“To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
“”If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word freedom out of your vocabulary.” (-Malcolm X)
We’re Being Trained To Worry About ‘Russian Propaganda’ While Drowning In US Propaganda
One of the weirdest, most insane things happening today is the way the entire western world is being trained to freak out about “Russian propaganda” — which barely exists in the west — while ignoring the fact that we are spending every day marinating in billions of dollars worth of US empire propaganda.CNN has an article out titled “Darya Dugina’s death provides a glimpse into Russia’s vast disinformation machine — and the influential women fronting it” on the recently assassinated daughter of Alexander Dugin, a Russian political thinker of wildly exaggerated influence.The article uses Dugina’s assassination to further stoke its audience’s ever-growing panic about Russian disinformation, quickly becoming a commentary on Russia’s entire propaganda network without bothering to articulate how Dugina’s death “provides a glimpse” into its workings.Without the slightest hint of self-reflection or irony, this CNN article about Russian propaganda cites as its two main experts a think tanker from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and a think tanker from the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). The Atlantic Council is a NATO narrative management firm that is funded by NATO, the US government, the UK government, various other US-aligned states, the arms industry, and numerous billionaires. CEPA’s donor list looks similar to the Atlantic Council’s and includes US arms manufacturers and the US government through both the US State Department and the CIA cutout National Endowment for Democracy. Both are used to promote the information interests of the US-centralized power alliance in Europe and North America.As we’ve discussed previously, the way news media cite corrupt warmongering think tanks to discuss foreign policy without ever mentioning their immense conflicts of interests is plainly journalistic malpractice. But this practice is ubiquitous throughout the western news media, the because western news media are propaganda outlets.In which @CNN chooses to smear the assassinated Dugina as a “disinformation” purveyor (rather than just someone with a “pro-Kremlin world view”). Note that not only doesn’t the word “terrorism” appear in this long article, not even “assassination”. https://t.co/Fx6WCoDkNH— Left on the News (@leftiblog) August 30, 2022The article cites RT, the Internet Research Agency, and something called United World International as examples of “Russia’s vast disinformation machine,” despite every one of those institutions having a degree of influence that is the exact opposite of “vast” in the western world. In 2017 RT accounted for all of 0.04 percent of total TV viewership in the UK. A study found that the much-touted US “election interference” campaign by the Internet Research Agency in 2016 consisted mostly of posts that had nothing to do with the election and comprised “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content” seen on Facebook. I’d be surprised if anyone reading this has ever even heard of United World International, and CNN’s own article acknowledges that before that outlet was banned from western social media its accounts only ever had a few thousand followers.Compare those paltry numbers to the nonstop barrage of empire propaganda that westerners are fed every day of their lives by every news media outlet of significant influence — whose coverage of the Ukraine war has eclipsed that of all recent wars the US has been directly involved in — and it becomes clear that this message we’re being fed that we all need to panic about Russian propaganda is itself propaganda.The CNN write-up criticizes RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan for saying in 2012 that “When Russia is at war, we are, of course, on the side of Russia.” As though CNN ever sides against the US during US wars. Not only does CNN consistently take the side of the US government in every single war, it conducts brazen propaganda operations to help start new ones, like the time it staged a scripted interview with a small Syrian child calling for US military interventionism in Syria.The only difference between Russian state media and US state media is that Russian state media is honest about what it is.This story disparaging @TheGrayzoneNews approvingly cites “Ross Burley, co-founder of the Centre for Information Resilience.”Politico’s @e_casalicchio doesn’t mention that @rwdburley is a UK state propaganda operative who has called for Grayzone to be censored. Why omit that? https://t.co/Qo1L5w4DKp— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) August 29, 2022This wave of nonsensical, artificially created panic about Russian disinformation has been used to dismiss any and all information which comes out that casts the US empire and its lackeys in a negative light as Russian propaganda or the work of Russian agents. We’ve seen this