OM310 - The Baader-Meinhof Gang

This week, Ken and John talk about:

”I know everything is not on your clock. And fuck the gun. Don't you find it?” (Transcript of the German opener)

The right-shift of the political left in America (OM310)

We are living in a time that feels like an unprecedented rebellion, a rising up of not a united left but certainly an activated left. Up until the last six years the left had become a muted and co-opted conservative middle that from the Clinton years on and arguably all through the Reagan years - in an attempt to be bipartisan - adopted a pretty conservative economic program, embraced globalization, embraced corporate deregulation and deregulation of the stock market and sought to expand the appeal of the party by seeking an ideological and social centrism as well.

At the same time the right in American politics had no interest in compromise at all and continued to just push more and more rightward, resulting in an American political spectrum that didn't really have a mainstream left to speak of and certainly not an active and engaged far left that offered any mainstream critique of capitalism in general or any mainstream counter to the idea that corporate capitalism was generally accepted as a solution to social inequality, and was based on the idea that growth could be infinite, that money would grow infinitely, that resources would never be exploited, and if they were, then technology would magically wave its hands and solve problems.

The left should have been grappling with inequality and the environmental cost - and they did - but they were very siloed. Environmentalists were one thing and social justice activists were another, but there wasn't a common cause or a common platform because the left is right now in a state where ideological purity becomes an impediment to developing a consistent far left platform.

You would want a national party to do that. In a parliamentary system there would be room for that, but according to one popular formulation the United States is now left with essentially two corporatist right parties of fairly similar ideology, one pro-choice and one pro-life and that is what you vote between.

The Democratic Party always tried to include social justice in their platform whereas the right did not, but it was social justice within the context of a law and order state. The police or law enforcement in general was nothing that Democrats would ever tilt against while far left platforms typically see the police as instruments of a capitalist order, there to protect property rights and corporate interests against what would be considered basic human rights.

There was a funny dynamic going on in summer of 2020 where in the run up to the election the Republican candidates and their surrogates were trying to make the case that Joe Biden - of all people - wants to defund the police and people on the left were thinking: ”Man, I wish!” Imagine hearing the Republican platform and wondering: ”That would be great. Is that true? I'll vote for that!” Unfortunately Biden is a 108 year old Irish-American man who does not want to defund the police, who has been a Democratic Party operative since the 1970s, and who embraces a Great Society idea about the way the American left is going to produce a more equitable society.

In multiple arenas you can see the limitations of starting the conversation from the center and letting your position be pushed rightward, something that hasn't troubled the Republicans recently. We yearn for a presence in government that says: ”We want to overhaul the tax system to pay for this Green New Deal!” and negotiates from there, not: ”Here is Nancy Pelosi's watered down version of this!”, where you get a few tax credits for your health care deductible.

She is starting from a position that any other nation on Earth or even the Johnson administration would have considered a center right place, which must be confusing to people watching American politics from afar, thinking: ”Wait, neither party, including your vilified left wing one, believes in the public option for health insurance? Come on!”

Surfacing long-standing systemic problems, everybody is a victim (OM310)

In late 2020 the left started to galvanize around racial injustice, bolstered by a long-standing project to re-evaluate the American experiment that from the mid 17th century was inextricable from institutionalized slavery, to abolishing slavery, and then another 100 years of institutionalized racism. The process of re-evaluation contextualized by police violence is now available for all to see, which is largely technology-driven because problems that have always existed are now harder to sweep under the rug.

The international community is wondering: ”The left isn't even aware of what is considered mainstream leftism?” and the black community in the United States is countering: ”This is news to you?” and it was news to Ken. Over the last 10 years he has become aware of things that have been deeply ingrained in the American culture of black folks for his entire life. He didn't know that you had to take your son aside and tell him exactly how to act in a traffic stop so you didn't get killed, but this was a rite of passage for black kids.

