Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, a Secret Agent of Vladimir Putin?

“Take notice, That England is not a a Free People, till the Poor that have no Land, have a free allowance to dig and labour the Commons, and so live as Comfortably as the Landlords that live in their Inclosures.”

– Gerrard Winstanley, 1652

“Since the beginning, the US presidents (all of European stock, of course), had been promoting slavery, extermination campaigns against the native population of North America, barbaric wars of aggression against Mexico, and other Latin American countries, the Philippines, etc. Has anything changed now? I highly doubt it. Donald Trump is horrendous, but he is also honest. Both Presidents Clinton and Obama were great speakers, but unrepentant mass murderers.”

– Andre Vltchek

“The solutions put forth by imperialism are the quintessence of simplicity…When they speak of the problems of population and birth, they are in no way moved by concepts related to the interests of the family or of society…Just when science and technology are making incredible advances in all fields, they resort to technology to suppress revolutions and ask the help of science to prevent population growth. In short, the peoples are not to make revolutions, and women are not to give birth. This sums up the philosophy of imperialism.”

– Fidel Castro

The strange sight of liberal America participating in a neo-McCarthyite assault on Trump appointees, not on the grounds of their inherent racism and stupidity, but because they have contacts with Russia, is among the more surreal spectacles of modern political history. At what point did Russia become the official enemy of the U.S.? Wasn’t it just yesterday that Bush Jr looked into Putin’s eyes and declared him a honorable man? The truth is, of course, that Russia never stopped being the enemy. The internalized ethos of the cold war, the anti communist hysteria of post WW2 has always been there. The resentful flinty heart of America tolerates no disobedience. No country exhibiting the slightest autonomy is allowed to escape punishment and censure. The shining light on the hill symbolism is one that demands nobody else dare to exhibit anything that resembles their own leadership role globally.

The current animus toward Putin can be traced back to several clear sources, though, as Justin Raimondo points out…

“When Putin came to power one of the first things he did was go after the infamous oligarchs who had backed – and manipulated – his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. Under the drunken Yeltsin, these “entrepreneurs” had used the State apparatus to “privatize” (i.e. loot) what had previously been the State-owned economy, gobbling up entire sectors at unbelievably cheap prices. Putin moved to disassemble what was a competing power center, and the result was the flight of the oligarchs to the West.”

And he adds the Israeli lobby (AIPAC et al) and the influence, however mediated these days, of Saudi Arabia. Both have a vested interest in keeping up a Russophobic slant to government policy and rhetoric. Israel long wanted Assad gone. Russia was getting in the way. Now there is also the rather obvious uses that blaming Russia serves for the DNC and its various funding sources. The fact that the Democratic Party snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by running a wildly hated and corrupt candidate in Hillary Clinton, needs an explanation. And that explanation is Putin and Russia. The idea that somehow Trump is a Putin puppet and that the Russian state has manipulated a national election, is itself stunningly contradictory. It suggests a degree of power and cunning for Putin and Russia that is at odds with the America is the great-and-good-and-powerful symbolism. As a desperate reflex excuse for losing what was supposed to be a cake-walk for Hillary, it is sort of understandable. But what isn’t understandable is how so many otherwise seemingly rational people buy into this fantasy.

And the result of this new Russophobic hysteria is to create a precedent for the CIA and even more shady and shadowy forces to unseat an elected President. I mean common cause is being made with the worst actors in American politics. And, more, to sanction a public interrogation of whoever they deem hostile to their interests. This is the useful idiot meme on steroids. It is the white liberal class ASKING for totalitarian government.

