that the world is most certainly not flat, and nor can it be. 
    Economics and politics are both heavily contoured and constantly changing, particularly so when borders are involved. And, as I argue throughout this book, we are all, in some sense, slaves to our own versions of history. For those of us living in the West, we have found it all too easy to claim that our own good fortune will continue and that, in time, it will inevitably spread far and wide. It’s time to wake up to reality. 


    POST-WAR SUCCESS, TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY FAILURE 

    Part One explains both why globalization was, for so many post-war years, a means towards rising wealth, and why, later, it seemingly became more of a curse than a blessing. As the twentieth century drew to a close, it seemed as though Western free-market capitalism and liberal democracy had triumphed. 

    At the end of the Cold War, it was easy to believe that we could all enjoy, to augment a notorious phrase, ‘peace and prosperity in our time’. It was not to be. Even before the global financial crisis, there were already signs of trouble: the crisis itself just made things worse. 

    Why, after so many years of rising incomes for the many, was globalization suddenly in trouble? Put another way, why did we ever think we had discovered the secrets behind ever-rising prosperity? What went so right in the years after the Second World War – a period during which economies became both richer and increasingly integrated with each other – and why did it all seem to be going so wrong at just the point when lasting success was, for many observers, seemingly guaranteed? 


    NATION STATES VERSUS GLOBALIZATION
     

    Part Two examines the inevitable tension between globalization and the existence of nation states. For globalization to work, nation states need to accept reductions in sovereignty for the greater good. But who decides what is the greater good? In the nineteenth century, the imperial powers shared out the responsibility. Some performed the role better than others. Yet none was enthusiastic about the rights of their colonial subjects. 

    Globalization flourished economically and financially, yet politically it was both unfair and unstable. As, one by one, empires collapsed, the twentieth century saw the nation state emerge as the ‘default’ political arrangement, thanks in part to the philosophical and practical support provided by successive US presidents (and, less helpfully, the arbitrary carve-up by the retreating imperial powers of the Middle East and Africa). 

    Nation states, however, sit uneasily with a globalized world. From Hobbes to Montesquieu and through to James Buchanan with his ‘theory of clubs’, it is not at all obvious that what might loosely be defined as the ‘national interest’ will always be consistent with the ‘global interest’. 

    Montesquieu, in particular, argued that a democratic nation would only survive if the vast majority of its citizens thought their interests sat comfortably with those of the state as a whole. If instead some of those citizens began to think their interests could more easily be pursued by taking advantage of others – via the exertion of political power – the ‘spirit of inequality’ would begin to undermine the social contract. 

    Yet modern-day globalization appears to be conjuring up exactly this spirit of inequality. Rising income and wealth inequality has not helped – although it is worth noting that, even in those countries where inequality of living standards has not really risen much (notably in continental Europe), support for globalization is waning. But of greater importance is, perhaps, the sense that ‘we’re not all in this together’. 

    In the modern age, the spirit of inequality takes many forms: the growing income gap among those countries that pooled their monetary sovereignty in the Eurozone; the absence of significant income gains for many millions of Western workers, even as a lucky few have become unimaginably rich; the extraordinary progress of the Chinese economy, thanks in part to China’s ability to attract investments by Western companies that might, in an earlier age, have created jobs and raised wages in the US or Europe; the increased competition in some –but not all –labour markets, thanks to the impact of both technology and immigration; and the emergence of elites, which too often appear to be deciding our collective futures to suit their own interests, whether we like it or not. 

    It would be wrong, however, to think that globalization is struggling simply because it sits uncomfortably with the interests of nation states. As other parts of the world have flourished economically, so competing frameworks for globalization have emerged, reflected in China’s desire to, in effect, re-create a Eurasian Silk Road and Russia’s increasing exertion of power in the Middle East. 

    New institutions are challenging the international status quo, including the fledgling Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank –backed by China – and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – ultimately a Sino-Russian entity which potentially offers not just closer economic ties, but also closer security ties. 

    In the West, we lazily talk about the ‘international community’, supposedly a like-minded collection of countries with similar moral and ethical outlooks. It turns out, however, that there is really no such thing. There are, instead, rival communities that, in difficult economic times, may increasingly struggle to agree on a common course of action, particularly given their very different historical perspectives and, in many cases, their inability to reach agreement on unresolved territorial disputes. 


    THE TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY CHALLENGES 

    Part Three uses the prism of the past to gaze into the future, focusing on three crucial challenges to globalization: migration, technology and money. 

    Globalization in its purest form would ultimately be a world without borders, without independent nation states, with the dominant institutions of government operating at the global level. In this – imaginary – world there would be free movement of goods, services, capital and people, precisely the ‘Four Freedoms’ enshrined within the European Union. 
    There would also be a single currency and a single central bank: with perfectly functioning markets, there would be no need for currency adjustment. 

    Already, however, we know that the European Union is struggling politically with two of its ‘Four Freedoms’, namely the free movement of capital and of people. The Eurozone crisis, in abeyance at the time of writing, but still unresolved, partly stems from Europe’s inability to cope with the consequences of the free flow of capital across its internal borders. The Syrian conflict, meanwhile, has revealed severe challenges regarding the free movement of people, particularly given the weak points in the Schengen area’s common external border. 

    Yet, relative to historical patterns of migration, the number of Syrian migrants entering the European Union has been tiny. If migration had a high point, it was back in the nineteenth century, when rising incomes in Europe, together with the falling cost of a transatlantic berth, paved the way for a mass exodus of people to the New World. Syria may eventually represent only the foothills of a twenty-first-century migration crisis. 

    In sub-Saharan Africa, where the infant mortality rate is falling more rapidly than the fertility rate, a ‘baby boom’ on a totally unprecedented scale is on the way. Alongside rising real incomes, we may be on the cusp of witnessing an extraordinary migration of African people northwards, across the Mediterranean to Europe –in search of a better life –whether Europe is ready or not. 

    Technology is often regarded as the key driver of modern-day globalization, largely through its ability to demolish barriers associated with distance, time and cost. Yet technology has a dark side. The use of social media is undermining existing political arrangements. Despite its name, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a classic example of a non-state actor that has been able to gain support via social media. The cybersphere has created opportunities for nations to attack and undermine each other in virtual reality. 
    Mainstream political parties – on either side of the Atlantic – have effectively been hijacked by mavericks (and their supporters). And, in many cases, the mavericks have succeeded by forcibly expressing their opposition to globalization on social media, while being economical with the truth. 

    Money, meanwhile, has become a means of conducting economic warfare, in a twenty-first-century version of coin clipping aimed at the foreign investor. For all the talk of central bankers kick-starting economic growth, monetary stimulus has increasingly ended up creating only winners and losers both within and across borders –a process that has served to create an even bigger gulf between policymakers and the citizens they are supposed to serve. 