This was something he had never thought of because he never had to think about it. Now these things are in the popular discourse in a way that they were not even for well-meaning folks on the left 10 years ago. When you think about it, when the scales fall from your eyes, of course it has been true the whole time! This is not a newly urgent problem for anyone but people who have recently been introduced to it.

We have seen tremendous change in the way that laws regard institutionalized discrimination, but that can not uproots long-standing racism in communities, racism in the institutional memory of all these places that maybe have new laws that govern them, but have moires and traditions that are impenetrable to law. The new laws may actually galvanize an emboldened resistance to them. It is no longer just soft media pressure to be a nice, tolerant person, but now there is teeth to make your small business be tolerant in certain legal ways and make election officers act in certain legal ways.

If you felt that the moire or the tradition was closer to the truth, then the laws felt imposed upon you by a radical force and it gives you the option of feeling like a victim, even though the people who feel that way tend to be the ones exercising unexamined privilege and are not a real underclass in any way.

Every single interest group that is part of the conversation across the entire spectrum of American politics currently posits themselves as a victim class, including white Christians, and including the biggest companies in America. If you listen to their language and you look at their platform, you see that they are using the language of victimization and the language of a Marxist dialectic.

It is the same as Ken’s teenager having internalized the modern language of therapy-speak enough to tell him that it is a toxic energy when he tells her to clean her room.

The Marxist bicameral understanding of power became less of a critique of 19th century power in the hands of manufacturers and more of a general social critique that was a blueprint you could apply to any exchange between as little as two people. Any exchanges is infused with a power dynamic and you can look at it as an owner/worker conflict and you can put yourself in the role of the exploited worker, even if you are not in the least bit exploited.

People are going on TV in front of an audience of tens of millions of people to share their shattering story of how they were canceled, but: ”You are speaking to 50 million people, sir, you were not in fact cancelled!”

The muted Generation X coming of age without a memory of the former radical left (OM310)

The temperature of the current conversation in politics suggests that there is no real institutional memory of leftism, not just in the United States, but in the Western world. During a long interregnum since the late 1970s/early 1980s until recent years far leftism had become muted and disorganized, partly because the right and even the Democratic Party made a concentrated effort to mute Generation X. The end of the Cold War took a lot of the energy out of what was seen as a global Left-Right conflict and left us in a world where there was not a Marxist other than to either emulate or use as an example of the enemy.

Ken's parents' generation is thinking and voting differently than Generation X in ways that appear troublesome because it is the last generation with a memory of an energized left that was scary and violent. All those threats in reality or in Thriller movies come now from the right who are now the fascistic ones and the violent ones. At least in this country we don't really have a memory of fertilizer bombs and similar violence that was coming from the left in the past.

With the rise of the environmental movement - especially in the 1980s and early 1990s - came some terroristic acts, largely pouring sand in the gas tanks bulldozers. At the University of Washington there was a famous incident where they burned down the green house at the horticultural center because they suspected that there were GMO products there, but all they really did was kill a bunch of orchids and it was seen as a leftist attack.

In the 1960s animal rights events were the headlines every day: ”What are the scary campus kids going to do next?”, but that doesn't exist anymore in so much that we have to invent it, that we have to imagine that Bernie Bros are a threat because they were mean to Maureen Dowd yesterday or something.

The left does not have a sense that there is precedent for this experience and for this movement, but there is a lot of source material that can be used to clarify a wider position and there are cautionary tales in terms of how to build on structures that you are making and not have a platform that is reactionary and that is only against the right rather than being constructive and have a platform to build a world. That is a problem with any reactionary group: You don't actually have a better idea in the chamber, but you are just angry.

Those are the images that you see on TV. You don't see the angry people hitting ten bureaucratic brick walls before some element of them finally starts breaking windows, or the simmering anger in the black middle class who says: ”Look, you have no idea! It is not just that we get shot at traffic stops!” Someone literally had to make these things a plot device on Black-ish (Netflix series) for Ken to understand them because they do not make the news. Every time they go to a government body and try to appeal to somebody, every time they go to a bank and look for a loan. It is a systemic thing!

