Monthly Archives: November 2020

The Person Who Chooses to Dance

Today, I am happy to welcome back guest writer Phil Rockstroh with a powerful piece on love and its mysteries. I am also immensely pleased to feature a lovely piece of artwork by my sister, Cheryl Orphan. A painting entitled “Social Distancing.”

I remember a vast, comforting, sublime aloneness in childhood. A sense of being embraced by an infinite, knowing order — of being held in warmth, by a power, by a loving consciousness beyond words.

No one knows where one is going…We are pulled forth on currents of mystery…that are more like songs’ sound waves than following the itinerary of a travel plan.

In childhood, in dreams, I walked with God and elephants. The world was made of music, infinite song. It was the kind of love in which there was no blame, no burden. No apologies needed to be proffered because all things were present and aglow with light and smelling of earthen loam.

Love need not be conjured — it is built into the scenery, swells from the orchestra pit, flows from the stage lights of a theatre built and scripted by Love itself.

When you gaze upon lovers you are looking into the architecture of yourself. When you know this you will give love in abundance knowing its source is inexhaustible. Notice: Life seems more bearable now.

Thus you are granted an ardour to praise what is beautiful and love what is flawed. The world is the face of the beloved, born from an exquisite music.

The person who chooses to dance to this music does so in a room of Divinity. Your life has become a great song.

Phil Rochstroh  is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living, now, in Munich, Germany. He may be contacted: and at

Title art piece is a painting by Cheryl Orphan entitled “Social Distancing,” acrylic on canvas, 2020

Before the Champagne is Popped…

Biden won. Trump lost. I am pleased the orange proto-fascist lost. But before the champagne bottles start popping there are a few things we should remember.

Biden won. Trump lost. But it should have been a landslide. It wasn’t. In fact, the Democrats lost a lot of ground in other key races. A few QAnon folks are now going to Washington. And the Supreme Court has now decisively shifted even more toward the right. This has all kinds of implications, but the most obvious is that the American Empire is both deeply divided and shifting ever rightward. Fascism has always lain under the surface of American society, but the veil was completely ripped off over these past four years.

Biden won. Trump lost. But Trump will not go gracefully. He is already calling it fraud and challenging the results. And his sons and other unhinged sycophants are calling for a war. Literally, a war. Don’t forget the plot to kidnap a US governor. Don’t forget Amy Coney Barrett. Don’t forget Bush v. Gore. Don’t forget that Trump had the backing of many police departments, ICE, and countless white supremacist groups. Don’t forget that there was a surge in weapons sales in the run up to the election. Don’t forget that there a lot of people who feel very threatened right now. Threatened that their status in a society is at risk. Threatened that “communism” or “cultural Marxism,” as ridiculous as it sounds, will sweep through the country. In fact, the threat of violence and unrest has never been higher than it is now. I urge my American comrades to be vigilant and careful.

Biden won. Trump lost. But remember that Biden is not MLK. He isn’t Malcolm X. He isn’t Gandhi. He isn’t Mandela. He isn’t even a good person. He was just the only alternative offered up by the ruling class to oppose a proto-fascist who emerged from that same ruling class. The US remains a dictatorship of money. But it was Black, Brown and Native people who made this victory possible because they have the most at stake. If Biden and the Democrats toss them aside, which they will likely do, or if he maintains the status quo and continues neoliberal policies, which appears inevitable, another Trump will emerge. And the next one will be far more formidable, dangerous and terrifying. The question is, will white American liberals fall back asleep for the next four years, or will they come to realize that problems like racist police violence and economic inequity are systemic and structural? And that the Democratic Party has no plan to address any of this in any meaningful way?

Biden won. Trump lost. But do we really want to return to “normal” as I have seen so many white liberals say in recent days? What was normal? No healthcare for working people and the poor? Continuing police brutality? Growing income inequity? Continued subsidies for corporations? The fossil fuel industry? The arms industry? Record deportations of immigrants, as what occurred under Obama? Drone bombing wedding parties and ambulances in Afghanistan? More support for despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia? Or military juntas in Egypt or Honduras? Or apartheid in Israel/Palestine? The steady destruction of the environment thanks to unbridled industry? Does any person of conscience really want to return to “normal?”

Biden won. Trump lost. But the dissolution of the American Empire will happen regardless of this election because it is failing in all the ways empire’s fail. It may take decades (Rome did not fall in a day), but on its current trajectory, it is inevitable. And truthfully, that is the best prospect for humanity and a living biosphere.

