Monday, February 19, 2018

Academic Freedom? How Nasty Can a University Be?


By Denis Rancourt

(First published at Dissident Voice.)

The present era of reactionary institutional responses to violations of political correctness is exposing the fact that “academic freedom”, of both professors and students, does not really mean much, except what it has always meant.

In the concluding paragraphs of her chapter on academic freedom in her 1986 book No Ivory Tower, Ellen W. Schrecker brilliantly states what modern academic freedom has always been and was always meant to be:
The academic world of Schaper and Cattell, Ely and Nearing, was to change considerably over the next few decades. Especially in the years following the Second World War, the American system of higher education was to expand in size and to become a more democratic and less genteel place. Yet its treatment of political dissidents changed little. The same pattern of pressures and responses that set the early precedents determined the later cases as well. There were some differences to be sure, especially in procedural matters. There was more faculty participation, for example. This was largely the result of the academic profession’s success in establishing the principle of tenure. Though its possession did not invariably protect controversial professors from being fired, by the 1940s and 1950s it did usually ensure that they got some kind of a faculty hearing.

Procedures apart, however, there were fewer differences than we might assume. Institutional loyalty was the overriding concern. In almost every situation, faculty members and administrators responded to outside pressures for the dismissal of dissenting faculty members in accord with what they believed would best protect or enhance their schools reputation. The rhetoric of academic freedom obscures those concerns, as, in many instances, it was designed to. After all, even the famous academic freedom statement that the University of Wisconsin released after the Regents reinstated Richard T. Ely in 1894 was planned in part as a piece of institutional promotion-as, in the words of the man who suggested it, “an excellent advertisement for the institution.” Stripped of its rhetoric, academic freedom thus turns out to be an essentially corporate protection. And, as we trace its development during the Cold War, we should not be surprised to find that it was invoked more often to defend the well-being of an institution than the political rights of an individual.1
Nonetheless, it is interesting to ask: Just how far can a Western university, in a so-called free and democratic society, go in violating the freedom of expression and the professional independence of a tenured professor?

My own case gives a graphic answer to this question.
First, here is the background of what was actually happening in the classroom. This letter from a parent on one of my students was published in Canada’s largest national newspaper on February 9, 2009:
“Free to Learn” by Julia Debono

Windsor, Ont. — In 2006, while shadowing my daughter, then a student at the University of Ottawa, I attended one of Denis Rancourt’s classes (Professor Makes His Mark, But It Costs Him His Job – Feb. 6). Prof. Rancourt, clearly a dedicated, principled teacher, moderated a spirited, engaging, intellectually provocative discussion in which about 50 students eagerly participated.

Other undergraduate classes that I attended consisted of the professor lecturing while students chatted, surfed the Net or took verbatim notes. Few asked questions and there were no discussions, even when the professor asked for some.

Prof. Rancourt’s class resembled classes I had at the University of Michigan’s Residential College in the mid-1970s, right down to the use of narrative summaries instead of grades to evaluate learning.

His class was an example of the kind of educational experience I sent my daughter to university to be a part of.2

There were hundreds of such letters to the university and to media, and a large petition. Here is my report of how my first-year (freshman) physics course had developed: “How to Not Teach Physics”.3
In addition, I was publicly critical of the university administration on my “U of O Watch” blog and I practiced reform wherever I could legally do so, given the on-paper guaranties of my academic freedom and professional independence.

Twice the university disciplined me for allegedly not following the curriculum. Both times the university was rebuffed by binding arbitration decisions and the discipline was removed. I established that in Ontario a university professor is allowed to be political in the classroom, in addition to covering the curriculum, even in a science course. This irked the reactionary administration to no end.

As a result, sometimes the political activism would spill over into students demanding their rights within the institution. There was an upsurge of student activism in the years that I taught, which I mostly attribute to reactions against oppressive policies and an influx of politically savvy international students. But, of course, the administration blamed me and scribbled network diagrams about it in their notes (I saw this in access-to-information records).

In one such “spill over”, the president — experienced trial lawyer, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and former Liberal prospective candidate for Prime Minister of Canada, Allan Rock — was publicly exposed intimidating a student complainant, in the president’s office. The student’s audio recording was played on regional cable TV, and a link of it was sent to all the university’s students by email. The president never did that again.

Within a few weeks after the cable TV show aired, my many research graduate students and I were locked out of our laboratory without notice and, as I learned in 2017, the university destroyed my large collections of valuable scientific samples, and immediately made the laboratory inoperable.

