White Christian nationalist antibodies

Gilead

I’m thinking of Philip Slater today. He was a professor at California Institute of Integral Studies in the Transformative Studies program, the Ph.D. program that was the wrong program for me. But if you want to know why it took me a year and a half to decide it was the wrong program, Slater and his colleague, Connie Jones, deserve much of the credit.

Slater and Jones focused on social transformation, at least for one class that they taught (I took it from Jones). But based on a conclusion reached at the end of the anti-war, liberation, and counterculture movements of the 1960s, the Transformative Studies program embraced an approach of individual transformation on the idea that if you get enough individuals to transform, the larger society will reach a tipping point and follow. What actually happened instead is that capitalist marketers figured out how to exploit and exacerbate the individualism that this encouraged, leading to much of today’s calamity.[7] The Transformative Studies program failed to learn from the latter part of this experience even as it included it in the introductory class I took.

I don’t think we’re looking at a social system transformation today, but rather the opposite.[8] And I disagree with Philip Slater’s prognosis that—he uses a caterpillar metamorphosis to butterfly metaphor—that the present oppressive system will inevitably transform into a freer, more just one.[9] I would say instead, that due to emergent properties, we have no idea what the outcome of such a transformation will be.

There is always a risk in overthrowing a system that you will end up with something worse. And we need to consider this possibility with clear eyes rather than through rose-colored glasses.

Indeed, in the present context, white Christian nationalists are attempting a transformation. The outcome, should they succeed, would be the very opposite of what Slater forecast and fervently hoped for, and it would be immeasurably worse.

Still, I’m thinking of Slater’s description of a caterpillar about to cocoon, later to emerge as a butterfly. He wrote that the caterpillar’s antibodies resist the transformation mightily before the caterpillar succumbs and forms a cocoon. In his social transformation analogy, Slater warned that this reaction would terrify. It would appear overwhelming. And it would ultimately fail.[10]

I don’t know how accurate Slater’s description is biologically but the system I described yesterday, that I now think will fail to overturn the existing system,[11] might nonetheless produce such an antibody reaction as forces beyond its control threaten it.

It’s the news in this issue of the Irregular Bullshit that makes me think of Slater’s analogy. We might be seeing it here.

White Christian nationalism (Trumpism)


Fig. 1. A Ku Klux Klan meeting in Gainesville, Florida, Dec. 31, 1922, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Ron Kampeas, “Critics compare salutes at Trump and Mastriano rallies to Nazi ‘Sieg Heil,’” Times of Israel, September 20, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/critics-compare-salutes-at-trump-mastriano-rallies-to-nazi-sieg-heil/


Pennsylvania

2022 election


Fig. 2. There’s much too much of this kind of thing to be seen around Pittsburgh. Photograph taken by author through his windshield, May 17, 2022, just outside Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Ron Kampeas, “Critics compare salutes at Trump and Mastriano rallies to Nazi ‘Sieg Heil,’” Times of Israel, September 20, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/critics-compare-salutes-at-trump-mastriano-rallies-to-nazi-sieg-heil/


Ukraine


Fig. 1. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[12] fair use.

CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-joe-biden-vladimir-putin-60-minutes-2022-09-16/

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/ukraine-belgorod-putin/

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/17/look-these-are-our-boys-ukrainian-troops-drive-russian-tanks-new-front-line/

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-fall-russia-empire-ukraine-war-armenia-azerbaijan/

Thomas Bolton, “Russian forces ‘palpably panicking’ in Kharkiv region, says Zelenskyy,” EuroNews, September 20, 2022, https://www.euronews.com/2022/09/20/russian-forces-palpably-panicking-in-kharkiv-region-says-zelenskyy

John Gambrell, “Ukraine, using captured Russian tanks, firms up its lines,” Associated Press, September 20, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-kharkiv-3351d15af41ddde4176cb7cf72e74ac4

Matthew Luxmoore and Mauro Orru, “Russia Moves to Annex Occupied Lands as Ukraine Presses Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-moves-to-tighten-grip-on-occupied-lands-as-ukraine-presses-offensive-11663675647


  1. [7]Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self [DVD], BigD Productions.
  2. [8]David Benfell, “Spring in November?” Not Housebroken, September 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/09/19/spring-in-november/
  3. [9]Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect (Brighton, UK: Sussex, 2009).
  4. [10]Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect (Brighton, UK: Sussex, 2009).
  5. [11]David Benfell, “Spring in November?” Not Housebroken, September 19, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/09/19/spring-in-november/
  6. [12]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q

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