Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Passing Incident In Oakland

Video streaming by Ustream

Bella Eiko recorded this incident on May 26th. Although she says that she first noticed something was going on when she was in a car driving by on the way to the Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza -- a man on the sidewalk was being beaten by police and was taken in handcuffs to one of the police cars on the scene, she didn't start recording until she got out of the car she was in, so none of the police brutality or the arrest she witnessed is shown.

What she does show is fascinating, though. Through attitude and threats, both real and implied (note the female cop keeps reaching for her taser), the police in this incident demonstrate over and over why so many of the people of Oakland despise them as a violent and unaccountable occupying force.

On the other hand, note that at least some of the people of Oakland are not afraid of these goons.

Meanwhile, Chris Moreland was released, after spending three days in jail on bogus charges of battery on a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon for this incident:

The video is long, starts with the lies if Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan at a community meeting called to answer questions about the shooting death of Alan Blueford. Jordan is confronted by the people assembled, one of whom is Chris Moreland, one of the more outspoken participants in Occupy Oakland.

Moreland continues to challenge the Lies of Howard Jordan with his bullhorn as Jordan gets into his car in the parking lot, smirking at the crowd and the tumult in his wake as is his way, and drives off. Other police officers are challenged by others in the crowd; there is no physical assault by those challenging the police whatsoever.

As the crowd disperses, Chris and a few of his friends head on foot to a nearby BART transit station where they are to be picked up by other friends. At that point, officers arrive in police cars and arrest Moreland on the bogus charges previously mentioned, which lead to bail being set at $105,000, which in turn leads to Moreland being held at Santa Rita Jail until arraignment, at which time, not surprisingly, the charges are reduced to "disturbing the peace," and Chris is freed on $2,500 bond.

This sort of thing goes on all the time, and not just in Oakland.

hotflashcarol has more about this incident and about Alan Blueford.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pots and Pans

The viral video of the moment:

During the Bushevik years, the Ché household often wondered why the People did not take to the streets with pots and pans the way the babushkas did in the Eastern Europe and the Old Soviet Union.

When I brought this question up in online fora, of course, it was ridiculed and denounced as if it were the query of an idiot. People cannot bring down governments or affect them in any way by banging on pots and pans! Everybody knows that. Besides, the babushkas had nothing to do with the collapse of tyrannical rule in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The idea is absurd.

"Elections" were/are the only way to make political changes in this country.

The Casserole Manifestations are in Quebec, a foreign land, somewhere north of America, Land of the Free and Home of the Very Brave Indeed. The issue is vastly increasing higher education tuition along with something called Public Law 78 -- which needs more explanation than I can give it here, so read this:

(On the other hand, maybe not. It's translated from the French, and to say the issue remains somewhat obscure is to point out the obvious. Let's just say Public Law 78 is an extreme repressive measure designed to quash student protests. Another expression of Solidarity with Quebec students.)

Hundreds of thousands of Québécois are said to take to the streets nightly to manifest their disapproval of these measures. It's been going on for weeks.

It may go on till the Quebec government falls or the measures are rescinded.

These protests may not be successful in the short run, as governments all over the world have shown a distinct disinterest in the People's Will, especially when it comes to issues of War and Peace, privatizing education, public services and the public commons, and anything else that has to do with interference in the looting, plunder, and pillage of the Many by the Few.

Governments, by and large, do not care if the People take to the streets in their multitudes; governments will do what they and their owners and sponsors want, the People Be Damned.

The only time the People are listened to is when they support the neo-liberal, neo-colonial enterprise, viz: TeaBaggers, and unwittingly (or sometimes wittingly) the Revolutionaries who followed the Gene Sharp formulae.

The babushkas brought down the Soviet Empire, or at least the incessant racket of their pots and pans helped to destabilize it enough to precipitate its collapse, but neo-liberal regimes of plunder that replaced it are not exactly beloved.

In Quebec, at least, they know what they are fighting and fighting for.

May the rest of us learn.

Monday, May 28, 2012


All day community sing, Pie Town, New Mexico, c. 1940; photo: Library of Congress, US Farm Security Photographs.

Millions upon millions of Americans have been forced into poverty since the advent of this Endless Recession, more millions every year it goes on, and strangely, despite the Occupy Movement and many thousands of NGOs serving the Poor, and hundreds of thousands of churches, and many tens of millions of concerned and generous Americans, there is no general outcry about the impoverishment of so many millions of Americans so quickly and so thoroughly as has been the case.

The official poverty rate today hovers around 15% or 16%, a historic high since the mid 1960's and it is growing. Like the unemployment rate, the "true" poverty rate is probably substantially higher than the official rate (the poverty rate is derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Supplement; the unemployment rate is derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey for the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Homelessness is at a historic high as well, even as millions and millions of homes sit empty due to the banking and foreclosure crisis -- that goes on and on and on endlessly as well.

The Masters of the Universe have decided this situation is just right; they want no changes that might cost them anything, and they will have their handmaidens in government thwart any movement from below to adjust matters.

As we've seen over and over again, any serious effort to highlight the plight of the increasing numbers of Americans in poverty or to petition government for redress is met with ever harsher and violent repression.

The absence of a general outcry at the impoverishment of Americans may be due to official repression. On the other hand, many Americans don't have an intellectual, moral or emotional problem with increasing poverty -- as long as it doesn't touch them. As long as the problem of poverty is someone else's problem, what's to worry, right?

This attitude is yet another of the many legacies of the Reagan Era, and unfortunately, it's an affliction of Washington, DC that simply doesn't respond to persuasion or pressure from below. Reaganism took the place of Progressivism a generation ago now, and it doesn't look like the culture and the mindset of present day DC is capable of considering the consequences of poverty and of its policies that increase poverty. Even today's so-called "progressives" don't seem to get it.

I was chatting with my neighbor the other day. He's an older man, has had a couple of strokes, but he's doing very well all things considered, he is quite spry and able to get along well enough. He notices how poverty is increasing all the time, and how nothing is being done to reverse it. There are no jobs, especially for the young. So many people are homeless. Cutbacks everywhere, and the cost of living keeps going up and up and up.

He says that he learned to live simply a long time ago; because of his simple lifestyle, he hasn't been exposed to some of the economic struggles that so many people are going through. He doesn't need or want that much in the material world.

Some of the young people could learn from him, he says, but they won't listen. I say, "Well, you know, they have to learn for themselves; you can't really tell them."

"Yes, but so many want all these things that they don't really need, that no one really needs," he says, "and when they're too poor to afford it... If they could learn to live simply, it wouldn't matter. Not so much anyway."

How are they to do that? How is anybody to do that? This is the dilemma that so many Americans have been facing for years now: how to transition from a wildly over-consumptive lifestyle to one that is easier on resources and on oneself?

Withdrawal is one way, one that has deep historic roots in the American land and psyche. Withdrawal is at the foundation of some of the English colonization efforts; the Puritans, after all, were a "withdrawal" sect, as were many others who came to America for religious freedom (for themselves, not for anyone else, of course).

Historically, there have been any number of withdrawal sects since the Puritans; many aspects of the Westward Expansion of the 19th Century could be characterized as forms of withdrawal -- especially the Mormon trek to Utah and elsewhere in the West.

There was a very active back to the land movement during the Great Depression despite the Dust Bowl and all the other hazards inherent in trying to pioneer on marginal lands.

Of course, the rebellions of the 1960's gave rise to a plethora of urban and rural communes, ashrams and other forms of intentional communities, a surprising number of which are still around, all premised on living simply and withdrawal from the materialist and consumerist culture.