over and over again, from the way Julian Assange has been falsely cast as a Kremlin operative to the way indie media are falsely framed as Russian propaganda operations.The latest example of this deception is the way incriminating leaked emails of prominent British figures published by The Grayzone have been dismissed in a new Politico hit piece as a dishonest representation of emails obtained by Russian hackers per “the Russian playbook”. Grayzone staff hastened to point out that not only does the Politico article fail to grapple with the rather important question of what the leaked emails actually contain, but that it failed to mention that its primary source is a UK Foreign Office veteran and psyops specialist who has a publicly stated vendetta to get The Grayzone censored online.The manufactured hysteria about a nonexistent epidemic of Russian propaganda in the west has people so blinkered and confused that it’s become impossible to criticize the most powerful government in the world for its planet-threatening brinkmanship with a rival nuclear superpower on any online forum without getting accused of being a secret agent for the Kremlin. My own social media notifications are continuously lit up with accusations of Putin loyalty and rubles in my bank account just for criticizing the most dangerous impulses of the most powerful and destructive government on earth, despite never having worked for Russia or any other government.What’s funny about all this is that by constantly warning of the dangers of Russian propaganda, imperial spinmeisters are admitting that they know it’s possible to manipulate public thought at mass scale using media. They’re just lying about who’s doing it to us.In reality, they’re not worried about Russian propaganda. “Russian propaganda” is just a spooky story we are told to keep us from noticing that our civilization is saturated in US propaganda. (-Caitlin Johnstone)
“The most important function of mainstream journalism today is to attack and try to discredit anyone who is actually doing what journalists are supposed to do.” (-George Szamuely)
“China doesn’t have 800+ military bases around the world. Russia doesn’t sanction 39 countries. Neither country is engaged in seven bombing campaigns abroad. That would be the United States, the imperialist hegemon and kingpin of chaos.” (-Danny Haiphong)
MY LIFE AS A ROLLING STONE DOCUMENTARIES
are a thoroughly entertaining series even if your kid’s yelling through about half of it. Man do I ever love Lisa Fischer. ‘Bout halfway through the Charlie finale and a little bummed there was almost nothing about ya know, Brian, or Billy Preston, or Bobby Keyes, but all n all pretty excellent. I could watch countless, endless hours of archival Stones footage.
FREE THE PRESS!
You might remember how I warned inattentive folks during the DNC rigged primaries and Rachel Maddow-Pink Hats-Hillarybot Hysteria-When Liz & Hillary Slandered Sanders As A Sexist But Not Bill Clinton or Gropey Joe, (HUH?)-Fanatical-Russiagate’s initial first round, you know when Libya butchering, cackling warhawk Clinton was going on tv and calling people like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon Double-Secret, “Putin-Puppet”, Trump lovin’ Russian Trolls, and that kinda McCarthyist smear was being allowed to stand, and routinely repeated by gullible shitlibs online, that they’d end up saying everybody was a dirty commie, EXCEPT for facking multi million dollar super high salaried propagandist and new cold warrior Rachel Maddow, and here we are. Hillary asked why she could not just drone whistleblower journalist Julian Assange and now, she and her deep state cronies still have him locked up in Belmarsh while she still gets to trash talk good people on the tightly restricted airwaves of the USA USA corporate media. Mickey Dolenz having to sue the FBI who apparently thought the antiwar MONKEES were “too subversive”. What a laugh. “Monkees”, “More Of The Monkees” and “Headquarters” were like my go-to records as a young kid, and my dearly departed brother from another gutter Tattoo Mark who died on the mean streets of New Orleans used to tell girls at the bar that all my songs, “Always sound like the Monkees, if they were singing about slitting their wrists”. He’d also say I look “Just like Rachel, Lou Reed’s jilted lover”. He was my favorite insult comedian, a deep swamp bullfrog blues belter and a fantastic poet. (RIP) MONKEES FOREVER! Those rich scumbag, boomer aged, greedy, horrible fucking inhumane warpigs should have smoked a lot more pot, dropped a lot more acid, and listened to the words of the Monkees song, “For Pete’s Sake”.
If Julian Assange goes, the First Amendment goes. by Max Blumenthal (anchor.fm)
Noam Chomsky: Propaganda Wars Are Raging as Russia’s War on Ukraine Expands (truthout.org)
SOME REVEREND PAUL FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE! LOOK FOR HIS NEW EP!
I LOVE THIS!
All us hardcore fans of Richard Duguay can’t wait to hear his follow up to his glam rock masterpiece, BAD JUJU. If you don’t have that album yet, you are fucking missing out.