    TECHNOCRATIC SOLUTIONS, OBLIGATIONS AND MORALITY 

    Part Four argues that many of the ‘solutions’ to the problems associated with globalization are simply too technocratic. 
    The decline of post-Columbus globalization is, in part, a reflection of its lack of democratic accountability. It is also, importantly, a result of what might best be described as a lack of global ‘leadership’, a reflection not just of an increasingly insular approach from the US, but also of the emergence of credible rivals in other parts of the world who –unlike Western Europe and Japan after the Second World War – see no reason to bow to Washington, particularly given America’s ‘pick ’n’mix’ approach to global values: not everyone, after all, enthuses about Iran–Contra, the Second Gulf War or the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. 

    Globalization’s demise, however, is not only about the return of global power games. Both before and (more obviously) after the global financial crisis, it has simply failed to deliver prosperity for all. 
    This reflects profound weaknesses that go far beyond market forces, even though market forces themselves have been – occasionally – incredibly destructive. 

    Obligations that we take for granted within nation states tend too often to be ignored across borders. How should creditors in one country relate to debtors in another? Why should taxpayers in a single country be on the hook for a bank’s global misdemeanours? What social rights should immigrants enjoy if they haven’t paid their taxes? In the absence of a global tax system, how realistic is it to demand that globalization’s winners compensate its losers, particularly if they come not just from different countries, but from different continents? 

    My version of the future is not quite as terrifying as that contained in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: there are no human ‘hatcheries’, no chemically engineered economic castes and no official promotion of hallucinogenic drugs to encourage a shallow and hedonistic lifestyle. 

    My story is, however, deeply unsettling. Many of the values and beliefs that the Western world embraced following the end of the Second World War are rapidly crumbling. In particular, we placed our faith in markets and technology, lazily assuming that, with the Cold War at an end, the rest of the world would embrace supposedly universal truths associated with liberal democracy and free markets. Yet many countries have done no such thing. 

    Worse, Western nations themselves are deeply divided, unsure as to whether they should carry on supporting international institutions and reaching out to the rest of the world, or should instead hunker down, opting for an insular approach that, even if initially seductive, has proved eventually to be hugely destructive. 

    The book begins, however, with Lincoln Steffens, a man who would have disappeared from the history books altogether had he not uttered a phrase that encapsulates our utopian tendency to believe that, within the right framework, human progress is inevitable. 

    *

    Part One 

    PARADISE LOST 


    1 FALSE PROPHETS, HARSH TRUTHS NEW MODEL ECONOMIES 

    Lincoln Steffens was one of the pioneering muckrakers. Hailing from California, he first made his mark as an ‘investigative journalist’ in New York in the early 1900s. He came to know everyone – from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson through to William Randolph Hearst and James Joyce. His chosen mission was to expose corruption wherever he found it. 
    In early twentieth-century America, there was no shortage of targets, with Wall Street, big business and municipal governments at the top of the list. 

    Steffens eventually became disillusioned with his muckraking efforts. Scandals typically led only to short-term reform. Venality, it seemed, was pretty much a fact of life, at least in the United States. Like other intellectuals of his generation, Steffens became increasingly fascinated by more radical approaches to political and social reform. If corruption was endemic in Western society, perhaps it was time for more ‘scientific’ solutions. 

    During a trip in March 1919 to what was to become the Soviet Union, Steffens thought he had found the answer. Unlike other fans of the Marxist-Leninist experiment, who chose to ignore the brutality associated with the embryonic Soviet regime, Steffens accepted that life in the ‘workers’ paradise’ was not exactly easy. Short-run ‘evil’, however, was a price worth paying for long-run ‘hope’. 

    So impressed was Steffens by the design of the Soviet system that, on his return to the United States, he famously proclaimed ‘I have seen the future, and it works.’ 
    It is easy to see why he was so enthralled. In the immediate aftermath of the First World War, much of the West found itself in the midst of economic and political chaos. The United States economy succumbed to an eighteen-month depression beginning in 1920, its citizens enduring both falling output and severe deflation. 

    Weimar Germany suffered from hyperinflation between 1921 and 1924, a consequence of the absurd reparation conditions imposed by the allied victors under the Treaty of Versailles. Bundles of Marks were carried around in wheelbarrows, and cigarettes became a more useful means of exchange. 

    Government debt in the UK had jumped from a mere 25 per cent of national income before the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 to a remarkable 181 per cent in 1923, triggering years of financial upheaval and austerity. The nineteenth century’s pre-eminent world power found itself, both politically and economically, in severe relative decline. 

    For a while, Steffens’claim seemed to be remarkably prescient. We now know that, between 1920 and 1930, Soviet living standards rose by more than 150 per cent, compared with gains of 42 per cent for Germany, 20 per cent for the UK and 12 per cent for the US. 

    Not surprisingly, many regarded Soviet industrialization under Lenin and Stalin as a near-miraculous process. Naive luminaries were totally seduced. In a letter to the Manchester Guardian published on 2 March 1933, George Bernard Shaw and 20 co-signatories angrily wrote: 

    Particularly offensive and ridiculous is the revival of the old attempts to represent the condition of Russian workers as one of slavery and starvation …We …are recent visitors to the USSR …Everywhere we saw a hopeful and enthusiastic working-class, self-respecting, free up to the limits imposed upon them by nature and a terrible inheritance from the tyranny and incompetence of their former rulers, developing public works, increasing health services, extending education, achieving the economic independence of women and the security of the child and …setting an example of industry and conduct which would greatly enrich us if our system supplied our workers with any incentive to follow it … We urge all men and women of goodwill to take every opportunity …to support the movements which demand peace, trade and closer friendship with an understanding of the greater Workers’ Republic of Russia.  

    Shaw and his fellow travellers presumably had not stumbled across the Gulag. Nor had they recognized that, in Stalin’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ ethical world, the best way to survive was to denounce others before they could denounce you. 

    Steffens and Shaw were far from stupid. Nevertheless, they were too easily seduced by the Soviet system, blinded by the iniquities they saw at home: corruption, unemployment, inequality, inflation and austerity. For them, capitalism had failed. The Soviet system provided, through their blinkered eyes, a vision of the future. It was not to be. Soviet living standards rose relative to those in the US in the interwar period –from 20 per cent in 1920 to 35 per cent in 1938 –only to return to 21 per cent in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. They rose again during the Cold War, reaching a peak of 38 per cent of American incomes in 1975, before falling to 31 per cent as the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. 

    The Soviet version of economic progress – the one that Steffens and Shaw believed in so passionately – just didn’t deliver the goods. 


    HOW THE WEST DIDN’T WIN 

    Still, it would be wrong to suggest that the proponents of communism in its various forms were the only ones unable to see clearly into the future. In 1909, Norman Angell published the first edition of The Great Illusion, in which he argued that, thanks to nineteenth-century globalization and the resulting economic interdependency, war between the major nations of the world would be futile. Many regarded his book as the best argument in favour of continued peace, and therefore concluded that war was simply impossible (Angell himself wasn’t so optimistic). 

