My Theory Behind the New Westworld

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Since joining the blogging community six years ago, I have had the pleasure of reading many of the blogs out there, either directly or indirectly. One such blog and the subject behind this post, I came across indirectly via the blog Opinionated Man. OM often features guest bloggers and I have had the pleasure of being one in the past. In this particular case, it was a blog called Soren and Sons, who wrote a post about the new and very popular TV series Westworld.

For those who haven’t watched it, “Westworld” is about a rich person’s vacation resort where guests can go and live out fantasies of being in the Wild West. The hosts, as they are called, are robots who the guests can interact , kill and even have sex with. The series is a follow on from the 1973 film of the same name and based on many of the principals of the film. Links between the two are many. In the post, Soren and Sons puts forward many theories about the series, one of which turned out to be correct in last week’s episode. We found out that the Bernard character truly is a robot created by the character played by Anthony Hopkins, I can’t remember his name. Well done on that one! At the post’s invitation, I put forward my own theory about the show and the film and the host liked my idea to the point I was invited to expand on it in a blog post, which I’m going to do now.

“Westworld” had many story lines, which does keep you on your toes. My theory involves the infamous ‘man in black,’ played by Ed Harris. On the programme, we see this man in black roaming the fringes of Westworld looking for a maze. During his travels, we see him committing several grievous murders in the Wild West style. In the opening episode where he kills one man and takes a young woman named Dolores, who becomes a big player in a couple of the story lines, into the barn and it is heavily implied that he rapes her. Soren and sons’ post puts forward an interesting theory on that but I digress. The man in black seems to be letting nothing get in his way of achieving his goal of finding the maze. However, in the latest episode, we learn that in the past, he shot a young mother and daughter, (both robots), in cold blood to see if he was capable of inhumanity. He says, he felt nothing when he did that.

Ed Harris as the Man in Black in Westworld

Ed Harris as the Man in Black in Westworld

Now let’s go to the 1973 movie, “Westworld,” which I first saw when I was twelve, but I watched it again the other day. The movie is about a man named Peter, played by Richard Benjamin, who vacations in the resort of Westworld with his friend Bob who is played by a young James Brolin. Bob has been there before so he promises Peter the vacation of a lifetime. Almost as soon as they get there, Peter is confronted by a man in black, only this is a robot played by Yul Bryner. Peter kills the man in black in a saloon gunfight. After being repaired, the robot seems bent on revenge. Peter shoots him again in his hotel room. The big climax happens after that. Not only the robot in black but all the robots go off programming and begin killing all the guests. Not just in Westworld but also in Romanworld and Medievalworld as well. Bryner kills Bob and then tries to kill Peter who flees with the robot chasing him. To make a long story short, Peter eventually kills his antagonist by setting him on fire. in the final scene, we see Peter sitting on the steps while the film fades out with the park’s advertising slogan, “Boy do we have a vacation for you, vacation for you, you, you.”

Richard Benjamin and James Brolin from the film Westworld.

Richard Benjamin and James Brolin from the film Westworld.

The man in black, played by Yul Bryner

The man in black, played by Yul Bryner

My theory is simply this: Ed Harris’s man in black character is actually Peter thirty years on! His trauma from that vacation thirty years ago has effected Peter so much that he now has become so obsessed with the discovering that maze in the hopes it may have the answers to his experiences. Since his nemesis was dressed in all black, Peter now dresses in black as a result. Having experienced extreme violence first hand from one robot, he now dishes out similar violence on the robots he comes into contact with. That would explain his murdering the mother and daughter. However, he won’t be at peace with himself until he achieves his goal and woe betide those who stand in his way.

One possible plot complication to this is the fact that Ed Harris has revealed that in the real world, he is a titan of industry. In the film, Peter says he’s a lawyer. However, this does not need to be contradictory. We never know what kind of lawyer he is so he could be a corporate lawyer and in the thirty years, has risen to the top rungs of the corporation. Another possibility is that because the Dellos Corporation is so afraid of a lawsuit and in the real world there would have been many filed by the relatives of all the slain guests, they offer Peter a very cushy job within the corporation. Problem solved.

This is my theory behind the man in black in the TV series. I’m probably wrong but we will have to wait and see. There are further developments in line as it was revealed that the mother he shot was reprogrammed and now runs a brothel. She is now remembering here past. Before I go, there is one question about the movie that is never answered. We never know what becomes of the guest played by Dick Van Patten who becomes the sheriff of Westworld before the critical failure.