It is not just anger, but within political structures: If all of your platforms are just platforms to undo a precedent it limits the actual good your movement will do. It is not constructive and you are going to hit a stopping point at some point.

The beginning of the Cold War (OM310)

During the 1960s and 1970s there was a very active and very frustrated hard left that was loosely organized across the globe and that was convinced that power structures as they existed were not surmountable by reason or political means. In the immediate post-World War II world colonialism was collapsing all around the world, and all of the former colonial possessions in Africa and in the Asian subcontinent were gone, but Western powers including the Soviet Union took over. The Viceroy went home, but the CIA and the KGB moved in.

The newly formed nations had the opportunity to either become democratic states or to reinstitute a local tribalistic government, and to become not just states, but nations, but those opportunities were immediately seized upon by the tendrils of the initial years of the Cold War, and not just through strategic power against the other bloc, but also through economic losses.

The fact that this country was not the same color on the map anymore does not mean they won't still need bananas and petroleum. New opportunities to go into places with unstable governments and exploit mineral resources presented themselves. At the same time oil was discovered in the Middle East and the world became truly an oil economy.

One of the reasons we had a Pax Americana for the rest of the 20th century after World War II had ended was that unlike with World War I and prior wars the victors did not impose too onerous a burden upon the losers beyond having had their countries utterly destroyed and everyone living under the rubble. We also needed to make nice with our former enemies because there was a bigger enemy now, either the Soviets or the US. There was idealism active in the West at the time and in the US State Department and in the universities, after World War I we saw what happens when we humiliate an enemy, but also World War II ended and the Cold War began the same day.

The processes of the denazification and in a way the dissolution of imperial Japan and the defascistisation of Italy were only skin deep. There was a long period where real bad Nazis were brought to trial, but a lot of the mid-level, just regular old SS and Nazi functionaries spent a little bit of time in a reeducation camp and went back home and within hours they were back to work in local government.

A man by the name of Hanns Martin Schleyer got out of his reeducation camp in 1948 and within a year's time he was a member of the Bremen City Council and began an illustrious political career. By the 1960s you saw in Western Europe, especially in Italy and in Germany, a lot of a mid-level people in politics, the mayors of towns, the members of parliament, and the industrial leaders all had direct Nazi experience. They were the Nazi generation and there had not yet been a German national reckoning.

Conservatism and commodity fetishization in post-war Germany (OM310)

There was a conservatism in German politics as a product of being right in the center of the Cold War. West Germany was the bulwark against an eastern invasion, the centerpiece of NATO. It was occupied and divided by American, British and French troops, and Berlin was a divided city right in the heart of it. The conservatism that former Nazis just naturally gravitated toward filled a role in geopolitics. They would have been dedicated anticommunist in 1939 and they are going to do it again in 1959, except dedicated anticommunism was now divorced from genocidal racism and an insatiable desire for conquer.

Germany became a model liberal democracy, but liberal in the sense of center-right thinking, as a counter to the Soviet Marxism and the Eastern Bloc, which was left political ideology, but of course also fascistic. That was the origin of the long-standing confusion about how you can have a right-wing political structure that sees itself as working more in their interests than a political ideology that expressly speaks for workers, except they are all poor and have one pair of overalls and are living in the shabbiest possible apartments and don’t have a can opener.

All that fed into what became a mid-century commodity fetishization and an emblem of your freedom as a worker was a shiny toaster or a brand new car. Those commodities were produced and sold in an increasing manufacturing frenzy and they were tied to ideas of personal and cultural liberation. We are still dealing with echoes of that today where your average American citizen - geographically and temporally far away from any threat of the Reds - still interprets our constitutional freedom as: ”You can't make me wear a mask at a Wal-Mart!”, ”You can't shut down the Chuck-E Cheese!”, or: ”You can't tell me that I can't drive a car that pollutes!” Our understanding of freedom is entirely linked to the symbols of consumerism.