It comes down to this: If we don’t understand Trump to be a symptom, we will be missing the lethal disease we are collectively afflicted with. If we don’t understand that the current political, social and economic order is pathological, we will merely perpetuate its cruelty by actively or tacitly giving it a veneer of credibility.

Kenn Orphan November 2020

Thoughts from the Margins of an Empire in Decline

Since my recent piece I have been barraged with messages, tags, etc. Several have requested I weigh in on their personal pages with friends of theirs who may have objected to some of what I had to say or who are demanding I produce “solutions” to the problem of American Empire. I am sorry but I don’t have the time to get to all of these requests. But I appreciate people taking time to really think through the issues and what I had written. Thinking and discussing are good things.

As I stated in my piece, the only hope we have is for the dissolution of the American Empire if we want to have a livable future. This was mistaken by some to mean that there is a plan for this in the works or that ordinary people have control over this. The truth is that ordinary people do, in fact, have agency, but only when they organize en masse and in solidarity to fully disrupt the power arrangement. Outside of this, we are at the whims of the powerful and the caprice of societal trends and schisms.

Whatever the outcome of this election (and at this point it appears, predictably, that Biden will win and Trump will do everything within his power to sow chaos and discord), the American Empire will hobble on for several more years. If Biden wins, many white Liberals will likely go back to sleep, ignoring the cries of Black and Brown people besieged by a racist police state and the agony of millions of foreign victims of America’s brutal military/surveillance state. I have already seen many of them say they “look forward to getting back to normal.”

But what was normal? No healthcare for working people and the poor? Continuing police brutality? Growing income inequity? Continued subsidies for corporations? The fossil fuel industry? The arms industry? Record deportations of immigrants, as what occurred under Obama? Drone bombing wedding parties and ambulances in Afghanistan? More support for despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia? Or military juntas in Egypt or Honduras? Or apartheid in Israel/Palestine? The steady destruction of the environment thanks to unbridled industry? Of course, if Trump somehow manages to win the swift slide toward a more overt fascism will be inevitable. But does any person of conscience really want to return to “normal?”

To be sure, the American Empire has been in a state of decline for the last 20 years. So its eventual dissolution is inevitable. This may take decades (Rome didn’t fall in a day), but it will dissolve because it is failing in all the ways empires fail. Bloated, over extended and expensive military and the accompanying occupations and forays. Disintegrating social safety nets. Growing economic shocks, insecurity and disparity between rich and poor. Ecological devastation and depletion. General lack of confidence in a unifying imperial ethos among its subjects. It isn’t alone in this. China and Russia are facing similar prospects. But the American Empire remains the most powerful and wealthy hegemony on the planet.

So I think it is more constructive to realize that we have no power over this dissolution. What we do have power over is how we organize and react to it. On an individual basis this might mean some tough choices like relocating. On a broader basis, this might mean joining or building resilient communities in places as far as possible from the epicenter of the empire’s collapse, since that is where most of the chaos will be located.
But my piece was not primarily intended for an American audience. It was written for the rest of us. Those of us living on the margins of empire, outside of its physical borders, yet are subject to its ruthless rule in various ways. Incidentally, this would include Native peoples who reside on bantustans within the empire itself.

I respectfully encourage my American readers to remember that their government, military and intelligence agencies have and continue to interfere in the political, economic and social affairs of virtually every other nation and region on the planet. Therefore, we have every right to voice our rage, and owe you no explanation or “solutions” to your problems. We care about the poorest and most vulnerable among you, but we simply want your empire to fall for the sake of humanity and the entire planet.

I care deeply for my friends and family in the US. I care especially for those who will face oppression, poverty and violence no matter who gets elected. But right now my concern is more for those living on the margins of American Empire. Because they are, and have always been, the main victims of its ruthless bellicosity, exploitation and belligerence.

Kenn Orphan November 2020

  • Title painting is The Course of Empire, Destruction, 1836, by Thomas Cole. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Donald Trump was Never the Real Problem

As I write this I await, like everyone else on planet earth, the results of this spectacle called the US elections. I await the outcome of a sham that empires throughout history have foisted on their subjects. The illusion of choice. I also await the inevitable contention. I await the speculation that will likely stretch on for weeks or more. I await the unhinged machinations and chaos making from the sitting president, as well as his unbridled fascist putsch, an expected act born in desperation from a sociopathic narcissistic megalomaniac.

