Saturday Commentary and Review #84
Macron's "Woke" Education Minster, The Kagan Family Industrial Complex, Strained HUN-POL relations, Shooters and Antidepressants, Manhattan vs. Brooklyn Cultural War
“All they do is eat hot chip and lie”
- popular internet meme
The above line is a corruption of a facebook post written by an young African-American male frustrated with the young women he has encountered, criticizing their absolute lack of morality and domesticity. It was shortened to the above and then universally applied to different individuals and groups as it became memetic.
Many have decried politicians as little more than prostitutes, but with less scruples. With this in mind, the above meme also applies to them. Specifically, it can be used to describe French President Emmanuel Macron, who, after securing his second term in office, has decided to do a 180 and renege on a promise to fight off the Americanization of French politics, political culture, and academia by appointing a new Minister for Education who is a “specialist in US History and minority issues”.
So it goes.
It was only a little over a year ago that I first discussed this growing issue in France courtesy of an excellent, excellent piece Christopher Caldwell wrote for the NY Times. Do yourself a favour and check it out. France jealously guards its universalism and secularism, but not as jealously as many of us thought it seems. The Americanization of the European continent continues apace.
From the first link:
The nomination of Ndiaye, a specialist in U.S. history and minority issues, has raised concerns he will try to impose a foreign vision on Macron’s plans for sweeping education reforms in France — a country that has long cherished its “universalist” tradition, which in principle is blind to people’s color and origin.
France’s political class has traditionally been wary of wokeism — woke being a term that originally meant remaining alert to racial prejudice and discrimination, but is now used as a catch-all insult by the political right for left-wing and progressive causes.
Macron’s appointment of Ndiaye in a government reshuffle also marks a complete U-turn following the sacking of Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer — a secularist who had been leading the fight against wokeism and went as far as creating a think tank to fight woke ideas.
Since his nomination, Ndiaye has come under attack from France’s far right, with the National Rally’s Marine Le Pen accusing him of planning “the deconstruction of our country, its values and its future.”
Now check out this part:
Ndiaye is in favor of positive discrimination, of allowing safe spaces for people of color, and has said France suffers from “structural racism” but refuses to use the terms “white privilege” or “state racism.”
He has also distanced himself from woke activists in the past.
“I share most of their causes, but I don’t approve of the moralizing or sectarian discourse of some of them,” he said in an interview last year.
“I feel more cool than woke,” he added.
“Hey guys! It’s okay: I’m not like them despite holding the exact same views!”
This guy’s scorecard is horribly predictable:
The appointment is a crowning moment for an academic who isn’t an unfamiliar figure in policy circles. A professor at the prestigious Sciences Po political college in Paris, where he specializes in African-American history, Ndiaye has advised government bodies on diversity. In February 2021, Macron named Ndiaye as the head of France’s immigration museum, with the aim of calming tensions around a highly inflammatory subject: colonial history.
While Ndiaye earned his reputation as a high-flyer in France, graduating from the highly selective Ecole Normale Supérieure, it’s his academic pedigree in the U.S. that has proved controversial. After studying at the University of Virginia in the U.S. for several years, Ndiaye became outspoken on minority issues and treaded a fine line on potentially explosive issues linked to identity in France.
France is officially a colour-blind state, a universalist, liberal worldview hardcoded into their constitution:
Much of the debate around Ndiaye’s nomination has focused on whether he will defend France’s brand of universalism, in which citizenship and sense of belonging to the French nation are meant to transcend race, gender and religion. In the French Republican mindset, tools such as affirmative action or ethnic statistics, while justified in the U.S. to deal with the legacy of slavery and segregation, reduce citizens to the color of their skin in France.
Sociologist and vocal critic of wokeism Mathieu Bock-Côté said Ndiaye’s nomination “legitimizes” the imposition of U.S. woke concepts in France, instead of organizing the resistance to “colonization of French universities by the American left.”
“Both the U.S. and France lay claims to universalism. But the French have an aspiration to define citizens beyond ethnicity and not assign them to their communities,” he said.
“I cannot become black, and a black person cannot become white, but we can both be French [and share the same] culture, language and history,” he said, adding that the French mindset offered more “potential for emancipation.”
As for Macron:
What is less clear to many in France is Macron’s rationale for hiring Ndiaye. In the past, the French president had been very critical of ideas imported from U.S. campuses. In 2020, Macron slammed “Anglo-Saxon traditions based on a different history” during a speech on radicalization and the risk of communities breaking apart.
