The Century of the Self

The Century of the Self

The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.” – Edward Bernays

THE CENTURY OF THE SELF

Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund’s devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund’s great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud’s work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

Happiness Machines

part 1

more about “informationliberation – The Century o…“, posted with vodpod

The Engineering of Consent


Part Two

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The programme explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud’s ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses.

Politicians and planners came to believe Freud’s underlying premise – that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires and fears. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany. To stop it ever happening again they set out to find ways to control this hidden enemy within the human mind.

Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna, and his nephew, Edward Bernays, provided the centrepiece philosophy. The US government, big business, and the CIA used their ideas to develop techniques to manage and control the minds of the American people. But this was not a cynical exercise in manipulation. Those in power believed that the only way to make democracy work and create a stable society was to repress the savage barbarism that lurked just under the surface of normal American life.

There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads:

He Must Be Destroyed

Part Three

In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas in America. They were inspired by the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of Freud’s, who had turned against him and was hated by the Freud family. He believed that the inner self did not need to be repressed and controlled. It should be encouraged to express itself.

Out of this came a political movement that sought to create new beings free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people’s minds by business and politics.

This programme shows how this rapidly developed in America through self-help movements like Werber Erhard’s Erhard Seminar Training – into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.

But the American corporations soon realised that this new self was not a threat but their greatest opportunity. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality. To do this they turned to techniques developed by Freudian psychoanalysts to read the inner desires of the new self.

Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

Part Four

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Four: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

This episode explains how politicians on the left, in both Britain and America, turned to the techniques developed by business to read and fulfil the inner desires of the self.

Both New Labour, under Tony Blair, and the Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group, which had been invented by psychoanalysts, in order to regain power. They set out to mould their policies to people’s inner desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learnt to do with products.

Out of this grew a new culture of public relations and marketing in politics, business and journalism. One of its stars in Britain was Matthew Freud who followed in the footsteps of his relation, Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations in the 1920s.

The politicians believed they were creating a new and better form of democracy, one that truly responded to the inner feelings of individual. But what they didn’t realise was that the aim of those who had originally created these techniques had not been to liberate the people but to develop a new way of controlling them.

Breaking the siege – craven governments shamed by a brave band of volunteers


Breaking the siege – craven governments

shamed by a brave band of volunteers

STUART LITTLEWOOD

icdf-040430-n-9885m-008.jpg

August 3, 2008

Will the ‘Free Gaza’ boat, which is about to sail from Cyprus, succeed in running the gauntlet and delivering its desperately needed cargo of medical supplies to the besieged enclave of Gaza?

On board, we are told, will be some 60 Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals from 15 countries, all determined to break the cruel blockade and see a modicum of justice done, albeit in this small way. Those 60 volunteers represent the hopes and good wishes of millions of civilised people who are sick of the despicable conduct of Israel and those cowardly leaders of the western world who stooge for the lawless regime and bring universal contempt down on their own once-great nations.

Will Israeli gunboats turn back this peaceful, humanitarian mission? Will they board the vessel, beat up the crew, humiliate the passengers and confiscate any ‘goodies’ they find? Will they simply open fire, as they often do on Gazan fishing boats even if they are nowhere near Israeli waters? Israel’s navy thinks nothing of shelling Gaza’s beach where children play.

Or will they have a sudden attack of human decency and let the voyage proceed to its destination unmolested?

Right-thinking people may be wondering why there is no international action to ensure the freedom boat’s safe and uninterrupted passage to Gaza, considering that it will be sailing through international waters and Palestinian territorial waters. Any attempt to stop the vessel would surely contravene maritime law and breach the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The latter is an important set of undertakings and Israel happens to be one of the 137 States that are party to it.

Article 1 states:
1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources… In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
This of course includes fishing and Gaza’s off-shore gas resources.
3. The States that are party to the Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Article 2 requires States to guarantee that the rights enshrined in the Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Quartet, please note.

Article 6 says that the States recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.

Article 12 recognizes the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and requires the States to take the necessary steps to provide for the healthy development of the child; improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene… and conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.

Article 16 requires States to submit reports on the measures which they have adopted and the progress made in achieving the observance of the rights recognized… Where can we read Israel’s reports on the steps they have taken to promote the realization of these rights for the people of occupied Palestine?

For those who accept the fundamentals of human rights and count themselves members of the human race, nothing could be more straightforward than implementing this Covenant. But the appalling, dragged-out situation in Gaza and the West Bank begs the question: has Israel or any of the Western powers read and understood the Charter?

