Thursday, September 14, 2017

NEW BOOK - Confronting Political Initmidation & Public Bullying: A Citizen's Handbook for the Trump Era & Beyond

 Just released as an on-demand print and e-book available on Amazon Kindle

Net proceeds from sales will go to Indivisible National of

To download the Preface click here.


Since the kick-off in 2015 of the last presidential campaign, a climate of fear and intimidation has dominated national life in the United States to a degree rarely seen before, poisoning our politics and reaching into our very relationships with friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
    Confronting Political Intimidation is about how this came to be, how we can see ourselves through it, but also why it is not likely to go away anytime soon.
    At the core of this political history is a larger U.S. public culture of intimidation and bullying in the workplace, media, and political arena that has been building for 30 years. It is not by chance that in 2017 the U.S. inaugurated Donald Trump, an openly authoritarian president who is an abusive CEO, capitalist folk hero, and Internet troll.
    The current harsh environment is a direct challenge to citizens and residents, especially those seeking to engage in progressive activism and party politics now and in the years to come.
    This short book offers a unique guide to the strategies and dynamics of contemporary political intimidation and public bullying: the dangers they present, the snares and traps that envelop their targets, and the lessons to be learned.
    In the end, it’s about shedding light on the dark side of contemporary national life in order to see beyond it.

Praise for Confronting Political Intimidation

“Donald Trump is a bully. His political power, his popularity with one segment of the American people and the dread he inspires in the rest, and his ascent from sleazeball entrepreneur to President of the United States, are all fruits of a concerted campaign of intimidation and threat. Today, bullying is less a phenomenon of the schoolyard than of the corporate boardroom and workplace; and Donald Trump, the CEO folk hero, has taken it from there and made it into the central principle of American politics, society, and culture. In this book, Roddey Reid brings us the crucial missing piece of the puzzle of Trump: the way that his fear tactics have created a poisonous structure of feeling that is more deadly than any mere ideology.” 
       -- Steve Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University

"Deeply researched, conceptually sophisticated, and engagingly written, Roddey Reid's excellent new book makes an indispensable contribution. If you want to understand the current moment of Trump in historical perspective--and if, indeed, you care about the future of the USA--you will find Reid's work of great value. His outlook is always realistic, and often grimly so, but never without hope."
      -- Carl Freedman, author of The Age of Nixon

"Roddey Reid's Confronting Political Intimidation is an insightful diagnosis of how we got here, and a potent toolkit to secure a more hopeful future. Reid pulls together a wide range of under-examined material from corporate culture and popular media to source the dark currents now surging through American politics, and finds a fresh vocabulary for democratic renewal."
      -- Christopher Brown, World Fantasy Award nominee and author of Tropic of Kansas: A Novel

"Roddey Reid shows that Trump mastered, but did not originate, the hyper-tough entrepreneurial bully we see today. His book offers a convincing and important study of bullying as the link between austerity, hyper-wealth, and reactionary populism, and forces us to look again at the fabric of our everyday social relations and political choices. To begin to imagine a different kind of politics, to conceive of a more compassionate and knowledgeable society, and to put these goals into practice before it is too late, we need this book."
      -- Jody Berland, author of North of Empire: Essays on the Cultural Technologies of Space

"Reid highlights in this slim volume the ways in which Trump's behavior, and more importantly its resonance with American voters, is less the product of a personality disorder that an expression of the culture of bullying that has become prevalent in business, politics, and the media since the days of the Carter stagflation. His nuanced but incisive analysis brings home the dangers posed by the sharp right-wing term to American institutions and the need to confront it not with better electoral politicking but a deeper participatory democratic and more egalitarian socio-economic vision."
      -- Gershon Shafir, author of A Half-Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World's Most Intractable Conflict

“Donald Trump has withered himself into an orbit of four basic cravings: maniacal lying (its gravitational influences infect the orbits of the other three), greed, revenge, and his hatching of apparitions, which lure society into feckless vintages of disintegration yet to be named: Roddey Reid, like a 21st century Kepler, traces the sources of these orbits and their vapors, which have already wobbled into the resetting of the Doomsday Clock.”
      -- David Matlin, novelist & essayist; author of Prisons inside the New America: From Vernooykill Creek to Abu Ghraib

“If you have found yourself wondering how the President suddenly morphed from the commander-in-chief to the bully-in-chief, this is the book for you. The short answer: it wasn't so sudden. Reid expertly shows how the Trump phenomenon is the culmination of a decades-long history of transformations affecting not only national political discourse but rooted as well in arenas as diverse and pervasive as workplace culture, the neoliberal spirit of capitalism, and the culture of insecurity in the age of limitless war. Trump did not invent this "culture of fear and intimidation." His innovation is to have personified it, channeling its violence toward ever balder and harsher expressions. Confronting Political Intimidation is a wake-up call and a call to action in the name of a livable – and shareable – future."
      -- Brian Massumi, author of Ontopower: War Powers and the State of Exception and The Power at the End of the Economy

Table of Contents

PREFACE Our Transformed National Life

CHAPTER ONE Political Violence, or They Meant What They Said

    Traumatic Lessons: CEO Trump’s Hostile Takeover

    Looking Back: They Meant It

    9/11, the Iraq Invasion, and the War on Terror

    New York City as Laboratory of Intimidation and Fear

CHAPTER TWO Intimidation and Bullying in the Wider Culture: The Workplace and the Media

    Harsh Climate

    Ground Zero: Financial and Managerial Revolution in the Workplace

    The Bullying Boss

    Short-Term Greed, Long-Term Insecurity

    The Media Sphere

    Reality TV and Social Media

CHAPTER THREE Enter Trump: The Tyrannical CEO and White Entrepreneur as Capitalist Folk Hero