“When I see certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States, with their problems, which exist and I respect, but which are just added to ours,” he said.
His previous education minister, Blanquer, had made the defense of France’s universalist model a cornerstone of his tenure, and inaugurated a think tank to combat woke concepts in French universities. His keynote appearance at an anti-woke conference at the Sorbonne during a peak of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2021 was seen as a step too far.
“Is this a politically motivated move? Or has Macron had a change of heart on the question of French identity, it’s not clear,” said Bock-Côté.
The real question is why has Macron suddenly decided to make this U-turn? Why give this worldview an entire Ministry? Why engage in such a high risk move?
For such a massive country, the US foreign policy community is rather incestuous figuratively and nepotistic, literally. The revolving doors between the public and private sectors in the USA are the best examples of just how corrupt US governance is, with barely anyone batting an eye as it happens. It’s just accepted as the price of doing business.
As the war in Ukraine continues to rage, US neo-conservatives have managed to engineer themselves a redemption arc, built on the back of the bullshit Trump-Russia conspiracy theory that plagued US politics for 5 long years, and that has morphed into a hot war in Eastern Europe. Derided and discredited for their failure to create a liberal democracy in Iraq, they licked their wounds in various think tanks and media newsrooms until a new opportunity presented itself. With the USA now engaged in a proxy war with Russia, they have managed to slither back into key decision-making rooms thanks to liberal interventionists who kept the door slightly ajar just for them.
The Kagan Family is a great example of nepotism in action. Robert, who works for the Brookings Institute, regularly appears in mainstream media where he either pens op-eds urging war, or appears as a talking head, also urging war. His wife Victoria Nuland, the woman in charge of Biden’s Russia policy. This 2015 piece from Consortium News has been making the rounds lately. In it, the late Robert Parry (pbuh) exposes just how nepotistic and incestuous this whole scene truly is.
Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.
This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.
One hand washes the other.
They share the wealth with family:
Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.
For those of you following the war in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is responsible for those hilarious daily reports which insist that Russia is suffering catastrophic losses while Ukraine is clearly winning. The American Enterprise Institute was the key think tank of Dubya-era neo-conservatism. It’s light has dimmed somewhat, but it is still cranking out the need to invade the world to protect democracy.
Amid the barrage of “information warfare” aimed at both the U.S. and world publics, a new Cold War took shape. Prominent neocons, including Nuland’s husband Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century which masterminded the Iraq War, hammered home the domestic theme that Obama had shown himself to be “weak,” thus inviting Putin’s “aggression.”
In May 2014, Kagan published a lengthy essay in The New Republic entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” in which Kagan castigated Obama for failing to sustain American dominance in the world and demanding a more muscular U.S. posture toward adversaries.
According to a New York Times article about how the essay took shape and its aftermath, writer Jason Horowitz reported that Kagan and Nuland shared a common world view as well as professional ambitions, with Nuland editing Kagan’s articles, including the one tearing down her ostensible boss.
Though Nuland wouldn’t comment specifically on her husband’s attack on Obama, she indicated that she held similar views. “But suffice to say,” Nuland said, “that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”
Horowitz reported that Obama was so concerned about Kagan’s assault that the President revised his commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of the criticism and invited Kagan to lunch at the White House, where one source told me that it was like “a meeting of equals.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]
But don’t think that this unlocking of the U.S. taxpayers’ wallets is just about this one couple. There will be plenty of money to be made by other neocon think-tankers all around Washington, including Frederick Kagan, who works for the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly, who runs her own think tank, the Institute for the Study of War [ISW].
According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.
Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]
In other words, the Family Kagan has almost a self-perpetuating, circular business model working the inside-corridors of government power to stimulate wars while simultaneously influencing the public debate through think-tank reports and op-ed columns in favor of more military spending and then collecting grants and other funding from thankful military contractors.
Quite the racket!
The Realist School of International Relations has noted that the war aims of the USA and Ukraine are not aligned in that they differ from one another. This suggests a problem that requires resolution, or alternatively, the triumph of one over the other. You get only guess as to whose objectives will win out at the end of the day. The imbalance of power between Washington and Kiev is massive.
The imbalance of power between Poland and Hungary is of a much lesser scale. These two nations have had centuries of mutual appreciation, at times being ruled by the same ruling houses. Theirs is a thousand year friendship, through thick and thin. Few European nations can claim to have had something similar and durable as long as these two.
