Despotism in Demo Mode: The Ruling Class and the End of the Trumpish Age

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As the squandered summer of the coronavirus dribbled out to a sadly unsatisfying end, three of the most familiar mouthpieces of the ruling class—Anderson Cooper, Bill Maher, and Trevor Noah—produced their own unimaginative commentary on the so-called phenomenon of Q-Anon. None of them had anything enlightening to say about this political subculture, one which I am loath to write about for fear of unjustly magnifying further, but the synchrony of their feeble offensives was one of the more unvarnished examples of the manner in which the mass media produces propaganda, the intended effect of which is to convince the public to develop a specific, artificial opinion. I am still kicking myself for declining to draw contemporaneous attention to this instance of informative coordination, but there will be all too many opportunities of a related sort in the imminent future, especially if Joe Biden ever enters the White House.

Much like the Obama Administration before it, the Biden Administration will seek to amalgamate the American media and the American state. In the previous decade, this process commenced with former politicians and governmental officials finding employment at corporate media outlets, but the interinstitutional messaging will become even more uniform in the coming years. After much bemoaning of the menace of “foreign misinformation”, which may or may not be responsible for the “radicalization” occurring online, the American political establishment sees an opportunity to guarantee that the “official” perspective or narrative shall be the only one permitted in the public sphere. “Hyperbole,” you may say, but you ought to know that Biden has already selected Richard Stengel to direct the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The same Stengel has written on his wish to repeal the First Amendment outright, and in the spring of 2018, he classified “Russia, Wikileaks, and Julian Assange” as “the new axis of the abhorrent”.

Read more about Stengel’s authoritarian tendencies here.

While such sentiment is disquietingly common among the increasingly insecure political elite, the neoliberal bourgeoisie have inherited their paranoia and learned to parrot their threadbare talking points. Having followed a relentless diet of digital fearmongering for more than five years running, the lethargic middle class is convinced that the Trump Administration is a nightmarish singularity, one which can be overcome only through proscription—and the first politician to acquire enough power to enforce that proscription simply must be granted the authority to do so. Presumably, this politician, whoever it may be, will have pledged his or her loyalty to the Democratic Party, and in the interest of maximizing that unknown individual’s prospective success, the public must pledge its loyalty to the Party, as well. Every media outlet will necessarily be required to do the same, and if one refuses to cooperate, then it ought to be dismantled by decree—or, even better, acquired by the state and repurposed to serve the interests of the Party.

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Biden, Harris, and the Exploitation of Racial Statistics

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The incestuous relationship between the corporate press and the political establishment was finally exposed—and in a most unflattering glow—four miserable years ago, but the spotlight has burned relentlessly brighter with each passing day of the Trumpish Age. The purportedly left wing of the American bourgeoisie continues to raise moral alarm on the remarkable occasions that mainstream commentators call the Democratic Party to account. Nineteen months removed from the arrest of Julian Assange, whose imprisonment was newly prioritized as soon as he proved the irredeemable nature of the DNC, and the intellectually infantile remain unpacified. For my own part, I regret my failure to reveal the full extent to which the commercial media exonerated, shielded, and eventually resurrected Joe Biden in the course of the last two years. I have attempted only an introduction to the religious fervor and intolerance with which the gatekeepers of the information apparatus have restricted access to the details of Biden’s illicit exploits in Ukraine, and even this is merely a single page of a story that the respectable publishers would never deign to print.

That story became history on Saturday morning, when the Associated Press decided that Arizona, or Pennsylvania, or possibly some other state was “gone” for Biden, and that was good enough to declare him the next President of the United States. At that point, whether we realized it or not, we commenced the production of a sequel, the purpose of which is effectively the same as that of its precursor: to convince the American electorate that seventy-six million of them voted of their own untiring volition for Biden. Biden, that moribund oligarch who last served as the understudy in the most disappointing presidential administration in modern history, spent more than $300 million of other people’s money in pursuit of executive power, and in bringing his chase to a successful close, he has proven our national virtue . . . or so the corporate media declares.

