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FTR #1029 “The Will to Create Man Anew”: Eugenics, Past, Present and Future

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Adolf Hitler: “National Socialism . . . . is more even than a religion: it is the will to create man anew.”

Introduction: In numerous programs, we have touched on eugenics and some of the outcomes of eugenics philosophy, including the growth of the Nazi extermination programs from the Knauer case. Some of these programs are: FTR #’s 32, 117, 124, 140, 141, 534, 664,  and  908.  A look at future possibilities of eugenics–something that we discuss in this program–are highlighted in FTR #909 and AFA #39.

Important book on the subject include The War Against the Weak, by Edwin Black and The Nazi Connection by Stephan Kuhl. In FTR #1013, we recapped Peter Levenda’s prescient analysis of the overlap between eugenics and fascist iterations of anti-immigrant sentiment. In this broadcast, eugenics, anti-immigration sentiment, genetic engineering and the “immortality-striving” Transhumanist movement are highlighted, noting the progression from the fascism of the 1930’s to imminent steps that would augment the ascension of a truly “superhuman” elite, to the ultimately lethal detriment of the rest of society.

We begin with prognostications about the future.

Professor Stephen Hawking has predicted that gene-editing techniques will lead to the creation of superhumans, who will supersede those who do not benefit from such technologies. ” . . . . The scientist presented the possibility that genetic engineering could create a new species of superhuman that could destroy the rest of humanity. . . . In ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions,’ Hawking’s final thoughts on the universe, the physicist suggested wealthy people would soon be able to choose to edit genetic makeup to create superhumans with enhanced memory, disease resistance, intelligence and longevity. . . . ‘Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete,’ he wrote. ‘Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate.’ . . .”

Peter Thiel

The observations of Professor Hawking concerning the role of genetic engineering in the ascension of superhumans is the Silicon Valley-based Transhumanist movement” . . . . Thiel and other eccentric, wealthy tech-celebrities, such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have taken the next step to counteract that inequality – by embarking on a quest to live forever. . . .Thiel and many like him have been investing in research on life extension, part of transhumanism. Drawing on fields as diverse as neurotechnology, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering and philosophy, transhumanists believe that the limitations of the human body and mortality can be transcended by machines and technology. The ultimate aim is immortality. Some believe this is achievable by 2045. . . .”

Michael Anissimov–a previous media officer at the Thiel-funded Machine Intelligence Research Institute–published a white nationalist manifesto. In a 2013 interview. ” . . . . Thiel himself is a Donald Trump supporter. A one-time associate Michael Anissimov, previous media officer at Machine Intelligence Research Institute, a Thiel-funded AI think tank, has published a white nationalist manifesto. In a 2013 interview, Anissimov said that there were already significant differences in intelligence between the races, and that a transhumanist society would inevitably lead to ‘people lording it over others in a way that has never been seen before in history’. It doesn’t take much to guess who would be doing the ‘lording’. . . .”

The identity of the people doing the “lording” may be gleaned from the following: ” . . . . Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist candidate for governor of California, told Tech Insider that ‘a lot of the most important work in longevity is coming from a handful of the billionaires…around six or seven of them’. . . .”

Carl Schmitt, on the right. Arguably Nazi Germany’s top legal theoretician and a dominant influence on Thiel’s thinking.

Benito Mussolini defined fascism as “corporatism,” and labeled his system “The Corporate State.” In that context, it is instructive to weigh transhumanism: ” . . . . You basically can’t separate transhumanism from capitalism. An idea that’s so enthusiastically pursued by Musk and Peter Thiel, and by the founders of Google, is one that needs to be seen as a mutation of capitalism, not a cure for it.’ . . . . If those who form society in the age of transhumanism are men like Musk and Thiel, it’s probable that this society will have few social safety nets. There will be an uneven rate of technological progress globally; even a post-human society can replicate the unequal global wealth distribution which we see today. In some cities and countries, inhabitants may live forever, while in others the residents die of malnutrition. If people don’t die off, the environmental consequences – from widespread natural resource devastation to unsustainable energy demands – would be widespread. . . . “

These are auguries of a future-to-come. A look at the present suggests that these prognostications are not unrealistic.

Nazis/white supremacists are already distorting genetic research to suit their own ends. Not surprisingly, academics in the field have not been enthusiastic about engaging them. In the past, genetic research has been supportive of eugenics philosophy.

” . . . . Nowhere on the agenda of the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, being held in San Diego this week, is a topic plaguing many of its members: the recurring appropriation of the field’s research in the name of white supremacy. ‘Sticking your neck out on political issues is difficult,’ said Jennifer Wagner, a bioethicist and president of the group’s social issues committee, who had sought to convene a panel on the racist misuse of genetics and found little traction. But the specter of the field’s ignominious past, which includes support for the American eugenics movement, looms large for many geneticists in light of today’s white identity politics. They also worry about how new tools that are allowing them to home in on the genetic basis of hot-button traits like intelligence will be misconstrued to fit racist ideologies. . . .”

Ukrainian Nazis honor David Lane’s passing. Lane was a member of The Order and minted the 14 words. The paramilitary wing of the fascist Svoboda Party is C14, named after the 14 words.

A 14-word posting on the Department of Homeland Security website has raised eyebrows. We believe it is an example of dog-whistling by fascist/Nazi elements inside of the DHS. The “Fourteen Words” were minted by Order member and Alan Berg murder getaway driver David Lane. “88” is a well-known clandestine Nazi salute. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, using the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler” was banned. To circumvent that, Nazis said “88,” because H is the eighth letter in the alphabet.

The numbers 14 and 88 are often combined by Nazis.

The title of the DHS  posting is: “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again.” The 14 words of David Lane are: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

It comes as no surprise that Ian M. Smith–a former DHS Trump appointee–had documented links with white supremacists.

Ian Smith was not alone. John Feere and Julie Kirchener–both hard line anti-immigration activists–have been hired by Team Trump. ” . . . . Jon Feere, a former legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, has been hired as an adviser to Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan. At Customs and Border Protection, Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an adviser to Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan. The hiring of Feere and Kirchner at the federal agencies has alarmed immigrants’ rights activists. CIS and FAIR are think tanks based in Washington that advocate restricting legal and illegal immigration. The two organizations were founded by John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who has openly embraced eugenics, the science of improving the genetic quality of the human population by encouraging selective breeding and at times, advocating for the sterilization of genetically undesirable groups. . . .”

The Federation for Immigration Reform has been partly funded by the Pioneer Fund, one of many organizations that operated in favor of the eugenics policy of Nazi Germany. “. . . . Between 1985 and 1994, FAIR received around $1.2 million in grants from the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund is a eugenicist organization that was started in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who wanted to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic lines of American whites. Now led by race scientist J. Philippe Rushton, the fund continues to back studies intended to reveal the inferiority of minorities to whites. . . .”

On CNN former Republican senator Rick Santorum thought the big story of the day on which Manafort was convicted and Michael Cohen plead guilty was the first degree murder charge laid against an “illegal” Mexican migrant worker following the discovery of a deceased white Iowa college girl Mollie Tibbetts. Can this become a rallying cry for Trump and his anti-immigrant and racist supporters?

We note in this context that:

  1. The announcement of Rivera’s arrest for the Tibbetts murder happened on the same day that Paul Manafort’s conviction was announced and Michael Cohen pleaded guilty. Might we be looking at an “op,” intended to eclipse the negative publicity from the the Manafort/Cohen judicial events?
  2. Rivera exhibited possible symptoms of being subjected to mind control, not unlike Sirhan Sirhan. ” . . . . Investigators say Rivera followed Mollie in his dark Chevy Malibu as she went for a run around 7.30pm on July 18. He ‘blacked out’ and attacked her after she threatened to call the police unless he left her alone, officers said. . . . It is not yet clear how Mollie died. . . . Rivera told police that after seeing her, he pulled over and parked his car to get out and run with her. . . . Mollie grabbed her phone and threatened to call the police before running off ahead. The suspect said that made him ‘panic’ and he chased after her. That’s when he ‘blacked out.’ He claims he remembers nothing from then until he was back in his car, driving. He then noticed one of her earphones sitting on his lap and blood in the car then remembered he’d stuffed her in the truck. . . . ‘He followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day. For whatever reason he chose to abduct her,’ Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Ryan said on Tuesday afternoon. . . . ‘Rivera stated that she grabbed her phone and said: ‘I’m gonna call the police.’ . . . . ‘Rivera said he then panicked and he got mad and that he ‘blocked’ his memory which is what he does when he gets very upset and doesn’t remember anything after that until he came to at an intersection.’ . . .”
  3. Just as Sirhan had been in a right-wing milieu prior to the Robert Kennedy assassination, so, too, was Rivera: ” . . . . The prominent Republican family which owns the farm where Mollie Tibbetts’ alleged killer worked have insisted that he passed background checks for migrant workers. Christhian Rivera, 24, who is from Mexico, was charged with first degree murder on Tuesday after leading police to a corn field where Mollie’s body was dumped. Dane Lang, co-owner of Yarrabee Farms along with Eric Lang, confirmed that Rivera had worked there for four years and was an employee ‘of good standing.’ Dane’s brother is Craig Lang, former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Board of Regents, and a 2018 Republican candidate for state secretary of agriculture. . . .”
  4. Trump cited the Tibbetts murder in a Charleston, West Virginia, rally that day: ” . . . . President Donald Trump chirped in during his Tuesday address at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, blaming immigration laws for Mollie’s death. ‘You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico,’ he said. ‘And you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful young woman. ‘Should’ve never happened, illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad. The immigration laws are such a disgrace. ‘We are getting them changed but we have to get more Republicans.’ Gov. Kim Reynolds complained about the ‘broken’ immigration system that allowed a ‘predator’ to live in her state. . . .”
  5. As discussed in FTR #1002, during trial of a member of The Order (to which David Lane belonged), it emerged that Nazi elements were seeking to perfect mind control techniques. It is also a matter of public record that elements of U.S. intelligence are active on behalf of the GOP, and have been for many decades. The assassinations of JFK, his brother and Martin Luther King are but examples of this.

A Dying Robert Kennedy, “the polka-dot dress girl,” and Sirhan

Under hypnosis, Sirhan Sirhan was able to recall a considerable amount of information about “the girl in the polka-dot dress”–a figure reported by many eyewitnesses to have celebrated the assassination of Robert Kennedy and appeared to have implicated herself and others in the crime.