The original Franciscan movement was predicated on voluntary poverty and withdrawal from the violent and materialist society of its own time; many of its critics pointed out how easy it was for rich men's sons (and soon enough, daughters too, with the establishment of the Poor Clares) to "leave it all behind," but it wasn't so easy for someone who never had anything to begin with to do so. Someone who has endured poverty for a long time will not necessarily be so kindly disposed to the adoption of poverty by someone who has lived in luxury all their lives.

The issue of hypocrisy doesn't go away simply because one who is privileged declares one's sincerity in living "poor". One way the privileged can demonstrate sincerity is to withdraw from materialist society. The Buddha as an example...

One of the ironies of "living simply" -- that is to say, consuming fewer resources -- is that it can be very expensive. Various forms of energy conservation, for example, can cost individuals and households extraordinary amounts of money. If they don't have the upfront cash or credit, what are they to do? Even with various subsidies, reducing resource consumption can still be an extremely expensive path to take and often is only realistically available to the well-off and rich.

Part of the path of Withdrawal is to find ways to get away from the necessity for relative wealth in order to live simply and well. The pioneers and refugees in Pie Town cut their own trees, built their own log cabins and dug-outs, grew their own food, and insofar as they could, they lived as simply as possible -- without all the modern conveniences such as electricity and running water, for example. Basically, they substituted their own labor for the consumer goods and services that most people relied on. It was not an easy life by any means, nor was it one that very many of the Pie Town pioneers could endure for very long. Not so much because it was so tough at the outset - though it was that. Inability to endure this primitive life for very long had perhaps more to do with the fact that there was little or no hope for improvement; the situation did not get better. In many cases, the situation got worse. Pioneering ideals don't last very long when, for example, the weather doesn't cooperate, crops fail and you're going hungry because you can't grow anything to eat, or when you or your children are sick and there's no medicine or doctoring and you don't know what to do.

Thus many communities that withdraw from materialist society don't try to start anew from scratch, they utilize the surpluses and overabundance of the materialist society around them to create an alternative, an alternative which may or may not be a stop-gap on the road to something else again.

What happens when the surplus runs out?

That's a point that Americans have yet to get to. As a rule, though, people are highly adaptable to whatever conditions they find themselves in. If at some point in the future, the surplus of materialism is all used up, then people will adapt to their new conditions, whatever they may be.

The key is for there to be some kind of transition.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Impressions of Assisi

I'm posting this article by Clarence Stratton of St. Louis, published in Art and Archaeology in April, 1917, made available by Google Books (one of my favorite destinations on the Web, in case you hadn't guessed.)

Stratton wrote a book published in 1921 called "Producing in Little Theaters" that was one of my sources for information on how to do theater back in the day. Of course, much more modern material was available and I used it, but one of the theaters where I applied my efforts was a "civic theater," a little theater, inspired by Eva Le Gallienne and others. Luckily there was a lot of archived material going back to the 1920's and '30's that gave me a much better picture of how this theater came to be and what kinds of artistic and production theories were at its root.

The Assisi piece that Stratton wrote for Art and Archaeology is really a treat, obviously highly dramatic, but true nonetheless, true in the dramatic sense. To me, dramatic truth is the strongest sort of truth we can experience.

The images of the pages may be too small to read. If so, just click and they will embiggen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Full Employment and Enforced Savings = No Economic Depression Without War

Great illustration from the 1930's and a pretty good article to go with it.

The insight that it was possible to have full employment and enforce savings without war seems to have occurred to some policy makers as part of the post war planning that went on in the higher reaches of government in the 1940's during World War II and even into the early 1950's as the Korean Conflict raged, but the lesson never really took.

Part of the problem was that Republicans in Congress and their owners and sponsors would not have it. Full employment at decent wages was a threat to the capitalist class, always had been, and so had always been avoided until the necessity of employing everyone who could work became unavoidable in 1941. The fact that so many had to be employed, and that all of the civilians had to be paid decently under decent working conditions (for the standards of the era; it was gross exploitation by modern standards) was only ensured by law.

A large segment of working class men was absorbed by the military during World War II, and there would continue to be a significant fraction of young working class men absorbed into the military so long as there was a draft. During the War, the draft service was required for the duration of hostilities plus (I believe it was) six months; afterwards, the draft took young men for two years. The principle was supposed to be Universal Service, as in WWII, but in practice, even during the War, most men remained civilians.

Full employment or nearly full employment after the war was maintained largely through government contracting with private industry. Government did not employ the workforce directly to maintain full employment, it contracted with civilian employers for goods and services; private employers hired most of the workers at any given time. This practice was based on historical precedents. The Governments of the United States and the various divisions thereof historically contracted out much of their necessary activities, and typically contracted all their infrastructure and other capital programs. The government contracting practice was notoriously riddled with corruption and beset with scandal. The regulations and standards put in place prior to, during, and after WWII cut back on much of the corruption, while policies adopted in Washington and state capitols vastly expanded the Government's ability to contract for goods and services and to expand its own workforces to accomplish non-military ends and objectives.

The system worked relatively well until the mid-to-later 1970's when it started breaking down, and by the 1980's it was being overhauled and/or eliminated on a massive scale and that process has led directly to where we are now.

We can look back and comprehend what happened: the rebellions of the 1960's, the defeat in Vietnam, the oil-price shocks of the 1970's as consequence of Israeli military advances, and the advent of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" in 1980 which posited that government was the problem not the solution.

While these events provided the basis for dismantling previously very successful full employment policies, those policies themselves had been deeply resented by the capitalist and rentier class from the outset.

Any policies which benefited the working classes were resented and fought bitterly.

Of course over time any policy can be rendered obsolete. What happened to the full-employment policy, however, was something else again.

The problem was that the People rebelled -- or enough of them did -- to undermine the policy and eventually to literally reverse it. Now the policy is to maintain historically high unemployment rates indefinitely. This not only has the salutatory effect of forcing down working class wages and benefits, it causes many people to leave the workforce altogether. What they do to survive is something of a mystery, but a fraction turn to various forms of criminal activity, which when prosecuted and convictions secured can turn into a profit center for the civilian sector through privatized prisons.

The public elementary, secondary and higher educational system that was once the envy of the world has become a rickety, over administered, under-funded mess that is being successfully challenged by a largely publicly funded charter school and private "college" system that has the additional salutary effect of placing students in perpetual debt should they seek a degree.

In fact, debt-peonage has become a feature of the modern financial system, something that was once abhorrent to Americans. But since it is nearly impossible for one income earner to provide for a family any more, and even two incomes in a household are inadequate for a modest lifestyle in many cities, ever increasing household debt has become commonplace.

Full employment at decent wages would help ensure that debt would be a trifle rather than a major burden for Americans, and a fully funded, lightly administered public education system would help ensure that its graduates are not burdened by perpetual debt as well.

There's an absurd myth that "government doesn't create jobs" only private industry does. It's not even a pious fraud, it's an outright lie. Government is a primary job creator, even under the reactionary regimes we are faced with today.

The only question is, cui bono? And if that's you and me directly and not the High and the Mighty, then our government is set up to ensure that we don't have it.

My early suggestions when the first signs of the Endless Recession emerged were to 1) provide substantial household debt relief, to the tune of $80,000 to $100,000 per household; this would have had the same effect on the banks' bottom lines as the trillions that were given to them directly, but it would also have boosted the financial position of the average household, and for some reason still not clear, "we can't have that." 2) engage in a real jobs program, providing employment to everyone who could work and needed a job, at fair wages and benefits, doing necessary work on behalf of the People; 3) end the grossly overfunded and unnecessary imperial wars of aggression.

I'm convinced this program would have had a net positive effect, essentially ending the Recession within a few months, whereas the policies that have been adopted have perpetuated the Recession for the vast majority of Americans while providing ever larger financial rewards for those at the very top. At the same time, the risks to the economy as whole grow exponentially because it is more and more dependent on perpetual war and the accumulated wealth of the Highest of the Mighty.