What an amusing privilege it would be to ask the entities moaning these maudlin encomiums for Biden: “What is virtue, and how does it differ from national virtue?” Usually, the white bourgeoisie mistake political virtue for national virtue—but this is seldom consequential, for they define both as the number of colored Americans who voted for the same presidential candidates as they. I can’t even begin to count the articles I read in advance of Super Tuesday, cursory editorials emphasizing the “overwhelming black support” for then-candidate Biden and accentuating the absence of such a “diverse coalition” for Bernie Sanders. The intended conclusion of this assessment, which was delivered almost exclusively to whites, was that Biden was the more virtuous candidate. Evidently, Sanders’s popularity among Latinos—who may or may not be the same as Latinos; the pundits are never entirely sure—was an inadequate substitute, as an awkward article in Vox sought to explain.

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Election 2020: Julian Assange, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden

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Eighteen long and laden months have passed since the Ecuadorian government, in synchrony with the British government, and under the instruction of the American government, transferred Julian Assange from one informal jail to an official gaol, and through this single act of relocation repealed the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This event, one which the historians of the present are determined to forget, did not commence, nor did it conclude, my own process of political disillusionment, but still, it would be difficult to exaggerate its importance, not just in my own life, but in the chronicle of American civilization. It has immeasurably broadened my political perspective by narrowing my focus to a single point: the measures that can be taken to free Assange before the machinery of the state ends his life. Needless to say, it was this imperative that drew me to Tulsi Gabbard’s ill-fated presidential campaign, repelled me from Bernie Sanders’s masquerade, alienated me from the Democratic Party, reinvigorated my contempt for the Republican Party, and muddled every one of my opinions of Donald Trump.

“Assange or nothing,” I have occasionally tweeted. No other political consideration will seriously guide me in five days’ time, when I enter a narrow, unstable booth and cast a meaningless ballot. It is meaningless, not just politically, but also practically, as President Trump is trailing Joe Biden in New Hampshire by eight points or more, according to the most recent bit of polling. Never have I been inclined to vote for Biden, who once compared Assange to a “high-tech terrorist” and who, last year, penned a prolix malediction of Assange for the New York Times, thereby answering the question I was prevented from asking him on the campaign trail. After all, it is Biden’s Democratic Party that has inexorably propagated the political fiction that is Russiagate, a dizzying conspiracy theory that, for all its flimsy incoherence, has besmirched Assange’s reputation among the liberals who halfheartedly defended him before the Trumpish Age. They have unknowingly partnered with the neoconservatives who, in their more outspokenly cynical support for the tyrannical function of the American Empire, have always been unsympathetic to Assange.

We are bereft of proof, even the most tenuous of circumstantial evidence, that Biden and his Party have any true affinity with Assange. Only by the disorienting impact of propagandistic admass are the people convinced that the Democrats believe in freedom of information, transparency of state, and the other principles for which Assange and Wikileaks advocate—such principles with which the Democrats take umbrage. If they truly championed such causes, then they would acknowledge the veracity of Wikileaks’s most troubling revelations and take meaningful action to improve their own Party. Instead, they have dismissed the work of this publisher as the malicious (although not necessarily fallacious) activity of a “hostile foreign government” and blamed it for their failings at the ballot box.

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Hunter Biden and the Demonization of Conspiracy Theories

The pundits in the corporate media speak with indignant contempt of the conspiratorial culture in the United States, evidently ignorant of their own indispensable role in producing this atmosphere of paranoia. For as long as any living person can recall, the corporate media has served the ruling class by disseminating its mendacious messaging, by deliberately misinforming the peasantry. The arrangement has been supremely lucrative, and therefore agreeable, to the so-called journalists and editors of the mainstream press. Alas, like most of the devious schemes practiced to perfection by the neo-capitalists of the twentieth century, the marriage of media and state has begotten monstrous offspring, including a benighted electorate that seeks impractical solutions to problems that it does not understand. Continuously abused by the political establishment and the media that defends it, the electorate rejects the official narrative, promising to create, or accept, another.