    The Question

    Trump the Entrepreneur

    Trump’s Negative Identity Politics: From Cold War Smearing to Entrepreneurial Bullying

    The Defiant White Man: The Method is the Message

    Government as Family Business

    The Political Synergy of Trump’s Multiple Identities

    After Trump: Entrepreneurialism and Authoritarian Political Rule

CHAPTER FOUR Political Thuggery and Party Identities

    A Restructured Democratic Party and Its Cautious Strategies

    The Advent of Obama and the Rise of the Tea Party

    2010: Demobilizing Democrats

    Party Loyalty, Social Identity, and Cultures of Governing

    Donald Trump’s Identity and Aggression: He Meant What He Said

CHAPTER FIVE Playing for Keeps: The 2016 Elections

    The Abusive Entrepreneur Enters Politics

    Hillary Clinton’s Unflinching Campaign

CHAPTER SIX Learning from the Dynamics of Political Intimidation and Bullying

    Preemptive Strike: Creating Public Facts on the Ground

    Public Bullying

    The Politics of Destruction

    Snares and Traps: Denial

    Snares and Traps: Blind Revenge

    Snares and Traps: Nostalgia for the Theater of Moral Shaming

    Snares and Traps: Media Frenzies

CONCLUSION Renewing Politics

    On Our Own

    Rewriting the Political Script

Roddey Reid is Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego, where he taught classes on the modern cultures and societies of the U.S., France, and Japan. He is the author of Families in Jeopardy: Regulating the Social Body in France, 1750-1910; co-editor of Doing Science + Culture; and author of Globalizing Tobacco Control: Anti-Smoking Campaigns in California, France, and Japan. His latest writing has been on trauma, daily life, and the culture of intimidation and bullying in the U.S. and Europe. He hosts a personal blog called “UnSafe Thoughts” on bullying and the fluidity of politics in dangerous times. He is a member of Indivisible San Francisco.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Announcement: archiving of all postings on the 2016 elections

All personal postings on the 2016 elections have now been archived. Thank you.

Quick Summary of Cyberbullying for Parents & Guardians


Today bullying has reached a point such that the different arenas of school, workplace, media, and politics operate as multiple sites of intimidation. Operating synergistically, together they produce a public culture of intimidation that links the most personal, individual experiences with those of public life itself. The example and achieved legitimacy of behaviors in one arena (say, media or the workplace) can have the effect of authorizing analogous conduct in other domains of civil society (for example, school or politics).


In my view there are important aspects of bullying as a phenomenon that are not always acknowledged as much as they should be in public discussions:

·      no one individual or group has a monopoly on bad or good behavior
·      virtually every child has the potential to become a bully or at least to engage in bullying behavior
·      bullying often erupts between friends
·      unfortunately, parents are rarely able to recognize their children as bullies or responsible for committing acts of bullying and intimidation
·      schools are where children first encounter sustained bullying and learn to be bullies
·      bullying behavior is not simply part of a developmental stage restricted to childhood and K-12 but can return in adult life or even happen for the first time in adulthood. Bullying and intimidation can be viewed as the eruption of life-changing emotional trauma in daily life at any age.


What are the main factors that put a child at risk of being bullied?

·      Expert consensus has been that children who are "different" are commonly singled out for not only teasing but aggressive bullying.
·      The question is "different" from what? 
·      Answer: different from stated or tacit norms in the local school or community environment concerning a wide array of things: 1) physical appearance and body type (height, weight, hair, skin, make-up, clothing [especially matching what is considered gender-appropriate attire]); for teenagers undergoing anxiety-causing changes in their physiognomy and appearance, this is perhaps the most important factor along with # 2; 2) gender/sex self-presentation (esp. LGBTQ students); 3) physical or cognitive ability or disability; 4) "uncool" tastes, demeanor, etc.; 5) excellence or mediocrity in academics; "too" smart or studious (anti-intellectual climate) or too "slow"; 6) lack of athletic ability; 7) retiring or timid personality; 8) appearance of being alone; 9) new student. 
·      consequently, schools need to inquire as to what the local norms that students seem to follow.
·      strength of local school culture of aggressive cliques and macho sports programs
·      tolerance of bullying by teachers and administrators
·      absence of acknowledgment of bullying as a problem by teachers and administrators
·      thoughtless or heavy-handed application of bullying prevention policies
·      disparities in student family income
·      volatile, overly intense student friendships (potentially explosive sense of betrayal when they end)

What are the main factors that contribute to a child becoming a bully?

·      previous target of constant bullying
·      volatile, overly intense student friendships (potentially explosive sense of betrayal when they end)
·      underlying sense of insecurity
·      member of an aggressive clique
·      caught up in strong conflicts between cliques
·      member of an overly aggressive sports team
·      overly competitive school environment
·      local school's tolerance or even inadvertent encouragement of bullying

How can parents protect their children against cyberbullying in our socially connected society?

·      use of parental controls over Internet devices, social media accounts, and apps 
·      control over computer and smartphone settings
·      work out with child limits to time online and number of "friends"; the greater number of "friends," the greater the risk of possible misunderstanding and conflict.
·      educate the child to the fact that cyberspace is not private nor protected space. In this respect it is little different from the school cafeteria, schoolyard, or locker room. Moreover, messages and postings are distributed at lightening speed and can't be erased or retracted.
·      work out with child how to report any instances of cyberbullying or aggressive behavior
·      inquire with the local school how administrators handle offline bullying by students (on or off the school campus) that continues online 

Originally posted Oct. 26, 2016