Gaza is further mired in a tangle of unjust and capricious impositions. Something called the Gaza-Jericho Agreement signed in 1994 was superseded by the infamous Interim Agreement of September 1995, which contains provisions for maritime activity zones off the coast of Gaza. As the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organisation explains, Israel agreed to allow fishing boats from Gaza to go 20 nautical miles from the shore (except for a few areas where entry is prohibited), but in practice the boats were permitted no more than 10 miles. Then, following the so-called disengagement from Gaza and the capture of Corporal Shalit in 2006, Israel unilaterally reduced the area for fishing to just three nautical miles from the shore.

The fishing industry in Gaza, which normally provides jobs for some 3000 registered fishermen and vital food for the population, has been devastated.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, territorial waters in any case extend 12 nautical miles, and Article 89 (Invalidity of claims of sovereignty over the high seas) says: “No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.” How did the Interim Agreement square with these laws?

It was simply a device for enabling the Israelis to weave a tangled web of security in Gaza’s coastal waters, which left them completely in charge and able to dictate what happens off-shore and who may come and go. Being of an interim nature this maritime strangulation was not expected to last beyond 1999, but Israel acts as if it is permanent. “Indeed,” says B’Tselem, “Israel has maintained total and sole control of Gaza’s airspace and the territorial waters, just as it has from the time when the occupation of the Gaza Strip began in 1967.”

As part of the Oslo peace process Israel agreed to the construction of a seaport for Gaza. Work started in 2000 but later that same year Israel bombed the project when two IOF soldiers were killed in Ramallah. The flow of funds from donor states dried up, and no more work has been done. In 2005 Israel again agreed to let construction go ahead and, so that foreign investors would not be put off, guaranteed co-operation in setting up the necessary security arrangements and undertook not to interfere in the running of the port. As before, these proved to be empty promises and Israel’s refusal to deliver on its obligations is not only a further infringement of the right to freedom of movement but an insurmountable obstacle to Gaza’s trade.

So many other rights hinge on freedom of movement that Israel denies this freedom as a matter of policy. “In the Occupied Territories, restrictions on movement imposed by the Israeli army have frustrated the efforts of Palestinian farmers to grow and sell crops, and have denied Palestinians access to jobs and to health and education facilities,” says an Amnesty International report. “Blockades and other restrictions – including a 600 kilometre fence/wall under construction since 2002 – are imposed to keep Palestinians away from Israeli settlements and roads used by Israeli settlers. These settlements are illegal under international law and have deprived the local Palestinian population of water, land and other key resources.”

‘Disengagement’ from Gaza was only a pretence – Israel still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves , keeps Gaza’s borders sealed, carries out air-strikes and makes incursions with troops and armour whenever it pleases. An urgent task for the international legal system is to insist that Israel, in its capacity as the occupier of the West Bank and Gaza, ensures the safety and well-being of the local residents and maintains normal living conditions. But as always in relation to Israel any legal rulings or charter obligations, if they are to have the slightest effect, need to be enforced by a determined international community that’s not afraid to impose sanctions.

In the meantime, what fate awaits the fragile mission of this plucky little Free Gaza boat as it sails towards danger in the Eastern Mediterranean? Do the mighty powers of the West believe in the principles of freedom and kindness enough to provide a protective escort?

There’s no sign of it so far. Nor is there any likelihood that they will uphold the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on behalf of the imprisoned Gazans. On recent performance the nations of the West are “all mouth and trousers”, as we say in England. They spout high-sounding words but renege on their duty. In Palestine’s case they haven’t delivered in 60 years… to their eternal shame.

- ends -

Stuart Littlewood
3 August 2008
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk

Thoughts On Capitalism Capitalist Thought

Thoughts On Capitalism Capitalist Thought

03:49 The Emergence Of Capitalist Thought, Thoughts On Capitalism

Capitalism was like Topsy—it just grew. Without foresight or plan, in Western Europe and England a social organization emerged and developed into what Marx called capitalism. Previous societies were substantially past-bound: tradi­tion and authority in the form of religion and political forces prevented change. One essential ingredient in the emergence of capitalism was the freeing of individuals from the church, the guilds, and the state. New categories of economic goods emerged with capitalism—labor, land, and capital, which people were free to buy and sell.

The land was owned by landowners who received rent; labor was controlled by workers, who received wages; and capital was controlled by capitalists, who received profits. These groups constituted distinct social as well as economic groups and served as the basis of classical analysis. What were the forces that determined the distribution of income among these groups? What were the dynamics of growth of the system? The capitalist owners of production were seen as providing the dynamics of growth—hence the name, capitalism.