    Yet thanks to the shooting skills of Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo five years later, it turned out that no amount of political or economic logic could prevent a catastrophic conflagration. 

    The First World War turned the world upside down economically, financially and politically. The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires disappeared without trace, while the British Empire began what proved to be its terminal decline. 

    Eighty years on, as the Soviet states began to crumble, Francis Fukuyama, the eminent political scientist, argued that: The most remarkable development of the last quarter of the twentieth century has been the revelation of enormous weaknesses at the core of the world’s seemingly strong dictatorships …liberal democracy remains the only coherent political aspiration …liberal principles in economics –the ‘free market’–have spread, and have succeeded in producing unprecedented levels of material prosperity, both in industrially developed countries and in countries that had been part of the impoverished Third World. 

    More than two decades after the publication of Fukuyama’s The End of History – both as a 1989 short paper and a 1992 weighty tome – its claims no longer appear to be quite so secure. The link between liberal democracy and economic advance, frequently espoused by Western politicians, is not so obvious given the rapid economic growth of China, a nation that shows no sign of abandoning its one-party principles. 

    Fukuyama himself now writes about both political order and political decay, presciently drawing attention to perceived fault lines in American society: The American political system has decayed over time because its traditional system of checks and balances has deepened and become increasingly rigid. With sharp political polarization, this decentralized system is less and less able to represent majority interests but gives excessive representation to the views of interest groups and activist organizations that collectively do not add up to a sovereign American people. 

    Certainly, the American people are today no longer quite so enthusiastic about activities on Capitol Hill. The proportion of Americans polled who have either ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in Congress dropped from 42 per cent in 1973 – when Gallup first asked the question – to just 8 per cent in 2015, an approval rating lower than for any other institution, including banks, organized labour, newspapers, the criminal justice system, television news and big business. 

    Liberal democracy may be a coherent aspiration, but in the US it seems there is little appetite for the current batch of democratically elected politicians or the gridlocked system they claim to represent: one reason why Donald Trump –political outsider, property developer and reality TV star – was elected US president in November 2016. 

    In what was a mostly conciliatory acceptance speech, Mr Trump stated that ‘the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer’. Why had they been forgotten? Why had they been left behind? For Trump, the explanation was simple: too many people had suffered as a result of free trade deals, Chinese competition, Mexican immigration and Islamic terrorism. It was time to reject globalization in all its many forms. 
    Trump’s answer was to build walls, both physical and metaphorical, to protect the forgotten people. 


    MR PUTIN’S POPULARITY 

    Outside the United States, it is far from obvious that liberal democracy really is ‘the only coherent political aspiration’ or that the collapse of Soviet communism has somehow proved that Western political and economic values are universal. 

    Vladimir Putin first became Russian president in 2000. After eight years, he ‘stepped down’ to become Russia’s prime minister under Dmitry Medvedev. Four years later, Putin was back in charge. By the summer of 2015, his approval rating was the highest it had ever been. Nine out of ten Russians thought favourably of Putin’s presidency, thanks in large part to developments in Ukraine. Specifically, 87 per cent of Russians were in favour of the annexation of Crimea, which just so happens to be mostly populated by ethnic Russians. 

    The West’s decision to impose sanctions on Russia only bolstered Putin’s popularity, even if the sanctions – alongside a collapse in energy prices – contributed to the Russian economy’s contraction in late 2014 and 2015. It is hard to believe that Putin’s many supporters are craving the imminent arrival of liberal democracy, despite their economic hardship. They instead appear to prefer their ‘strongman’, an image Putin chooses to reinforce by riding bare-chested on a horse or plumbing the Black Sea’s depths in a submersible off the Crimean coast. 


    WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ARAB SPRING?
     

    The hoped-for transition to liberal democracy in the Middle East and North Africa has simply not materialized. In November 2003, President George W. Bush – sticking to the End of History theme – told an appreciative audience at the National Endowment for Democracy that the US was: working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs …This is a massive and difficult undertaking –it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. 
    The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed – and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran – that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic … 

    *
    from

    Grave New World. The end of Globalisation, the return of History

    by

    Stephen D. King.

    get it at Amazon.com 

    Dispatches, A War Correspondent’s Vietnam Story  – Michael Herr. 

    BREATHING IN 
    There was a map of Vietnam on the wall of my apartment in Saigon and some nights, coming back late to the city, I’d lie out on my bed and look at it, too tired to do anything more than just get my boots off. 

    That map was a marvel, especially now that it wasn’t real any more. For one thing, it was very old. It had been left there years before by another tenant, probably a Frenchman, since the map had been made in Paris. The paper had buckled in its frame after years in the wet Saigon heat, laying a kind of veil over the countries it depicted. Vietnam was divided into its older territories of Tonkin, Annam and Cochin China, and to the west past Laos and Cambodge sat Siam, a kingdom. 

    That’s old, I’d tell visitors, that’s a really old map. If dead ground could come back and haunt you the way dead people do, they’d have been able to mark my map CURRENT and burn the ones they’d been using since ’64, but count on it, nothing like that was going to happen. 

    It was late ’67 now, even the most detailed maps didn’t reveal much any more; reading them was like trying to read the faces of the Vietnamese, and that was like trying to read the wind. We knew that the uses of most information were flexible, different pieces of ground told different stories to different people. 

    We also knew that for years now there had been no country here but the war. The Mission was always telling us about VC units being engaged and wiped out and then reappearing a month later in full strength, there was nothing very spooky about that, but when we went up against his terrain we usually took it definitively, and even if we didn’t keep it you could always see that we’d at least been there. 
    At the end of my first week in-country I met an information officer in the headquarters of the 25th Division at Cu Chi who showed me on his map and then from his chopper what they’d done to the Ho Bo Woods, the vanished Ho Bo Woods, taken off by giant Rome ploughs and chemicals and long, slow fire, wasting hundreds of acres of cultivated plantation and wild forest alike, ‘denying the enemy valuable resources and cover’. 

    It had been part of his job for nearly a year now to tell people about that operation; correspondents, touring congressmen, movie stars, corporation presidents, staff officers from half the armies in the world, and he still couldn’t get over it. It seemed to be keeping him young, his enthusiasm made you feel that even the letters he wrote home to his wife were full of it, it really showed what you could do if you had the know-how and the hardware. 

    And if in the months following that operation incidences of enemy activity in the larger area of War Zone C had increased ‘significantly’, and American losses had doubled and then doubled again, none of it was happening in any damn Ho Bo Woods, you’d better believe it . . . 

    Going out at night the medics gave you pills, Dexedrine breath like dead snakes kept too long in a jar. I never saw the need for them myself, a little contact or anything that even sounded like contact would give me more speed than I could bear. Whenever I heard something outside of our clenched little circle I’d practically flip, hoping to God that I wasn’t the only one who’d noticed it. A couple of rounds fired off in the dark a kilometre away and the Elephant would be there kneeling in my chest, sending me down into my boots for a breath. 