We the People don't seem to have any influence on the policies of Government, no matter how skilled we may be in Changing The Conversation. Austerity is still the policy, and austerity is producing the results we see everywhere. The policy is wrong and deadly, but pointing it out will not change it.

The only thing we can do that may eventually change the economic situation for the vast majority of Americans for the better is to withdraw.

And that will be the next episode in this series...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How We Got Out of the Depression and Why US Poverty Rates Are At Historic Highs And Are Likely To Stay There

World War II.

No, our friend Franklin Delano Roosevelt was no great Keynesian when it came down to brass tacks as they say. He was more of a Hooverite. And during the 1932 campaign, Roosevelt ran to Hoover's right on economic matters. "Balanced budgets" were just as much of a fetish then as they are now. This was typical Democratic dogma at the time, and it never really changed, despite the fact that the Rooseveltian approach to Hooverite economic ideology was more flexible, shall we say, than Hoover's was, and to put a finer twist on it, Roosevelt was somewhat more interested in calming and managing the masses (using the hope of reward "one day" -- ie: Futurism) than was Hoover, whose sole economic interest was taking care of the upper-uppers.

World War II changed everything in ways that could neither be anticipated nor initially controlled.

The first noticeable big change was that it put everybody to work -- either in the military or in civilian employment supporting the military. Hiring began in 1940, before the United States entered the conflict, and the pace of hiring and drafting Americans increased through the end of 1945.

The second big change was that though pretty much every American who could work and wanted to was put to work during WWII and was paid for their work at a reasonable though hardly lavish standard, there was little for them to buy with their earnings, and necessities were rigidly price controlled.

In other words, though everyone was working, employment didn't at the time translate into a civilian consumer economy because there were so few consumer products available. Most of what was being spent was being spent by the government in pursuit of victory in war, thus most production was being promptly destroyed and replaced in warfare. For civilians and military alike, this was a situation that enforced savings. Troops and civilian workers were encouraged to buy War Bonds and hold them for the duration which they did. This meant that at the end of the war, many Americans had much more money in their pockets than they ever imagined and could not have possibly earned during the Depression.

A consumer economy was born out of these savings, particularly a post-war housing boom and an automobile boom, both of which essentially continued with only mild and occasional set backs until recently.

The War provided the twin factors of full employment and enforced savings that pulled the United States out of Depression. The unfortunate lesson learned from this experience by Our High and Our Mighty was that the way to prevent Depression in the future was to engage in perpetual war -- even if it was only Cold War.

The point of engaging in universal service and perpetual warfare, however, started getting lost during the 1970's in the aftermath of the Vietnam debacle.

Soon enough, the entire premise of the Cold War era would evaporate along with Our Bounden Enemy, the Soviet Empire. There are many reasons the Soviet Union collapsed; Ronald Reagan's "Brilliant Strategy" was probably the least important of a multiplicity of internal factors that were essentially built in to the Soviet system. In the Soviet collapse, Americans unknowingly got a preview of the coming collapse/transformation of their own rotting economic and political system.

The principal error after WWII was the rather dumb assumption that "war prevents economic depression." That's what experience showed to The Powers That Be, and so perpetual war was established as policy after WWII, carried out on the open battle field in Korea and Vietnam among other places. But the Cold War with the Soviets -- and to a much lesser degree with the Chinese and the Cubans -- was the endeavor that was meant to keep the wolves from the door.

One wonders what would have happened if the lesson learned had focused entirely on the civilian aspects of full employment and enforced savings instead of being diverted into perpetual warfare?

For we are now living with the consequences of that diversion, the apparent "victory" over the Soviets notwithstanding.

Having "won" the Cold War, the US had to have another Existential Enemy to fight in perpetuity, or there apparently would be no point in going on... Depression would return...

The Existential Enemy was found, of course, in the nefarious terrorist threat that stalks the land, but even with throwing in a few Imperial Wars of Aggression, Fighting the Terrorists doesn't provide nearly the economic boost that WWII and the Cold War did. These current wars are more of an economic drag instead.

They are a drag on the economy because they don't lead to full employment and they don't enforce savings.

It appears that Our Leaders have never learned that full employment and enforced savings are what pulls us out of economic depressions, and they are the major factors in preventing them, not warfar for its own sake.

Instead, they are practicing just the opposite -- conducting overseas wars and expanding the US National Security State with the least employment levels possible while preserving a consumer economy through ever higher levels of household debt -- or its contrast, forcing ever more millions of Americans into bankruptcy and poverty.

Not only is the United States back in Depression, we are in an economic Depression that there may be no rational/peaceful way out of if it goes on much longer.

This is a Depression that is enriching a handful of hyper-billionaires in ways most of us never dream possible primarily through gambling and financial hocus pocus in a rigged house, a casino that's rigged against the People. Even when they lose the bet, the hyper-rich get paid off by the rest of us.

It's the most amazing thing.

The more impoverished the rest of us become, the richer the handful at the top grow.

Unemployment rates remain at historic levels; poverty rates are growing to post-WWII highs. This is not due to some accident of the market, it's due to policy. As of late last year, half of Americans were classified as very poor or near poor, and more were being pushed into their ranks day by day as unemployment and the reduction of wages and benefits, with no concomitant reduction in cost of living, take their toll.

Meanwhile, public services and the public infrastructure deteriorate at an alarming rate.

Not only are the People falling into poverty, so is the public sector in general. The fall out from this Endless Recession and the contraction forced onto local and state governments will have a lasting effect, even if, eventually, someone who can do something about it gets the bright idea that it doesn't have to be this way, and the course can be reversed in a twinkling.

The longer we wait for that reversal, however, the harder it will be, and the more dangerous it might become for children and other living things.

There is the potential to make lemonade out of these lemons, however.

By adopting principles of voluntary poverty, for example, and by decoupling from the consumer economy that is still sputtering along, Americans have the opportunity to explore and reclaim the Better Future on their own terms rather than on terms set by Masters of the Universe and by a system of exploitation and destruction.

[To Be Continued...]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Sir! No Sir!"

Ready for Memorial Day?

When I visit the local Vietnam War Memorial I have a hard time controlling my emotions. I knew some of the people whose names appear on the memorial, but not a lot of them compared to the thousands and thousands listed. The abject horror of it all and the sorrow so many of us feel for those who suffered and died is enough to get me shaking with rage and grief.

Why? Why did it happen? We asked then, "Are governments really that dumb?"

The answer is yes, yes they are. Governments are perfectly capable of a kind of mechanistic thinking and behavior that's suited to military endeavors. Whether they are botched or not is beside the point. The point is the thinking process and the behavior it produced and produces.

This is why changing the players in the goon show doesn't significantly affect the show nor in many cases does it change the outcome. Once the commitment was made to "Vietnam" in 1950 -- ie: then still part of French Indochina -- to keep it free of Communist taint, the die was cast and the meatgrinder went into action, slowly at first, then with increasing speed and determination. Once put in motion, there was no stopping it, unless...

Unless the meat refuses to be ground.

That's what this film is about. When the troops -- most of them drafted -- refused to obey or in some cases actively resisted and or even from time to time liquidated their officers, the Vietnam War had to come to an end. There was -- and is -- no way to keep a war going if the troops won't follow command, or do so only in such a way as to make any semblance of 'victory' impossible.

It takes courage, a level of courage that is almost impossible to fathom these days, to go against the tide, to say "No," and to risk everything in the face of an implacable machine like the US military.

But enough men and women in uniform did so in the '60's to slow the war machine in Vietnam and ultimately bring it to a halt in the '70's.

