The Racist Roots of Gun Control

Radical Critique . TRL . Articles . Clayton E. Cramer 
    Copyright 1993 Clayton E. Cramer All Rights Reserved. Electronic redistribution is permitted as long as no alterations are made to the text and this notice appears at the beginning. Print reproduction or for profit use is not authorized without permission from the author.

The historical record provides compelling evidence that racism underlies gun control laws -- and not in any subtle way. Throughout much of American history, gun control was openly stated as a method for keeping blacks and Hispanics "in their place," and to quiet the racial fears of whites. This paper is intended to provide a brief summary of this unholy alliance of gun control and racism, and to suggest that gun control laws should be regarded as "suspect ideas," analogous to the "suspect classifications" theory of discrimination already part of the American legal system.

Racist arms laws predate the establishment of the United States. Starting in 1751, the French Black Code required Louisiana colonists to stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat "any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane." If a black refused to stop on demand, and was on horseback, the colonist was authorized to "shoot to kill." [1] Slave possession of firearms was a necessity at times in a frontier society, yet laws continued to be passed in an attempt to prohibit slaves or free blacks from possessing firearms, except under very restrictively controlled conditions. [2] Similarly, in the sixteenth century the colony of New Spain, terrified of black slave revolts, prohibited all blacks, free and slave, from carrying arms. [3]

Revolutionary Hope: A Conversation Between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde

The Revolutionary's Library via Essence Magazine (1984) | by James Baldwin & Audre Lorde

JB: One of the dangers of being a Black American is being schizophrenic, and I mean ‘schizophrenic’ in the most literal sense. To be a Black American is in some ways to be born with the desire to be white. It’s a part of the price you pay for being born here, and it affects every Black person. We can go back to Vietnam, we can go back to Korea. We can go back for that matter to the First World War. We can go back to W.E.B. Du Bois – an honorable and beautiful man – who campaigned to persuade Black people to fight in the First World War, saying that if we fight in this war to save this country, our right to citizenship can never, never again be questioned – and who can blame him? He really meant it, and if I’d been there at that moment I would have said so too perhaps. Du Bois believed in the American dream. So did Martin. So did Malcolm. So do I. So do you. That’s why we’re sitting here.

AL: I don’t, honey. I’m sorry, I just can’t let that go past. Deep, deep, deep down I know that dream was never mine. And I wept and I cried and I fought and I stormed, but I just knew it. I was Black. I was female. And I was out – out – by any construct wherever the power lay. So if I had to claw myself insane, if I lived I was going to have to do it alone. Nobody was dreaming about me. Nobody was even studying me except as something to wipe out.

JB: You are saying you do not exist in the American dream except as a nightmare.

Radical Critique Annual Review 2013

Featured Paper Abstracts

Is Africa Merely an Effect? - by Cyril-Mary Pius Olatunji
There have been hot debates over the issue of colonialism in Africa and several theories have emerged from the debates. The Afro-pessimism of Achile Mbembe, the conceptual decolonisation theories and the African exceptionality argument of Kwasi Wiredu, the introspectism of Anyiam-Osigwe, the self-reliancism project, even the recently re-ignited slavery blame debate, the search for indigenous knowledge system, the renaissance project, are all efforts to explain or to confront the effects of colonialism on Africa. Much of these previous debates however, centred on the assumption that it is either true or false that colonialism or the postcolonial African political leaders have caused the present political and economic crises of Africa. Rather than merely taking side on the debates, this paper has approached the problem from a different perspective in order to address a much-neglected epistemological issue, by raising a fundamental epistemological question that opened up some other dimensions of the problem. 

