Traitors of Journalism: Lindsey Max, Vote Shamer Extraordinaire

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To Lindsey Max:

I am new to your writing, having encountered it for the first time today in someone’s response to a tweet written by an irascible political commentator known as Brooklyn Dad. This morning, Mr. Dad helpfully informed the world, including his six hundred and seventy thousand followers, that if one is “voting for Trump, the Green Party, or not at all”, then one is a “selfish, stupid asshole” whom he does not “ever want to know”. Presumably, he posted this while in agitated anticipation of President Trump’s impending nomination of a Supreme Court justice. Presumably, too, he was speaking contemptibly of people like me: even though I have every intention of voting, I expect to cast my ballot for Julian Assange, an Australian citizen who is legally ineligible to run for, never mind to be elected as, President of the United States.

As stated previously, I am largely unfamiliar with your body of work, and therefore, I cannot say for certain if you are a defender of Mr. Assange. I am, however, comfortable in assuming that you are not. This assumption is based on the article linked in the aforementioned response to Mr. Dad: “Progressives Must Vote for Biden” is its title, which reminds me of one of my own op-eds, “The Oligarchs Must Support Joe Biden”, the link to which is included here. Whereas my piece was an anticipation, one which has subsequently been confirmed, that the many institutions of American corporate power would eventually support Biden’s presidential campaign, yours endeavors to craft a moral argument, not so much in defense of the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, but in disdain of a species of political animal known as “Bernie Bros” who, in your esteemed estimation, shall determine the outcome of the present presidential race.

You begin by quoting Molly Hodgdon, another person I have never heard of before, who tweeted four long and bitter years ago: “Voting third party is a good way to let marginalized groups know that your abstract principles are more important than their very real lives.” She doesn’t strike me as an admirer of Plato, nor as a regular reader of your work: after finishing the piece from which I am quoting, I took a look at another essay of yours, “Dump Trump Lovers”, in which you instruct people of “morality and ethics” (by which, I imagine, you mean yourself and like-minded people) to terminate their relationships, “be they romantic or platonic … with others who support Trump”. The reasons of these others for supporting Trump is irrelevant, in your view, and you quote Sa’iyda Shabazz, another writer with whom I’m unfamiliar, who said to Trump’s supporters: “You’re not voting for someone based on one thing. By supporting that one thing about them you do like, you’re also supporting the things you may not like.”

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Assange Contra Ginsburg

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Journalistic malpractice has always been lucrative, regardless of the political climate in which it is performed. Comforting though it may be to convince ourselves that admass and agitprop came into vogue only recently, perhaps no sooner than the moment Donald Trump descended from his golden escalator, we ought not forget that the omnipotent, omnipresent electronic media gave rise to him, and not the other way around. The information apparatus, inherently dangerous even in the absence of a malevolent actor, came into existence long before Trump decided to take advantage of it. His distinctive work has been, not to assemble this machinery, but to expand it, to develop additional layers of the platform—or, at the very least, to encourage this industrial activity. In the Trumpish Age, quite literally any person, no matter how unlearned or crude, can create a digital soapbox and command the attention of the masses of consumers. Predictably, this fecund ecosystem has given birth to every manner of mountebank, propagandist, and political partisan, and it is in these robust times that the freedom of expression is most seriously imperiled, vis-à-vis the fascist prosecution of Julian Assange.

Assange’s relationship to the information apparatus is convoluted and contradictory, much like the apparatus itself. The apparatus, which is the manifestation of a system of cerebral control, cannot function without the involuntary patronage of human beings, who, by their nature, cannot function in a state of servitude, whether it be physical or intellectual. Assange is the apparatus’s antithesis, sublimation, and catastrophic byproduct. We remember the Architect’s description of Neo in The Matrix Reloaded: “You are the eventuality of an anomaly which, despite my sincerest efforts, I’ve been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.” One must begin with an imprisoning culture of compulsion, compliance, and conformity if one is to discover a rebellious mind, a mind that, in its incompatibility, is immediately loathsome to the homogenous masses.