Dick Van Patten in Westworld

Dick Van Patten in Westworld

To buy He Was Weird, to to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480533340&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Need to Justify But…

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Justifying myself has been something I did constantly throughout my early life. The reasons were mainly down to people not understanding where I was coming from or taking something I said totally the opposite direction from what I intended. This is a common occurrence with those who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder and another reason as to why I think I’m on said spectrum. Then again, bullying came into play here as well. Either as an excuse to unleash or threaten violence on me, these people would intentionally misinterpret something I said or in the case of a third party, misrepresent or just simply lie to my tormentor(s). Often times, this feigned ignorance would be used as a source of amusement against me because I would find myself desperately trying to explain myself only for it to fall on deaf ears. I know now that many times, those ears were intentionally deaf.

hearing

Such an occurrence happened as a result of my post last week. Some who read that post on Facebook may have gotten the wrong idea about me saying that leaving America isn’t the answer to Donald Trump. In one case, I was asked if I were in Nazi Germany, would I have said to the Jews they should stay. My answer would have been no. Hopefully Donald Trump will not be anything like Hitler but if he is, then those who are the most vulnerable to his persecutions should flee the country. But if he’s not, then the best way to fight back against him is to stay and show your opposition to him, within the confines of the law of course. Yes, he may try to change the law to effect my last sentence but that opens up an entirely different debate which I won’t go into now.

Another stems from the what has become commonly known as ‘liberal intolerance.’ The premise that liberals and those on the left believe that they alone are right that they refuse to hear any alternative opinions from those considered on the right or conservative. What’s worse, is that the left begin calling these adversaries rednecks or stupid. Many of them are neither, they just have a view that you don’t agree with. However, I have seen and heard the same type of intolerance from the right. Once, when I expressed concerns about mandatory drug testing, I was called a ‘shit for brains drugger.’ When I pointed out that Sweden hadn’t fought a war in over 200 years, I was told to go live there. Furthermore, while the left called anyone voting for Trump a redneck, one person tried to dissuade me from voting for Jill Stein because the Green Party was socialist. Hey, they branded Obama that in two elections and it worked neither time.

One more point from last week: As predicted, the Democrats are blaming Jill Stein for Hilary Clinton’s defeat and are calling Stein a spoiler. Well, the maths tell another story. After the election a poll was taken of Jill Stein voters asking how they would have voted if she wasn’t on the ballot. Here are the results:

Only 25% said they would have voted for Clinton

14% said they would have voted for Trump

Most importantly, 61% said they would not have voted at all!

Proof that Jill Stein did not lose the election for Hilary

NOT!!

NOT!!

Since I feel like I’m on a roll, I’m going to justify myself with everything to get it all out in the open. In the past, with my Aspergers’ and DAMP tendencies, I have been afraid of doing so for many reasons. So now, I’m not holding back and while you might not agree with me on some or many points, I hope you will respect my opinions for they come as a result of experience and not because I read some book or attended a lecture.

I sit just left of centre on the political fence. This is in British terms of where the fence lies. In American terms, I would be seen as a Trotskyite, Marxist, radical, I’m not I assure you. Yes, I did delve into Marx in the mid 80s but I have long since concluded that it is a nice theory that will never work in reality.

Nice guy probably but his theory is unworkable.

Nice guy probably but his theory is unworkable.

Anyone can be a perpetrator or victim of racism. While it is true that most of it is carried out by whites against non-whites, it certainly doesn’t mean that racist acts carried out by non-white groups should be justified or ignored. Point: I’ve heard racial minorities say the same things against other minority groups that whites say. I’ve heard Africans call Asians ‘Pakis’ and Hispanics ‘Spicks’ and I’ve heard both of those call Blacks ‘Niggers.’ Pointing this out does not make me a racist. I think the only race we should all regard is the human race.

 I have no problem with anyone who follows a belief, philosophy or religion. All I ask is that you don’t try to convert me around to your way of thinking because I believe that that’s the root of the problem starts. Everyone should quietly live according to their own beliefs and not try to push theirs on anyone.

Having lived in two countries, there are things good about both of them. An example from each: The National Health Service does work in the UK. In the US, I see the benefit of lower or no tax on items such as clothes, food and petrol. Both countries do some things better than the other and vice versa.

I don’t think the US 2nd Amendment, The Right to Bear Arms will ever be repealed. I sympathize with the argument that it has become outdated but it’s been ingrained in the minds of too many Americans. In a post I wrote some months ago, I pointed out that there are plenty of gun laws in America to control it. However, these laws aren’t being adequately enforced. That’s just wrong, so let’s start by doing that.