This analysis challenges the discourse of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Drawing on previous research and historical literature it offers an in-depth discussion of the flawed contextual framework and fundamental problems of The New Jim Crow. It establishes that The New Jim Crow paradoxically excludes an analysis of mass incarceration’s most central and defining factors, its most salient, affected and revolutionary voices (especially the voices of African Americans), and shows how the book engages in a paradoxical counterrevolutionary protest that misleads readers about the context, causes and possible remedial methods of mass incarceration in the United States. In extension, it suggests that readers, students and would-be agents of social change move “toward détournement of The New Jim Crow," or, toward an understanding of "the strange career of The New Jim Crow"- and of it's associated writers.

9/11 Truth: How to Debunk WTC Thermite

The Revolutionary's Library via Dig Within | by Kevin Ryan | December 2013

The evidence for the presence of thermite at the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11 is extensive and compelling. This evidence has accumulated to the point at which we can say that WTC thermite is no longer a hypothesis, it is a tested and proven theory. Therefore it is not easy to debunk it. But the way to do so is not difficult to understand.

To debunk the thermite theory, one must first understand the evidence for it and then show how all of that evidence is either mistaken or explained by other phenomena. Here are the top ten categories of evidence for thermite at the WTC.
Molten metal: There are numerous photographs and eyewitness testimonies to the presence of molten metal at the WTC, both in the buildings and in the rubble. No legitimate explanation has been provided for this evidence other than the exothermic reaction of thermite, which generates the temperatures required and molten iron as a product.

Uncivilizing the PhD: For A Politics of Doctoral Experience

The Revolutionary's Library via RoarMag | by Bran Thoreau | December 2013

The road to a PhD is a common source of frustration. It is time to acknowledge and contest this experience as the outcome of a disciplinarian process.

As a faceless PhD student in a social science-y department, I repeatedly catch myself with the strangest metaphors to describe my research experience. The latest one is of academic work as a love relationship with a RealDoll: a lifestyle requiring sustained commitment and a rich (puppetry) skill set, to spin a tapestry of memories around an elegantly irrelevant act of masturbation.

The more I delve into this malaise, the more I become dissatisfied with the folk psychology of peer support inside a PhD community, with older students relating how their ideas got scrapped — sometimes beyond recognition — under the weight of what goes under the name of ‘constructive criticism’ (that, not unlike construction, requires a previous hollowing out of an organic soil to lay concrete foundations). These tales remind me a bit of stories of bullying in the army: we might all have been affected by it but, after the fact, end up looking back at it with some nostalgia, perhaps even a hint of gratitude, and rationalize it as a ‘formative’ experience. Lurking beneath the informal practices of peer support, however, lies buried a much deeper question of knowledge politics, and one that PhD students stupendously fail at engaging politically.

Noam Chomsky and the Willful Ignorance of 9/11

The Revolutionary's Library via Dig Within | by Kevin Ryan | November 2013

In response to a question at the University of Florida recently, Noam Chomsky claimed that there were only “a miniscule number of architects and engineers” who felt that the official account of WTC Building 7 should be treated with skepticism. Chomsky followed-up by saying, “a tiny number—a couple of them—are perfectly serious.”

If signing your name and credentials to a public petition on the subject means being serious, then Noam Chomsky’s tiny number begins at 2,100, not counting scientists and other professionals. Why would Chomsky make such an obvious exaggeration when he has been presented with contradictory facts many times?

I’ve personally had over thirty email exchanges with Chomsky. In those exchanges, he has agreed that it is “conceivable” that explosives might have been used at the WTC. But, he wrote, if that were the case it would have had to be Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden who had made it so.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how many professionals or intellectuals are willing to admit it. The facts remain that the U.S. government’s account for the destruction of the WTC on 9/11 is purely false. There is no science behind the government’s explanation for WTC7 or for the Twin Towers and everyone, including the government, admits that WTC Building 7 experienced free fall on 9/11. There is no explanation for that other than the use of explosives.