The attraction described by Sirhan to “the polka-dot-dress” girl sounds similar to Rivera’s being “drawn” to Mollie Tibbetts.  ” . . . . Convicted assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan was manip­u­lated by a seduc­tive girl in a mind con­trol plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bul­lets did not kill the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers. . . . Wit­nesses talked of see­ing such a female run­ning from the hotel shout­ing, ‘We shot Kennedy.’ But she was never iden­ti­fied, and amid the chaos of the scene, descrip­tions were conflicting. . . . Under hyp­no­sis, he remem­bered meet­ing the girl that night and becom­ing smit­ten with her. He said she led him to the pantry. ‘I am try­ing to fig­ure out how to hit on her…. That’s all that I can think about,’ he says in one inter­view cited in the doc­u­ments. ‘I was fas­ci­nated with her looks …. She never said much. It was very erotic. I was con­sumed by her. She was a seduc­tress with an unspo­ken unavailability.’ . . . Sirhan main­tained in the hyp­notic inter­views that the mys­tery girl touched him or ‘pinched’ him on the shoul­der just before he fired then spun him around to see peo­ple com­ing through the pantry door. . . .”

1. Professor Stephen Hawking has predicted that gene-editing techniques will lead to the creation of superhumans, who will supersede those who do not benefit from such technologies. ” . . . . The scientist presented the possibility that genetic engineering could create a new species of superhuman that could destroy the rest of humanity. . . . In ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions,’ Hawking’s final thoughts on the universe, the physicist suggested wealthy people would soon be able to choose to edit genetic makeup to create superhumans with enhanced memory, disease resistance, intelligence and longevity. . . . ‘Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete,’ he wrote. ‘Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate.’ . . .”

“Essays Reveal Stephen Hawking Predicted Race of  ‘Superhumans’” by Sarah Marsh; The Guardian; 10/14/2018

The late physicist and author Prof Stephen Hawking has caused controversy by suggesting a new race of superhumans could develop from wealthy people choosing to edit their and their children’s DNA.

Hawking, the author of A Brief History of Time, who diedin March, made the predictions in a collection of articles and essays.

The scientist presented the possibility that genetic engineering could create a new species of superhuman that could destroy the rest of humanity. The essays, published in the Sunday Times, were written in preparation for a book that will be published on Tuesday.

“I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression,” he wrote.

“Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans. But some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life.”

In Brief Answers to the Big Questions, Hawking’s final thoughts on the universe, the physicist suggested wealthy people would soon be able to choose to edit genetic makeup to create superhumans with enhanced memory, disease resistance, intelligence and longevity.

Hawking raised the prospect that breakthroughs in genetics will make it attractive for people to try to improve themselves, with implications for “unimproved humans”.

“Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete,” he wrote. “Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate.”

The comments refer to techniques such as Crispr-Cas9, a DNA-editing system that was invented six years ago, allowing scientists to modify harmful genes or add new ones. Great Ormond Street hospital for children in London has used gene editing to treat children with an otherwise incurable form of leukaemia.

However, questions have been raised about whether parents would risk using such techniques for fear that the enhancements would have side-effects. .  . .

2. The observations of Professor Hawking concerning the role of genetic engineering in the ascension of superhumans is the Silicon Valley-based Transhumanist movement” . . . . Thiel and other eccentric, wealthy tech-celebrities, such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have taken the next step to counteract that inequality – by embarking on a quest to live forever. . . .Thiel and many like him have been investing in research on life extension, part of transhumanism. Drawing on fields as diverse as neurotechnology, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering and philosophy, transhumanists believe that the limitations of the human body and mortality can be transcended by machines and technology. The ultimate aim is immortality. Some believe this is achievable by 2045. . . .”

Michael Anissimov–a previous media officer at the Thiel-funded Machine Intelligence Research Institute–published a white nationalist manifesto. In a 2013 interview. ” . . . . Thiel himself is a Donald Trump supporter. A one-time associate Michael Anissimov, previous media officer at Machine Intelligence Research Institute, a Thiel-funded AI think tank, has published a white nationalist manifesto. In a 2013 interview, Anissimov said that there were already significant differences in intelligence between the races, and that a transhumanist society would inevitably lead to ‘people lording it over others in a way that has never been seen before in history’. It doesn’t take much to guess who would be doing the ‘lording’. . . .”

The identity of the people doing the “lording” may be gleaned from the following: ” . . . . Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist candidate for governor of California, told Tech Insider that ‘a lot of the most important work in longevity is coming from a handful of the billionaires…around six or seven of them’. . . .”

Benito Mussolini defined fascism as “corporatism,” and labeled his system “The Corporate State.” In that context, it is instructive to weigh transhumanism: ” . . . . You basically can’t separate transhumanism from capitalism. An idea that’s so enthusiastically pursued by Musk and Peter Thiel, and by the founders of Google, is one that needs to be seen as a mutation of capitalism, not a cure for it.’ . . . . If those who form society in the age of transhumanism are men like Musk and Thiel, it’s probable that this society will have few social safety nets. There will be an uneven rate of technological progress globally; even a post-human society can replicate the unequal global wealth distribution which we see today. In some cities and countries, inhabitants may live forever, while in others the residents die of malnutrition. If people don’t die off, the environmental consequences – from widespread natural resource devastation to unsustainable energy demands – would be widespread. . . . “

“The First Men to Conquer Death Will Create a New Social Order –A Terrifying One” by Sanjana Varghese; The New Statesman; 08/25/2017

In a 2011 New Yorker profile, Peter Thiel, tech-philanthropist and billionaire, surmised that “probably the most extreme form of inequality is between people who are alive and people who are dead”. While he may not be technically wrong, Thiel and other eccentric, wealthy tech-celebrities, such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have taken the next step to counteract that inequality – by embarking on a quest to live forever.

Thiel and many like him have been investing in research on life extension, part of transhumanism. Drawing on fields as diverse as neurotechnology, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering and philosophy, transhumanists believe that the limitations of the human body and mortality can be transcended by machines and technology. The ultimate aim is immortality. Some believe this is achievable by 2045.

Of course, humans have long harnessed technology, from vaccinations to smartphones, to improve and extend our lives. But that doesn’t admit you into the transhumanist club. Wanting to live forever, and possessing vast sums of money and time to research, does.

The hows and whens of transhumanism are matters of debate. Some advocate the “Singularity” – a form of artificial super-intelligence which will encompass all of humanity’s knowledge, that our brains will then be uploaded to. Others believe in anti-ageing methods like cryonics, freezing your body after death until such a time when you can be revived.

Transhumanism is no longer a fringe movement either. Darpa, the US government’s research arm into advanced weaponry, created a functional prototype of a super soldier exoskeleton in 2014, which will be fully functional in 2018, and is researching the possibility of an artificial human brain.

“Transhumanism doesn’t have much to say about social questions. To the extent that they see the world changing, it’s nearly always in a business-as-usual way – techno-capitalism continues to deliver its excellent bounties, and the people who benefit from the current social arrangement continue to benefit from it,” says Mark O’Connell, the author of To be a Machine, who followed various transhumanists in Los Angeles.”You basically can’t separate transhumanism from capitalism. An idea that’s so enthusiastically pursued by Musk and Peter Thiel, and by the founders of Google, is one that needs to be seen as a mutation of capitalism, not a cure for it.”

Silicon Valley is characterised by a blind belief in technological progress, a disregard for social acceptability and an emphasis on individual success. It’s no surprise, then, that it is here that the idea of living forever seems most desirable.

Musk has publicly declared that we have to merge with artificially intelligent machines that overtake humanity in order to survive. Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and futurist who pioneered the Singularity, is now an engineer at Google. O’Connell points out that “you’d have to be coming from a particularly rarefied privilege to look at the world today and make the assessment, as someone like Thiel does, that the biggest problem we face as a species is the fact that people die of old age”.

On an even more basic level, a transhumanist society would undoubtedly be shaped by the ideals of those who created it and those who came before it. Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist candidate for governor of California, told Tech Insider that “a lot of the most important work in longevity is coming from a handful of the billionaires…around six or seven of them”.

Immortality as defined by straight, white men could draw out cycles of oppression. Without old attitudes dying off and replaced by the impatience of youth, social change might become impossible. Artificial intelligence has already been shown to absorb the biases of its creators. Uploading someone’s brain into a clone of themselves doesn’t make them less likely to discriminate. Thiel and Musk, for example, identify as libertarians and have frequently suggested that taxes are obsolete and that governmental military spending needs to be curbed (and put into life-enhancing technologies).

Thiel himself is a Donald Trump supporter. A one-time associate Michael Anissimov, previous media officer at Machine Intelligence Research Institute, a Thiel-funded AI think tank, has published a white nationalist manifesto. In a 2013 interview, Anissimov said that there were already significant differences in intelligence between the races, and that a transhumanist society would inevitably lead to “people lording it over others in a way that has never been seen before in history”. It doesn’t take much to guess who would be doing the “lording”.

“The first enhanced humans will not be ordinary people; they’ll be the people who have already made those ordinary people economically obsolete through automation. They’ll be tech billionaires,” says O’Connell.

If those who form society in the age of transhumanism are men like Musk and Thiel, it’s probable that this society will have few social safety nets. There will be an uneven rate of technological progress globally; even a post-human society can replicate the unequal global wealth distribution which we see today. In some cities and countries, inhabitants may live forever, while in others the residents die of malnutrition. If people don’t die off, the environmental consequences – from widespread natural resource devastation to unsustainable energy demands – would be widespread.

It would be remiss to tar all transhumanists with one brush. In 2014, The Huffington Post that the membership of transhumanist societies and Facebook groups has started to expand in number and in diversity, drawing in young and old people of all political persuasions and nationalities.

It remains the case, though, that the majority of the money invested in making transhumanism a reality comes from rich, white men. As the descendants of a species with a tendency to exploit the downtrodden, any posthumans must guard against replicating those same biases in a new society. For some, potentially in the near future, death might become optional. For others, death will remain inevitable.

3. Nazis/white supremacists are already distorting genetic research to suit their own ends. Not surprisingly, academics in the field have not been enthusiastic about engaging them. In the past, genetic research has been supportive of eugenics philosophy.

” . . . . Nowhere on the agenda of the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, being held in San Diego this week, is a topic plaguing many of its members: the recurring appropriation of the field’s research in the name of white supremacy. ‘Sticking your neck out on political issues is difficult,’ said Jennifer Wagner, a bioethicist and president of the group’s social issues committee, who had sought to convene a panel on the racist misuse of genetics and found little traction. But the specter of the field’s ignominious past, which includes support for the American eugenics movement, looms large for many geneticists in light of today’s white identity politics. They also worry about how new tools that are allowing them to home in on the genetic basis of hot-button traits like intelligence will be misconstrued to fit racist ideologies. . . .”

“Geneticists See Work Distorted for Racist Ends” by Amy Harmon; The New York Times [Western Edition]; 10/18/2018; pp.A1-A18.

Nowhere on the agenda of the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, being held in San Diego this week, is a topic plaguing many of its members: the recurring appropriation of the field’s research in the name of white supremacy.