He’s astonishingly great! You might know he played with DUFF from Guns N Roses and Neurotic Outsiders. I think he’s just a smashing songwriter ala vintage Alice Cooper, Bowie, and The Doors.
Richard Duguay (richard-duguay.myshopify.com)
SPORTS, NEWS, & WEATHER DESK:
The Ukraine conflict has plunged the world into a geopolitical crisis. But this is not, as the writer Patrick Lawrence points out, the only crisis. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the crisis within the western press, inflicting damage that he believes is ultimately irreparable. The press in the U.S. and most of Europe slavishly echoes the opinions of a ruling elite and oversees a public discourse that is often unhinged from the real world. It openly discredits or censors anything that counters the dominant narrative about Ukraine, however factual. For example, on August 4, Amnesty International published a report titled “Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians.” The report charged Ukrainian forces with putting civilians at risk by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, a violating the laws of war. To call out Ukrainian for war crimes, however well documented, saw the press and the ruling elites come down in fury on Amnesty International. The head of Amnesty International’s Kyiv office resigned, calling the report “a tool of Russian propaganda.” In one of the many broadsides the Royal United Services Institute in London wrote that “The amnesty report demonstrates a weak understanding of the laws of armed conflict, no understanding of military operations, and indulges in insinuations without supplying supporting evidence.” It is nearly impossible to question the virtues of Ukraine’s government and military. Those that do are attacked and banned from social media. How did this happen? Why is a position on the war in Ukraine the litmus test for who gets to have a voice and who does not? Why should a position on Ukraine justify censorship? Joining me to discuss these questions is Patrick Lawrence who a correspondent and columnist for nearly thirty years for the Far Eastern Economic Review was, the International Herald Tribune, and The New Yorker. He is the author of Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World and Time No Longer: America After the American Century.
The Chris Hedges Report Podcast with Patrick Lawrence (substack.com)
The Pimps of War – The Chris Hedges Report (substack.com)
NATO-backed network of Syria dirty war propagandists identified – The Grayzone
Chris Hedges: Ukraine & the Politics of Permanent War – Consortium News
How Murdoch’s Rogue News Corp Operates – Consortium News
How the CIA has Infiltrated Social Media Companies, with Alan MacLeod (mintpressnews.com)
Caitlin Johnstone: FBI’s Muting of Hunter Biden Story – Consortium News
“Dancing on the graves of Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Palestinians, Venezuelans. She’s dancing on the grave of Berta Cáceres, a real “gutsy” woman murdered for standing up to Hillary’s thugs.” (-Ali Abunimah)
“”You show me a capitalist, and I’ll show you a bloodsucker.” (-Malcolm X)
The ‘Noble Lie’ of a Democratic West – Consortium News
Deliberate Misrepresentation: Western Media Bias Makes Israeli War on Palestinians Possible (mintpressnews.com)
The American Political Crisis | Black Agenda Report
Liberals Love Liz Cheney | Black Agenda Report
“Revolutionary Organizing: An Interview with Ahjamu Umi” | Black Agenda Report
Like I said before, from Angels In Vain to Saigon Saloon, from Joker Five Speed to Smash fashion, any band Scarlet Rowe’s in ends up being good.
– SMASH Fashion – Rompus Pompous – The Strange Brew
YOU DON’T KNOW YOU’RE BEING PROGRAMMED CAUSE YOU’RE PROGRAMMED! WATCH MANUFACTURING CONSENT ON YOUTUBE!
DHS Wants to Continue its “disinformation” Work, Flag “falsehoods” to Social Media Platforms – Activist Post
Noam Chomsky on Nazi Propaganda and the Bewildered Herd – YouTube
“By “international”, PBS means *US* sanctions The US illegally froze $9.5 billion of Afghanistan’s central bank assets and refuses to give them back. That’s called theft The US is now helping starve millions of Afghans The US-NATO military war ended, but economic war continues” (-Benjamin Norton)
“I trust Joe Rogan more than I trust Joe Biden.” (-Nick Adams)
“This is funny because the forces most aggressively undermining liberal rights from duopoly, including speech & freedom from war, are precisely the sector of the ruling class that Biden & corporate democrats represent. So, curious to see how they spin this.” (-Ajamu Baraka)
“Cancelling student debt is a handout when it’s the economic elite talking.” (-Dr. Jill Stein)
“They put your mind right in a bag, and take it wherever they want.”
