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The Dangerous Attack on Free Speech in American Society

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One of America’s greatest Sociologists, C. Wright Mills, said that it was a sociologist’s job to point out the absurdities within their societies. Currently, it seems like PETA’s equating “anti-animal language” with hate speech is a good example of absurdity in modern American society which needs to be pointed out. The animal rights activist group has recently taken to Twitter to propose a change in the way idioms are used in the Englush language. For instance, they propose that the saying “beat a dead horse” should be replaced by “feed a fed horse”, or that the saying “bring home the bacon” should be replaced by “bring home the bagels”. Normally, this kind of absurdity could be easily dismissed as far-left wing activism which has gone off the deep end; after all, one would think that the very absurdity of this would make it irrelevant.

 

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Image (Unfortunately) Courtesy Of: https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-12-05/peta-compares-anti-animal-language-to-hate-speech

 

Unfortunately, there is something far more insidious at work in this attack on language. As the literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak points out in her book “Nationalism and the Imagination”, language is intimately tied into conceptions of what the “nation” is. Spivak writes:

Language has a history; it is public before our births and will continue so after our deaths. (Spivak, 32).

The history of language is the history of the nation. It is something that roots the individual in the context of the nation and, at the same time, places the individual within a community beyond the “self”. As someone who is bilingual—as well as bi-cultural and a dual-national—I know better than many just how important language is. And it is idioms that are the most important; they say in only a few words things about cultures and nations that thousands of words cannot. And this is why any attack on words—in the name of resisting some sort of “cism” (racism, sexism, speciesism, and the like)—cannot be accepted.

 

Can any society truly accept this kind of censorship without contesting it? In the past, totalitarian regimes—like that of Nazi Germany—chose to burn books so as to destroy the old culture in hopes of creating a new one. Now, in the postmodern age—where, as Foucault and Elias point out, we have become repulsed by exhibitions of outright violence—we accept outright censorship in the form of political correctness in the name of “progressivism”. While books are not being physically burned, thoughts are still being silenced. And one cannot say certain terms lest they be slandered by the label of “racist”, “sexist”, or—even—“speciesist”.  Of course, this is absurd. Unfortunately, however, few are resisting this censorship of language.

 

In the workplace, this type of linguistic control has extended to the forceful use of “gender neutral pronouns” . Indeed, in the universities, “inclusive teaching” seeks to control educators’ language, and the University of Kansas has gone so far as to rationally—and technocratically—dictate what kind of pronouns educators should use. Any educator who is a true educator—that is one who stands for free speech and independent thought—should stand against this form of censorship and thought control. Unfortunately, I see few educators who are willing to take this risk. After all, in the postmodern era, the threat of symbolic violence—in the Bourdieuian sense—is all too real for many educators. Rather than risk tenure, educators are choosing to remain silent to the fundamental assault on free speech that political correctness is engaging in.

 

For those of us who still respect freedom of thought in the modern world, at least we have the football fans. Whether it is in the form of banners or choreographies, fans tend to make their voices heard. Even in the form of stickers—which some Besiktas fans affixed to a pole in Istanbul—fans are able to express their nationalism (in the form of an Ataturk sticker), their opposition to the E-Ticket scheme pushed by the state, as well as their own identity as “the peoples’ team”. Freedom of speech is something worth standing up for, and, in this regard, educators may have something to learn from football fans. After all, it is our language which plays a role in defining our cultures and—by extension—our lives. To ignore it would, in effect, mean ignoring our very lives.

 

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At least the Football Fans are Still Free. Image Courtesy of the Author.

Black Friday: A True Representation of Jean Baudrillard’s “Hyperreality”

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The French sociologist/philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s concept of the hyperreality is—ironically—quite real in 2018. We have, indeed, accepted the symbol as more real than that which it symbolizes. Surrounding the holiday of Thanksgiving—what was once the most wholesome and anti-consumption of American holidays—three news stories caught my eye. All three show quite clearly that Baudrillard was right: We are living in a hyperreality.

On 21 November, USA today chose to report to the American public with the headline “Why women and girls bear the brunt of the romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak”. The absurdity of this headline manifests itself on multiple levels. The most dangerous consequence of irresponsible reporting like this is that it infuses identity politics into a situation which—quite clearly—affects all reaches of American society. Yet, in the hyperreality of modernity, the main (lame) stream media is telling the public that they should see a nationwide problem in terms identity politics; rather than questioning why our lettuce is infected with bacteria we are told to question the sexism of…the lettuce itself. Quite clearly, this is an absurd attempt to reframe the issue at hand and avoid asking the difficult questions.