“Sticking your neck out on political issues is difficult,” said Jennifer Wagner, a bioethicist and president of the group’s social issues committee, who had sought to convene a panel on the racist misuse of genetics and found little traction.

But the specter of the field’s ignominious past, which includes support for the American eugenics movement, looms large for many geneticists in light of today’s white identity politics. They also worry about how new tools that are allowing them to home in on the genetic basis of hot-button traits like intelligence will be misconstrued to fit racist ideologies.

In recent months, some scientists have spotted distortions of their own academic papers in far-right internet forums. Others have fielded confused queries about claims of white superiority wrapped in the jargon of human genetics. Misconceptions about how genes factor into America’s stark racial disparities have surfaced in the nation’s increasingly heated arguments over school achievement gaps, immigration and policing. . . .

. . . . Already, some of those audiences are flaunting DNA ancestry test results indicating exclusively European heritage as though they were racial ID cards. They are celebrating traces of Neanderthal DNA not found in people with only African ancestry. And they are trading messages with the coded term “race realism,” which takes oxygen from the claim that the liberal scientific establishment has obscured the truth about biological racial differences. . . .

. . . . And while much of current white nationalist rhetoric is framed in terms of preserving a white cultural identity, experts say it relies on a familiar narrative of immutable biological differences. On a YouTube talk show earlier this year, for instance, Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, whose appearance set off a brawl outside a Republican club in Manhattan last week, echoed the pet white supremacist theory that the environmental challenges of cold winters explain the supposed higher intelligence of northern Europeans.

4. A 14-word posting on the Department of Homeland Security website has raised eyebrows. We believe it is an example of dog-whistling by fascist/Nazi elements inside of the DHS. The “Fourteen Words” were minted by Order member and Alan Berg murder getaway driver David Lane. “88” is a well-known clandestine Nazi salute. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, using the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler” was banned. To circumvent that, Nazis said “88,” because H is the eighth letter in the alphabet.

The numbers 14 and 88 are often combined by Nazis.

The title of the DHS  posting: “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again.”

The 14 words of David Lane: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

In articles below, we note the inclusion of elements in the DHS for whom such attitudes would be expected.

“Are ‘14’ and ‘88’ Nazi Dog Whistles in Border Security Document–Or Just Numbers?” by Aviya Kushner; Forward; 6/28/2018. 

Sometimes a dog whistle can be a number, not a word. The number “88” appeared in a strange context in a press release from Homeland Security calling for building a border wall, along with a headline that had a total of fourteen words — but until today, no one seems to have noticed.

Today, the press release, originally issued in February, is getting some attention from journalists covering the “hate and extremism” beat. Here is an example, from Christopher Mathias, who covers hate and extremism for The Huffington Post.

What is happening, for those needing a translation, is this: The number “88” is code for Heil Hitler. And 14 is white-supremacist shorthand.

“One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis. One can find it as a tattoo or graphic symbol; as part of the name of a group, publication or website; or as part of a screenname or e-mail address,” the ADL’s hate symbol database notes.

Most of the press release, titled “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again,” uses percentages, as do many statistical reports.

But the second-to-last line is what is drawing attention on Twitter, because it has this curious wording: “On average, out of 88 claims that pass the credible fear screening, fewer than 13 will ultimately result in a grant of asylum.”

That’s odd. Normally, a report might say something like “less than 15 percent ultimately result in a grant of asylum.”

It may just be coincidence, and on a day when journalists are shot, everyone with a connection to media is understandably on edge. But there is one other factor to consider, say those who hear a dog whistle: what if this “88” is read in conjunction with the headline, which has 14 words?

The 14-word thing is its own signal. As the ADL hate symbol database explains in its unpacking of 88:

The number is frequently combined with another white supremacist numeric code, 14 (shorthand for the so-called “14 Words” slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) in the form of 1488, 14/88, 14-88, or 8814.

That slogan can be understood as something not very far from the press release headline: “We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again.”

Coincidence? Maybe.

But a numerical system of interpretation can be a way for a group to communicate with itself. In Jewish tradition, gematria is one system of Biblical commentary. Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value, and some commentators use this symbol of numbers to arrive at additional meanings. Some see profound meaning in this, others have always dismissed it as mere coincidence.

In the case of the DHS press release, it may be coincidence — or it may be more, a signal to those who know the system of codes.

What can be said for sure is this: It is unusual to use the statistic “13 out of 88.” It could, of course, be a typo. And the headline bearing the requisite “14 words” is not soothing for anyone who has spent time with hate databases.

But right now, those are the only definite take-aways.

In a time of fear and anxiety, it is important to take extra care before drawing conclusions. Still, from now on, it may be wise to watch the numbers, not just the words.

6. It comes as no surprise that Ian M. Smith–a former DHS Trump appointee–had documented links with white supremacists.

“Emails Link Former Homeland Security Official to White Nationalists” by Rosie Gray; The Atlantic; 08/28/2018.

In the past two years, leaders of an emboldened white nationalism have burst into the forefront of national politics and coalesced around a so-called alt-right subculture as they have endeavored to make their ideology part of the mainstream. Recent developments have shed light on previously unknown connections between white-nationalist activists and the Trump administration. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has denounced “all forms of violent extremism” following the resignation of a policy analyst who had connections with white nationalists, according to leaked emails obtained by The Atlantic.

The emails show that the official, Ian M. Smith, had in the past been in contact with a group that included known white nationalists as they planned various events. On one of the email threads, the address of the alt-right white nationalist leader Richard Spencer is included, as well as Smith’s. Another group of recipients includes Smith as well as Jared Taylor, the founder of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, who calls himself a “white advocate.”

The messages, given to The Atlantic by a source to whom they were forwarded, paint a picture of the social scene in which white nationalists gathered for an “Alt-Right Toastmasters” night in 2016, and organized dinner parties and visits from out-of-town friends. And they provide a glimpse into how a group that included hard-core white nationalists was able to operate relatively incognito in the wider world, particularly in conservative circles. The revelation of these messages comes amid increasing scrutiny of white nationalists’ ties to the administration; a White House speechwriter, Darren Beattie, left the administration after CNN reported earlier this month that he had attended a conference with white nationalists in 2016. The Washington Post reportedlast week that Peter Brimelow, the publisher of the white nationalist website VDare, had attended a party at the top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s house. Kudlow told the Post he was unaware of Brimelow’s views and would not have invited him had he known about them.

After being reached for comment about The Atlantic’s reporting, Smith said in an email: “I no longer work at DHS as of last week and didn’t attend any of the events you’ve mentioned.” Neither he nor DHS disputed that it is him on the emails in question.

White nationalists have an affinity for the president, who they believe shares some of their policy priorities. After the counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, President Donald Trump remarked that there were “very fine people on both sides” who attended the rally. After hearing the president’s statement, Spencer told The Atlantic he was “really proud of him.”

According to sources with knowledge of Smith’s role at DHS, he was a policy analyst working on immigration. He used to work for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), an anti-immigration legal organization associated with the right-wing Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). From 2014 to 2017 he wrote a number of columns on immigration for National Review. (The NationalReview.com editor Charles Cooke didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment).

Smith’s public writings showcased a right-wing perspective on immigration, such as opposing the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended race-based restrictions on immigration, particularly from countries in Asia and Africa, and which Smith argued was responsible for the “barely governable system we have today,” opposing sanctuary cities, and applauding the controversial S.B. 1070 anti–illegal immigration law in Arizona.

In an interviewwith the website FOIA Advisor in 2016, Smith said he “was born just outside Seattle, grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and lived in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Sydney, Australia for many years.” In that interview, he described his role at the IRLI thusly: “I work at a nonprofit law firm that represents people harmed by the government’s failure to regulate immigration.”

Dale Wilcox, the executive director of the IRLI, said in a statement: “Ian Smith was an investigative associate at IRLI, as an independent contractor for two years and an employee for less than a year between January 2015 and October 2017. How our employees fill their time outside of the office, or the private relationships they pursue, are not issues of IRLI’s concern. It is not any organization’s responsibility to track their employees after hours activities or peer into their employee’s private lives. For the record, IRLI and FAIR have no association with the individuals mentioned and we repudiate their views. Furthermore, if it would come to our attention that any employees are associated with individuals and organizations that hold noxious views on matters of race and ethnicity, that may be grounds for termination. Finally, it must be noted that simply appearing on someone’s email list should never be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of that individual’s point of view.”

After describing the emails involving Smith in detail to DHS spokespeople on Monday, The Atlantic learned on Tuesday that Smith had resigned from his position.

A DHS spokesperson, Tyler Q. Houlton, said: “The Department of Homeland Security is committed to combating all forms of violent extremism, especially movements that espouse racial supremacy or bigotry. This type of radical ideology runs counter to the Department’s mission of keeping America safe.”

Several emails obtained by The Atlantic show Smith included on threads with people associated with white nationalism, such as Marcus Epstein, a former Tom Tancredo aide who entered an Alford plea in 2009for assaulting a black woman in Washington, D.C., in 2007, and Devin Saucier, an editor (under a pseudonym) at American Renaissance. Epstein declined to comment; Saucier did not respond to a request for comment.

On June 3, 2016, Epstein emailed a group including Smith, Saucier, Taylor, and others to invite them to an “Alt-Right Toastmasters” event. “We are having our much delayed follow up meeting on Monday June 6 at 7:00 PM. A couple of out of town guests will be there. Please RSVP and if you want to invite anyone else, please check with me,” Epstein wrote. “I’m going to give a short presentation on ‘The Pros and Cons of Anonymity’ at 8:00 followed by discussion.” In a previous email on the subject, Epstein had said he was timing the event for a visit from Wayne Lutton, the editor of the white-nationalist publication The Social Contract. According to a source who was there, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Smith attended this event.

On December 17, 2015, Saucier and Epstein emailed a YouTube link, which is now defunct, to a group of addresses including Smith’s and Spencer’s. Reached by phone, Spencer said, “To my knowledge, I’ve never met Ian Smith. I get roped in to all sorts of email conversations, I receive too many emails every day for me to respond to.”

Though the emails don’t show Smith and Spencer interacting, some of the messages indicate a familiarity on Smith’s part with Spencer’s projects. In another email, sent on March 7, 2015, Smith refers to an event held by “NPI,” the acronym for the National Policy Institute, Spencer’s white-nationalist nonprofit, saying he had missed it because he was out of town. And in another, on May 9, 2016, Smith recommended someone for a job at a prominent, Trump-supporting media outlet, saying that the person was “currently working in development at LI” (the conservative training group the Leadership Institute) and “writes for Radix, Amren, VDare and Chronicles under a pseudonym.” The word Amren refers to American RenaissanceRadix is Spencer’s publication. “Chronicles” appears to refer to Chronicles Magazine, another publication associated with this movement, which has published Lutton and Sam Francis, the late editor of the Council of Conservative Citizens’ newsletter. Smith also wrote that the person he had recommended “helps Richard and JT with their websites,” appearing to refer to Spencer and Jared Taylor.