The violations of my academic and constitutional rights that also occurred prior to and after the lock out are difficult to grasp, but they did occur, and many “respectable” high officials were knowingly involved. Now I want the new president to fix this and the university to be accountable. This recent letter is how I presented the case to the new president:
January 8, 2018
Jacques Frémont
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland, Room 212
Ottawa, ON  K1N 6N5
f: 613-562-5103
e: ac.awattOu@tnediserp
By email and by fax

Re: Ending the University of Ottawa’s unrelenting punishment of me

Dear President Frémont,

I was a professor in the department of physics at the University of Ottawa from 1987 until 2009.  I occupied the highest academic rank of Full Professor beginning in 1997.

I am recognized as an expert in my profession and have taught thousands of students.  I am a much appreciated teacher and research supervisor and I have published over 100 articles in leading journals in several areas of science (my present h-index score is 35).

I taught the Senate-approved course “Science in Society”, which I created following campus-wide student demand, in the largest auditorium on campus.  It was informally known as the activism course.

I was a critic of the university and I defended students against what I saw as institutional discrimination and racism.  In so doing, I used Malcolm X’s political term, “house negro”.  I did this in the context of a struggle for justice and in good faith, as attested to by the attached letters to you from community activists: Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney.

The university dismissed me in 2009 using the pretext of my having assigned high grades to all 23 students in one advanced physics course, and then spent over $1 million sponsoring a large defamation lawsuit against me.

You have emptied out my bank account by court order, you have repeatedly threatened to take my family’s home, and you have asserted that you will continue to enforce recovery of your legal costs in excess of $1 million.  Therefore, I am not able to pursue my work as a teacher and scholar, since you would take every penny.
You destroyed my career and took everything I have. You have done enough. I’m hoping that your sense of decency will cause you to grant this request for relief.

The university’s punishment of me has been relentless, including the following.

Destroyed scientific samples

Recently this year, as I sought to continue my scientific work, the university said that it destroyed my large and unique collection of scientific samples — when it locked me and my students out of our laboratory while I was still a full professor.

Many of the samples are irreplaceable and priceless, and I considered myself their custodian on behalf the scientific community.  The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) has assumed my $1.25 million grievance concerning this destruction.

The destroyed scientific samples included:
(a) The only large non-oxidized piece of the Santa Catharina meteorite, in which the meteoritic metallic phase “antitaenite” was discovered.
(b) The only large sample of remnants of the K/T boundary meteorite that may have killed the dinosaurs, collected in the field by a leading-expert collaborator, and kept in a sealed atmosphere.
(c) Unique suites of synthetic layer silicate compounds, which led to several fundamental discoveries.
(d) Suites of loess-paleosol samples (ancient soils) from two sites, in China and Eastern Europe.
(e) Preserved samples of sediments from 100 lakes in Canada, from the largest study of its kind in the boreal forest.
(f) Several suites of samples of synthetic compounds and alloys having unique electronic, magnetic, and magneto-volume properties.

For years the university threatened to destroy my personal papers, too.  Since 2008, the university refused to give me access to my belongings from my personal office in the physics building.  The materials were research notes, original course content, unpublished book manuscripts, two decades of correspondence, specialized books, and much more.  Only recently, thanks to your direct intervention, was I able to recover the more than 200 cubic feet of paper materials.

Student spy

The university hired a student spy (Maureen Robinson) to covertly surveil me for more than one year while I was a professor.  Her actions were condoned by her immediate supervisors (the dean and the legal counsel of the university) and included using a false cyber identity (“Nathalie Page”) and falsely representing herself personally to third parties.  The student spy provided weekly reports about me to the university.  Her role was described by an Ontario appellate-court judge in his motion ruling in the following terms:

Maureen Robinson
[15] The circumstances of Maureen Robinson’s involvement in this entire matter is troubling at best.  Throughout the relevant portion of the Award by Arbitrator Foisy, Ms.  Robinson’s written notes were referred to [as] “the report on Professor Rancourt’s address prepared by a University of Ottawa student”.
[16] Pursuant to the Udell Affidavit, and based on evidence from the hearing, the student being Maureen Robinson was the editor of the student newspaper who had been hired by the University in what the University described as in a clerical capacity to assist Professor Rancourt in his office, without his input on her hiring.
[17] Either in consultation with her employer, the University, or on her own, she monitored the activities of Professor Rancourt both on and off campus and reported her finding back to the University.  In an email to Dean Lalonde, she admitted to having a “personal grudge” against Professor Rancourt and went so far as to liken her monitoring of Professor Rancourt as “posing as a young girl to catch a pedophile”.  Ms. Robinson was not called as a witness at the hearing and, the parties agreed that her “report” would be considered as an “aide memoire” only.
[18] The University referred to the “report” thereafter as a transcript which such description was objected to by the APUO.  Similarly, Arbitrator Foisy made certain findings which appear to be based solely on the report which was not evidence.  [Underlined sub-title in original]

Covert psychiatric report

In 2008, the university’s VP-Governance coordinated a capture of my intimate childhood information for use by a hired psychiatrist to make a written “psychiatric opinion” of me without my consent or knowledge.