Under feudalism the uses of labor, land, and capital were determined not by market activities but by tradition and authority. With the rise of the new form of social and economic organization appeared a new actor, the entrepreneur, who became the agent of change under capitalism. What was crucial is that capitalism, as contrasted with feudalism, had embedded in its system the machinery for further change. This is one of the most important insights one achieves in studying those great students of capitalism: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Joseph Schumpeter.

Although the entrepreneur was the causal factor in the dynamic change in capitalism, there was another element that permitted, if it did not initiate, evolutionary reformation. Under feudalism and mercantilism, one of the func­tions of the state had been to constrain the forces that produced change. Under mercantilism the state had been extensively used by special interest groups to protect vested interests, particularly of business groups. With the growth of markets there also occurred a significant restructuring of political life, and more democratic political arrangements coupled with the changing economy produced democratic capitalism. Democracy was important because it permitted change but preserved the underlying political and institutional structure. The revolu­tionary changes that have recently occurred in socialist societies are partly explained by this lack of an institutional structure that would tolerate small changes while protecting the basic integrity of the system.

The new society that replaced feudalism had two interesting elements: one, the entrepreneur, which gave the system dynamism; and another, democ­racy, which facilitated new arrangements without tearing the basic fabric of the society.
Markets coordinate, given a property rights structure. Markets allow people to trade and thereby increase the value of their initial endowment of rights. But markets do not solve the problem of initially unacceptable or unjust property rights or of allocation when property rights have not yet developed. Democracy is a system of government that allows people to vote to determine governmental policy and to modify existing property rights in order to keep the system sufficiently just that people will accept it. Under capitalism we have seen enormous modification of property rights through taxation, regulation, and empowerments, while the basic market framework was maintained.

The precursors of classical political economy, the classicals, and the neoclas­sical examined this emerging and changing system and gave us a theoretical understanding of capitalism from a particular ideological perspective. As the market system began to emerge, prices played a larger role as coordinators of individual economic activities. This vision of the function of markets was faintly seen by the preclassicals, seen with great clarity by Adam Smith and the classicals, and expressed by the neoclassical not simply as a vision but in formal models detailing conditions that would result in an efficient allocation of resources. Neoclassical economic theory developed into a theory that explained how markets operated, given the institution of private property. In this sense the resulting neoclassical economic theory is capitalist economic thought. Neoclas­sical economic theory takes the system as given; it does not address broad-brush questions such as the advantages of capitalism over socialism, how private property came about, or what structure of property rights is the best. Socialist and Austrian economists considered these broad-brush questions.

Actually, the distinctions among schools are not so clear. Neat dividing lines among schools of thought are pedagogical crutches developed by authors to clarify differences in approaches and views. As we will discuss below, Austrian economic theory and some socialist economic theory evolved out of neoclassical economics. Thus, their views could be seen as a subdivision of neoclassical thought. In the case of the Austrians, that would be correct. But over time, mainstream economics and Austrian economics have parted. By focusing on the early distinctions that set the two groups on separate paths, it becomes easier to understand the current distinctions.

Economy weighs on voters’ minds

Economy weighs on voters’ minds

Views on economy graph

The Swamp

by Mark Silva

With further evidence here that it’s the economy, stupid, that could play a deciding role in the presidential contest, the Pew Research Center has collected some unsettling findings about the mood of the American public:

 38 percent of those surveyed say affording the cost of food is becoming a problem.
 55 percent say real estate values have slipped.
 73 percent say good jobs are scarce locally.
 87 percent say who is elected president matters to the economy.

And while overall public opinion toward Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama appears to be somewhat evenly divided in the July 23-27 survey, more view Obama as capable of doing something about the economy.

“The public continues to be extremely downbeat about the national economy,” the Pew Center reports, with just 10 percent calling the economy in good shape and 72 percent saying the economy is either in a recession (54 percent) or depression (18).

That percentage of people calling food difficult to afford has grown from 27 percent to 38 percent since February. And the share of people citing rising prices as the most important economic problem facing the nation has nearly doubled since February – up from 24 percent then to 45 percent in the latest July survey.

“While rising costs are clearly the top economic problem in the public’s view, it is far from their only concern,” Pew notes, with more than seven in ten calling good jobs hard to find, compared with 55 percent a little over a year ago.

“Multiple economic concerns are taking a toll on public optimism,” Pew adds. “About half of Americans (51 percent) expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year, down from 55 percent in March and 60 percent in January. Yet despite the worsening economic perceptions, the public does not see the economy as beyond repair. Nor do they believe that the government is incapable of fixing the economy in an era of global economic interdependence.”