The empowering of the deep state, those unelected and unregulated organizations and individuals that desire nothing so much as a totally authoritarian surveillance state from the pages of Orwell or Huxley, is a far worse consequence than any damage the Donald and his minions might wreak. Of course the collapse of the Democratic Party is not entirely the result of Hillary’s bungled campaign, but of thirty or forty years of inexorable rightward lurch. An utter abandonment of the working class, and more, an indifference, publicly, to the consequences of that abandonment. The tragic comedy of the DNC’s close support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deserves an entire volume all by itself. A country where women can’t drive, where apostates and homosexuals are beheaded, and where economic inequality is of a magnitude perhaps unequalled in history, remains a close ally of the U.S. Most of the 9-11 highjackers were Saudis, assuming one accepts the official story, and its hardly a secret that the Saudi royal family funds extreme Wahabbi ideology throughout the Arab world. And, the Saudis remain the single largest purchaser of U.S. weapons. Weapons currently employed in the destruction of the tiny impoverished nation of Yemen. A destruction that U.S. actively helped plan and orchestrate.

Gareth Porter wrote of the intelligence communities attacks…

“A former U.S. intelligence official with decades of experience dealing with the CIA as well other intelligence agencies, who insisted on anonymity because he still has dealings with U.S. government agencies, told this writer that he had never heard of the intelligence agencies making public unverified information on a U.S. citizen.

“The CIA has never played such a open political role,” he said.

The CIA has often tilted its intelligence assessment related to a potential adversary in the direction desired by the White House or the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but this is the first time that such a slanted report impinges not only on domestic politics but is directed at the President himself.”

The take down of Trump’s National Security Advisor appointee Michael Flynn was nakedly partisan. And in the middle of this was vice president Mike Pence, late of Columbus Ohio and Hanover College. A former talk show host (billed as Rush Limbaugh on decaf) Pence is a devout Christian who believes in intelligent design and the literal word of the Bible. He disbelieves climate change and desires the privatizing of social security — which puts him in line with Hillary Clinton, actually. But the point is that Pence is a deeply repressed rube, a visibly uptight uncomfortable looking man who favors that televangelist look in his personal grooming. And it was Pence who felt exposed by Flynn’s inept handling of whole scandal.

Porter again…

“Many people who oppose Trump for other valid reasons have seized on the shaky Russian accusations because they represent the best possibility for ousting Trump from power. But ignoring the motives and the dishonesty behind the campaign of leaks has far-reaching political implications. Not only does it help to establish a precedent for U.S. intelligence agencies to intervene in domestic politics, as happens in authoritarian regimes all over the world, it also strengthens the hand of the military and intelligence bureaucracies who are determined to maintain the New Cold War with Russia.”

The new cold war is, in a sense, more than just a cold war. The ruthless coup in Ukraine, courtesy of Clinton and her enforcer Victoria Nuland helped put in play a neo nazi party with exterminationist tendencies, not to mention an affection for Hitler. And there continues to be savage fighting from these U.S. proxies. The targeting of Assad was another anti Russian ploy (among other things). But for most Americans, woefully ignorant of history and geography, and mostly shockingly incurious overall, they’re education stems primarily from TV and film. And Hollywood endlessly produces narratives of CIA and military virtue. And of course police heroism. Take for example the new spin off Blacklist: Redemption, in which in episode two our friendly illegal and covert black ops travel to Turkmenistan, or maybe it was Kazakhstan, who knows, but either way this country is portrayed as a nation of bearded thugs, stupid, comically inept and ignorant, and yet the very premise of such clandestine interference in a sovereign nation is never questioned. Dozens are killed, but hey, they have beards and represent that great ‘other’ that America sees as disposable, much as most of white America sees the poor, especially black and brown poor, as disposable. The anti Russian theme is simply the latest installment in the great genocidal founding principles of this slave owning nation. When D.H. Lawrence famously described America thus…

