Perhaps, when the deep state finishes with Trump, they can deal with our in-house Russian mole, CJ Hopkins, who appears to have lost it and published the following blasphemy in CounterPunch.

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Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
(originally published in CounterPunch, February 21, 2017)

So the global capitalist ruling classes’ neutralization of the Trumpian uprising seems to be off to a pretty good start. It’s barely been a month since his inauguration, and the corporate media, liberal celebrities, and their millions of faithful fans and followers are already shrieking for his summary impeachment, or his removal by … well, whatever means necessary, including some sort of “deep state” coup. Words like “treason” are being bandied about, treason being ground for impeachment (not to mention being punishable by death), which appears to be where we’re headed at this point.

In any event, the nation is now officially in a state of “crisis.” The editors of The New York Times are demanding congressional investigations to root out the Russian infiltrators who have assumed control of the executive branch. According to prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, “a foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a US presidential candidate” … “we are being governed by people who take their cues from Moscow,” or some such nonsense. The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Politico, Mother Jones, et al. (in other words virtually every organ of the Western neoliberal media) are robotically repeating this propaganda like the Project Mayhem cultists in Fight Club.

The fact that there is not one shred of actual evidence to support these claims makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. As I wrote about in these pages previously, such official propaganda is not designed to be credible; it is designed to bludgeon people into submission through sheer relentless repetition and fear of social ostracization … which, once again, is working perfectly. Like the “Iraq has WMDs” narrative before it, the “Putin Hacked the Election” narrative has now become official “reality,” an unchallengeable axiomatic “fact” that can be cited as background to pretend to bolster additional ridiculous propaganda.

This “Russia Hacked the Election” narrative, let’s remember, was generated by a series of stories that it turned out were either completely fabricated or based on “anonymous intelligence sources” that could provide no evidence “for reasons of security.” Who could forget The Washington Post‘s “Russian Propagandist Blacklist” story (which was based on the claims of some anonymous’ blog and a third rate neo-McCarthyite think tank), or their “Russians Hacked the Vermont Power Grid” story (which, it turned out later, was totally made up), or CNN’s “Golden Showers Dossier” story (which was the work of some ex-MI6 spook-for-hire the Never Trump folks had on their payroll), or Slate‘s “Trump’s Russian Server” story (a half-assed smear piece by Franklin Foer, who is now pretending to have been vindicated by the hysteria over the Flynn resignation), or (and this is my personal favorite) The Washington Post‘s “Clinton Poisoned by Putin” story? Who could possibly forget these examples of courageous journalists speaking truth to power?

Well, OK, a lot of people, apparently, because there’s been a new twist in the official narrative. It seems the capitalist ruling classes now need us to defend the corporate media from the tyrannical criticism of Donald Trump, or else, well, you know, end of democracy. Which millions of people are actually doing. Seriously, absurd as it obviously is, millions of Americans are now rushing to defend the most fearsome propaganda machine in the history of fearsome propaganda machines from one inarticulate, populist boogeyman who can’t maintain his train of thought for more than fifteen or twenty seconds.

All joking aside, the prevailing mindset of the ruling classes, and those aspiring thereto, is more frightening than at any time I can remember. “The Resistance” is exhibiting precisely the type of mindlessly fascistic, herd-like behavior it purports to be trying to save us from. Yes, the mood in Resistance quarters has turned quite openly authoritarian. William Kristol captured it succinctly: “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, [I] prefer the deep state to the Trump state.” Neoliberal Rob Reiner put it this way: “The incompetent lying narcissistic fool is going down. Intelligence community will not let DT destroy democracy.” Subcommandante Micheal Moore went to the caps lock to drive the point home: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on: TRUMP COLLUDING WITH THE RUSSIANS TO THROW THE ELECTION TO HIM,” and demanded that Trump be immediately detained and renditioned to a secure facility: “Let’s be VERY clear: Flynn DID NOT make that Russian call on his own. He was INSTRUCTED to do so. He was TOLD to reassure them. Arrest Trump.”

These a just a few of the more sickening examples. The point is, millions of American citizens (as well as citizens of other countries) are prepared to support a deep state coup to remove the elected president from office … and it doesn’t get much more fascistic than that.

