The Danger of News Commentary

I am doubting very strongly the merit of the work we are doing here in the political underground, or the independent media, or whichever term you prefer to describe the subcultural ecosystem in which this material is published and consumed. In creating a scheduled, even daily, product—the essence of which is an examination of the corporate news—we run a serious risk of replicating the corporate news model. Instead of watching Cuomo Prime Time or reading Jennifer Rubin, we tune in to the latest episode of Overwritten and read the corresponding essay. We become an extension of the corporate news, and although we sincerely attempt to accomplish some good therein, we are still troubled by our symbiotic relationship to that malignant entity.

There is no fundamental, elemental difference between Cuomo Prime Time and the Overwritten YouTube channel, or between the Rachel Maddow Show and the Jimmy Dore Show, or between Real Time with Bill Maher and the Young Turks. There is, we hope, a difference in the intellectual integrity thereof, but each of these programs is predicated on the theme of reactionary dogmatism. The corporate news media releases a report or declaration of some kind and commentators respond to it. It makes no essential difference whether the commentator is employed by that same corporate media apparatus or not: in either case, the result is punditry.

In acknowledging this, we do not intend to suggest that there is no possible benefit to critical analysis of the corporate media. While I am not a fan of the Jimmy Dore Show, I readily acknowledge that the program has helped to disillusion and de-propagandize some of the younger generation. Obviously, we should laud such a feat, but we must also recognize that disillusionment and de-propagandizing from the corporate news should not be a lifelong process: at some point in our viewing of Dore, or Overwritten, or whatever, we should acquire the skills required to interpret the news ourselves. We should not rely on our favorite commentator to think on our behalf or tell us what to think—and if we do, then we cannot truthfully praise the pundit in question for having disillusioned and de-propagandized his audience.

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To Hell with Panquake

“The revolution will not be livestreamed.” The independent media will not defeat the authoritarian state, but it will continue to pacify many distressed peasants and encourage them to cope with their frustrations by “supporting” public figures who deliver an agreeable message. Perhaps the greatest failing of these public figures, the pundits and the commentators on YouTube and Twitter, is that they do not teach their audience how to think for themselves: they teach them only what to believe about a given issue or topic. They remain susceptible to malicious influence; perhaps not from the mainstream press, but certainly from the independent media, in whom they have placed a decidedly firmer faith.

Of all the public figures in the independent media, I know of none more malicious and destructive than Suzie Dawson, whose entire career, quite literally, is predicated on a cruel exploitation of the gullibility of the political underground. Dawson alleges, without even any circumstantial evidence, that “western intelligence agents” have been pursuing her across thousands of kilometers in three different continents for the past several years with the intention of assassinating her. On the basis of this laughable accusation, she has attempted to become a digital personality, one that she has marketed through ultra-mainstream social media platforms. Periodically, she solicits donations to “support” her as she petitions the Russian government for asylum, or so she claims: again, there is no evidence that she is holed up in Russia, evading those “western intelligence agents”.

Her latest demand for money pertains to Panquake, a proposed social media app for which she has been fundraising for the past couple of months. In the unlikely event that it ever comes to fruition, Panquake will ostensibly be a platform for people to discuss imperialism, surveillance, and similar subjects, but it will really be a forum in which Dawson’s supporters can talk about her, publicize her incredible tales of victimhood, and encourage each other to contribute financially to her latest “cause”. She claims to require more than $150,000 simply to initiate this venture—to say nothing of sustaining it—for which purpose she somehow convinced Jimmy Dore, Chris Hedges, and Lee Camp to make testimonials. We are expected to believe that the project, unrealized as of yet, must be worthwhile if men such as these are endorsing it, but I fail to see how this is any different from LeBron James telling me to drink Powerade.

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In Defense of Joe Rogan

The intelligentsia have commenced a campaign of defamation targeting Joe Rogan, who has dared to question the urgency and the necessity of coronavirus vaccination for the young and the healthy. The response from the establishment media has been predictably indignant, and we may, too, have expected the universality of that response: in the course of the past week, almost every mainstream media outlet has condemned him. Any time we witness this coordinated, synchronized assault on an individual, we should feel some measure of obligation to condemn it, if only for its unnatural nature. This was true when Suzie Dawson and Action 4 Assange slandered me, and it is every bit as true in this case, because Rogan said nothing factually mistaken or morally misguided to justify this intensity of opprobrium.