Yet even this poor reporting might not be as absurd as the consumerist phenomenon that is “Black Friday”. The United States, over the course of the past thirty years (which correspond with the rise of globalism), has become a country where the holiday of Thanksgiving has transformed from one celebrating family and friends to a sideshow consisting of the kind of consumerism that Christmas has devolved into. While, in my childhood at least, Thanksgiving was seen as a holiday just like Christmas, it has now become a glorified pre-game show (to use sports terminology) to the consumerist “show” that Christmas has become. In what other country would we see people celebrating “thankfulness” and “family” before, a few hours later, fighting over television sets at a Wal-Mart? Indeed, this is an absurdity of the hyperreality we live in, and—sadly—it is being exported to other countries. This example alone should show us that Baudrillard was right when he pointed out that globalization does not bring us together in any “real” sense; rather it connects us in the superficial ways which befit the post-modern hyperreality.

 

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Black Friday Comes to…Brazil? If This is the Face of Globalization, Then Who Could Want It? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/black-friday-2018-chaotic-scenes-at-stores-worldwide-as-shoppers-dash-to-snap-up-deals-a3997806.html

 

The most interesting thing to think about is that—amid the hyper consumerism of black Friday—there are a few companies that are not doing so well. One of those is the U.S. lingerie label Victoria’s Secret, whose sales have been declining since 2016. While these figures may just seem like the bottom line of a corporate giant, to me they suggest something deeper. One clue might lie in the fact that the millennial generation is having less sex than any generation in 60 years. As one quote from Melissa Batchelor Warnke’s 2016 article points out:

 

many young people speak disparagingly of the messy emotional state love and lust can engender, referring to it as “catching feelings”.  […] Noah Patterson, 18, has never had sex. “I’d rather be watching YouTube videos and making money.” Sex, he said, is “not going to be something people ask you for on your résumé.”

 

 Both of these quote point to a closing off of emotion in favor of rational concerns like “making money” and having a good “resume”. Of course, if these are the most important concerns for modern society, then spending money on expensive lingerie would not be a priority; this would explain the drop in sales for Victoria’s Secret. But there is a larger consequence of this eschewing the emotional in favor of the rational: It denies all that which makes humans “human”. As human beings, what distinguishes us from animals is our ability to appreciate aesthetic beauty, whether that be another human being, a piece of art, or a beautiful sunrise. When we start to ignore these things—or seek to commodify them (by turning them into a vehicle for making money)—we start to rationalize the emotional. It is a very good example of what German sociologist Jurgen Habermas called the colonization of the “life world” by the “system”. Sadly, this process can also begin to slowly chip away at our own emotional sense of what it means to be “human”.

Taken together, all three of these news stories show that postmodern life has become a hyperreality, one where the rational supercedes the emotional. It is something which is ultimately very dangerous, since it threatens the very ties which bind us to on another on this earth. When we begin to see the contamination of lettuce in terms of identity politics, and not as something that threatens all of humanity equally, we are falling into a hyperreality. When we celebrate the virtues of “thankfulness” and “family” yet, a few hours later, engage in fistfights with strangers over electronics we are falling into a hyperreality. And when we begin to preference rational concerns over human concerns—and stop appreciating beauty (in all its forms)—we fall into the hyperreality. At least the football fans—as those pictured below at Partizan Belgrade—can provide us with a more real intrpretation of Black Friday.

 

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I’ll Take This Black Friday Over the Commercial One Any Day. Image Courtesy of @Balkanskinavijaci on Instagram.

Notes from the First Week of the 2018 World Cup: A Lesson in the Culture Industry of Globalism

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The 2018 World Cup is sorting out to be less of a sporting event and more of a propaganda machine for the budding culture industry of globalism and globalization. While events on the pitch play out—like Mexico’s shock upset of defending champion Germany—they are interpreted through the lens of a globalist culture industry which prefers to tie what happens on the field to events off the field; indeed Germany’s loss has been blamed on the row over German players appearing in a photo with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a topic I have written about. Of course, this has not been the only instance where politics and off the field concerns have stolen the spotlight from what we should be focusing on: the sporting competition on the field.

Former U.S. national team star Landon Donovan caused “outrage” after appearing in a Wells Fargo ad to announce his support for Mexico. In the advertisement (which can be seen here) Mr. Donovan says “Wells Fargo and I are inviting anyone in need of a team to root for to join us in cheering for the Mexican national team. Vamos Mexico!”. In a Tweet announcing his support for the United States’ southern neighbor, Mr. Donovan appears with a scarf reading “my other team is Mexico”.