Only to have it re-emerge in clandestine garb in Central America in the '80's, among proxy and private mercenaries, where guerrilla warfare raged for years, wiping out hundreds of thousands of mostly indigenous villagers who wanted nothing more than to be left alone with at least some shred of dignity and a modicum of justice. For wanting these things, they were tortured and murdered and their torturers and murderers were celebrated in the White House as "Freedom Fighters."

Yet even then, there were the courageous ones who say "No!"

And in our nation's current global war against the phantoms of yesterday, there are still troops -- not enough of them in my view -- who say... "NO!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Won't You Please Come to Chicago?

Nothing like this, nothing remotely like this, happened in Chicago over the weekend.

Over the weekend we saw some actions in Chicago that had the feeling of reality and yet lacked a certain something.

Even the police overreaction to the crowds of protesters, the few times it happened, had an unreal gloss to it.

What was going on?

The Pre-Crime arrests and the efforts to squelch independent coverage of what was going on were really quite transparent to anyone who has been following this sort of thing for any length of time. Of course -- we know -- the State sets up various participants in real or imagined resistance campaigns as fall guys and patsies through the strategic use of informants, infiltrators and provocateurs. In the case of the pre-crime arrests in Chicago, it appears that the set up may have included planting "evidence" and other tactics utilized when the targets wouldn't go along with the plan.

The strategic stops, detentions and raids of live streamers was an interesting tactic that seemed obviously meant to intimidate and disable the most prominent streamers -- Luke, Tim and Nate in particular -- and to send one of those messages that are always being sent by the Authorities -- to all the rest of them: mind your Ps and your Qs. To the public, of course, goes the message that anyone can be rounded up at any time for any reason or none at all.

For what it's worth, I think the Pre-Crime arrests and the strategic detentions and raids worked rather well and accomplished their objectives.

The intensity of the pre-NATO propaganda campaign asserting the violent nature of the protests to come and encouraging Chicagoans to leave town for the duration was pretty spectacular in its own right.

But the strangest thing to someone who was around in 1968 was the curiously reserved -- yet always in view -- behavior of the Chicago Police. Visions of "1968" were circulating widely in the lead-up to the NATO events, but the upshot was apparently very carefully managed to show to the Whole World Watching that nothing like "1968" was going to happen or did happen. Surprise, surprise. A few noggins were banged by batons to be sure, and there was a limited amount of blood in the streets after a few confrontations between police and demonstrators, but for the most part, there were no clashes evoking "1968".

The Red Zone was rarely breached, and when it was it was almost by accident, quickly corrected by phalanxes of police. The World Leaders were able to do their business unmolested by the crowds in the streets, and undisturbed by the unpleasantry of tear gas wafting into the halls and auditoria of Power.

The demonstrators, who numbered in the tens of thousands at their peak, did their thing pretty much unmolested as well, though it must be noted that they were, how to put it, "guided" by police phalanxes emplaced so as to control the crowds' movements and confine their presence to designated sectors while not significantly interfering with either their spontaneity or their ability to take to the streets. This was a highly sophisticated operation by the police, and it is little wonder the Chief was nearly moved to tears in expressing his admiration for the generally well-executed plan the department had prepared in advance of the NATO summit. Not only was this unlike the by now notoriously brutal behavior of the NYPD and the Oakland Police toward their demonstrators, it was no doubt intended as something of a model for handling the protests expected at the party nominating conventions in Tampa and Charlotte later this year.

The constant repetition of the scenes of police overreaction and brutality toward demonstrators that we've seen almost since the advent of the Occupy Movement has had a cumulative effect on the consciousness of and conscience of America -- to the extent that still exists -- and the constant initiation of violence by the police (regardless of what the "nonviolence" community believes about who started it) has ultimately been counter productive to the interests of the Powers That Be, in part because witnessing leads to radicalization. The more people see for themselves what's going on, the more people are radicalized.

The expectations in Chicago were in some respects for a bloodbath because of visions of "1968" and because of what's been done in so many cases of Occupy protest and demonstration up to now. The crack-downs have too often been harsh and violent. Thousands have been arrested, hundreds injured, dozens of camps destroyed.

It wasn't that way in Chicago where there were a handful of arrests and injuries, and no camps erected to be destroyed.

There was instead something more insidious.

So long as the battle lines in the streets were drawn clearly and actions and their consequences were visible, as was the case from the outset of Occupy until fairly recently, a process of protest and demonstration and police overreaction was in place. It had almost become an institutionalized ritual.

Now with the Pre-Crime arrests becoming standard (following identical patterns to those used against Muslim communities for years, which in turn grew out of standards and practices adopted as far back as the Drug Wars and even earlier with COINTELPRO) , with the overt intimidation of independent media and the strategic decision to "let protest demonstrations happen" as they will, expectations are no longer valid.

The point of the violent crack downs against Occupy, the mass arrests and the brutality was to discourage "good people" from participating, and to an extent it worked, helped along by members of the "nonviolence" community who were obsessed with the dress and demeanor of some activists and made a cottage industry of demonizing and scapegoating bandana wearing and Black Bloc Anarchists. Whether they were conscious collaborators with the State's efforts to discourage and diminish popular participation in Occupy actions and events, I don't know, but they were and are complicit in that effort, much as most of the major churches have been complicit in the establishment of a permanent State of War and the security apparatus that now rules us.

Those violent efforts of the police and the complicity of certain social institutions and communities did their job. Many people are now too frightened of "what might happen" to participate in Occupy events -- because of how the police react, not so much because of what a Black Bloc might or might not do. The camps are mostly destroyed, so there is very little round the clock public awareness of the Occupy Movement and issues (though it does exist), and internal struggles over power, money and purpose have left a lot of disharmony in their wake.

On the other hand, with so many Americans radicalized by conditions and events, protest is unlikely to go away any time soon. The task for Authority, then, is to manage the protests as well and as apparently gently as possible. And that's what we saw in Chicago for the most part. It definitely has a cruel side, aspects of which are only hinted at. It can be brutal, but rarely rather than ordinarily. It can be intimidating and frightening.

But it was nothing like "1968" -- and so, from a psychological standpoint, what happened in Chicago with regard to the NATO protests was "better" than what's happened so many times in so many cities where World Leaders have foregathered for whatever it is they do when meeting face to face to plot the further oppression and exploitation of the masses.

It was even "better" than what has happened dozens of times when Occupy actions have been violently suppressed.

Oh, and then there was the G8 Thing in Maryland. Anybody go to that? Were there protests? Demonstrations? Anything? And does anybody believe anything in the G8 Communique? Hello?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Time, Place, and Manner

One of the concepts being proffered regarding protesting is the legal notion of "time, place, and manner" restrictions on rallies, marches and demonstrations -- ie: petitioning for redress of grievance -- that, according to the courts do not violate the First Amendment protections of free speech. The legal theory is, apparently, that so long as time, place and manner restrictions do not discriminate on the basis of the political content of the marches, rallies and demonstrations, they are perfectly permissible.

This means, of course, that the First Amendment's protections of free speech and assembly and petitioning for redress of grievance are essentially moot. Yes, the People may have the right, according to the Constitution, but the People do not have the liberty to exercise that right -- except to the extent the Authorities wish to permit it.

Thus, in part to challenge this reading of the First Amendment, many of the protests and demonstrations over the past several months have been deliberately "unpermitted." The organizers (well, that's a stretch) do not seek the permission of civic authorities to march and carry signs because they maintain that the Constitution itself is all the "permission" that's necessary.

