independence institute

How to End Crony Capitalism

The largest corporations and richest people in America – who donated billions of dollars to Republican candidates the House and Senate in the 2106 election – appear on the way to getting what they paid for: a giant tax cut.

The New York Times reports that business groups are meeting frequently with key Republicans in order to shape the tax bill, whose details remain secret. 

Speed and secrecy are critical. The quicker Republicans get this done, and without hearings, the less likely will the rest of the country discover how much it will cost in foregone Medicaid and Medicare or ballooning budget deficits.

Donald Trump has been trashing democratic institutions – the independence of the press, judges who disagree with him, uncooperative legislators – while raking in money off his presidency. But don’t lose sight of the larger attack on our democracy that was underway even before Trump was elected: A flood of big money into politics.  

Lest you conclude it’s only Republicans who have been pocketing big bucks in exchange for political favors, consider what Big Tech – the industry that’s mostly bankrolled Democrats – is up to. 

It’s mobilizing an army of lobbyists and lawyers – including senior advisors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign – to help scuttle a proposed law requiring Google, Facebook, and other major Internet companies to disclose who is purchasing their online political advertising.

After revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election, you’d think this would be a no-brainer. But never underestimate the power of big money, whichever side of the aisle it’s aimed at. 

Often, it’s both sides. Last week The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” reported that Big Pharma contributed close to $1.5 million to Democrats as well as Republicans in order to secure enactment of the so-called “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.”

This shameful law weakened the Drug Enforcement Authority’s power to stop prescription opioids from being shipped to pharmacies and doctors suspected of taking bribes to distribute them – a major cause of the opioid crisis. Last year, Americans got 236 million opioid prescriptions, the equivalent of one bottle for every adult.

Overwhelming majorities of House and Senate Democrats voted for the bill, as well as Republicans, and President Obama signed it into law.

There you have it, folks. Big money is buying giant tax cuts, allowing Russia to interfere in future elections, and killing Americans. That’s just the tip of the corrupt iceberg that’s sinking our democracy. 

Republicans may be taking more big money, but both parties have been raking it in. 

Average Americans know exactly what’s going on. 

I just returned from several days in Kentucky and Tennessee, both of which voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

A number of Trump voters told me they voted for him because they wanted someone who’d shake up Washington, drain the swamp, and get rid of crony capitalism. They saw Hillary Clinton as part of the problem.

These people aren’t white nationalists. They’re decent folks who just want a government that’s not of, by, and for the moneyed interests. 

Many are now suffering buyer’s remorse. They recognize Trump has sold his administration to corporate lobbyists and Wall Street. “He conned us,” was the most polite response I heard.

The big money that’s taken over American politics in recent years has created the biggest political backlash in postwar American history – inside both parties.

It’s splitting the Republican Party between its large corporate patrons and a base that detests big corporations and Wall Street.

Trump is trying to straddle both by pretending he’s a champion of the working class while pushing for giant tax cuts. But if my free-floating focus group in Kentucky and Tennessee is any indication, the base is starting to see through it.

Which you might think creates a huge opportunity for Democrats heading into the 2018 midterms and the presidential election of 2020.

Think again. Much of the official Democratic Party is still in denial, continuing to debate whether it should be on the proverbial “left” or move to the “middle.”

But when it comes to getting big money out of politics and ending crony capitalism, there’s no right or left, and certainly no middle. There’s just democracy or oligarchy.

Democrats should be fighting for commonsense steps to reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests – public financing of elections, full disclosure of all sources of political funding, an end to revolving door between government and business, and attempts to reverse the bonkers Supreme Court decision “Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.”

For that matter, Republicans should be fighting for these, too.

Heres’a wild idea. What if the anti-establishment wings of both parties came together in a pro-democracy coalition to get big money out of politics? 

Then it might actually happen.  

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Euzhan Palcy: Trailblazing black female filmmaker

After French West Indian filmmaker Euzhan Palcy’s debut film, Sugar Cane Alley, earned her France’s distinguished César Award for best first work in 1984, an impressed Robert Redford personally invited her to attend the 1985 Sundance Institute Filmmakers Lab (depicted in the above photos). There she workshopped her adaptation of the novel A Dry White Season, about South Africa’s then still-prevalent apartheid. A few years later MGM would produce the movie, making Palcy the first black female director to helm a major Hollywood studio title. Her dedication to an unrelentingly accurate portrayal of apartheid in the film drew Marlon Brando out of his self-imposed, years-long retirement to accept a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor, and made Palcy the first black director—male or female—to direct him to an Oscar-nominated performance.