    Once I thought I saw a light moving in the jungle and I caught myself just under a whisper saying, ‘I’m not ready for this, I’m not ready for this.’ That’s when I decided to drop it and do something else with my nights. And I wasn’t going out like the night ambushers did, or the Lurps, long-range recon patrollers who did it night after night for weeks and months, creeping up on VC base camps or around moving columns of North Vietnamese. 

    I was living too close to my bones as it was, all I had to do was accept it. Anyway, I’d save the pills for later, for Saigon and the awful depressions I always had there. 
    I knew one 4th Division Lurp who took his pills by the fistful, downs from the left pocket of his tiger suit and ups from the right, one to cut the trail for him and the other to send him down it. He told me that they cooled things out just right for him, that he could see that old jungle at night like he was looking at it through a starlight scope. ‘They sure give you the range,’ he said. 

    This was his third tour. In 1965 he’d been the only survivor in a platoon of the Cav wiped out going into the la Drang Valley. In ’66 he’d come back with the Special Forces and one morning after an ambush he’d hidden under the bodies of his team while the VC walked all around them with knives, making sure. They stripped the bodies of their gear, the berets too, and finally went away, laughing. 

    After that, there was nothing left for him in the war except the Lurps. ‘I just can’t hack it back in the world,’ he said. He told me that after he’d come back home the last time he would sit in his room all day, and sometimes he’d stick a hunting rifle out the window, leading people and cars as they passed his house until the only feeling he was aware of was all up in the tip of that one finger. ‘ It used to put my folks real uptight,’ he said. 

    But he put people uptight here too, even here. ‘No man, I’m sorry, he’s just too crazy for me,’ one of the men in his team said. ‘All’s you got to do is look in his eyes, that’s the whole fucking story right there.’‘ Yeah, but you better do it quick, ’someone else said. ‘I mean, you don’t want to let him catch you at it.’ But he always seemed to be watching for it, I think he slept with his eyes open, and I was afraid of him anyway. 
    All I ever managed was one quick look in, and that was like looking at the floor of an ocean. He wore a gold earring and a headband torn from a piece of camouflage parachute material, and since nobody was about to tell him to get his hair cut it fell below his shoulders, covering a thick purple scar. Even at division he never went anywhere without at least a .45 and a knife, and he thought I was a freak because I wouldn’t carry a weapon. 

    ‘Didn’t you ever meet a reporter before?’ I asked him. ‘Tits on a bull,’ he said. ‘Nothing personal.’ But what a story he told me, as one-pointed and resonant as any war story I ever heard, it took me a year to understand it: 
    ‘Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened.’ I waited for the rest, but it seemed not to be that kind of story; when I asked him what had happened he just looked like he felt sorry for me, fucked if he’d waste time telling stories to anyone dumb as I was. His face was all painted up for the night walking now like a bad hallucination, not like the painted faces I’d seen in San Francisco only a few weeks before, the other extreme of the same theatre. 

    In the coming hours he’d stand as faceless and quiet in the jungle as a fallen tree, and God help his opposite numbers unless they had at least half a squad along, he was a good killer, one of our best. 

    The rest of his team were gathered outside the tent, set a little apart from the other division units, with its own Lurp-designated latrine and its own exclusive freeze-dry rations, three-star war food, the same chop they sold at Abercrombie & Fitch. 

    The regular division troops would almost shy off the path when they passed the area on their way to and from the mess tent. No matter how toughened up they became in the war, they still looked innocent compared to the Lurps. When the team had grouped they walked in a file down the hill to the lz across the strip to the perimeter and into the treeline.

    I never spoke to him again, but I saw him. When they came back in the next morning he had a prisoner with him, blindfolded and with his elbows bound sharply behind him. The Lurp area would definitely be off limits during the interrogation, and anyway, I was already down at the strip waiting for a helicopter to come and take me out of there. 

    ‘Hey what’re you guys, with the USO? Aw, we thought you was with the USO ’cause your hair’s so long.’ Page took the kid’s picture, I got the words down and Flynn laughed and told him we were the Rolling Stones. The three of us travelled around together for about a month that summer. 

    At one lz the brigade chopper came in with a real foxtail hanging off the aerial, when the commander walked by us he almost took an infarction. ‘Don’t you men salute officers?’‘ We’re not men,’ Page said. ‘We’re correspondents.’ When the commander heard that, he wanted to throw a spontaneous operation for us, crank up his whole brigade and get some people killed. We had to get out on the next chopper to keep him from going ahead with it, amazing what some of them would do for a little ink. 

    Page liked to augment his field gear with freak paraphernalia, scarves and beads, plus he was English, guys would stare at him like he’d just come down from a wall on Mars. Sean Flynn could look more incredibly beautiful than even his father, Errol, had thirty years before as Captain Blood, but sometimes he looked more like Artaud coming out of some heavy heart-of-darkness trip, overloaded on the information, the input! The input! He’d give off a bad sweat and sit for hours, combing his moustache through with the saw blade of his Swiss Army knife. 

    We packed grass and tape: ‘Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing in the Shadows’, Best of the Animals, Strange Days, ‘Purple Haze’, Archie Bell and the Drells, ‘C’mon now everybody, do the Tighten Up . . .’

    Once in a while we’d catch a chopper straight into one of the lower hells, but it was a quiet time in the war, mostly it was lz’s and camps, grunts hanging around, faces, stories. ‘Best way’s to just keep moving,’ one of them told us. ‘Just keep moving, stay in motion, you know what I’m saying?’ 

    We knew. He was a moving-target-survivor subscriber, a true child of the war, because except for the rare times when you were pinned or stranded the system was geared to keep you mobile, if that was what you thought you wanted. As a technique for staying alive it seemed to make as much sense as anything, given naturally that you were there to begin with and wanted to see it close; it started out sound and straight but it formed a cone as it progressed, because the more you moved the more you saw, the more you saw the more besides death and mutilation you risked, and the more you risked of that the more you would have to let go of one day as a ‘survivor’. 

    Some of us moved around the war like crazy people until we couldn’t see which way the run was even taking us any more, only the war all over its surface with occasional, unexpected penetration. As long as we could have choppers like taxis it took real exhaustion or depression, near shock or a dozen pipes of opium to keep us even apparently quiet, we’d still be running around inside our skins like something was after us, ha ha, La Vida Loca. 

    In the months after I got back the hundreds of helicopters I’d flown in began to draw together until they’d formed a collective meta-chopper, and in my mind it was the sexiest thing going; saver-destroyer, provider-waster, right hand-left hand, nimble, fluent, canny and human; hot steel, grease, jungle-saturated canvas webbing, sweat cooling and warming up again, cassette rock and roll in one ear and door-gun fire in the other, fuel, heat, vitality and death, death itself, hardly an intruder. 