The masses are loyalists to the information apparatus and the authoritarian philosophy it serves. In consequence, they recognize the rebellious, liberated mind as an existential threat; not incorrectly, for they have merged with the governing system and become its host, although they may come to be the parasite in time. In any event, Assange is the antidote to the sickness exchanged, and for the bloodsucker, to cure is to kill. As a preventive measure, the parasite must discard the medicine and deliver to the doctor a terminal disease; namely, incarceration within the bowels of the system. For years, the information apparatus persuaded the masses that it was absolutely necessary to swallow him up and ensure that he never endeavored to treat this infection again, but as soon as the jaws of the state seized him on April 11th, 2019, no popular interest was expressed in the digestive process. Wasn’t this at odds with the supposed urgency and pertinence of his arrest? If the public welfare depended on his imprisonment, then shouldn’t our collective energy be directed toward the surety of his imprisonment?

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Revolution, BLM, and Biden’s NBA and NFL Endorsements

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Perhaps the revolution will not be televised, and it probably will not be livestreamed, either, but it certainly won’t be authorized by the ruling class. The implacable ruling class, typically defined by glacial apathy, is furiously nimble in its resistance to any credible threat against its power—which is to say, against its very existence. We mourn Bernie Sanders and his failed democratic revolution, but lest we choke on our tears, shouldn’t we gag on this gibberish we speak? What is a “democratic revolution” if not a contradiction in terms, one which should be struck with brutal cruelty from the lips of a political novice? “Democratic revolution” . . . Do you really believe that “the revolution”, which is meaningless unless it is the lethal termination of the ruling class and the total demolition of their authoritative structures, will take place in the form of an election, an event that is permitted, encouraged, respected, sanctioned, and finally accepted by the ruling class? You are speaking not of revolution but of masochism, which might reveal an awful lot about you, but which takes us no closer toward an understanding of the sadistic elite.

Every authentic democratic exercise is peaceful in its nature, which is its appeal. It is also useless in its nature, which is also its appeal: the electorate believe that they have acted in the moral right and the ruling class maintain their power apparatus. Revolution, on the other hand, is necessarily violent: the ruling class will not capitulate without the threat of bloodshed, at the very least. Even if a democratic exercise could eliminate the power of the ruling class, it would only be through the enforcement of the will expressed thereby that the victory of the electorate is secured; indeed, there is no persuasive rebuttal to the libertarian’s diagnosis of the necessity of force in the nature of the state. Accordingly, the ruling class must resist, through their own forceful means, every attempted revolution, democratic or otherwise, of the ruled. It cannot be a coincidence, then, that those ruled are taught to synonymize democracy and revolution, the former being under the exclusive control of the ruling class.

Until we consider the practical requirements of revolution, until we acknowledge the need for the possibility of violence, we will be incapable of overcoming and overthrowing the ruling class. The ruling class employs every violent method at its disposal to suppress the uprising of the masses, of which the deployment of the militarized police is only the most conspicuous example. Because we are contending with a violent opponent, we cannot afford to deny ourselves every violent resource. We cannot dismiss violence out of hand, and indeed, no sensible person does, lest the right to self-defense be dismissed, as well. This is the argument proposed by Frantz Fanon in his forgotten little book, The Wretched of the Earth, which I have had the good fortune to read for the past few weeks. Fanon, who appears to have been forgotten, too, was a Marxist revolutionary who wrote in support of Algeria’s War of Independence, a subject that should be of some interest to those who champion the Black Lives Matter phenomenon.

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Kamala Harris Flaunts Her Autocratic Bona Fides on CNN

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The popular enthusiasm for Kamala Harris isn’t quite as timid as it is for Joe Biden—and one may inquire what on earth could be—but it is almost certainly even more dishonest. Harris embarrassed herself as a presidential candidate, squandering the assiduous support she enjoyed in the corporate press (including an article in Politico that effectively declared her the Democratic Party nominee two years in advance) as well as more than forty million dollars in sponsorship money. The former allowed her to escape scrutiny for her autocratic record as the Californian Attorney General despite Lara Bazelon’s best efforts to expose it; the latter evaporated when Tulsi Gabbard relayed part of this bloodstained history to a broader audience and Harris could not even attempt to answer for it. Officially, she shuttered her campaign in December of last year, but it had been a dilapidated heap for several months since, and she was wise to junk the machinery before it failed to collect a single delegate. Her protracted fall from grace is all the more impressive if we accept her self-description, spoken at the start of her downswing, as a “top-tier candidate”.

