Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

It seems that the 391 & the Army of Astraea BandCamp Give-Aways are becoming a little more evenly timed in their releases lately, making it to the Gauntlet at the very end of the month.

This particular one is a quirky little piece based around a simple melody executed by layers of synth strings, keys, etc. etc., and reminds me of a densely packed community, or the hive mindset. Thus, it is named "The Hive's Workload".


Till Next Time.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Political Spectrum Terminology Overhaul: The Alt-Left, the Alt-Right, and the "New Right"

Greetings and salutations.

I know that sometimes I can rambling on, and so not to beat a dead horse here, I must ask - is it just me? Or does it seem that a slight few humans in the current global political climate are actually capable of defining what varying political philosophies they stand for accurately? I mean, the average person must at the very least be able to place themselves on an illustrated spectrum of political "disorders", right? Well, probably not.

In fact, I have more often than not found that many people are absolutely incapable of issuing what should otherwise be an easy to relate distinction about themselves. Instead, they are often so accustomed to the layers of culture war ideology and media brainwashing, that it is psychologically less taxing for them to not take on the Sisyphean task of lying to themselves and dodge such questions altogether. "I'm apolitical", is the usual, and oh so very political way of putting that supposed "non-stance".

Generally speaking, most people view the spectrum of political parties and philosophies as a flat, straight line that moves seamlessly from the left to right in a nice, methodical order. Others have tried to reshuffle the paradigm in order to place their own beliefs in a more favorable light, or to encompass orthodoxies and authoritarian extremes (on both ends) as only being on one side or the other of the scale. But what everyone does seem to agree on is that the term "moderate" always tends to fall, bundled with a series of hyphenates somewhere close to that intangible middle space at the center of most charts.

I personally support a model where "Classical Liberal" falls at the direct center of the scale. By this I mean someone who has embraced the ideals of the Enlightenment, as the Founding Fathers did, and I must add that this is far more a philosophic belief and mode of thinking rather than a dogmatic ideology or a system holding up a specific political party.

Within reason I feel that the scale does go both left and right from center, but, I envision the whole picture as more an upside down triangle, with the most radical movements of the far left and far right meeting at the pinnacle down at the bottom.

Surely, in matters of philosophy or party, the left moves "leftward" from the Classical Liberal center, to perhaps what is best described as the "Left Independent", to the Moderate Liberals or Moderate Democrats, who are the type of Democrat who is as likely to swing to a Republican candidate in an election, if the candidate details a more effective plan to deal with whatever pressing issue is at hand than their partisan opponent. To the immediate left of these more moderate Democrats is the domain of the donkey, the stagnating DNC Corporatist front, otherwise known as the "Mainstream Democrat Party". These Democrats can just as easily be referred to as the dreaded "Neo-Liberal", since as a phenomena their version of the party is the one that replaced the original Democratic Party as it existed through the nineteenth century (From Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson) and truly took form in tandem to Roosevelt's Socialist-influenced "New Deal" policies of the early 1930's. This shift paralleled a similar, but earlier, change in the British Labor Party in the first decade of the twentieth century.

This wing moves further left into "Democratic Socialism" and blurs into a triptych of vague distinctions that includes terms like "Classical Socialists" and/or "Progressives". One group of self-appointed Marxist Progressives who once owned their moniker but now refute it due to the right wing co-opting it into a pejorative, are the "Social Justice Warriors" - who are possibly best described by the more technically correct term "Intersectionalists". Intersectionalism is a Marxist re-distribution of wealth principle that functions on the notion of legislating fairness in society based on a new, yet ever changing politically correct etno-social identitarian hierarchy. Thus, Intersectionalists are for the most part staunch believers in their "revised" vision of Affirmative Action-type legalism as based on a per situation pecking order of identitarian victimization.

From there the "hard" left members of the actual Socialist parties are only topped by the variety of Communist fringe groups that hybridize the pure Communist message with various Syndicalist tendencies. Some of these groups allow for some elements of Capitalism, and some do not, while some represent various Intersectional identities such as elements of the LBGT community. Those who are considered to be the furthest left are the Anarcho-Communist Syndicalists, who hold that Anarchy is the path to Global Communism, but as we have seen, these Communists only express Anarchy through wanton property damage and seem to lack any real identification with actual Anarchistic principles of liberty and responsibility. They are anti-Capitalist and anti-Constitutional, and this group more often than not presents themselves as an "Anti-Fascist" front, even though they tend to utilize Fascist tactics, authoritarian messaging, and totalitarian methods themselves. I guess this shouldn't surprise anyone since they are merely simulating the Communist regimes that they do so admire - Stalin's Soviet Union, the abusiveness of Castro's Cuban oligarchic junta, and Mao's Confucian bureaucrats meet Trotskyite Chinese authoritarians.

