Art Chance: Helter Skelter coming to a city near you

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By ART CHANCE

Helter: Undo haste and confusion.

Skelter: To move about hurriedly.

Neither word means much itself, but the phrase “helter skelter” means “chaos” and has been in the English lexicon since the 1500s. In our time, it is best known as the title of a Beatles’ song from their cocktail-party-revolutionary phase in the late 1960s. Those with a more political bent will recognize it as a phrase from leftist politics to describe a state of a breakdown of governmental control or even a race war which could be used as a predicate to bring on their fervently desired revolution.

The goal of the Manson Family killings, Aug. 8–10, 1969, was to provoke “helter skelter.”  In Manson’s febrile imagination the killings would provoke a race war in which the blacks and whites would neutralize each other and an inspirational leader such as Charlie Manson would take charge. Suffice it to say that leftist thinking in the United States about bringing on a revolution has been delusional for the last 50 years or so.

Communist philosophers in Europe, notably Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, posited that the proletarian revolution stemming from the working class could not be organized in the West because of Western affluence and opportunity. That has proven to be true in the United States, where black Americans have not been reliable allies for the left. The connected black politician in Atlanta isn’t really interested in becoming the politburo member; he wants to live in a nice house on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, with a Bentley out front.

Now the Left is stuck with the pink-haired and pussy-hatted crowd and the soy boys who wear black t-shirts and live in mom’s basement.   Those aren’t really a good revolutionary guard, however. The Left is trying to stiffen the ranks by importing a new population of illegal immigrants. The Romans thought they could control the Goths, too. We’ll see.

Somebody in today’s Left has revisited Gramsci’s idea that you brought about the revolution in the West through the institutions. The Left made the long march through media and communications and the universities by the 1950s. Leftists pretty much conquered K-12 education by the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now the Left’s new front is the government itself and, specifically, law enforcement.

First we had the “defund the police” attacks on frontline law enforcement. Then we had the George Soros and other communists funding candidates for attorneys general, district attorneys, and secretaries of state. These are the administrators of law enforcement. Now, in the big, Blue places of the country, the Left gives the orders to law enforcement, and fundamentally, they have ordered them not to enforce the law.

In the Soros-governed cities, it’s open season on the rest of society by the criminal class, which can rob, assault, rape, and even kill with little fear of consequence. This is the new route to helter skelter.

Right now, the reaction of the sane people in the blue places is simply to first isolate themselves. Then they move. That has been the dynamic of “white flight” since the 1950s. Back then, Detroit was the richest city in the World, one of the richest the world had ever known; look what 20 years of communist, excuse me, Democrat control did to it.

I’m a refugee from Atlanta, the City Too Busy to Hate in the 1960s and 1970s. I ran a business in Atlanta’s downtown entertainment district back then. I’d rather have made the two-block walk from my business to my bank without pants than without a .38 in my belt and a Colt .25 at my ankle.

I did what most income- and job-producing people have done; I packed up and left Atlanta. The downtown district that I knew in the early 1970s doesn’t exist any more. In the 1990s, the Atlanta Braves won 10 or 11 successive division championships and went to a couple of World Series. The Atlanta fans were derided because the old Atlanta Stadium and even in the later years the new Turner Field were never sold out even for World Series games. It wasn’t that the Atlanta fans were blasé; they just didn’t think it was worth dying to go to a Braves game. 

Funny thing: the Braves abandoned the nearly new Turner Field and moved out to Marietta in the northwest suburbs. The games are sold out, and they won the World Series last year.

So, what do we do with these cities that Soros has conquered, and how do we keep him from conquering others.  And, if you haven’t noticed, Anchorage is teetering on the brink of conquest. It’s not quite being governed by the communists, but they have made it essentially ungovernable. I’m not packing boxes, but I’m thinking.