With 87 percent of those surveyed saying that, when it comes to the economy, it matters who is elected president, 47 percent say Obama can do a better job of improving the economy and 32 percent say McCain can. That’s slightly narrower than the margin which favored Obama on this score in a June survey – 51 to 31 percent.

See the full results of the survey here: Economic Survey.pdf

Anti-Zionist Jewish Rabbis protesting against Zionists barbaric demolitions of Palestinian homes

Anti-Zionist Jewish Rabbis protesting against Zionists

barbaric demolitions of Palestinian homes

31.07.08 – 22:55

ImageCommenting on the Israeli demolition of a five story home in East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina which rendered another 70 Palestinians homeless, Rabbi Meir Hirsh, a leading rabbinical figure within the Jerusalem ultra – Orthodox community, of Neturei Karta Palestine, issued the following statement:

“Thus it is precisely because we are Torah believing Jews that we have come here today to protest the destruction and confiscation of individual’s homes in historic Palestine.

“Tragically this is not an isolated incident. Over the years the NaZionists government has plunged itself ever deeper into the abyss of moral blindness, performing acts of senseless cruelty that have only fanned the fires of hate in the Middle East.”

Rabbi Hirsh continues, “What a very different world it would be if all Jews would seek to emulate the traits of Abraham our forefather. Then respect would begat respect and love would yield love and peoples would once again live as true neighbors as we did in the decades before Zionism sought the dispossession of people.”

He said, “Torah Jewry condemns the illegitimate occupation of Palestinian land and the subjugation of Palestinians throughout the Holy Land.”

The Rabbi went on to say, “We beseech international human rights organizations to intervene immediately to rescue our Palestinian brothers from Zionists captivity.”

Concluding his statement Rabbi Hirsh wrote, “We all hope and pray for the day to come, that we all may yet live in peace in the land of our mutual forefather Abraham, under the moral laws of the Almighty.”

Rabbi Hirsch may be contacted at: via email:
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The Minimum Security Prison of America

The Minimum Security Prison of America

(aka “Fun Times at the Canadian Border!”)

For those just tuning in here, I live in the state of Michigan. As such, I am surrounded on two sides (north and east, a little south if you want to get trivia-esque) by Canada. While I haven’t gone recently (a few years) due to a lack of funds, earlier on this decade I would go to Canada when I had the chance – especially when I spent a couple of years in northern Michigan in the tiny city of Sault Sainte Marie, MI, which is a stone’s throw from its twin city of the same name in Canada. The border crossing process had usually been rather simple for me, with the most that I got asked is “Where’d you go? How long were you there? Bringing back lots of money? Alright have a good one.” I suppose it was a bit naive of me to think that things would go south in the couple of years since I’ve been to Canada, especially in lieu of revelations that Homeland Security can take your laptop at the border if they feel like it.

Like most things in life you stay naive of it, happily nested in a world of “it can’t/won’t happen to me” until – sure enough – it does.

Follow up:

My purpose to travel to Windsor, Ontario, seemed simple and innocent enough: it was a Saturday, I was bored, and I wanted to take some pictures of the Detroit skyline to satisfy my off and on desire to pretend I’m good at taking pictures. Didn’t plan on going much of anywhere, buying much of anything, or even being there that long. It was, quite literally, something to do. You know, getting out of the house and all of that good stuff.

Maybe it was because I was traveling alone. Perhaps it was because I had a camera on me and those are starting to be regarded as a terrorist tool. Maybe I’ve managed to work myself on to some list of bad people: not the terrorist watch list which now boasts over 1 million names, but maybe some other list that we don’t know about yet. Could it have been a list of noted liberal-minded bloggers? People who buy politically-themed music? People who don’t love the President and haven’t loved the President from day 1? Known Obama supporters? Someone get Senator McCarthy in on this one to help me out. I’d love to know.

Maybe they didn’t like the way I looked? Maybe they didn’t like my car? Or better yet, maybe they liked my car and wanted to see if there was anything in it they could “detain” for as long as they’d like (reason #1 why I didn’t bring my laptop with me and go to hotspots while in Windsor). Maybe someone was a White Sox fan and didn’t like my Tigers baseball cap.

Or hell, maybe it was just my time.

It starts with a yellow sticker placed on the windshield and instructions to drive off to the side where the immigration/interrogation center is. The orders from the officer are in a stern matter, a “don’t cross me little man, I am judge, jury, and executioner!” type voice.

TURN OFF THE ENGINE.
STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE.
WHERE DID YOU GO?
SPEAK UP

As someone who has been known to fly off the handle, thankfully I kept myself in check through this process. These people seemed like just the kind who wake up every morning just praying for someone to get smart with them so they can make someone’s life hell for a few hours. My constant humbled voice and over usage of the word “sir” hopefully appeased someone’s broken sense of self-importance and saved me what would have probably been a long night.