This practice has put civic authorities and the police on the spot; yes, they have the "legal" authority to restrict the time, place and manner of demonstrations and to require permits for rallies and marches (and to restrict the kinds and sizes of signs and the amount of noise, the routes of travel and so on) but having the authority and exercising it are two different things. As they have exercised their authority with increasingly harsh and brutal measures against demonstrators, more and more Americans become radicalized. As more and more Americans become radicalized, they cease obedience to every jot and tittle of the "law" and the authority of the Authorities is progressively diminished.

When the events surrounding Move In Day in Oakland, CA (January 28, 2012) are considered in retrospect, we can see how the process works -- or could work. Oakland's movement(s) did not take advantage of their success in delegitimizing the authority of the police and civic officials that day in part because they didn't recognize it. As far as I can tell, they still don't.

What happened throughout the day starting with the march to the Kaiser Center, but especially with regard to the Battle of Oak Street and into the night with mass arrests at the YMCA, was in totality a highly radicalizing event. I'm sure it was terrifying to be in the midst of it -- I know some of the people who were there, and they still shudder. It wasn't pleasant. Many of those who participated were shocked at what happened and some sought to blame the victims (ie: the organizers and activists). Many others were astonished and appalled, not at the behavior of the demonstrators but at the actions of the authorities and police and the extraordinary levels of violence they were prepared to undertake in order to protect vacant buildings and to maintain their vacancy at all costs. That alone was delegitimizing authority.

But instead of recognizing how thoroughly Authority had delegitimized itself during the day's events, many of those who considered the events soon afterwards saw the results through a backwards lens, asserting that the events had instead delegitimized the movement through lack of organization and clarity, lack of transparency, ineffective actions, and the precipitation of violence among other faults and failings. Consequently, instead of building on success, the movement in Oakland has been facing disintegration.

Now comes Chicago.

The Pre-Crime arrests have begun, the drones are (maybe) deployed, and soon we can expect the full panoply of the National Security State to be displayed. Oddly, or perhaps not, some of the livestreaming I was expecting is simply not functioning. Hm. Who would have thought? Other livestreamers are apparently too tired and hungry to go on. There is a strange silence out of Chicago. Very strange indeed. I can find only one active live stream from Chicago, and it is from the NBC affiliate, naturally focusing on the Power Players and arrests, typically only vaguely aware of People in the Streets.

Ah, but so it goes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shifting Economics: The Austerity Drag and Modeling a Better Future

[Occupy? Whatever happened to Occupy? What I was afraid of, basically, is what happened. Repression has had the effect of factionalizing the Movement -- inevitable in any case -- which caused multiple schisms. There is much common ground on the issues; the fundamental problem is how to undertake the necessary actions. There is no "process" agreement, and as long as there isn't one, the Revolution is stalled. This leaves lots and lots of room for the demons of Austerity to frolic unmolested.]

Supposedly, because of the leftist-commie-pinko-socialist-mau-mau-kenyan in the White House, the United States has been the victim of an enormous lack of Austerity, unlike the happy-contented Europeans who have been wallowing in it for the past many years thanks to the brilliant economic mind of Frau Merkel.

Well. The absence of Austerity in the United States is something of a myth, one that is kept alive almost as much by the one political party as the other. Government Austerity is being imposed, in some cases quite radically, at the state level where all the many experiments in New Model Economics have been underway for some time.

As I've been pointing out since the beginning of the Endless Recession, certain aspects of the New Model Economics of Austerity being imposed on the United States, Europe, and much of the rest of the world by what amounts to a handful of institutions and individuals intent on world domination and endless exploitation of the masses are clearly matters of policy: keeping unemployment high, driving down wages and benefits, disinvestment in large segments of numerous countries including the United States; accumulation of vast wealth in fewer and fewer hands, forced impoverishment of millions upon millions of Americans, Europeans and other people around the world, rampant commodities speculation and resource exploitation at a more massive scale than ever, financial manipulation, looting of national treasuries, restriction of (some) civil and political rights, driving people out of their own homes and into rental properties, cutting welfare and social benefits including education, making access to what remains increasingly difficult, restricting access to and raising the cost of medical care, on and on and on.

These and more are the obvious policies of more and more supposedly "democratic" governments which have taken the almost universal position of governing contrary to the will and the interest of the People.

This is Doctrine, applied almost everywhere, and the Kenyan Socialist isn't standing in the way, he's lubricating the skids. He's doing a remarkable job of it, too. He was auditioned and hired to manage the masses, and some tumult from time to time, he's done a bang-up job of it.


Documentation of the atrocities continues without let up, but without much point either. One cannot still be "laying the foundation" for a Progressive (or any viable) Future, not by a long shot. One needs to be actually doing it by now, or undertaking a viable alternative, not pretending that one more Democrat (or one more Republican for that matter) is going to be the transcendent change-agent who will bring on Paradise. That's not what our political class is there for. At least they're not there for your Paradise. Or mine. Or anyone who hasn't bought and paid for them.

No, we cannot re-create the conditions that led to the Progressive Revolution of the 20th Century, and I doubt we'd really want to. I don't think we really want another Revolution along those lines.

We need something different, something better, and something that contrasts sharply with the policies that are being imposed from the top which are impoverishing and restricting and repressing millions upon millions of Americans and others around the world.

That's what Occupy set out to be, but it has so far been unable to maintain a unified front in the face of increasingly harsh repression. The key to Occupy was the demonstration of alternatives to the Way Things Are. Occupy was for a time a very public model of What Could Be.

This aspect appealed to me probably more than any other, but I remember a conversation I had with a fellow named Dominic at one Occupy event I was part of last fall. We were discussing intentional communities, and how I saw the Occupy Movement as one that was establishing spontaneous temporary intentional communities all over the country and the world as demonstrations of another world of possibility. He agreed, but he had many reservations about it. He said that he had been involved in the establishment of a number of intentional communities over the last ten or fifteen years, and he said it is a very difficult and delicate process, and that most efforts fail.

The spontaneity of the Occupy effort was itself a problem for endurance, and even then, at a very early stage, it was clear that burn-out was going to be a big factor. He thought the temporary nature of the community -- no matter how long or short a time it lasted -- was actually a benefit, because if the Occupations were not intended to be permanent, they would not become institutionalized, and their efforts, while fleeting, could well have a greater long-run influence than if they became "established" and all the difficulties and flaws of community building were to become the focus, or the Occupations became fundraising or political institutions like practically every other non-profit or NGO.

The notion of separation from and limiting engagement with the broader society -- including the police who even then were so intent on repression; the local Occupy was confronted with nightly raids and arrests by riot-clad police from the first day -- was appealing to Dominic, as it was to me.

But if you separate, how can you demonstrate?

"That's the problem, isn't it?"

The point of the demonstration, after all, is to present to the public a vision and a model of what could be and should be. If you've separated from the broader society, such as the hippie communes did in the Olden Days, how do you demonstrate and model the alternatives for a better future? You can't assume that everybody will show up at your door. You have to go to them...

At this point in the Austerity Drag, however, any alternative at all becomes a potential model, I think, and some of what we were fretting about -- productively -- back in October may well have been mooted by events.

One of the clear points back then and now, for example, is that there are hundreds and hundreds of "models" out there, churning away at the mill of change, each one an element of what could be a transformative whole.

I've wanted to write something about "transition towns" for example, as one of many models of one element of shifting perspectives. Transition towns and permaculture are of course Utopian visions, but that's how you make real change happen. Without the vision you get nowhere. I'm well aware of that in my personal life, and I know something of how the "vision thing" works in the larger social context as well. It's fundamental. Or at least it should be. Yet ignoring or keeping visions and Utopias under wraps while focusing on matters that are really not going to change anything have come to dominate consciousness.