None of this reads as the description of a viable vice-presidential nominee, but in the current year, when the will of the people is wholly foreign to the democratic process as well as the government to which it gives rise, perhaps it is appropriate for Harris to stand beside Biden, another byproduct of institutional power, and lead the Democratic Party’s presidential ballot. The Party has just eight weeks more to persuade the electorate, the same electorate that abandoned Harris one year ago, to accept her as the second-best possible shepherd of this weary American flock. When we frame the task in these terms, it actually appears to be pretty straightforward, even feasible. Accordingly, the Party is doing everything in its power—of which it possesses plenty—to complicate this effort. To this end, it has selected the most simplistic of all possible endeavors: to make Kamala Harris even more unlikable than she naturally is.

Harris took several meaningful steps in that direction on Sunday, September 6th, when she chatted at some length with Dana Bash of CNN. Admittedly, I don’t watch CNN as often as I should, as I tend to believe I see enough neoliberal propaganda on Twitter; however, this interview will inspire me to pay more attention to that network in the future, as it presents an uncommonly unobscured view of the world as experienced by the bourgeoisie. Consider Bash, whose ex-husband served as the Chief of Staff not only of the CIA but also of the Department of Defense, walking the ghostly lawns of Howard University and having a cheerful conversation with Harris, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Although they are walking outdoors, completely alone in an environment that has been vacated due to the coronavirus, still they are wearing face masks and maintaining a conspicuous distance. The abundance of messaging, instruction, and fearmongering in the opening frame alone could inspire one to make a dangerous drinking game.

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Traitors of Journalism: Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen, Party Propagandists and Censors

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On the sixth of August, 2015, the same night that Donald Trump participated in his first Republican Party Presidential Debate, the final episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart played before an American electorate who were about to forsake their political innocence. In a nation that had long since replaced any semblance of culture with electronic media—and with television in particular—propagandizing the public through mass communication ought to be a most straightforward task. The insouciant Stewart, though, had a decidedly rosier perspective of this American vulnerability: “Bullshitters,” he said in his valedictory speech, “have gotten pretty lazy, and their work is easily detected, and looking for it is kind-of a pleasant way to pass the time.” In one sense, not only was he right, but prescient: the underground media, defined by its relentless assault on the neoliberal-neoconservative charade, has flourished in the Trumpish Age. It has run parallel to the corporate media, whose humiliating descent into neo-McCarthyism and hysterical fearmongering have made for easy satire and critical assessment.

However, we the underwriters often preach to the choir for reasons that Stewart inadvertently reveals: “Bullshitters have gotten pretty lazy,” he says, implying correctly that the mainstream media’s misinformation used to be more detailed and practiced than it is today. Unfortunately, one could not observe this qualitative decline without first having some familiarity with the media of yesteryear. A person coming into form intellectually today would be incapable, at least initially, of telling the difference. It is this manufactured ignorance that troubles me: although it most likely can be overcome through traditional reading and research, there is always the remote possibility that sustained experience in an environment of intellectual suffocation will inflict lasting damage on one’s cognitive faculties. At the very least, it is one additional and unnecessary layer of manipulation to smother the mind, a few more degrees of inclination added to what is already an arduous uphill climb. Perhaps, as Stewart claims, the mediocrity of the system, accentuated by the omnipresence of the system, will be its undoing, and in optimistic moods I am tempted to agree, but I have known and been convinced by darker visions, too.

In producing their pap so sloppily, the corporate journalists betray a glacial self-assurance, as if to say they know their readers demand nothing better. CNN published an especially perfunctory piece eight days ago, one which was swiftly lost amidst relentless coverage of the Democratic National Convention. Written by Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen, the former of whom is prestigiously christened “CNN National Security Reporter”, the article touches on the cadaver of a failed scandal in the doomed and desperate hope of resurrecting it. “Trump Retweets Russian Propaganda about Biden that U.S. Intel Agencies Say is Intended to Influence 2020 Election”, the essay’s prolix title awkwardly informs us, with the superfluous and mildly insulting reminder that “propaganda about Biden”, a presidential candidate, presumably would be “intended to influence” the current election. This also happens to be the only informative section of the entire document, as neither Cohen finds it necessary to explain what the propaganda is.

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