 

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I join Carlos Bocanegra in saying “Really?”. Image Courtesy of: https://www.upi.com/Sports_News/Soccer/2018/06/18/World-Cup-USMNT-icons-disagree-with-Donovan-for-support-of-Mexico/9461529329390/

 

It didn’t take long for other former U.S. national team players to respond to Mr. Donovan’s comments. On his Instagram account, Cobi Jones said “Nah man! Mexico is not ‘my team.’ Mexico is a rival in CONCACAF. In sport there is something sacred about rivalries. Meaning and history behind them! I don’t see Brazil cheering for Argentina. England cheering for Germany. Barca for Madrid. Man U for Liverpool or Lakers for Clippers. Yankees/Red Sox etc … It’s sports and you’re allowed to cheer against someone. Let alone your regional rival!”. Former striker and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman also joined in, saying on Twitter “I’d rather cut off my toe than ‘root for [Mexican flag] and I’m on the outside on this one, but how could I root for my/our rival? Imagine any [Chilean] players rooting for [Argentina] today. I can’t imagine how American Outlaws would feel if I rooted for Mexico … but then again I’m old school.” Of course, these emotional responses are both warranted and also understandable.

 

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Proud Americans. Images Courtesy Of: https://www.upi.com/Sports_News/Soccer/2018/06/18/World-Cup-USMNT-icons-disagree-with-Donovan-for-support-of-Mexico/9461529329390/

 

The previous generation of U.S. soccer players proudly represented their country at a time when football infrastructure was all but non-existent in the United States. Despite this lack of institutional support, they successfully qualified for the 1990 World Cup and built football in the country through their dedication and hard work. Therefore, when a player like Landon Donovan comes out and—in the name of a sponsorship deal with Wells Fargo—seemingly ignores the blood and sweat which (literally) went into building U.S. soccer from the ground up, it is bound to touch a nerve.

Unfortunately, however, comments like Mr. Donovan’s have come to be expected in a world which favors political correctness and culture industry catchwords over real emotional attachments. Indeed, the fact that Mr. Donovan prefers attachment to global capital (in the form of Wells Fargo) and culture industry compliant catchwords—over attachment to his nation—is evident in his response to criticism. His post in response both attempts to reaffirm his patriotism while also catering to the dominant strand of globalist one dimensional thought: “I believe in supporting each other and building bridges, not barriers”. Mr. Donovan is looking to defend himself by falling back on the politically correct trope of “building bridges”. What Mr. Donovan does not understand is that none of his former team-mates are advocating “building barriers”; rather they are just pointing out the rather obvious fact that it is ok to not support your rival; not supporting a rival does not mean hating a rival. Unfortunately, however, in the modern world it is the utopic ideas of “love trumping hate” which tend to frame events in a zero-sum game of “love” vs. “hate”. There can be no middle ground, and we see similar interpretations as regards other off the field developments during the 2018 World Cup.

When the coach of the South Korean national team Shin Tae-Young “admitted that his team mixed around its jersey numbers for recent training sessions and warm-up games because he believes Westerners find it difficult to ‘distinguish between Asians’, USA today deemed the comments “extraordinary”. Of course, there is nothing very “extraordinary” about the comments; Mr. Tae-Young’s move was a strategic one in footballing terms yet, in the world of one-dimensional thought, USA Today needed to frame the move in terms of the politically correct discourse created by the globalist culture industry. At the same time, there was outrage when the Mexican team’s fans chanted “homophobic slurs”. Of course, much of the outrage in The Guardian’s story comes from “Professors” at U.S. Universities who have very little knowledge of first hand football culture. Most real football fans know that, in the stadium, one’s sexual preference is irrelevant; what matters is supporting your team. Unfortunately for football fans of all sexual orientations, however, this fake outrage—and virtue signaling—only serves to further alienate football fans from one another. These divisions mirror the divisions created by the global culture industry in other walks of life.

Consumers of sports and main (lame)stream sports media prefer to have their own sense of “morality” and “virtue” confirmed, rather than look at the bigger picture. This is why CNN gleeefully reports on Russian oligarch (and Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich’s program to bring seriously ill children to the World Cup. While Mr. Abramovich’s actions are of course laudable, they gloss over the cut-throat manner in which the oligarch made his billions during the free-for-all of privatization following the collapse of the Soviet Union. CNN prefers to sing the praises of virtue without even focusing on how the money was made in the first place.

In sum, football fans this summer should be cognizant of the fact that the FIFA World Cup is far from a sporting event; instead, it—like many international events—has become an incubator for the inculcation (indoctrination?) of the globalist culture industry. This culture industry is attempting to gradually homogenize the emotions of the world under the guise of a sporting event. What we all must remember, however, is that manufactured emotions are not real in any sense of the word, rather they are represent a gradual pacification of the world in order to create more docile bodies—in the Foucauldian sense—to participate in consumerism on a global scale.

 

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From the 2014 World Cup, But Still Very Relevant. Image Courtesy Of: https://thesunshineroom.com/category/world-cup-2014/

Globalism Hits a Road Block in Macedonia as the World Cup Starts

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On 14 June 2018, the most famous globalist sporting event—the FIFA World Cup—kicked off with an epic clash between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Of course, the fact that this match (featuring Saudi Arabia) came on the eve of the Eid al-Fitr (the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan in Muslim countries) is not a coincidence. Rather, it is an example of just how deeply globalist sentiments have become embedded in our daily lives; even sport is not immune to this form of ideological manipulation. While Russia’s 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia did not pique my interest, a conversation over dinner regarding the possible name change of Macedonia did. The small Balkan nation is currently known as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (F.Y.R.O.M); the proposed new name is “Northern Macedonia”. In theory, this name change will resolve a longstanding dispute and serve to renounce the Macedonian nation’s supposed claims on the region of Northern Greece known as Macedonia.