The university thereby violated my constitutional privacy rights, my personal dignity and integrity, and numerous ethical codes regarding expert medical diagnoses.

The university followed this by not informing me of its actions, and by vigorously opposing my access to the psychiatric report until the final hour of an appeal in litigation for access in 2017.

You have a reputation as an advocate of human rights, and you recently took charge of the university’s case with me.

I write to you now to ask for a fair resolution that will allow me to resume my work as an educator and scientist, and to earn my living in this way. As it stands, the university would seize all of my income, just as it recently seized my bank account. The interest alone that you seek is more than $30,000.00 per year.

Please assure me that you will instruct the university lawyers that a settlement is needed that will allow me to resume my career.

Yours truly,
[original signed]
Professor Denis Rancourt
[address]
Encl.:  Letters from Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney [three attachments in the original].4

That is how nasty a university in a free and democratic society can be. I know other public institutions behave the same way but we rarely find out. I have been dedicated to uncovering as much as I can.

I have been guided by this quote:
One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.
— Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.5
Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is a researcher for the Ontario Civil Liberties Association. He has published more than 100 articles in leading scientific journals, on physics and environmental science. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism.

  1. The two last paragraphs of Chapter I: “An Excellent Advertizement for the Institution”: The Development of Academic Freedom, 1886-1918; in Ellen W. Schrecker’s No Ivory Tower – McCarthyism and the Universities, Oxford University Press, 1986.
  2. Letter to the Editor, Globe & Mail (National Edition), February 9, 2009.
  3. Rancourt, Denis. How to Not Teach PhysicsDissident Voice, January 2, 2013.
  4. “2018 01 08 Letter to end the University of Ottawa’s unrelenting punishment of Denis Rancourt”, and direct link to the document as PDF file.
  5. Human Nature: Justice versus Power”, Noam Chomsky debates with Michel Foucault, 1971.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Denis Rancourt's letter to president Jacques Fremont of the University of Ottawa, Canada

https://archive.org/details/POST20180108DGRLetterToPresidentJacquesFremont5All

By Denis Rancourt

READ MY LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA, CANADA (Direct link to the PDF file is here)

I'm not going to stop seeking and speaking the truth as I see it, regarding science, society, and institutional malfeasance; including helping students, teachers and others who suffer the consequences of speaking out or acting to change things.

But we who resist the flow suffer consequences and I want you to know.

It is difficult to grasp everything Canada's University of Ottawa has done and continues to do to me, yet it is true, and I have been dedicated to finding it out. I know other public institutions behave the same way but we rarely find out.

The university secretly destroyed my large collection of unique and valuable scientific samples. It hired a spy to covertly surveil me, using improper methods that it fully knew. It hired a psychiatrist to use my captured intimate information to make a personality profile of me without my consent or knowledge. It fired me in 2009 from my full and tenured professorship at the top of my career, under the chosen false pretext that I incorrectly assigned high grades to 23 advanced physics students in one course. And it spent over $1 million sponsoring a large defamation lawsuit against me, which deprives me of earning money for the rest of my life.

Those are just the larger things the professors' union and I have been able to find out so far. I discovered the fate of my sample collections only recently in 2017, and then only recently was I finally able to recover over 100 boxes of my personal belongings from my office.

Read the letter itself and you will see. President Jacques Fremont, has not answered me yet.

I want the university to back down from taking any money from me that I could ever earn and to repair the injustices now. I want the university to be accountable.

Here is the text of my letter:

January 8, 2018

Jacques Frémont
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Ottawa
550 Cumberland, Room 212
Ottawa, ON  K1N 6N5
f: 613-562-5103
e: president@uOttawa.ca
By email and by fax

Re:  Ending the University of Ottawa’s unrelenting punishment of me
Dear President Frémont,

I was a professor in the department of physics at the University of Ottawa from 1987 until 2009.  I occupied the highest academic rank of Full Professor beginning in 1997.  

I am recognized as an expert in my profession and have taught thousands of students.  I am a much appreciated teacher and research supervisor and I have published over 100 articles in leading journals in several areas of science (my present h-index score is 35). 

I taught the Senate-approved course “Science in Society”, which I created following campus-wide student demand, in the largest auditorium on campus.  It was informally known as the activism course. 

I was a critic of the university and I defended students against what I saw as institutional discrimination and racism.  In so doing, I used Malcolm X’s political term, “house negro”.  I did this in the context of a struggle for justice and in good faith, as attested to by the attached letters to you from community activists: Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney. 

The university dismissed me in 2009 using the pretext of my having assigned high grades to all 23 students in one advanced physics course, and then spent over $1 million sponsoring a large defamation lawsuit against me. 