The war in Ukraine is testing this relationship, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for Europeans who seek to transform the EU into a “community of nations”, or at least to rein in Eurocratic heavy-handedness. Hungary has been adamant in its refusal to go whole-hog over into anti-Russianism due to its strong economic ties to Moscow. Its economy is powered by Russian oil and gas. Orban has stated that the EU is asking him to commit economic suicide by adopting its scorched earth sanctions.
Poland, on the other hand, sees Russia as its greatest historical antagonist and oppressor, more so than the Germans to their left. Poland seeks a buffer, and that buffer should be both Belarus and Ukraine, wholly integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures like NATO and the EU. The Poles went as far as serving as the staging point for the failed Colour Revolution in Minsk not too long ago, antagonizing President Lukashenko.
It’s precisely this non-alignment of goals that has strained relations between Warsaw and Budapest, and has made it easier for Brussels to act against both for its own reasons. Both countries are in the EU’s crosshairs for ‘attacks on democracy’. They need one another to fend off these very same attacks, and preserve what sovereignty they can without blowing up their own economies. Ariel Kasonta elaborates:
To mark “the many centuries of common history, friendship and co-operation between the two peoples,” the parliaments of both countries in 2007 declared March 23 as the Day of the Polish and Hungarian Friendship.
This year, the celebrations were supposed to take place on March 18 and 19 in Bochnia, Poland. However, they were postponed due to President Andrzej Duda’s unwillingness to be seen in public with his Hungarian counterpart János Áder, as Azonnali.hu reported, citing diplomatic sources. Instead, the two politicians met online, while Polish Sejm was illuminated with the Hungarian national colors, and the Polish flag was displayedon the facade of the Hungarian Parliament.
Here’s Hungary’s story:
The Hungarian leader was able to keep his country’s economy resilient during the pandemic by increasing bilateral trade with Russia 30 percent last year. He also secured two long-term contracts with Gazprom in September providing for the delivery of 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas at a price five times cheaper than the market price in Europe. These 15-year agreements provide gas via the Balkan Stream pipeline and pipelines in South-Eastern Europe, and there is a chance Hungary could increase its supply by 1 billion cubic meters after Orbán requested as much during his meeting with Putin earlier this year.
Europe’s energy crisis predates the Russian intervention in Ukraine. And as Jason Bardoff explained in February in Foreign Policy, Putin can’t be blamed for the continent’s own policies. It’s therefore understandable that Orbán wants to stick to the concept of “rezsicsökkentés” (introduced by Fidesz in 2013 and the key pillar of its popularity), which seeks to keep household utility costs relatively low—especially given the fact that “85 per cent of Hungarian households are heated with gas, and 64 per cent of crude oil imports come from Russia.”
On top of that, to secure Hungary’s energy future, the country has engaged Rusatom Corp. to modernize its only nuclear power plant, Paks, in a project worth 12.5 billion euros ($14 billion).
When it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Orbán’s message was clear from day one: “We must do everything we can to avoid war. Hungary must stay out of this conflict, this military conflict, because Hungary’s security is the most important interest.”
More from Orban:
Orbán has laid out his geopolitical assessment of the situation in a comprehensive interview with the political weekly Mandiner:
How did the war come about? We’re caught in the crossfire between major geopolitical players: NATO has been expanding eastwards, and Russia has become less and less comfortable with that. The Russians made two demands: that Ukraine declare its neutrality, and that NATO would not admit Ukraine. These security guarantees weren’t given to the Russians, so they decided to take them by force of arms. This is the geopolitical significance of this war.
The break with the Poles (please note Tusk’s meddling in the Hungarian election):
……former prime minister of Poland and president of the European Council Donald Tusk was agitating against his reelection at the parallel rally in Budapest organized by the opposition.
As much as Tusk’s open meddling in Hungary’s political processes is detestable (and in part driven by domestic politics in Poland), more disappointing is the behavior of Law and Justice party politicians. They were not only unable to show empathy to Orbán’s stance but tried to undermine his authority before this crucial election.
Notably, right after Victor Orbán rebuffed President Volodymyr Zelensky’s emotional blackmail to cross his “red lines” during a speech at the European Council on March 25, President Duda decided to join the chorus of condemnation and lashed out at Hungary for refusing to support Ukraine as Poland was and warned that “This policy will be…very costly.”