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”

he was writing the epitaph of this bloated and fascistic nation, and this over a hundred years ago. Nobody in all this Putin-is-evil rhetoric ever questions why the U.S. has close to 900 military bases around the world. A good many of them surrounding Russia and China, both. I have read on social media a nearly endless commentary on how whatever its shortcomings, the U.S. still represents something positive and how no matter what, *we* are better than Russia. Or China. Or Iran. The xenophobia of the average American, and this includes the educated classes, is breathtaking. None of the people I have read who demand *you* write your congressperson to demand Jeff Sessions be removed had ever gone on social media to demand a stop to U.S. wars, to humanitarian intervention, or even to a reduction in defense spending. None, that I can remember, ever demanded an end to the militarized police occupation of black neighborhoods, or the illegal CIA destabilizing activities of foreign countries. No demand for the U.S. to stop doing exactly what they claim Russia has done. How is this possible one might ask? How does the public so selectively organize their outrage? The answer is that most Americans are deceptively nationalistic and prejudiced. They are also profoundly provincial and ignorant of other cultures, other histories and cultures. Whatever crimes Trump may eventually engage in, if he survives, will not be of any degree worse than what Obama or Bush or Clinton committed. The ascension of Trump to the Presidency came on the back of a liberal class that had rejected the underclass. These liberals have irrational anger that included deep seated racist feelings and a regressive, if often private, hatred of the poor and of foreigners in general. This is projected outward onto those they blame for Trump. A nation of immigrants is now a nation where those immigrants long ago lost touch with their own histories. This is mostly white America, of course. And white America loves to congratulate itself on its tolerance and democratic principles. The master narrative of liberal white America is one that has been distilled down to the most basic tropes of superiority and privilege. The deplorables …the flyover state populace…those angry left behind working class americans are seen as inferior. They are made fun of, constantly, by the educated classes. And the alignment of liberal white America with the CIA and a McCarthyist sensibility is not in the least surprising. For liberals are not tolerant. They are bigoted and close minded and arrogant. They are blind to their own privilege in ways that make one’s head spin. Trump won for two reasons that are interwined. One is the anger of the forgotten working class. And yes, that class are often racist and bigoted. But most are not, not really. And second, and more importantly, by the liberals who uncritically accepted a serial liar and criminal as their candidate. And while many who supported the illusion that was Bernie turned in anger to vote AGAINST Hillary, or just didn’t bother to vote, the educated gatekeepers of American culture (sic) were the ones really responsible. Eight years of war crimes and destruction of civil liberties was IGNORED. It is still ignored. Trump is the result. He is the unvarnished face of America, accept that or not.