— Malcolm X
In Which Joe Biden Brags About Having Written the Patriot Act – Antiwar.com Blog
” Why is it only a “handout” when people are in need? When we give the rich a $1,900,000,000,000 tax cut, did anyone call it a handout? When the House passed an $840,000,000,000 military budget, did anyone call it a handout? But canceling student debt is a handout? What a joke.” (-Public Citizen)
“If the 74 million people who voted MAGA are “semi-fascists” according to Biden, does that make the 81 million that voted for Biden & the “America exceptionalism” of the democrats full fascists?” (-Ajamu Baraka)
“Stop moralizing with capitalists. Capitalists don’t have morals. They have ideology which fits with their model of exploitation.” (-Danny Haiphong)
“1 in 6 American homes are behind on utility bills and we’re sending money to Ukraine. Tsunami of shutoffs coming and Bernie doesn’t give a f#*k.” (-John Dissed)
Schwab Family Values (unlimitedhangout.com)
“The WEF’s Young Global Leaders program is a replica of Henry Kissinger’s CIA-funded International Seminar, which Klaus Schwab attended. Kissinger was a mentor to Schwab & also helped launch the Young Global Leaders program himself.” (-Whitney Webb)
The Kissinger Continuum: The Unauthorized History of the WEF’s Young Global Leaders Program (unlimitedhangout.com)
Free Speech Doesn’t Matter If Propagandists Determine What People Say (substack.com)
Revolutionary Blackout Network🥋 (@SocialistMMA) / Twitter
“Finland, Sweden, and Norway CAN’T be socialist. Why? Because they are in NATO. No self respecting socialist country would join an imperialist military alliance and help the US destroy the world on behalf of capitalism.” (-Danny Haiphong)
Shannon Ford on Twitter: “This has got to be a first in history, a first lady physically moving the president backwards while he’s speaking to the press. https://t.co/9ZDI9VHyHi” / Twitter
“Obama armed the terrorists in Syria that killed my family and friends, beheaded our priests, and burnt down our churches.” (-Hannibal Khoury on Twitter)
Extended episode: Noam Chomsky: We’re Repeating Afghanistan in Ukraine (substack.com)
Where the Wild Things Are: Literature, Boys, and Manhood (theepochtimes.com)
4 Signs of an Authoritarian Regime – Activist Post
Roger Waters added to Ukrainian govt-sponsored hit list – The Grayzone
Documents show Bill Gates has given $319 million to media outlets to promote his global agenda – The Grayzone
BACKS OF THE POOR
My ole lady threw her back out while doing heavy lifting for our sometime local employer and I feel pretty bad for her. Developers are driving us off our street with plans to spend the next few years with big machines and dirt movers and scandalously shady home builders building a big series of overnight popup McMansions. They start the hammering early nowadays. We got outdoor cats and a kid with a disability all this traffic puts at risk, there’s supposed to be like 200 new people across the street here and we kinda feel the squeeze. The old unwelcoming gentrification pressure I been subjected to since about ’95. When the haves wanna push out all the have nots. They wanna make the owners sell these lots to the big investors. That’s why we’ve had to take these new hard labor heavy lifting jobs as a side hustle moving shit for rich people. We gotta hustle up money to relocate. This rickety old desert trailer has been good to us these last few years but with the leaky roofs, freaky hermit neighbors, lack of furnace and creepy builders, it’s feeling like it might be time to pull up our circus tent stakes and ya know, kinda ease on down the road, like in that old Keith song. “I Will Walk Before They Make Me Run.” Hopefully, if the Good Lord’s willing and the crick don’t rise, we can be resettled somewhere safe by Christmas, but it’s gonna require some luck, longshot potential landlord cooperation and a mammoth amount of work and worry and more heavy fucking lifting and landscaping which is not my idea of good times, but our oversized teenager has outgrown the 53 year old trailer. The creeps in authority here have also put us all on notice by repeatedly deploying cops and code enforcer goon squads on our street to intimidate the elderly an disabled residents.