In Defense of Radicalism

In the present period few terms or ideas have been as slandered, distorted, diminished, or degraded as radical or radicalism. This is perhaps not too surprising given that this is a period of expanding struggles against state and capital, oppression and exploitation, in numerous global contexts. In such contexts, the issue of radicalism, of effective means to overcome power (or stifle resistance) become pressing. The stakes are high, possibilities for real alternatives being posed and opposed. In such contexts activists and academics must not only adequately understand radicalism, but defend (and advance) radical approaches to social change and social justice.

The first known use of the term radical is in the 14th century, 1350-1400; Middle English coming from Late Latin rādīcālis, having roots. It is also defined as being very different from the usual or traditional. The term radical simply means of or going to the roots or origin. Thoroughgoing. Straightforwardly, it means getting to the root of a problem.

Radicalism is a perspective, an orientation in the world. It is not, as is often mistakenly claimed, a strategy. To be radical is to dig beneath the surface of taken for granted assumptions, too easy explanations, unsatisfactory answers, and panaceas that pose as solutions to problems. Radicalism challenges and opposes status quo definitions-it refuses the self-serving justifications offered up by authority and power.

The United States of War: An Addiction to Imperialism

The Revolutionary's Library via Black Agenda Report | Oct 22, 2013 | by Solomon Comissiong
The U.S. is Number One is weapons of war and domestic civilian gun deaths – and very little else. Historically, peace has not been a priority for the United States, which has waged war every decade since 1776. “The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives.”

A common description for the term addiction is, “the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors…” This definition is most appropriate in regard to the world’s most destructive killing machine – the United States military. The United States government has long developed an acquired taste for war. And because much of the US population is completely obsequious to whatever their duplicitous government tells them, they, too, have become complacent to a perpetual state of war. Americans punch-drunk on nationalism fail to realize that “their” government is beholden to the interests of imperialism, not their general well being. Like well controlled puppets they chant, “USA number one”, over and over and over again, failing to ever question what “their” country is actually number one in.

Mainstream Journalists Expose 9/11 Hoax

The Revolutionary's Library via PressTV | Oct 19, 2013 | by Kevin Barrett

Seymour Hersh
Several leading American mainstream journalists say that the US government is lying about 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. Unfortunately, media owners and editors won't let them report their findings.

Recently, Seymour Hersh, America's top mainstream investigative reporter, broke the news that the US government's claim to have killed Osama Bin Laden on May 2nd, 2011 is “a big lie. There is not one word of truth in it.” 

Hersh went on to harshly criticize his long-time employer, the New York Times, and other big media outlets: “We lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” He said all big US media outlets should be shut down for lying to the American people.

The Corps of Capitalism: Volunteers for Free Enterprise

RadicalCritique.Org | via RoarMag.Org | by Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg | October 9, 2013

Far from alleviating poverty in the Global South, the American Peace Corps locks marginalized communities into a global web of capitalist exploitation.

The Peace Corps was never intended to be blindly altruistic. Rather, it was designed to be an interpersonal demonstration of the fruits of democracy and free enterprise.
The Heritage Foundation

On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed executive order 10924 which formally created the American Peace Corps (APC). Since its inception, the American Peace Corps has sent over 210.000 Americans abroad to 139 different countries with the intent of “promoting world peace and friendship.” Like many Americans, I knew very little about the workings of this organization. It wasn’t until I met a starry eyed graduate in Bangkok, Thailand who could only wax poetics about helping the poor set up businesses and take out micro-loans, that I felt I needed to find out more.

Dissecting Obama’s Speech at the UN: The Truth Behind “Core Interests” and “American Exceptionalism"

RadicalCritique.Org | via Global Research | by Larry Everest | Oct 2, 2013

On September 24, President Barack Obama gave a major address at the United Nations General Assembly at its annual meeting.

This speech came at a time of fluid change in the world and especially in the Middle East. Masses have risen up in their millions, seeking a way out. Different forces with different programs—including extremely reactionary ones—have been contending. Within all this, different imperialists—especially the U.S., the West European powers, and Russia—have tried to assert their interests and their will. This has taken outright military form, as well as intense political maneuvering. So this speech by Obama has unusual importance.

