Acquiescence – Buying the Hype

Image by Corey Agopian.

The Spectre Haunting the Mandates

There is a resistance growing in this country. It emerges in opposition to the mandates, to the lockdowns and the guesses passed off as science – and even to the vaccines. While its first form was questioning, it transformed itself into resistance when the hype started calling it anti-social. Yet, too often the hype consisted of sound-bytes that barely made sense (about bat viruses, gas pump “inflation,” stupid useless jobs, rent gouging, the Ukraine, etc.). Gradually, with much underground questioning, Covid came to be understood, like homelessness and global warming, as political, a result of unquestionable policy. The hype became the kool-aid of acquiescence.

The tip-off was the denial of dialogue, including withholding of evidence, the suppression of testimony, reports about the invention of data, and the endless talking-head-experts. Censorship says, believe or you will be silenced and ostracized.

But the resistance does not just oppose hype. It addresses survival, and what must be built on the basis of community self-determination. Autonomy is what acquiescence destroys. Dialogue and questioning is what autonomy requires. Autonomy does not mean an absence of restraint. As community self-determination, it is more than the right to choose or the defense of privacy. While it is born in freedom of thought, it lives in respect for others and differences that enable dialogue without fear of attack and suppression. It is the desire to live according to uncoerced agreements. It means that the rules and standards by which we live are made by we who will be governed and affected by those rules, and not by elites who live elsewhere. Community self-determination is the space into which the liquid of liberty flows and takes form.

The Supreme Court, having aborted liberty, has left it hemorrhaging in the middle of the street.


As rent levels have risen over the past 15 years, the need for affordable housing has become critical. Whole communities have been thrown to the curb by rent gouging (landlords who evict low income tenants in order to rent to wealthier people). It drives the cost of housing to heights beyond affordability for working class people, and for communities of color still living the after-effects of redlining (restrictions on the ability to accumulate economic assets). White people with higher technocratic salaries are replacing those dispossessed by the so-called rental “market” (the real “replacement theory”).

As before, well-financed civic groups advocate building more and more projects on the erroneous claim that increased supply will alleviate the “housing crisis.” But the crisis is not in housing; it is an affordability crisis. Up to now, endless building has merely created a glut in market rate housing. And the Berkeley zoning code still only requires 25% affordable units in a project. And even at that level, “for-profit” developers too often build only with sufficient waivers from that requirement.

Now the state is stepping in to force cities, under proclaimed “mandate,” to build more. Berkeley has been allocated 9000 units to be built over the next 8 years. Everyone wonders, where could space for those housing units be found? Meanwhile, the state threatens to take control of a city’s permitting process if it fails to fulfill its “mandate.” The effect will be to waive the need for waivers; that is, to free developers from unprofitable affordability requirements.

And the city of Berkeley acquiesces. It could have said “no.” Berkeley is a charter city, and thus has autonomy in zoning and internal affairs. But City Council believed the state’s hype that it could override that autonomy in the interest of state-wide necessity.

The state can legally override Charter city autonomy on two conditions: (a) it can show (as in “demonstrate”) that its requirements are applied universally to all charter cities; and (b) that those actions are absolutely necessary for the future of California. The question (only asked underground) is, how can one “demonstrate” a future necessity when it is solely based on a projected (aka imagined) population increase? The future is not composed of “data.” It is composed only of imagination, political desire, and computer projections (programmed on the basis of imagination and desire). One cannot base future necessity on data that does not yet exist. In other words, because of its unknowability, the future cannot be used to “demonstrate” anything. Yet against city autonomy, the state’s invented future demands acquiescence – even if that means fudging the law.

Some cities said no, they would not buy the hype. When the state threatened to sue, however, those cities caved. By acquiescing, they transformed the state’s proclamation into a projected enhancement of the glut. And so far, we know that the glut is already an accessory to a humanitarian crisis in which thousands are rendered homeless.

Thus, the state provides a role model for our present condition. Government acquiesces to a discourse about economic forces, and neighborhood people are condemned to acceed. They are left with no option but to go (yet again) to City Council to beg for affordable housing. Acquiescence to that treadmill is a process of social control so normalized that it is practically invisible.