Our neurotic, needy, big fat cat pawed his way into the bedroom and woke me up about five thirty this morning and I was not ready to get up, but the neighbor’s confused rooster is cockadooing and I fed some outdoor feral cats and looked up at the night stars. My bored teenager is asking me to remember my own bored teenager shenanigans and I was telling him about how fun it was when we had two turntables and a mixer so we could make real mix tapes for people. My friends Sean and Fred had all the old, old, old school early rap 12 inches, ya know just shelves and shelves of ’em, and ya know like Midnight Star eighties soul and R & B. “Ready For The World” and Lisa Lisa-right? LL Cool J, Whodini, Ice T, Kurtis Blow and Run DMC. I can’t tell him much of the real story, he’s just nowheres near ready for all that, but I had a friend who I met in detention hall who was like a Biz Markie charismatic beatbox-he was a big onery rascal who used to sneak his daddy’s Cadillac out at night, we’d push it down the block then jump in and drive it out towards deep suburbia where the girls with the Farrah hairdos all lived. We’d be knocking quietly at their windows like in that Shaun Cassidy song, “Hey Deanie Won’t You Come Out Tonight”. They seldom did, but sometimes, there were about three girls from the local church, who would met us under the underpass by the railroad tracks. The one named Missy would always bring her hair brush with her everywhere. I guess she had some bad misadventures in more recent years, she shocked us all with so many of her choices. They all did, really. Yikes. Some of ’em got involved ya know with like the piss town drug culture, some others became Joe Job work a day, paycheck chasers, buying houses, building empires, buying real estate and all that shit. Two classes of people you really don’t wanna get involved with much are slave wanting empire havers and drug culture. You always get burned. I remember when there was no such thing as free long distance, ya know, pre NSA, pre I-Phones, you had to pay these fuckedup sky high phone bills, so I got a couple old homies still mad at me for using their phones while trying to contact people in faraway cities trying to organize shows for my greasy hoodlums bands and look for drummers and all that kinda stuff. Even the motherfuckers I reimbursed fully way back in the olden daze still go round complaining about it decades later. We all watched Duran Duran and Inxs on MTV and later on, VH1 kindof started off as the soft rock easy listening MTV, all Michael Bolton bullshit and like adult mush ala Phil Collins. MTV, man. That was everything, where we saw Billy Idol and Prince, Van Halen, and Adam Ant. “120 Minutes” and “Headbanger’s Ball”. Hard to believe there was a time when we could see bands like Lords Of The New Church and Zodiac Mindwarp on fucking television. Now everything is like New World Order Metaverse Goggles bullshit manufactured unreality shows about belting the Whitney Houston high note, it’s all artless, like Olympics sports competition. A world of fabricated suckiness. Imagine being such a crazy tyrannical overlord, you intentionally make show biz puppets that suck on purpose. We used to hear songs like, “Open Your Eyes” and “London calling”, but now it’s like all designed to dumb you down and numb you out, get you to not read, just be a mindlessly compliant slave, purchase, obey, die. As Stiv sang in “Ready To Snap”: “they’ll take their pills and they’ll never question why”. I never, never understood all these guys who would actually watch televised sports. I used to get stuck in hotel rooms with my grandfather watching golf for hours on trips to the Motor City to buy cars for his Smalltown, Kentucky car dealership. Kentucky is all about college basketball, like Ohio is obsessed with college and pro football. Not me, man. I was into Prince and Bowie and all those kooky new romantics, even the real daffy stuff like ABC and Visage. I remember liking “The Surreal Life” and “Rotten TV” in later years, before they took good music off the airwaves and replaced it with those fuckedup fucking unlistenable “I Want It That Way” make no sense, expensive tennis shoes boybands, monarch programmed stripper pop, and aspirational beach house lifestyle programming like “90210” and “Friends”, “Dawson’s Creek”, “the Hills” and “Kardashians” that glorify idle rich kids and all that awful shit like Katy Perry candy jingles and like, all those hundreds of different creepy occult pop videos, Madonna’s daughter just did one where she and some dude are cavorting around on Houdini’s grave. I been outta step with faux popular culture for years and years now. I don’t even believe any of it is really popular, it’s just bad bullshit thrust upon us against our will by the creepy sociopaths and billionaire tech-lords who own the pig-media. My kid has Autism but all those gnarly Youtube clips of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” seem to make dope dealing and dirty lawyering and crooked copping all seem glamourous to him and his former classmates. Sheesh, and then there’s all that illuminati-pop garbage.