The nearly universal quest for Austerity (for everyone else) from the top -- even when it's masked as kenyan-mau-mau-socialism -- is an opportunity, it seems to me, to probe ever deeper into the question of modeling and demonstrating a better future, Utopianism, and shifting perspectives.

I like the model of St. Francis because he was able to establish a clear contrast between the opulence and violence of the social and political leaders of his time with the simplicity, harmony and joy to be found in the voluntary poverty he and his disciples instituted and practiced. In other words, voluntary "austerity" is one thing; the violent imposition of Austerity being practiced by governments and the particular private interests that own and control them is quite another.

Of course, as some wag at St. Peter's said (at least in the Zeffirelli movie) about Fracesco and the Pope, "The Holy Father knows what he's doing; this filthy, ragged beggar will bring the Poor back to the Church." Mwah ha ha ha ha.

Power can imagine nothing except that which serves it or is destroyed by it.

But there is something else, isn't there?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Change of Pace: Ms Katehi Sez

Herself, Linda Katehi, Chancellor of the University of California at Davis, under guard during the Student Assembly at UCD November 21, 2011.

I've been on a tangent lately, dealing with Other Things That Must Be Done. My blogging has been intermittent and I have not touched much on the various reports and issues surrounding the incidents of police brutality and administrative incompetence last fall, especially throughout the University of California system, particularly at UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

Teri49 in comments jogged me into thinking about these matters somewhat more than I have for a while, in part because of an incident in Santa Fe that wound up in Federal Court over the improper touching of Capital High School students by private security guards, and in part due to the fact that I'm surprised that the reports which have so far been released have been so highly critical of the University's administrators, essentially accusing them (accurately, I'd say) of pernicious ignorance of their student bodies and disinterest in their campus communities.


I really did not expect this.

And yesterday, Herself made an appearance at the California State Capitol wherein she averred she had personally erred last November in ways that led directly to the Pepper Spray Incident on the UC Davis quad.

Well. Who. Would. Have. Thunk?

Not I, that's for sure.

Look, the whole point of becoming an educational administrator is to avoid accepting responsibility for anything. Everybody knows that. The purpose of educational administration is to put the blame for everything on someone else, and preferably charge them for the privilege of being blamed.

In today's educational environment, it's about The Money, and that's just about all.

But there was Katehi over at the Capitol yesterday mea-ing and culpa-ing up a storm and a half.

What happened at Berkeley and Davis last fall (and other campuses, too) may have shocked the consciences of some members of civilized society, but it was no surprise to anyone who's been aware of or been around militant student protests for the last 30 years or so. It has been standard operating procedure for years for California university police to tase and beat the shit out of students who don't obey their commands promptly and with sufficient subservience. It has happened often enough -- and internationally notoriously, with numerous viral videos in the last few years -- for some people to recognize that this behavior on the part of campus police toward disobedient students is no anomaly, it is policy.

This is all tied in to the notion that obedience is the primary objective of public education, and has been for many a long year now, what with students at all levels of public (and some private) education being subjected to the arbitrary imposition of authority, often brutally, as a matter of course. As if they had no rights that anyone in a position of authority was bound to respect at all.

Public schools and colleges operate like -- and often resemble -- prisons, a factor that led to a spate of school shootings back in the '90's. Campuses are routinely put on "lockdown" -- just like prisons -- and students are routinely subjected to invasive and typically arbitrary search and seizure by campus police and administrators. This has been going on for decades.

"Disturbances" are routinely broken up with tasers, tear gas, batons and sometimes other weapons. Armed guards patrol not only the campuses but the nearby communities as well. There's a law school a few blocks from my house, for example, and the campus police routinely patrol and make arrests in the surrounding community. There is a school district police force -- actually in the school district that succeeded the one where I attended high school -- that is accused of using its powers of arrest to tail and arrest drivers in the area for various minor infractions as a money-making scheme for the district and the department. The level of administrative corruption in education has reached astronomical proportions. Michelle Rhee, for example?

This is the historic and backstory context of the Incidents at Berkeley and Davis last fall, something that so far as I am aware, none of the reports issued so far touch on, nor does the media seem able to pick up on the long-term pattern of brutal enforcement of Obedience in the American educational system.

But I have read the reports, and I am struck by how uniform they are in placing responsibility for what happened last fall on the administrations of the campuses involved, and the overall system administration, and for pointing out that these things have happened over and over again, reports have been issued over and over again, and for some reason, nothing changes...

Administrators are divorced from the student bodies and often from the faculty and staff as well; campus police forces are often left to do their own thing without guidance, or in the case of Davis, have been known to defy instructions (and did so on November 18); students and often the faculties and staffs of the university campuses have little or no trust in either the campus police or administrators.

This has been going on for decades.

This article from The Nation in March puts another angle on what is going on, the "Homeland Security Campus" angle, and I have to agree that the author has a point. There's a whole campus security back channel where the latest developments in repression are being discussed and means and methods tested. When Katehi and others of her ilk speak of the "health and safety" of the students, for example, and then in the next breath order the violent dispersal of a protest -- which has happened over and over again -- which often leads to broken bones and other serious health and safety consequences for the students, she's not speaking about the students' "health and safety" at all. She's concerned about her own health and safety -- ie: preserving her job and her $400,000 salary -- and about the financial health and the paramilitary "safety" squads who do the dirty work of stamping out unpermitted campus protest and enforcing Obedience.

I can recognize all this and more is going on, but I confess I don't know what to do about it apart from continuing and stepping up protests including occupations of campuses, and contrary-wise, refusing to utilize a University system that routinely brutalizes students and faculty.

One thing that's clear from the reports is that the administration of the University is very concerned with the reputation the system has gained for brutal and unnecessary police actions. The University has been heavily recruiting out of state and international students -- who pay even higher tuition and fees than in-state students do. They won't come if the campuses have a reputation for internal violence precipitated by the campus police.

So the adminstrators vow to clean it up by next year some time (ie: when the next cohort of high-value students is due to arrive.)

Meanwhile, the mess that public education has become in this country continues...

The following video is from last December in Sacramento:

And if you haven't already, read this article by Mark Ames to get a better picture of just who Ms Katehi is... layers and layers, wheels within wheels...

Monday, May 14, 2012

In Which I Blame It On Carlos Vierra (Santa Fe Style)

Carlos Vierra, Painter
He was a small and dapper man, at least so far as I can tell from the one photograph I have seen of him ostensibly painting away on a mural intended for the St. Francis Auditorium in the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe.

Carlos Vierra has been called Santa Fe's "first resident artist," which is something of a stretch given the fact that Native and Spanish artists as well as the occasional Anglo were resident in Santa Fe for centuries before "California" Carlos Vierra purchased himself a photography studio on the Plaza for $280.00 in 1905 and commenced to paint. Let's put it this way: He was, perhaps, the first commercial artist to take up residence in Santa Fe.

I doubt anyone actually called him "California" Carlos, but he was from California, born in Moss Landing in 1876, reared in Monterey, schooled in art in San Francisco, there could hardly be a more quintessentially "California" artist at the time, even though he went out to New Mexico from New York -- where he had gone to make his fortune as a young illustrator on the rise, contracted tuberculosis and was told to take the cure in a drier climate.

New Mexico was the preferred destination for tuberculars, and Carlos wound up in a rustic cabin on the Pecos where he did not get better, and ultimately he had to retreat up to Santa Fe where he was cared for and cured by the Sisters of Charity in a relative twinkling.

Carlos Vierra's parents were what was called in his day "Portagee" -- his father a Portuguese sailor, his mother a Portuguese beauty -- which was not at all uncommon in California, but it wasn't so typical of New Mexico where the old Spanish families still held sway. Thus he no doubt was considered somewhat of an exotic.