In car-crazy America of the 1950s and early-1960s, people knew of Woodward Avenue in Detroit before they knew of the car culture of The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean in Southern California. Detroit was a very affluent, fashionable city and Woodward Ave. was the heart of its cruising and street-racing scene. If your dad was an executive at one of the Big Three automakers, you could cruise Woodward with the cream of US auto production.

The people who lived in Detroit personified mid-century modern. It was a world of landscaped lots and tri-level homes with two car garages, one bay for Mom’s station wagon and the other for Dad’s company sedan. The mansions built by those who built Detroit a generation before are still there and still well-maintained, but the “For Rent” and “For Sale” signs were beginning to be apparent by the late 1950s as the working population began to drift toward the suburbs and racial tensions simmered and sometimes boiled over.

In the “pay any price, bear any burden” days of The New Frontier and The Great Society, money poured into solidly Democrat Detroit. As has been the case ever since, federal ideas, federal programs, federal administrators, and federal money just made it worse and Detroit became a powderkeg that exploded in July of 1967. The city was essentially destroyed. By the mid-1970s, three-quarters of the white students had left Detroit schools. Those once lovely manicured suburbs were wastelands and the house and lot, or what was left of it couldn’t be sold for even a dollar.

So where did the people who left go? Most initially went to the subdivisions built around the new plants built by the automakers in the late 1940s and early 1950s. That move 25 or 30 miles from central Detroit was a transitory thing, as by the 1970s those plants were closing or moving again.   

A dad who had risen from a foreman or some sort of assistant to an executive office and who had built the first suburban house and made the move to the outer suburbs with the new plant, is now retired or maybe gone. Mom isn’t willing or able to take care of that house anymore so she’s headed for “The Villages” in Florida. The kids may still have decent jobs in the local area, but are just as likely to have moved to one coast or the other. The house is unlikely to sell for a good price and is likely to be scooped up by an investor who will turn it into a rental; there goes the neighborhood.

This scenario is a specter hanging over Anchorage. There is a lot of pipeline-era housing in Anchorage. Some of it is nice, some of it is a little long in the tooth. Some of it is in neighborhoods that have simply gone to hell. The ones in bad neighborhoods are already on the way to becoming rentals or worse. The federal government has a program to buy up single family houses, replace them with multi-family housing, and make them Section 8. You don’t really want to own the house next door to one of those places.

The Municipality of Anchorage and the real estate industry have kept up a brave face and seemingly have maintained the prices of Anchorage real estate somewhat stable. One crack, one chink in that armor and the price paradigm collapses.   

I remember the days in the 1980s, when the standing joke in Anchorage was that the difference between an Anchorage condo and gonorrhea was that you could get rid of gonorrhea. Price collapse has happened before in Anchorage, in recent memory. It could happen again.

If your life’s work and life’s savings are a house in Anchorage, what do you do? We aren’t yet to the place where the housing commissar of the Anchorage Oblast can come to your house and tell you how many other families you’re going to share it with, but they can certainly tax you out of it or destroy its value and they can and will do that with impunity.    

There is a significant portion of Alaska’s self-anointed elite who think Alaska really doesn’t need most of us anymore. You might have noticed that there are not a lot of private or locally owned businesses in Anchorage anymore. Last I was in Fairbanks, it seemed the same, and Juneau has only the most minimal private business sector outside of seasonal tourism.

I lived in Juneau for many years and if you’re “in with the in crowd” it is a nice place to live. Get a job that has travel to Anchorage and Seattle about monthly so you can shop. These days you don’t even need that because online is so much more convenient. Get an account with Alaska Marine Lines so you can use “break bulk” shipping, get the free shipping to Seattle, and only pay shipping from Seattle to Juneau. I can’t remember the last time I was in a store in Juneau other than Fred Meyer or Costco for groceries.

A lot of Anchorage residents are similarly habituated: They take a couple of their daily meals for their family from the Holiday gas station.   I did a little stint at Cabela’s in Anchorage when it first opened, working with a few retirees my age and a lot of twenty-somethings. I don’t know why most of them worked other than pride or family pressure; they’d have been a whole lot better off sitting home, playing video games, and collecting welfare.