As anyone can see, and as Orwell made so crystal clear in his books "Animal Farm" and "1984", the far left tends to embrace the same totalitarian extremes that they accuse rightist regimes of, and these groups on the "Alt Left" are in intention, essence and practice, no different from the abusiveness plied by any plutocracy, monarchical oligarchy, fascist state, or third world military-driven despotic regime. Sadly, many liberals who actually stand closer to center secretly admire these street fighting thugs as noble partisan "warriors" for the "greater cause", and even compare them to the actual Anti-Nazi Partisans in World War II. Of course, what they do share with them is in fact the over-arching theory of Marxist Globalism. Nevertheless, these "Latte Liberals" fail at every turn to disavow the fascistic acts of groups like Antifa, yet at the same time attack their mirror image, the so-called "Alt Right".

This of course brings us to the right, though just which right are we talking about when we say "Alt Right". Indeed this has become somewhat problematic since I suggest that there are TWO "Alt Rights", who frankly couldn't have less to do with one another.

But let's ride this train the same way as we did for the left, starting at the Classical Liberal center, where the philosophic building blocs that both left and right share and remains to this day. From there I would say that another philosophic, not-party, related distinction like "skeptic" be placed. While many skeptics themselves might resist the idea of being placed an inch over the center to the right, their skepticism in the context of the culture war between left and right for the last fifty years qualifies them, regardless of how socially liberal they might describe themselves, to be innately at odds with the orthodoxy of leftist thought. Thus, the skeptics "devils advocate" opinion often matches the beliefs of those further to the right.

Surely there must be a place for "Right Independent" or "Moderate Republican" around the same zone as the skeptics, and these folks, like their Left Independent counterparts are capable of more fluid voting patterns than those who are more dogmatically partisan to the farther right. From there I envision the next step to the right is the "GOP Corporatist front" or the "Mainstream Republican Party". Like its leftist mirror, this is not a uniform front because it includes both RINOS (Republicans in Name Only), who share much of the same Corporatist thinking as those Democrat swamp dwellers that they often agree with on many issues. Sharing that boat with them, and separated by a thin gray line, are the "Neo-Cons" - who represent the Republican establishment and are manifested in the Bush family and the "Never Trumper" movement. Recently G.W. Bush came out to criticize Trump, which only makes sense, since these Corporatists have been on notice since the Tea Party that they do not speak for the majority of those on the right, and in fact, quite the contrary. Needless to say, the GOP still tried to force its candidates on registered Republican voters in the last election with yet another Bush, this time in the form of Jeb leading the way. However, unlike the DNC, who, regardless of how popular Bernie Sanders was, dictated who their "anointed" candidate was to be to their registered voting stock, Republicans stated in no unclear terms that they would reject GOP-sanctioned candidates and dismember the apparatus if the party attempted the same type of wrangling.

Thus, good ole' Jeb Bush ran pretty much in the eighth position in the grand scheme of possible nominees, trailing behind Donald Trump, the populist moderate left NYC Republican; Ted Cruz, the Libertarian with religious Conservative underpinnings, John Kasich, the Rino-ish Independent leaning Republican; Marco Rubio, the moderate Libertarian leaning Republican; Ben Carson, the religious Conservative; Rand Paul, the Libertarian; and Carly Fiorina, the moderate Corporatist-Conservative. He also had to contend with Rick Santorum, who later supported Rubio, and Mike Huckabee, a religious Conservative who backed Trump. Excluding Kasich and Fiorina's waffling, all of the other candidates backed Trump, except for, you guessed it, Jeb Bush.The 2016 election crystallized the long term effect that the Tea Party had on the Republican Party and illustrated that the Reformation was well under way. Rino and Neo-Con control of the party would not be supported by the "New Right".

To the right of the Rinos and Neo-Cons, stood the Traditional Conservatives (the Old Guard of William F. Buckley and the like), and the religious right (converts of the post-Reagan era of the new money South), and the Tea Party Constitutional Anarcho-Libertarians (not the party, the philosophy), and Civic Nationalists, who now all stood together in an alliance, accepting the diversity of the right and their shared beliefs rather than what divided them. To the far right were the radicals who leaned the most extreme, and that is where the confusion in the media took root. As an example of this, the right, or rather, Republicans, had ended slavery, repealed the Jim Crow laws, passed Child labor laws, founded "green" and "health" government agencies like the EPA, the FDA, passed the Civil Right law of 1964 (to great Democrat objections), ratified Roe versus Wade, passed the ERA, and the placed the various Americans with Disabilities Acts into law, yet, the left, and the Democrats, through their dominance in media and academia have convinced the general public that all of these great social measures were put into effect because of them. The exact opposite of the reality.   