Photos: © 1985 Roger Christiansen | Courtesy of the Sundance Institute Archives

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In 1991 Julie Dash premiered her first feature, Daughters of the Dust, at the Sundance Film Festival, which went on to win the award for Excellence in Cinematography. The film is set in the early 1900s and follows a Gullah family of women preparing to move from the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina to mainland America. Daughters of the Dust was the first film directed by an African American woman to receive a national release. 

The film appears to be a source of inspiration for Beyonce’s Lemonade. The visual album echoes imagery from the film with shots of young African-American women in the Southern wild and desolate beaches wearing turn of the century garments. 

Daughters of the Dust screened at the Festival again in 2012 as a part of the “From the Collection” program. The film has recently been digitally restored by Cohen Film Collection and will screen at film festivals and theaters in addition to a Blu-ray release this fall. Click here to view a trailer for Daughters of the Dust.

Film stills courtesy of Daughters of the Dust

variety.com
More Arab Women Directors Finding Their Voices Through Film
While Hollywood continues to be a boys’ club where only 4% of filmmakers are female, according to research by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, women in the Arab world are …
By Nick Vivarelli

According to a recent study commissioned by the Doha Film Institute, Arabic independent films are twice as likely to be directed by a woman. In fact, 26% of independent film directors in the region are female, “much more than directors of studio films in the West,” it notes.

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Edward James Olmos was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award at the 2017 Platino Ibero-America Film Awards for his countless contributions to the Latino and Latina film community. In addition to his distinguished Hollywood acting career, Olmos is also a staunch social activist and the co-founder of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year), co-producer of the Latino Book and Family Festival, and head of Latino Public Broadcasting. He is pictured above at the 1981 Sundance Institute Directors Lab where he volunteered as a resource actor. 

© Sharon M. Beard for Sundance Institute

Step by step, the Polish government has moved against democratic norms: It increased government control over the news media, cracked down on public gatherings and restricted the activities of nongovernmental organizations.

Now the party in power is moving aggressively to take control of the last major independent government institution, the courts, drawing crowds into the streets and possible condemnation by the European Union.


The party is pushing to jam several bills into law; one would force all the nation’s top judges to resign, except those it appointed. Another bill, already approved by Parliament, would ultimately give the government control over who can even be considered for a judgeship.

— 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/world/europe/poland-courts-law-and-justice-party.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur


The Sejm (the lower house of the Polish parliament), dominated by the incorrigible PiS party, just voted to approve the law. The support of the Senate is just a matter of time now.

This is a complete disaster. You cannot have a judiciary system that is so intimately interconnected with the government and still hope to have some semblance of impartiality and justice. While the third pillar of the Polish democracy does admittedly need some reform, what the current government is doing is nothing more than an attempt to solidify their power by giving themselves control over the courts. You don’t cure a headache by cutting off the head and you don’t fix the judiciary by handing it over to the legislative branch.

An epic pioneer story set in post-WWII South, Dee Rees’ Mudbound pits two families against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and abroad. Devastating in its power and authenticity, Mudbound is destined to become a classic.

Rees is a long-time Sundance alum, attending the 2007 Screenwriters Lab and 2008 Directors Lab with Pariah.  She ultimately premiered both the short and feature versions of the film in 2008 and 2011, respectively and the feature was awarded the Excellence in Cinematography Award.

Rees returned to the 2017 Sundance Film Festival with Mudbound, which opens in select theatres and on Netflix Friday, November 17. 

Check out the powerful acceptance speech Dee Rees gave as the recipient of the 2017 Sundance Institute Vanguard Award.  The award celebrates innovation, originality, independent spirit, and visionary storytelling.

Film still courtesy of Mudbound

anonymous asked:

Is there any way we could "re-proletarianize" the first world labor aristocracy? i was thinking that, by attacking imperialism from the inside and building mutual aid organizations so people don't rely on imperialist plunder anymore, we could re-align the interests of the US proletariat with those of the global proletariat.