Now to the First Amendment, which I have used pretty much throughout this post. You have the right to tell me you disagree with me, I only ask that you do it without hurling insults or calling names. Furthermore, I think that right wing extremists and Muslim hate preachers should be allowed a platform to speak their views. This way, most reasonable people can see them for what they are. The BBC did this successfully when they allowed Nick Griffin, leader of the far right British National Party (BNP) on Question Time. There’s hardly been a peep out of him since he was on that show.

This is me for all to see. I don’t need to justify myself and in the future, if you should read something you don’t agree with or are not clear on, just ask.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479840352&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

Note to Trump Haters- Leaving Is Not the Answer

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Now that the US election is finally over and Donald Trump will be the next president, (I voted for Jill Stein), I am now taking time to reflect on reactions and possibilities resulting from Trump’s election. One thing that has caught my attention and amused me is the amount of people who now want to leave the US because they don’t like the fact that Trump was elected. Even my sister joked about emigrating to Australia. All the talk about people leaving the country has brought back something from my past and now I feel the need to share it.

Green Party Candidate Jill Stein

Green Party Candidate Jill Stein

Thirty years ago, I was a rather angry young man. Experiences after coming out of the marines left me with the feeling that I had given America the four best years of my life only for America to give me nothing but heartache in return. The final straw came when I was went to England to study at the University of London for a year. I had been in college for about two months when the Veteran’s Administration informed me that my course of study wasn’t approved and they weren’t going to pay for my studies. Of course they also sent me forms for the college to fill out in order to get approval but for me but my mind had already been made up that America had screwed me once too many times.

Growing up in a religious family, I decided to pour my soul out to the college chaplain. After all, he was very vocal against then president Ronald Reagan’s Contra War on Nicaragua so I thought he’d give me loads of sympathy and help me get on a plane to Sweden. He wasn’t shocked at my opening line: “This might shock you coming from an American student but I hate my country.” I then proceeded to explain how America had gone too far to the right under Reagan and I was a victim of social and political intolerance in that country. He listened but he had no intention of putting me on that plane to Sweden. It was what he said about Reagan America that has relevance here. He told me, that leaving America would only serve Reagan because there would be nobody to voice opposition to him.

These days, I see his point. The problem was back then, I was such an angry young man that I believed his words proved a former work colleague back in America who was ultra- conservative to be right. This colleague used to say that every non American in the world was trying to come to the US, not true. However, if all the Trump haters left the country because they didn’t like him, that would only strengthen him as there would be little opposition. The best way to keep Trump or any elected official in check is to voice your opposition to them. If that official does something you don’t agree with that might be bad for the nation, let them know it and let those who voted for that official know it too. Leaving the country is not the answer. Besides, Trump won’t know or care if you did leave.

Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra

During her campaign, Stein took advice in the words of one of my heroes, Jello Biafra, who said the best thing to do, especially against a corporate entrenched medial is to become the media. Inform people why you believe what you do and why you didn’t vote for Donald Trump or in my case Hillary Clinton either. The problem is the way the left has gone about it and here again, Biafra’s words are wise. Simply calling someone who doesn’t agree with you a redneck or a bigot or in Clinton’s case, deplorable isn’t going to win them around to your way of thinking. In fact, it will drive them in the opposite direction. One of the things that made me so determined to vote Stein was the Democrats insistence that voting for Jill was a vote for Donald Trump. I found that very patronizing just as much as calling someone who doesn’t agree with you, ‘stupid.’

This insults my intelligence

This insults my intelligence

Now some who know me may be thinking I’m a hypocrite because I have lived in Great Britain since I came here thirty years ago. Yes, sure my angry young man phase had a lot to do with it but the main reason I remained in the UK was down to affairs of the heart. If I hadn’t met and married a British woman, I probably would have ended up back in the US. Otherwise, I might have gone back to the US when Bill Clinton was elected president. Even when we split in 2000, the idea of returning was a non issue because I feared I would never see my three children again. Besides, I doubt that Sweden would have let me emigrate there, I could be wrong. What I do know in my Autumn years is that the chaplain was right on this one, (though I still say he was incorrect to say that I came to Britain to run away). The best way to keep Donald Trump or any politician you don’t agree in check with is to voice your opposition in the correct manner.

To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479122372&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Will I Learn You Can’t Change the Past?

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Several months ago, I made a post about things that happened in the past where I imagine a different outcome, even when that outcome was favourable to me.  In that particular scenario, it was the case of when I worked in a factory and starting out as a cleaner, I was turned down for advancement on several occasions. Militant colleagues kept suggesting that I go to the union about it, however, I resisted because I was afraid I would be branded a troublemaker and worse things would happen to me. To make a long story short, I did progress not long after.