That fetishizing of products and commodity was a very academic critique of Western capitalism that was posited as the opposite of Marxist-Leninism, cooperativism, or socialism of any kind that was going to lead to dreary totalitarianism you see 100 miles east of here. The critique was fairly universal in the universities and a version of it came to be known as situationism. Situationists were almost a caricature of a leftist academic because they also brought an influence of surrealism, the classic postmodernists, who are saying that it is not just a question of the rights of the workers, but it is a theoretical framework of how we live and think and how the soul best manifests.

The mid-1960s as a pivotal era of change (OM310)

All of this was within the student movements of the 1960s, a sense that the re-nazification of the German and Middle European political world meant that fascism had not been rooted out, and it meant that government was incapable of being reformed from within. You couldn't just vote in leftist candidates because all the power structures remained and had been reinforced, renamed, or recolored so that fascism was the form of government.

The mid-1960s were not quite the era where protests had become mainstream. We had seen in the 1950s a lot of resistance in the United States on the part of civil rights: Marchers, the civil rights movement, and the civil rights battles in the South, and to this day we associate that with struggle on the left, with a certain blueprint of protest, and this active resistance was a blueprint for the global left. Martin Luther King was directly influenced by Gandhi with strikes and marches and sit downs, which is all Gandhi’s playbook.

The left thought that if you couldn't fight it from inside, then you could at least shut it down, and there are only a few steps from "shutting it down" to "actively destroying it". The mid 1960s after the advent of the birth control pill was also when sexual liberation swept the world. Sex was no longer tied to procreation within marriage. The Third World also struggled at the end of colonialization when it became apparent that revolutionary and democratic movements were not thriving because of CIA and KGB intervention.

There was arms trading, coup d’état, and guerrillas resisting the democratically chosen government, heads of state were mysteriously dying or being abducted and all of that was in the newspapers. People could not fail to notice it! It is also the rise of the Baby Boomer youth identity, women's liberation is happening, and there was now a decade of anti-racist action globally.

The Soviet Union was describing itself as the antidote to all these Western problems. It is very hard to be enamored by Marxism as a theory and not have to wrestle with nations that are describing themselves as Marxist in practice. When the Soviet Union started to fall out of favor in the academic left there was still Maoism, a Chinese model, that had also divorced itself from the Soviets. In the West we didn’t yet know about the millions of dead in the famines and in the backyard smelters of the Maoist regime and a lot of Marxist models existed that would enable you to do that in a way.

We are still today trying to thread the needle. If you believe that there are progressive or social democratic innovations that will work in your country you will say that there is a way to do that without falling into their trap. We have heard it our whole lives: ”The Soviet Union wasn't really Marxist, it was fascist! There has never been a Marxist nation!” The right will do the same thing: "The National-Socialists were not really fascists. Hitler was a left winger!" Being able to see the potential of a theory and ignore having to wrestle with all the difficulty in implementing it is self-lobotomizing.

There were liberation theologies of the globe: Different peoples, particularly ones living in nations that had borders imposed by Balfour, were realizing: ”We are the Kurds, we are not half Iraqi, half Turkish!”

Israel, the bugbear of the world, is also right in the center of the Middle East, galvanizing an Arab identity movement and - very problematically - being at the heart of centuries of antisemitism. They forged a nation in the cauldron of that, a nation which immediately is posited as a fascist colonial power within the Muslim world. They got zero time of not being the persecuted underdog! Right before Israel was even founded the Jews emigrating to the Middle East were already colonial usurpers.