Finding ways of attacking imperialism from the inside is of course of the main things we should be doing. Mutual aid organizations, or “serve the people” programs, or “independent institutions,” are all good ideas as well, although we have to be careful about them. It’s important to have a realistic analysis about where the gaps are in the current system in imperialist countries. Independent institutions should be addressing concerns that the state and NGOs are not addressing—otherwise we end up in competition with the state and with NGOs and that’s a fight we’re probably going to lose right now. If we’re offering something that the state and/or NGOs are also offering, but we’re asking people to take the risk of associating with communists, then people have no real reason to work with us in the long run. Further, “serve the people” programs have had a tendency in the past to become ends in themselves. These programs may help people in the short term, but if you’re not building support for communism at the same time you’ve effectively prolonged the existence of capitalism and done more harm than good.

I would also stress that the people who are in most need of independent institutions in the First World are the lumpen and the small group of proletarian or semi-proletarian elements that there are.

As far as “re-proletarianization” goes, we have to be careful here too. Some communists in the First World seem to be banking on the continued decline of the imperialist countries increasing levels of poverty in the First World, which is then thought to automatically make everyone a proletarian revolutionary base. The imperialist countries will of course continue to decline as their global position continues to be weakened. But history shows us that it still takes a lot of work to really “re-proletarianize” a population. Past examples like the end of French occupation in Algeria shows us that labor aristocrats are even more virulently opposed to the liberation of oppressed peoples in the moment where they’re about to lose their position of power.

One of the only remotely successful examples of “re-proletarianization” was eastern Germany in 1945. We often say that a communist party has never come to power in an imperialist country but this is not exactly true. A communist party did come to power in the GDR (whether it maintained proletarian politics can be debated, but we’ll leave that aside for now). However, what’s notable is how hard it was for the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) to gain traction. After the initial period of repression in Nazi Germany, resistance to Hitler was frankly lackluster, certainly much less significant than the Soviets had initially predicted. So the Soviets really didn’t have a choice but to march straight to Berlin. Once they toppled the Nazi regime, the Soviets starting backing the KPD and trying to put it in power. But the thing is, in 1945, even with the full support of the Soviet Army, the KPD could not recruit enough members from the German population to staff government positions. The economic basis of German imperialism had, for the time being, been utterly demolished by the war. But the German workers still didn’t support communism. Even after the KPD merged with the social democrats, they were still in a weak position and had to keep Nazis in many government posts, because they literally didn’t have enough of a base to run the government themselves. It took Soviet occupation and an extremely intense self-criticism and “re-civilizing” campaign for the KPD to gain traction. But eventually they were able to hold stable power.

The state of imperialist countries today is more similar to Nazi Germany than it is different. So i think it’s important to be honest and acknowledge that even as imperialism is weakened, it will probably still take the help of the proletariat in other parts of the world for the populations in imperialist countries to really be “re-proletarianized.” What that exactly looks like remains to be seen. But some people treat the very concept that revolution in the First World could or should be overseen by the proletariat of oppressed nations as if it’s ridiculous. I don’t think it’s very far-fetched though: it’s happened before.

In any case, whatever we can do now to speed up the end of imperialism is worth doing. And no one is suggesting we wait around for the Third World to “save us.” But the Third World proletariat is at the end of the day a more powerful and useful ally than the majority of the population in imperialist countries are.

anonymous asked:

oh honey, don't lash out at people with that "you're not looking for a man" shit when you're posting about how much you want a relationship and how you're finally ready for love. i mean the receipts are all over your site! once you find reciprocal love I hope you're not so damaged from the years of loneliness to realize how fulfilling it can be and why most people make that their primary relationship. don't give up!

LOL this is a very thorough attempt at reciepts, i admire yr attention to detail

i mean yeah i’m dating and i’m ready for and open to love, but there are still many presumptions about what this means we need to unpack:

1) i don’t practice love in a way that it is reduced to exclusively romance, and i don’t reserve my love for romantic partners only

2) i am reciprocally in love with many people and it is really wonderful!!! i really recommend it!!

3) the desire for a relationship is not the desire for a relationship that ends in marriage, monogamy, cohabitation, or other traditional and normative markers of a love geneology. i am still trying to figure out what kind of relationship i want, and i really don’t think i would ever want to live with a partner, much less marry them.