The conspiracy theory is the electorate’s first attempt to free itself from the cerebral fetters that the corporate press has forced it within. Taught to assess and to reason incorrectly, the electorate now tries to teach itself wisdom. Predictably, it will make countless mistakes, some of them comically primitive, before it obtains understanding. The establishment searches obsessively for these errors and, once it has discovered them, accentuates them, and repeatedly reminds the other peasants of them, as if they were unconscionable crimes born of the most unforgivable sins. We are taught that the pursuit of intellectual freedom, irrespective of the pursuant’s intent, inevitably ends only in the crassest form of stupidity—and therefore, in the unerring wisdom of the establishment, to pursue is to be stupid.

In other words, to defy the establishment is to be stupid. The consequence of such a perspective is the discrediting, a priori, of quite literally all criticism of the establishment. Clearly, this outcome would be perfectly agreeable to the establishment, but it betrays, in its marked departure from the establishment’s purported principles pertaining to the freedom of expression, an insecurity on the part of the ruling class. Why does the ruling class suddenly believe it is necessary to use its many resources to stigmatize every criticism of its policies and to informally prohibit the establishment media from voicing that criticism, except to condemn it unambiguously? Such a procrustean policy suggests a bourgeoning concern that this criticism—or the skepticism that engenders it, at least—is spreading too rapidly. For decades, the establishment has labored to convince the peasants that the mainstream opinion invariably reflects the common opinion, but the intellectual intolerance of “the mainstream” raises uncomfortable questions about the definition, and the validity, of that most institutional term.

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Amy Coney Barrett and the Feminist Contradiction

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I was on an airplane somewhere between Des Moines and Manchester when the Americans learned of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s demise. They had expected her death for the past two years, at least, and many of them privately hoped for it; certainly, the right-wing conservatives who voted for Donald Trump in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death wanted to see the president put one of their preferred ideologues on the Supreme Court, but we ought not to forget the pessimists and nihilists who were looking forward to the political turmoil that would follow the news that Ginsburg was dead. They must be disappointed with the reaction hitherto, as we haven’t heard any of the caterwauling, nor have we witnessed any of the scuffling, that defined Brett Kavanaugh’s infamous appointment to the Court. On the contrary, the confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett have been downright dull, laden in their sense of inevitability. Even the Democrat Senators, whose mawkish gestures in the Kavanaugh affair almost equaled the plangency of the protesters, seem to be struggling to stay awake as they ask Barrett the same pointless questions again and again.

Perhaps they exhausted themselves in their relentless attack on Kavanaugh, an assault that did not appeal to the public nearly as much as the corporate media would like us to believe. Joe Manchin, a Democrat Senator representing West Virginia, received permission from his party bosses to vote for Kavanaugh, as this was expected to benefit him in his re-election campaign—and so it did, as he defeated his opponent by the thinnest of margins. In other words, the political operatives in the Democratic Party believed, correctly, that voting for Kavanaugh was the “moderate” position, that the “moderate” or “centrist” position rejected the Democrats’ mass of allegations that Kavanaugh had raped dozens, if not hundreds, of women. That is a remarkable discordance for a political party that has claimed the exclusive right of representation, as well as the only right to speak, for every American woman.

The deliberate conflation of American women and the Democratic Party has been an effort several years in the making and accelerated quite conspicuously in the Trumpish Age. It failed to win the Democrats the presidency in 2016, and it did not prevent Kavanaugh from reaching the bench, but it did propel several congressional races in 2018, and it looks as though it will push Joe Biden into the White House in just a few weeks. Such should be enough—more than enough, really—to make us forget the surreal sight of women in the Democratic Party castigating Barrett for her refusal to adhere to “the feminist standard”. They have reached this conclusion because Barrett will support some future overturning of Roe v. Wade and thereby jeopardize the legality of elective abortion in the United States. Undeniably, this is blasphemous to modern feminists, but here we must pause, for we have ceased to speak of women and have begun to speak of feminism—and the distinction is as critical as the distinction between women and the Democratic Party.

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