The Palestinian fight against the Israelis became a leftist cause célèbre because a lot of American Jews were funding Israel and the American CIA project to have Israel as a bulwark against a lot of the Arab states that were funded by the Soviets. It became a Cold War hotspot. Unfortunately, anti-semitism is the thing that brings people together. Anti-anti-Semitism could bring people together, but it tends to work the other way.

The global protests around 1968 (OM310)

This all came to a head in protests that happened globally by 1968 when the students of Paris rose up, when the people of Czechoslovakia rebelled, when there were protests against Vietnam and against the fact that a lot of NATO nations were tacit supporters of the Vietnam War, if not active ones, and the West German government contributed a lot to that conflict by sending arms globally as their side of the Cold War. At that point the baby boom was at its crest and the majority of that enormous generation was in their late teens and early 20s. They were activated by academic Marxism, but also by a brand new environmental movement and a recognition that global war wasn't necessarily the best. There were also anti-nuclear protests.

Within the situationist mentality there was a sense that the antidote to commodity fetishization and global capitalism was not something that you needed to undertake from the point of a nation state, but that you could just start to live communally. This was an era when people were tuning in and dropping out and living together in squats, refusing to pay rent, moving out to the countryside, and unfortunately then as now a lot of the most vocal people in these movements were middle to upper middle class educated whites.

There is an intrinsic privilege in being able to sit within systems of power and resist them. Unionizing hotel workers in the United States and giving them a voice is a ton of work, but it is a different story being the son of a state senator and sitting crisscross applesauce. A lot of the leftist movements in Europe at the time and in the United States were spearheaded by these people.

For example there was an early understanding that the feminist movement means something very different to white middle class women than it does to women of color and working class women. Those two groups do not have a common cause when looking for political representation. The same kind of critique is now made in the form of: ”Please, white middle class people, do not try to speak for Black Lives Matter!” We need to foreground the voices of people that are actually affected by this. It is a form of everlasting colonialism if the speakers are always white.

In the 1960s that was not yet common understanding, but by 1968 you see it in the American story, too: The Berkeley protests, the Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen, all of those protests were part of a global uprising and it felt like a moment where anything was possible. In the end there was a universal police crackdown, the Democratic convention, the Chicago cops, cops in Paris, and especially in Germany the neo-fascists were running the country and had the police crack down hard on students.

In July of 1967 there was one protest in particular when the Shah of Iran visited West Germany and the leftist students of Germany were protesting his visit. A policeman shot a protester by the name of Benno Ohnesorg in the head and killed him and it turned out the cop not only had a Nazi past, but was at the end also working for the Stasi, the East German secret police. Today you would not be surprised by the twist of the police having white supremacist ties, but working for the Stasi? You don't get that anymore!

That story did not come out immediately and it is not clear whether the Stasi were trying to destabilize it, but it started a series of student rebellions. All of this is happening within an environment where the West German press is really dominated by a Rupert Murdoch figure that owns the vast majority of West German media. His name was Axel Springer and he became basically the watchword of conservative and repressive media, the villain for the youth movements, and he was making it impossible for the true story to get out.

Andreas Baader being part of an uprising student rebellion (OM310)

In 1972 a student by the name of Andreas Baader and a couple of friends fire-bombed a couple of department stores, which was a typical student situationist understanding of an effective protest against police brutality and widespread fascism. Further examples are The WTO protests and a lot of the Black Lives Matter protests where anger got taken out on the Nike store or the commercial enterprise because they are the public face of commodity fetishization.

Baader burned down a couple of Kaufhaus department stores in reaction to all these events and set himself up as part of a student rebellion. There were student rebel groups springing up throughout Italy, Germany and throughout the West, like the Weathermen in the United States. There were groups called The Revolutionary Cells, there were The Red Brigades in Italy, and if you were a person of that generation you would have friends on the run from the cops. There was The 2nd of June Movement, it was all part of being a young college student for for a lot of people.