4) i think a lot about my long-term relationship goals and desires. i have discovered that my only (or primary) desire to get married would be to respond to all the rejection and trauma i have internalized as such, to find comfort and stability within a relationship. and it’s related to my Leo desire to be eternally adored and worshipped. these are not healthy reasons to enter a marriage.

5) it’s a bit neoliberal to assume my engagement with marriage would be equivalent as others. i am not so naive to assume that all bodies engage with institutions the same. 

6) the clearest envisioning of the type of romantic love i want to have is one that does not detract from my relationships with my friends, and one where i can maintain my own sense of identity of and independent relationships with people, one where my partner(s) do(es) not automatically fold in to my friendships and friend groups. this does not cohere to the ways most people use marriage.

7) again, my critique is less about marriage as a whole, or as an independent institution, but about how people seem to use it as an excuse and event to restrict and delimit their care and interdependency to only their romantic partners, and the implications this has for the long-term survival of those of us without partners

i know this is a lot, and can potentially be destabilizing for those deeply invested in traditional or normative relationship structures. let me end this by saying,

oh honey, don’t lash out at people with that “how fulfilling relationships can be” shit when you’re anonymously close readings peoples blogs and sending them anonymous and presumptuous messages. i mean the reciepts are all over this message! once you read this I hope you’re not so damaged from the years of internalized normativity to realize how fulfilling expanding our definitions of love and relationship can be and why most people are so committed to them as a product of colonization and method of distracting us from collective liberation. don’t give up!

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From the Park Avenue Armory, to Park City, to a theater near you! Artist Julian Rosefeldt’s installation project, Manifesto, debuted in the United States at the Park City Armory in New York City in December 2016, and is now playing in theaters nationally. The show consisted of thirteen large screens projecting thirteen different characters portrayed by Cate Blanchett. She transforms into a newscaster, a CEO, a schoolteacher, and a homeless man, among several other characters. The thirteen scenes pull from over 50 manifestos given by notable artists early in their careers. Weaving these profound manifestos into the monologues of ordinary characters living everyday lives creates a heightened context for experiencing the text, and challenges the viewer to reconsider art, culture, and society. Rosefeldt brought the thirteen scenes together to create a feature film which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Click here to watch a trailer for Manifesto.


All stills courtesy of Manifesto; Julian Rosefeldt at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival Manifesto premiere: © 2017 Sundance Institute | Photo by Kelly Ann Taub; Manifesto film team outside of Library Center Theatre in Park City, UT: © 2017 Sundance Institute | Photo by Kelly Ann Taub

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Use Your Head — How to defeat the Spartans,

The Spartans are generally regarded as the one of the greatest warrior societies in history.  The soldiers who made up the Spartan ranks were perhaps the toughest ever, with grueling military training that started at childhood.  However while toughness is an advantage, it is often unreliable unless tempered with smarts and intelligence.  Take Navy Seals, for example, generally regarded as among the most badass soldiers today.  Many don’t know that they are also among the most intelligent soldiers.  They have to learn an incredible number of things, like math, science, navigation, medicine, electronics, technology, parachuting, diving, combat tactics, etc. etc. etc., and often learn it in a short amount of time.  The same is true with most other elite special forces in other military branches and other countries.  Back during peashooter’s teaching days, he once had a student who was a strapping young lad, very athletic and very tough, who wanted to be a Navy Seal.  Physically he had a chance of achieving his goals, but he never applied himself academically.  Mr. Peashooter had to break it to him that if he didn’t have high grades, score high in standardize testing, and most importantly score high in the ASVAB (military testing), it would be highly unlikely he would even be considered for training.

After the Peloponnesian War Sparta came to dominate Greece. Many in Greek city states hailed the Spartans as liberators, seeing the former Athenian rulers as corrupt tyrants.  However, Greece soon learned that the new boss was no better than the old boss, as the Spartans soon brought Greece in line with an iron fist.  One Greek city state called Thebes was so resentful of Spartan rule that it revolted against Sparta in 387 BC, thus declaring itself independent and instituting a new democratic government.  A six year long war ensued, and amazingly the Thebans were able to hold the line against the Spartans by conducting brilliant raids, surprise attacks, and through the construction of large fortifications (Spartans were not good at siege warfare).  