You see, while the left has long attempted to distance itself from their totalitarian leanings, they have never fully dismissed that the Communists do not stand on the left side of the spectrum. However, they have distanced themselves from, say, the Nazis, who they insist are a "right-wing extremist" party, even though the term Nazi itself is a German acronym for the "National Socialist German Workers Party". I contend that Fascists can exist on either end of the spectrum at the bottom of the inverse pinnacle. Was Hitler's state Fascist? Sure. But so was the Ancient Roman Empire, Franco's Spain, and many other regimes that didn't fuse their Fascism with racial identitarianism, or Socialist economics. The Hitlerian state operated on fascist principles, and German society was radicalized culturally by racial identitarianism, which both fed nationalism, but the economy was indeed quite Socialist.

In America, the far right, now dubbed, the "Alt Right", was set to be conflated with "Nazis" in the media and popular consciousness. Surely, everyone who voted for Trump wasn't a Nazi, that would mean that hundreds of millions were, "like literally Hitler, and stuff, dude". Well, surely they weren't, and aren't, but that is what the left media wished the left to believe, and so, anyone right of the DNC, including Classical Liberals and Skeptics were put on notice.

The opportunistic white identitarians eagerly took on the mantle of "Alt Right", as  a means to piggyback on the populism that was sweeping the land. This meant that there are now two types of people claiming the term. The first are the Conservatives of the Anarcho-Capitalist variety, and the other are actual Nazis that the first were mistaken for by the media. But what is the difference, you might ask. Nazis, now as then, are not actually on the right, and their identification as such is a manipulative illusion of the left.

If you listen to self-professed white identitarians like Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer firsthand, you quickly find that they do not hold the Constitution dear in the manner a far Conservative like say, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter or even the dreaded Steve "gasp" Bannon does. Likewise, they do not hold Capitalism dear the way a Conservative does. They hold race sacred, and their Fascistic desire is to replace the existing government with one more suiting their goals. Like Hitler, as well as his Communist opponents, they are willing to use Democracy in order to put themselves in a position of power, but once they are elected, those "inconvenient" Democratic principles are soon dispensed with. These Neo-Nazi "Alt-Righters" are no different. They do not hold the values of the right sacred, because they are not actually patriots, or on the right.

They are at the pinnacle of the triangle beneath us all - Alt for sure.

Thus, even though I contest they are not even really best described of as being on the right, the white supremacists have ruined the term Alt Right for the Anarcho-Libertarian and Far-Right Conservatives of the Alt Right. No amount of distancing and disavowing them will make a difference to that taint now. Therefore, I suggest that the post-Tea Party generation fully embrace the term "New Right" and abandon Alt Right to the wolves.

I have a feeling the term might just stick. What do you think?

Till next time.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

European Union Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones - Catalonia Update

Since the Gauntlet's last foray into Catalan subject matter "Double Down!" clearly seems to be the agreed upon policy of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his European Union enablers. Their overtly Fascistic tactics and dismissive rhetoric speak volumes to their unswerving dedication to the Marxist agenda of regional micro-globalist European Collectivism, which has now subsumed, or rather, has funneled, many European's Nationalist tendencies into a synonymous parity with that seemingly contrary ideology.

Spain's Post-Franco, Post-National, Collectivist "nationalists" dismiss the notion of Catalonia's proposed departure as illegal, divisive, reckless, traitorous, and I'm sure even immoral. Personally, I don't blame them one iota for their reasoning, at least as relating to Spain's overall economy, and their gripping fear of losing the cash cow that Barcelona generates for the nation as a whole, but, we have an interesting, or perhaps a disturbing, bit of indicative cognitive dissonance here that should be pointed out.

QUERY: If you are a confessed Collectivist who ardently supports Pan-Ethnic Regional Nationalism, and you likewise support the active Fascistic repression of the diversity of identity and thoughts of your fellow citizens by the military arm of the State, how, oh how, are not almost literally identical to another, earlier political party of German Nationalist Socialists, who, albeit they held a very different and specific set of racial motives, remain notorious to the world as a whole?