In one email exchange at the end of October 2015, Ben Zapp, a real-estate agent who has in the past been photographed with members of this scene, invited a group including Smith; Saucier; Epstein; Tim Dionisopoulos, a Media Research Center staffer; and Kevin DeAnna, the former Youth for Western Civilization president, to his apartment for dinner, stating that he wasn’t going to that weekend’s NPI conference. (The 2016 conference of NPI is where Spencer was caught on videoleading a “Hail Trump” chant while audience members gave Nazi salutes.) Zapp, Dionisopoulos, and DeAnna did not respond to requests for comment.

Epstein replied to the thread saying he wasn’t going to NPI either but was planning to socialize with people who were, and that “I can’t speak for everyone, but this is probably not the best time.” Zapp responded, “It’s a dinner, not a party—thus the having to get out by 9:30 or 10 at the latest. I would imagine this would start on the early side, like 7:00 or even earlier. So it’s settled—we know my home shall remain judenfrei.” Judenfrei is a German word meaning “free of Jews,” which the Nazis used to describe areas from which Jews had been expelled or killed.

Smith responded to the group: “They don’t call it Freitag for nothing,” using the German word for “Friday,” and added, “I was planning to hit the bar during the dinner hours and talk to people like Matt Parrot [sic], etc. I should have time to pop by though.” Matt Parrott is the former spokesman for the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party, which flamed out earlier this year after its leader, Matthew Heimbach, had an affair with Parrott’s wife, leading to the two falling out.

And in an email from 2014, Smith jokingly calls “spooning dibs” on Jack Donovan during a visit from Donovan, a “masculinist” writer who has ties to members of the alt-right and is heavily involved in Wolves of Vinland, a neo-pagan group entwined with the white-nationalist movement. Saucier had emailed several people to discuss sleeping arrangements for Donovan, telling them that, “There was some misunderstanding about how Jack Donovan would arrive down in Lynchburg for festivities this weekend”; the Wolves of Vinland are based outside of Lynchburg, Virginia.

7. Ian Smith was not alone. John Feee and Julie Kirchener–both hard line anti-immigration activists–have been hired by Team Trump. ” . . . . Jon Feere, a former legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, has been hired as an adviser to Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan. At Customs and Border Protection, Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an adviser to Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan. The hiring of Feere and Kirchner at the federal agencies has alarmed immigrants’ rights activists. CIS and FAIR are think tanks based in Washington that advocate restricting legal and illegal immigration. The two organizations were founded by John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who has openly embraced eugenics, the science of improving the genetic quality of the human population by encouraging selective breeding and at times, advocating for the sterilization of genetically undesirable groups. . . .”

The Federation for Immigration Reform has been partly funded by the Pioneer Fund, an organization that operated in favor of the eugenics policy of Nazi Germany. “. . . . Between 1985 and 1994, FAIR received around $1.2 million in grants from the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund is a eugenicist organization that was started in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who wanted to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic lines of American whites. Now led by race scientist J. Philippe Rushton, the fund continues to back studies intended to reveal the inferiority of minorities to whites. . . .”

“Hard-Line Anti-Immigration Advocates Hired at 2 Federal Agencies” by Maria Santana; CNN; 4/12/2017.

Two hard-line opponents of illegal immigration have obtained high-level advisory jobs at federal immigration agencies in the Department of Homeland Security.

Jon Feere, a former legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, has been hired as an adviser to Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan.

At Customs and Border Protection, Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an adviser to Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan.

The hiring of Feere and Kirchner at the federal agencies has alarmed immigrants’ rights activists.

CIS and FAIR are think tanks based in Washington that advocate restricting legal and illegal immigration. The two organizations were founded by John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who has openly embraced eugenics, the science of improving the genetic quality of the human population by encouraging selective breeding and at times, advocating for the sterilization of genetically undesirable groups.

Dan Stein, president of FAIR, noted in a 2011 New York Times article that Tanton did not hold a leadership role in the organization any more and was no longer on the board of directors. He is still listed as belonging to FAIR’s national board of advisors.

New aides and their connections

Kirchner worked as executive director of FAIR from October 2005 to August 2015. She then joined the Donald Trump presidential campaign as an immigration adviser before being appointed to Customs and Border Protection.

While at CIS, Feere promoted legislation to end automatic citizenship for US-born children of undocumented immigrants. He argued that bearing a child on US soil provides an immigrant access to welfare and other social benefits, which has spurred a rise in what he calls “birth tourism,” the practice of foreigners traveling to the United States to give birth to add a US citizen to the family.

The nonpartisan fact-checking website Politifact has mostly debunked those claims, concluding that US-born children do little in the long term to help their immigrant parents. Citizen children cannot sponsor their parents for citizenship until the young person turns 21 and any social benefits would be given to the child and not their undocumented parents, who would not qualify. The Pew Research Center also has found that the number of babies born to unauthorized immigrants in the United States has been declining steadily in recent years.

Feere also has been a strong critic of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program enacted by President Barack Obama via executive action that has granted protection from deportation to young immigrants brought to the country as children.

In one article published by CIS, Feere questioned whether children brought to the United States at an early age were sufficiently assimilated or loyal to this nation to be granted any type of legal status.

In a 2013 interview with The Washington Post, Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, worried about growing “multiculturalism” and contended that a “lot of immigration pushers don’t like America the way it is” and want to change it.

Stein, the president of FAIR, defended in a 1997 interview with the Wall Street Journal his belief that certain immigrant groups are engaged in “competitive breeding” to diminish America’s white majority.

“CIS has published articles that labeled immigrants ‘third world gold diggers’ and that blamed Central American asylum seekers for the ‘burgeoning street gang problem’ in the US, while Dan Stein has said that many immigrants that come to the US hate America and everything the country stands for,” said Heidi Beirich, director of Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which oversees the center’s yearly count of anti-immigrant groups. “We take these designations very seriously, and CIS and FAIR are far-right fringe groups that regularly publish racist, xenophobic material and spread misinformation about immigrants and immigration.”

Throughout the presidential campaign and since he’s taken office, Donald Trump’s immigration policy has mirrored details found in CIS reports. In April 2016, for example, CIS published a list of “79 immigration actions that the next president can take.” The list included such measures as withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities, eliminating the “Priority Enforcement Program,” which prioritized the deportation of the most serious criminals during the Obama administration, and reducing the number of welfare-dependent immigrants living in the United States.

Many of these recommendations have already been enacted, proposed or discussed by the administration, and some were included in Trump’s executive order on immigration issued in January.

“The campaign and the administration have used other material of ours so I’m delighted that they are using that immigration actions list,” Krikorian said. “But there’s a difference between using CIS’ material as source of important research and CIS actually having a direct operational link to the administration.”

Krikorian declined to comment on Feere’s job at ICE.

Feere, Kirchner, acting ICE Director Homan and acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner McAleenan declined requests for interviews.

Kirchner and Feere’s advisory roles at Customs and Border Protection and ICE have rattled some immigrants’ rights advocates, who say they are concerned by the newfound power and influence far-right nativist groups have gained within the government since Trump came into office.

“These groups have spent 20 years looking for ways that they could hurt immigrants and now they’ve been given the keys to the kingdom,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant advocacy group based in Washington whose goal is to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Some pro-immigrant advocates already sense a growing breakdown in their ability to effectively get information from ICE.

“There is this general, very harsh sense within the nonprofit advocacy community that we are being entirely shut out on everything from engagement on policy all the way to individual immigrant cases, and just very basic information that ICE should be transparent about, like how many detention centers are currently in operation around the country,” said a representative from a pro-immigrant organization who, along with some other colleagues, requested anonymity in order to speak freely.

ICE adds groups to stakeholder meetings

This marks what some say is a drastic change in the relationship between ICE and pro-immigrant advocacy organizations. During the Bush administration, a coalition of pro-immigrant groups known as the ICE-NGO Working Group started holding confidential, closed-door stakeholder meetings several times a year with high-ranking immigration officials as an opportunity to express concerns and ask specific questions about enforcement policy, the rights of immigrants and their treatment while in detention.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association’s Immigrant Justice Project and the National Immigrant Justice Center are among the advocacy organizations that make up the ICE-NGO Working Group.

In February, at the first such get-together under the Trump administration, members of the working group felt blindsided to discover that some anti-immigrant, pro-enforcement groups also were in attendance.

In addition to CIS and FAIR, invitations were extended to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which is the legal arm of FAIR, NumbersUSA and Judicial Watch. These groups support stricter enforcement of immigration laws, reducing overall immigration levels and the increased detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

“We are frustrated and angry that what felt like a productive conversation and an exchange of ideas and information about how to ensure the safe and fair treatment of immigrants in their (ICE) custody has morphed into a meeting with organizations whose mission is to restrict immigration and perpetuate hate against immigrants,” said one pro-immigrant advocate who attended the February meeting.

Pro-enforcement, pro-immigrant groups debate

Leaders of the pro-enforcement organizations argue, however, that as clear stakeholders in the immigration debate they have every right to be at the ICE meetings.

“We were intentionally excluded from the meetings under the Obama administration, but with the new management, ICE invited some other groups, too, and it’s long overdue,” said Krikorian, who acknowledged he does not remember being invited to these meetings.

Pro-immigrant advocates have told ICE they would prefer if the agency met with those groups separately, which ICE has declined to do. Some advocates said they don’t take issue with people who have opposite views on immigration, but believe these groups have consistently spread verifiably false information to demonize the immigrant community and its allies.

“There’s obvious fear in the community because of the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from this administration, but having Jon Feere, who came from CIS, in a leadership position at ICE and now these anti-immigrant groups showing up at stakeholder meetings for the first time in 14 years, it has also created this really deep-seated fear in the advocacy community,” said an immigrants’ rights activist who teared up recalling how one advocate felt she could no longer participate for fear of exposing herself to ICE.

“Many immigrants’ rights advocates are immigrants themselves, some are DACA recipients, and they are now afraid to even show up at the stakeholder meetings because they may be taken into custody while at ICE headquarters. These are smart, professional, well-educated advocates that are now scared to do their jobs,” said the activist.

As a result, immigrants’ rights organizations have since notified ICE that they have dissolved the ICE-NGO Working Group and will no longer participate in the quarterly gatherings.

ICE will keep meetings going

In a statement ICE said the meetings will continue:

“ICE is committed to transparency with all interested stakeholders — not just those of one opinion on immigration enforcement issues and policies. ICE appreciates constructive and diverse viewpoints from a wide spectrum of organizations interested in immigration enforcement. The agency continues to expand engagement with stakeholders and community members. Our goal is to make sure all members of the public fully understand what we do and what we don’t do.”

