Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma Bombing’

Donald Trump Predicted in Stephen Baxter’s 1995 Novel ‘Titan’

July 16, 2017

I’ve been making my way through Stephen Baxter’s SF novel, Titan, these last few weeks. Baxter’s a British SF writer, with degrees in maths and engineering. He applied to be an astronaut on the Anglo-Soviet mission to Mir in the 1980s, which went to Helen Sharman. He’s probably best known for his Xelee-sequence books. These are set in a universe dominated by the extremely advanced, but mysterious Xelee, who are engaged in a war across the entire universe with the Photino Birds, dark matter creatures determined to age and extinguish the universe of ordinary matter. He has also written other novels about a variety of parthenogenic humans, descended from a lost troop of Romans, a catastrophic flood in the Bronze Age, and the books The Long Earth and The Long War, about parallel worlds, with the late, great Terry Pratchett. His novel, Voyage, an alternative history in which NASA launches a final manned expedition to Mars, was adapted for Radio 4 by Audio Movies in the 1990s. He was also the scientific advisor for the 1990s BBC SF series, Invasion Earth, about aliens from the higher physical dimensions invading the planet.

Titan is also about a last, crewed NASA mission. This time its put together by a team of astronauts, space scientists and ground control crew as the Agency’s last, great space expedition before it is closed down following a shuttle disaster. It’s set in what was then the near future – 2004 onwards – in America increasingly falling into right-wing extremism, irrationalism and Christian fundamentalism. The leading politician and subsequent president, is Xavier Maclachlan, a Texan with standing on an aggressively anti-science platform. Here’s the description of the man and his policies on pages 284-5.

Hadamard was in Washington during the inauguration of Xavier Maclachlan, after his wafer-thin win in the 2008 election.

Maclachlan called it a ‘liberation of the capital’.

Armed militia bands came in from Idaho and Arizona and Oklahoma and Montana, to fire off black-powder salutes to the nationalist-populist who promised to repeal all gun control laws. In the crowd, Hadamard saw a couple of Ku Klux Klan constumes, a sight he though had gone into an unholy past. Come to that, there was a rumour that a former Klan leader was being made ready to become a future White House chief of staff. And in his speech Maclachlan appealed to the people to end what he called the ‘Israeli occupation of Congress’…

And so on.

As soon as Maclachlan lifted his hand from the Bible, US peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and Africa started to board their planes to leave. Foreign aid stopped. The UN was being thrown out of New York, and there was a rumour that Maclachlan was planning some military adventure to take back the canal from Panama.

Army engineers – set in place during the handover from the last Administration – started to build a wall, two thousand miles of it, along the Mexican border, to exclude illegal immigrants. White it was being built, troops brought home from peacekeeping abroad were operating a shoot-to-kill policy.

There was chaos in the financial markets. Machlachlan had withdrawn the US from the North American Free Trade Treaty, from the World Trade Organisation, from GATT. Reviews of the country’s membership of the World Bank and the IMF had started – arms of an incipient world government, Maclachlan said, designed to let in the Russians. He had raised tariffs – ten per cent against Japan, fifty per cent against the Chinese – and world trade collapsed.

The Chinese, particularly, screamed. And so Maclachlan sent the Seventh Fleet to a new station just off the coast of Taiwan.

Meanwhile all the strategic arms treaties with Russia were torn up, as Maclachlan orderd his technicians to dig out the blueprints for Reagan’s old dream of SDI. In fact, Maclachlan wanted to go further. He was inviting ideas for what he called his ‘da Vinci brains trust’. The press was full of schemes for fantastic new weapons: smart remote sensors; dream mines that could shoot at passing traffic; smart armour that would use explosive tiles to deflect incoming projectiles; maybe even an electrical battlefield in which electricity-propelled shells would be zapped in by low-flying aircraft.

And back home, Machlachlan had cut off any remaining programs which benefited blacks and other minorities, and any funding that appeared to support abortion, which had been made illegal in any form.

Xavier Maclachlan was a busy man, and he was fulfilling his campaign promises.

Clearly, much of this is an extrapolation from the policies and attitudes of the Republican party and the American extreme Right in the 1980s and 1990s. Reagan had brought right-wing Christian fundamentalists into the Republican party, who had previously stood aloof from politics as part of a corrupt, fallen secular order. He had also begun to wind up government welfare programmes, particularly those aimed at benefiting minorities, such as Black Americans. Fears of an imminent apocalypse, social breakdown and Russian invasion, even after the collapse of Communism, had resulted in the emergence of the survivalist and then Militia movements, armed right-wing paramilitary groups. These had a bitter resentment of the federal government, which culminated in McViegh’s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma. They also tended to be bitterly racist and anti-Semitic. They believed and still believe in stupid Nazi conspiracy theories that claim that the Jews are trying to destroy the White race through racial intermixing and that America is covertly controlled by the Jews through the ‘Zionist Occupation Government’, or ZOG. These groups and right-wing American fundamentalist organisations also believed that there was a secret, Illuminati conspiracy to create a one world Satanic superstate centred on the UN. Phyllis Schlafly, who was actually a Democrat, regularly denounced the UN as well as women’s rights. And one leading figure in the militias – I think it may have been Bo Gritz, who supposedly served as the model for ‘Rambo’ – stated that the way they would clear America’s international debt would be by minting a single coin with the legend ‘1 Trillion Dollars’. As for the Klan, there were a series of scandals in which senior Republican politicos were revealed as having links to or membership in the White racist terrorist group. The most notorious of these was David Duke in Louisiana, who is unfortunately still around and blaming the Jews for everything even today.