By 371 BC the Theban Army was manned by a group of tough and experienced soldiers.  More importantly, they were led by the brilliant Theban general named Epaminondas, a man who was an expert at solving problems by thinking outside of the box.  On that same year, the Spartans organized a grand army of Spartan soldiers and other Greek Allies with the intent of ending the rebellion once and for all.  The army number around 10,000 with another 1,000 cavalry.  In contrast, the Theban Army only numbered around 6,000 - 8,000.  It was obvious to Epaminodas that victory could not be achieved through brute force alone.  Thus, he came up with a grand idea that would bring the mighty Spartan Empire to its knees.

In ancient Greek warfare, phalanxes met opposite of each other in straight lines, with roughly equal columns and ranks (if possible).  It was a traditional honor that the best soldiers were placed on the right wing, thus the veterans had the privilege of slaughtering the less experienced.  Epaminodas’ goal wasn’t to satisfy honor, he was in it to win.  Instead of placing his best to the right, he placed them on the left flank so that his best would face their best.  He then placed more units on his left, so that in all the left flank was fifty ranks deep, and also placed all his cavalry on the left.  Traditionally, Greek armies engaged all at once, smashing into each other until once side was victorious and the other broke and ran. Instead of straight lines, Epaminodas attacked with his army staggered in echelon formation, thus making his left the spearhead of the attack in a flanking maneuver.  While such tactics were new and revolutionary at the time, they would become a staple of future warfare, with generals such as Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon Bonaparte using similar formations to win epic battles.

When the battle commenced, the Theban left flank, comprising of 50 rank deep column, smashed against the opposing Spartan right flank, which was only 8-12 ranks deep.  Overpowered by the massive assault, the Spartans immediately lost 1,000 of their best soldiers, as well as their king, Cleombrotus I.  The other Greek allies, most of whom were slaves or unwilling participants, turned tail and ran at the sight of the mighty Spartans being butchered, and their right flank being turned.  Those Spartans and Greeks who stood their ground were surrounded and massacred.

The Battle of Leuctra was the first time the Spartans were defeated in an open battlefield.  Once news spread across Greece that the Spartans had been defeated the city states rose up in revolt. More importantly, the helots, Spartan slaves who were the backbone of the Spartan economy, likewise rose up and rebelled against Sparta.  In the end, Sparta was forced to sue for peace, and would lose its status as a major power in Greece as the city state entered a brutal and sad decline.  As decades proceeded Greek and Macedonian leaders such as Philip II, Alexander the Great, and King Pyhrrus would develop even smarter and better tactics.  In the meantime, Spartan warfare would never change, and thus Spartan ways become quaint and dated.  By the time of the Punic Wars, Spartan technology and tactics were laughable at best.  Spartan independence ended in 192 BC when it was annexed by the Aechaen League, and in 146 BC when it was conquered by Rome.

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On this day in history, Bram Stokers’s Dracula hit the shelves of bookstores in London in 1897. Vampire legends have been around since ancient times, but Stoker’s novel transformed these stories. There have been countless vampire films, books, and television shows since the release of Stoker’s novel. Today we recognize Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight program and follows the story of a group vampires living together in New Zealand as they try to fit in the modern world. 

“I always liked the idea that vampires were a metaphor for marginalised groups; immigrants, homosexuals, anyone who’s had to live in the shadows of society.” -Taika Waititi, 2014

Stills and gifs courtesy of What We Do in the Shadows; © 2014 Colby D Crossland/WireImage

Where’s my revolution?

Am I the only one disappointed on how Bethesda barely used the history of Boston in the game?

The Minutemen and John Hancock are there, of course. But it seemed to me that Bethesda was only making coy winks at the history than doing anything really cool with it. Which is a shame because the American Revolution is one of the most important moments in history and the ground work is already there; a group of settlements and militia fighting against ever-present oppression, high-running tensions between citizens, and groups fighting for liberation.

Wouldn’t it have been cool to see the beginnings of a fledgling Commonwealth Provisional Government stoking the flames of independence from the Institute? Or to see when the Institute actually interacted with the surface and oppressed them ‘for their own good’ because the wastelanders couldn’t be trusted to govern themselves? To see both sides interact and seethe at each other instead of the invincible Institute smother the helpless upsiders who can’t do anything about it?

One problem I have with FO4 is that a whole bunch of fascinating events have happened before you woke up. The massacre at University Point, the exile of ghouls from Diamond City, John Hancock taking over Goodneighbor, and more could have been an amazing chain of events leading up to the tipping point of a revolution. And you could be there to help it, a figurative George Washington pushing in a new age of freedom … or a Benedict Arnold who’d rather support the Institute.