Peter Robbio a spokesman for NumbersUSA, a group that also scored its first invitation to the stakeholder meeting, described this as the best relationship the organization has had with any administration in 21 years.

Said FAIR’s Stein: “President Trump understands the immigration issue from the larger view of the national interest and has tapped a strong bench of people who bring expertise on the issue — some who are in the administration, some who are not.”

If pro-immigrant groups are unhappy about that, said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, they better get used to the new reality.

“I’m sure these left-wing groups are used to being able to control the debate and control the room, and I’m sure they would love to be able to continue to do that, even during the Trump administration,” Fitton said.

The pro-enforcement groups are enjoying the unprecedented input to shape immigration policy and hope to continue attending the stakeholder meetings with ICE.

“We should be encouraging more of these meetings,” Fitton said. “I know the liberal left is afraid to confront the arguments of their opponents and want to be able to talk to the government without anyone holding them to account, but we are not opposed to participating in them with the other groups.”

Not quite, says the other side.

“This isn’t exactly the same situation as having Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, both in the same room,” countered one pro-immigrant advocate. “The fundamental difference is that their agenda is driven by a nativist white supremacist approach to policy. So, to sit together in a room, not only does it have a chilling effect, but I think that many of the advocacy organizations, including ours, fear that we would be normalizing the nativist agenda as it gets into the halls of our government.”

6. An article cited, but not excerpted, in the audio portion of the program notes the role of the scapegoating of immigration in the rise of neofascist parties. The devastation from the middle East wars–Syria in particular–has driven large numbers of desperate refugees to Europe. This plays beautifully into the political agenda of so-called “populists” who cite them as the reason for the implementation of what is essentially a xenophobic platform.

What this article does NOT mention is that one of the Sweden Democrats‘ most prominent financial backer is Carl Lundstrom, who was also the main financial backer of the Pirate Bay website that hosted Wikileaks.

“How the Far Right Conquered Sweden” by Jochen Bittner; The New York Times; 9/6/2018.

To understand why Sweden, a bastion of social democracy, might end up with a far-right party in government after national elections on Sunday, you need to take a walk with Ahmed Abdirahman.

An American-educated Somali immigrant who works as a policy analyst at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Abdirahman grew up and now lives in the suburb of Rinkeby-Tensta, where some 90 percent of residents have a foreign background, roughly 80 percent live on welfare or earn low incomes and 42 percent are under age 25. It is a violent place: Sixteen people were killed there in 2016, mostly in drug-related conflicts, an unheard-of number in this typically peaceful country. As we walk along one of its main streets at 7 p.m., shopkeepers pull down the metal shutters in front of their windows, while young masked men on scooters start speeding through the streets. A police helicopter hovers overhead.

The segregation and violence of Rinkeby-Tensta, and the likelihood that the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party will win the most votes in this weekend’s national elections, are both the result of the country’s long-running unwillingness to deal with the realities of its immigration crisis.

For decades, Sweden, once a racially and culturally homogeneous country with an expansive social welfare system, insisted that it could absorb large numbers of non-European migrants without considering how those migrants should be integrated into Swedish society.

As they did in cities across Western Europe, migrants tended to cluster in low-income neighborhoods; facing poor job prospects and rampant employment discrimination, they naturally turned inward. More young women have started wearing the hijab recently, Mr. Abdirahman tells me, and more young men “internalize the otherness” — rejected by their new society, they embrace the stereotypes imposed upon them. This can lead to a point where they reject gay rights or liberalism as “white, Western ideas,” and even attack firefighters because they represent the state.

As we walk around, Mr. Abdirahman, who is single and childless, confesses: “When I came here in 1998, to me this place was paradise. Today, I wouldn’t want my children to grow up here.”

Mr. Abdirahman says he was lucky: His mother encouraged him to contribute to society and get a good education. He earned a degree in international studies in New York, then worked in Geneva and with the United States Embassy here before going to work with the chamber of commerce. Not all immigrants get the same push at home, he says; some parents discouraged their youngsters from going to the city center to mix. Sweden, he is afraid, has entered a vicious circle of immigration, segregation and growing mutual hostility.

The situation grew worse with the latest mass influx of refugees, in 2015, after which a number of suburbs became almost exclusively migrant. Considered “no go” areas by some Swedes, these neighborhoods are known to outsiders only from horrific headlines. What people don’t get to see, Mr. Abdirahman worries, is the bus driver or the cleaning lady working themselves ragged to get their children into a university.

None of this is new, and yet the government, dominated by the traditionally strong Social Democrats and the centrist Moderate Party, did far too little. That left an opening for the Sweden Democrats, until recently a group relegated to the racist fringe of Swedish politics. In the past few years, the party has recast itself; just like the populist Alternative für Deutschland party in Germany and the Five Star Movement in Italy, it has repositioned itself as anti-establishment and anti-immigrant. The Sweden Democrats accuses all other political actors and the media of “destroying” Sweden, calls for a suspension of the right to asylum and promotes an exit of Sweden from the European Union.

The party has clocked up to 20 percent in the latest polls, enough to make a coalition government between the Social Democrats and the Moderate Party unlikely — and raising the chances that one of those parties will have to enter into a government with the Sweden Democrats. “If the major parties had been able to read the majority’s concerns, things would have been different,” Mr. Abdirahman says.

Similar stories have played out across Western Europe, from the Netherlands to Austria. But Sweden always imagined itself as something different, a society bound by its unique brand of togetherness. But that self-satisfaction justified a myopic approach to the very complex problem of how to integrate vast numbers of foreigners. If you believe in giving everyone a state-of-the-art apartment, social welfare and child benefits, then it’s unlikely you will tackle the hurdles of the highly regulated Swedish labor market.

The anti-establishment Sweden Democrats profit from the fact that they were often the first to point to the downsides of immigration. Yet as much as they despise wishful thinking, they replace it with simplistic thinking. No matter what problems there might be in Sweden — housing shortages, school closings, an overburdened health care system — in the view of the Sweden Democrats, it is always one group’s fault: migrants.

Andreas Johansson Heinö, an analyst with the think tank Timbro, believes that many Swedes will vote for the Sweden Democrats on Sept. 9 even though they see through the party’s crude thinking. He sees similarities to the United States, where a considerable number of people say they voted for Donald Trump not because they liked him but because they liked the idea of change.

Even if the Sweden Democrats win big on Sunday, the election might be a force for good. The Moderate Party, which is likely to take second place, might split over the question of whether to rule with them. And the Social Democrats, already under pressure to move to the left, might likewise fall apart. Sweden’s party landscape, in other words, might be blown to pieces.

If the country is lucky, some parts from this explosion will bind together as a new force — one that takes seriously the need for realism on immigration and integration, without falling for the siren song of right-wing populism.

7. On CNN former Republican senator Rick Santorum thought the big story of the day on which Manafort was convicted and Michael Cohen plead guilty was the first degree murder charge laid against an “illegal” Mexican migrant worker following the discovery of a deceased white Iowa college girl Mollie Tibbetts. Can this become a rallying cry for Trump and his anti-immigrant and racist supporters?

We note in this context that:

  1. The announcement of Rivera’s arrest for the Tibbetts murder happened on the same day that Paul Manafort’s conviction was announced and Michael Cohen pleaded guilty. Might we be looking at an “op,” intended to eclipse the negative publicity from the the Manafort/Cohen judicial events?
  2. Rivera exhibited possible symptoms of being subjected to mind control, not unlike Sirhan Sirhan. ” . . . . Investigators say Rivera followed Mollie in his dark Chevy Malibu as she went for a run around 7.30pm on July 18. He ‘blacked out’ and attacked her after she threatened to call the police unless he left her alone, officers said. . . . It is not yet clear how Mollie died. . . . Rivera told police that after seeing her, he pulled over and parked his car to get out and run with her. . . . Mollie grabbed her phone and threatened to call the police before running off ahead. The suspect said that made him ‘panic’ and he chased after her. That’s when he ‘blacked out.’ He claims he remembers nothing from then until he was back in his car, driving. He then noticed one of her earphones sitting on his lap and blood in the car then remembered he’d stuffed her in the truck. . . . ‘He followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day. For whatever reason he chose to abduct her,’ Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Ryan said on Tuesday afternoon. . . . ‘Rivera stated that she grabbed her phone and said: ‘I’m gonna call the police.’ . . . . ‘Rivera said he then panicked and he got mad and that he ‘blocked’ his memory which is what he does when he gets very upset and doesn’t remember anything after that until he came to at an intersection.’ . . .”
  3. Just as Sirhan had been in a right-wing milieu prior to the Robert Kennedy assassination, so, too, was Rivera: ” . . . . The prominent Republican family which owns the farm where Mollie Tibbetts’ alleged killer worked have insisted that he passed background checks for migrant workers. Christhian Rivera, 24, who is from Mexico, was charged with first degree murder on Tuesday after leading police to a corn field where Mollie’s body was dumped. Dane Lang, co-owner of Yarrabee Farms along with Eric Lang, confirmed that Rivera had worked there for four years and was an employee ‘of good standing.’ Dane’s brother is Craig Lang, former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Board of Regents, and a 2018 Republican candidate for state secretary of agriculture. . . .”
  4. Trump cited the Tibbetts murder in a Charleston, West Virginia, rally that day: ” . . . . President Donald Trump chirped in during his Tuesday address at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, blaming immigration laws for Mollie’s death. ‘You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico,’ he said. ‘And you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful young woman. ‘Should’ve never happened, illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad. The immigration laws are such a disgrace. ‘We are getting them changed but we have to get more Republicans.’ Gov. Kim Reynolds complained about the ‘broken’ immigration system that allowed a ‘predator’ to live in her state. . . .”
  5. As discussed in FTR #1002, during trial of a member of The Order (to which David Lane belonged), it emerged that Nazi elements were seeking to perfect mind control techniques. It is also a matter of public record that elements of U.S. intelligence are active on behalf of the GOP, and have been for many decades. The assassinations of JFK, his brother and Martin Luther King are but examples of this.

“Prominent Iowa Republican Family which Owns Farm where Mollie Tibbetts’ Alleged Killer Worked say he PASSED Government’s Migrant Background Check as the 24-year-old Is Charged with Her Murder after Admitting to ‘Chasing Her Down while Jogging’” by Ben Ashford, Chris Pleasance, Jennifer Smith and Hannah Parry; Daily Mail [UK]; 8/21/2018.

The prominent Republican family which owns the farm where Mollie Tibbetts’ alleged killer worked have insisted that he passed background checks for migrant workers.

Christhian Rivera, 24, who is from Mexico, was charged with first degree murder on Tuesday after leading police to a corn field where Mollie’s body was dumped.

