The Way of Aikido

How we can take control again of politics



Emanuel Pastreich


The political, social and economic landscape we face in the United States is transforming at a terrifying speed. Small groups have monopolized resources, assets and knowledge and they have left the vast majority of us to suffer in ignorance the catastrophic consequences of criminal mismanagement.

The super-rich stole between five and ten trillion dollars from you over the last four months, in addition to what they had looted before then. And just when we are starting to pull ourselves together to confront the criminal regime of Wall Street, we were confronted with the brutal murder of Mr. George Floyd, slowly tortured to death and those images were spread across the entire country.

Such brutal killings by police happen every day. Increasingly, honest police are forced to quit the force. But this incident was practically created for television and broadcast so as to foment massive domestic conflict that will benefit the wealthy who are terrified that working people might come together in response to their looting of the nation, and of the Earth.

The murder of Mr. George Floyd is the confluence of two horrific subterranean rivers that flow beneath the surface of the United States. One is the river of hatred and contempt for those who are classified as alien, as inferior, on the basis of their skin color, or the habits that they have learned from their parents. This river of hatred has been exploited for hundreds of years to distract from economic exploitation. The Fusionist Party of the 1890s brought together black and white to fight for social justice. They were brutally suppressed, and segregation was the result, a scheme in which pathetic privileges were given to poor whites and a mindless racism was encouraged as part of a divide and conquer strategy.

The other terrible subterranean river is that of destruction for profit, the controlled demolition of the United States’ economy. There is a faction among the rich and powerful who see opportunity for profit in the unspeakable act of tearing the United States apart. They want us to fight each other, and to be so divided that we are incapable of coming together to demand a righteous, equitable and transparent society. Those dark forces have spent enormous sums of money to create rifts and to the pit one poor man against another.

It is impossible to have a conversation on issues like climate change and vaccinations, about the role of government and of the military, about the power of banks and multinational corporations. Different parts of the population have been fed narratives that are so divergent as to make it difficult to agree on what is true and what is false. And too many of the establishment have signed a blasphemous contract with the devil to be silent about the massive lies in plane sight in order to be allowed to become famous and to live a comfortable life.


The intentional confusion created by the media and by authorities around COVID 19 has exacerbated this trend. The murder of George Floyd is the final stage of this plan. Citizens of the United States are confronted with a baited gambit, an impossible choice. Choice A: question the COVID 19 narrative, the plan for vaccinations and be forced into alignment with isolationist and racist militias; Choice B: denounce brutal racism in the government and the systematic efforts of the Trump administration to encourage racist acts and find yourself aligned with Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and a panoply of “think left, live right” closet globalists.

Who forced this choice on us? That is my question for you.

I condemn this brutal murder and demand justice. But I appeal to your native wisdom, your innate ability to rise to the occasion, just as Robert Kennedy did when he spoke on the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Please, please, please! Do not be drawn into this trap set for you by the rich and the powerful.

We must start by facing honestly the advanced moral decay in the fabric of our nation.

Many poor people have been deprived of educations and have been misled by powerful forces to blame the other (whether it is the black, the Asian, or the rural white worker) rather than thinking strategically about how we can all come together to fight against these dark forces.

Most people I know have given up on trying to build bridges. The threat of violence from the White House is a clear sign that the age of bridge-building is dead.

And as violence is encouraged in the streets, the current political “COVID 19” crisis encourages people to stay at home, to interact only with those of similar minds. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, is promoted by the people who are supposedly our moral leaders as an appropriate way to organize. But that social media, and the news that we read, is intentionally designed to make our thinking shallow, to render us foolish. Until we start making our own news, start organizing our own social media, we will be played for fools.

If we cannot create a positive trend in America that gives hope for progress to the people, if all that the people can see is collapse and conflict, then the powerful can go forward with their plans to keep us from meeting each other, from being able to send mail to each other, from traveling, from communicating effectively via email or via social media. Google will never tell you that you are effectively living in a prison.

The forces have thrown against us by corporations, by investment banks, and the various anti-immigrant and anti-minority groups that they prop up behind the curtain, are warping the bearing walls of our nation. These forces want to make attacks on minorities acceptable again-as was the case in the 1920s.


They want you to ignore the looting of the government by banks and to obsess with the looting in the streets that is replayed over and over again in that disgusting media we are forced to rely on.

We need a plan for what we are going to do and we need to follow that plan.

We do not need politicians who tell us that things are bad, but are afraid to explain to us why they are so bad. We do not have time for vague hope that things will get better by magic.

We most certainly should not think that replacing the brutal, brash and narcissistic Donald Trump with some other corrupt politician will solve our problems.