The BART sites

While considering places where housing could be built, the city of Berkeley had aleady listed, in its Adeline Corridor Plan, the Ashby BART parking lot, on which it had already projected building 840 units. But because it was BART property, it took a special MOU (Memo of Understanding) which brought the plan to public notice. And South Berkeley neighbors asked, “why us (communities of color) all the time?” So Berkeley drew up plans for a comparable number units to be built at North Berkeley BART (a whiter neighborhood).

Those lots serve a distinct social function in a city like Berkeley. For people who live in the hills or the western flats, the BART lots are an essential step to using mass transit. People need to park somewhere to catch the train.

And the Ashby lot hosts a Flea Market on the weekends that is an essential part of the black community’s cultural heritage – a place for people to congregate. The city pays lip service to the Flea Market and to the transit needs for working people. But so far, they have only shown lip service. The realities have been relegated sacrifice zones. And the city has been itching to move the Flea Market for years, knowing that once it is relocated elsewhere in the streets, it can be quietly zoned out of existence.

In North Berkeley, the neighborhood organized quickly in the interest of influencing the city’s decision on its BART lot. The general sentiment was that buildings should be between two and four stories to fit in with the (single-family) tenor of the neighborhood. The city claimed state law required 7 stories – though this amounted to an illegal usurpation of city autonomy since it was “universally applied” to no other cities. In the face of city arbitrarity, disputes on height limits and affordability became central.

To get agreement on 7 stories, the city pullled a fast one. At a critical meeting, a few agents of developers arrived and demanded that the BART developments be 12 stories high. This would have ended any possibility of affordable units since it would have required stronger and more expensive construction. The effect was to shift the discussion to height limits (seven versus twelve stories). Much energy was expended in the effort to defeat the “twelve.” Ultimately, the city voted for “seven.” Thus, it got what it wanted, while the people, having been distracted by this scare tactic, felt they had won a victory (though the original proposal of 4 stories was long lost).

Scare tactics are essential to gaining widespread acquiescence to something for which there is only hype.


If anything has impelled the resistance, it has been the mandates around Covid, and the dismay caused by the extent of acceptance (acquiescence to) government pronouncements. The suspicion of government manipulation of data, “scientific” claims without evidence or transparency, and the squelching of those who question or testify to alternate experience have led to irrepressible suspicion.

The fact that the PCR test was disowned by WHO in December, 2020, because it could not produce definitive results (WHO Notice 2020/05), empowered strong queries. And so did the refusal by Big Pharma {Pfizer, Moderna, etc.) to waive their copyright on their vaccines. One might assume a corporate obsession with money, but the more insidious reason might be their desire not to let the public know what actually went into making those vaccines.

But “people are dying” is the mantra used against questioning. The scare tactics are unending. Those who refuse corporate access to their bodies (“the jab”) are accused of being murderers. They are said to be carriers of deadly disease and thus killers of innocent people. Yet that too has its own hype, the assurance that there is no cure; there are only the vaccines.

But there is a cure. And it has been suppressed in the interest of the vaccine-makers. It is hydroxychloroquin (HCQ). Not straight, you understand, but importantly accompanied by zinc when administered, 15-30 milligrams with each dose. When used by itself, without zinc, it becomes ineffective, with negative sdie-effects.

Many people will reject this claim (that HCQ + Zn is a cure) because HCQ has been disparaged and deprecated through an association with Trump. These days, it is possible to defame anything by associating it with Trump. But when demonization walks through biology labs, it testifies to a deficiency in critical thinking. And if a cure is being suppressed, then there is a reason people are dying.

In sum, the mandates, the censorship, the withholding of information, are all accepted through massive acquiescence to government hype. And to top it off, we are told that millians of people have been “saved” by the vaccines. Yet if a person did not get sick, then it is not possible to say specifically what kept them healthy. To credit the vaccine and its mandate with saving them is to use good health to deprive people of their autonomy.

Speaking of Trump, we cannot lose sight of the collusion that has brought about a majority of politically activist judges on the Supreme Court. We must not forget that this major is the direct result of the refusal by the Democrats to fight Mitch McConnell when he refused to hold hearings on any Obama nominee for the court during the year and a half that there had been a vacancy. A year and a half. The Democratic Party is an accessory to our losing our right to privacy and liberty.