Is Homeland Security Preparing for the Next Wall Street Collapse?

RadicalCritique.Org | via Web of Debt | by Ellen Brown | Oct 7, 2013

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

ROOM 220: Is 'New Jim Crow' The Old White Supremacy?

The Revolutionary's Library via Press Street / NOLA Defender | by Gahiji Barrow | October 1, 2013

The New Jim Crow has captivated many Americans’ attention since it was published in 2010. Michelle Alexander has become the poster woman for ending the drug war and mass incarceration, for policy reform and for mass movement organizing. She wrote this book for liberals like her to alert them that this system—in which people are being targeted, criminalized, stereotyped to support popular complacent consent for criminalization, incarcerated, and then denied full citizenship upon release—is a legacy to the racial caste system that was Jim Crow. While this I believe to be true, I also believe that there is more to unfold in the story than Alexander has presented in her book.

Mining Your Life for Their Profit: A Behind-The-Screens Look at How Internet Giants Sell Your Personal Information.

RadicalCritique.Org | via In These Times | by Susan Douglas | September 29, 2013

With all the furor over the revelations about the NSA’s spying and its massive overreach in collecting our data, another big spying scandal has gotten less attention: the massive corporate culling—and selling—of our personal information to, basically, other corporations. We now live in the era of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Foursquare, where millions of us willingly share personal information, rendering old notions of privacy obsolete. And now, many are turning a blind eye as corporations become increasingly cavalier about obtaining the information we don’t actively volunteer. The lengthy, jargon-ridden nature of most sites’ privacy statements means that many people don’t bother to read them before clicking “accept.”

They Live Among Us: The New Enemies of Hollywood

The Revolutionary's Library via RoarMag / openDemocracy | by Marijn Nieuwenhuis | February 2013

As Hollywood responds to the crisis of global capitalism, it has become clear that we ourselves are the ultimate threat to the prevalent social order.

For the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, hegemony was not something that was necessarily attained through force or economic power. Gramsci instead wrote about a form of power that was more subtle and covert in nature: he emphasized the large role of cultural institutions which through ideologically impregnated imagery unconsciously shape our value systems. We not only give our consent to this process, but most of the time actually enjoy such experiences and are even willing to invest our time and a lot of money into it.

For a long time already, the cultural format that we seem to enjoy the most is the movie. The greatest promoter and financially most successful exporter of visual and symbolic imagery is, of course, Hollywood. The political success of Hollywood can be measured by its ability to universalize its principles onto the world at large. The military setbacks of American forces in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have not only proved that Hollywood is a cheaper means for obtaining global hegemony, but also makes us aware that culture is a much more effective and longer lasting instrument than any military complex could ever wish to be.

There has historically been little ambiguity in Hollywood movies as to who are the good guys and who are the ‘baddies’. Those with good intentions normally embody the universal principles of a right to life, liberty, and property. Those who are licensed to be killed are basically all those who for some reason or another disagree. The position of protagonists and antagonists are similarly often clearly located. The thin fictional layer of their identity can easily be exposed by their physical location or environment. Moscow was for a long time the seat of the Soviets. The Alps is the best place to find Nazis. The caves of Afghanistan are the hothouses for terrorists. All terrorists are, in case you wondered, indeed Islamic.

These fixed territorialized positions and identities have, however, gradually started to change in Hollywood movies. There seems to be an increasingly powerful idea that the real enemy lures within our midst, and that he (yes, the enemy is most of the time a male) once used to be ‘one of us’.

Old baddies die young

Successful movies (for Hollywood success is measured in dollars) have historically featured a ‘good guy/bad guy’ dichotomy. The other 50 per cent of the gender population is, as you know, often ignored or finds itself in dire need to be rescued. The message contained within these movies is watched by a historically unprecedented number of people scattered around the globe. Politics is, therefore, not only made by explicitly political movies such as, well say, The Battle of Algiers, Dr. Strangelove or Apocalypse Now. Batman and 007 instead reach out to billions of people who normally would not consider themselves as being political.