In California in the latter half of the 19th Century, what was left of Spanish and Indian heritage was being torn up root and branch or driven into or left to ruin. By the 1880's, Los Angeles, previously a dusty Mexican adobe town of a few hundred or a thousand souls, like many in the Southwest, had blossomed into an Anglo resort city, filled with Business, railroading, suburban orchards and people from Iowa and Indiana. San Francisco had long since lost its Spanish character, nearly every trace of which was swept away in the Gold Rush of 1849 and thereafter, during which, infamously, "the world rushed in."

However, Monterey, California's Spanish and Mexican capital, uniquely had preserved quite a bit of its antiquity -- the old Presidio was still there, the old Capitol, and some of the old families still lived in their adobe houses so there was still an air of Spanish grandee gentility. The Anglo gloss on the town was slight and to an extent beneficial, as most of it came via the military installations. In some sense it's not all that much different today, for a visit to Monterey is still in many ways a visit to another time and another world. (Actually, I shouldn't say that. I haven't been there for 20 years or so, and things may well have changed. The last time I was there I recall walking along the waterfront from the Aquarium, shadowed by a very playful and extraordinarily cute otter.)

When Carlos was coming up as an artist, first in Monterey and then in San Francisco, there were a number of artistic and cultural movements afoot, one of which was preservation -- especially of the historic California Missions, most of which had fallen to ruin after secularization in the 1830's. California's Spanish heritage, even knowledge of its heritage, was being lost at a furious clip, and with few exceptions (such as in Monterey itself) even the physical evidence of that heritage was melting back into the earth.

When I was a boy in the 1950's and learned about the Missions, they had all been restored, more or less well, more or less accurately, though some were built entire from practically nothing that remained of what used to be. Those that were still used as parish churches had survived fairly well, but many were abandoned to the elements, and some, like La Purisima, had simply disappeared.

Rebuilding, renovating, restoring, and "oldening up" the California Missions was one of the many cultural causes under way when Carlos was learning Art at the Academy. Some of the surviving Missions, as well as quite a few of the old Spanish haciendas, had been acquiring gingerbready ornament since California became a province of the United States of America.

Par exemple, the Workman ranch house in Southern California as it is today, originally constructed in adobe in 1841, expanded and gingerbreaded in the 1870's:

Workman House
The point, of course, was to get rid of any signs of the "primitive" Spanish frontier colonial appearance of the old buildings and bring them up to date. If this ruined the integrity of the Spanish frontier colonial architecture, Oh. Well.

This enraged the historical purists, of course, who demanded -- and after the publication of Ramona bit by bit got -- restoration "as it used to be" of many a Mission, hacienda and outbuilding in California, most of which are maintained to this day "as they once were." More or less.

I have to think that these movements in California to preserve and in some cases to recreate what used to be -- or at least an image of it -- had a profound influence on Vierra as he set out on his artistic and cultural journey from one of California's most historic cities, Monterey.

And I think it would have an effect on his historicism in New Mexico.

Historicism which resulted in the "Santa Fe Style."

His first project, so far as has has been reported, was the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously used public building in the United States.

Construction started for a military and governmental quarters on the north side of the Santa Fe Plaza in 1610, or possibly 1609. It was an extensive enclosure, much larger than the current Palace which extends east to west along Palace Avenue from Washington to Lincoln Avenue, with wings extending less than half a block north from each corner. The extant 'Palace' consists of only part of the Plaza-side range of buildings that once constituted the Presidio of Santa Fe.

This is a color transparency of a military formation outside the Palace (which was at that time used for government offices and the Territorial Governor's official residence) taken in about 1900. Whether it is an actual color photograph or it was hand tinted, I can't say.
Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, c. 1900


This is approximately what Vierra could see from the studio he bought on the west side of the Plaza in 1905, and obviously, it's not a particularly "Spanish" looking colonnade. It's almost Victorian, especially with those clever little urns ranged along the top of the gallery railing.

Nor do the telephone and telegraph poles add much to the ambiance of the scene. Vierra must have been very upset that a building that was started in 1609 or 1610 would wind up looking like this nearly 300 years later.

But throughout its history, the Governor's Palace had changed its appearance many times. Like most of the ancient structures in New Mexico, it had evolved over the centuries, never settling on one "look" as its permanent appearance. In a land where constant maintenance and renovation of adobe buildings is required, changes in their appearance are taken for granted. They might maintain the same general appearance over the centuries, but details would be constantly evolving, color schemes would change, perhaps another story would be added or removed, the portal would be rebuilt over and over, changing styles depending on needs and availability of lumber and so on.

In the case of the Governor's Palace in Santa Fe, by the time this picture was taken, 2/3rds of the ancient Presidio of which the Governor's Palace formed a part was already gone. Much of it had fallen into ruin even before the Anglo conquest. What was left maintained the general appearance the building had had for centuries, but inside or out, it was never exactly the same for more than a few years at a time.

Vierra wasn't satisfied. He wanted something permanent, a "once and for all" version of the "historic" Governor's Palace, and this is what he got in 1913:

Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, (with Burros) c. 1913

Which -- minus the burros -- is pretty much exactly what's there now. For almost a century now, the exterior appearance of the Governor's Palace in Santa Fe has remained identical to the neo-Pueblo applique seen in the picture above, whereas prior to 1913, the appearance of the Governor's Palace and its use had been constantly evolving.

The idea that a building has a permanent appearance that is set for its whole existence is quite a new one, especially in the context of New Mexico where buildings, especially made of adobe, require constant maintenance and renovation.

As others have pointed out, Vierra's neo-Pueblo portal appliqued onto the Governor's Palace is completely ahistorical. Nothing like it is documented to have ever been part of the Governor's Palace or the Presidio in all the centuries prior to the Vierra Portal. Which it still has.

What is documented abundantly is a series of very simple portals, leading up to the 'fancy' one seen in the first color picture. All of them were more or less similar, and their similarity is reflected in the portals of the buildings all around the Plaza from time immemorial.

Corner of Lincoln Ave and San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, c. 1860's (Note Ghost at Right)
For example:This is a picture taken in the 1860's of the southeast corner of the Plaza and the range of shops across San Francisco Street (where the 5 and 10 is now -- where Woolworth's used to be).

Fascinating that the picket fence around the Plaza (an Anglo conceit) encloses corn stalks and possibly other crops. Even now, corn and squash and beans are grown in the city planters all over downtown Santa Fe. The portals on the south side of the Plaza vary somewhat in style, but they are very simple, and they do not in any way resemble what was applied to the Governor's Palace. Even today, the portals on the buildings surrounding the Plaza more closely resemble the ones in the picture above than they do that of the Governor's Palace.

However, the redo and "oldening up" of the Governor's Palace was such a success that Vierra quickly decided on a more ambitious project: "oldening up" the whole town -- partly by building new structures in the "old" style, partly by retro-renovations of buildings that had been modernized, and partly by layering a jacket of ersatz mud plaster and false vigas onto some of the newer buildings.

His next major project would be the New Mexico Museum of Art in 1917. It is, needless to say, still a sensation.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is built in the neo-Pueblo style on section of Palace Avenue directly across Lincoln Avenue from the Governor's Palace. It's on a section of land that was once part of the Presidio of Santa Fe and had for centuries hosted another range of simple buildings much like the Governor's Palace. But the Museum of Art looks nothing like the Governor's Palace or any other historic building in Santa Fe for that matter.