So, in light of this question burning in the back of my mind, it came as no great surprise (after the initial head bashing), when some 350,000 Castilian activists took to the street in Barcelona in a counter protest to declare Catalonia's "indivisibility" from Spain as a whole, and the event took on, well, a Fascistic demeanor.

While I have stated my concerns about how far left the Catalan separatist movement leans, especially since you can easily spy the Anarcho-Communist Syndicalist flag flying at referendum rallies, I nonetheless have far greater concerns about Nazism manifesting as misplaced European Union Micro-Globalism.

Sure, I support everyone's right to express an opinion in a democratic society, in the marketplace of ideas, but, even without any racial under, or overtones, Statism of this sort does not aid the Gauntlet's agenda of helping the world move firmly away from Marxist Collectivist Globalism on the micro, or macro scale.

I'm certain leftists are in quite a philosophic bind right now regarding the issue of Catalan secession. After all, the Socialists actually tend to adore the idea of Collectivism, and think that organizations like the UN, NAFTA, the WTO, and the EU, all reflect a swell, Star Trek-like Positive-Futurist Utopian philosophy that will move Global Marxism, and the earth as a whole, forward to a greater future.

At least in theory.

But what's a leftist to do when their fellow partisans betray their innate fascistic tendencies to the media so overtly? Don't they know not to play to the cameras?

Well, they can always do what the left has repeatedly done in response to Antifa violence in US riots, by downplaying it, or even praising them as heroes, or they can handle the matter like Mariano Rajoy did, and double down again. A triple down, if you will.

I have to say, back when the left WAS the liberal counter-culture, we could rely on them to stand up to the bullies, well, at least most of the time, that is until they became too enamored with, and indoctrinated into, identitarian intersectionalism and Marx's demented ideology, and they fell blind to the abuses of Communist and Socialist states and became apologists for monsters like Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, etc, etc.

Sadly today the left IS the establishment, at least in regard to media, academia, and the culture war in general, and they must be having a hard time playing both sides. After all, you can't be the establishment and the counter-culture at the same time, that is just a schizophrenic ouroboros. But, since real Conservatives and Libertarians were pushed to the fringe in most western nations, they were forced to take on the mantle of our shared Classical Liberal values and the fight to preserve democratic rights. Whether or not you want to believe this paradigm assertion is up to you as an individual, of course, but if you reject it out-of-hand, you may want to look at your own doctrinal biases and analyze just how much, and in what ways, Marxist indoctrination has effected you.

But back to Catalonia.

In the wake of the Spanish Police smashing in the heads of numerous old ladies peaceably demonstrating in the streets of Barcelona, not only did the European Union authorities repeatedly ignore pleas for aid in negotiating a peace between Catalonia and Spain from the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, as predicted in the Gauntlet's last Catalonia article, France's Obama-like Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron, has indeed continued to push the notion that this sort of separatism is indeed the very reason that justifies the need for an European Union Army.

Clearly, Mr. Macron is set to lead this charge, and in light of his swelling Fascistic-Socialism we must remember that when he was sworn into office a few months ago, that he was presented to the French public to the tune of the European Union Anthem rather than the French National Anthem; the Marseilles. For those of us who lean right, this of course seems overtly disrespectful, if not outwardly treasonous. Not technically, of course, but in regard to emotional sentiment, it amounts to the same.

Still, this all comes down to the people. The Catalan people.

Rajoy could have easily sat down and negotiated with Puigdemont, and belabored the process of Catalonia's dissolution from Spain for another twenty, or maybe even fifty years. Madrid putting programs on the table to insure some measure of the autonomy of Catalonia and bolster the continuance of the Catalan language and culture, as well as passing some tax abatement initiatives could have gone many kilometers to temper the zeal and immediacy of this issue, which frankly has been on a long simmer since the year 1714.

I mean, think about this in interpersonal terms. If one lover wished to leave another, what pushes them out of the door faster, threats and abuse? Or does a little sugar get them to rethink their speedy departure? Sure, the unhappy lover might not stay forever, but the process of letting go can be orchestrated to gracefully slide into independence rather than into out and out conflict and abuse, as Rajoy and his thugs have implemented so incompetently on the streets of Barcelona.

Of course, we will have to watch closely and see how this situation continues to evolve, but in light of his lack of insight and fascistic actions in regard to the Catalonian secessionist referendum issue, I am forced to award Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy Brey, with the Gauntlet of Balthazar's "REGRESSIVE RETARD OF THE MONTH" Award for October, 2017.