In the brave new Alaska we live off the Permanent Fund. We have a world of welfare recipients, public employees, and a ruling elite of elected and appointed officials who oversee it all. There are some restaurants and trendy stores owned by well-connected people. The corporate business lives in its own world. We don’t really need any local retail but we can sell tourist junk between May and September.

Just as in Juneau, there is some service industry to fix your car or maybe your lawnmower, but you are probably just better off buying another lawnmower. Much of the Bush economy has long been the same; if it breaks, it goes out with the ice; it isn’t worth it to fix it.

We can have an affluent elite, a pretty well-off bourgeoisie, and a proletariat that lives off government stipends. We don’t need any nasty oil wells or mines. We just check our bank statement every month. It’s a brave new world.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.

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51 COMMENTS

  1. And you didn’t even touch on the rise in violence.

    I make the Anchorage/Detroit comparisons often. Few want to hear it.

    What to do is simple on paper, hard in reality. Basically, get the hell out. Out of Anchorage, maybe out of state for a time. Those who can, should. Yesterday.

    Those who can’t need to do something even harder. Stop bitching and get involved. In the schools, the political process, the community. There was a time not too many years ago Anchorage was a conservative town. Use the tricks of the left (get involved) and it can be again. But it’s gonna take time and work.

    In the early 2000s Detroit bottomed out. Hard. It’s in the process of a slow, painful rebound. Anchorage can do the same, but it won’t be easy. And it will never be the same.

    But maybe, just maybe, that’s not a bad thing.

  2. All true; a little grim.
    The fact of the matter is that liberalism destroys everything good and replaces it with what is inferior, be it ideas or goods.
    You can move away from it and attempt to stay isolated from it, but the places of refuge are becoming fewer and fewer. Alaska was supposed to be the last holdout, but look at where we are going… imagine drag queens in the park in Soldotna.

  3. Art, great memories you bring up by mentioning the long-ago Saturday night cruising on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue!
    .
    By my time, and place, the cruising in the western suburbs in the later 1970s and 1980s had shifted to Hines Drive, between Dearborn and Livonia. More locally, it was Plymouth’s Main Street, which the Plymouth cops tried to fight, mostly unsuccessfully, for years.

      • Oh yeah, I totally forgot about Telegraph Road!
        .
        My 1982 Camaro Z28 saw more than a few Saturday nights there.
        .
        Somehow, I just can’t imagine today’s millennials or 20-somethings engaging in that sort of auto-related, real-world activity.

        • 72 datsun 280Z with that screaming straight 6 and a 71 Pontiac Le Mans built like a tank. We all knew just enough to not to cruise Jefferson Ave if you didn’t want trouble and at around 2am us hillbillies would head back to our country counties.
          And instead of all these roundabouts, Ak should be looking at putting in Michigan Lefts.

  4. Absolutely correct. Anchorage is slowly going into the toilet and I am going to call it a day. I have lived and worked here for 55 years, ever since I moved here from Fairbanks in 1967. I would never have believed the incredible change in this town that has created this war on tax payers in support of a redistribution of wealth to a few, based on a lie of solving homelessness. There is no solution for a choice made in life that results in being in a tent. People make choices every day and some of them are bad and some just don’t pan out. I made a lot of choices so I would have a chance at a reasonably good life when I got older. Watching the town, and the nation, I have concluded I should have had more fun and worked a whole lot less for all those years, because there is no NOT working now.

  5. Looks like Juneau is working to tax people out of their homes with the latest assessment increases.
    So much for AFFORDABLE HOUSING!