You have emptied out my bank account by court order, you have repeatedly threatened to take my family’s home, and you have asserted that you will continue to enforce recovery of your legal costs in excess of $1 million.  Therefore, I am not able to pursue my work as a teacher and scholar, since you would take every penny.

You destroyed my career and took everything I have. You have done enough. I’m hoping that your sense of decency will cause you to grant this request for relief.

The university’s punishment of me has been relentless, including the following.

Destroyed scientific samples

Recently this year, as I sought to continue my scientific work, the university said that it destroyed my large and unique collection of scientific samples — when it locked me and my students out of our laboratory while I was still a full professor. 

Many of the samples are irreplaceable and priceless, and I considered myself their custodian on behalf the scientific community.  The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) has assumed my $1.25 million grievance concerning this destruction.

The destroyed scientific samples included:
(a)    The only large non-oxidized piece of the Santa Catharina meteorite, in which the meteoritic metallic phase “antitaenite” was discovered.
(b)    The only large sample of remnants of the K/T boundary meteorite that may have killed the dinosaurs, collected in the field by a leading-expert collaborator, and kept in a sealed atmosphere.
(c)    Unique suites of synthetic layer silicate compounds, which led to several fundamental discoveries.
(d)    Suites of loess-paleosol samples (ancient soils) from two sites, in China and Eastern Europe.
(e)    Preserved samples of sediments from 100 lakes in Canada, from the largest study of its kind in the boreal forest.
(f)    Several suites of samples of synthetic compounds and alloys having unique electronic, magnetic, and magneto-volume properties.

For years the university threatened to destroy my personal papers, too.  Since 2008, the university refused to give me access to my belongings from my personal office in the physics building.  The materials were research notes, original course content, unpublished book manuscripts, two decades of correspondence, specialized books, and much more.  Only recently, thanks to your direct intervention, was I able to recover the more than 200 cubic feet of paper materials.

Student spy

The university hired a student spy (Maureen Robinson) to covertly surveil me for more than one year while I was a professor.  Her actions were condoned by her immediate supervisors (the dean and the legal counsel of the university) and included using a false cyber identity (“Nathalie Page”) and falsely representing herself personally to third parties.  The student spy provided weekly reports about me to the university.  Her role was described by an Ontario appellate-court judge in his motion ruling in the following terms: 

MAUREEN ROBINSON
[15] The circumstances of Maureen Robinson's involvement in this entire matter is troubling at best.  Throughout the relevant portion of the Award by Arbitrator Foisy, Ms.  Robinson's written notes were referred to [as] "the report on Professor Rancourt's address prepared by a University of Ottawa student".

[16] Pursuant to the Udell Affidavit, and based on evidence from the hearing, the student being Maureen Robinson was the editor of the student newspaper who had been hired by the University in what the University described as in a clerical capacity to assist Professor Rancourt in his office, without his input on her hiring.

[17] Either in consultation with her employer, the University, or on her own, she monitored the activities of Professor Rancourt both on and off campus and reported her finding back to the University.  In an email to Dean Lalonde, she admitted to having a "personal grudge" against Professor Rancourt and went so far as to liken her monitoring of Professor Rancourt as "posing as a young girl to catch a pedophile".  Ms.  Robinson was not called as a witness at the hearing and, the parties agreed that her "report" would be considered as an "aide memoire" only.

[18] The University referred to the “report” thereafter as a transcript which such description was objected to by the APUO.  Similarly, Arbitrator Foisy made certain findings which appear to be based solely on the report which was not evidence.  [Underlined sub-title in original]

Covert psychiatric report

In 2008, the university’s VP-Governance coordinated a capture of my intimate childhood information for use by a hired psychiatrist to make a written “psychiatric opinion” of me without my consent or knowledge. 

The university thereby violated my constitutional privacy rights, my personal dignity and integrity, and numerous ethical codes regarding expert medical diagnoses. 

The university followed this by not informing me of its actions, and by vigorously opposing my access to the psychiatric report until the final hour of an appeal in litigation for access in 2017. 

You have a reputation as an advocate of human rights, and you recently took charge of the university’s case with me. 

I write to you now to ask for a fair resolution that will allow me to resume my work as an educator and scientist, and to earn my living in this way. As it stands, the university would seize all of my income, just as it recently seized my bank account. The interest alone that you seek is more than $30,000.00 per year.

Please assure me that you will instruct the university lawyers that a settlement is needed that will allow me to resume my career.

Yours truly,

[original signed]
 ___________________________________
Professor Denis Rancourt

[]
Ottawa, ON  []
t: []
e: denis.rancourt@[]

Encl.:  Letters from Hazel Gashoka, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Cynthia McKinney [three attachments in the original] [Direct link to PDF of the original]

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Can the principle of freedom of expression be used in propaganda that supports censorship?