Keep up the great work in doubling and tripling down, Mariano. Your emulation of Francisco Franco is all but flawless, and by doing so you are giving a great helping hand to the Anti-Marxists of the world in their goal of more promptly dissembling the European Union. Oh, and by all means, accept my congratulations once again on your award.

Till next time.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Happy Belated Birthday Gauntlet of Balthazar!

This (past) October 3rd marked the first anniversary of the Gauntlet of Balthazar on-line. I had hoped that the event would coincide with the 100th post, but alas, my workload seems to be shaping up to an average of about six posts per month, so that will have to wait a tad longer.

Saying that, I think the project is generally coming along quite nicely, and I hope that whatever your initial reason/s for clicking through that you find great enjoyment in the wide variety of types of content I upload, and obviously, that you return often.

With my erstwhile recent blogger censorship, I have redesigned the Gauntlet's promotional bitmoji graphic to feature the unique domain name address, though traffic will still come through the previous blogspot / blogger url and be redirected here as well, so it's all good.

Even as I write this the Gauntlet is simultaneously launching a Twitter page of its own. If you are not particularly comfortable with clicking on the follow button here on blogger, then by all means, follow us on Twitter. The address is GauntletofBalthazar at https://twitter.com/GauntletTalk

I would very much like to know more about the backgrounds of visitors to this page, specifically those of you from other countries. Sure, the predominance of our readers hail from the US, but there are some decent numbers from countries like Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and smatterings from the UK, Spain, Canada, Italy, Turkmenistan, Finland, China, Afghanistan, Australia, Indonesia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and a few others.

So please feel free to "tell me your deal". Are you politically on the left or on the right? Are you a traditionalist or a progressive? Are you a Socialist or are you anti-Socialist? Are you a religious person, and if so, what religion do you practice or not? Are you in a creative field, the arts, or are you blue collar?

I may design an automated multiple choice selection and post it for ease, but for now, either message me through the blog or maybe better, through the new Twitter feed. Obviously, if you've been following, I am the furthest thing from big brother, so no need to fear me doxing you.

Anyway, please stay tuned for a lot more insightful, humorous, artsy, self-aggrandizing polemic and contrarian button-pushing as the Gauntlet moves firmly into year number two with a new domain and social media backup.

As always, till next time.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Oh, the (World Wide) Web We Weave! YouTube, Blogger and Facebook Content Censorship

"Did you ever have the feeling you was being, watched?", was the classic Bug's Bunny query to the monster, sometime called Gossamer, in the 1946 Looney Toons Halloween feature "Hair-Raising Hare". As a child I remember I laughed and laughed when the monster, previously terrifying, suddenly internalizes his own paranoia and flees in blind panic into the infinite distance, leaving room for a well-placed Bugs Bunny closing zinger.

Well, we are all being watched, intently, not by spies, or Stasi neighbors, but by heuristic algorithm.

But first, the back-story.

I recall from the haze of my youth the moment I first heard of the handy-dandy new device the banks had introduced, called the ATM machine. This new device, in tandem with your personalized plastic card, gave you access to your bank account, and even let you withdraw cash from said machine. I must say, that at first, it didn't seem like the most amazing innovation. It was an impersonal substitute bank teller, that was just one step ahead of the coin changer in the video arcade's we all spent far too many hours in as hormone-burgeoning adolescents. Regardless of the ease of utilizing these devices, at first I just withdrew cash from them and paid for everything with green. But, that was not the goal of the banks at all. They wanted us to pay for everything with cards of different sorts, and use less physical cash overall. Deep in my sci-fi dystopian damaged heart, I knew that if I bought items with cards, my purchases would have tracking data connected to them, like GPS following my movements explicitly, and this all gave me great pause.

But, like the rest of us, I eventually broke down and started using the card directly at various retail establishments. "So what?" many people asked me when confronted, or confused, by my clear paranoia. "Even if some company knows what you are buying, who cares? What difference does it make?", was the general consensus to my concerns, and so, as I said, I weakened over time and used it, more and more. Besides, it was quite a hike to the bank to get money just to walk back to the supermarket. What a waste of time, right?

"Who cares what you buy?", was in all actuality becoming, "You are what you buy". And so, through the 1990's the process of data collection was well on the road to its full blossoming as indispensable to the way we live now.

We, as the consumers they wanted us to be, allowed ourselves to become piles and pile of consumer data for them, which when combined with  demographic statistics and "click tracking", formed the basis of the first marketing algorithms used by internet search engines like Lycos, Ask, Look Smart, oh, and a little company you might have heard of called Google.