Ken learned about that in the Elena Ferrante books: Everybody had that one friend who just dropped out of sight and then the cops started asking you where you had seen them last. If you went into any leftist bookstore you could presume that the person in John Lennon glasses behind the counter was also in the evenings plotting to burn down a grocery store. They were all linked and shared goals and ideologies up to a certain point, but some of them were anarchistic, some of them were openly Marxist/Leninist. There was a lot of dispute about what the actual end goal was in overturning the fascist global state, but the short term goals were shared.

Ulrika Meinhof meeting Andreas Baader, sympathies for the villains (OM310)

Baader and his crew were arrested and put in jail, but he managed to escape with the help of a young journalist by the name of Ulrika Meinhof. It is hard to say how much this movement was glamorized because they were beautiful people. A lot of these young students that were part of the SDS and a lot of student movements are gorgeous and they are in their early 20s and they feel very passionately about the cause. They were tailor-made to be celebrities in the media and they were conscious of this.

Baader and Meinhof went on the lam, started robbing banks, and eventually they were both arrested. The challenge for the West German state was that because of their celebrity and a general recognition that a lot of their critiques of German society were accurate or at least compelling, there was a lot of sympathy for these leftist revolutionary movements in the general population.

People love an outlaw! The connection with Bonnie and Clyde was explicit. The Bonnie and Clyde movie had been a huge success during the same time period and Baader and Meinhof actually spoke of themselves as the Bonnie and Clyde of Germany at the time, which is a strained connection because Bonnie and Clyde were not trying to overturn the capitalist system.

Over a quarter of the West German population expressed sympathy for the aims of Baader and Meinhof and they were up against the public prosecutors, the judges, the entire legal system. When you met those people and read their biographies, you realize they were all Nazis and every one of them had some terrible backstory, so the right was not only unsympathetic because they were old and square and running guns and part of an anti liberation global cabal, but they were also actually Nazis.

They did what you would expect, which was pass laws against protesting and against these people specifically. The media were excluded during the trials, and the trials were really stacked against them. When the Baader Meinhof gang was sent to prison in Stammheim they actually built a new section of the prison just to hold them, where each one of them was kept in complete isolation.

The Baader Meinhof gang had been to Palestine and Libya and trained with the PLO. This was the time when the IRA, the ETA in northern Spain, the PLO, and others all saw that they were part of a larger liberation movement that used similar tactics and they shared one another's goals. If you were in the Baader Meinhof Gang you also wanted Ireland for the Irish and - problematically - had a problem with Jews.

The different world views of the right and the left when it comes to a revolution (OM310)

That does not seem like a super complicated view of the world. If you are immediately seeing your side of all these very diverse struggles, then you probably don't understand the subtleties of the struggle very well and you have a tendency to see a villain everywhere and to overestimate the degree to which the silent majority will take up your banner once a certain threshold is crossed.

You see this with the Boogaloo Movement now: The far right imagines that all they have to do is spark this race war or spark this uprising and it will galvanize all the moms and dads who are just sitting around watching television. They are all going to stand up and say: ”Yeah, we support your plan to have a white state in Idaho, Montana and Nevada!”

The left has the same idea right now as they had in 1972 that there is a nascent desire for revolution and as soon as the fascism will become overbearing it will inspire the revolutionary instinct in the populace.

The right was correct that there was an unsuspected silent majority, at least for a political revolution. No-one thought the Tea Party was the seeds of an actual presidential run, and that has the potential to be true on the left as well: Certain kinds of New Deal progressivism ideas are pulling in health care, social justice, and income inequality. You can probably put a political revolution on the back of that stuff, but nobody is going to want to see fighting in the streets and chairs going through windows.

The crucial difference is that the right wing ideologies in the United States right now do not really have an economic component beyond: ”Let things be the way they are!” and they are very reactionary against change. Most of the appeal to the voters in 2016 that brought Trump to office were reactionary against laws that they perceived to be imposing on their natural right to not make birthday cakes for gay people or disinclude people from their clubs, and ultimately it is all a reaction to affirmative action, the feeling deep down that maybe your color of skin is getting replaced, the demographic sense that somebody is sensing their own extinction, or feeling that what used to be fair - in other words: ”Easy for me!” - is now becoming unfair and that is a basic need.

