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somatophobic feminism I

Dying was the best piece of publicity Shulamith Firestone ever generated. A name I did not hear much in 2012 seems to be making a comeback in 2013. I could not grasp what made her so rehabilitatable at first. “Radical feminism” is almost a slur nowadays, while hissing at and even physically attacking “radfems” is quite  nearly applauded on the left. So when Laurie Penny tweeted about how fond she was of Firestone’s “The Dialectic of Sex” I had to finally raise my hand and ask why. The most memorable chapter I could recall was Chapter 5, “Rasicm: The Sexism of the Family of Man” which was one of the more shockingly racist things I’d ever read from a second wave feminist. Penny said her favorite was the chapter that comes after, on love, and that she could effectively divorce the underlying premises from the previous chapter. How? Even within that chapter we find abhorrent essentialism, totally unhelpful analysis based more on Firestone’s own life than on conditions women face.

The underlying theme to Firestone’s work – and part of why I think it’s been rehabilitated – is a very vicious somatophobia (fear of the body) that complements contemporary racist and classist feminism very well. On request, I emailed Penny to ask her what could be gleaned from such a feminism – she has not responded. This destruction of the female body – either from thinking sex work is “just like any other job” or from the surgical/chemical feminism that holds hands with liberal trans feminism – is rooted in a dangerous essentialism. The woman is unable to escape her body, therefore she must destroy it. Reminders of her body, e.g. birth, menstruation, voluptuousness etc, are considered traumatic.

Masculinity is being able to transcend the body by immersing oneself in the “world of the mind”, by utilizing technology, by challenging the mystification of the body, of reducing people to individuals and individuals to their individual parts. Federici writes on surgery theaters of the late middle ages, of women being cut open and their mysteries being laid bare as a kind of terrorism and disciplining of the female sex. The mystical experience of pregnancy and birth reduced to organs, the rearing of children (reproduction of labor force) reduced to individual events and biological needs, schedules and regimins. In Firestone’s technofetishistic fantasy of babies grown in vats and raised by the state we have made quite a leap. The oppression of woman under capital is found in her body that betrays her by swelling large with children, by losing its perkiness with age, by gaining wrinkles around the eyes. The betrayal trans people describe in the process of puberty is the same betrayal women face as they go through puberty, as they age. The solution to this oppression posited here (with Firestone) is to embrace the flesh and conquer it and shape it to our will using technology and surgery. By embracing  masculinity-through-technology we too can escape our oppressive bodies. The hate is turned inward, festers like an ulcer. We blame ourselves, our lack of spirit, our lack of ability to change our own situations. It is atomizing and alienating.

In this, liberal and pink feminists willfully ignore the forces that assign such values to the body that make us hate them. Infuriatingly, they say there is nothing to be done about this. They say that men will always want to buy sex, they say that women are programmed in their brains to be the way they are, that gender is an essential biological condition as opposed to a system of active oppression under capitalism.

Birth is a powerful thing. Reproducing society is essential to our continued existence. There is no shame in breast feeding, no shame in menstruation, no shame in pregnancy or varicose veins. These are positions of great power for women, it is male technofetishism and capitalism that have turned these things into cause for shame and weakness. That Shulamith Firestone hates the body, hates weakness in the self is understandable, considering the pain that women go through on a daily basis in being women. However, she is misdirecting her hate and fear, putting the blame on women themselves. Her essentializing logic is dangerous, and the fact that her ideas have once again found traction in a “new generation” of “feminists” is troubling indeed. I hope that women are critical when they read these works, that they critically ask their friends to what end they are fascinated by fantasies of birthless, bloodless womanhood. We must make a decision of what we wish to transcend: capital or the flesh?

Further reading:

The Price of Freedom

Perhaps a better title to my previous post, one that addresses some of the encouraging and thoughtful comments it has garnered, would have been, the price of freedom. As national media coverage centers on the serial kidnappings in Cleveland, my previous musings attained a new color after I read this book excerpt from Natascha Kampusch, who, in 2006, freed herself from eight years of captivity she was abducted at the age of 10 in Vienna.

Upon spending eight years struggling to retain her identity in solitary captivity, Kampusch, found that her struggle for freedom would persist. Still a teenager, she was immediately confined to a children’s psychiatry ward where specialists counseled her to change her name, go into hiding and effectively deny her ordeal.