But let’s be frank, Donald Trump was never the real problem, he was and is the rancid product of a centuries long experiment in racist colonial settler imperialism, first born on the continent, then later exported to the entire world. It started when European settlers set foot on this occupied “New World” and declared it their own, Native peoples be damned.


Trump’s penchant for detached, sadistic cruelty is what has always lain under the surface of American “exceptionalism.” This is the same cruelty that spawned Indigenous genocide, the African slave trade, lynching, Jim Crow, and a nation that put its citizens in concentration camps, normalized the nuking of civilians (the only nation on earth to ever do so), carpet bombed South Asian villages and doused their children with napalm and Agent Orange. The same one that trained death squads in Central America and Indonesia. The same one that assassinated Lumumba and ousted democratically elected presidents like Allende and Mossadegh. The same one that allowed for the decimation of Iraq and an entire region based on lies, that tortured children and their parents in the dank cellars of Abu Ghraib, that drone bombed a grandmother picking okra in her field. The same one that turned Libya, once Africa’s wealthiest nation, into a center for the modern slave trade. The same one that has bestowed tanks to its police, trophies of its bloody forays in the global south, now destined to crush its own people. The same one that locked up an entire generation of Black and Brown kids for the possession of a plant or because they injected something into their impoverished arms to alleviate the agony of living in a hellscape of hopelessness.

The US just experienced its biggest voter turnout in 150 years, yet it did not produce the so-called “blue wave” so many liberals were hoping for. Trump, the festering pile of orange dung that has haunted the Oval Office for the last four years, should have been crushed in any election in a free and equal society. Yet, nearly half of those who voted chose that proto-fascist dung heap, the one who ripped children from the arms of their parents and put them in cages as they sobbed uncontrollably. The same one who has openly encouraged violence from his more extremist fanbase. The one who said neo-Nazis were “very fine people.” The one who commanded racist terrorists to “stand back and stand by.” The one who has mocked healthcare professionals and science while a fully preventable pandemic surges across the country. The “grab em by the pussy” chauvinist who has been accused of sexual assault by at least 26 women. The one so many evangelicals sickeningly fawn over as if he were the American version of the biblical King David. The one who has consistently demonized the press as well as anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.

Why? How can this be possible? Because white America, liberal and conservative alike, has for too long been drunk on its own hubris, willfully blind to the misery it has inflicted through apathy or deliberate policy. It has been continually hand fed the lie of its supposed greatness from CIA/Hollywood propagandists for decades. It has continually been hand fed the lie of the “free market,” ridiculing socialists and anarchists, while millions languish in shanty towns outside of cities like Los Angeles or in capitalism’s industrial cancer alleys. And its dissidents, of whom there have been many, have been repeatedly chided, silenced or ruthlessly punished for daring to expose the lies for what they are. One sits in a gulag in Britain awaiting his fate at this very moment. America is, in fact, an empire in a state of steep decline on a planet ever besieged by war mongering, ecocidal psychopaths, far more interested in accumulating coin than even the lives of their own children and grandchildren.

Joe Biden, a lingering ghoul of America’s past racist and genocidal forays, was peddled to the country as the only viable alternative to a proto-fascist. A man whose groping hands have unwelcomingly caressed more buttocks than can be counted. Who proudly cavorted with segregationists, authored a crime bill that sent impoverished Black and Brown kids packing to prison, championed a war based on lies that took hundreds of thousands of lives, if not more. Who continues to defend apartheid in the Middle-East and military juntas in Central America. Who still lauds fracking amidst a climate melt down. And who refuses to consider anything close to universal healthcare in the midst of a pandemic. This was the alternative. And yet so many liberals still incredulously wonder why he didn’t garner much enthusiasm.

Regardless of the outcome, it should be clear that the US is a failed state. While most of its people are decent and willing to engage with a world far bigger than its borders, a sizeable chunk of its constituency has demonstrated it is not. A sizeable chunk has embraced fascism, even if they are unable to define such a term. This is a fact that must be stated plain. And its belligerent government’s disregard for facts or even a modicum of decency, cooperation, compassion or conscience has been revealed to every inhabitant on the planet, and in very stark terms. It cannot, and should not, ever be trusted. In fact, its dissolution is the only hope we have for a livable future on earth.


Kenn Orphan November 2020