And the settlements, rather than just being babies to swaddle, could represent colonies whose support you need in order to sway the political situation one way or another. Like the sub-factions in Fallout New Vegas you could do quests for them in order to earn their favor and you’d get more military and political support. You’d feel like you’re building a nation instead of exterior decorating because what you’re doing will have consequences. (Like if your happiness percentages fall too low? Don’t be surprised if they get ‘delayed’ in helping you.)

And Piper could actually have important quests with her newspaper. The original Publick Occurrences was shut down after one issue by the British. You could help her get it running again and print pamphlets to support the revolution. But will you post propaganda to ensure blind support or print the truth to get respect?

And John Hancock? You can help him overthrow Goodneighbor to free the people and thus tip the balance of power; how are the other colonies or the Institute going to react? Assuming of course that you do actually help him, instead of crushing his rebellion or stabbing him in the back to make him a ‘tragic martyr’ so you can take over yourself. (Plot twist: he wasn’t as dead as you thought, and he’s pissed.)

Honestly if you’re not going to use the history and setting of a famous city then why bother setting it there at all? FO4 could be tweaked to fit any city in the US and it shouldn’t be that way because the whole over-arching theme of Fallout is how the new world is stumbling through the mistakes and ideals of the old one. Because war never changes and all that.

Edit: I’ve seen some people ask if it’s okay to use these ideas for art, comics, fics, and other stuff. My stance on this is sweet jesus go for it. I don’t own these concepts and I want to see all the things you make!

Every year the train fairly buzzes with bets, gold and dollar bills changing hands fast as lightning as the train pulls into Salem. Even the most cynical New York witch gets caught up in the fervent debate that rages through the compartments like a wild fire.

“I’m telling you. It was stone last year so this year it’ll be wood. Oooh, a log cabin!” 

“Oh come on, a log cabin? What is this, 1818? Please. I bet it’s a gigantic apartment. I heard we’ve got more students this year than ever before.” 

“Oh, gross, an apartment? I live in one of those normally, I don’t want to be there during the school year. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a big stone mansion like 1978 had.”

“Those lucky witches.” 

It’s a fight out of the door of the train, dozens of students falling over themselves as they run towards the enormous gates that are the only thing that ever remains the same at the Salem Witches Institute. They reach up to the sky and mark the boundary between the magical and the mundane. From outside, all you can see is a field – standing empty and ruined. That is, if you even make this far. America is huge and wild, even after so long. There will always be hidden pockets of wilderness tucked in among even its most urban states. American wizards don’t need magic to hide away their lands. They just need enough money to buy a good plot out in the middle of nowhere. And America is practically overrun with middle of nowheres.

The first look at their school is always a sacred moment for every Salem witch and wizard (contrary to the name, it has always been a co-ed school. Both men and women died in Salem after all). A moment of stillness as they regard their home before the year begins and they submerge themselves in spells and potions and all things magical.

You see, every year the Salem Witches Institute sheds its skin and begins anew. Bricks might fall out like old teeth as wooden planks push their way out or ivy might peel off like old snakeskin to reveal gleaming stone beneath. Its first year it was a crude log cabin with just one room for all five of its students. The next year, a wooden house stood in its place. The following year, a gorgeous creation of glass and gleaming metal welcomed dozens of students trickling in from all across America as word of this bizarre, wonderful school spread. In 1876, 100 years since America declared its independence, the Salem Witches Institute looked exactly like Hogwarts. Some students were outraged, some were touched, most were confused. But as its Headmistress pointed out, no one but the school could decide what it would look like from year to year. And besides, she said with a definite twinkle in her eye as she welcomed them in, wasn’t it important to remember where we came from so we can see how very far we have come since then?

The European schools tend to look down on the Institute. Even the oldest American school is but a babe in arms next to the Great Schools of ancient Europe. Hogwarts was founded in 990 AD. America wasn’t even discovered yet.

(Of course they forget that long before a white man ever set foot on their land, Native witches and wizards were casting their own spells and teaching their children magic in smoky wigwams or under the starry skies.) 