Yet, as Kampusch wondered, “what kind of life is it when you cannot show your face, cannot see your family and have to deny your name? What kind of life would that be, especially for someone like me, who during all those years in captivity had fought not to lose herself?”

Against their wishes, she went public with her story two weeks after her escape and eventually confronted a sensationalist media eager to erroneously dictate her experiences and faced a wave of harassment from strangers besotted with her captivity.

Not only did the past of Kampusch come under criticism, but her decisions after her imprisonment soon became a matter of public scrutiny. Gradually, the sympathy and support she received revealed a scorn and contempt from individuals unhappy with her decisions.  According to her:

What people could least forgive me for was that I refused to judge the kidnapper the way the public expected me to. Of course, the kidnapper had taken my youth away from me, locked me up and tormented me – but during the key time between the 11th and 19th years of my life, he had been my only attachment figure. By escaping, I had not only freed myself from my tormentor, but I had also lost a person, who was, by force of circumstances, close to me. But grief, even if it may seem difficult to comprehend, was not something I was entitled to. I was not permitted to work through my experiences; it was glibly dismissed as Stockholm syndrome.

As the details of her life became increasingly public, Kampusch was lambasted for expressing her private life. It was as if people could not fathom or acknowledge that she had a reality beyond her oppression, beyond the portrait of a damsel in distress foisted upon her. In reading this excerpt, I hazard to argue that it was this same inner, personal reality that allowed her to survive captivity, plot an escape and subsequently confront an intrusive public.  

As far as morality is concerned, the phases of her life before and after her escape indicate—to me, at least—the difficulty of coming to terms with one’s experiences. One must choose between concealing personal history or exposing them to some people eager to vaunt their messianic self-image. Or, at minimum, one must choose between remaining intimate with one’s captors or grieving them in freedom. Ultimately, this decision, whether made consciously or unconsciously, overtly or covertly, requires that individuals decide who they are  in spite of the wishes of other people. It is this demanding, never-ending struggle to come to terms with one’s history that I seek to call the price of freedom.

As Kampusch asserts, “my imprisonment is something I will have to cope with my whole life, but I am gradually coming to believe that I am no longer dominated by it. I survived imprisonment in my dungeon, freed myself and remained intact. I know that I can master life in freedom as well.”

link roundup

Good Old Laissez’s Faire post on beating the polygraph.

NPR takes money from fracking interest groups and decides to pit farmers against Hollywood liberals in their report on why fracking isn’t allowed in New York.

USA connected to death squads in South America? Ya don’t say! Here’s the latest on more Honduran fuckery from the Obama administration. 

Guardian Goggles: Because life’s too short to think for yourself.

link roundup

Joan Smith writes a wonderful article on the Nordic Model in Sweden and how it has developed over the last 13 years to dramatically cut down on trafficking and prostitution in general by arresting and charging johns, not prostituted women.

Michael Behar writes on terrifying “earthquake swarms” caused in Oklahoma, Arkansas by fracking:

I’m not the only one getting rebuffed. There is “a lack of companies cooperating with scientists,” complains seismologist Armbruster. “I was naive and thought companies would work with us. But they are stonewalling us, saying they don’t believe they are causing the quakes.” Admitting guilt could draw lawsuits and lead to new regulation. So it’s no surprise, says Rubinstein, “that industry is going to keep data close to their chest.”

A Wisconsin man faces 5 years in jail and a $250,000 fine for participating in an Anonymous-led DDOS protest against Koch interests. Pulling a face out of the crowd and punishing to deflate protest tactics – if they are pursuing them so vigorously  they must be dangerous.

Woman fired for being homeless.  What else do you say to that?

 

Who’s afraid of Big Bad Data?

The recent brutal crackdown on activist hackers such as Aaron Schwartz, Bradley Manning and dozens of Anonymous activists has run parallel with media praise of private sector ‘Big Data’ initiatives. New, privacy-compromising technologies such as Google Glass are eagerly anticipated while unpaid hacktivists are hounded mercilessly by international police. Information is gathered on us constantly, at all hours of the day, analyzed and made for sale. It’s legal when big companies like Google do it, and illegal when done as protest. The message is clear: privacy breaches are fine when they are hidden away in 38-page user agreements laced with opaque legal reasoning, but not when they are done to challenge business interests or the governments that protect them. Why is this the case?