    Men on the crews would say that once you’d carried a dead person he would always be there, riding with you. Like all combat people they were incredibly superstitious and invariably self-dramatic, but it was (I knew) unbearably true and close exposure to the dead sensitized you to the force of their presence and made for long reverberations; long. Some people were so delicate that one look was enough to wipe them away, but even bone-dumb grunts seemed to feel that something weird and extra was happening to them. 

    Helicopters and people jumping out of helicopters, people so in love they’d run to get on even when there wasn’t any pressure. Choppers rising straight out of small cleared jungle spaces, wobbling down on to city rooftops, cartons of rations and ammunition thrown off, dead and wounded loaded on. Sometimes they were so plentiful and loose that you could touch down at five or six places in a day, look around, hear the talk, catch the next one out. 

    There were installations as big as cities with 30,000 citizens, once we dropped in to feed supply to one man. God knows what kind of Lord Jim phoenix numbers he was doing in there, all he said to me was, ‘You didn’t see a thing, right Chief? You weren’t even here.’ 

    There were posh fat air-conditioned camps like comfortable middle-class scenes with the violence tacit, ‘far away’; camps named for commanders’ wives LZ Thelma, LZ Betty Lou; number-named hilltops in trouble where I didn’t want to stay; trail, paddy, swamp, deep hairy bush, scrub, swale, village, even city, where the ground couldn’t drink up what the action spilled, it made you careful where you walked.

    Sometimes the chopper you were riding in would top a hill and all the ground in front of you as far as the next hill would be charred and pitted and still smoking, and something between your chest and your stomach would turn over. Frail grey smoke where they’d burned off the rice fields around a free-strike zone, brilliant white smoke from phosphorus (‘Willy Peter/ Make you a buh liever’), deep black smoke from ’palm –they said that if you stood at the base of a column of napalm smoke it would suck the air right out of your lungs. 

    Once we fanned over a little village that had just been airstruck and the words of a song by Wingy Manone that I’d heard when I was a few years old snapped into my head, ‘Stop the War, These Cats Is Killing Themselves’. Then we dropped, hovered, settled down into purple lz smoke, dozens of children broke from their hootches to run in towards the focus of our landing, the pilot laughing and saying, ‘Vietnam, man. Bomb ’em and feed ’em, bomb ’em and feed ’em.’ 

    Flying over jungle was almost pure pleasure, doing it on foot was nearly all pain. I never belonged in there. Maybe it really was what its people had always called it, Beyond; at the very least it was serious, I gave up things to it I probably never got back. (‘Aw, jungle’s okay. If you know her you can live in her real good, if you don’t she’ll take you down in an hour. Under.’) 

    Once in some thick jungle corner with some grunts standing around, a correspondent said, ‘Gee, you must really see some beautiful sunsets in here, ’and they almost pissed themselves laughing. But you could fly up and into hot tropic sunsets that would change the way you thought about light for ever. You could also fly out of places that were so grim they turned to black and white in your head five minutes after you’d gone. 

    That could be the coldest one in the world, standing at the edge of a clearing watching the chopper you’d just come in on take off again, leaving you there to think about what it was going to be for you now: if this was a bad place, the wrong place, maybe even the last place, and whether you’d made a terrible mistake this time. 

    There was a camp at Soc Trang where a man at the lz said, ‘If you come looking for a story this is your lucky day, we got Condition Red here,’ and before the sound of the chopper had faded out, I knew I had it too. ‘That’s affirmative, ’the camp commander said, ‘we are definitely expecting rain. Glad to see you.’ He was a young captain, he was laughing and taping a bunch of sixteen clips together bottom to bottom for faster reloading, ‘grease’. 

    Everyone there was busy at it, cracking crates, squirrelling away grenades, checking mortar pieces, piling rounds, clocking banana clips into automatic weapons that I’d never even seen before. They were wired into their listening posts out around the camp, into each other, into themselves, and when it got dark it got worse. 

    The moon came up nasty and full, a fat moist piece of decadent fruit. It was soft and saffron-misted when you looked up at it, but its light over the sandbags and into the jungle was harsh and bright. 

    We were all rubbing Army-issue nightfighter cosmetic under our eyes to cut the glare and the terrible things it made you see. (Around midnight, just for something to do, I crossed to the other perimeter and looked at the road running engineer-straight towards Route 4 like a yellow frozen ribbon out of sight and I saw it move, the whole road.) There were a few sharp arguments about who the light really favoured, attackers or defenders, men were sitting around with Cinemascope eyes and jaws stuck out like they could shoot bullets, moving and antsing and shifting around inside their fatigues. 

    ‘No sense us getting too relaxed, Charlie don’t relax, just when you get good and comfortable is when he comes over and takes a giant shit on you.’ That was the level until morning, I smoked a pack an hour all night long, and nothing happened. Ten minutes after daybreak I was down at the lz asking about choppers. 

    A few days later Sean Flynn and I went up to a big firebase in the Americal TAOR that took it all the way over to another extreme: National Guard weekend. The colonel in command was so drunk that day that he could barely get his words out, and when he did, it was to say things like, ‘We aim to make good and goddammit sure that if those guys try anything cute they won’t catch us with our pants down.’ 

    The main mission there was to fire H&I, but one man told us that their record was the worst in the whole Corps, probably the whole country, they’d harassed and interdicted a lot of sleeping civilians and Korean Marines, even a couple of Americal patrols, but hardly any Viet Cong. (The colonel kept calling it ‘artillerary’. The first time he said it Flynn and I looked away from each other, the second time we blew beer through our noses, but the colonel fell in laughing right away and more than covered us.) 

    No sandbags, exposed shells, dirty pieces, guys going around giving us that look, ‘We’re cool, how come you’re not?’ At the strip Sean was talking to the operator about it and the man got angry. ‘Oh yeah? Well fuck you, how tight do you think you want it? There ain’t been any veecees around here in three months.’‘ So far so good, ’Sean said. ‘Hear anything on that chopper yet?’ 
    But sometimes everything stopped, nothing flew, you couldn’t even find out why. I got stuck for a chopper once in some lost patrol outpost in the Delta where the sergeant chain-ate candy bars and played country and western tapes twenty hours a day until I heard it in my sleep, some sleep. ‘Up on Wolverton Mountain’ and ‘Lonesome as the bats and the bears in Miller’s Cave’ and ‘I fell into a burning ring of fire’, surrounded by strungout rednecks who weren’t getting much sleep either because they couldn’t trust one of their 400 mercenary troopers or their own hand-picked perimeter guards or anybody else except maybe Babe Ruth and Johnny Cash, they’d been waiting for it so long now they were afraid they wouldn’t know it when they finally got it, and it burns burns . . . 

    Finally on the fourth day a helicopter came in to deliver meat and movies to the camp and I went out on it, so happy to get back to Saigon that I didn’t crash for two days. 