The leftist arguments, particularly the hard left, are always more sophisticated: Overturning the structures of global capitalism requires a lot of legislation, regulation, enforcement, and reordering of how money is exchanged, interest rates, all the stuff that nobody wants to think about. They dream of a revolution and the creation of a state with equity, of true democracies with one person - one vote, imagining that people will vote their best interests, which - as we have seen in our contemporary world - doesn’t happen. The leftist ideology is predicated on the idea that education will enlighten and uplift the masses, and that also doesn't really seem like it is panning out.

How the original ideas got pulled right (OM310)

More and more members of the Baader Meinhof gang were arrested and the next generation started to mount bank robberies, embassy takeovers and hijackings, but their demands were often that the first generation of Baader Meinhof guys be released from prison. Toward the late 1970s they started to fall out of favor and lose their sympathy within the European mainstream left because their demands were no longer universally agreed-upon changes to the structure of the world and were much more like: ”We hijacked this guy and we will kill him if you don't release Andreas Baader from prison!”

There was Munich in 1972, Entebbe, the Baader Meinhof Gang hijacked a plane to Mogadishu, and all they wanted was get one of their own guys out of prison. The bank robberies were just to get money to survive because they were all living underground and they just need money, which is less sympathetic.

In Germany, Italy, and across Europe the right did succeed in imposing more police state restrictions, but the long term consequence was, and we talk about this in the United States all the time, that more and more leftist ideas got integrated into the green platform and into the left mainstream parties in Germany, so that by the 1980s and then especially into the 1990s and now even socialized medicine is seen as a common right, although the ruling parties are still very much center and center right.

A lot of socialistic principles became mainstreamed within European governments that were a product of this period and as a lot of the leftist radicals matured they became mainstream left politicians, which really did move the needle left. It didn't really happen in America, but a large part of it was that the Reagan revolution (even the UK with the Thatcher revolution) had a parliamentary system where you still had an active enough left that when the Labor Party got into power they needed to make common cause and adopt policies from a harder left.

In America a lot of the social justice stuff got pulled right by economics, the appeal to commodity fetishism. The question: ”Are you better off now than you were 10 years ago?”, ”We are going to make America great again!”, and ”We are going to bring the pride back!” all just means nicer stuff. The labor movement in the United States got discredited partly by the decline of our manufacturing power and by Reagan's ability to tie the fact that our cars were no longer good to the labor movement, and his busting of air traffic controllers.

There is the discrediting of the word ”liberal” and connecting that to racist dog whistling, the welfare state, or the black underclass that doesn't want to work. In the United States there is a lot more diversity racially than European nations, at least until recently, and that diversity also plays into those arguments. It is not just the leftist, but we can connect that to the Watts riots or the Rodney King riots because all of it is a fear that someone is coming for your stuff in violent ways, which is what we have now.

The end of the Baader Meinhof Gang (OM310)

The Baader Meinhof Gang dissolved largely after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout the 1980s they were probably supported by the Stasi and by the East German governments because even as East Germany fell apart they were still - for a very low investment - trying to sow a lot of instability in the West, but that whole geopolitical game all fell apart and Baader Meinhof dissolved and the remaining members disavowed violent action. Some of the sympathetic students of the early 1970s did go on to become mainstream politicians who are still active today, but a lot of the members of the second and then third generation of Baader Meinhof are accused of murder.

Ulrika Meinhof hung herself in prison in 1976 where she had tied the sheets of her bedding together and hung herself in her cell. The problem is that she was found by the police in the prison, supported by prosecutors who were all ex-Nazis, and there was no independent investigation into her suicide. The imprisoned Baader Meinhof people of that first generation did hunger striking, they found all manner to communicate with each other through their lawyers and to remain in the public eye.