Marketing companies that know how much money you earn, where you like to shop, or who you are likely to vote for, look like are a natural part of our growing, data-driven economy. Obtaining and publishing tax returns from presidential candidates running for public office, on the other hand, somehow becomes much more ethically fraught. Google Glass might empower people to discreetly take photos of women on the subway – or protesters at a march – and upload them to a social network without consent. Privately owned satellites and mapping cameras take photos of streets corners and the insides of people’s houses. The information you put on Facebook can be plugged into data algorithms and predict whether you are homosexual, a drug user, or if your parents are divorced. If the friendly cars driving around with cameras strapped to the top were branded with Homeland Security seals, or if the familiar interface of social media sites had ‘.gov’ addresses, we would be suspicious and concerned about privacy, and rightly so. Yet, when private interests run these initiatives, we are trusting and compliant, even when the government functionally has access to the same information.

If a hacker uses their computer to release data that is in the public interest, such as information on the Iraq war or academic research paid for with public money, they are treated by the justice system as worse criminals than rapists and murderers. No one has been raped or murdered as a result of Wikileaks, or friends sharing an academic database login, but what happened was widespread embarrassment of governments and corporations. Again, the message is clear: exposing these entities, implicating them in crimes or offering up their inner-workings to public scrutiny is unacceptable – treated worse than rape and murder.

The broad acceptance of this trend in privacy double-think comes from the individualist culture that is central to neoliberalism. Everything is about me. We don’t mind the intrusion from the market because it is done in our own ‘individual interest.’ Customizing your Google and Facebook experiences to your intimate details and consumer choices is sold as tailoring the technology to your personal needs. Offering personal information to the company you are receiving a free service from helps them ‘improve’ while offering you the opportunity to make better consumer choices. However, as a friend said: when you are receiving something for free, then you are actually what’s for sale. Leaking war documents isn’t something that is done for the individual, it is done for the masses. Exposing war crimes is for the sake of millions – it’s hard to put a face on who benefits, which is why any face will do. In the Wikileaks case, it’s alleged that the intended benefactors were Al Qaeda operatives, resuscitating the bloated spectre of Bin Laden. Making information accessible for everyone means it is accessible to the enemy, which, using the perverted legal logic of the prosecution in the Bradley Manning case, means that it was intended for the enemy.

Flattered that we have become so important, we are offering up profiles of our behavior and desires to private interests, strengthening a system that has only offered alienation and mass impoverishment. The hacktivists who attempt to throw a wrench into this system using the same methods of gathering and distributing data –albeit for no profit – are immediately set upon by the best justice system money can buy. It is only when this exact behavior is streamlined into acceptable best-practices and wrapped up in page after page of  byzantine privacy agreements does it become something laudable, as opposed to treason.

link roundup

Nicholas Shaxson explores the mostly-empty, most expensive residential address in London, One Hyde Park, and how things came to be this way in London:

Hollingsworth notes in Londongrad that the oligarchs he studies became rich “not by creating new wealth but rather by insider political intrigue and exploiting the weakness of the rule of law.” Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian-Israeli oilman and financier, explained his elite view of accumulating wealth to me in 2005. “With all the regulations, the taxation, the legislation about working conditions, there is no way to make money,” he said. “It is only in countries like Russia, during the period of redistribution of wealth—and it is not yet finished—when you can get a result. . . . How can you make $50 million in France today? How?”

Russia’s former privatization czar Anatoly Chubais put it less delicately: “They steal and steal. They are stealing absolutely everything.”

London real-estate agents confirm that these commodity plutocrats dethroned the financiers some time before the financial crisis hit. “I can’t remember the last time I sold a property to a banker,” says Stephen Lindsay, of the real-estate agency Savills. “It’s been hard for anyone to compete with the Russians, the Kazakhs. They are all in oil, gas—that is what they do. Construction—all that kind of stuff.”

Even the Arab money has taken a backseat to the new buyers, says Hersham. “The wealth of the ex-Soviets is incredible,” he says. “Unless you are talking about [Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd] Blankfein or [Stephen Schwarzman], the head of Blackstone, or the head of one of the very big banks, there is no driver from the City of London at these levels anymore.”

Greg Palast was on the Chavez beat, and now circles back around for Vice in order to explain why the Comandante was considered so evil.