Stephen Pollard

By Denis Rancourt, PhD

Yes it can. Here is a good example.

In this article, "[a]s editor of the country’s leading Jewish newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle," Stephen Pollard, pays lip service to freedom of expression by being critical of “snowflakes”.

Snowflakes are not the state. Snowflakes do not use lethal violence to silence dissidents and political participation in the affairs of global and regional state aggressors. Rather, snowflakes are a social phenomenon that results from decades of evisceration of the state educational system by design, away from independent thought and towards emotional malleability.

The snowflake culture is nurtured by an exploitative political class, and that relation can lead the state to pass laws that degrade freedom of expression, especially when the repressive laws also prevent political challenge to the (for now) dominant correctness constituency.

In presenting snowflakes as the nexus of suppression of speech, Pollard achieves two primary propaganda goals:

1. He opens with the pervasively promoted Israel-lobby meme and political device that The Holocaust is a “unique evil”, as though this were a given law of nature. Actually, “The Holocaust” is not a unique evil and is extensively used in propaganda and extortion schemes, as conclusively established in Professor Norman Finkelstein’s landmark 2000 book “The Holocaust Industry”.

2. He covers up by omission and substitution the Israel-lobby-driven current aggressive state attacks against freedom of expression and political participation rights: criminalization of criticism of the very state of Israel, cast as anti-Semitic “hate speech”; criminalization of so-called Holocaust denial (any questioning of historical events surrounding the Nazi holocaust); and statutory civil liability for supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) civil-society campaign against Israeli occupation (e.g.).

Mission accomplished.

So, while many Western states are prosecuting and jailing ordinary citizens for their beliefs and expression, as “hate speech” or as civil campaigns allegedly motivated by anti-Semitism, in Canada, France, Germany, the USA… Pollard invites us to have an emotional reaction against “snowflakes” because snowflakes are silly.  In doing so, he quotes Orwell.

Snowflakes don’t scare me. They will be offended and insulted back into reality if and when reality imposes itself. State laws and state militarism to dominate domestic and foreign populations on the other hand are precisely the instruments that lead to “unique evils”.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Benjamin Zander on how to give an A (video)

David F. Noble has a friend.

Here is Benjamin Zander explaining his student-grading method, and harmful effects of rank ordering.




Monday, January 1, 2018

Obama's character and legacy

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10159693543065403&set=a.10152111097410403.904774.766525402&type=3&theater

After you pick up the Nobel Peace Prize (sic), look the man in the eyes, shake his hand, and give him a warm smile, before you murder him and virtually all his extended family (target their residential compound directly), and watch him be killed on your satellite TV screen, visibly celebrating for the USA media cameras with the self-identifying "feminist" Hillary Clinton (I will never forget her gleeful laughter). Nice work. Now Libya has no civil infrastructure and open slave markets, your greatest legacy. How can the world not love your generous country?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What makes us stupid?

At talk I gave at the University of Ottawa last week, one audience member vigorously asked the very serious question: "What makes us stupid?"

It was a talk about freedom of speech.

The presumption is that we (middle and professional-class Canadians and Americans) are far more stupid than we should be. I accept the presumption.

My answer was:

"Well... I don't think it's the fluorine in the water or chemtrails, and many folks will be quite angry that I said that."

(I also don't think it's vaccines but I do think that uncritical acceptance of corporate propaganda about vaccines, and about establishment medicine in general, is part of the said stupidity.)

I continued as follows:

"I think it's the always-increasing and progressive infringements of the institutions that run our lives, which remove more and more independence from us and regulate our every thought and attitude... the schools, the government, corporate employers, the medical establishment... everything to make us more and more dependent, controlled, predictable, and, well, stupid."

The context of my answer is the social theory of dominance hierarchy, its maintenance and growth... along the lines of this recent article, and references therein: "Cause of USA Meltdown and Collapse of Civil Rights".



Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cause of USA Meltdown and Collapse of Civil Rights

By Denis Rancourt, PhD

Published at Dissident Voice:
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/cause-of-usa-meltdown-and-collapse-of-civil-rights/


SUMMARY: Societies of social animals, including humans, are dominance hierarchies. Civil rights are codified in law to protect mechanisms of essential counter measures against excessive exploitation of the hierarchy by elite classes, which destabilizes the entire society. Systemic pathology arises when elite classes can change the regulatory codes themselves, including civil rights protections, with impunity. Laws that quash civil rights are pathological in that they impede the system-repair mechanisms that are: free expression, free association, class opposition, and negotiated structural adjustments (otherwise known as democracy). Present anti-speech laws are extreme examples of pathological laws, the application of which is a measure of the degree of totalitarianism in the society. The history of the USA of recent decades is an eminent illustration of the concepts.