On 12 June 2018, according to CNN, “Zoran Zaev, the prime minister of Macedonia, and Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece, had announced a surprise agreement to the new name. The move was to be a bridge in resolving longstanding tensions between Macedonia and its neighbor to the south”. As is so typical with globalist endeavors, the language is couched in utopian tropes, in this case “resolving longstanding tensions”.  After the “agreement”, Mr. Zaev Tweeted that “the name change preserved the Macedonian ethnic and cultural identity”. How acquiescing to the demands of the European Union and NATO could ever help a country “preserve” its ethnic and cultural identity is beyond me, and just one day later the president of F.Y.O.R. Macedonia responded to the absurdity. In the wake of the “agreement”, President Gjorge Ivanov said, in a video published by Reuters,

 

European Union and NATO membership cannot be an excuse to sign such a bad agreement which has unforeseeable damaging consequences for state and national interests of the Republic of Macedonia. My position is final, and I will not yield to any pressure, blackmail or threats. I will not support or sign such a damaging agreement.

 

While the conflicting positions taken by the Prime Minister and President of F.Y.O.R. Macedonia, respectively, may indeed represent an internal power struggle within the Macedonian state, by approaching the issue from a wider angle we can see that this small event is also indicative of an emerging struggle between globalism and nationalism around the world.

What is most ironic is that it is not just Macedonians who are angry at the proposed name change; Greeks are also incensed! According to John Psaropoulos of Al Jazeera, “the Greek government faces a vote of no confidence over its deal with the former Yugoslav Macedonia”. For Greeks, the name “Northern Macedonia” will “sanction the country’s Macedonian language and nationality, albeit with the proviso that they are of Slav, not ancient Greek, origin”. In short, the Greek side believes that any recognition of F.Y.O.R. Macedonia’s “Macedonian-ness” is a threat to Greek identity. By the same token, many Macedonians see this ”agreement” as an attack on their country and national identity as well!

 

What leaders on both sides of the issue fail to realize is what Pention University’s human rights professor Dimitris Christopoulos points out:

 

the name of a state can be the object of a diplomatic negotiation. The name of a nation – the identity of a people, where they feel they belong – cannot, because it is not a question of rules but of conscience.

 

While the European Union might herald an agreement as a diplomatic coup, allowing for the integration of the southern Balkans into the EU and thus expanding the European common market, it is certainly a loss for the people of both Greece and F.Y.O.R. Macedonia. It is the people of both states who, ultimately, will determine the fate of their political leaders. While many like to see nationalism as a divisive force, here we see that it can also make for strange bedfellows; in this case both Greek and Macedonian nationalists are strongly against the manipulations of globalist politicians. Hopefully, both countries will successfully resist these manipulations. May this serve as a reminder to readers that they should always stand up for their countries in the face of corrupt politicians who are only looking to profit at the expense of their own citizens.

 

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The Macedonians Are Not Happy . . . (Image Courtesy Of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/opponents-criticize-greece-macedonia-name-deal/2018/06/13/66e3b81e-6ee5-11e8-b4d8-eaf78d4c544c_story.html?utm_term=.709ecce1b960).

 

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. . . And Neither Are the Greeks. So What Makes It Right? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/greek-government-faces-censure-macedonia-deal-180614182429517.html

The Social Justice Warriors in the U.S. Will Exploit Anything—Even The Loss of Human Life—For Their Own Gain In the Culture Wars: In Memory of Anthony Bourdain

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I have often written about the ongoing culture war in both the United States and Turkey, and today I continue in this vein.

Sadly, the great travel journalist and chef Anthony Bourdain passed away on 8 June 2018 from an apparent suicide in France. As an intrepid traveler who did not shy away from visiting the most obscure of places, I always respected Mr. Bourdain for what he stood for in terms of travel and its importance in terms of truly bringing cultures together. Yet, the devaluation of human life in the modern age continues as even this tragic death is already being exploited by social justice warriors (SJW) in the main(lame)stream media.

Instead of focusing on how Mr. Bourdain’s death is a tragic reflection on our own twisted society, the culture industry chose to exploit this tragedy for its own gain. Suicide rates in the U.S. have risen 30 percent since 1999—the years in which the “New World Order” has truly taken hold—despite the fact that we, ostensibly, live in a “prosperous” and “peaceful time”. Of those suicides, it was found that in a shocking 42% of cases the main factor was “relationship problems”. If we are “modern” and indeed “progressing”—as the progressives would have it—then why are we more alone than ever, so alone that suicide rates are skyrocketing? French Sociologist Emile Durkheim would have certainly asked this question, and I will attempt to answer it.