Dane Lang, co-owner of Yarrabee Farms along with Eric Lang, confirmed that Rivera had worked there for four years and was an employee ‘of good standing.’

Dane’s brother is Craig Lang, former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Board of Regents, and a 2018 Republican candidate for state secretary of agriculture.

Dane’s statement said: ‘First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mollie Tibbetts.

‘This is a profoundly sad day for our community. All of us at Yarrabee Farms are shocked to hear that one of our employees was involved and is charged in this case.

‘This individual has worked at our farms for four years, was vetted through the government’s E-Verify system, and was an employee in good standing.

‘On Monday, the authorities visited our farm and talked to our employees. We have cooperated fully with their investigation.’

The E-Verify site allows employers to establish the eligibility of employees, both US or foreign, by comparing a worker’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 with data held by the government.

The employee is eligible to work in the US if the data matches. If it doesn’t, the worker has only eight federal government work days to resolve the issue.

Despite the Lang family using the system, police say Rivera had been in the US illegally for between four and seven years.

Investigators say Rivera followed Mollie in his dark Chevy Malibu as she went for a run around 7.30pm on July 18.

He ‘blacked out’ and attacked her after she threatened to call the police unless he left her alone, officers said. 

Rivera was identified by surveillance footage obtained in the last couple of weeks from someone’s home.

It showed him following the student in his car and Mollie running ahead of him.  It is not yet clear how Mollie died. 

Earlier Monday a member of the Lang family which runs Yarrabee Farms told DailyMail.com he was a personal friend of Mollie and her brothers and was ‘devastated’ by the news of her death.

It’s understood the company hires around 15 migrant workers, most of whom are believed to be Mexican.

Rivera is believed to have lived with a number of other migrant workers on a secluded farmhouse in Brooklyn owned by their employer.

Workers associated with the farm told DailyMail.com that they barely knew Rivera but confirmed that he lived there with a girlfriend named Iris Monarrez and their baby.

They said Iris had gone to stay with her mother after Rivera was arrested in Mollie’s murder.

Neighbors told DailyMail.com they had seen a black Chevy Malibu just like the one Rivera was driving when he abducted Mollie regularly driving to and from the property for the past couple of years. 

Mollie’s autopsy is planned for Wednesday but the results may not be released for weeks.

Rivera told police that after seeing her, he pulled over and parked his car to get out and run with her. 

Mollie grabbed her phone and threatened to call the police before running off ahead. The suspect said that made him ‘panic’ and he chased after her.

That’s when he ‘blacked out.’  

He claims he remembers nothing from then until he was back in his car, driving. 

He then noticed one of her earphones sitting on his lap and blood in the car then remembered he’d stuffed her in the truck. 

Rivera drove her then to a corn field where he hauled her body out of the truck and hid her beneath corn stalks.

He was arrested on Friday after police honed in on his vehicle by viewing surveillance footage obtained from a private resident’s home surveillance cameras.

‘He followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day. For whatever reason he chose to abduct her,’ Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Ryan said on Tuesday afternoon. 

But it’s still unclear what the motive behind the killing was, Rahn said.

Rivera told police he had seen her in the area before. She is friends on Facebook with the mother of his daughter but it is not clear if he and Mollie knew each other.

President Donald Trump chirped in during his Tuesday address at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, blaming immigration laws for Mollie’s death.

‘You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico,’ he said. ‘And you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful young woman.

‘Should’ve never happened, illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad. The immigration laws are such a disgrace. 

‘We are getting them changed but we have to get more Republicans.’

Gov. Kim Reynolds complained about the ‘broken’ immigration system that allowed a ‘predator’ to live in her state.

‘I spoke with Mollie’s family and passed on the heartfelt condolences of a grieving state,’ Reynolds said. ‘I shared with them my hope that they can find comfort knowing that God does not leave us to suffer alone. Even in our darkest moments, He will comfort and heal our broken hearts.’

At 3pm on Monday, law enforcement arrived at the farmhouse where Rivera worked, according to a neighbor.

FBI agents were still searching the house and a number of nearby trailers on Tuesday afternoon.

Neighbors said the building housed a ‘revolving door’ of hired migrant workers but that they had never caused any problems.

FBI agents attended another nearby property belonging to the farm overnight Monday to quiz Rivera’s co-workers, most of whom claim only to understand Spanish.

‘There was a panic when they arrived because they thought at first that it was ICE launching a raid,’ a local source told DailyMail.com.

‘A lot of these people arrive with forged documents. But it turned it was the FBI and it was about Mollie.’

According to public records the property being searched is owned by Mary and Craig Lang, whose family own the nearby Yarrabee Farms.

Mollie was staying alone overnight in her boyfriend’s home the night she went missing and was last seen going for a jog in the neighborhood at around 8pm but what happened afterwards has remained a complete mystery for weeks. 

Her boyfriend opened a Snapchat photograph from her at 10pm which appeared to suggest that she was indoors but it is not known what time Mollie sent it.

In his arrest warrant, police describe Rivera’s chilling confession.

‘Rivera admitted to making contact with the female running in Brooklyn and that he pursued her in his vehicle in an area east of Brooklyn. Defendant Rivera stated he parked the vehicle, got out and was running behind her and alongside of her.

‘Rivera stated that she grabbed her phone and said: ‘I’m gonna call the police.’

‘Rivera said he then panicked and he got mad and that he ‘blocked’ his memory which is what he does when he gets very upset and doesn’t remember anything after that until he came to at an intersection.

‘Rivera stated he then made a u-turn, drove back to an entrance to a field and then drove into a driveway to a cornfield.

‘He noticed there was an ear piece from headphones in his lap and that this is how he realized he put her in the trunk.

‘He went to get her out of the trunk and he noticed blood on the side of her head.

‘He described the female’s clothing, what she was wearing including an ear phone or head phone set.

‘He described that he dragged Tibbetts on foot from his vehicle to a secluded location in a cornfield.

‘He put her over his shoulder and took her about 20 meters into the cornfield and he left her covered in some corn leaves and that he left her there, face up.

‘The Defendant was able to use his phone to determine the route he traveled from Brooklyn.

‘Rivera then later guided law enforcement to her location from memory,’ the affidavit continues.

Rivera’s arrest and the discovery of the student’s body brings an end to five weeks of tireless investigation by the FBI, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and local sheriffs.

Rivera’s initial court appearance is scheduled for 1pm Wednesday in Montezuma.

If convicted of first-degree murder he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Last week, the FBI said it believed she had been abducted by someone she knew.

They warned that the person was ‘hiding in plain sight’ and had even attended vigils held in her honor but no arrests were made.

A $400,000 fund for her safe return was established but it did not produce any leads either.

Greg Willey of Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa said her family and investigators would dedicate their resources to catching her killer ‘once they catch their breath’.

The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation refused to share details of the discovery on Tuesday when contacted by DailyMail.com.

The only person who had been visibly scrutinized by police after she went missing was pig farmer Wayne Cheney.

He was grilled by officers more than once and had his property searched twice after search crews found a red t-shirt that was similar to one owned by the student near his land.

It was never established if the t-shirt did in fact belong to Mollie.

Mollie’s father Rob went back to California, where he lives, last week for what he called a much needed ‘break’ from the investigation

He said he had been urged by authorities to do so and that it was a ‘half way’ point in the investigation.

Rob was not in the state when his daughter disappeared.

Her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, was away for work when she disappeared as was his older brother Blake.

The youngsters lived together in a home in Brooklyn with Blake’s fiancee who was also cleared.

As the hunt for her intensified,  authorities set up a website that was dedicate to finding her.

It provided a map detailing five locations police considered to be significant. The website also offered a tips page which generated hundreds of clues about what may have happened to her.

The news of her death shook the small town of Brooklyn where most residents are known to each other.

The Rev. Joyce Proctor at Grace United Methodist Church said she’d been praying for Tibbetts’ enemies ‘to do the right thing… and release her.’

Sadly that never happened.

Proctor, who said she heard Tibbetts ‘was a wonderful young lady’, said people were in shock their little town isn’t as safe as they first believed it was, the Des Moines Register reported.

‘I told the ladies at our prayer group this morning that if it’s not safe in Brooklyn it’s not safe anywhere,’ she said. ‘And I think that’s been a hard thing to realize for a lot of people here.’

7. Under hypnosis, Sirhan Sirhan was able to recall a considerable amount of information about “the girl in the polka-dot dress”–a figure reported by many eyewitnesses to have celebrated the assassination of Robert Kennedy and appeared to have implicated herself and others in the crime.

The attraction described by Sirhan to “the polka-dot-dress” girl sounds similar to Rivera’s being “drawn” to Mollie Tibbetts.  ” . . . . Convicted assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan was manip­u­lated by a seduc­tive girl in a mind con­trol plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bul­lets did not kill the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers. . . . Wit­nesses talked of see­ing such a female run­ning from the hotel shout­ing, ‘We shot Kennedy.’ But she was never iden­ti­fied, and amid the chaos of the scene, descrip­tions were conflicting. . . . Under hyp­no­sis, he remem­bered meet­ing the girl that night and becom­ing smit­ten with her. He said she led him to the pantry. ‘I am try­ing to fig­ure out how to hit on her…. That’s all that I can think about,’ he says in one inter­view cited in the doc­u­ments. ‘I was fas­ci­nated with her looks …. She never said much. It was very erotic. I was con­sumed by her. She was a seduc­tress with an unspo­ken unavailability.’ . . . Sirhan main­tained in the hyp­notic inter­views that the mys­tery girl touched him or ‘pinched’ him on the shoul­der just before he fired then spun him around to see peo­ple com­ing through the pantry door. . . .”

“Con­victed RFK Assas­sin Says Girl Manip­u­lated Him” by Linda Deutsch [AP]; yahoo.news; 4/28/2011.

Convicted assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan was manip­u­lated by a seduc­tive girl in a mind con­trol plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bul­lets did not kill the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

The doc­u­ments filed this week in fed­eral court and obtained by The Asso­ci­ated Press detail exten­sive inter­views with Sirhan dur­ing the past three years, some done while he was under hypnosis.

The papers point to a mys­te­ri­ous girl in a polka-dot dress as the con­troller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambas­sador Hotel. But the doc­u­ments sug­gest a sec­ond per­son shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diversion.

For the first time, Sirhan said under hyp­no­sis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode” believ­ing he was at a fir­ing range and see­ing cir­cles with tar­gets in front of his eyes.

“I thought that I was at the range more than I was actu­ally shoot­ing at any per­son, let alone Bobby Kennedy,” Sirhan was quoted as say­ing dur­ing inter­views with Daniel Brown, a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor and expert in trauma mem­ory and hyp­no­sis. He inter­viewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and with­out hyp­no­sis, accord­ing to the legal brief.