Even early on Google was ahead of the rest, and soon, most of the others would fall by the wayside or were marginalized by the power of Larry Page and Sergey Brin's ad revenue generating "search engine". But Google's searches were not just like a helpful friend answering a burning question or two for you, it was an evolving algorithm that played well with others. It was tied to online purchases, and another new thing you might of heard of called "social media".

In the aftermath of the early social media wars, the dominance of Facebook and Twitter, as well as Google, particularly after their purchase of the online video service, YouTube in 2006, in conjunction with the widespread implementation of smart phones, really preempted the present state of how we all live, work, and play, at least to some or greater extent.

But, with hegemony comes great power, and with great power comes agenda, and if your agenda is all about control, as is the fancy of many an authoritarian on both the left or the right, then this can be a cocktail for surveillance. Through the Obama years, we are now told by Wikileak's exposure of the "Vault Seven" conspiracy of Google and Facebook cooperating with the CIA and other government agencies here and abroad, that those machines do indeed monitor what we are all doing, saying, and if they could, thinking.

Of course, when this all came out, the "powers that be" were quick to defend their interloping as at once harmless, but also as a means to monitor potential terror threats in cyberspace, and thus, they were doing us all a favor, right? But, we all had lives, and, well, "give me convenience or give me death" ruled the roost once again, and we let it pass by with barely a bump in the night.

In the wake of the 2016 election, the radicalization of the left (and the far left) saw them doubling down on their use and abuse of the power they had. Realizing that right wing voices, having been pushed out of the mainstream media, had cordoned out a home on the web, the left just needed to nip that in the retroactive bud.

"Could all of this skeptic "shitposting" be in some way responsible for why our Queen had been dethroned before her coronation?", the liberal media must have asked itself. Well the answer was a resounding YES, and so, since operative leftist thinking had quickly morphed into "anyone who disagrees with our consensus opinion is, well, a Nazi, even when all signs pointed to them not being Nazis, but rather, belonging to another political party or philosophy, the left justified ramping up its aggressive tactics against its "enemies".

Antifa operatives often scrawl "Liberals get the bullet too" as one of their Communist inspired slogan graffiti, but make no mistake, the left in general easily fell into this "latte liberal" revolution larping as well. They just aimed their political ire at those to their immediate right.

But oh, to the point of how this relates directly to the Gauntlet.

Brin, Zuckerberg, and the like, have never hidden their complicity and clear preference for leftist politics and social justice, and such is frankly endemic all over Silicon Valley. They may all be consummate Capitalists on some level, but they have also  been highly effected by the Social Justice Warrior movement, Marxist academia, and liberal media indoctrination.

Thus, it almost came as no surprise when Facebook agreed to voluntarily monitor its content, and loosened the parameters for users filing complaints against individuals and groups that someone might feel fell short of "community guidelines", or to be frank, were saying things other people just didn't like to hear. Gone is the forum of ideas, debate, and reasonable discussion, leaving only "shut 'em down if you don't like 'em", in its place.

Google likewise upped its monitoring of content, and aside from deleting videos outright, YouTube began a process of demonetizing specific videos and channels that they now deemed, "too controversial". Strangely, this rarely happened to left wing pundits, or even radical Muslim or identitaian racists on the approved side, meaning that African-American race-baiting groups were given far more latitude than, White-American race baiting groups, even though both might have been equally virulent and racist. Regardless, the extreme groups are not even really the issue here, because this demonetization and censorship was/is impacting those who were moderate skeptics, classical liberals, and Conservatives and Libertarians who were no where near the end of the spectrum where basement dwelling race mutants live.

As you may or may not know, Blogger, the service that this blog, the Gauntlet of Balthazar, is hosted on, is a Google owned app, and as you might have also noted if you've been here before, or merely if you look around the pages now, that much of my content is political in nature. Now, much isn't as well. I also promote my film and writing projects, upload music I create, share photos, discuss film or script work, or occasionally log a created "word of the day" as a lark, but yes, there is some political analysis, and it is clearly written from an Anarcho-Libertarian point of view, and generally reflects the fiscal Conservative side of the American political spectrum, particularly in regard to my sometimes overtly stated anti-Marxist content.

Well, it seems that, perhaps simply due to the fact that the Gauntlet has culled some slight traction in the blogsphere, that Blogger sought to derail the process. Now, this is not censorship in that they directly edit what I hath writ, but in essence when entities like Blogger, Google, what have you, deem content "controversial", they now feel empowered to go ahead and change the search engine parameters for those they deem "offenders".