    Airmobility, dig it, you weren’t going anywhere. It made you feel safe, it made you feel Omni, but it was only a stunt, technology. Mobility was just mobility, it saved lives or took them all the time (saved mine I don’t know how many times, maybe dozens, maybe none), what you really needed was a flexibility far greater than anything the technology could provide, some generous, spontaneous gift for accepting surprises, and I didn’t have it. 

    I got to hate surprises, control freak at the crossroads, if you were one of these people who always thought they had to know what was coming next, the war could cream you. It was the same with your ongoing attempts at getting used to the jungle or the blow-you-out climate or the saturating strangeness of the place which didn’t lessen with exposure so often as it fattened and darkened in accumulating alienation. It was great if you could adapt, you had to try, but it wasn’t the same as making a discipline, going into your own reserves and developing a real war metabolism: slow yourself down when your heart tried to punch its way through your chest; get swift when everything went to stop and all you could feel of your whole life was the entropy whipping through it. Unlovable terms. 

    The ground was always in play, always being swept. Under the ground was his, above it was ours. We had the air, we could get up in it but not disappear in to it, we could run but we couldn’t hide, and he could do each so well that sometimes it looked like he was doing them both at once, while our finder just went limp. All the same, one place or another it was always going on, rock around the clock, we had the days and he had the nights. 

    You could be in the most protected space in Vietnam and still know that your safety was provisional, that early death, blindness, loss of legs, arms or balls, major and lasting disfigurement –the whole rotten deal –could come in on the freakyfluky as easily as in the so-called expected ways, you heard so many of those stories it was a wonder anyone was left alive to die in firefights and mortar-rocket attacks. 

    After a few weeks, when the nickel had jarred loose and dropped and I saw that everyone around me was carrying a gun, I also saw that any of them could go off at any time, putting you where it wouldn’t matter whether it had been an accident or not. The roads were mined, the trails booby-trapped, satchel charges and grenades blew up jeeps and movie theatres, the VC got work inside all the camps as shoeshine boys and laundresses and honey-dippers, they’d starch your fatigues and burn your shit and then go home and mortar your area. 

    Saigon and Cholon and Danang held such hostile vibes that you felt you were being dry-sniped every time someone looked at you, and choppers fell out of the sky like fat poisoned birds a hundred times a day. 
    After a while I couldn’t get on one without thinking that I must be out of my fucking mind. Fear and motion, fear and standstill, no preferred cut there, no way even to be clear about which was really worse, the wait or the delivery. 

    Combat spared far more men than it wasted, but everyone suffered the time between contact, especially when they were going out every day looking for it; bad going on foot, terrible in trucks and APCs, awful in helicopters, the worst, travelling so fast towards something so frightening. I can remember times when I went half dead with my fear of the motion, the speed and direction already fixed and pointed one way. It was painful enough just flying ‘safe’ hops between firebases and lz’s; if you were ever on a helicopter that had been hit by ground fire your deep, perpetual chopper anxiety was guaranteed. 

    At least actual contact when it was happening would draw long raggedy strands of energy out of you, it was juicy, fast and refining, and travelling towards it was hollow, dry, cold and steady, it never let you alone. All you could do was look around at the other people on board and see if they were as scared and numbed out as you were. If it looked like they weren’t you thought they were insane, if it looked like they were it made you feel a lot worse. 

    I went through that thing a number of times and only got a fast return on my fear once, a too classic hot landing with the heat coming from the trees about 300 yards away, sweeping machine-gun fire that sent men head down into swampy water, running on their hands and knees towards the grass where it wasn’t blown flat by the rotor blades, not much to be running for but better than nothing. The helicopter pulled up before we’d all gotten out, leaving the last few men to jump twenty feet down between the guns across the paddy and the gun on the chopper door. 

    When we’d all reached the cover of the wall and the captain had made a check, we were amazed to see that no one had even been hurt, except for one man who’d sprained both his ankles jumping. 
    Afterwards, I remembered that I’d been down in the muck worrying about leeches. I guess you could say that I was refusing to accept the situation.

    ***

    from

    Dispatches

    by

    Michael Herr

    get it at Amazon.com 


    The Failed War on Drugs – George P. Shultz and Pedro Aspe

    The war on drugs in the United States has been a failure that has ruined lives, filled prisons and cost a fortune. It started during the Nixon administration with the idea that, because drugs are bad for people, they should be difficult to obtain. As a result, it became a war on supply.

    As first lady during the crack epidemic, Nancy Reagan tried to change this approach in the 1980s. But her “Just Say No” campaign to reduce demand received limited support.

    Over the objections of the supply-focused bureaucracy, she told a United Nations audience on Oct. 25, 1988: “If we cannot stem the American demand for drugs, then there will be little hope of preventing foreign drug producers from fulfilling that demand. We will not get anywhere if we place a heavier burden of action on foreign governments than on America’s own mayors, judges and legislators. You see, the cocaine cartel does not begin in Medellín, Colombia. It begins in the streets of New York, Miami, Los Angeles and every American city where crack is bought and sold.”

    Her warning was prescient, but not heeded. Studies show that the United States has among the highest rates of drug use in the world. But even as restricting supply has failed to curb abuse, aggressive policing has led to thousands of young drug users filling American prisons, where they learn how to become real criminals.

    The prohibitions on drugs have also created perverse economic incentives that make combating drug producers and distributors extremely difficult. The high black-market price for illegal drugs has generated huge profits for the groups that produce and sell them, income that is invested in buying state-of-the-art weapons, hiring gangs to defend their trade, paying off public officials and making drugs easily available to children, to get them addicted.

    Drug gangs, armed with money and guns from the United States, are causing bloody mayhem in Mexico, El Salvador and other Central American countries. In Mexico alone, drug-related violence has resulted in over 100,000 deaths since 2006. This violence is one of the reasons people leave these countries to come to the United States.

    Add it all up and one can see that focusing on supply has done little to curtail drug abuse while causing a host of terrible side effects. What, then, can we do?

    First the United States and Mexican governments must acknowledge the failure of this strategy. Only then can we engage in rigorous and countrywide education campaigns to persuade people not to use drugs.

    The current opioid crisis underlines the importance of curbing demand. This approach, with sufficient resources and the right message, could have a major impact similar to the campaign to reduce tobacco use.

    We should also decriminalize the small-scale possession of drugs for personal use, to end the flow of nonviolent drug addicts into the criminal justice system. Several states have taken a step in this direction by decriminalizing possession of certain amounts of marijuana. Mexico’s Supreme Court has also declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use. At the same time, we should continue to make it illegal to possess large quantities of drugs so that pushers can be prosecuted and some control over supply maintained.

    Finally, we must create well-staffed and first-class treatment centers where people are willing to go without fear of being prosecuted and with the confidence that they will receive effective care. The experience of Portugal  suggests that younger people who use drugs but are not yet addicted can very often be turned around. Even though it is difficult to get older addicted people off drugs, treatment programs can still offer them helpful services.