I had been planning to write in defense of Rogan since Thursday, the twenty-ninth of April, when three random doctors co-wrote a massive op-ed for NBC News in which, of course, they accused Rogan of peddling “misinformation”. This perfectly meaningless and ambiguous term has become in recent years a fashionable charge weaponized by the autocrats and the pseudointellectuals who do their bidding. In short, anything that challenges the dogmatic propaganda of the neoliberal elite can and must be denigrated as misinformation, whether it be criticism of the Democratic National Committee’s indisputable corruption or honest questions about the efficacy of an authoritarian and totalitarian response to a viral outbreak. While the ruling class formerly tolerated mere differences of opinion, they have been waging war on intellectual independence for the past several years, as the instability of their empire has become quite apparent to anyone who has been paying attention.

Consider the aforementioned NBC News piece. We might ask ourselves how this media company found three doctors employed by three different institutions who were prepared to collaborate on an extensive article within a few hours of the release of Rogan’s podcast; this details the unnatural element of these interinstitutional campaigns, and the delivery of propaganda in general. Another recent example of this would be the artificial controversy surrounding Michael Che’s purportedly antisemitic comments on Saturday Night Live. In the case of this article, the unanimity is intended to coerce the reader’s submission: if not one, not two, but three doctors express literally the same contemptuous opinion of Joe Rogan, then they must have the facts on their side. Of course, this is nothing more than the classic logical fallacy of appealing to the majority, which has been posited as a virtue in the modern day. We pursue homogeneity of thought because we have been taught to fear something untrustworthy in the realm of intellectual independence.

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Totalitarianism and Nietzsche’s Last Man

The pandemic will be remembered as the time of the great discouragement, as the time when we were compelled to consider the overwhelming proof of how pitiably helpless all too many of our brothers and sisters really are. In previous so-called emergencies of so-called public health, it was our comfortable privilege to believe and to assume that the fearmongering and panicked reports of cable news resonated only with a minority of the most pathetic, and while that may have been true of the time, it is obvious that the frightened, the gullible, and the childish comprise a significant percentage of the adult population. This is not to say that all who have succumbed to the relentless propaganda of the coronavirus are monstrous, but it is to say that we are likely incapable of opening their eyes, of convincing them to take the red pill.

If you maintain a more optimistic view, then I reluctantly invite you to read an article published by NBC News on Sunday, the twenty-fifth of April: “Even After Being Fully Vaccinated, Many Still Wrestle with a Fear of Catching COVID”. The headline is a staggering display of paralytic superstition, and it reveals the inexhaustible nature of this manufactured terror: there is absolutely nothing, no medical resource or innovation, that can convince the propagandized to conquer their nosophobia and cyberchrondria. Clearly, they do not believe in the efficacy of the vaccines for which they have yearned for more than a year, and with which they demand everyone be injected posthaste. As an aside, it may be helpful if we begin to regard this widespread fear of COVID as a generalized obsession, and not as a directed fear of the coronavirus, per se.

Kit Breshears is one particularly unfortunate obsessive, and it is for this reason that he is the star of the aforementioned NBC News piece. He proudly proclaims the dumbfounding depths of his paranoia, declaring with a salient sense of accomplishment that he has not directly interacted with another human being in more than a year, for he could not accept so needless a risk to his quality of life. He is the model citizen in the authoritarian government’s program of unquestioning compliance and voluntary suffering, and although we might prefer to believe that Mr. Breshears is a fictional character created by the state to effectuate its totalitarian ends, or that he has enjoyed “working from home” (which is to say, not working at all) for the past year too heartily to surrender the privilege, we know that Branch Covidian fundamentalism and extremism are real; and so, there is only too much truth to this portrait.