I noticed the first change in early September 2017, when for the first time in since the Gauntlet was just getting off the ground I failed to get a +1 "rating" for each post from Google Plus. "How odd!" I thought to myself, but I let it go. Next I noticed my page view numbers had declined slightly over the course of the month. But I let that go as well, even though this information conflicted with specific recent posts gaining some of the highest direct per click hits yet. What broke the chain for me was that upon sharing a post on Facebook, I noticed that the Gauntlet's url suffix had been redirect to, of all places, a .PE (Peru) country code.

You see, by engaging in intentionally altering the html script and search placement parameters for a submitted url, and directing it away from the best position for it to gain more clicks and views, Blogger and Google remain not in violation of their service agreement with users such as myself, while at the same time effectively burying a blog at the bottom of a very long pile of results that won't be seen by anyone accidentally. So, while the Gauntlet of Balthazar remained online, posts from that point forward were essentially hidden in plain sight. I have not yet monetized it with the Adsense app yet, so there was no danger of loosing ad revenue, but I must add that this way of doing things is a remarkably sneaky one. In the off chance that this is not an effect of politics, but merely an automated function based on numbers of views, then their policy is just an opportunistic way of forcing users to remedy it by the most expedient means necessary, which is buying the domain name from Google for the not-insurmountable fee of twelve dollars, as I did.

Either way, I view my demotion with a sense of pride. A badge of honor, if you will. Just eleven months in and being politically censored seems like a good place to be. And if it was simply because the Gauntlet has gained "too many" readers that's fine as well. But I must add, isn't it just so "cute" when massive faceless corporations have the time to pick political sides?

Till next time.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Caliphate, Nation State, and the Kurdish Referendum

On September 25th, 2017, the Kurdish community of northern Iraq voted in a regional referendum that was in many respects quite similar to the one that occurred in the province of Catalunya, in Spain. Like the Catalans (see my previous article on the referendum in Catalonia), the vast majority of Kurds who voted (some 93%) also cast their ballots for independence, and the celebrations commenced.

I have long, and very vocally, supported the aspirations of the Kurdish people in their desire to forge a sovereign and pluralistic democratic ethno-state in the region, and for as many years as I supported that cause, I saw that the forces that were poised against their endeavor plied tactics that not only worked counter to the Kurds aspirations, but I must add that these tactics were also duplicitous, misleading and corrupt. But, as per my nature, these media and political deceptions only urged me to stronger support. Thus, I have followed the plight of Kurdish independence since at least the first Gulf War, if not earlier, and I arrived my position by way of several philosophic streams which I will go into at length later in this post.

But first, just who are the Kurds?

According to Wikipedia: The Kurds (Kurdish: Kurd, کورد) or the Kurdish people (Kurdish: Gelê Kurd, گەلی کورد) are an ethnic group in the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a contiguous area spanning adjacent parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan). The Kurds are culturally, historically and linguistically classified as belonging to the Iranian peoples.

Globally, the Kurds are estimated to number anywhere from a low of 30 million, to possibly as high as 45 million, with the majority living in the region they regard as Greater Kurdistan. However, there are significant Kurdish Diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul. A recent Kurdish Diaspora has also developed in Western countries, primarily in Germany. The Kurds are the majority population in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, and are a significant minority group in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran, and Syria, where Kurdish nationalist movements continue to pursue greater autonomy and cultural rights.

"The land of Karda" is mentioned on a Sumerian clay-tablet dated to the 3rd millennium B.C. This land was inhabited by "the people of Su" who dwelt in the southern regions of Lake Van; The philological connection between "Kurd" and "Karda" is uncertain but the relationship is considered possible. Other Sumerian clay-tables referred to the people, who lived in the land of Karda, as the Qarduchi and the Qurti.

Many Kurds consider themselves descended from the Medes, an ancient Iranian people, and even use a calendar dating from 612 B.C., when the Assyrian capital of Nineveh was conquered by the Medes. The claimed Median descent is reflected in the words of the Kurdish national anthem: "We are the children of the Medes and Kai Khosrow." However, MacKenzie and Asatrian challenge the relation of the Median language to Kurdish. The Kurdish languages, on the other hand, form a subgroup of the Northwestern Iranian languages like Median. Some researchers consider the independent Kardouchoi as the ancestors of the Kurds, while others prefer Cyrtians. The term "Kurd," however, is first encountered in Arabic sources of the seventh century. Books from the early Islamic era, including those containing legends such as the Shahnameh and the Middle Persian Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan, and other early Islamic sources provide early attestation of the name Kurd. 