After those remarks, Hungary was forced to cancel a meeting of the Visegrad Group’s defense ministers, which was to take place in Budapest on March 29, due to Poland and Czechia’s boycott. That boycott could have been inspired by Joe Biden’s recent visit to Warsaw, as former Polish Ambassador to the US Ryszard Schnepf suggested.
“We have a problem with a common view on a very important matter, and this worries us all very, very much,” Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Łukasz Jasina said of the Polish decision to not attend the summit. “We very strongly emphasize our stance toward Ukraine. Unfortunately Prime Minister Orbán and Hungarian politicians emphasize theirs.”
Those of us hoping for pushback against Brussels and its constant overreaching are hoping that these relations can be patched up due to the bigger picture/threat. Meanwhile, both DC and Brussels are laughing and can’t believe their luck..
Another week, another series of mass shootings in the USA. In popular online culture, this has been reduced to the following:
I often get asked about US gun culture here in Europe, and I patiently explain to them that it is an actual culture with philosophical and historical underpinnings. Davy Crockett, the Frontier, the Wild West and all of that. It is embedded into the DNA of that country, a DNA that many seek to change but that just as many refuse to allow to be altered. One may not like their gun culture, but one has to understand it and respect it.
It’s this very same gun culture that gets attacked every time a mass shooting that gets wide media attention takes place. Defenders of the Second Amendment correctly rebut that countries with similar gun ownership rates do not have this same pandemic. I tend to agree with these people for the simple reason that the USA has become an open air insane asylum. For Americans who read this Substack, I don’t need to elaborate on this. For non-Americans, I am too lazy today to explain what I mean.
Thankfully, a Midwestern Doctor has done me the service of writing a thorough piece tying mass shootings to the use of antidepressants. Many will agree that this argument has merit.
Likewise, I and many colleagues believe the widespread adoption of psychotropic drugs has distorted the cognition of the demographic of the country which frequently utilizes them (which to some extent stratifies by political orientation) and has created a wide range of detrimental shifts in our society.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have a similar primary mechanism of action to cocaine. SSRIs blocks the reuptake of Serotonin, SNRIs, also commonly prescribed block the reuptake of Serotonin and Norepinephrine (henceforth “SSRI refers to both SSRI and SNRI), and Cocaine blocks the reuptake of Serotonin, Norepinephrine and Dopamine. SSRIs (and SNRIs) were originally used as anti-depressants, then gradually had their use marketed into other areas and along the way have amassed a massive body count.
Once the first SSRI entered the market in 1988, Prozac quickly distinguished itself as a particularly dangerous medications and after nine years, the FDA received 39,000 adverse event reports for Prozac, a number far greater than for any other drug. This included hundreds of suicides, atrocious violent crimes, hostility and aggression, psychosis, confusion, distorted thinking, convulsions, amnesia and sexual dysfunction (longterm or permanent sexual dysfunction is one of the most commonly reported side effects from anti-depressants, which is ironic given that the medication is supposed to make you less, not more depressed).
SSRI homicides are common, and a website exists that has compiled thousands upon thousands of documented occurrences. As far as I know (there are most likely a few exceptions), in all cases where a mass school shooting has happened, and it was possible to know the medical history of the shooter, the shooter was taking a psychiatric medication that was known for causing these behavioral changes. After each mass shooting, memes illustrating this topic typically circulate online, and the recent events in Texas are no exception.
Oftentimes, “SSRIs cause mass shootings” is treated as just another crazy conspiracy theory. However, much in the same way the claim “COVID Vaccines are NOT safe and effective” is typically written off as conspiracy theory, if you go past these labels and dig into the actual data, an abundantly clear and highly concerning picture emerges.
One key indicator, Akathisia:
Numerous cases where this is happened are summarized within this article from the Palm Beach Post. In most of those cases, a common trends of these spontaneous acts of violence emerges: the act of violence was immediately preceded by a significant change in the psychiatric medications used by the individual. In one case, shortly before committing one of these murders, one of the perpetrators also wrote on a blog that, while taking Prozac, he felt as if he was observing himself "from above."