  6. You nailed it again, Art. I grew up along the Jersey shore and remember the Asbury Park riot in the late 60’s, similar to what happened in Detroit as you describe. What was a thriving summer vacation destination became a ghetto after all the burning, and remains so today. Nobody living in those riot zones benefited from any of the anarchy, only those lefties instigating the unrest who want to overthrow the system, as is happening today. When Biden campaigned on “build back better” and Schumer said on the steps of the Supreme Court “we will transform America” we should take them at their word. They want to tear it down completely first. Nobody will win except those leftist elites pushing this crap.

    • Actually Asbury Park has become a small, arty, gay hangout recently.
      It’s been making a comeback, a little Greenwich Village on the Jersey Shore.
      Crime is way down.

  7. This is the best piece I have read from you.

    The truth of us right now is that it is not great. We are at a pivot point in history that has been faced by many before us, many times, across time and culture. The exact presentation may be unique, but the underlying story is one of our oldest. There are always a certain percentage of humans who live in lies and try and force others to do so. What are we going to do about it is the eternal question. That is not theoretical. I am asking you the reader, directly.

    Here is a closing moment of hope. Imagine being in the Soviet gulag on March 5, 1953. You are a typical Article 58 political prisoner. Who knew that the next day Stalin would die and you likely would be freed within a year. Who knew that Stalin would be denounced within three years? Who knew that in 37 years this evil regime would collapse without war or even a shot. You must always fight for what is right and just. The future is not predetermined. But it will be ruled by your enemies, who will educate your children, if you do nothing.

  8. Thank you Art. This is an opening to comment on the Soros District Attorney conduct in several cities causing chaos which can be defined as less safe environments or more crime to include vandalism, theft, assaults and homicides . A District Attorney who purposely declines to use the tools given I believe is easily criminally culpable. They act intentionally, knowingly and or recklessly and the result is societal breakdown and victimization. I believe there is sufficient data to criminally charge Soros and each attorney. The state of mind and elements are there.

  9. Yes Art, you nailed it again. Please get a Substack write or a regular column, because you are the best AK writer I know!

    I left Anc for exactly the reasons you give, and it’s very sad. Like you, I’m watching the property prices like a hawk as a canary in the coal mine, especially in Huntington Park. If we see Spenard gentrify, then all is well. But if the neighborhoods around West High start to crack…look out below!

  10. Art, if you have time to read and completely misinterpret Antonio Gramsci then I suggest you also make the time to read Thomas Sugrue’s Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton Univ. Press, 2014) and Kevin Kruse’s White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (Princeton Univ. Press, 2005). As is typical, your race baiting and fear of black people is common fare among people of your ilk. Perhaps if you subject your preconceived notions to a bit of intellectual scrutiny, maybe just maybe you’ll actually learning something new and come a nuanced understanding of the world around us. Or, you can pump out these mindless, ahistorical screeds for the readers of MRAK to lap up and be impressed by your middling intellect.

    • I long ago learned to ignore anything written by lefty punk which includes the word nuanced; they just use it to make themselves sound smart.

    • So since you can’t accurately refute the point, make quasi clever implications of racism. Smooth.

      Stupid, inaccurate, but smooth.

      Just for giggles. Can you post a list of communities who didn’t suffer an increase in crime, overall violence, and declining property values as a result of white flight? For ease of operation, keep it in the time period you’re contesting.

    • Alaska Jim,
      I recall hearing Walter E Williams describe his reason for Urban Flight. Seems old age caught up with Dr. Williams and he was no longer able to pull all four tires, the cars engine and pack them up to his apartment each night to insure that he wouldn’t get them stolen.

      Williams you may recall was a Doctor of Economics and Chair of the Economics Dept at George Mason University.
      Oh, he also happened to be Julis Irving’s cousin, was raised in the ” Projects” and was quite black.
      What was it you were saying about race?

      • Walter E. Williams is a more than respectable source and remains worth reading. So, too, is the extensive bibliography on urban history, nearly all of which meticulously details racist public policy from the federal government on down throughout most of the twentieth century. It was George Romney, the Republican governor of Michigan, who famously conceded that generations of discriminatory housing and economic policy had acted like a “noose” around the perimeter of Detroit, essentially strangling black residents into substandard living arrangements, starved of meaningful economic opportunity. This history is worth knowing. Art prefers pablum to meaningful analysis, and the MRAK reader loses out.