Much has been said about the fact that the 1990s and early 2000s were a difficult time for Hollywood. Studios had run out of ideas after the big bully in the East had been ‘defeated’. Russians were welcomed in a US-led world order (think for example about Armageddon and Independence Day, among others). The market for Nazi stereotypes had 60 years after WWII increasingly become saturated. Germans were shown to possess human traits (think Oskar Schindler) and could even be made fun of (Inglorious Bastards).

Arabs have since the onset of Hollywood already been vilified and are rarely (if ever at all) portrayed as the heroes in the way white guys are. The 9/11 events did not seem to have worsened the already existing institutionalized racism. The hijackings of planes had already been shown dozens of times before 9/11, and some of the hijackers are even claimed to have watched some of these very same movies for their preparations. If the good white guys (and the few good ‘gals’) of Hollywood wanted to make new blockbusters, new baddies were desperately needed.

The late 2000s seemed to have marked a turning point for the fortunes of Hollywood. The Avengers (2012) grossed over $1.5 billion USD,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and 2011) and the latestTransformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) follow suit. All three movies now rank very high in the list of the 10 best grossing films of all time. The latest Batman production, The Dark Knight Rises, and the return of James Bond in Skyfall complete the list that is headed by Avatar.

All of these movies (with the exception of Avatar) were part of a successful, existing franchise and thus enjoyed what marketing people like to call ‘synergy opportunities’. This explains, however, only partially their ‘marketable’ attraction and subsequent great financial success. The key here seems rather to lie in the evolution of the identity of the bad guys. Let’s have a closer look at the ways in which politics has infiltrated and shaped these movies. My theory is that the crisis of global capitalism has fundamentally changed Hollywood’s classification of judging who is good and who is evil.

The content of the movies filmed before 2008 seemed to have remained largely unaffected by contemporary politics. They instead follow neatly in the footsteps of their respective franchise traditions and were based on the struggle between the all too familiar heroes and their adversaries.Transformers: Dark of the Moon is based on Alan Dean Foster’sTransformers: Ghosts of Yesterday (2007) and is largely based in a Cold War setting. It brings back the well-known American themes of the right to property (think pretty cars and a lot of guns), the conservative pride that comes with patriotism (flags) and is filled with a good amount of Christian dogmas.

Talks about The Avengers (2012) movie adaptation started already in 2005, but the Avengers comic series made its debut already in 1963. The movie inevitably contains many elements (such as the S.H.I.E.L.D. law enforcement agency) that similarly are reminiscent of the Cold War period. The last Harry Potter, which is among the most expensive multi-film projects in history, is based on the book (written in 2007) with the same title. The themes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have a lot less to do with American geopolitics but do contain many elements that remind one of the infamous Nazi eugenics programs.

The identity and character development of the bad and the good guys was largely identical to movies we had come to expect from Hollywood. The viewers were constantly made aware of the fact that the movies were detached from a political reality by locating the movie outside contemporary political debates. The political themes in the movies, of which there are certainly plenty, are as a result rather predictable (and therefore easily) consumable. Viewers had for long been trained to distinguish the good guys from bad ones.

Jaime Bond and the Badman

The latest Batman and James Bond production were instead made after (or during if you like) the financial meltdown, and seem to a much greater extent have been the brainchild of their directors, who were closely involved in the realization of the scripts. The temporal divide also carries a distinguishable political dimension. It is difficult not to recognize the strongly embedded moral sentiments in the restyled Batman.