What we need is a new politics of habit, of thinking and of action that is neither “conservative,” nor “progressive,” but is rather transformative. We need a politics that addresses root causes, not their grotesque consequences.

We must grieve for George Floyd, for his family and his friends and his people. At the same time, we must see through the rouse, understand how this incident was rigged up as a chance to use race as a means to tear the country apart and to promote conflicts that will be an excuse for martial law.

Donald Trump sent out a message by Twitter (which is a cynical for-profit corporation that squeezes billions out of us) saying “When looting starts, shooting starts.” Supposedly Twitter blocked this message because it was offensive. I doubt this story. Rather these media companies are working overtime to manipulate us, trying to make us think that they are objective, they are our friends, through false images and deceptive rituals.

The violence of police cannot be separated from the horrific foreign wars we are engaged in now. Police are often soldiers who have returned from those wars. The violence they practice is incubated in violent video games, in movies and in a militarized value system. The violence has swept through our entire society.

The writer James Baldwin wrote of those who have been trained to see the world in terms of race,

“They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they don’t understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of identity…The black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations…

“And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing reality and begin to change it. For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America can become.”

Baldwin was talking, frankly, of what it takes to make America great, not great again, but great for the first time.

What do we do now?

The ancient art of Aikido offers a strategy for the resolution of the social and political crisis, bordering on hybrid war, that we face. But it demands that we first engage in thoughtful, philosophical consideration of the larger dynamics in our nation that has brought us here. Although the Aikido approach may not appeal those who wish to indulge their emotions, it is the most effective response to what could easily become a catastrophe for the entire world. Conflict in the United States cannot be separated from conflicts around the world. The violence used in our streets was learned from our numerous foreign wars. What happened there, hidden from the sight of citizens, has changed who we are.

And now, if things fracture, the question of who controls nuclear weapons could be a crisis tomorrow.

Akido shows us how we can avoid an emotional response to the images we are fed by the corrupt media in an attempt to get us mad, and we can rather focus on building our own communities, and our own brave organizations, so that they can stand up to the powers behind what we see on TV.

Aikido teaches us that we should not respond to the blow thrown at us with an equally powerful blow against our opponent. Rather we should redirect the energy of the blow thrown at us in a harmless direction, or even in a positive direction.

A hostile attack must be disarmed by subtly redirecting the very energy that is thrown against us.

The larger significance of these words is that there is a balance in the universe that we must tap into and the only way that we can truly solve problems is precisely through such a redirection of energy.

Political history shows the truth clearly. Efforts to oppose terrible wrongs have often led to the overuse of force and created new problems, sometimes worse than original ones. The sad process is similar in each age. And such an overreaction is precisely what the dark forces in the United States are hoping for, planning for.

And, yet we cannot expect the people to suffer terrible injustice in silence. As the American patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

What would an Aikido master say if he were giving us advice about how to rebuild this country after this horrific spiritual damage, and how to respond to the terrible blows thrown at us by hidden forces?

Where would he suggest we should start to heal this commercialized, commodified, fragmented, frightened, defiled and demoralized country?

The terrible racial conflicts that are being encouraged by the corrupt media, and by banks like BlackRock and Goldman Sachs, are intended to make people on both sides go too far, to create lasting conflicts that distract attention away from looting of our country, not by poorly paid workers, but by banks, and by those who profit from such disasters.

We can see immediately the negative impact of this blow. But, if we use our imaginations, and if we are disciplined, we can redirect the energy. People have been awakened out of their slumber.

That is good.

People have been made aware of deep injustice that they previously pretended did not exist.

That is good.

They have come together in the streets, sometimes working together, sometimes in confrontation.

This could be good.

The intention of those who have promoted images of destruction and chaos intended for different groups was to encourage horrific conflict.

That is bad.

But if we are able to pursue the truth, not sensationalized reports, and if we are able to make use of this awakening to get people involved into real conversations with each other, and even with the people whom they are supposed to hate, then the forces unleashed to tear us apart can be redirected to bring us together.

We can also start a deep conversation between citizens, gathering at home, in our neighborhoods, to talk about what the real history of America is. We can ask ourselves questions that demand answers:


When did things go wrong in America?


Did everything go wrong after Donald Trump was elected? Or did Trump play some positive role in that he spoke the truth about the endless wars and corruption in the country?

Or did the problems start with the deep corruption of the late Clinton administration and then the George W. Bush administration?

Or should we trace the sickness back to the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

Or should the evils in our country be traced back to the colonization by Europeans in the 17th century, and the extractive economy the slave economy they imported?

Or is there something fundamentally depraved about humanity that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve?