 

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Tragic Statistics. Images Courtesy Of: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/suicide-rates-are-30-percent-1999-cdc-says-n880926

 

Perhaps it is because people have forgotten the balance that is crucial for human life to not only thrive, but even merely to survive. In his book Sport Matters, Sociologist Eric Dunning points this out:

Centrally involved in the maturation and growing autonomy of a person is a process of individualization during the course of which he/she gradually learns to think of himself/herself as an ‘I’, to acquire an identity and sense of self [. . .] one of the preconditions for the occurrence of individualization in what is considered in modern societies to be a ‘healthy’ way is the formation of bonds with others that are neither too distant nor too close and in which a balance is struck between autonomy and dependence. It is a question of forming a socially appropriate ‘we—I balance’ (Elias, 1991a) in which a person comes to be considered by others as neither too self-absorbed nor too dependent on the groups to which he/she belongs (Dunning 1999: 4).

It seems that many in modern society have lost this balance. People are all too ready to hide behind their “intersectional” identity and play the game of identity politics, rather than recognize that—as individuals—they are also part of a larger collective. This has confused some people to the point that they even—legitimately—believe that eating food out of bowls is a “hot new trend”. I suppose many people have just never visited archeology museums—and saw the ancient bowls on display—and thus believe that this can be something new, but I digress.

The point is to show that the void created by a rootless and cultureless “global” society has left people alienated and clinging to any identity that will take them: white, black, man, woman, transgender, gay straight, bowl food eater, or even craft beer lover. One way to alleviate this could, of course, be an embrace of elective identities which are not exclusive. National identity is one; one can choose to be a citizen of their country or not but one cannot choose to have a certain skin color, for instance. The former is elective, the latter is not. Yet when Mr. Trump chose to hold a “celebration of America” day after the NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles chose to reject the U.S. President’s invitation to the White House, the main(lame) stream media was appalled. Why being an American—and being proud of it—is an issue I will never know, but it is an important question to ask as the world collapses into a million pieces of small—and often insignificant—intersectional identities.

We must recognize that it is the culture industry which encourages this fracturing of society; in fact it is encouraged at every single turn. Unfortunately, Mr. Bourdain’s death is a perfect example of this despicable and tasteless exploitation. Malaika Jabali, writing for Glamour Magazine, provides the latest example of poor quality journalism in her 8 June 2018 piece “Why Anthony Bourdain’s Life Is a Lesson for White Men of Privilege on How to Be an Ally”. In the article, Jabali throws out SJW keywords like a dealer throws cards down in Vegas: Without thinking about the negative consequences while knowing full well that no one will object.

 

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Hey Glamour, Here Is an Idea: Stick to Fashion And Stay Away From Pop Culture and Politics. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.glamour.com

 

Jabali tells us that Bourdain was an “ally”, that he “was one who fundamentally believed in, and fought for, people at the margins even when hashtags weren’t trending”. To support her claims, she presents a few of Mr. Bourdain’s comments (posthumously). She writes:

 

On Latino immigration in America, Bourdain once stated: “The bald fact is that the entire restaurant industry in America would close down overnight, would never recover, if current immigration laws were enforced quickly and thoroughly across the board. Everyone in the industry knows this. It is undeniable. Illegal labor is the backbone of the service and hospitality industry—Mexican, Salvadoran and Ecuadoran in particular…. Let’s at least try to be honest when discussing this issue.”

This was in 2007, before Trump’s walls or the fervent pitch of nationalist rhetoric reached its ascendance.

 

Jabali also offers Mr. Bourdain’s views on the Opioid crisis:

Now that the white captain of the football team and his cheerleader girlfriend in small-town America are hooked on dope, maybe we’ll now stop demonizing heroin as a criminal problem and start dealing with it as the medical and public-health problem that it is, and should be.

 

What is very interesting here is that neither of the quotes attributed to Mr. Bourdain actually espouse the SJW mentality. Regarding illegal immigration, Mr. Bourdain was merely pointing out what all sensible non SJWs might say: that illegal immigration should be ended because it is glorified slave labor (a topic I have touched on). Regarding the opioid crisis, Mr. Bourdain is just pointing out something fairly obvious: small town America is being destroyed by drugs which feed on an unemployed population which has been gutted by globalism (another topic I have written about before).

