We will decline the temptation to contrarianism that is so irresistible to the rest of the independent media, but we will refuse to join the masses of the bourgeoisie in their bacchanalian celebration of the successful conviction of Derek Chauvin. The authoritarian state is our enemy, and we pursue its destruction in these pages and channels, but we do not pretend that Chauvin, who was only the lowest-ranking of the emissaries of this state, was the embodiment of its essence. Even if we did, his sentencing remains completely uncertain, and the result of his inevitable appeal even more so. The jubilant demonstrations that have been captured and broadcast repeatedly by the mass media since Tuesday afternoon are untrustworthy, also, as we are being told to celebrate our moral renewal at the same time that the authoritarian state is rapidly amassing power through the Biden Administration.
This is the most convenient interpretation of Tuesday’s ruling: the authoritarian state is sacrificing Chauvin to convince the shortsighted masses that they are on the brink of liberation, although none of them can explain what liberation truly entails. Similar to the capitalist who pays nothing in taxes but makes a well-publicized donation to a charity, the authoritarians may be throwing Chauvin to the wolves to distract from their more ambitious undertakings, several of which we have discussed in some detail here at Overwritten. Unfortunately, this process has been distorted in right-wing media (which is the closest thing to an alternative perspective that the establishment permits) as the act of throwing Chauvin under the bus to appease “the mob”, the mob being the masses. This plays into the myth that the commoners and the peasantry possess real power that the state respects and fears.
In other words, no matter which way we turn in the mainstream media, we are presented with the single conclusion that “the people” have been empowered. The only difference between the coverage on NBC and the coverage on Fox is whether this empowerment of the people is depicted as a welcome or a sinister development. We are compelled to accept the authenticity of this narrative before we can develop our narrow opinions on it. This is very similar to the monochromatic depiction of the Alexei Navalny controversy, which we have also been covering at Overwritten: we are required to view Navalny the public figure as a completely organic entity, and there is no space for skepticism in the establishment press.
If it is not too early to attempt to diagnose the Biden era, then I hereby propose that it is an epoch of shameless neoliberalism, as distinguished from the decadent neoliberalism of the past several years. The rapid reversal of purported principles is staggering and, for those of us who care about such things, revolting. Several times since Biden assumed ostensible control of the federal government, the establishment press has produced content so distasteful and nauseating that I have seriously questioned whether I can continue this work of dissecting it. On Tuesday, the twentieth of April, I asked myself this question once again, for on that day the Guardian published a defense of Alexei Navalny that was beyond melodramatic: it was downright lugubrious.
Consider the headline: “Alexei Navalny is Dying. Millions of Russians Need Him Alive”. So the Guardian declared to its international readership, thereby contributing with remarkable aggression to the artificial media frenzy, one which we have previously examined in videos and articles here at Overwritten, but usually through the lens of NBC News. We have not examined the Guardian’s efforts to apotheosize Navalny, perhaps because the moral hypocrisy is too extreme to contemplate calmly. After all, the Guardian published some of the most malicious slander against Julian Assange for three years preceding his arrest, so any claim that this publisher may make to journalistic integrity is laughable only in the bitterest manner.
Clearly, then, it is not in defense of “millions of Russians” and their right to be informed about their government’s goings-on that the Guardian is spilling tears for Navalny. The Guardian has been permitted to plea on Navalny’s behalf, permitted by the same imperialists who persuaded it to defame Assange repeatedly until, at long last, the masses were too propagandized to care if Assange went to prison and the First Amendment was lost with him. Those imperialists are now actively encouraging, or instructing, affectations of indignation on Navalny’s behalf because such indignation benefits the American Empire in its glacial crusade against Russia while at the same time allowing the apathetic masses to indulge their mistaken sense of liberal virtue. The result is a grotesque display of bourgeois morality from which only the elites will benefit.
Yesterday’s analysis of the diversification of emojis and the relationship of such frivolity to self-censorship finds an interesting continuance in today’s critique of the Lincoln Project’s most recent exercise in propaganda. On Friday, the sixteenth of April, the Lincoln Project released a video in which footage of Brian Sicknick’s much-publicized funeral is juxtaposed against the printed names of seven American politicians– Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz—with the concluding message stating simply that they “did this”. In other words, the Lincoln Project believes that these individuals are responsible, directly or indirectly, for the death of Sicknick.
The death of Brian Sicknick continues to stupefy the few of us who have sought to understand it for the past three months. The United States Capitol Police have declared only that Sicknick was “injured while physically engaging with protesters” during the riot of January 6th before he finally “succumbed to his injuries” and died. On the basis of this nebulous information, the New York Times created the myth that a protester (who had apparently seen the film Irreversible one too many times) brutally beat Sicknick to death with it. No one has ever identified this homicidal hooligan, but then again, the details don’t really matter: as long as we believe that Sicknick died in valiant defense of American democracy, we can remember him as one of history’s finest patriots.