    With such a complicated problem, we should be willing to experiment with solutions. Which advertising messages are most effective? How can treatment be made effective for different kinds of drugs and different degrees of addiction? We should have the patience to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. But we must get started now.

    As these efforts progress, profits from the drug trade will diminish greatly even as the dangers of engaging in it will remain high. The result will be a gradual lessening of violence in Mexico and Central American countries.

    We have a crisis on our hands — and for the past half-century, we have been failing to solve it. But there are alternatives. Both the United States and Mexico need to look beyond the idea that drug abuse is simply a law-enforcement problem, solvable through arrests, prosecution and restrictions on supply. We must together attack it with public health policies and education.

    We still have time to persuade our young people not to ruin their lives.

    *

    George P. Shultz, a former secretary of the Treasury and secretary of state, is a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Pedro Aspe is a former secretary of finance in Mexico.

    New York Times 

    Paradise In Chains. The Bounty Mutiny And The Founding Of Australia – Diana Preston. 

    INTRODUCTION 

    On July 2, 1792, the London Chronicle reported the arrival of one of King George III’s warships at Portsmouth on England’s south coast: 

    News from Botany Bay from His Majesty’s ship, the Gorgon. The infant colony is in greatest distress being in want of every necessity of life and by no means in that fertile state represented …

    The following were [among] passengers on the Gorgon. Captain W. Tench … Captain Edwards of the Pandora, upwards of a hundred men, women and children of the Marine Corps, ten mutineers from the Bounty and several convicts that made their escape from [Botany] Bay to Batavia in an open boat though the distance is not less than 1,000 leagues … 

    As well as informing its readers of the precarious state of the convict colony founded four years before, this short account also brought together three of the greatest and most dramatic stories of survival at sea. The mutineers were some of those from the Bounty who, after they had put William Bligh over the side with members of his loyal crew to make his celebrated 3,600-nautical-mile, forty-seven-day, open-boat journey to Kupang on Timor, had returned to Tahiti and remained there when Fletcher Christian and the hard core of the mutineers headed for Pitcairn Island. 

    Captain Edward Edwards, dispatched aboard the Pandora to hunt down the mutineers, had seized them on Tahiti and imprisoned them in harsh conditions in a dark roundhouse on deck that had become known, perhaps predictably, as “Pandora’s Box.” When the Pandora was wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef in August 1791, Edwards and the other survivors made a sixteen-day, 1,200-nautical-mile journey in four open boats to Kupang. 

    The convicts had “made their escape” from the penal colony in March 1791. They included—and some said were led by—a woman, Mary Bryant, née Broad. Their open-boat journey of 3,254 nautical miles from Port Jackson, modern-day Sydney, again to Kupang had taken sixty-nine days. 

    Here, in bitter irony, Captain Edwards had arrested them and shipped them home with the mutineers on the Gorgon to face trial. Captain Watkin Tench—referred to by the London Chronicle—was an officer who, with many other marines, was returning from service as one of the initial guards of the penal colony established in 1788. By coincidence, they found themselves aboard the Gorgon with the escaped convicts of whose fate they had until then been ignorant. 

    The ideas behind the penal settlement and the Bounty’s breadfruit voyage to Tahiti had a common origin: Britain’s attempts to exploit its discoveries made in the Pacific in the third quarter of the eighteenth century by Captain James Cook and others. At one stage they had been planned as a single venture—an idea only formally abandoned a week before the convict fleet’s departure. 

    The two stories would become further intertwined when, in 1805, Captain Bligh was appointed governor of the penal colony where in 1808 he would again suffer a mutiny. A verse circulating in Sydney would ask: Oh Tempora! Oh Mores! Is there No Christian in New South Wales to put A stop to the Tyranny of the Governor.

    Cook’s first expedition, from August 1768 to July 1771—the many objectives of which had included observing the transit of Venus—had owed much to the enthusiasms of members of the Royal Society—then, as now, Britain’s foremost scientific institution. Leaders in the “Age of Enlightenment,” they were eager to understand the mechanics and geography of the universe, the earth’s place in them, and the reasons underlying their own existence. 

    Cook’s voyage was also one of discovery designed to reveal more about the Pacific and the possible existence there of a great southern continent, and, in so doing, to assess the scope for extension of British trade, forestalling French, Spanish, and Dutch rivals. 

    He surveyed New Zealand and made the first European landings there and on the east coast of Australia, which he claimed for Great Britain and named New South Wales, after Wales in his homeland. 

    The impetus for British attempts to exploit these discoveries was the American War of Independence and the subsequent loss of the American colonies. Britain no longer had priority in its trade with its former colonies, compelling it to seek new markets. 

    A particular problem was finding a source of sustaining cheap food for the slaves on the sugar plantations of the British West Indies, to which breadfruit from the Pacific, which the Bounty was sent to obtain, was believed to be the solution. The British government had also been accustomed to transport to the American colonies prisoners convicted of crimes not considered to merit death but too serious to allow them to return to Britain’s streets. 
    After exhausting other possibilities, the authorities turned to Botany Bay in New South Wales as a destination, which also offered opportunities for trade and use as a staging post for British merchantmen in the Pacific. 

    These decisions had a profound impact on the region’s people. Earlier British encounters with them in the Pacific, and in Tahiti in particular, had already significantly contributed to the discussion of “the noble savage” and whether a society based on man’s inherent moral qualities had advantages over those ruled by laws imposed by religious and social hierarchies. These debates, and descriptions of the undoubted beauty and charm of the Pacific islands, gave a not entirely accurate and highly romantic view of them as a Utopian paradise, later sustained by the Romantic poets and later still enhanced by Paul Gauguin’s paintings. 

    The story of the four decades between the first arrival of the British in Tahiti in 1767 and the arrival of William Bligh in New South Wales as governor is as much one of outstanding characters—sometimes heroic, sometimes flawed, and sometimes somewhere in between—as of ideas and of clashes between cultures and societies. 

    At least as much as Cook and Bligh, the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks stands out. He accompanied Cook on his first voyage, enjoying the amorous favors of Tahiti’s beautiful women, and searched so hard for botanical specimens that Cook named Botany Bay after his and his associates’ efforts there. For forty-two years he was president of the Royal Society and he was the key figure behind the eventual choice of Botany Bay as the destination to which British convicts should be transported, behind Bligh’s breadfruit expedition and—sixteen years after the Bounty mutiny—Bligh’s appointment as governor of New South Wales. 

    Another key figure was Captain Arthur Phillip, the phlegmatic son of a poor German immigrant to Britain, who became a naval officer, spied for Britain against the French, and then served as the commander of the first convict fleet and, following its arrival in 1788, as the first governor of the penal colony. There he displayed remarkable even-handedness in his treatment of guards and prisoners and attempted, if not always successfully, to maintain good relations with the local Aboriginals. 

    James Boswell spans events first as a commentator on the early parts of the story, describing his conversations with Dr. Samuel Johnson on the virtues of “civilization” compared to life in a more “natural” state, in his attempts to join Cook’s second voyage, and later as the champion of Mary Bryant and the other escaped prisoners. 