A lot has already been already said about the politics of Batman. The Dark Knight fights a heroic battle against the erratic masses who have taken hold of the streets of Gotham city. A revolution has brought Gotham to its knees. French Revolutionary-styled executions take place and the financial markets get robbed (but by the wrong kind of people). Fortunately the Batman is there to restore the natural human order of things in Gotham; something which proved to be impossible in Paris roughly 200 year ago. The aristocrat (not bourgeois capitalist!), played by Batman consequentially reintroduces the kind of peace and justice that wild neoliberalism had disrupted. The city is once again in control of Batman (or is it secretly Benjamin Disraeli?), and everything soon enough returns to its quotidian routine.

Nolan’s own political and literary influences are widely known – but what is perhaps more interesting is the real identity of his villains. The bad guys are no longer geo-politically from somewhere else (e.g. Russia, Germany etc), but are among our own. They are moreover not led by a Che Guevara-like figure (Bane), as suggested by some critics, but are rather portrayed as the victims of the hegemonic struggle between Batman and Bane. I cannot remember a single scene in the entire movie — forgive me if I am wrong — in which Bane is accepted as the legitimate revolutionary vanguard. Under Bane and his vicious mercenaries, life in Gotham is in fact worse than it was previously under the Batman. The masses are presented as the mere background (noise) to the real show-off between Batman and Bane.

The brutal violence and oppressive nature of Bane’s rule almost compels us, however, to forget that he is a mere pawn used by the real villain of the story: Roland Daggett. It is Dagget who represents the antagonistic vanguard, but not of the progressive kind. He is rather the exponent of an extreme form of libertarian capitalism. Batman and Daggett symbolize two alternative models for society. One is deeply aristocratic, moral, Christian and conservative.

The other is secular, (right-wing) libertarian, amoral and populist. This was a showdown between two rivaling fractions within the conservative political spectrum: the first is libertarian and sides with Nozick (Daggett), while the second is neo-Victorian and defends moral virtue, God and the nation (the Batman). In contrast to what happened during the French Revolution, the masses side not with the bourgeoisie but with the aristocracy.

In Skyfall we are witness to a different scenario — but the message is very similar. James Bond is not simply the sexist, racist and imperialist vanguard of the British secret services that we have come to be familiar with. The stylish protector of Victorian conservatism now finally admits to his Oedipus complex. His only long-term relationship with a woman is that which he shares with M (this time played by Judi Dench). This form of mother love goes perhaps a long way explaining Bond’s trademarkmisogynistic tendencies.

The only woman Bond loves is his mother. His relationship with M, head of MI6, has always been one of controversies — but never has it taken such explicit heights as in Skyfall. Bond faces stiff competition from the former secret agent and arch-anarchist Julian Assange (or Raoul Silva as he is called in the movie), played by the politically engaged actor Javier Bardem. Indeed, it looks like a very unhappy family (without an immediate father-like figure).

In Skyfall, Raoul Silva is, to cut a long story very short, the victim of M, whose ruthlessness is characteristic of a sovereign defending the interests of the British nation state (played by a porcelain Bulldog). Silva is out for the humiliation of M and perhaps a bit of plain revenge. He succeeds however in both.

In the role of Raoul Silva, Bardem not merely embodies Bond’s deviant brother, but in many ways represents a better and more progressive Bond. He clearly was and is the more advanced agent: confident, liberated from self-loathing, sexually more potent and in the end more effective than 007. The fundamental difference between the twins is their relationship with M. Silva knows that M is responsible for his suffering but Bond is naively driven by his sense of loyalty to (M)other.

This tension is resolved by Silva’s killing of M. Silva knows, better than Bond, who has caused his (and Bond’s) suffering. After Silva has settled his score with M, we are led to the final scene in which a visually released Bond is introduced to a male M (Ralph Fiennes) and reconnects with Eve Moneypenny (no longer an agent, but a secretary). Bond is now again under a male-led hierarchy. The paternalistic and conservative order of society is restored and Bond is now able to resume control of his life.