John Pilger writes quite a good old-man-rant entitled “The New Propaganda is Liberal. The New Slavery is Digital.”  Old man salute, John! From a young woman…

Today’s “message” of grotesque inequality, social injustice and war is the propaganda of liberal democracies. By any measure of human behaviour, this is extremism. When Hugo Chavez challenged it, he was abused in bad faith; and his successor will be subverted by the same zealots of the American Enterprise Institute, Harvard’s Kennedy School and the “human rights” organisations that have appropriated American liberalism and underpin its propaganda. The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism.” He wrote, “All is normality on display. For [Nazi] goose-steppers, substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work [in the White House], planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Whereas a generation ago, dissent and biting satire were allowed in the “mainstream,” today their counterfeits are acceptable and a fake moral zeitgeist rules. “Identity” is all, mutating feminism and declaring class obsolete. Just as collateral damage covers for mass murder, “austerity” has become an acceptable lie. Beneath the veneer of consumerism, a quarter of Greater Manchester is reported to be living in “extreme poverty.”

 

http://johnpilger.com/articles/the-new-propaganda-is-liberal-the-new-slavery-is-digital

east flatbush

Sixteen year-old Kimani Gray was murdered last Sunday, shot 11 times by two undercover police officers. The police claimed that Gray was armed and threatening them with deadly force. Neighbors say they heard him plead for his life. Eleven times is a lot of times to shoot somebody.

Accordingly, East Flatbush has exploded with anger. There might be plenty who just hang from their windows, or wave from the doorways, but the idea that a group of vulnerable young people – the most targeted members of this neighborhood – would go through the streets articulating some serious rage means that it’s already boiled over. There have been nearly 50 arrests so far, and the protests continue.

Despite the majority of the media coverage and spin to this is that it’s the case of a bunch of outsiders there to do damage, there are people from all walks of life at this protest. True, many travel from different parts of New York, but they travel from the Bronx. They travel from Harlem. They travel over an hour by train or longer by bus to get there and hold solidarity with East Flatbush. There are white people and there are Hispanics, students and the unemployed, the formerly incarcerated and those who have never been touched by a cop. There are still more from the neighborhood. Everyone is furious.

The NYPD killed 21 people last year. They have dragged unarmed young women into the streets by their hair and killed them. Even if there are a million excuses and reasons, dismissed hearings and slaps on the wrist, these children gunned down in East Flatbush were murdered. They were murdered from the moment they were born. By chance of birth they were born into a system that condemned them to death or jail – sometimes both. The young men of East Flatbush are regularly stopped on the street and frisked by the NYPD. The parents are tired of losing their children – either to death or to lost opportunity.

For sure, I spoke with a man on the subway tonight who told me he was without power for a month after the hurricane. His life was swept away from him on the Far Rockaways by Sandy. Bloomberg showed his face there and was heckled away by the crowd. It was sort of a joke when Manhattan was without power – people moved uptown and checked into hotels or went to stay with friends. It was an inconvienance at best. But in the Far Rockaways people’s whole lives were wrecked by a Category 1 hurricane, which is not a very powerful hurricane. The foundations their lives were built on were those of poverty.

It is the same in East Flatbush. I’ve had people tell me that you need at least $40,000 to live a year in this city, but there are those in places like these that live off of $9,000 a year. The disconnect is remarkable.

So for the time being, rage builds in East Flatbush. The police presence is overwhelming. They won’t let the crowd to within a block of the police precinct and have cops on horseback. They have arrested nearly 50 people thus far and they are serious about cracking down. Kimani Gray’s sister was arrested for crossing the street. In response, the cops are going to the hospital with wounds from thrown bricks and bottles. The stakes are rising.

Kimani Gray’s family asked for there to be no protesting two days after they lost their son. The protesters proceeded. To the organizers, this was not just about Kimani Gray. It was about the structures that brutally oppress them. It is and isn’t about the cops – for sure, they are responsible for the shooting more directly, but they representative of what protects the system that keeps people in Red Hook and the Far Rockaways without power a month after the storm has passed. The system that creates teen mothers and the system that kills and imprisons their children. The system that has 1.8 million New Yorkers on food stamps and 21,000 children homeless. People came from all over New York because they are tired of it. They are calling for the end of it in the streets of East Flatbush. They are protesting against racism, brutality, capitalism, poverty and the senseless killing of children.

link roundup

Corbin Hiar gets offered his very own safari from a shadowy member of the ICCF while tracking down corruption in Washington, with some insight into the agenda in the developing world:

You realize that it’s their very culture, it’s the history of their peoples that’s at risk in the modern era where there are not a lot of solutions, and where a lot of organizations think the answer is to remove the people. Where the answer really is to include the people. Where the answer is to release the marketplace. Where, if these people rather than competing with these animals can live complimentarily—and I mean to benefit from them. That the value of these natural resources can be unleashed so that it benefits them.