That was over 27 years ago and even now, I find myself running the scenario through my mind of what might have happened had I gone to the union. I thought that writing that post about it a few months back would have exorcised that demon but not completely. I still find myself wondering what if. No matter how much I tell myself that it worked out for me, that thought reoccurs.

Recently, other situations from my past have come to mind where I imagine a different outcome. The difference with these is that most of the original outcomes weren’t favourable. They were occasions where I was bullied, exploited or humiliated and it has resulted in my imagined outcome often being more violent and I do physical harm to the antagonist in the situation. What’s worse is that some of these thoughts have become more intense and with my DAMP, my tendency to sometimes act out what I’m thinking shows through. This is not a good thing.

You can lecture me until the cows come home that I can’t undo what’s already been done. I know this. What’s more, writing “He Was Weird” did successfully remove the thoughts of the three years of hell the book is based on. I don’t think much about the bullying I suffered then because writing about it exorcised those demons. Does this mean I have to write a book about everyone who wronged me in the past? I hope not or otherwise, I’ll be writing forever. Furthermore, unlike my novel, some of those situations wouldn’t have been solved with a gun. So, what can I do? I would be very grateful for any advice here.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478546976&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

He Notices Things Like That

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My very first experience of what some might call a weird ability came when I was in sixth grade. During the first half of the year, in gym class, my class would almost always beat the other class who did gym with us in sports. However, half way through the year, one of the star players from my class moved and it seemed after that we would lose to the other class most often. One day, after yet another loss, I pointed out the fact that we didn’t start losing to the other class until our star player moved and that if he was still in our class, we would still be winning. Most of those who heard it, poo-pooed it, probably because it was I who said it. But one boy did comment, “He notices things like that.”

This personal phenomenon has been true of me throughout my entire life. I always seem to spot the small unknown details that no one else notices. Many times, this has been a help for me. One example was when I played street hockey back in high school. In two seasons, I scored three goals against who many considered to be the best goalie in the league. Two of those goals came about because I found his one flaw in his goalkeeping. He had a tendency to drop down to his knees too quickly, thus leaving him exposed to high shots. I thought that if I noticed this, why didn’t anyone else?

The answer is that it’s because I do have a tendency to pick out the little things, notice some small detail that very few people can see. Usually this is a good thing but it does have a down side. On account of my mind, I focus so much on that small detail that I can often miss the big picture and that hasn’t always yielded the best results. It did cause problems at school from time to time and frustrated teachers. The problem was that it also got me branded ‘stupid’ by some when I’m clearly not.

Book link alert: In “He Was Weird,” one of Mark’s teachers points this out to his mother at a parent-teacher conference. The teacher points out he will miss the entire point of a lesson but pick out some small detail that even the teacher doesn’t see. I have to agree with the teacher, it can be extraordinary really.

This can be a wonderful quality for people who have Aspergers Syndrome or any type of autism. An ability to see the small intricate details can be beneficial in many fields. The problem is that, like in my case, it was seen as abnormal or irrelevant because I was looking at a piece instead of the whole picture. What these people never realized that sometimes that little piece can tell a big story.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477951269&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

33 Years On, A Tragedy That Still Causes Me Much Anxiety

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Marines Clear Up the Carnage of the Bombing

Marines Clear Up the Carnage of the Bombing

Thirty-three years ago yesterday, October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a van loaded with explosives into the barracks of the US Marines in Beirut, killing 241 of them and wounding many more. The marines were sent into Beirut over a year earlier to keep the peace between Israeli forces and Lebanese militias. Therefore, the bombing of the barracks had a great impact for many Americans. Flags were flown at half mast for a week and there was a genuine sense of mourning during that time. Then when America felt it had mourned enough for the fallen marines, it went back to its business and seemed to forget about it.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t forget it that quickly. Reason was that the unit that got hit over there was the one I had spent nearly three-quarters of my military life with, First Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment. I served, lived and partied with many of those marines who were over there at the time. They’re loss weighed particularly heavy on me. My problem was that I felt I had no one really to talk about it with. I remember before the bombing that I mentioned to someone that my old unit was over there at the time but it appeared that person didn’t really believe me. That where certain anxieties started.

The worry of people not believing anything I said goes back to the time period which influenced me to write “He Was Weird.” Like Mark in the story, I was accused of telling loads of lies and fake stories. True, a good number of those things were gross exaggerations and fantasies which I converted into reality but I wasn’t the liar I was made out to be. I know now that in many cases, the people hearing those stories took what I was saying the wrong way and totally blew it further out of proportion. Often times, their version was completely different to what I had said originally. Still, it resulted in me being very guarded in the things I said and wouldn’t say anything unless I had concrete evidence to back it up. While I could back up the fact that it was indeed my old unit that was blown up in Beirut, my anxieties told me it was best not to make it common knowledge.