        • Alaska Jim,
          Have you read Dr. Williams book, “State against Blacks”?
          Just wondering. It’s one of his earlier books, I think you will find the arguments therein compelling, perhaps contrary to your opinion, but perhaps not. I might also suggest Tom Sowell’s classic, ” Vision of the Annoited “.
          Both of these men were Giants and , ” Angry Black Men”.

  11. Art, as Evangelical Christians know, man–basically a sinful creature with genitalia and opposing thumbs–is incapable of “saving” himself. (The words “man” and “himself” here used inclusive of all sexes, including the perplexed!) This being the case, what is it about this “creature” that you think would make either the somnambulists on the right and their fellow creatures–the woke–to the left believe that they are capable of contributing to the betterment of the cosmos–or just Spenard?

    I can’t speak about the Blacks and the Bentleys, Art, but my neighborhood is a whir with Jeeps and pickup trucks–if you get what I mean! The Great Society? Look around yourself: don’t your neighbors just gall the hell out of you?

  12. The downstate Illinois city of 42,000 where I was raised (and then departed for Alaska in 1972) had good public schools and a solid middle class, including the hourly employees of a sizable General Motors foundry. The foundry closed about 40 years ago, which marked the beginning of the end for the schools and the city.

    The actual end, I suppose, is marked as the decade when the large-scale public housing projects in Chicago were closed and demolished, whereupon the tens of thousands of public-aid residents were spun off into distant Illinois cities, such as my hometown. Today the city’s population is 30,000, residential property values have plummeted, and life there is as wretched and crime-ridden as a Chicago ghetto of the 1960s. If there is any lesson to be found in this little story, the reader is free to discover it.

    • Interesting observation. Hollywood Vista, Martin Arms, S & S and Willow Park all closed within roughly a five-year period. Anchorage began changing when those residents were disbursed across Anchorage.

  13. Being a remote-working software engineer (i.e., a member of the “pretty well-off bourgeoisie”), I could live anywhere, so I moved to Alaska 2 years ago. Wasn’t sure where I wanted to live at first, other than NOT Anchorage. The blue drift of the state in general is starting to get alarming and I’m worried I may have to move again.

  14. When conservative political entities start stating this fear over and over again: “We’re on the verge of losing our country!”, I can’t recall ever hearing that before. So, then something is happening. And happening quickly. It feels like a plan unfolding with everything going according to schedule. The Bible speaks about a one-world government. Perhaps it is right.

  15. Some depth to the masses on how this occurs would be good- Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organizations. AMATS in our case is who has a say in the direction of our city. We are well on our way to becoming a SMART city. Ever look at the long range plan? Expansion projects are graded very low, where removal of roadways and more bike paths are highest rated. I counted “slowing” as in “traffic slowing” at least 15 times in the traffic plan. Light rail is in the Anchorage transit plan with a cost of over $2B and an annualized maintenance cost of over $100M… Another example of how changes have been made to our city by the direction of AMATS is within Resolution 2022-01 – this effectively removed car parking minimums and replaced them with bicycle parking minimums in the building code. This was unanimously approved by the Anchorage Assembly and was praised by our “conservative” Mayor. As a city, through the Anchorage Climate Action Plan, we have signed on to adopt United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – as Yuval Harari says “Free will, it is over”