Can you believe the culture once saw police as friendly neighborhood cops? Michael Arria interviews Radley Balko (whadda power name!) on the militarization of police in the United States. 

Good news comrades! All that personal data you’re offering up online can be used to predict if you are a drug addict or a child of a broken home. Welcome to the greatest job interview of your future life:

As ProPublica‘s Lois Beckett explains, data brokers sell information about everything from “whether you’re pregnant or divorced or trying to lose weight.” If you just read 18 wedding announcements on the New York Timessite, for example, Facebook knows that—but you might not know that until the engagement ring advertisements start popping up on your Facebook profile page.

San Francisco rolls out their new tribute to free speech: Pam Geller’s venomous ad campaign against Muslims reaches a new fever pitch as the ads claim that Muslims consider killing Jews as a pious act. Of course, the city, not wanting to make their coffers dirty with blood money, considerately donate the proceeds to a completely unrelated campaign.

new labor and new journalism

A fascinating find is going around on tumblr as a response to Nate Thayer’s justified takedown of the exploitative and exclusionary world of journalism. My mother quit journalism when she started to sense it was turning into something less of a public service and vital part of civil life and more of a money-making venture. For sure, someone has always made good money off of journalism, whether it’s a state run or a private venture, but journalists were paid as well. Now that the great labor squeeze has hit the papers, seasoned journalists like Nate Thayer, who does great work and has for many years, are suddenly competing with young upstarts who are willing to do the work for free, or perhaps re-purpose someone else’s. While the pros might accuse the new kids of engaging in scab behavior – they are in a way – both are exploited and both end up losing out in the end. Even the publications that come out in support for Nate admit they publish work they got for free and employ part-time temps (like myself).

As more professional journalists find their living in new concepts like “content marketing” (the magazine I temp for has recently added three to the roster) and more are willing to write for less, the quality of journalism degrades and the democratizing promises of the internet instead further pools the power and income at the top – where it has always gone – while culling smaller and more diverse magazines and newspapers.  The message gets more reverberation, and the origin of the content becomes more obfuscated. Mix that around with some pay-for-play schemes at already established papers, and our version of truth becomes more watered down, more unknowable.

Meanwhile, labor is further fractured and sent scrambling for crumbs. Few who are not endowed with a trust fund paycheck can afford to go do the legwork needed to really dig into a story. What is journalistic integrity? Even the piece that Nate Thayer was arguing about with The Atlantic was originally sold to NKNews, a news site on North Korea that is incredibly opaque itself (the editor board is not listed, nor their source of income) and has possible links to LiNK, a non profit dedicated to introducing “Liberty” to North Korea, among other organizations based in Washington D.C.

It seems I got a little sidetracked. The link I quoted at the beginning is a story from 1999 exploring the new labor economy based on the internet, of which journalism is now part and parcel. Entitled “Why Your Fabulous Job Sucks” it sort of illustrates how this generation got duped into low paying jobs that have little to no chance of unionization for the promise of a “pick your own hours” kind of lifestyle. Of course, no one told us that if we don’t “pick” to work all of them, we get none of them. The promise of freelance – “be your own boss!” – becomes a struggle to undercut the unseen competition, even if that means writing for free.

I was offered journalism jobs when I was living in Palestine – all of them were for no pay and all of them promised me a great opportunity to get exposure and build a portfolio. I never took one of them, something I sometimes regret as I sit where I am. Yet – what would I have been buying into? It’s nice to think of yourself as the next Seymour Hersh, but if you ever want to make money by writing, you’re better off going into content marketing or shilling for the big boys more directly over twitter.

I write what I do for free because I feel I have to. Oh, and the “feed me” button is located here.

the geography of de-sovietization & modernization

A recent study conducted by the Carnegie Endowment in Russia and the Caucuses  determined that Stalin – still “commands worryingly high levels of admiration”. The report is littered with incredible bias, including but not limited to accusations about the “Russian Character” that include their dependency issues and lack of  exposure to twitter. However the most interesting accusation, to me,  is the geographical divide between the two parties – those who generally approve of Stalin and those who generally disapprove.