As a result, I swallowed how I was feeling about the loss of my friends in Beirut. However, I did mourn in the way I knew how. Many of my closest friends from my old unit were big Cheech and Chong fans, so one evening at work, I found myself doing a monologue from a scene in “Up in Smoke.” I got a lot of weird looks that time. A year later, when Ronald Reagan was running for re-election, I stated that I couldn’t vote for him because he ordered my friends to their death. In a separate scene, a friend, who was a devout Born Again Christian, said he was voting for Reagan because he wasn’t afraid to use the military. My response was that because of that, many of my friends are dead. He didn’t have an answer for that but not long after, he pontificated on how the evil heathens that made up America’s military back then had corrupted me. My guess, that was the reason why he wasn’t too bothered about Lebanon was because It was a bunch of heathens who got killed. Then again, that’s often how America’s peace time military is viewed.

Scene from Up In Smoke

Scene from Up In Smoke

The burden that this was placed upon me began to be lifted three years after the event when I came to the UK. There were people who were willing to listen to me without judgement. In fact, I married one of them. What I hoped the final nail in the coffin came when I saw a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the bombing. That did give me a lot of absolution, however, the anxieties still haven’t gone away and I still think that most of America chooses to keep it swept under the carpet. Three years ago, I posted a question about the 30th Anniversary of the bombing on an opinion site and only one person stated he remembered the event but confessed that he didn’t know it was the 30th anniversary. It is now the 33rd anniversary and I will stop and drink a toast remembering my friends who were killed on that day. I hope those who read this will join me. However, I still believe that the United States owes the Lebanon veterans an apology.

usmc

 

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477338249&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Society Itself Create a Bullying Culture?

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This morning I have discovered this piece by Mark Karlin which gives a very interesting and alternative view of bullying. No matter what your personal politics are, I think everyone should have a read of this.

What causes bullying in the United States? In Bully Nation, Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass show how US inequalities of power, militarism and aggressive capitalism make both personal and institutional bullying commonplace. Click here to order the book from Truthout and learn what we can do to stop this insidious trend!

The following is an interview exploring the systemic problem of bullying in US society. Truthout speaks with Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass, authors of Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society.

Mark Karlin: We often approach bullying from a single perspective. For instance, someone might start a campaign to stop bullying in the schools. The subheadline in your book, however, indicates that bullying cannot be stopped by isolating it: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society. How did you come to see this as a systemic cultural problem?

Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass: Bullying has been a means of controlling people, putting them in “their place,” for perhaps as long as there have been humans. Until about 20 years ago, it was dismissed as “normal,” a rite of passage that children and adolescents must go through and “get over.” Some endure relatively little of it — perhaps they are bullies themselves — and it leaves little long-term impact. For others, it is a trauma that leaves lifelong scars.

For the most part, the discourse on bullying has been controlled by psychologists, who see it as a problem for individuals who need therapy, but we need to look at why it is so entrenched; do powerful people and institutes have an interest in encouraging and perpetuating it?

We live in militarized capitalism. Capitalism assumes competition — winners and losers. Militarism requires violence, aggression and submission to authority. Bullying builds these very traits. Psychology is inadequate to understand the cause and power of bullying. Indeed, bullying is about power, and psychology hardly has a concept of power. It is all about individuals changing their attitudes. Sociology and politics are much better at understanding power. The 1950s sociologist C. Wright Mills spoke of the “sociological imagination,” where he argued you cannot separate “personal troubles” from “public issues.” We need the sociological imagination to understand bullying — how are children raised to blend into militarized capitalism? What kind of school system does militarized capitalism need? How do school authorities encourage a student culture which prepares for militarized capitalism and sees bullying as a “normal” part of life?

I am intrigued by the phrases in the book: “militarized capitalism” and “capital bullying.” Can you explain the difference?

Not all capitalist societies are militarized (think Costa Rica or Sweden), and not all militarized societies are capitalist (think Russia or Saudi Arabia). We sometimes forget this because the US has so seamlessly melded militarism and capitalism, creating “militarized capitalism.” Militarism is, inherently, a bullying force, and independently, capitalism is very much a bully system. So all militarized states, even those not capitalist, are bullies. And the same is true of capitalist states which are not militarist.

Charles Derber (left) and Yale R. Magrass. (Photos courtersy of Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass)Charles Derber (left) and Yale R. Magrass. (Photos courtersy of Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass)But when you have a militarized capitalist system, the effects are multiplied. Both the militaristic and capitalist elements of the system create bullying — and the synergy creates super-bullying. That is one of the reasons the US is the most powerful and dangerous bully nation.