  16. Wow. You hit a Grand Slam with this article, Art. That was a perfect historical analysis and a perfect future forecast. Now for the realist conclusion:
    “……..So, what do we do with these cities that Soros has conquered, and how do we keep him from conquering others…….”
    First, keep moving, always staying ahead of The Hordes. That’s what brought many of us to Alaska in the first place. We’re cultural refugees. Remember when we Mat-Su folks were “Valley Trash”? Now we’re the destination for the cultural refugees from Anchorage. Our population is exploding, and Anchorage is actually declining. I predicted this when Mat-Su had two legislators. We now have several. From the air at night, the extent of Valley lights dwarfs Anchorage. When it fills in, we will own this state.
    But with The Horde comes the trouble, and I’m too old to flee again. My kids and grandkids are here. My time is limited. But we’re still 30+ miles away from Ground Zero (JBER runway), so here is where I’ll stay.
    Secondly, when the ballot box and soap box become corrupted beyond redemption, the cartridge box remains, and its bark is also eventually inevitable: “………We have had 13 states independant 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure……….”
    If you’ve maintained your moving strategy well, you might well miss the cartridge box party……..

  17. In this world we face troubles, calamities, tragedies, and chaos, its not to test us how strong we are, instead its to reveal how much we feeble-broken people need of the I AM with outstretch hands when after all we done to fix lives or made a mess of lives, when on knees we ask Him to finish this
    battle, as a caller spoke into the JaySecklow, “victory begins on knees,” and put the Lord in his rightful place
    ahead of our work-the actions- some all called to campaign for office, volunteer with a candidate, serve in a church’s ministry, do something weekly that brings healing into someone’s life (as homeless, inmates, single parents, kids w/o dad growing up consoling themselves with a belief a dad or men are’nt important), give out gospel tracts, write letters to alaskan inmates about God and the Word cause this is what inmates want to know more of and its application. As jordan secklow’s guest said, “do-something than just listening to its podcasts” i say it can be a large job or small job contributing to the goal but do stay consistent at whatever one’s called, Like prayer there must be consistency, its not a random simple act of kindness, its a job done daily even through discouragement.

  18. Amazing, I’ve been using the Charles Mason example for a year or so–trying to explain that any group that thinks like Charlie Manson has to be deranged. When the class war didn’t work, they went for the race war to divide us. Anyone who thinks that will benefit him/her should re-read Buglioski’s Helter Skelter. And, maybe a history book or two.

  19. Fantastic piece, Art!

    The Frankfurt School dirtbags are rarely acknowledged for their destructive influences and it takes no great understanding of history to see that the Birchers were spot on.

  20. I grew up in Detroit suburbs in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Detroit was a fun and exciting place to be during that time. I was a young man driving the hottest car you could buy up and down Woodward. I raced any car that would challenge me. I drove a 1966 427 Corvette. In 1968 the Tigers won the World Series against St. Louis. I was there for the games and the celebration. It was a wonderful time. I was also there in July 1967 when the riots destroyed much of Downtown Detroit and communities in Detroit neighborhoods.
    I left for Alaska in 1976 for a job on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Another wonderful and exciting time in my life, working on a major project in beautiful Alaska.
    In both cases everything came to a halt when democrats spread vicious narratives on racism in Detroit and global warming in Alaska. Both of these charges were and are nothing but propaganda to influence left-wing citizens to protest and destroy our communities. Just look at our State now. Look at all the stores, businesses and communities closing and falling apart. It’s all about teaching our kids to protest and boycott our businesses and services.

  21. Anchorage used to be a wonderful place to live. My rural village school only went to the eighth grade, so I came to Anchorage in 1969 under the old Alaska boarding home program for the last four years of schooling. After I graduated I joined the Marine Corps and was gone for the next six years. In 1979 I came back to a whole different town. But that was nothing compared to what Anchorage has become today. The south Anchorage neighborhood where I bought my first home is totally run down. I moved out to the Valley in 2004, just as the downward spiral was in its early stages. Now I only come into town when necessary and I leave immediately after I’m done with my business. And I always come armed, because crime is so out of control. I simply don’t feel safe while in Anchorage and I avoid downtown altogether. I can’t remember the last time I was at the 5th Ave Mall. The Anchorage I once knew is long gone and I’ll never live there again.

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