The reason I point this out is not to interpret the words of Mr. Bourdain after he has departed; to do that would be to stoop to the level of Glamour and Ms. Jabali. Rather, I point this out because Ms. Jabali’s article is an ideological con-job; an example of the main(lame)stream media’s attempts to shape public opinion by using celebrities (even after they are dead) to further their own agenda. In the modern world—where respect and morals matter little—this should not be too surprising. But we owe it to ourselves to see through the chicanery and punish the charlatans in the media for being unable to appreciate people—like Mr. Bourdain—for who they are. Mr. Bourdain was an intrepid traveler who taught the world—far better than I can on this small blog—that it is only by travel that we can truly understand all the different cultures and people of the world. Glamour and Ms. Jabali should be ashamed of themselves; may Mr. Bourdain rest in peace.

 

In Memoriam Anthony Bourdain 1956-2018

 

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A Travel Legend. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/anthony-bourdain-suicide-cnn-host-and-celebrity-chef-anthony-bourdain-kills-himself-1864565

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Top World Cup 2018 Shirts: A Lesson in Late Stage Capitalism and Global Homogenization

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Four Years ago, I wrote a piece detailing my top picks among the 2014 kits and my choices for the top five classic world cup kits. With just seven days until the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia, I thought I would do the same. However, this year, the list will be a little more sociological than the one from four years ago.

Indeed, outlets like GQ have provided their rankings, as well as a slew of other websites; one need only search “top world cup shirts 2018” in order to be bombarded by hundreds of choices. This is why my list will not be so much as a ranking. Instead, it will be commentary on just how late stage capitalist logic—and one dimensional thought—invade every aspect of our lives. This invasion—similar to the colonization of the life world by the system, that Sociologist Jurgen Habermas has written about—is very evident in the world of football shirts.

For an introduction to the topic, please see my earlier post from 6 July 2017 here. In short, my argument is that when the logic of consumption drives the creative process, one dimensional thought becomes the norm. Designers and creative minds are unwilling—in fact, in some cases, they may even be scared—to stray from the “tried and true” methods. After all, these are the methods that have brought profit. Therefore, creativity is stifled by a dominant form of one dimensional thought which cannot stray from its own money-making logic.

This is why cars have started to look more and more the same, and why mobile (or cellular) telephones are virtually indistinguishable from one another regardless of if they are iPhones, Samsungs, Nokias, HTCs, LGs, or any other brand. As a human society, we have become used to images—we are obsessed with them, as Jean Baudrillard has said—and this means that our reality is more of a hyperreality dominated by these images. We know what a mobile phone should look like, anything that does not look like the image we have been grown used to cannot be a phone (think of flip-phone versus iPhone). Similarly, with cars, we see the same process. We have become used to what a “luxury” car should look like, so we cannot conceive of anything that does not look like what we expect (perhaps this is why Hyundais and Kias look virtually the same while also resembling more expensive brands like BMW and Audi).

 

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Which One Of These Is a Phone? Image Courtesy Of: https://thoughttamales.wordpress.com/tag/prepaid-cell/

 

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The Same Car? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.carwow.co.uk/blog/kia-sportage-vs-hyundai-tucson

Unfortunately, football shirts are not immune from this ongoing homogenization in the name of increasing consumption, and the latest World Cup shirt designs show this. More than a few of this year’s shirts bare a striking resemblance to older shirts, which makes for a very boring overall lineup.

 

Spain 2018. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Spain’s 2018 shirt did not impress GQ, and this is perhaps because it is just a re-hashing of the country’s classic 1994 design.

 

Spain 1994. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.branchofscience.com/2014/05/nineties-kits-usa-94-special-part-two/

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Colombia 2018. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Another shirt that GQ didn’t like. Perhaps that is because this is just a modernized version of Adidas’ 1996 template; the antecedent of this shirt was perhaps Romania’s Euro 1996 shirt.

 

Romania 1996. Image Courtesy Of: https://thefootballshirtcollective.tumblr.com/post/142359500227/repost-199698-romania-home-shirt-from

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Mexico 2018. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Mexico’s 2018 kit is not very imaginative (and has no resemblance to the beauties from 1998 which actually paid homage to Mexico’s Central American heritage). Instead, this kit seems to have been inspired by Bulgaria’s 1994 World Cup Kit. I suppose that is globalism at its best; in 20 years Mexico went from gaining inspiration from their own history to gaining inspiration from…Bulgaria. Maybe it is due to the fact that both countries’ flags share the same tricolor, who knows.

 

Bulgaria 1994. Image Courtesy Of: http://kirefootballkits.blogspot.com/2011/10/bulgaria-kits-world-cup-1994.html

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Germany 2018. Image Courtesy Of: : http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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While Germany’s shirt might be striking in this line up, it is merely a rehashing of the classic West Germany shirt from 1988. And, like so many shirts on this list, the new one is not as nearly as well designed as the old one. Indeed, sequels are never as good as the originals.