Individuals with a mutation in the gene that metabolizes psychiatric drugs are much more vulnerable to developing excessive levels of these drugs and triggering severe symptoms such as akathisia and psychosis. There is a good case to be made that individuals with this gene are responsible for many of the horrific acts of iatrogenic (medically induced) violence that occur, however to my knowledge, this is never considered when psychiatric medications are prescribed. Gøtzsche summarized a peer-reviewed forensic investigation of 10 of cases where this happened (all but one of these was an SSRI or an SNRI):
“Male, 18 years, Prozac, sister was comatose after a car crash, violent akathisia for 14 days, killed his father four days after he ran out of pills.
Male, 35 years, Paxil, distressed by “on and off” relationship with mother of his child, stabbed former partner 30+ times to death after 11 weeks of akathisia.
Male, 46 years, Paxil, anxiety about not making enough money to support the family, killed his son in a manic-shift akathisia and delirium after 42 days.
Male, 16 years, Zoloft and Prozac, depressed, struggled at school, and the girlfriend left him, attempted suicide on both drugs, killed therapist in hospital after 11 weeks.
Male, 50 years, Effexor, distress over divorce, shot a stranger four days after stopping drug.
Female, 35 years, nortriptyline, distress due to husband’s drinking, killed teenage daughter in toxic delirium after three days.
Male, 24 years, Lexapro, anxiety and illicit substance use, several suicide attempts and assaults, nearly killed partner, 12 years in jail for attempted murder.
Female, 26 years, several SSRIs, difficulties with in-laws, two attempts to kill her two children.
Female, 52 years, Paxil and Celexa, harassment at work, suicide attempt and tried to kill her two children.
Female, 25 years, Celexa and Effexor, marital distress, several suicide attempts on both drugs, jumped in front of a train with her child while on citalopram.“
Violent psychotic reactions from SSRIs can manifest as both suicides and homicides. There is extensive documentation to support the occurrence of SSRI suicides, and while the psychiatric profession still uses an endless litany of excuses to deny this happens, many antidepressants now have a black box warning from the FDA for the occurrence of suicide. The side effects were clearly known to result from SSRIs as far back as their early clinical trials (which were of course hidden from everyone) and a mountain of evidence proving this regularly occurs has accumulated since these drugs entered the market.
There are a large number of studies showing the link between SSRIs and suicide (especially those kept secret by the pharmaceutical industry). These will not be discussed as they are not the main focus of this article, but to provide some context on the issue, I will briefly discuss a microscopic and macroscopic study examining this picture. First to quote this peer-reviewed case series’s abstract:
“Six depressed patients free of recent serious suicidal ideation developed intense, violent suicidal preoccupation after 2-7 weeks of fluoxetine treatment. This state persisted for as little as 3 days to as long as 3 months after discontinuation of fluoxetine. None of these patients had ever experienced a similar state during treatment with any other psychotropic drug.”
Second, the CDC has a system for reporting violent deaths that have occurred, and one subset of those deaths are suicides (which may be associated with a homicide or a concurrent suicide). 3616 of these deaths were evaluated for the presence of an antidepressant, and 35.3% tested positive for one at time of her death. A large number of individual mood altering substances were tested for, and only one that had a higher positive test rate that the antidepressants was alcohol (38.2%), although only 26.9% of those tested had enough alcohol present to be considered legally drunk. In the general population, between 11-13.2% of adults use antidepressants, which suggests there is a note-worthy correlation here.
This a very long and thorough piece. Click here to read the rest.
We end this weekend’s Substack with something stupid: an article about the growing divide between “progressive Brooklyn” and “transgressive Manhattan”, a budding cultural civil war.
In American cultural and intellectual life, New York City sets the tone. As the main hub for the country’s media and frequent originator of trends that percolate through US society, what’s “in” with the New York scene today is often central to American culture tomorrow. And politics, too – as US conservatives never tire of noting – is often downstream of culture.
But New York City’s intellectual landscape is increasingly split between two warring scenes, divided by geography, aesthetics and politics. Which of these prevails could affect whether America shifts right or remains where it is.
In Brooklyn, the borough associated with the “hipster” revolution from the late 2000s, writers energised by the Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016 and 2020 retain their faith in left-wing politics through new “small” magazines. But on the island of Manhattan, a self-consciously transgressive artistic and literary scene is brewing downtown. In podcasts, plays and literary journals, a different sensibility is being elaborated. Scornful of the “woke” sanctimony of Brooklyn-based media, some flirt with alternative ideologies, while others claim not to be interested in politics at all.
The author is correct: New York DOES set the tone for the rest of America.
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