The manipulative strategy is similar, perhaps even identically so, to that which was executed in the aftermath of 9/11. We are witnessing another effort to compel our patriotism, which is to say: our allegiance to the official narrative. The official narrative of 9/11, which stated that poorly-dressed peasants in foreign countries detested Americans for their “freedoms”, was assembled to justify an authoritarian reimagining of government. The official narrative of the Capitol riot, which makes a murky statement about the sanctity of “American democracy”, has been pieced together for the same reason. We will remind ourselves to investigate the supposed qualitative decline of this type of propaganda in the future.
As the Overwritten audience may already be aware, I have made a commitment to read NBC News as often as possible while the Biden Administration is in power. My purpose is to understand how this particular media apparatus differs from CNN, which I examined extensively in the Trumpish Age. More specifically, I am interested in its propagandistic function: how, exactly, is it attempting to manipulate and misinform its readers? After three months of research, I am most impressed by the abundance of identitarian agitprop produced by this network. Certainly, the other mainstream outlets engage in plenty of race-baiting and pseudo-feminist virtue-signaling, but NBC News has entire divisions of its website dedicated to creating such inflammatory content on a daily basis. For example, there is a section of the website titled NBC Out, which covers controversy pertaining to LGBT issues. If you want to become angry about anti-LGBT legislation or sentiment, then all you have to do is turn to the appropriate subpage on NBC News and you can be outraged all day long.
Predictably, there is also a space titled NBC BLK, which addresses controversy pertaining to black Americans. On Thursday, the fifteenth of April, this subpage published an article written by Cynthia Silva, who alleges that the “majority of emoji users want more inclusive representation”. It appears that the Adobe corporation conducted a survey of “seven thousand global emoji users” and discovered that fifty-four percent of users “felt their identity was not reflected in the current library of emojis”. This is undoubtedly true, but in a sense unintended by the participants of this survey, because emojis do not “reflect identity”. Emojis are actually the antithesis of identity: they are computer-generated icons developed en masse by corporate programmers who want to make their useless product more addicting and simultaneously more appealing to the masses. The notion that one should seek identity, culture, or anything of value in something as frivolous as an emoji is patently absurd.
So, too, is the article that Silva has written. She writes with a deeply unbecoming absence of self-awareness, perpetually unaware of how silly the subject matter is. When reading a ridiculous piece such as hers, our instinct is to compare it to something one might find in the Onion or Babylon Bee, and it is telling that this comparison has become a cliché in the postmodern world. The mass media is passing off so much laughable material on a daily basis that it very frequently resembles a parody. In this regard, one cannot say that the mass media has really become fundamentally worse in the past six years, as it was always ridiculous enough to inspire satires like the Onion and Babylon Bee. If anything has changed, then it is the seriousness with which the media insists upon itself and its intolerance for well-deserved mockery.
The imperialists are concluding an ambitiously successful week, as it has been our displeasure to report for Overwritten. Less than forty-eight hours after the Secretary of Defense formally declared the Pentagon’s eternal commitment to Israeli apartheid, the Biden Administration announced that the American occupation of Afghanistan will continue for another five months, at least. In delaying this exodus, which has been desired by all sensible parties for nearly two decades now, the Biden Administration has confirmed that which we have been saying for more than a year: the American Empire will never withdraw its military force from Afghanistan, even if it must continue to devise increasingly laughable excuses for sustainment.
Kevin Liptak, a writer for CNN, could probably accuse us of disseminating misinformation. Surely we have read his article of this morning, in which he declared that “the deadline Biden has set is absolute, with no potential for extension based on worsening conditions on the ground”. Indeed, we did. In fact, we read even further into the article, including the point at which he acknowledged that “some U.S. troops will remain to protect American diplomats” and that “American diplomatic and humanitarian efforts would continue in Afghanistan”. Impressively, he concludes from these heterogenous messages that it is “unequivocal that two decades after it began, the Afghanistan War is ending”.
You will notice Liptak’s choice of euphemism. Adopting a familiarly patriotic lens, he describes this interminable conflict as “the Afghanistan War”, much as jingoistic historians have referred to something known as “the Gulf War”, whereas we prefer “the American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan”, “the first American invasion and occupation of Iraq”, “the second American invasion and occupation of Iraq”, and so on and so forth. Behold the epic neuroticism of military propaganda: our evasive language pervades both our beastly lust for war and our moralistic desire to end it. What is the enterprising imperialist to do on singular occasions such as today, when the latter inclination is being satisfied?