And political scientists and economists were predicting the rise of China and the other ‘tiger economies’, which would dominate the ‘Pacific Century’ even then.

Of course, there are things Baxter failed to predict, like 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also takes the conventional view that the various free trade agreements and UN organisations, like the IMF and the World Bank, are nice, liberal, benefificial institutions, rather than the way corporate America imposes its own neoliberal policies on the rest of the world, particularly the developing nations.

Not that the Democrats have been much different. Counterpunch has reported that Obama was considering removing the ‘No first strike’ policy towards a nuclear confrontation, and Killary has been every bit as aggressive in her stance towards Russia and China as the Republicans, perhaps even more so.

As for the White extremist and racist groups supporting the new president, all that’s different is that the Klan has been largely replaced, or subsumed, into the internet-based Alt Right. But the hysterical fear of gun legislation, promoted and lavishly funded by the gun manufacturers and the NRA, against the desires of the majority of Americans, and even the NRA’s own rank and file membership, remains strong.

It shows how long the attitudes held by the American right, and which led to the election of Donald Trump, have been around. Since his election, left-wing news sites such as The Young Turks, Secular Talk and the David Pakman Show have reported that Americans have become increasingly dissatisfied with Trump. Sixty per cent of the American public want him impeached. This dissatisfaction even extends to Republican voters.

Trump, however, in his racism, his isolationism, aggressive nationalism and hatred of the welfare state and women’s rights, is very much in line with the general political stance of post-Reaganite right-wing American politicians. Indeed, he’s so much a part of this political trend that, with caveats, his election – or rather, the election of someone like him – was predicted by Baxter over two decades ago.

No wonder an increasing number of young Americans are looking to progressive politicos like Bernie Sanders for leadership and the redemption of their country against a corrupt political elite and the military-industrial complex. And I fervently hope they win, and that humanity will continue to reach out to the cosmos in a spirit of genuine exploration and wonder, and not as another arena for warfare.

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Book Review: Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat

June 26, 2016

Morris Dees with James Corcoran (London: HarperCollins 1996).

Gathering Storm

A few minutes ago this evening I put up a post about an article on Hatewatch, a site by the Southern Poverty Law Centre that monitors extreme right-wing terrorism in the US, about the contacts between British Nazis, such as Thomas Mair, accused of the murder of Jo Cox, other extreme rightists, like Anders Breivik, and the National Alliance, the main Nazi organisation in the US. Twenty years ago, Morris Dees, the chief trial counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Centre, wrote this book about the emergence of the militia movement in the US. These are right-wing paramilitary organisations, which came out of the survivalist movement in the 1980s. Their immediate impetus was the FBI’s killing of the wife and son of Randy Weaver, a right-wing extremist during an attack on his home at Ruby Ridge. The militias included fringe Christian groups, such as Christian identity and the neo-Nazi compounds and organisations at Hayden Lakes. It was the nexus that published the Turner Diaries, written by William Pierce, a Fascist fantasy about a White supremacist rebellion against a future America dominated by ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government – Jews and Blacks. This was the book that inspired Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma.

These were and are armed groups that believed that America was run by a secret Jewish government intent on enslaving gentiles and determined to destroy the White race through racial interbreeding with Blacks. Flicking through the book again, I found a photo of Col. ‘Bo’ Gritz. Gritz claimed to be the real person on which Rambo was based, and for years supposedly toured Vietnam looking for missing American soldiers still kept in prison camps after the War. Apart from his paramilitary activities, Gritz also had some very strange metaphysical views. He turns up in one of the pieces by Adam Palfrey, collected in Cult Rapture and Apocalypse Culture, in which he is interviewed after a meeting with a little old lady, who was one of the New Age channellers, who appeared in the ’80s and ’90s. Most Channellers seemed to have been essentially decent types, offering fairly banal warnings about the importance of love, peace, spiritual values and the need to save the planet from a various cast of interplanetary aliens and Ascended Masters. Unfortunately, the interstellar authority this one channelled was Hathon. He was a 9 1/2 foot tall reptilian from the Pleiades and a Nazi, who told people that there really was an international Jewish conspiracy and UFOs were a Nazi secret weapon. It’s the kind of stuff Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke describes in his book on modern Neo-Nazi pagan cults, The Black Sun.

At the time, there was a real fear that the Militias would try to organise some kind of coup, or at least begin a wave of extreme right-wing terror. Those fears largely haven’t materialised. One demented woman, who claimed to be a militia commander, tried to organise the Militias to form a mass march on Washington, but this never got off the ground as most of them suspected her of being a federal agent provocateur. And not all of them were racist. The commander of one of the Militias was Black, and there was a Jewish Militia, whose members believed that Jews should arm themselves against the possibility of a renewed Holocaust. Nevertheless, extreme rightwing terrorism is still very much a threat in America. In contradiction to the impression you get from the media, there’s more terrorism by White Supremacist and Neo-Nazis in America than from the Islamists. This is part of the milieu that’s produced the extreme right-wing radio hosts, who tell their listeners that America is in the hands of an atheist/ Communist/ Nazi/ Muslim conspiracy to kill good patriotic Christian Americans. The type of people, who blithely state over the airwaves that Obama is going to kill more people than Pol Pot. They’re part of the same milieu that has produced the Nazi supporters of Donald Trump, and that may be their most lasting and pernicious legacy to American politics.