Rather than adapt the standard one or two story more or less cubical Santa Fe building style to the Museum of Art, Vierra and the architects chose to adapt the style of the mission church at Acoma together with a pastiche of elements from other mission churches around New Mexico (most of which were falling into ruin at the time). The result was this:

Art Museum and Palace, Looking East, Santa Fe, c. 1917
The building is constructed of steel and concrete block with a skin of stucco meant to resemble the traditional mud plaster. The museum isn't complete in the image above; cranes and construction debris litter the scene, and the prismatic edge of the nearest tower will soon be softened considerably, but the general idea is plain to see. Needless to say, the appearance of the building has not changed in any significant degree since it was opened in 1917. And periodically, the weather edges of the museum need to be re-plastered with stucco, much as a genuine adobe and mud plaster building needs to be maintained, though not as frequently as the genuine article.

As I say, the appearance of the Museum is based on the Acoma mission church (which dates to the 1600's) with elements from other mission churches around New Mexico.

Helpfully, Vierra himself wrote an illustrated article for Art and Archaeology that details much of the influence and the rationale for the appearance of the New Mexico Museum of Art.

His illustrations are particularly useful to get an idea of what he saw when he traveled around New Mexico in the early 1900's.

For example, the mission church at Acoma (San Esteban) looked like this:

San Esteban, Acoma, c. 1915
Another inspirational mission church (San Felipe) looked like this:

San Felipe, c. 1904
Both of these churches express the honesty of place and time, something the Museum still struggles with. San Esteban at Acoma was at the time in near-ruins, and there was reason for it. San Felipe, on the other hand, was in much better condition, in part because of the care the people of the Pueblo took of it.

The problem at Acoma, of course, is just the difficulty of maintaining any structure at the top of the mesa, given the fact that at the time, the only way up was on foot or burro-back. Even water had to be carried up the mesa side in jars. Taking elaborate care of a huge mission church was not a priority of the Acomans, and in fact, San Esteban at Acoma stayed in near ruinous condition.

By the turn of the twentieth century the condition of the church had reached a critical level. Contemporary photos show that the erosion of the towers and the spalling of the mud plaster from the south wall had caused considerable deterioration. The tower bases were severely eroded by water and wind. With funds from the Committee for the Reconstruction and Preservation of New Mexico Mission Churches, restoration work commenced under the supervision of Lewis Riley and Sam Huddleston acting in conjunction with architect John Gaw Meem in Santa Fe.[20] At that late date the nearest railroad stop was still fifteen miles away at Acomita, which meant that the final part of the journey—and the lifting of building materials to the top of the peñol—had to be accomplished by human and animal strength. First priority was given to the roof, which leaked seriously and threatened the destruction of the nave.
Even in 1924, Riley reported, the younger men of the village lived, not in the Sky City, but in the surrounding settlements at Acomita and McCarty's. The rebuilding was undertaken cooperatively, with a "community effort which could hardly be duplicated among our own people."[21] The water was transported in five-gallon casks and steel barrels and was hauled on donkeys the two miles from the nearest spring. (Acoma still does not have a regular source of water.) The women augmented these efforts in the traditional way by bearing water to the precipice in buckets and ollas. The roof work was completed in six weeks using lumber from Arizona and roofing materials from Denver, both brought via rail. "The convento is rapidly falling into ruins, but it preserves as yet most of its former beauty and could be restored with comparatively little expense," Riley wrote.[22] He had also hoped to repair the towers and the exterior plastering, but these had to wait until the works of 1926–1927.
The 1926 restoration was a community effort with cooperative decisions determining the allocation of human resources. On September 12, 1926, it was decided that all members of the pueblo would assemble and for three days pack and carry dirt up to the church site. From September 15 onward there would be a crew of fifteen men, to be rotated each week, who would work on the repairs until the winter weather intervened. On September 9 a large herd of burros was discovered by B. A. Reuter, who had succeeded Lewis Riley as superintendent, and these were commandeered to haul earth. Thus, drawing on the ageless tradition of human and animal labor, the church reconstruction began. Source
But at San Felipe, the situation was different, in that the mission church was rebuilt several times in different locations, starting in 1605, the latest rebuilding in 1808 or thereabouts, with constant refurbishing right up to the present. Of course it helps that the church is on the plain below the mesa top now, and maintenance isn't such an arduous task.
I've written before about he prevalence of ruins in New Mexico, and one of the reasons there are so many of them is the difficulty of maintaining some of the old buildings. At Acoma, for example, maintaining an enormous church (San Esteban is huge) on a mesa top where few people were living at the time was a task not worth bothering with. Letting the church go to ruin while other matters took priority made perfect sense.
And so it is in many other instances then and now. Vierra was interested in preserving and extending the style of buildings in the traditional manner while reducing or eliminating the necessity of continuous maintenance and renovation. Thus the New Mexico Museum of Art was built of modern materials, with all the modern conveniences, in the style of the old days. It was a remarkable building then, as it is today.
Shortly, it would be followed by others in a similar style, such as the El Onate Theatre, La Fonda's re-conception as a neo-Pueblo fantasy, and many more:
El Onate Theatre, Santa Fe, c. 1921

La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe, c. 1927

US Post Office, Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, c. 1925
US Post Office, Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, New Mexico, c. 1925

For his part, Vierra commenced work on his own house, somewhat out of town on the Old Pecos Trail in 1918. I noticed that at the height of the real estate boom, it was listed for sale by Sotheby's for very much money, not an unheard of amount in Santa Fe, but still substantial. Of all the many "mud mansions" in Santa Fe, I found it the most charming.
Carlos Vierra House, Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, originally constructed c. 1918

Carlos Vierra House Interior, Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe. Constructed c. 1918
While I called John Gaw Meem the "godfather" of Santa Fe Style architecture in a previous post, it was actually Carlos Vierra who was the leading advocate and proponent and who served as Meem's teacher when he came out to New Mexico in the 1920's.
Vierra was not an architect himself, he was a painter and a photographer who was an informed amateur archeologist. He was not the first to rediscover the traditional architectural forms of New Mexico but he was their most vocal, tireless and successful advocate in Santa Fe for years, and it's largely through his efforts and those he was able to convince that so much of Santa Fe today adheres to the Santa Fe Style (well, of course, and the ordinances that require it.)
Vierra was a founder -- some say, the founder -- of the Santa Fe Art Colony whose work would begin the process of establishing Santa Fe and eventually New Mexico as a leading art market in the United States and the world. Other artists in that founding group include Sheldon Parsons, Gerald Cassidy, and Warren E. Rollins. Many others would come to New Mexico over the years to join the vibrant local arts scene, some of them from California like Vierra.
Where I differ with Vierra and other preservationists is in the insistence that historic buildings cease evolution or -- as in the case of the Governor's Palace, "revert" to an appearance they never had in history. Buildings that are used will by necessity evolve and change and adapt to the times. Buildings that are not used or are used only for display and pageants -- like the Governor's Palace since its conversion into a museum and backdrop for the Plaza and its numerous events -- can, I suppose, be preserved unchanged, like a painting, a sculpture, or other work of art.
Whether it is wise to maintain traditional architectural forms when building in modern materials for modern needs, I'll leave up to the reader. I know I can go outside my door in California, and looking to the right is a fair imitation of a historic Monterey hacienda but built in the 1920's -- it's lovely -- and to the left, is another though more traditionally Spanish or Mexican than California in style. And directly across the street is a brick Georgian house built -- I would guess -- in the early 1930's. They each seem to serve today's living requirements just fine, as I think we'd find most traditional architectural styles will, whereas some of the more cutting edge modern styles don't and can't in that they're not meant for use so much as for show.
Many people adore the Santa Fe Style of art and life, so much so it has become a matter of gentle ridicule:
The Style itself becomes a matter of history, as I see fewer and fewer of its victims these days.
Nevertheless, I blame it all on California boy Carlos Vierra, the historicist movement of the early 20th Century, and the still astonishing visions of the Land of Enchantment.
San Felipe Mission Church, by Carlos Vierra, c. 1914