Sandi Gib­bons, a spokes­woman for the Los Ange­les County dis­trict attor­ney, said pros­e­cu­tors were unaware of the legal fil­ing and could not comment.

The story of the girl has been a lin­ger­ing theme in accounts of the events just after mid­night on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claim­ing vic­tory in the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial primary.

Wit­nesses talked of see­ing such a female run­ning from the hotel shout­ing, “We shot Kennedy.” But she was never iden­ti­fied, and amid the chaos of the scene, descrip­tions were conflicting.

Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no mem­ory of shoot­ing Kennedy and said in the recent inter­views that his pres­ence at the hotel was an acci­dent, not a planned destination.

Under hyp­no­sis, he remem­bered meet­ing the girl that night and becom­ing smit­ten with her. He said she led him to the pantry.

“I am try­ing to fig­ure out how to hit on her…. That’s all that I can think about,” he says in one inter­view cited in the doc­u­ments. “I was fas­ci­nated with her looks …. She never said much. It was very erotic. I was con­sumed by her. She was a seduc­tress with an unspo­ken unavailability.” . . .

. . . Sirhan main­tained in the hyp­notic inter­views that the mys­tery girl touched him or “pinched” him on the shoul­der just before he fired then spun him around to see peo­ple com­ing through the pantry door.

“Then I was on the tar­get range … a flash­back to the shoot­ing range … I didn’t know that I had a gun,” Sirhan said.

Under what Brown called the con­di­tion of hyp­notic free recall, he said Sirhan remem­bered see­ing the flash of a sec­ond gun at the time of the assas­si­na­tion. With­out hyp­no­sis, he said, Sirhan could not remem­ber that shot.

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #1029 “The Will to Create Man Anew”: Eugenics, Past, Present and Future”

  1. When you see President Trump openly plotting Machiavellian schemes like sending illegal immigrants to ‘sanctuary cities’ to punish Democrats it’s worth keeping in mind that we’re still just seeing a glimpse of the immense political potential massive humanitarian crises present to politicians like Trump. Just imagine what the Trumps of the future will do when tropical countries like Honduras are facing collapsing ecosystems as their ecosystems and economies collapse and whither from the impact of climate change and the waves of refugees with nothing to return to are sent fleeing for their lives. It will be a Trumpian bonanza. At least, it will be a Trumpian political bonanza if societies are largely operating from a ‘I got mine, F*ck you. Your problems are not my problems. You can all die for all I care’ worldview. It’s a worldview that combines fear, anger, stoked grievances, and an almost predatory mindset with a political appeal because it’s basically tapping into those primal ‘fight or flight’ and territorial instincts that fundamentally drive so much of human behavior. It’s among the reddest of ‘red meat’ political threats that Trump could throw to his voting base.

    But as the following articles should warn us, it’s worth keeping in mind that when politicians like Trump throw ‘F*ck off and die all you poor people’ red meat to their political bases, the political bases that Trump is indirectly pandering to when he evokes these sentiments include misanthropic billionaires. Specifically, misanthropic billionaires who have concluded that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, there’s nothing they can do about it, and their only moral obligation is to ensure their own survival once the shi#t hits the fan. Because if there’s one underlying theme that unites the contemporary right-wing, it’s a comittment to doing nothing to solve collective problems while we collectively exacerbate them and simultaneously dismantle our collective safety-nets.

    First, here’s a piece written by futurist Douglas Rushkoff last year about a chilling experience he had when he was invited to give a private talk about “the future of technology”. He showed up to the talk expecting to address an audience asking question about technologies like blockchain or 3D printing. Instead, the audience consisted of five really rich guys from the hedge fund world. Keep in mind that Peter Thiel could be described as a super-wealthy guy from the hedge fund world so it would be interesting to know if he was one of the five. Rushkoff doesn’t give their identities. But the way he describes them it certainly sounds exactly like Thiel, who has already made investments in New Zealand real estate so he could obtain New Zealand citizenship and build a doomsday bunker there. For instance, pretty much the only thing these hedge funders were interested in was Rushkoff’s ideas on how they personally could survive global collapse. Their questions involved topics like how they could keep their personal security guards loyal (should they use shock collars?) or whether or not robotic security guards would be available in time. And they seemed utterly convinced that absolutely nothing could stop eventual global chaos and had no interest in using their immense personal wealth in trying to work towards preventing that collapse. In other words, this mystery group of billionaires are simply embracing the same underlying sentiments that Trump is whipping up with his endless fear mongering about ‘the other’: a deep primal instinct to fear other people and view their problems as separate from our own and something that can be avoided, walled off, and if all else fails, and escaped:

    Medium

    Survival of the Richest
    The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind

    Douglas Rushkoff
    Jul 5, 2018

    Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk?—?about half my annual professor’s salary—all to deliver some insight on the subject of “the future of technology.”

    I’ve never liked talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR. The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.

    After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys—yes, all men—from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

    They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

    Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

    The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

    This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers?—?if that technology could be developed in time.

    That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

    ***

    There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity. As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans are nothing but information-processing objects.”

    It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride. Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel…Zuckerberg? These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy—the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.

    Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention. Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs. Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures—something to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol. The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

    This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.

    So instead of considering the practical ethics of impoverishing and exploiting the many in the name of the few, most academics, journalists, and science-fiction writers instead considered much more abstract and fanciful conundrums: Is it fair for a stock trader to use smart drugs? Should children get implants for foreign languages? Do we want autonomous vehicles to prioritize the lives of pedestrians over those of its passengers? Should the first Mars colonies be run as democracies? Does changing my DNA undermine my identity? Should robots have rights?

    Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism. Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon). Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.

    But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor. The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor. These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)

    Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.

    This “out of sight, out of mind” externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality. If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become. This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy—and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle feeds itself.

    The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug. No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.

    Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor. Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.

    The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.

    Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space—as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion. And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars—despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials—the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.

    ***

    When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

    They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves—especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.

    Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us. We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways. We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.

    Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.

    ———–

    “Survival of the Richest” by Douglas Rushkoff; Medium; 07/05/2018

    “After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys—yes, all men—from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

    Five super-wealthy guys from hedge fund world. Was Peter Thiel there? We don’t know, but it sure sounds like it. Either way, Thiel isn’t the only billionaire planning on an apocalypse:


    They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

    Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

    The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

    This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers?—?if that technology could be developed in time.

    That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

    “The Event”. We don’t know what it will be. But these billionaires are convinced that something is going to bring about global chaos in their lifetimes. And they have zero interest in using their immense wealth to help humanity in address it. Because helping humanity is not something these hedge fund manager are interested in. Instead, it’s an embrace of a kind of futurism where technology because the tool for personal escape from humanity and all of its problems:


    There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society. But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else. It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity. As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans are nothing but information-processing objects.”

    It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride. Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel…Zuckerberg? These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy—the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.

    Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention. Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future. But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs. Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures—something to predict and make bets on. So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol. The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.

    This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.

    And as Rushkoff notes, it’s particularly grim to see those making fortunes off of technology adopt these kinds of attitude when you factor in that the negative externalities of our technological progress, like pollution from mining rare earth metals or exploitative labor practices in the production of electronics, primarily falls on the environment and the global poor. In other words, the super-rich who hired Rushkoff to give this private talk are exhibiting the same spirit of “I got mine, F*ck You, our lives are not connected” that Trump is championing with his demonization of refugees and asylum seekers, but taking that spirit to the next level because they are literally the biggest beneficiaries of a global economic system that is creating and fueling many of the problems that are going to fueling future refugee crises and climate catastrophes. The problems are the global poor aren’t seen as problems we need to collectively address. They’re seen as problems to be transcended by transhumanist super-rich who survive a coming global collapse by embracing high-tech escape plans and transhumanist technologies:


    Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism. Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon). Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.

    But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor. The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor. These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)

    Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.

    This “out of sight, out of mind” externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality. If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become. This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy—and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans. The cycle feeds itself.

    The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug. No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral. Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core. It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles. Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be “solved” with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.

    Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor. Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.

    The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.

    Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space—as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion. And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars—despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials—the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.

    And perhaps the most disturbing part of Rushkoff’s recounting of his experience is their response to Rushkoff’s advice for how to keep their personal security guards loyal after ‘the Event’ forces them into their doomsday bunkers: Rushkoff’s advice was to treat their security teams as family and build real human bonds with them before everything collapses and allow that social cohesion to create the loyalty they desire. Rushkoff then expanded on this point to suggest that they might be able to reduce the chances of having to flee to their bunkers in the first place by doing things like improving the inclusivity and sustainability of their actual businesses and addressing the global wealth inequality. And the hedge funders didn’t buy it. They were convinced that all was lost and there was nothing they could do to avoid this fate:


    When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

    They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves—especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.

    Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us. We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways. We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.

    Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.

    So as we can see, a paradoxical philosophy of optimistic despair has been secretly embraced by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet. Despair over any possibility of preventing global collapse coupled with an insane optimism that they personally will be able to not just escape for also capitalize on this collapse and emerge as the technologically advanced transhumanist survivors to create a post-human future.

    And given that Trump’s true political base, the people he’s actually working for, largely consists of misanthropic right-wing billionaires, that raises the question of just how widespread these fatalistic doomsday sentiments are within Trump’s billionaire base. Which, in turn, raises questions about the extent to which Trump’s base is actively planning on capitalizing on these chaotic scenarios. Chaotic scenarios that will invariably include large number of refugees and asylum seekers. In other words, the story of Douglas Rushkoff’s bizarre technology talk should really be seen as part of the same overall story as the story of Trump’s demonization of immigrants: an elite embrace of the the idea that we are not all in this together. There’s no point in working together for a better tomorrow, there’s no point in trying to collectively address collective problems because there are no collective problems. It’s every man for himself.

    Well, not quite every man for himself. Because as the following article about the explosion in demand for New Zealand doomsday bunkers points out, some of these billionaires are more than happy to work with others. Specifically, they’re happy to work with each other on their doomsday plan. One of the billionaires described in the article reportedly gave a private dinner party where he talked about how he has an escape plan in place that will take him to a jet in Nevada that exists for the sole purpose of flying him and four other billionaires to their bunkers in New Zealand. Are these the same five super rich guys who invited Rushkoff to give that talk? Who knows. It could easily be a different group of five super wealthy people. Because, tragically, there doesn’t appear to be a shortage of billionaires planning on doomsday:

    Bloomberg

    The Super Rich of Silicon Valley Have a Doomsday Escape Plan
    Wealthy Americans have stepped up investment in New Zealand. Parliament votes to ban foreigners from buying bolt-hole homes.

    By Olivia Carville
    September 5 2018

    Years of doomsday talk at Silicon Valley dinner parties has turned to action.