The USA meltdown has been decades in the making and is the collateral result of an elite predation that has degraded structural elements needed for a healthy and resilient nation.

The aftermath is “too much regulation at the bottom, not enough at the top”: a pathological legislative and institutional structure in which elite interests have too much freedom to challenge and exploit democratic nation states, whereas middle, working and professional class actors, including small and medium-size private business, are economically, ideologically and politically constrained and suppressed to an excessive degree.

It has been a class war in which the predatory classes have barricaded themselves while inflicting humiliating defeat and loss of power, purpose and identity on the lower-stratum classes, which are incited to fight among themselves within the confines of new rules and the guarded illusion that these rules are an actuation of natural order.

In this way, personal and community motivation and inventiveness are sapped. The very motor of a vibrant modern society is jammed and the entire system becomes a system of debt-ransom extraction and management of globalized exploitation for the benefit of a secluded elite.

In this emergent system of excessive class exploitation, civil rights that protect critics and organizers become a threat against the exploiters rather than needed protections of personal and community emancipation that sustains economic production and innovation.

Allow me to explain, starting from fundamental considerations.

Arguably, the most fundamental statement that a social scientist can make is that humans interact by both violent and non-violent means, both individually and as groups, to establish and maintain societal dominance hierarchies. Call it by any name (tribalism, capitalism, socialism, totalitarianism…) humans always establish, maintain and grow dominance hierarchies, using whatever technology of the day.

The political end-point concept of “anarchy” is the theoretical absence of dominance hierarchy, which has never been ideally achieved and which is evidently unstable against growth of and replacement by dominance hierarchy. The reality of social animals is dominance hierarchy, which spontaneously adapts itself to environmental conditions and to the population size, while integrating accumulated knowledge and technological advances.

Within a dominance hierarchy (within a society), the essential counter against destabilizing excesses of dominance is pushback from individuals and groups -- engendered by the individual desire for life, freedom and local influence -- which acts in every stratum of the hierarchy.

In historically recent human societies, essential pushback is formalized with written laws that protect the individual against dominance encroachments that would be so severe that they would threaten hierarchical stability by increasing the potential for rebellion. These laws were at times deemed to be God-given and are now referred to as “civil rights”. They include both: (1) protections the individual and of the nuclear and extended family against arbitrary attacks by the state or by rogue elements and (2) protections for the individual and groups to seek redress and express grievances.

All laws are evolving codes to organise, stabilize and enforce an ever changing (often growing and complexifying) dominance hierarchy. “Good” laws find a “balance” between the graded benefits of hierarchy and the stratified oppressions against individuals and groups, a balance which stabilizes the whole system against deterioration (“injustice”), complete overhaul (“revolution”), or extinction (“downfall”).

Predictably, the codes themselves are often “hacked” by upper-strata groups that are overly ambitious in seeking additional relative advantages. The hacking upper-strata groups will recklessly change the laws for their own advantage in ways that materially threaten overall stability. This produces “pathological” laws that destabilize the overall hierarchy by driving society towards an intolerable degree of totalitarianism.

A now recognized on-going example is the decades-long elite attack, by taxation and global-finance reforms, against the USA middle class, which has prematurely destabilized the USA-centered global empire and its domestic internal society. The blowback from and defences against the USA’s practice of aggressive global dominance has also contributed, where the latter practice is similarly enabled by hacked foreign-policy and global governance laws.

When law-makers themselves can be bought by selfish elites self-segregated from the broad or domestic society, it is a recipe for disaster. In the USA and Canada law-enactment errors are multiplying, and there are no substantial Senatorial safeguards. Law-makers are formed or trained into compliance by career-enabling elites, rather than informed, principled and concerned about public service. Political parties are systematically controlled and constrained by the highest hierarchical echelons, which control the economy and the media.

When the backbone structure of the dominance hierarchy is thus degraded, as with the present crisis of the middle class, there is an impulse for both societal groups and lawmakers to become frantic and for the barricaded elite to exploit and ride out the storm rather than participate in repair. Every new manifestation of rebellion is interpreted as a fire to be extinguished rather than as necessary pushback needing to be allowed to play out. Decades of built-up fuel in the underbrush and extended drought are conditions for a devastating inferno but our “representatives” are successfully goaded into superficially addressing every new spark and violently suppressing every outbreak rather than dealing with the fundamentals.

Over decades, a complete restructuring of the relation between the state and the economy has been engineered, which, in its oppressive excesses, has led to the present crisis. The assault was accompanied by massive propaganda campaigns regarding the security benefits of government control and the welfare benefits of corporate rule. For example, predatory corporate take-over “investment” in public-service infrastructure is now presented as a good thing that should be actively sought using public funds.

