https://www.thedailybeast.com/south-dakota-swaps-inmates-lawyers-for-ipads

This is what happens when human lives are made subject to an unrestricted capitalist turn-for-profit. The Department of Corrections argues legal aid is ‘a very expensive thing for taxpayers’. The humane, just, and obvious solution is not then to outsource this legal aid. It is to decriminalize in a nation that carries the damning distinction of incarcerating its citizens at the highest rate in the world per capita. This is a society that locks up its own so as to not have to be held accountable to them. 16 years ago Portugal decriminalized the use of all illicit drugs and now has one of the lowest drug-induced death rates of any country in the world. Cost-cutting is not a humanism. This same corporatism of a kind with the 2008 Kids for Cash scandal has taught us nothing.

This rhetoric of ‘access’ is perverted doublespeak. Utterly virtual, ‘access’ hedges its bets on a degree of non-fulfillment: that this access will not be taken advantage of. It is a means to dodge responsibility. Unless one is given in advance the knowledge of how, when, where, and why to access this benefit, then no real access has been given: the material conditions necessary to actualize a possibility. In the same way as giving African-Americans access to Little Rock Central High School did not mean they could enter it- they could not until escorted by the 101st Airborne Division.

Legal aid is required by law. This is not a fulfillment of the law; this is an circumvention of it.

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Those who critique with the truism that the arms of the 18th century were not those of the present day, move toward the proper materialist critique of this clause, but on the wrong side. It is not the arms of the 18th century that is the turning point, but rather the government.

It has nothing to do with the difference between guns then versus now- to admit this argument is already to give in. It has only to do with the purported reason for them: the justification that they are ‘necessary to the security of a free State’. More than 200 years ago, the power of a government resided in its standing army in proportion to the threat over its territorial claims. This is the threat that necessitated the clause. Today however it is not our neighbors who threaten our state – France, Spain, and Great Britain are not contesting North American independence.

The state’s own government threatens the state when it no longer recognizes itself as accountable to the common citizen. Arms will not prevent the takeover of your government by fascists – and in any case this government has more militarized arms than you: this takeover has already happened, soundlessly in a chamber with the passing of laws that disenfranchise its citizens. The paradigmatic war for our time is the Cold War; arms are not the privileged instrument of warfare, but ideology. Only an educated and civically-active polity could have assured a free state.

If one were to speak of ‘market freedom’ it could only be in the sense that Hitler freed the German people from the war guilt ratified in the Treaty of Versailles, or in the sense that the National Liberation Movement liberated the Albanians from Italian fascism- only to step right into Hoxha totalitarianism. In its ideological guile, capitalism belongs twinly with fascism.

The market offers freedom from freedom. This in the precise sense of Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom. The market is a liberator in the same way los libertadores were, and likewise will bequeath all the authoritarianism of a caudillismo.

There is no such thing as ‘market freedom’ Paul Ryan; it is a contradiction in terms.

The market is precisely what ties our hands behind our backs, forcing us to take on inordinate debt for college degrees it has decided we need in order to be competitive on the market, forcing us to take on jobs, for the market has decided that with a job does not come a living wage, forcing us to go into debt for an operation, for the market has decided that people are not guaranteed the right to not die from a preventable death. The ‘market’ is precisely that which administers unfreedom.

The market can only be synonymous with fascism. There is no freedom in fascism. The market is the jailer leading us to the gallows.

Trump has overwritten Obama’s memo which limited the amount of penalizations the student loan industry (for, as with prisons and the military, student loans today in the US are an industry) could charge.

When facists respond with ‘Well then don’t be late’, one should hear precisely in this the same matter-of-fact rhetoric Rousseau quoted a great princess as saying on hearing that the peasants did not have enough bread: ‘Let them eat cake’.

The ‘common sense’ answer reveals itself as precisely the reactionism of ideology. It is not merely that the answer is ignorant, inhumane, etc.; it is that it disregards to the point of exoneration the unjust system that creates this historical situation in the first place- the unjust system that is this historical situation.

An education is not a commodity to be sold off, and students are not barter chips. An educated polity is necessary in order for democracy to function: it is a matter of the republic itself. Sarkozy learned this back in 2006 when he railed at La Princesse de Clèves being included on government job application exams. Knowledge is not a priori compartamentalized; capitalism violently coerces knowledge. The lessons of Book VII of the Republic, the aesthetic propaganda of Triumph of the Will, the patronage of fascism by Futurism are necessary to a polity if it is to make informed, democratic judgements. Such lessons will not be learned in an education subjugated to market value and job opportunism.

Such a system wherein somebody who owes a sum is further penalized has existed before: the debtors’ prison of the 19th century. Jailing the person so that he cannot work and thus has no means with which to pay off the debt for which he has been jailed, while further indebting him if he wished while in prison to eat, to receive visitors, etc. That it is systematic abuse of human rights is proved by the fact that Article 1 of Protocol 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights expressly prohibits such imprisonment.

A ruler did once in fact create a government around him of preachy, American businessmen: the last King of Hawaii. His successor was coerced into abdication by them, her kingdom illegally and hypocritically annexed by them, so that the former Kingdom of Hawaii could be exploited for profit by and for them.

This video is going around the internet and the comments, more than being merely unpleasant, are disturbing in their anti-democraticness.

 

The refusal to assert one’s right when it is being illegally infringed upon will be taken as evidence of that right’s superfluity. That right will become no longer one’s own. You are positively contributing to facism in allowing your constitutional rights to be overrun.

 

Equally important, you have the right not merely to things, but the right to not do things, what Isaiah Berlin called ‘negative liberty’. The most famous index of such liberty is the Fifth Amendment: the right not to answer to a capital crime unless indicted by a Grand Jury, the right not to be tried for the same crime twice, the right to not self-incriminate, the right not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property.

 

The last clause however invokes that mode paradigmatic of negative freedom: privacy: the right not to be deprived of private property for public use. Privacy is in fact constitutive of democracy: the international law of the secret ballot: Article 21.3,  Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The will of the people…shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which…shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures”; Article 23, American Convention on Human Rights: ‘Every citizen shall enjoy the following rights and opportunities: … b. to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that gaurantees the free expression of the will of the voters…’; etc.

 

The pseudo-logic of ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of’ shows itself tendentious. Not merely because everybody has something they wish to hide – even, as has been recently shown, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, etc., but moreover because modern democracy is in fact founded on the privacy of secrecy. ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of’  is doubly fallacious because one does have precisely to be afraid, and must be afraid of such encroachments this phrase is being served to justify,  encroachments of human and constitutional rights, rights such as ‘the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures’, i.e., the Fourth Amendment.

 

As Nazi Germany taught us, the threat of facism is not in some invading, non-Christian other, but precisely in the indifference of the polity.
Senator Mitch McConnell,
One has arrived at a time in US history in which the truth is slanderous. That in itself is damning for your party. It would not be necessary to impute to another senator conducting unbecoming a senator had a senator conducted himself senatorially.
You and your party have silenced the words of Coretta Scott King. For the brief time you and your party will possess majority power, you may set US democracy back years, but you will not white-wash US history. Your censoring only ensured that her words would be repeated on Facebook, on Twitter, on CNN, etc. Now all those listening will know  of how he prosecuted Martin Luther King Jr.’s erstwhile aide for voter fraud, of Senator Sessions’ nomination to the district court in 1986, of how four DOJ lawyers testified that he had made racially-offensive remarks admitting to calling the KKK ‘okay’, and finally how that nomination failed when two Republican senators split the party line and voted against the nominee.
In almost the past three decades, the US has not learned from its history. But it will now.