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America’s Awkward Obsession with Cuba

The American Empire’s obsession with Cuba has endured thirteen presidencies and counting, yet the neurosis is unlikely to be cured anytime soon. On Thursday, the twenty-second of April, NBC News published an inflammatory feature urging the Biden Administration to exploit the political volatility in Cuba to enforce the Empire’s economic and social philosophy. The feature in question was authored by Elena Sheppard, who begins her propaganda piece with the unsubtle declaration: “The Castro regime is why my family left Cuba.” She alleges that her family fled the island in fear of instability in the aftermath of the revolution of 1958, and while such fear was understandable, her subsequent description of her family as “exiles” is not. The term “exile” implies a forcible and involuntary removal of one by another, not an elective exodus; and while we recognize that some flight is effectively compelled, such as the mass departure from the annihilated remains of Libya, the conditions of post-revolutionary Cuba came nowhere close to meeting such a standard.

As may be expected, this is not Sheppard’s only indulgence of pseudohistory. She does not explain any of the reasons for the Cuban Revolution. She does not mention any of the western corporations (several of which are still in operation today) that purchased unnatural power and favoritism from the colonialist government. Those corporations amassed incredible wealth that they never even considered sharing with the natives, and political injustice inevitably followed the economic injustice. Such a situation ought to inspire revolutionary action, but only among psychologically healthy people—which is why it has not yet occurred in the United States. We do not suggest that every action taken in the name of that revolution is morally commendable, but we must recognize the inevitability, if not the necessity, of revolutionary action if we are to understand the relationship between man and state.

In contrast, Sheppard adopts the unnatural, rationalizing perspective of the imperialist. She refuses even to explain the historical conditions that culminated in the revolution, although she does make a passing, derogatory reference to “older Cubans … who supported the revolution and remember the hardships of life before it”. As I said, she mentions them only to demonize them for being “loyal” to the simplistic philosophy of the motto “Homeland or Death”, which she interprets as meaning that “everyone must sacrifice for the revolution”. Tellingly, she does not explain who was responsible for those pre-revolutionary hardships, nor does she explain why someone might support the post-revolutionary social and government structure, notwithstanding its flaws.

She cannot explain these things because to do so would be to open inquiries as to the rationale for the American Empire’s unceasing fascination with Cuba. Unlike Venezuela, which has infuriated the Empire by refusing to sell its oceans of oil at bargain prices, Cuba does not appear to possess anything that the Empire wants, so why does it continue to harbor such resentment? It is because Cuba defied the Empire sixty years ago and has consistently refused to repent. Such refusal is wholly warranted: whatever the Cuban government may have mismanaged within its own borders, it owes no apologies for bucking the Empire and reclaiming the investments to which it was entitled. If there is a victim of the Cuban Revolution, it is not and never has been the American Empire.

Cuba has, however, exposed the Empire’s impotence for the past sixty years simply by enduring as a sovereign nation, and this is unacceptable to the imperialists who wish to present the image of America as an insurmountable force. Hence why it must seek out a mountebank like Sheppard who will advocate for American meddling in Cuba—although, of course, she cannot describe this meddling by its proper name of invasion. Instead, she uses coy, nebulous language, referring to the current period of transitory politics in Cuba as an “opening”, one that the Biden Administration “must seize”. This seizure would entail “a slow opening of Cuba to the world and the benefits of a market economy”, though in both instances she makes an inadequate case: she herself observes that America is the only nation that has a conflict with Cuba, and she never explains what “the benefits of a market economy would be”.

Such is the challenge the Empire faces in attempting to lecture foreign nations about economic prudence at the same time that the Empire’s own economy is dilapidating. The abusive response to the coronavirus, both by the Biden Administration and by the Trump Administration before it, has proven the fundamental inability of the American government to manage its own affairs. It was in light of this demonstrable, undeniable incompetence that even mainstream media outlets expressed puzzlement when the Trump Administration, at the onset of the pandemic, placed a multimillion-dollar bounty on Nicolas Maduro. Sheppard’s dishonest lecture on Cuba is not as obscene, or as reckless, but it shares its imperialist inspiration.