In both The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall, the enemy is thus increasingly portrayed to be among us. It is no longer a clear-cut ‘them’ versus ‘us’. ‘They’ are rather believed to live among us. This is also the theme ofAvatar (2009), which remains until today the highest grossing movie of all time. Too much perhaps has already has been said about the elements of imperialism and anti-Americanism in the movie. What perhaps has been less cogently argued is that we, the humans, are portrayed as the superior species and masters of our and others’ destinies.

The Na’vi people, meanwhile, are displayed as a kind, but ultimately helpless and disempowered humanoid species that ultimately depend on us for their survival. In other words, we are the bad guys, but that does not make the Na’vi necessarily the good guys. The Na’vi are incapable of overpowering and changing us (either by coercion or consent). The latter ultimately only happens because of human mediation. The conservative undertones are not visibly prevalent in the left-liberal Avatar, but it similarly clear that society is under attack by a force that resides within rather than outside of us.

Animate Corpses

The idea of an ‘evil within’ is the characteristic feature of the increasingly popular Zombie movies. Zombies display all the physical characteristics of human beings. Anybody could turn into a zombie. The genre has recently started to portray family members as dangerous zombies. Afamous scene of the Walking Dead TV series shows, for example, how one of the main characters (Andrea) is confronted by her ‘turned’ sister.

There exists genuine confusion as to whether the antagonist is actually really antagonistic. Andrea looks down and tries hard to discover a sign of her sister in the reborn undead. A couple of moments later she puts a bullet through her head. The emotional distance that we felt towards Giorgio Romero’s zombies seems to have become significantly smaller in recent Zombie movies and series. There is fact an increasing sense of emotional association with zombies.

The apocalyptic showdown with our antagonistic Other is anticipated to materialize in the aptly titled blockbuster World War Z (released later this year), which is based on the Max Brooks’ bestseller World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006). Zombies are in the trailer of the movie no longer the sluggish characters we know from the 1970s and 1980s, but are portrayed as possessing such a superhuman speed that they pose a credible threat to the existing world order.

The notion of speed has been argued to be important in the movie because it enhances and underlines the nature of epidemics. Other than their speed, the masses are leaderless and that is according to the author exactly what “makes them so dangerous”. The baddies are leaderless, fast and furious. These characteristics set them apart from the one-dimensional and slavish rioters in the Dark Knight Rises. It is easy to identify the zombie hordes with the global spreading of the protest movements around the world.

Brookes elsewhere argues that masses without leaders are “like a disease; no rationality, no middle ground, no negotiation, just sheer instinct to consume and multiply”. The conservative fear over the fate of the existing, rational and natural order of things has been the hallmark of successful Hollywood movies. The antagonists who destabilize the order are, however, no longer envisaged to be outside of the ruling system but are increasingly shown to be among us.

Facing the mirror

Hollywood movies show an increasing fear over a loss of order. Protagonists fight heroic battles, sometimes with themselves, to uphold values that no longer are self-evidently good. The identity of the antagonists has according to this shift (which I believe to have been caused by the on-going global crisis of global capitalism) evolved since the 2000s. The antagonist is, in contrast, no longer portrayed as being somewhere outside of the system but is increasingly imagined to be among us.

Hollywood is the product of the same universal values which it uses to distinguish right from wrong and good from evil. It is these values which seem to be under attack, not from outside, but from within. The challenge to the order is no longer fought abroad but is with accelerating pace epidemically infiltrating the fabric of ‘our own’ society. The virus spreads and infects standing citizens and even those we love most are not spared.

For Hollywood, it is not only that our families are under attack, but it has increasingly become clear that we, ourselves, are the ultimate threat to the prevalent social order.

Marijn Nieuwenhuis is a PhD candidate at the Politics Department of the University of Warwick.