The term “capital bullying” — which is the title of Chapter 2 — refers to the bullying inherent in capitalism. Capital bullying refers to the bullying carried out by capitalist elites even in non-militarized societies. The capitalist class (including corporations) bullies workers, consumers, suppliers, corporate rivals and suppliers. Of course, Marx built his whole theory of capitalist exploitation as a bullying relation between the capitalist class and the working class. Since he developed this in his masterpiece,Capital, we thought it apt to call such bullying “capital bullying.”

How does the 2016 election, and specifically Donald Trump, provide an illustration of “bully nation”?

Donald Trump embodies most people’s image of a bully. With his insults, put-downs and even violent threats, he looks like an over-sized, over-aged schoolyard bully. But again, we must be careful not be overly psychological.

There is a more important sociological-political question: why is he so popular, at least in some circles? People often say Hitler was crazy, but that begs the question: how did a lunatic gain millions of followers and take over one of the most advanced countries in the world? Although they are brutal and cruel, bullies are often admired. When Trump had his reality show — “The Apprentice” — people cheered when he announced “You’re fired!” In a time of anxiety, when wages have been stagnant for decades, when white males fear their status threatened by women and people of color, when third-world peoples can defy the United States in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, some may feel a need for a protector who will “make America great again.” By “great,” Trump means America must feel free to go anywhere it wants, do anything it wants, anywhere in the world, with impunity. Nobody can be allowed to mess with America. A strong-man — a bully — is needed. In order to protect you, he must make sure no one can challenge him — he must be able to destroy you. The more effectively the bully bullies, the more secure you will feel. You can even feel empowered in his glow; you can be part of the dominant caste, the winning team. Personally, your life may not be great, but at least you can be part of something great — the world bully.

Can you discuss a bit about racial and class bullying?

Capitalism is bullying; it is competition — winners and losers. Class inequality is at the core of capitalism. The weak deserve their fate. Anyone who can be bullied deserves to be. The poor don’t have the stamina and the will. They must submit to the power of those who have the strength to build industries, fortunes and empires. The strong are meant to rule the weak. For the economy to thrive, the 1% must be free to bully the 99%.

Racial bullying is not essential to militarized capitalism, but it is useful. The United States began when Europeans crossed the Atlantic to seize the lands of Native Americans and annihilate them. They were free to do so because the Natives were defined by Europeans as inferior uncivilized people, unfit to be free, have their own culture and their own land, maybe even unfit to live. The Europeans were chosen by a higher force. They had “Manifest Destiny” to bully, dominate and prevail.

At first, the Europeans tried to enslave the Natives, to bully them into doing their work for them, but that proved impractical as the Natives died out or escaped into lands that they knew better than the Europeans. Instead, the Europeans turned to Africans who again they defined as less-than-human, child-like creatures, incapable of taking care of themselves, who needed the European’s civilization and protection. They had to be bullied for their own good but 20 million were forced to cross the Atlantic in the “Middle Passage,” with half dying on the way.

Black slavery may have made poor whites even poorer, deepened class divides and may have enhanced class bullying, but at least poor whites could feel they were part of the bullying race. However, it made a select few very rich, with more wealth coming from slavery than from land, crops, railroads or factories. Racial bullying has reinforced class bullying. It has divided the 99% and brought many within the 99% to identify with the 1% rather than challenge them.

When slavery ended, racial bullying against Blacks continued in the form of Jim Crow segregation, and even when that ended, racial bullying subsists with evidence like police brutality against Blacks. Racial bullying helps account for the popularity of people like Donald Trump.

Many people probably don’t think of environmental bullying. Can you explain the concept?

In our era of catastrophic climate change, it is hard not to think about “environmental bullying.” But while all militarized capitalism creates devastating environmental effects, we did not find any works that use this term.

In everyday life, of course, most know that some people bully their dogs or other pets. People also realize that there is a culture of animal bullying — like the deadly dogfighting business that Michael Vick turned into a huge news story. And most people are also aware that agribusiness — whether Purdue, Tyson or Cargill — turns bullying of animals into a merciless profit engine.

But while it is quite obvious that animals are bullied, it may seem less clear that plants or soil or rocks can be bullied. Bullying implies the victim can experience some form of consciousness. While many Indigenous cultures believe all of life and nature have spirit or consciousness, Western societies have constructed a nonsentient view of plants and all nature, permitting humans to attack and destroy all forms of life.

Science now shows that many plants do, indeed, have remarkable forms of consciousness and communication. Recent studies of trees show that they communicate by intertwining their roots, and actually survive and prosper by building “tree communities.” Scientists studying forests now talk of “lonely” trees which become isolated and die quickly.