I am a new father at an advanced age. We had twin boys this last month, born premature, but doing well — and here in Norway the amazing care they received, that WE received, was totally free. I cannot imagine how someone like me, an artist, would have been able to have these boys in the U.S. I don’t know how the working class manages, honestly. And its partly why I left the U.S. a decade back. The struggles for basic things such as having children pose nearly impossible obstacles in this village on the hill with the shining light. A guard tower searchlight. Anyone without health insurance, meaning several million people, face insurmountable obstacles. Or rent, those who don’t own homes, those who must pay an ever steeper price to just live — to just have a roof over their head — are besieged with anxiety and worry and often despair. No wonder anti depressants are taken by one in four americans. Those who can afford them anyway. Or they turn to illegal drugs and alcohol. The worry for most Americans is lacerating and depletes the basic energy that sustains life. Overweight, angry, resentful and depressed. That is America. Addicted to mindless entertainments that repeat a litany of lies and deceit, this is a nation whose theoretically best and brightest are a disdainful, condescending, and insolent class blind to not just their own privilege but blind to their own nativism and lack of sophistication. America is the most judgmental country on earth. The class that demands WE reject Jefferson (Im guessing not named for Thomas) Sessions, that little nasty mean spirited bigot demand it for all the wrong reasons. They demand it because he ‘has ties to a foreign power’ as someone wrote recently on facebook. Trump isnt one of them. Obama was. Both Clintons are. The culture produced by this class is ugly and narcissistic. It is puerile and fatuous and reflective of their own self adoration. Trump is a crude and uneducated man, but he was also a wildly popular reality TV star. That was OK, that was his place, a bit of entertainment to be condescended to, an organ grinders monkey. But the presidency, well, that is for Ivy league grads, for those who wont embarrass *America*. I mean look at the rehabilitation of Bush Jr. Even he is better suited for the job, despite that little faux pax with Iraq. At least he came from *real* wealth, the right kind of wealth, the right University — so OK, he almost flunked out, but whatever. The deep state doesn’t want The Donald. Honestly, Im not sure why, but they don’t. And they are teaching him to heel. Sit, roll over, piddle yourself, and we might let you stay. If not, well, see what happened to that chump Flynn. Or worse, those lesser humans like Qadaffi…son of a Bedouin sheep herder, or Saddam, the CIA enforcer contracted to rid his country of commies and other undesirables. Or Aristide, a slum priest. Or Milosevic. Or now Assad. And here we return to Russia. Putin has the audacity to help Assad when he knows *we* don’t want that. What a monster. Russia still has the fucking cojones to suggest they won WW2!!! No, Tom Hanks did that. Don’t you watch PBS? For christ sake, Russia, a country that was fun to make fun of during the cold war. All those crappy suits the politburo wore. All those lousy cars and bad refrigerators. Har har. What you don’t hear is that people had paid vacations. They could go sailing for free and didn’t worry about rent or doctors bills. Rehab Bush and demonize Castro even after death. Ask the average African who he loves…Bush or Obama or Castro. Who fought FOR independence and who fought against it. Who called Mandela a terrorist. Not Russia. The Soviet Union fought against colonialism and with independence movements. The U.S. fought against it. I could go on. But this is not news. It takes only a few minutes internet research to verify all of this. Unless you only read Western news outlets. The U.S. will tell you the 20th century was the *American Century*. There it is again, self congratulation. We are the best and a force for good. No, really!!

The ruling families of Venezuela called Chavez the little black monkey. Those were the families (and still are) that the U.S. and its organs of chaos, the various NGOs and front groups support. They support those who saw Chavez as an ape. They aided a failed coup against Chavez. The U.S. supported Mobutu and Pinochet, The Shah, and Papa Doc. This isn’t part of that official *American Century*. Neither was the U.S.S.R. defeating fascism.

I thought about the Diggers this week. The movement led by Gerrard Winstanley in the 17th century. There were no commons left. People roamed the countryside homeless, foraging for food. The ruling gentry didn’t care. The Levellers and Diggers (True Levellers) by virtue of their desire for fairness and justice also included an early environmental program, a concern for the land that provided them with life. Today, I think it useful to remember Winstanley. The idea of equality is central to all other issues. Nobody deserves more. Nobody should do with less. Nature is not a commodity. The U.S. has done much worse and more often than any country they criticize. This is why its important to reject those complaints that demand purity. Every great man or woman is now the subject of take down kitsch biographies. Its a cottage industry. Mao didn’t brush his teeth. Brecht plagerized. Aristide was insecure and uneducated and wore cheap shoes. I’m only half joking. The overwhelming bully of the planet is the USA. Full stop. It is so overwhelmingly so that to even bring up the offenses of those they seek to brutalize is bad politics. All that matters is that this pathological war machine, this imperialist drive for global hegemony be stopped. You defend the weak, the vulnerable. Another full stop. You attack the comfortable and complacent. The End.

Daniel Johnson writing of Winstanley and the Diggers…

“The Digger experiments and the ideas of Winstanley are also relevant in their call for self-organization among the working classes, and for emphasizing the intelligence and dignity of commoners often portrayed by elites as needing guidance and discipline. Liberation, as Winstanley frequently claimed in his Digger writings, would only come when working people throughout the world (not just in revolutionary England) withdrew their labor from market society, and set up a social system in which exploitation and poverty no longer existed. “

John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. Plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. Taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. A collection of plays, Sea of Cortez & Other Plays was published in 1999, and his book on aesthetics, Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest was published by Mimesis International in 2016.