The Ukraine

There is yet another major arena of acquiescence among us here in the US: the Ukraine. We hear it everywhere; Putin is a thug; the Russians are liars; they are wantonly killing people. They are bloodthirsty and intent on taking over the world.

That is a pretty good reiteration of what the white supremacists and white nationalists have been saying about African Americans for well over a century. Does that mean that US hatred of Russia is really racial? Or are white people saying it now because, in the post-civil rights era, they can’t say it about black people any more? Or are white people saying it about the Russians as a way of gearing up for say it about black people again?

For USians to see any country as seeking world domination suggests they must be looking in a mirror. Over the last 25 years, the US has bombed seven other nations: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Yugoslavia. Nothing kills as wantonly as bombing. When did mainstream USians start yelling about stopping the thugs who were bombing those seven nations?

During the eight years between 2013 and 2021, the Ukrainian army was killing Ukrainians, mostly in the breakaway Donbas provinces, which seceded from Ukraine in opposition to the 2013 coup. They knew that coup was not a local product. The US was open about providing $15 billion to selected organizations during those 8 years for the purpose of over-throwing an administration that was insufficiently anti-Russian. (We won’t mention that those organizations were known as Neo-Nazi; no no no. But in the attack on the Donbas, people were burned to death, dragged behind trucks, buried alive, dragged up tree limbs by the neck, or hit by artillery in the middle of the night – you know, the kinds of things Nazis like to do.)

14,000 Ukrainians were killed by the Ukrainian army during those years. No USians hit the streets about that, complaining about civilian casualties. Apparently, no one really cared about Ukrainians being killed. Or at least, the US government hadn’t made it fashionable yet.

When Ukrainians themselves begging other countries for assistance in stopping this murder by Kiev’s army, they got silence. With one exception. Russia said they would put a stop to it. After all, the Ukrainian people being killed were of Russian descent. And suddenly USians were up in arms. Since they had shown they had nothing against killing Ukrainians, their opposition could only be because it was Russia that intervened.

Why are USians now anti-Russian? Because they are told to be. It is part of the entire system of acquiescence that we have been looking at. And why is Russia now the enemy of the US? Even when no longer Communist?

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the US suddenly found itself the only super-power. The balance of global power had suddenly evaporated. The US had no “other” to take into consideration; it could act with impunity. Its first sortie into that militarist freedom was its bombing of Iraq the very next year (1991). Then Sudan and Yugoslavia in the late 1990s. Then Afghanistan; and Iraq again (2003).

Putin took over Russia in the late 90s. He re-established Russian stability and soveriegnty, throwing out the Yeltsin-led kleptocracy that seized former Soviet assets, put Russia into depression, and left millions of Russians starving. The effect of restabilizing the Russian economy and sovereignty was to re-establish a balance of power in the world.

After that, the US had to think twice about bombing. Russia stood in the way of attacking Syria and Iran, so Israel had to do it. Washington got NATO to do the job on Lybia. And it got Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen. But think of all the people who have not been bombed to death by the US because Russia rebalanced the global situation. For the US, Russia became a problem. It placed missiles and bombers in Poland and the Czech Republic, aimed at Russia. It has added 50 more military bases to those it already had all over the world. And it tells us that it is the Russians who want to take over the world.

When we accept without resistance the US bombing of other countries, we not only lose our autonomy through acquiescence, but we become accessories to mass murder. It will probably be a while before people stop looking in a mirror in order to rant about Putin, and demand that acquiescence to hype be replaced by a people’s real policy-making participation.

Steve Martinot is Instructor Emeritus at the Center for Interdisciplinary Programs at San Francisco State University. He is the author of The Rule of Racialization: Class, Identity, Governance, Forms in the Abyss: a Philosophical Bridge between Sartre and Derrida (both Temple) and The Machinery of Whiteness. He is also the editor of two previous books, and translator of Racism by Albert Memmi. He has written extensively on the structures of racism and white supremacy in the United States, as well as on corporate culture and economics, and leads seminars on these subjects in the Bay Area.