Occupy Wall Street’s Battle Against American-Style Authoritarianism

The Revolutionary's Library via Fast Capitalism 9.1 (2012) | By Henry A. Giroux

"Only a humanity to whom death has become as indifferent as its members, that has itself died, can inflict it administratively on innumerable people."
--Theodor Adorno

The Occupy Wall Street movement is raising new questions about an emerging form of authoritarianism in the United States, one that threatens the collective survival of vast numbers of people, not through overt physical injury or worse but through an aggressive assault on social provisions that millions of Americans depend on.  For those pondering the meaning of the pedagogical and political challenges being addressed by the protesters, it might be wise to revisit a classic essay by Theodor Adorno titled “Education After Auschwitz,” in which he tries to grapple with the relationship between education and morality in light of the horrors of perpetrated in the name of authoritarianism and its industrialization of death (Adorno 1998).

Christopher Dorner:
The Defector Who Went Out With A Bang

The Revolutionary's Library via Black Agenda Report  (Audio File) | by Glen Ford
The ghost of Nat Turner did not descend on LA over the past week, although lots of Black folks imagined as much. Christopher Dorner’s fans “embraced his death-throe defection from the LAPD, and imbued him with qualities they wish were reliably available to the struggle: a Nat Turner, or a Spook Who Sat By the Door."
"Dorner is best described as a disaffected soldier in the ranks of the U.S. global and local Los Angeles occupation armies, who made his psychological break with the forces of racial oppression – or, was broken by them – only after having first been ejected."

Obama’s State of the Corporate Union

President Obama’s State of the Union address makes it official: the 2012 election has brought us back to 2011, when the outlines of his grand bargain with the Republicans became clear. In his vision for future,“austerity in people’s programs is traded for tax breaks for corporations that will, in totally discredited theory, bring back the jobs they had outsourced overseas.”
He constructs a phony trade-off for children, the poor and the elderly.”

It was an impassioned performance by a cynical politician who offers little but corporate tax incentives and continued austerity. Barack Obama peppered his State of the Union address with up-tempo buzzwords about illusory “progress,” but the president’s substantive message was that he is determined to complete the austerity bargain he struck with the Republicans in 2011. Thus, it is a sign of “progress” that “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances” – meaning, he will collaborate with the GOP in cutting almost $2 trillion more.

University of Arizona Hip Hop Minor
Isn’t A Joke, Just Irrelevant

The Revolutionary's Library via Vox Union | 2.14.13 | by Travis L. Gosa
"...the hip hop being endorsed appears wildly detached from the political history and goals of a discipline born out the 1960’s Civil Rights and Black Power movements. The language appearing on the department’s website makes clear that this version of hip hop excludes “stereotypical gangster and drug culture,” but it also excludes the radical politics of hip hop/Black Studies in favor of odes to multiculturalism. No mention of anti-racism or anti-colonalism; no references to Afrocentricism or Black feminism—this is the hip hop studies of Will Smith and MTV, not Rebel Diaz, dead prez, or Immortal Technique."
In an attempt to quell criticism of its new hip hop minor, the University of Arizona held a two-day hip hop conference last week.  The minor has been the butt of jokes by comedians Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert, while others fear that the corridors of academe will be transformed into a gangster’s paradise, replete with guns, drugs, and strippers. French professor and mastermind of the minor, Alain-Philippe Durand, has been busy defending the minor on campus and on the world stage, as critics accuse him of academic opportunism and dumbing down the curriculum. 

Prison Expansionism, Media, and “Offender Pools”: An Abolitionist Perspective on the Criminalization of Minorities in the Canadian Criminal Justice System

The Revolutionary's Library via Radical Criminology (2012) > Nguyen

Steven Nguyen
Carleton University, Canada
Graduate Department of Sociology 

Increases in prison construction under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government pave the way for an ever-expanding prison population followed by a persistently growing pool of offenders to ensure prison beds will be filled. This phenomenon of prison expansionism is outlined in Thomas Mathiesen’s (1986) classical text on abolitionism. Informed by Mathiesen’s argument of prison expansionism this paper will explore the role of mass media in conjunction with the criminalization of minorities which ensures a constant pool of offenders to supply the much-needed bodies for prison consumption.