My old Detroit friend, I-94 Recordings honcho in chief, Jim Rinn, sent me some kinda digital version of a Candy Snatchers single. He’s the cat who brought you Cranford Nix Jr., the Trash Brats, and those essential and historic “DRUNK ON ROCK” compilations! Also this whole Detroit B Side series everybody’s talkin’ about. Check out all his boss swag. I’m a notorious luddite and tend to shun new tech, I’m still like a cassette tapes and records and cd’s kinda guy. I can’t really figure out all that Dropbox shit ya know I never had an I-Pod or I-Phone or any of that, but I used to see the Candy Snatchers perform pretty frequently way way back when I still went to see live rock shows. The dead guy was rude to me once, he was a good player, wild onstage, really flailed about and banged his head like a super adrenalized righteous glam stomper, but ya know he was all jackedup on the road and they were the excessively inebriated darlings of the underground back then, so he was feeling a disproportionate sense of self importance and made some ridiculous comment about my girlfriend at the time, all these live fast/die young tough guy punks were always trying to sortof be swaggering lady killers back then, but really, they were sometimes just coming off like brainless heavy metal dickheads. Locker room shit talkers. I will say they stormed the stage like crazy motherfuckers, grossed everybody out with the bloodshed. Larry reminded me of Danzig a little bit, or Elvis, actually, he had undeniable raw power. The fad chasing, disposable income enjoying, “garage rock” bandwagon, vinyl buying, Midwestern hipster scenesters who sucked up to the ripoff recordstore owner who inherited some money and thought he was Martin Chess or some shit, they were all pinned to the back wall of the bar, actually cowering, meekly afraid of the Candy Snatchers!!! I remember how they’d all stand in the back with their Rolling Rocks, totally intimidated by those guys. I guess one of those guys got in trouble with the law for something. The one with the sunglasses after dark who used to talk to me about Hanoi Rocks all the time. They kindof reminded me of the Dwarves and Electric Frankenstein, ya know? But my main fave band from that whole scene, before punk rock died was, of course, THE HUMPERS. The Humpers put on the best shows AND wrote the best songs. Of course we also all loved Scott Deluxe Drake‘s solo bands and his brother’s group, The Joneses, and their spinoff project, The Vice Principals. That was our favorite kinda rocknroll. The wild, untamed kind! I also remember Knox and The Vibrators putting on a great show back then, they played at an illegal after hours type venue and were such a blast, me and a spiked black jacketed, now sadly dead, punk rocker named Jude (RIP) and a hard drinking crusty street kid I loved who worked at my ex girlfriend’s pizza place named Howie (RIP) who is also gone too soon, were like singing in the mic with Knox all night, I think he played all of “Pure Mania” live that night. These new younger guys Jonesy are pretty good throwbacks to the sad last daze of like Teengenerate and the Rock & Fucking Roll record label ran by Martin Mcmartin and those Sal Electric Frankenstein Fist Full Of Rock compilations. I kinda like ’em. ‘Lot like me n my friends when we were young, and dumb and joyfully playing a lotta Hollyood Brats and NY Dolls influenced basement band bubblegum, really. They look like they’re having a lot of fun. Shades of Doctor Boogie or the Sweet Things. Dig! I think they’re kinda fun, personally.
BILLIONAIRE CORPORATE MONEY BOUGHT ALL THE POLITICIANS
Weaponizing the Bureaucracy: Who Will Protect Us from the Government’s Standing Army? – Activist Post
The American Kleptocracy: A Government of Liars, Thieves and Lawbreakers – Activist Post
WEF Pushes Augmented Tech, Brain Chips and Internet of Bodies – Activist Post
The Scientists to put ‘Negativity’ back on the map | News (i94bar.com)
Understanding The Tyrannical Mind And How It Operates – Activist Post
Gov. Ronald Reagan explains his requested shutdown of California’s higher education system in Sacramento, Calif. on May 6, 1970. Photo: Bettmann Archive
THE ORIGIN OF STUDENT DEBT: REAGAN ADVISER WARNED FREE COLLEGE WOULD CREATE A DANGEROUS “EDUCATED PROLETARIAT”
In 1970, Roger Freeman, who also worked for Nixon, revealed the right’s motivation for coming decades of attacks on higher education.