Beyond indifference, in Moscow, 18 percent of those surveyed perceive Stalin positively and 46 percent negatively, while in small towns the figures are 29 percent and 16 percent and in villages the difference is even more striking—35 and 18 percent.

The main reason for this being, in CF’s own words, that de-Sovietized Russians are likely to be:

…products of the new, postindustrial economy that has developed chiefly in Moscow. They belong to the modern globalized world and have learned to assume responsibility for their choice of careers and lifestyles. They have an achiever’s mentality, something the traditional Russian experience could not have taught them.

Here we have a fascinating insight into the mechanizations of the “civilizing” theory of urbanization. To digress for a moment: I only have experience in the Middle East when it comes to truly having dialogue with NA countries, but the city/village divide was coming on strong. In Palestine, it added extra injury to the situation because children leaving their families in the countryside because vacant land is soon seized by the occupation. People had to leave for the cities because that’s where restriction hit the least (almost all of Area A, the part “governed solely” by the Palestinian Authority is located in urban areas) and where jobs were the easiest to find. These émigrés changed the urban landscape as well, turning tight communities where everyone knew each other into frightening possibilities in strangers who had no communal accountability.  Still, both émigré and local would down their noses at “baladeeya”, those from the countryside. In Palestine, the countryside is the root of national identity. Before the occupation, Palestinians were mainly rural.

Now, just like everywhere else in the world, communities are becoming more urbanized. The largest human migration in human history is currently taking place in China, where hundreds of millions have moved from the countryside – once Mao’s seat of power – to the cities. They flock to the promise of jobs, but, more often than not, end up in cheap housing, sometimes considered “slums” on the outskirts of town.

The culture that has sprung up around this phenomenon is that of the modern urban dweller (not citizen) – those more “plugged in” to the global economy, are more sophisticated and informed than those who live in the countryside where life is more backwards. As the $300m Carnegie Endowment for Peace says:

The key point here is not so much that Russia’s poor, depressed, stagnating, and often declining provinces are a repository of Soviet-style thinking, but the reasons behind those attitudes. These areas lack social diversity, most communication is basic and personal, and the price of human life is very low. A few institutions (mainly schools and television stations) compensate for the lack of development by indoctrinating citizens with collective symbols and ideas. In big cities, by contrast, increasing individualism and more complex social interactions lead to a rejection of the myth of Stalin, not just indifference to it. (Emphasis mine) 

The city, therefore, is the factory in which the 21st century human being is made. Stalin had gulags and was the head of a system that killed a lot of people, sure. He was also the head of a system that did indeed win the Great Patriotic War. The city seeks to erase this, make the former vestiges of what was once a point of fact into a lesson on individualism.

Stalin’s death was accompanied by an outpouring of public grief. In a last act of mass murder on March 9, 1953, the deceased tyrant caused hundreds of deaths as hysterical mourners were crushed and trampled in the gigantic crowds trying to take a last look at Stalin’s body.

This kind of contempt for the people parallels with the photos of mourning we see being published from Venezuela. Collectivization is a source of  shame and hysteria, the countryside and villages are bastions of backwardness. The people don’t know anything, they are dumb animals who will trample each other and languish in stagnation. The individual is the only subject to address, the only being with rationality. The hope for the future is found in a new economy based in the cities, where access to individualism and “complex social interactions” (not defined in this paper) will pull the backwards, collective-thinking global countryside into the slums and black markets – both considered admirable examples of free trade in neoliberal literature – of the 21st century.

Instead of looking at the material conditions of the countryside, where support of Stalin has risen over the last decade, the paper assigns racist and classist attitudes towards rural lifestyles and traditions. The mass automation of farming and industrialized slaughter of livestock has led to the impoverishment of billions worldwide who are left with little choice but to move into urban centers and engage in cheap manufacturing or service-based livelihoods. Their lives were probably better under the Soviets. Yet it is not their collective conditions to be examined, rather, their individual attitudes.

For the first time in recorded history, more humans live in cities than in rural areas. The idea of the “citizen” is stripped away as collective society disappears and the notion of dwellers as consumers is adopted. They are not entitled to anything and should expect nothing from anyone – an individual, after all, is responsible for his own well-being. If the trajectory of the global economy continues, then the folks over at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace have nothing to worry about – Stalin should be dead soon.