    Influence was exerted and positions and promotions obtained through many interlocking circles. As the achievements of Cook and Phillip—both from poor backgrounds—show, advancement was not always dependent on wealth and privilege, though these clearly helped. Those with influence promoted those with whom they had previously served and found able and congenial. Family links as well as those of education were valuable. Freemasonry, with its emphasis (despite its rituals) on rationalism as distinct from mystic explanations, was at one of its high points—Cook, Bligh, Banks, Boswell, and others were masons. 

    Regional links mattered: Cornishmen were especially prominent in the Bounty and Botany Bay stories, while close associations between families in Cumberland and the Isle of Man influenced the aftermath of the Bounty mutiny. 

    People from the Pacific are also major figures. Purea, “queen” of one of Tahiti’s clans, not only seduced Banks but immediately recognized the potential of Europeans to assist her in increasing her power. Tu, one of her successors as the dominant figure on Tahiti, brought such ambitions to fruition, profiting from his closeness to the new arrivals to secure muskets and in the end their active help in establishing his dynasty as paramount in Tahiti. Omai, a Tahitian, eventually visited Britain as did Bennelong, an Aboriginal, giving a human face to accounts of exotic new lands.

    Jenny, a Tahitian woman, provided one of the few independent accounts of Fletcher Christian’s voyage to Pitcairn Island and his life and death there. Yet in 1767, as a British naval ship nosed through the reefs toward a mist-wreathed island, no one aboard or ashore could possibly foresee how profoundly both the Pacific and western worlds would change in the years that followed.
    The name “Australia” was first used by Matthew Flinders in 1804 on a hand-drawn map. 

    ***

    I “NO OTHER GODS BUT LOVE” 

    Forewarned by swift-paddled canoes from outlying islands of the approach of what they would recall as an “amazing phenomenon,” the tawny-skinned occupants of a hundred outrigger canoes peered into a bank of thick morning fog. Slowly the outline of “a floating island” propelled by divine power and inhabited by gods appeared, filling them with “wonder and fear”: HMS Dolphin, a 24-gun, 113-foot-long, 508-ton British frigate under the command of thirty-nine-year-old Cornishman Samuel Wallis. 

    As Wallis strained his own eyes, a sweep of jagged green peaks emerged through the drifting mist. At the sound of breaking surf ahead he gave orders to begin depth sounding. He, like all his hundred-fifty-strong crew, was exhausted after months of scouring the South Pacific for the fabled continent “Terra Australis Incognita.” 

    Ship’s master George Robertson described how the glimpse of land “filled us with the greatest hopes imaginable … We now supposed we saw the long wished for Southern Continent, which has been often talked of but never before seen by Europeans.” In fact, that morning of June 19, 1767, they had just become the first Europeans to reach Tahiti, the largest of an island archipelago in the South Pacific.

    When the fog cleared further the sailors lining the rails saw the high-prowed, thirty-foot-long Tahitian canoes festooned with red feathers racing toward the Dolphin through the surf, the islanders’ curiosity and wonder seeming to more than match their own. A Tahitian stood up in one of the leading canoes and hurled a plantain branch into the sea—unknown to Wallis’s men, a priest making a gesture of welcome. 

    Then as the canoes drew closer, “one fine brisk young man” leapt from one, seized hold of the Dolphin’s rigging, and scrambled aboard. Others quickly followed. Eager for fresh food, the sailors imitated the gruntings of pigs, the flapping and clucking of chickens, and the crowing of cocks. When the Tahitians failed to understand their antics the crew brought out the few turkeys, sheep, and goats they had aboard. The islanders had never seen such creatures. When a goat butted one of them from behind they all dived overboard in fear, one pausing to snatch from a midshipman’s head “a gold-laced hat.” 

    Slowly Wallis’s men coaxed them back, offering beads and nails. Aboard once more, the Tahitians explored the ship, seizing anything they liked the look of; in Tahitian culture a successful thief was considered to have won the protection of Hiro, a powerful god. With those still in canoes also clamoring vociferously for goods and beginning “to be a little surly,” Wallis feared the situation might get out of control and ordered his gunners to fire a warning shot from the Dolphin’s cannon. The islanders, who were ignorant of gunpowder, cannon, and muskets, fled back to the shore. 

    With lookouts posted at the mast tops to watch for surf breaking on reefs and changes of color in the bright water indicating shallows, Wallis began navigating Tahiti’s southwestern coast, searching for a safe harbor. He quickly saw enough of the 120-mile-long curving shoreline to realize it was an island and not the much-sought-after great southern continent Terra Australis Incognita (the “Unknown South Land”).  

    However, he and his crew were already struck by the “most beautiful appearance possible to imagine” of Tahiti, its “fine pasture land,” rivers, waterfalls, neat settlements with thatched houses “like long farmers’ barns,” and lush palm groves. 

    Watching from the shore, some of the Tahitians recalled a recent prophesy by one of their priests following the chopping down of a sacred tree during an intra-island conflict that newcomers of an unknown kind would arrive and that “this land will be taken by them. The old order will be destroyed and sacred birds of the land and the sea will … come and lament over what the lopped tree has to teach. [The newcomers] are coming upon a canoe without an outrigger.” 

    The islanders grew so suspicious that when a shore party commanded by the Dolphin’s Virginia-born master’s mate John Gore tried to land from the ship’s cutter, they attacked with slingshots. Though Wallis, following his Admiralty orders to invite local inhabitants “to trade and show them every kind of civility and regard,” had given strict instructions that the local people were not to be harmed, Gore fired his musket loaded with buckshot at a Tahitian warrior before ordering the cutter back to the Dolphin. 

    On June 22, the winter solstice in Tahiti when—of course unknown to Wallis—custom forbade canoes to put to sea, Wallis ordered the ship’s boats to be lowered to take further soundings, and sailors and scarlet-jacketed marines to go ashore to search for supplies and water. The marines fired more shots at islanders they thought were threatening them in what was only the beginning of a series of further confrontations over the next forty-eight hours. 

    The Tahitians, after unsuccessfully trying to put back on his feet one of their fellows hit by a musket ball, began to believe that the scarlet-coated marines squinting down the barrels of their muskets might be blowing into their weapons and named the muskets pupuhi roa—“breath which kills at a distance.” Red was the color of their war god, Oro, who used thunder and lightning to enforce his power. Thus the red-clad marines, with the flash and bang of their weapons, seemed all too likely to be Oro’s minions bent on avenging the islanders’ disrespect to their gods. 

    Nevertheless, early on June 24 the Dolphin’s crew, by now seeking a safe anchorage in Matavai Bay and having grounded the Dolphin once already to the amusement of the islanders, saw several large war canoes approaching fast. As well as men each carried young women who, standing on high platforms, performed “a great many droll wanton tricks.” These included exposing their genitals while their companions shouted and ch