These are critical questions to ask about America and the answers are not simple.

The current wave of disruption projected across our country must be redirected to energize people and to get them engaged in constructive discussion. That discussion could lead to transformation at the deepest level, rather than the propagation of painful conflicts egged on by, set up by, the media and their corporate backers.

The politicians we see on television are expert at dividing us. That is all politicians know how to do. But we could have a politics dedicated to unity, to transformation of thinking, to honest perception. Not all Americans have an equal role in transforming the negative powers that have been unleashed in our country.

Some of us will have received educations and specialized knowledge that allow us to understand the world in ways that others cannot. We, as intellectuals, have an obligation to help those around us to perceive the world more clearly, to make sure that they are not abused by the powerful.

At the same time, we intellectuals have much to learn from those who have worked at hard jobs, standing all day in restaurants, living in inadequate housing, suffering terrible abuse. We can start to create a positive cycle by working together with those who know firsthand the hardships of our society, but who do not have our specialized knowledge needed to change things.

Such an alliance between workers and intellectuals will redirect the forces of exploitation in a positive direction. But such a redirection requires of us, those who have benefited the most (like myself), a willingness for sacrifice.

Consider the quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “never waste a good crisis.” The expression is normally used in the negative sense, meaning that a crisis is a chance to force through changes that would be resisted by the public normally. The passage of the Patriot Act in the United States after “9.11” is a perfect example — a radical restriction of liberty that could never have been achieved without a manufactured mood of crisis.

The crisis today is being magnified and distorted as a means to fundamentally alter American society. The intention is to block all opposition to the concentration of wealth, to the destruction of the environment, and to decrease the autonomy and the liberty of citizens.

If we observe carefully, however, we will notice that there are unexpected positive changes generated by those negative practices. If we can seize the positives, we can push for a constructive transformation. We have no choice as the forces have already been unleashed.

For example, suddenly, without any form of participatory process, or even consultation with experts, global travel has been profoundly restricted, and trade. Airlines are in bankruptcy; airports have been shut down and ports are quiet.

But although politics in this case hobbles towards tyranny, the use of petroleum for transportation and the runaway consumption society that has taken over are killing our ecosystem. It was precisely the right time to shut down the globalization machine and this disruption could be an extremely positive move if we have the vision to recreate our society.

Air transit has to end. Frivolous travel has to stop.

The lock-down orders that have kept us at home, that have destroyed small businesses and empowered corporations, that have allowed the super-rich to make billions and have driven most of us into poverty, are a negative force.

But again, staying at home and working together with our family can be healthy if the direction is healthy. If we must stay in our neighborhoods, it could be an opportunity to build communities that are strong enough to stand up against the power of the rich. We can use the opportunity to get to know our neighbors and learn how to work together with them.

Teaching courses online could reduce the need for automobiles, and even allow for innovative connections between students and teachers around the world that could promote an international perspective. But today online education is being pushed primarily by those in search of profits. We will have to seize control of on-line education and change its direction.

I make these suggestions here just as that, suggestions. We will need to work together to redirect, to block, the dangerous forces that have been unleashed in the United States.


But I would like to suggest that as we mourn the deaths, as we lament the destruction and the damage to our society, that we also keep our eyes open to innovative and creative ways in which these negative forces can be redirected so as to achieve a fundamental transformation of our society. Such a transformation was, to be honest, way, way, overdue.

The aikido of politics and policy that I suggest here is complex and subtle. Most politicians would not dare to approach you with such a policy proposal. They assume that messages must be dumbed down for an American audience that cannot concentrate, that is made foolish by social media and commercial content.

But I take you seriously fellow Americans, I will never talk down to you. I assume that you, standing behind the counter at Wal-Mart, you, taking orders at Amazon, you, wiping down tables for McDonald’s late at night, that you entirely understand these complex issues, that you can, and you will rise to the occasion. You will shake off the poisonous consumer culture and move forward in this struggle.

As we move forward, let us recall the vision put forth by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his State of the Union address of January 6, 1941, as a challenge to the specter of fascism.

Roosevelt called for the protection of “Four Freedoms” for all citizens: “Freedom of speech,” “Freedom of worship,” “Freedom from want” and “Freedom from fear.”

Roosevelt was not ambiguous about the significance of the four freedoms.

He declared:


“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression ― everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way ― everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want ― which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings that will secure for every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants ― everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear ― which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor ― anywhere in the world.”


Achieving such a vision will require tremendous energy and focus, it will require us to come out into the streets and work with our neighbors to create a just and fair society. We have been given such an opportunity, by accident, perhaps. Now is the time to seize it and push forward in a righteous direction.


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