 

Germany 1988. Image Courtesy Of: http://hullcitykits.co.uk/meet-the-hck-staff/

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Nigeria 2018 (Image Courtesy Of: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/gallery/world-cup-kits-ranked-2018

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Nigeria’s new kit has been widely touted as one of the best in this year’s tournament. GQ calls it “eccentric”, and given that it is already sold out in the UK it goes to show that sometimes it pays to stray from one-dimensional thought. Yet, at the same time, even this shirt is not completely unique. When I first saw the shirt I couldn’t help but think that I had seem something like it before. Indeed, it bares some resemblance to Holland’s classic 1998 design and West Germany’s Euro 1988 Away kit as well as Northern Ireland’s 1990 Umbro shirt.

 

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Holland 1988. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.retrosyrarezas.com/products/holland-netherlands-mens-retro-soccer-jersey-euro-88-gullit-10-replica

 

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Germany 1988-1990. Image Courtesy Of: http://kirefootballkits.blogspot.com/2016/07/germany-kits-euro-1988.html

 

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Northern Ireland 1990. Image Courtesy Of: http://nifootball.blogspot.com/2006/10/iain-dowie.html

 

It is important to note that this list—and this criticism of the 2018 shirt line up—is not to say that respecting the past, and paying homage to past designs, is not a bad thing. Indeed, respecting the past and what has come before is a good thing. But this does not mean that we should be blind to the fact that, in the name of consumption, we are being sold the past back to us in the present. It means that while we—as consumers—are paying more and more for our products, while the designers may be getting less and less creative. And it also means that there is a very real double standard in world football when it comes to shirt designs.

I will leave this post with a comparison between the 1996 Turkey Home and Away shirts and the 2016 “Spider Man” home and away Turkish Kits. Perhaps, in this instance, the designers would have done well to seek some inspiration from the past. But even here, the “past” of 1996 still represented by an Adidas template.

 

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New vs. Old. I am not a fan of the new shirts at all. Image Courtesy of the Author.

 

In March 2018 a Turkish sports pundit, Mehmet Demirkol, came out threatening to take the Turkish FA to court if they did not return to the classic Turkish national shirt design. The classic design has been changed on and off for years, culminating in the monstrosity of the 2016 “Spider Man” kits. And it is here that I agree with Mr. Demirkol. There is such a thing as national symbols, and—as Mr. Demirkol argues—the football shirt is a national symbol. We do not see international corporations like Nike and Adidas playing with German, English, Brazilian, Dutch, or Argentine kits. No, such countries have been wearing similar designs for years. Indeed, as I pointed out, Germany has returned to a classic design for the 2018 World Cup. Yet countries like Mexico and Turkey have their kits played with—and their national heritages ignored—by the whims of global capital. In order to resist the ongoing global homogenization of global corporations and globalist ideas, it is important to respect your national heritage regardless of which country you come from. And, even when it comes to football shirts, we can still stand up for our countries in the face of globalism.

 

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The Classic “Red Stripe” Design Evoking the Turkish Flag. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.milliyet.com.tr/yazarlar/baris-kuyucu/17-yil-sonra-klasik-forma-1206165/

The Real Face of “Globalism”: A Road Trip Through the American South

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In my writing I have argued before that travel is an important tool for understanding the modern world. Travel provides first-hand knowledge (as opposed to the second-hand knowledge often taught in schools) about different cultures and nationalities. In short, travel makes the meaningless catch words of “diversity” and “tolerance” much more meaningful because the “generalized other” (to borrow George Herbert Meade’s term) to whom we are being told to be “tolerant” of is actually a living, real, human being, rather than a caricature of an individual who merely looks phenotypically different. It is one thing to teach me about, say, “Egyptian culture”; it is a wholly other thing to travel to Cairo and actually converse with—and hang out with—Egyptians in their everyday lives. This is the real job of Sociology; it is to understand and bring people together; it is not to socially engineer—and divide people—further from one another.

In the spirit of some of my recent Memorial Day posts, I will tell the story of my most recent travels which took me through the original United States, tracing a route through most of the original 13 colonies of the Untied States: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia (and West Virginia, once part of the original Virginia colony), Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. With each small southern town I stopped in, visiting antique stores, I could not help but think about my K-12 education. It had painted a picture of the American south as an area that is intolerant, racist, and underdeveloped (along with a slew of other—mainly insulting—adjectives). Yet, in reality, the American south is none of these things. In fact, it is a much more inviting place than, say, the urban sprawl that characterizes so much of New Jersey and Connecticut; a drive on I-81 through Virginia and up to Pennsylvania is a welcome respite from the stresses of life, while a parallel drive on I-95 through Virginia to the New Jersey Turnpike is a masochistic endeavor.

 

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I-81 in Virginia. Images Courtesy Of the Author.