So, to them, the Institute’s changing nature is indicative of its youth. Like a teenager with a new hair cut every few weeks. It’ll settle down eventually, most European wizards agree indulgently. Everyone needs their rebellious period.

Salem witches and wizards just roll their eyes. Why on earth would you want to remain stagnant when the whole point of magic is change? Every Salem graduate knows, deep in their bones where their spark of magic resides, that magic is renewal and transformation and growth. They go out into the world knowing they can change it. 

(written and submitted by rainbowrites. Rainbowrites has a tremendous ability to capture the wondrous, that spark that made canon seem so significant, even as they depart from canon and create new worlds, explore schools and perspectives only mentioned in passing. I’m always pleased to how else they’ll challenge and play with perceptions of and within the wizarding world. ♥)

The Star Wars franchise does more than nod to history; it asks audiences to learn from it. For example, the saga poses the question of how a Hitler (or a Napoleon, or a Caesar) comes to power—and thus how the next one might be stopped. In the prequel trilogy of films, Palpatine rises from senator to chancellor to emperor in a series of moves that parallel Hitler’s own ascendance. As scholar Tony Keen notes in “I, Sidious: Historical Dictators and Senator Palpatine’s Rise to Power” (an essay from the larger collection Star Wars and History), both Hitler and Darth Sidious built military forces to bring them to and keep them in power; both employed similar rhetorical techniques (Hitler’s “Thousand-Year Reich” became Palpatine’s promise that the Empire “will last for 10 thousand years”); both became dictators by election; and both dispensed with their state’s parliamentary bodies after claiming supreme authority. From a certain point of view (as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say) both Germany and the Empire got the government they deserved.

Not exactly a fan of republics or democracies, Lucas pointedly reminds viewers that gullible people and their easily manipulated representatives not only enabled the rise of Nazism, but also helped transform the earlier Roman Republic into one of the Nazis’ chief inspirations, the Roman Empire. (Martin M. Winkler’s “Star Wars and the Roman Empire” from the book Classical Myth and Culture in the Cinema is one of several academic works to discuss how Star Wars employs and echoes the classical past.) The takeaway? Citizens in these cases did not so much lose their freedom as willingly give it away. As Amidala observes Palpatine’s political victory in the Senate in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, she utters prophetic words well worth remembering: “This is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause.”

The saga suggests that history teaches other lessons as well. For example, over-powerful states or leaders may come to view robust, independent institutions within their borders as threats. Just as the Shaolin Temple in China suffered multiple attacks and the Knights Templar in France fell by the order of Philip IV, so the Star Wars Jedi became “all but extinct” thanks to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s Order 66, which triggered their executions by members of the clone army. And just as American and Viet Cong revolutionaries proved that knowledge of local terrain, unanticipated guerrilla tactics, and ideological investment in a fight could trump the superior firepower and training of the most powerful military force in the world, so too the Ewoks of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi remind us that determined underdogs can prevail against vastly grander forces.

What happens if audiences ignore instructive examples from history? According to the logic of the saga, we’re already guilty of doing just that. Star Wars, after all, takes place long ago in a galaxy far away; any similarities between its narrative and our earthbound experience reflect our failure to learn from the past. That said, we can stop the cycle here. Before it’s too late.

If we don’t step up to do what’s right, who will?

—  Amy Sturgis, “Star Wars, Remixed.” 

tax fraud is such a disgusting crime like people don’t pay taxes just for the sake of paying taxes, like that money actually goes to the government and the government isn’t some sort of independent institution, the government=the people and when people don’t pay their taxes they’re stealing from the people, they’re stealing from public services, education, health care, they’re stealing while that single mother of two earns “enough” money to have to pay taxes, while some parents can’t afford certain things for their kids but they still have to pay taxes. committing tax fraud is not only stealing from someone, it’s stealing from an entire population that has needs that are supposed to be covered by the taxes you didn’t pay

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Christina Ricci came to Provo, Utah, in 1992 and 1995 for the Sundance Institute Directors Labs. She is pictured reading a script alongside her mother, Sarah, in 1992 and alongside filmmaker Amanda Donahue in 1995 at the Sundance Resort. Ricci has since appeared in six Sundance Film Festival features, including Black Snake Moan, The Laramie Project, and Buffalo 66.

© 1992 | Photo by Sandria Miller for Sundance Institute, © 1995 | Photo by Sandria Miller for Sundance Institute