    In recent months, two 150-ton survival bunkers journeyed by land and sea from a Texas warehouse to the shores of New Zealand, where they’re buried 11 feet underground.

    Seven Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have purchased bunkers from Rising S Co. and planted them in New Zealand in the past two years, said Gary Lynch, the manufacturer’s general manager. At the first sign of an apocalypse — nuclear war, a killer germ, a French Revolution-style uprising targeting the 1 percent — the Californians plan to hop on a private jet and hunker down, he said.

    “New Zealand is an enemy of no one,” Lynch said in an interview from his office in Murchison, Texas, southeast of Dallas. “It’s not a nuclear target. It’s not a target for war. It’s a place where people seek refuge.”

    The remote island nation, clinging to the southern part of the globe 2,500 miles off Australia’s coast, has 4.8 million people and six times as many sheep. It has a reputation for natural beauty, easy networking, low-key politicians who bike to work, and rental prices half those of the San Francisco Bay Area. That makes it an increasingly popular destination not only for those fretting about impending dystopia, but for tech entrepreneurs seeking incubators for nurturing startups.

    “It’s become one of the places for people in Silicon Valley, mostly because it’s not like Silicon Valley at all,” said Reggie Luedtke, an American biomedical engineer who’s moving to New Zealand in October for the Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship, a program created to lure tech innovators.

    Luedtke, 37, said people in California have asked him if he’s relocating as part of a doomsday contingency plan, because “that’s what the country is known for.”

    Such notoriety has made New Zealand’s isolation, once deemed an economic handicap, one of its biggest assets. The nation allows emigres to essentially buy residency through investor visas, and rich Americans have poured a fortune into the country, often by acquiring palatial estates.

    Billionaire hedge-fund honcho Julian Robertson owns a lodge overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, the South Island’s luxury resort destination. Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman Bill Foley has a homestead in the Wairarapa region, north of Wellington, and Titanic director James Cameron bought a mansion nearby at Lake Pounui.

    The Investor Plus Visa, which requires a minimum investment of NZD$10 million ($6.7 million) over three years, attracted 17 U.S. applicants in fiscal 2017, after President Donald Trump’s election. Previously, it averaged six applicants a year.

    More than 10 Americans from the West Coast have bought multimillion-dollar properties in the Queenstown region in the past two years, said Mark Harris, managing director of the local Sotheby’s real estate office.

    In August, partly in response to Americans gobbling up swaths of prime real estate, New Zealand’s government banned foreigners from buying homes, with the restrictions set to take effect in coming months.

    Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, ignited an uproar when he was granted citizenship after spending just 12 days in the country, prompting allegations that New Zealand’s passport was for sale. Thiel, 50, owns a $13.8 million home on 477 acres (193 hectares) in the lakeside town of Wanaka, with views of snow-capped mountains, and purchased another property in Queenstown, outfitted with a safe room.

    “If you’re the sort of person that says ‘I’m going to have an alternative plan when Armageddon strikes,’ then you would pick the farthest location and the safest environment — and that equals New Zealand if you Google it,” former Prime Minister John Key said in a phone interview.

    “It’s known as the last bus stop on the planet before you hit Antarctica,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people say to me that they would like to own a property in New Zealand if the world goes to hell in a handbasket.”

    Kiwis would find this both crazy and amusing, Key said, but it makes sense for some of the wealthiest people on the planet.

    “We live in a world where some people have extraordinary amounts of wealth and there comes a point at which, when you have so much money, allocating a very tiny amount of that for ‘Plan B’ is not as crazy as it sounds.”

    At three recent Silicon Valley dinner parties, guests discussed bugging out to New Zealand if there’s trouble, according to attendees who asked not to be identified because the events were private.

    At one, a prominent venture capitalist was said to have told fellow diners of his escape plans. In the garage of his San Francisco home, he told guests, is a bag of guns hanging from the handlebars of a motorcycle. The bike will allow him to weave through traffic on the way to his private plane, and the guns are for defense against encroaching zombies that may threaten his getaway.

    He intends to fly to a landing strip in Nevada where a jet sits in a hangar, its sole purpose to whisk him and four billionaire co-owners to safety. Their destination: New Zealand — or Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud” in Maori.

    In the event of a pandemic, Sam Altman, president of Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator, plans to escape to New Zealand with Thiel, the New Yorker reported in 2016. Now he says he was just joking.

    “The world is so interconnected now that if anything was to happen, we would all be in pretty bad shape, unfortunately,” Altman, 33, said in a phone interview. “I don’t think you can just run away and try to hide in a corner of the Earth.”

    Still, Altman said biological warfare is the biggest threat to civilization and that people aren’t “as scared enough about that as they should be.”

    He has a go bag stuffed with a gun, antibiotics, batteries, water, blankets, a tent and gas masks.

    Robert Vicino, founder of the Vivos Project, a builder of massive underground bunkers, said Silicon Valley elites discussed detailed plans to flee to New Zealand last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He said they foresaw “a revolution or a change where society is going to go after the 1 percenters.” In other words, them.

    New Zealand isn’t the best solution, he said, because a tsunami caused by an asteroid strike in the Pacific could submerge the island’s highest point.

    But Vicino is a businessman, and demand dictates he get to work on a bunker on the northern tip of the South Island that would accommodate about 300 people. The price: $35,000 a head.

    That’s a bargain compared with the most expensive bunker Lynch’s Rising S has shipped to New Zealand — $8 million.

    The two 1,000-square-foot bunkers sent earlier this year had to be divided into sections and loaded onto 19 tractor-trailers to start the trek from Texas, he said.

    One landed in Picton, across the Cook Strait from Wellington, to be transported to a sleepy town on the West Coast. The other arrived at Auckland’s Waitemata Harbor and settled into the dirt somewhere in Northland, a rugged region fringed by wild beaches.

    A spokeswoman for the New Zealand Customs Service declined to confirm that the bunkers had arrived in the country, citing privacy reasons.

    It takes about two weeks to excavate the land and bury the average bunker, Lynch said. It’s all done secretly so local residents aren’t aware. Once installed, passersby would have no way of knowing it’s there.

    “There’s no clue left behind, not even a door,” Lynch said.

    ———-

    “The Super Rich of Silicon Valley Have a Doomsday Escape Plan” by Olivia Carville; Bloomberg; 09/05/2018

    ““It’s become one of the places for people in Silicon Valley, mostly because it’s not like Silicon Valley at all,” said Reggie Luedtke, an American biomedical engineer who’s moving to New Zealand in October for the Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship, a program created to lure tech innovators.”

    New Zealand is one of the places for Silicon Valley. That might be considered good news for New Zealand’s tech sector but it’s more than a little ominous for everyone else. And notice how Trump’s presidency appears to have actually increased the number of billionaires deciding to set up an estate there:


    Such notoriety has made New Zealand’s isolation, once deemed an economic handicap, one of its biggest assets. The nation allows emigres to essentially buy residency through investor visas, and rich Americans have poured a fortune into the country, often by acquiring palatial estates.

    Billionaire hedge-fund honcho Julian Robertson owns a lodge overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, the South Island’s luxury resort destination. Fidelity National Financial Inc. Chairman Bill Foley has a homestead in the Wairarapa region, north of Wellington, and Titanic director James Cameron bought a mansion nearby at Lake Pounui.

    The Investor Plus Visa, which requires a minimum investment of NZD$10 million ($6.7 million) over three years, attracted 17 U.S. applicants in fiscal 2017, after President Donald Trump’s election. Previously, it averaged six applicants a year.

    More than 10 Americans from the West Coast have bought multimillion-dollar properties in the Queenstown region in the past two years, said Mark Harris, managing director of the local Sotheby’s real estate office.

    In August, partly in response to Americans gobbling up swaths of prime real estate, New Zealand’s government banned foreigners from buying homes, with the restrictions set to take effect in coming months.

    Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, ignited an uproar when he was granted citizenship after spending just 12 days in the country, prompting allegations that New Zealand’s passport was for sale. Thiel, 50, owns a $13.8 million home on 477 acres (193 hectares) in the lakeside town of Wanaka, with views of snow-capped mountains, and purchased another property in Queenstown, outfitted with a safe room.

    So you have wonder if fears of Trump-induced backlash and global chaos are part of what’s fueling the surge in interest in New Zealand estates or if the giant GOP tax cut that handed billions to the billionaires simply increased their wealth so much that they are so wealthy at this point that they see no reason not to set up a ‘Plan B’:


    “If you’re the sort of person that says ‘I’m going to have an alternative plan when Armageddon strikes,’ then you would pick the farthest location and the safest environment — and that equals New Zealand if you Google it,” former Prime Minister John Key said in a phone interview.

    “It’s known as the last bus stop on the planet before you hit Antarctica,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people say to me that they would like to own a property in New Zealand if the world goes to hell in a handbasket.”

    Kiwis would find this both crazy and amusing, Key said, but it makes sense for some of the wealthiest people on the planet.

    “We live in a world where some people have extraordinary amounts of wealth and there comes a point at which, when you have so much money, allocating a very tiny amount of that for ‘Plan B’ is not as crazy as it sounds.”

    But don’t forget what Rushkoff told us: for the people he met, doomsday wasn’t ‘Plan B’. It was ‘Plan A’ and what they were absolutely expecting. So when we hear about the prominent venture capitalist who spoke of his escape plans involving a jet that is co-owned by four other billionaire co-owners and exists solely to whisk them away to New Zealand, you have to wonder if this is the same group that hired Rushkoff:

    At three recent Silicon Valley dinner parties, guests discussed bugging out to New Zealand if there’s trouble, according to attendees who asked not to be identified because the events were private.

    At one, a prominent venture capitalist was said to have told fellow diners of his escape plans. In the garage of his San Francisco home, he told guests, is a bag of guns hanging from the handlebars of a motorcycle. The bike will allow him to weave through traffic on the way to his private plane, and the guns are for defense against encroaching zombies that may threaten his getaway.

    He intends to fly to a landing strip in Nevada where a jet sits in a hangar, its sole purpose to whisk him and four billionaire co-owners to safety. Their destination: New Zealand — or Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud” in Maori.

    Maybe it’s the same group of billionaires or maybe it’s a different one. Again, there’s tragically no shortage of billionaires who have embraced a worldview of doom. Doom that can’t be prevented and only they can afford to escape.

    So as President Trump inevitably makes the demonization of desperate poor people as an unbearable burden that must be walled off a central theme of his 2020 reelection campaign, it’s going to be worth keeping in mind that the lack of any attempt come up with real solutions to the problems underlying and fueling the refugee/asylum crisis is very much in keeping with the broader theme of a global class of right-wing elites who comprise Trump’s real base and have embraced doom as an escape from the need to even try to actually address the problems facing the world.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 13, 2019, 3:58 pm

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