The restructuring included: rolling back taxation of the wealthy while maintaining taxation of the middle and working classes, reducing or eliminating corporate taxation, increasing capital mobility, allowing investment flight, allowing infiltration of government-oversight and regulatory agencies (especially in the finance sector), gutting corporate regulatory agencies while transferring to self-regulatory models, unprecedented ideological control of professional workers in the public service (teachers, police, scientists, public servants, judges…), unrestrained lobby and think-tank influence, and unprecedented limitations (regulatory burdens) imposed on small and medium-size private businesses.

Top-level elite desires and machinations have become embedded into the very institutional structure of the economy and of the “deep state” more than ever previously. This is the result of decadal erosion of democracy and continuous increase of integration of government itself into the hierarchical power structure. The global-scale project is enabled by owned military, surveillance, communication, transportation and resource-extraction technologies; and surveillance and projection-of-power capabilities are unprecedented in history.

The resulting decadal overhaul of Western nations -- in the march towards USA-centered globalism and the neutralization of Western middle and professional classes -- has built-in deleterious structural features, as follows.

Mega corporations and financiers and their deep-state partners have not only militarily and covertly occupied the exploitable globe, they have also installed predation against the Western middle classes and Western public infrastructures. They have gutted mass education and maintained only elite schools for their managers and engineers. And they have gutted the Western middle and professional class mind and ethos and replaced these with canned concepts devoid of emancipating political thrust. More importantly, the educational and societal-maintenance institutions themselves have been transformed by removing professional independence and responsibility and replacing them with ideological obedience and observance of dictated think-tank-produced mantras.

The consequential suicidal pathology of the system’s operational code is twofold.

First, the new freedom and power of the USA-centered mega entities are used to eviscerate the very nation state whose structure evolved to optimally stabilize the nation-based dominance hierarchy. Even the world structures of international relations are hijacked and eviscerated to a higher degree.

Second, the middle and professional classes palpably lose many of the benefits accrued from accepting hierarchical domination, including loss of influence, and consequently suffer a crisis of identity, meaning and outlook… driven by real economic threat (loss or degradation of job and home).

Macro-economic data reveal the decadal transformation since 1980 but do not explain its source or describe its cultural, psychological and class impact. The data are generally cast as the result of an accident that can be fixed by more of the same from one of the two front parties [1].

In the real circumstances of the worsening middle-class crisis, it is natural that grievances are aired and solutions are sought to recover lost status. But at the same time, advocacy and the potential for an organized response are threats to the top-layer elites and embedded deep-state managers who have intentionally driven the system towards greater hierarchical control and increased upper-stratum gain.

That is why the system reacts by removing civil rights and sabotaging any technology or application venture that would enable communication and free association.

Whereas expression and grass-roots political response would repair the edifice, the needed remedy is aggressively quashed by those at the top who judge that the crisis is not one that can truly threaten them, is one that will dissipate with time or can be fixed synthetically, and that the distributed spontaneous solution is unacceptably risky in its potential to expose them.

There results the paradox that the system delays self-repair, builds up the pressure for repair, and creates worsening societal conditions rather than allow the proven natural remedy: free expression, free association, class opposition (based on the actual grievances rather than surrogates), and negotiated structural adjustments.

The pathology of the system in rejecting self-repair can be understood as follows.

Dominance hierarchies are both stable and evolutionarily advantageous only if effective balancing forces against creeping or runaway totalitarianism are admitted. A dominance hierarchy is doomed when its highest codes allow an elite class to have disproportionate power, including the power to modify the highest codes without restraint. In particular, in a society in which the state -- controlled by an elite class -- effectively has a technological monopoly on lethal force, the balancing mechanism of free expression, free association, and real influence -- otherwise known as “democracy” -- must be allowed.

It follows that any code that prevents free expression and free association is itself pathological. If all expression and all association are allowed, then the optimal conditions for self-repair are realized and a stable and resilient hierarchical structure will result. Since it is grounded in free expression and free association, then it will be optimally just. Justice is a thus self-organized and maintained hierarchy, not elite-given “equity” within a totalitarian matrix.

For free expression and free association to be meaningful many necessary conditions are implied: access to information, actual institutional transparency, access to the travel and communication infrastructures, absence of imposed barriers to association, absence of controls over personal choices, real opportunity for decent economic conditions that allow significant democratic participation, and the very novel concept of uniform application of just laws… Any rule that in-effect bars a necessary condition is also itself pathological.

I end this essay with a consideration of the special features that make anti-expression laws pathological, in the above sense of preventing self-repair of the societal dominance hierarchy.

The anti-speech laws, whether cast as “hate speech” criminal code provisions, or civil defamation law, or civility “codes of conduct” on campuses, have been manipulatively introduced by the elite because the elite are those most threatened by free speech and free association.