But what about rocks? Can you bully a rock? If you hack it apart or blow it up, will it suffer or feel pain? This seems less clear, so we introduce the concept of “environmental bludgeoning.” It is our term to describe human violence against natural objects that may not have consciousness. The book explores the relation between environmental bullying and bludgeoning — and shows how militarized capitalism fuels both, now threatening to destroy not just humans but all species and perhaps, nature itself.

In your epilogue, you discuss some new ways to think about reducing bullying. Can you describe a few of your ideas?

The conventional psychological view — that bullying is simply a form of personal disorder or mental illness — leads to the idea that therapy is the only solution. This leads to a virtual industry of school counseling — giving jobs to shrinks, psychologists, social workers and teachers — in an effort that has not stopped the persistence of bullying by kids (in the schoolyard or online).

We are hardly surprised, since the therapeutic approach overlooks the main root of the problem. When kids or adults bully, they are responding to the norms or incentives of their companies and their militarized society. They are not “sick” or maladjusted or “under-socialized;” they are rather already well adjusted to the larger system and don’t need therapy to become further adjusted.

We discuss the rise of a significant “anti-bullying” movement in the schools and the larger society that has good intentions but remains plagued by its psychological focus. Bullying will remain rampant until we throw out the conventional wisdom and focus on the roots of the problem.

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Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying SocietyLearn how the American establishment creates a bullying society.

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That means using the “sociological imagination” and seeing that many personal troubles — and bullying is a prime example — are actually social problems. The best way to reduce bullying is to change our society by reducing its militarism and moving toward a less capitalist system.

Social democratic countries, such as Sweden, have low rates of bullying. That is because they are not militarized and can be viewed as what Bernie Sanders called “democratic socialism.” Their universal social welfare, and strong labor movement, reduces the inequalities of wealth and power that are the systemic causes of bullying.

Such “regime change” in the US will happen only when social movements against militarized capitalism and social hierarchies based on race, class and gender grow stronger. Such movements are widespread in the US, but they are fragmented and need to work together (what [Derber] calls “universalized resistance” in a forthcoming book). Since bullying is a systemic problem, it takes movements seeking broad systemic change to reduce bullying.

Some anti-bullying groups in the US — growing out of targeted groups, such as women, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community and the disabled — are beginning to build recognition that bullying is a social problem. But to be effective, they must universalize their movements. This means working together to reduce all social hierarchies and create an alternative to militarized capitalism that ensures equal rights and power and respect for everyone.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

MARK KARLIN

Mark Karlin is the editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout. He served as editor and publisher of BuzzFlash for 10 years before joining Truthout in 2010. BuzzFlash has won four Project Censored Awards. Karlin writes a commentary five days a week for BuzzFlash, as well as articles (ranging from the failed “war on drugs” to reviews relating to political art) for Truthout. He also interviews authors and filmmakers whose works are featured in Truthout’s Progressive Picks of the Week. Before linking with Truthout, Karlin conducted interviews with cultural figures, political progressives and innovative advocates on a weekly basis for 10 years. He authored many columns about the lies propagated to launch the Iraq War.

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To buy He Was Weird go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476696472&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

What Could He Have Done?

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Anytime I learn of a bullying injustice, I always highlight it here on Peaceful Rampage and add my two pennies worth to the story. Those who have followed me for a while are probably aware of this. Well, it saddens me to say, but it has happened again. This time it happened in the world of American Football. A youth team coach got his team together and told them bullying would not be tolerated on the team. After his talk, it was pointed out to him that one of his players was still bullying. In true football fashion, the coach made the player concerned run extra laps, a common sanction in football where players are sometimes made to do extra running when they drop a pass, miss a blocking assignment or a tackle and so on. I know, I did my fair share of running when I played. After the bullying player, finished running his laps, the coach congratulated him for doing so without complaining, another coaching technique in the sport.

eagles

One would think that that would have been the end of it, right? No, the coach, who was a volunteer, was told by the team’s governing body that he was fired as coach over the incident. One member of the board asked him what qualifications he had to handle such a thing like bullying. The coach responded, “I’m a parent.” As a result, the team is now without a coach and now the coach along with several other parents, have pulled their own children off the team. For the full story, click the link below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/10/07/volunteer-middle-school-football-coach-dismissed-for-making-boy-run-laps-after-he-bullied-teammate/

Is this another victory for the bullies? I would say yes and am backed up by the fact that a mother of one of the other boys pulled her son off the team, citing that the governing body is saying that bullying is okay. It also nullifies everything the coach told the team about bullying not being tolerated because now, you can and if any of the coaches step in to end it, they themselves will be dismissed.