 

A trip through the small towns of the United States tell the story of a geography which has been gutted by globalism. In the United States, we have become unable to take care of our own middle classes. This, in itself, is a major problem.  Jobs have been outsourced to China, and to Mexico, while illegal drugs flow from both countries into the United States—and they are drugs targeted at those who have most been affected by globalization: the unemployed in rural areas (Indeed, Fentonyl—a major killer—is being sent to the United States from China; in effect China is killing America’s most vulnerable people both economically and chemically). Our country is rotting from the inside, and no one seems to care enough to save it. To those on the coasts, they are just uneducated rednecks. To those in the heartland, they are just pretentious yuppie liberals. But in the end, both groups consume the same drugs produced in Chinese laboratories and suffer the same tragic consequences.

 

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Small Southern Towns, Gutted by Globalism’s Attacks on Domestic Industry as a Result of Policies Favorable to International Capital. Images Courtesy of the Author.

 

Despite the fact that our society is so clearly failing, in the universities the supposed “educated” portion of the population is finding it “cool” to hate America because of “injustices” committed in the past. But, of course, this begs one serious question: Can you really make something better if you hate it to begin with?

With these points in mind as I drove through the pastoral beauty of rural Virginia, I had to ask myself: If we do not change our own collective perspective, are we—as Americans—not in danger of becoming heirs to a “failed state”? While the term “failed state” is often thrown around at will by main(lame) stream media networks in defining foreign nations, could the same term not be used to describe the future of the United States if we are not careful? It is certainly an important question to ask, while we still have time to turn it around.

 

Is American Society Becoming Failed State?

Like Failed States, The United States Cannot Control the Border: At the end of April 2018, an immigrant “caravan” streamed towards the U.S. Border from Central America. The sight of these individuals, straddling the border fence, gives the impression of a country that has little to no control over its own borders. If this were to happen in another country—like, perhaps, Afghanistan—it is quite likely that the main(lame) stream media would brand it a “failed state”.

 

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An Absurd Sight. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/members-immigrant-caravan-asylum-process-180501065056337.html

 

Like Failed States, there is no Rule of Law in the United States: Unfortunately, since 2016, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty has reached record heights. In the first five months of 2018, almost forty members of American law enforcement have been killed while supporting their communities. Regardless of what one thinks about law enforcement, no well-meaning citizen should have to go home from work in a body bag.

Like a Failed State, the Education System is in Shambles: As an educator myself, I can see just how deep the crisis goes in American higher education. There is censorship—I have been rebuked multiple times for even daring to voice some of the opinions found on this blog—but the crisis goes much deeper than just my own experiences. Indeed, the United States has become a country which offers college degrees in “gender studies” while other countries still focus on developing real and tangible skills, like engineering. I liken going into debt for a gender studies degree to paying a scalper 5,000 dollars for a ticket to a sold-out football game only to be given a seat with an obstructed view behind a column. In both scenarios, the consumer ends up paying more than the original price for a very inferior product.

Like a Failed State, the Healthcare System is in Shambles: The United States cannot seem to agree on a working healthcare system, and that is something that—it seems—Americans can agree on regardless of their own ideological positions. Yet, after centralized healthcare showed its negative sides in the United Kingdom during the Alfie Evans case, the Washington Post chose to fan the flames of political sectarianism by publishing a piece by a graduate student (!) connecting the unfortunate death of a child to the bogeyman of 21st America, conservative ideology. That no constructive debate can be had regarding something as fundamental to humanity as healthcare shows just how dangerous the American situation has become.

Like a Failed State, the United States is Riven by Divisions Based on Ethnicity, Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Ideology: How is it that our country has become more reminiscent of the so-called “third world” or “developing countries” which the mainstream media so often ridicules? I despise these terms simply because they mean nothing in actuality; there is no quality which makes one country (and more especially one group of countries) superior to another. Rather, these are descriptions used by a globalist intellectual class to institute a divide and rule policy around the world. Domestically, this process manifests itself in poorer countries by dividing different clans against one another (as in the most famous of failed states, Somalia) or different ethnic groups (as we saw in Afghanistan) just as it divides different groups of people in the United States on the basis of such dubious lines as race, sexual orientation, and even sexuality itself! During a conversation with an EMT at a local university, I learned that some students—when taken to an ambulance—object to being labeled by the gender they physically represent because they “identify” with another gender. While this is ok in theory, it does not work so well in practice simply because modern medicine requires knowledge about gender (and sexuality) in order to provide the best care possible. And just like such students may be shooting themselves in the proverbial foot by resorting to identity politics at any opportunity, might we—as a nation—be doing the same?

 

Given that the United States is so close to becoming a failed state—riddled by censorship in academia and the divisions of identity politics—is it not time that we, collectively, make an attempt to turn it around? It is my hope that on this Memorial Day, in 2018, that we start to move in the right direction; we will never be able to erase the wrongs of the past but we—as the people—have all the power to prevent the same wrongs from being repeated in the future. We owe it to those who fought for our country in the past, we owe it to those who aim to build a life in our country in the future, and–most importantly–we owe it to ourselves in the present.

 

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