Speech is the means by which individuals use non-violent persuasion to acquire influence in society. It is the means that enables politics. In the USA, where citizens have a beneficial right even to bear arms for any required overthrow of the government [2][3], freedom of expression was meant to be absolute, in that the USA constitution does not have a “balancing” clause as is common in other Western jurisdictions [4].

Laws that enforce punishment for individual speech allegedly “causing” negative personal reactions in society at large are antithetical to democracy, and are immeasurably harmful to human emancipation and personal development. The above-mentioned examples are such anti-speech laws, notably including defamation law [5]. They enforce punishments against individual speech that is alleged to “cause” an emotional or persuasive effect in others, which is deemed an unacceptable effect that must be targeted for elimination by state intervention against the presumed “cause”.

The said “emotional or persuasive effect” alleged to arise from the spoken words, in different laws, includes:
•    being induced to feel “hate” (anger, hostility, animosity) against a group in society
•    being induced to have a negative overall opinion about a specific person
•    being induced to adopt an ideology or political stance deemed impermissible (“hateful”)
•    being induced to commit suicide
•    being induced to participate in actuating a genocide
•    being induced to commit crimes of physical aggression or property damage

The underlying principle of these laws is that the person speaking words carries a punishable liability for what those words might induce in unspecified others, irrespective whether any actual physical crime occurs and irrespective of whether the words determinatively “cause” an actual physical crime. To be clear, under these laws, a judge arbitrarily (without needing evidence beyond the impugned words themselves and their method of delivery) decides whether the words induce deemed undesirable thoughts, opinions and attitudes in unspecified persons at large. Nothing else is required to establish liability or guilt, and by design it is impossible to disprove the charge, nor is an attempt to disprove admitted in court.

No matter how it may be masked with legalese or scholarly rationalization, this is precisely the nature of the anti-speech codes that are: “hate speech” criminal code provisions, anti-blasphemy laws, anti-historical-revisionism laws, anti-obscenity laws, the common law of civil defamation, and campus codes of conduct. One could add any “norms of expressive conduct” law.

For example, in defamation law, the impugned words are presumed to “cause” a low opinion of the plaintiff in the minds of unspecified others at large. In legalese: “general damage to reputation is presumed”. No causation proof is required of the claimant. Intent to harm is irrelevant (malice is presumed). No actual damage (loss of job, etc.) need be established. The words themselves as perceived by the judge are sufficient evidence. The judge must only opine, not on the intended meaning of the words, but on the meaning of the words in the mind of an imaginary listener. Such is civil defamation law, and there is no legal limit on the quantum of damages or the duration of gag orders that may be ordered under penalty of jail [5].

These anti-speech laws of course are distinguished from laws that address harassment and intimidation of a specific target person (actual victim) or that address chain-of-command orders to commit crimes. They are also distinguished from the tort (law) of injurious falsehood, which “consists of the malicious publication of a falsehood concerning the plaintiff that leads other persons to act in a manner that causes actual loss, damage, or expense to the plaintiff,” irrespective of any effect on “reputation” [6].

Thus, the anti-expression laws are eminently pathological from a systemic perspective. They directly impede repair of the dominance hierarchy, without providing any systemic benefit. They achieve this by suppressing the individual impulse to influence by communication, which is the elemental foundation of democracy.

As such, a study of the development of and pervasive use of anti-speech laws informs us both of the intensity of harmful elite efforts to protect illegitimate advantages and of the degree of totalitarianism in society. The present USA (civil) war on “hate expression” and its condoning by large swaths of society is a measure of a high degree of totalitarianism and a concomitant high degree of manipulation of public sentiment. It is an indicator of fundamental internal instability of the kind that accompanies the collapse of an empire.


Endnotes
[1] “Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart”, by David Leonhardt, The New York Times, 2017-08-07. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/07/opinion/leonhardt-income-inequality.html

[2] “Negroes with Guns”, by Robert F. Williams, 1962 (Martino Publishing, CT, 2013).

[3] “How Nonviolence Protects the State”, by Peter Gelderloos, 2007 (South End Press). https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-how-nonviolence-protects-the-state

[4] “Towards a Rational Legal Philosophy of Individual Rights”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, 2016-11-15. https://dissidentvoice.org/2016/11/towards-a-rational-legal-philosophy-of-individual-rights/

[5] “Canadian defamation law is noncompliant with international law”, by Denis Rancourt, Ontario Civil Liberties Association, 2016-02-01. http://ocla.ca/our-work/reports/canadian-defamation-law-is-noncompliant-with-international-law/ (And published in Dissident Voice: Part-1, Part-2)

[6] “Injurious Falsehood”, mcconchie law corporation (legal encyclopedia), accessed on 2017-09-06. http://www.libelandprivacy.com/areasofpractice_injuriousfalsehood.html