August 25 2022, 2:57 p.m.
WITH THE vociferous debate over President Joe Biden’s announcement that the federal government will cancel a portion of outstanding student debt, it’s important to understand how Americans came to owe the current cumulative total of more than $1.6 trillion for higher education.
In 1970, Ronald Reagan was running for reelection as governor of California. He had first won in 1966 with confrontational rhetoric toward the University of California public college system and executed confrontational policies when in office. In May 1970, Reagan had shut down all 28 UC and Cal State campuses in the midst of student protests against the Vietnam War and the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. On October 29, less than a week before the election, his education adviser Roger A. Freeman spoke at a press conference to defend him.
Freeman’s remarks were reported the next day in the San Francisco Chronicle under the headline “Professor Sees Peril in Education.” According to the Chronicle article, Freeman said, “We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. … That’s dynamite! We have to be selective on who we allow [to go to college].”
“If not,” Freeman continued, “we will have a large number of highly trained and unemployed people.” Freeman also said — taking a highly idiosyncratic perspective on the cause of fascism —“that’s what happened in Germany. I saw it happen.”
Freeman was born in 1904 in Vienna, Austria, and emigrated to the United States after the rise of Hitler. An economist who became a longtime fixture in conservative politics, he served on the White House staff during both the Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon administrations. In 1970 he was seconded from the Nixon administration to work on Reagan’s campaign. He was also a senior fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution. In one of his books, he asked “can Western Civilization survive” what he believed to be excessive government spending on education, Social Security, etc.
A core theme of Reagan’s first gubernatorial campaign in 1966 was resentment toward California’s public colleges, in particular UC Berkeley, with Reagan repeatedly vowing “to clean up the mess” there. Berkeley, then nearly free to attend for California residents, had become a national center of organizing against the Vietnam War. Deep anxiety about this reached the highest levels of the U.S. government. John McCone, the head of the CIA, requested a meeting with J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, to discuss “communist influence” at Berkeley, a situation that “definitely required some corrective action.”
The success of Reagan’s attacks on California public colleges inspired conservative politicians across the U.S. Nixon decried “campus revolt.” Spiro Agnew, his vice president, proclaimed that thanks to open admissions policies, “unqualified students are being swept into college on the wave of the new socialism.”
Prominent conservative intellectuals also took up the charge. Privately one worried that free education “may be producing a positively dangerous class situation” by raising the expectations of working-class students. Another referred to college students as “a parasite feeding on the rest of society” who exhibited a “failure to understand and to appreciate the crucial role played [by] the reward-punishment structure of the market.” The answer was “to close off the parasitic option.”
In practice, this meant to the National Review, a “system of full tuition charges supplemented by loans which students must pay out of their future income.”
In retrospect, this period was the clear turning point in America’s policies toward higher education. For decades, there had been enthusiastic bipartisan agreement that states should fund high-quality public colleges so that their youth could receive higher education for free or nearly so. That has now vanished. In 1968, California residents paid a $300 yearly fee to attend Berkeley, the equivalent of about $2,000 now. Now tuition at Berkeley is $15,000, with total yearly student costs reaching almost $40,000.
Student debt, which had played a minor role in American life through the 1960s, increased during the Reagan administration and then shot up after the 2007-2009 Great Recession as states made huge cuts to funding for their college systems.
Joe Biden’s Role in Creating the Student Debt Crisis Stretches Back to the 1970s
That brings us to today. Biden’s actions, while positive, are merely a Band-Aid on a crisis 50 years in the making. In 1822, founding father James Madison wrote to a friend that “the liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. … Enlightened patriotism … is now providing for the State a Plan of Education embracing every class of Citizens.”
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance,” Madison explained, “and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” Freeman and Reagan and their compatriots agreed with Madison’s perspective but wanted to prevent Americans from gaining this power. If we want to take another path, the U.S. will have to recover a vision of a well-educated populace not as a terrible threat, but as a positive force that makes the nation better for everyone — and so should largely be paid for by all of us.