So, as a people, the Kurds are ancient and unique. The Greeks and Romans were quite aware of them, and they ruled kingdoms with strong ties to the traditions Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and the pre-Islamic Persian dominated middle east. On a peculiar DNA note, the Kurds possess the globally highest presence of the Cohen-Modal Haplotype (the genetic marker associated with the ancient priestly caste of the Jewish Cohanim) outside of a Jewish population. But this shouldn't be all that surprising to students of middle eastern history since Kurdistan once boasted a disproportionately very large Jewish presence that started in the times of Zoroaster and lasted till just after the State of Israel was established.

Today, the Kurds are both Sunni and Shia, Nationalists, Democrats and Communists, and their region is also home to populations of Turkmen, Yezidis, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Other Eastern Christians, Mandeans, Armenians, as well as Iraqi and Syrian Sunni and Shia Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and others. But, what is most important in all this is that they believe they are distinct, and possess a desire to express that distinction in concrete real world political action. 

Needless to say, I have often dealt with people who do not share my penchant for the Kurdish secessionist movement, and hearing their reasons for not supporting the Kurds, I internally found their rationales, lacking. 

So let's break it down, shall we? And suss out who is for and who is against Kurdish nationalism, and why?

In the US, politicos of the DNC AND GOP Corporatist type, otherwise referred to as neo-Conservatives, RINOS, and war-hawks, have far too much invested in the military-industrial complex, smooth relations with Turkey, and their Saudi Arabian masters to allow a fly in the ointment like the Kurds to mess up the gravy train. In the first Gulf War I was personally incensed when George Bush Sr. encouraged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein, and then left them high and dry with no support, leaving them to be picked off in the mountains by all too eager Turkish border guards.

Some Iraqi Christians are extremely concerned by Kurdish dominance in the region they share, but I feel these concerns are largely based on abuses which are historical in nature. I propose any bad element of cultural appropriation or religious animosity between these communities could be ameliorated over time through fellowship and inclusion in the newly proposed political apparatus.  

Sure, I opposed the invasion of Iraq in the first place, as I believed, and still believe, that Saddam Hussein's regime, in many respects, functioned in the better interests of the US than, well, anarchy, and the emergence of ISIS. But, when you break it you buy it, and as I often say, the only thing dumber than sending troops into Iraq, was abandoning it. Since Iraq is now a stones throw away from being a failed state, I'm absolutely fine with dissembling it and parceling out new and functional entities. 

Since the referendum, the Iraqi central government has stated its opposition to the Kurdish region breaking away from the unified nation. I personally expect that they are just one step behind Madrid's tactics in Barcelona of late. As Spanish police smash Catalan heads in a telling preview of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel's proposed "European Union Army", we can see that, aside from any nationalist considerations of citizens from outside of these "rebellious provinces" (another low grade opposition type - who just don't want to lose a part of their country), the European Unionists and Caliphatists will always be against sovereignty secessionists because in the end, the collectivist tendencies of Socialists and Islamists are essentially the same. 

When a dogma promotes the idea that their system, and their system alone is the cure for all worldly ills, it is only a matter of time until their compulsion to fascism forces uniformity. "We are not Italians or Frenchmen, we are Europeans", is no different a chant than "We are not Egyptians or Iraqi, we are all Muslims". Both of these paradigms only encourage uniformity, and encourage minorities to flee regions, then nations, and sends them into cultural exile.

To an Islamist, even one who is not Turkish, a Kurdish state is certainly a step in the wrong direction. It moves Muslim's away from unity into a world that recognizes diversity. But guess what? That diversity is real, and if the Kurds want their sovereignty then they should have it. Muslims may fool themselves that one day everyone will be Muslim, and when that happens, the earth will be like Eden. But, I assure you, with no cynicism, but only in an acceptance of human nature, that the day we all become Muslim is the day we start killing one another. And this is not an attack against Islam. It is the same with Socialism or Communism, or any other exclusive philosophy. There is no single system, political, or religious, that can fix the world, and as I have made abundantly clear here in other posts on the Gauntlet, I think it wholly misguided to even try. The world is what it is, and the Kurds and the Catalans are what they are, as we are all what we all are. 

Soon we will see the end result of both of these referendums and the repression that will follow, and I for one will continue to support both endeavors, unless I see evidence that such new entities might be abusive or dictatorial. I have light concerns about the Kurdish PKK as a Communist party, just as I have light concerns about far-left and far-right elements in Catalonia, but from what I can see both are on the right track to installing potentially successful states for their languages, cultures, and people. 

Till next time.

Hemû baş, birayên û birayên Kurdistanê.