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LUMPENPROLETARIAT—Even as a kid, growing up in California, much of this was pretty obvious to me (and, I imagine, to others) even back then. But it’s refreshing to find corroborating evidence to end the gaslighting.  One social studies teacher at San Mateo High School did her best to answer my questions about what was going on in Russia at the time, circa 1990.  But it came in a hushed whisper after class, only me and my homie, who stayed after class, heard this bit.  What they need is glasnost without perestroika. Or was it, perestroika without glasnost?  Sepa la chingada.  Hay que leer mas.  She sure seemed right on.  But the streets… 

Something keeps calling… me… I feel the burdens on me… Something keeps calling… me… This is so heavy for me…

Raphael Saadiq, “Something Keeps Calling

Another high school teacher searched for answers to my restless questioning and simply ripped a piece of paper and wrote the name: “Noam Chomsky“. She said, “Read him.”  The sincerity and earnestness in her idealistic Latin American face seemed to hope I would read Chomsky.  I had no idea, who Chomsky was.  But, deep inside, I believed her; and I hoped I would follow through.  To read something, which was corroborating my teenage suspicions would have been like salvation because it would have ended the gaslighting so much sooner.  And it would have been me practicing what I preached.  But teenagers are moody and fickle.  They need guidance.

But, wait, why did I have to learn about the great Dr. Noam Chomsky via a snippet of paper with two words on it, passed hand to hand, as we happened to pass by each other on campus after school?  Why wasn’t the work of Noam Chomsky taught widely in the classroom?  What does this say about our nation, that an educator could only informally present valid information and analysis to a student?  Were we living under fascist censorship?  Has anything changed?  This was like secret information I was getting here, a secret tip pointing to the reality behind the veil.  But it also seemed to confirm all of the best educators, the most liberating educators, were all marginalized.

Forty-five years ago, under a cloak of secrecy, Operation Condor was officially launched: a global campaign of violent repression against the Latin American left by the region’s quasi-fascist military dictatorships. The US government not only knew about the program — it helped to engineer it.

Jacobin, December 2020

Basically, my whole entire life, forces within my government have been engaging in the erasure of the left and of grassroots democracy movements around the world.  Everything good and just and fair and kind, which my American teachers taught me and our great American leaders, Martin and Malcolm, taught me was thrown under the bus by the fake consumerist world of corporate America.  Teenagers can see through the bullshit of society.  Unfortunately, they usually lack the emotional intelligence to process it all.  My moral guidance came from my peers, or at least the only guidance I valued at the time.  So, I was a fool, disregarding the best intentions of my overworked parents.  It all seemed like bullshit.  But instead of reading Chomsky, like the kind educator lady was advising me, and becoming a serious scholar as a teenager.  I dropped out, or rather tested out of high school at 15, thinking it was all bullshit.  

Fuck the white education; so, I skipped a lot of classes…

MC Eiht, quoted in “Hood Took Me Under“, from Music to Driveby, Compton’s Most Wanted

But it wasn’t all bullshit.  I had work to do.  I just couldn’t see it.  There was a real, meaningful intellectual battle going on in the nation. And not everyone in institutions of power was insincere. It wasn’t totally bleak. I carried on as if there were no honest intellectuals out there; or I just wasn’t up to the task of reading as a lumpenproletarian teenager, despite the support of a few angelic teachers.  I can’t explain it.  If I do, perhaps it may explain why so few people today read scholars and experts, such as Noam Chomsky, who are so accurate and articulate about the world around us and can teach us so much.  Who knows?

Even as a high school drop out, dropped into the lumpenproletariat, so many sociological truths seemed so blatantly evident, that it’s disturbing to find institutional silence to injustice. It can be traumatic and disturbing to learn about so many horrible atrocities, killings, coup de tats, political destabilization, and other crimes of state committed by U.S. intelligence agencies to the point that we must question their very legitimacy.  One must overcome such trauma, rejoin the academic life, and adhere to the responsibility of intellectuals, as argued by Dr. Noam Chomsky, to search for the truth and to expose lies. To become responsible intellectuals, teenagers need mentors and role models to act as sounding boards to their teenage angst. Teens see the bullshit of society all around them, but then are gaslighted by the fake norms of institutions of power seeking to gloss over their abuses and failings, by schools and school districts, by police agencies and city councils, by environmental polluters and slumlords, by radio networks and TV networks, by all types of powerful institutions, who abuse their power. All of those institutions tell kids, everything is fine.  They manufacture consent.  They inhibit questioning through their abuse of power.

So, the youth might self-censor and become fake to get along in a sham corporate world, where the ills of society are airbrushed out. Or the youth might become withdrawn, unwittingly disillusioned with the emptiness of capitalist modes of production, mired in what Prof. John Vervaeke calls the meaning crisis.  This might overlap with the generation of apathetic millenials, which Simon Sinek makes viral videos about.  I’m reminded of the corporate media descriptions of apathetic shoe-gazing Generation X of the 1990s.    

21st century youth might learn to never complain, to always keep their mouths shut, to always follow instructions, to never question a single thing, and to earn their little piece of the racist empire, which preys on weaker nations around the world.

But isolated, atomized, individually or in little pods, we lose our collective power. To fulfill the responsibility of intellectuals requires a community. Rappers and singer-songwriters, folk singers, and poets, filmmakers, authors, and other artists have long exposed lies and uncomfortable truths. It’s only a lack of grit or our own inability to stomach our own reality, which has prevented us from calling out bullshit, when perpetrated by our own people or allies. But we must always speak out when we find the truth in order to expose lies and, hopefully, save lives.



Forty-five years ago, under a cloak of secrecy, Operation Condor was officially launched: a global campaign of violent repression against the Latin American left by the region’s quasi-fascist military dictatorships. The US government not only knew about the program — it helped to engineer it.

In Buenos Aires, a former Chilean general returns home, opens his garage door, and is blasted thirteen feet in the air when his car explodes, incinerating his wife. A conservative opponent of the country’s military dictatorship and his wife take an afternoon walk on the streets of Rome and are swiftly gunned down. On a rainy autumn morning, a car blows up in the middle of Washington, DC’s Embassy Row, killing two of the three inside: a leader of Chile’s opposition in exile and his newlywed American friend.

These were just some of the most prized scalps claimed by Operation Condor, officially inaugurated forty-five years and two days ago. With South America in the grip of military dictatorships and rocked by the same kinds of social and political movements that were demanding change all over the world in the 1960s and ’70s, a handful of the continent’s governments made a pact to work together to roll back the rising tide of “subversives” and “terrorists.”

What followed was a secret, global campaign of violent repression that spanned not just countries, but continents, and featured everything from abduction and torture to murder. To say it was known about by the US government, which backed these regimes, is an understatement: though even this simple fact was denied at the time, years of investigations and document releases since then mean that we now know the CIA and top-ranking US officials supported, laid the groundwork for, and were even directly involved in Condor’s crimes.

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[29 DEC 2020]

[Last modified on 11 JAN 2021 at 04:21 PST]