While I don’t mention it much in “He Was Weird,” I did experience some bullying when I played football in the town where the story is based. The worse case was when two teammates ripped my personal jersey and basically got away with it because the one boy was the son of the varsity coach. However, like Mark in the story, the worst bullying came when I quit the varsity team a year later. In the eyes of many adults, I had brought it on myself because I quit the team. Really, do you think I did?

I have said from day one, that bullying is something that should never be tolerated. True, it will never be eradicated but then it never will be if those who try to take steps against bullying are the ones who are punished for it.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476096400&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Autistic Abilities

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It has said that everyone has them, it’s just autistic traits aren’t as prominent in most people as they are in with who do have genuine Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Some of these abilities can be quite fascinating if the person who has them is allowed to express them in a way that benefits that person. Unfortunately, most people tend to simply branded that person annoying or at the very least, use the person with autism’s unique ability for their own amusement.

Often times, the ability would come from an interest that a person has. In many cases, the person with autism would throw themselves head first into that interest and learn everything there is to know about it. My first instance of this was when I was seven. For a limited time in 1968 and 9, you could buy little figures of all the American Presidents. Note, Nixon was president at the time but that’s just a side point. Not only did I collect all the figures, I read books about them too. So not only can I name all the presidents from Washington to Obama, I could tell you when they served, what number president they were, if they died in office and with a good deal of certainty, what political party they were a member of. My experience is typical of someone who is on the autistic spectrum.

eagles

Another ability/obsession came in my early adolescence when I was playing sports. Because American sports media seems to like to make a big deal of sports statistics, I became a big pundit on my own statistics. In gym class in junior high school, I could tell you how many pass receptions, interceptions and touchdowns I had in touch football. How many baskets and free throws I made in basketball and compute my average per game. It was even more detailed in baseball where I could not only compute my batting average, but how many singles, doubles, triples and home runs I hit. Oh, if anyone tries to joke that I know how many home runs I hit because it was none, then the joke would be inaccurate.

Book relation alert: I do give Mark a similar ability in “He Was Weird.” From when I first learned it in fifth grade, a piece of US and British history has been stuck in my mind. Note: in 1754 both countries’ history was intertwined. It was the reason why British General Braddock lost the opening battle of the French and Indian War and his life. It was because he ordered his soldiers to stand shoulder to shoulder like they would have in an open field battle. I confess that I cheat a little in the story. Not long ago, I learned that the reason why generals arrayed their armies in tight formations was down to the fact that the smooth bore muskets that most soldiers used at the time were largely inaccurate. Therefore, they were all grouped together in the hopes that with all of them shooting at the same target, they might hit something. Mark points this out in his history class, unfortunately his classmates use it as an excuse to bully him and though I didn’t say it in the story, their justification would have been that Mark was showing off. Another problem that people with ASD have.

18th Century battle formation

18th Century battle formation

That leads nicely to the point I am trying to make here. There are many people with autism who do have some rather special abilities but people aren’t very perceptive of it. They can work out things quickly in their head or make links that so called normal people can’t or they can astound you with their knowledge of a given subject because their fascination with that subject has led them to research it thoroughly. These people should be encouraged, not seen as annoying or irrelevant or derided for having a one track mind. They should be listened to and taken more seriously and most importantly, appreciated for who they are.

To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475659628&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird

The Versatile Bloggers Award

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I have had the honour of being nominated for the Versatile Bloggers Award by Maria who writes the blog Serene Aspergia. I would like to personally thank Maria for this honour and pass it on.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and pass it on.
  2. Share the award on your blog
  3. Share random facts about yourself
  4. Tag on 10 bloggers and tell them that they are nominated.

Seven facts about me:

  1. While I have never been formally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome or DAMP, (Deficiencies in Attention Motor Skills and Perception) I am convinced I have the symptoms of both.
  2. While I referee and love American football, my favourite sport is actually ice hockey
  3. I will be voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party in the upcoming US Presidential election
  4. I am married with three children, seven step children and 12 step grandchildren
  5. I love heavy metal music but am open minded about all forms of music
  6. I think the 1980s was the golden age of heavy metal
  7. I love cooking and find it destressing at times.

10 Blogs I would like to nominate for the award:

  1. WindSweptChildOnAShootingStar
  2. Anonymously Autistic
  3. Mikeldano
  4. Kamertunes blog
  5. 1537
  6. KEEPSMEALIVE
  7. resurrectionsongs
  8. Heavy Metal Overload
  9. Metal Excess
  10. David Snape