In October of 1977 three of the main remaining members of imprisoned Baader Meinhof gang members, including Andreas Baader, committed suicide, having smuggled pistols into the jail through their lawyer. They shot themselves in jail, but it seems pretty suspicious that if you were in solitary confinement where you had no access to anyone, you would have them smuggle in a pistol just to kill yourself.

To this day there is a lot of suspicion that those were extrajudicial killings. It ended the hijackings and kidnappings to get them released from prison because they were all dead now. Once the first generation was gone, the second and third generation no longer had the same link to the original righteous organization and they disappeared for a long time.

Into the present day (OM310)

In 2016 there was a failed robbery outside of Bremen where a Ford Focus rolled up on an armored car that was taking deposits from a supermarket, blocked in the armored car, and three people made an assault on it where they failed to blow up on the armored car, failed to get what would have been over a million Euro inside, and made their escape, but left behind DNA traces revealing them to be Ernst Staub, Daniela Klette, und Burkhard Garweg, three Baader-Meinhof third generation gang members from the late 1970s. They were 58 years old at the time, they are only 10 years older than John, but in 1976 they were already active in the revolution.

Looking at the current left and the current state of America's fascistic national government (under Donald Trump) John tries to apply these past lessons and the history to the success of violent action, which seems to be somewhat limited, but the success of the ideological action, and you see the unfortunate story that the ideological action only got integrated in this back-door method where some members of parliament have those sympathies. You really want to do it better this time! That is not to say that John doesn’t have tons of plastic here in the bunker!

You do have young, energized people in their 20s getting directly into politics today, which Ken doesn’t remember happening on either side of the Atlantic in the late 1960s into the 1970s. It did happen, but we are in a two party system and you only have real power, other than the power of the pulpit, if you can get a majority. The difference in a parliamentary system is that if you get a faction, you can then draw the mainstream to the left.

In America the threat of the youth vote being denied to Biden, for instance, is being ventured because people see that it cost Clinton the presidency in 2016. John doesn’t know where your ideology would have to be that you would prefer Trump if you were a leftist. He is speaking as a two-time Nader voter and the chiron (?) under his face when his is on TV is: ”John Roderick, two time Nader voter” It is actually on his business card.

John's comment on Facebook about people taking issue (OM310)

"Ken and I are both politically liberal. We try to talk sensibly. We believe in science and math and we draw a world of conclusions from engaging with the liberal arts. There are plenty of politically conservative futurelings but for the most part they also believe in science and math and, while they may draw different conclusions from the liberal arts and, presumably, differ with us in matters of policy and the execution of same, they are people of good will.
The difference in "wokeness" between Ken and myself is a BIT we do and not really reflective of a political difference. We each have political preferences and where they differ seems to me to be a product of our ages rather than ideology. Ken is performatively more woke, in other words, because he is 46 instead of 52 and that six year gap within GenX is significant. That gap is present in our friendship too and we mostly have resolved it by tabling a very few areas of disagreement around contemporary preferences in language and ideology. Also Ken thinks he's wiser than me and I let him. That said, he often makes jokes I wouldn't, not due to insensitivity but because he sees veins of humor in things and is willing to risk mining it.

Neither of us is particularly conciliatory because, although always prepared to listen and learn, (it's a listen-and-learn podcast), we've each are confident in our general worldview. Nothing we ever say or do is meant to exclude ANYONE from our community, except those people whose politics would seek to exclude anyone else from this community including those whose politics would exclude people whose politics they personally feel excludes them from this community a priori.

When the future arrives it will be very different from the present and the sentient Kelpmats of Oceanic Gaia will hopefully feel just as welcome here as the podcast-loving kelp-eating Urchins that live amongst them and devour their holdfasts." — John Roderick, 2020-11-09

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