My cell phone was taken. The messages were gone through.

WHO DO YOU KNOW IN CANADA?

Thanks to the internet, I happen to have a number of friends dotted across Canada – though none in the immediate vicinity of Michigan. They’re scattered from the Maritimes to Toronto to Vancouver and a few places in between. I keep in contact with them, I even write some of them letters and they write me back – pen pals for a digital age, if you will. I had apparently made a big mistake just a little while earlier, when entering Canada, as I texted one of them: For at least the next little while, I am in your country p This was to a friend who lived in Calgary, as I had to explain – as well as rattle off other places of friends I knew in Canada.

DO YOU KNOW ANYONE IN WINDSOR?
ARE YOU SURE?
WHY DID YOU GO?

Before answering the question I already knew it was going to turn out badly, as I’ve said before: people who take pictures of things are gradually becoming demonized. If you’re not taking pictures of drunken friends in this country, then you may be a terrorist. I sucked it up and explained that I was on the waterfront for a couple of hours, taking some pictures of the Detroit skyline. I expected an inquisitive response, but I was shoveled a pile of insulting gold instead:

COME ON. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT. NOBODY GOES THERE JUST TO TAKE PICTURES. DID YOU VISIT AN ESCORT SERVICE?

I was stupefied. After saying I had only been out of the country for two hours I was being asked if I only went over there to get a prostitute. I had no response and my mouth was probably left a little agape.

IS THAT YOUR CAMERA? GET IT OUT. TURN IT ON. LET ME SEE. CHANGE THE PICTURES. NOW.

Frustrated that my story (or rather, the truth) was checking out, he ordered me inside the immigration/interrogation center while they searched the rest of my car. Good decision on my part to clean my car out before I left.

Sitting in the center’s lobby I looked around at the faces of others who looked like they had been waiting there for a while. There were a number of Arabs. Some of them had looks of fright on their face. Some of them had looks of brokenness on them, a look of “here we go again” if you will. An Arab woman and her daughter were standing by a bathroom door wondering if they could go in. As they reached for the door an officer shouted KNOCK ON THE DOOR. KNOCK. to which the woman did not understand. The officer instructed the man she was traveling with (I’m assuming husband) to tell her to knock, and he did. The room was clear so she could go in. The doors had that buzzer system that doors in police establishments have – buzzing loudly when they are opened. The woman jumped back, alarmed by the sound the door made. The officer joked: Hey don’t worry, it’s not electrified, or at least not that much! as he laughed. At that point I was standing at a counter and I, too, laughed, not because of the joke but more of a I’m-about-to-be-sick-god-help-me sort of laugh. I wasn’t quite sure of in what direction the bad taste joke was pointing toward – GitMo or maybe Abu Ghraib. Aww hell, it’s just electrocuting Arabs, any parallel will do.

Finding that I wasn’t a terrorist and noticing that maybe I really was just some kid who wanted to take some pictures on a sunny August evening, I was allowed to proceed into the country, with an interestingly-toned “I’m sorry about all this” from one of the officers at the facility. He was older than the ones who were shouting orders and questions at me. Everyone who shouted at me or talked down to me seemed to be in their upper 20′s or lower 30′s – people hired in the age since the Transportation Security Agency was absorbed by Homeland Security. The one who said sorry seemed like he was from before that time, back when people like me could take short trips like this and not be “randomly” put through things like this.

As I drove home I felt somehow violated. That’s my cell phone. That’s my camera. Who has the right to look at them ever, for any reason, aside from me? Well, the answer would of course be Homeland Security – operating in the lawless zone between Canada and the United States, where they could do what they want to whomever they wanted – or at least that’s the impression they were giving off. I felt even more sick as I thought: I’m from here. I’m native born. How the hell are actual foreigners treated when they come here? I felt embarrassed for how this country was being represented just by my entry back into it. I was treated almost like a criminal for an hour because I had chosen to leave this country for two hours to take some pictures of this country.

If I were a tourist, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to come here and go through that. God help me if I was even the slightest shade of brown or my last name was the slightest of non-Western European sounding. This country is being run like a minimum security prison – you’re free to do whatever you want as long as you stay within the borders. If you leave, there simply must be some sort of nefarious reason you did so, and be prepared to answer 20 questions and then some if you have the audacity to leave. Don’t answer the questions quick enough and loud enough, get ready for additional rounds.

I had planned on going to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls next month, since the route on the American side is two times as long. A bit shaken after this whole ordeal as I am, I wonder if it’s even worth it anymore.