Now I want to be clear about this “deep state” thing, as the mainstream media is already labeling anyone who uses the term a hopelessly paranoid conspiracy theorist. The deep state, of course, is not a conspiracy. It is simply the interdependent network of structures where actual power resides (i.e., the military-industrial complex, multinational corporations, Wall Street, the corporate media, and so on). Its purpose is to maintain the stability of the system regardless of which party controls the government. These are the folks, when a president takes office, who show up and brief him on what is and isn’t “possible” given economic and political “realities.” Despite what Alex Jones may tell you, it is not George Soros and roomful of Jews. It is a collection of military and intelligence officers, CEOs, corporate lobbyists, lawyers, bankers, politicians, power brokers, aides, advisers, and assorted other permanent members of the government and the corporate and financial classes. Just as presidents come and go, so do the individuals comprising the deep state, albeit on a longer rotation schedule. And, thus, it is not a monolithic entity. Like any other decentralized network, it contains contradictions, conflicts of interest. However, what remains a constant is the deep state’s commitment to preserving the system … which, in our case, that system is global Capitalism.

I’m going to repeat and italicize that to hopefully avoid any misunderstanding. The system the deep state primarily serves is not the United States of America, i.e., the country most Americans believe they live in; the system it serves is globalized Capitalism. The United States, the nation state itself, while obviously a crucial element of the system, is not the deep state’s primary concern. If it were, Americans would all have healthcare, affordable education, and a right to basic housing, like more or less every other developed nation.

And this is the essence of the present conflict. The Trump regime (whether they’re sincere or not) has capitalized on people’s discontent with globalized neoliberal Capitalism, which is doing away with outmoded concepts like the nation state and national sovereignty and restructuring the world into one big marketplace where “Chinese” investors own “American” companies that manufacture goods for “European” markets by paying “Thai” workers three dollars a day to enrich “American” hedge fund crooks whose “British” bankers stash their loot in numbered accounts in the Cayman Islands while “American” workers pay their taxes so that the “United States” can give billions of dollars to “Israelis” and assorted terrorist outfits that are destabilizing the Middle East to open up markets for the capitalist ruling classes, who have no allegiance to any country, and who couldn’t possibly care any less about the common people who have to live there. Trump supporters, rubes that they are, don’t quite follow the logic of all that, or see how it benefits them or their families.

But whatever … they’re all just fascists, right? And we’re in a state of crisis, aren’t we? This is not the time to sit around and analyze political and historical dynamics. No, this is a time for all loyal Americans to set aside their critical thinking and support democracy, the corporate media, and the NSA, and CIA, and the rest of the deep state (which doesn’t exist) as they take whatever measures are necessary to defend us from Putin’s diabolical plot to Nazify the United States and reenact the Holocaust for no discernible reason. The way things are going, it’s just a matter of time until they either impeach his puppet, Trump, or, you know, remove him by other means. I imagine, once we get to that point, Official State Satirist Stephen Colbert will cover the proceedings live on the “Late Show,” whipping his studio audience up into a frenzy of mindless patriotic merriment, as he did in the wake of the Flynn fiasco (accusing the ruling classes’ enemies of treason being the essence of satire, of course). After he’s convicted and dying in jail, triumphant Americans will pour out onto the lawn of Lafayette Square again, waving huge flags and hooting vuvuzelas, like they did when Obama killed Osama bin Laden. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t attend. Flying home may be a little complicated, as according to The Washington Post, I’m some kind of Russian propagandist now. And, also, I have this problem with authority, which I don’t imagine will go over very well with whatever provisional government is installed to oversee the Restoration of Normality, and Love, of course, throughout the nation.

CJH

Our in-house pundit, CJ Hopkins, has been reflecting on the Pussy Hat People’s Resistance, and the first ten days of the Trumpian Reich, and has published the results in CounterPunch, may God have mercy on his soul. We’ve posted it here against the advice of our attorneys …

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The Resistance and Its Double
(originally published in CounterPunch, January 30, 2017)

So the neoliberal ruling classes are putting on a little revolution, to which you and I are cordially invited. The occasion is the takeover of the United States by Vladimir Putin and his Manchurian President or the official launch of the Trumpian Reich, whichever hysterical scenario you prefer. Dress is casual. Children are welcome, as this is a strictly non-violent uprising, which will take place on the weekends, mostly, so as not to interfere with school or work. Colorful signage and puppets are encouraged, but you can leave your gas mask and welder’s gloves at home, as there won’t be any tear gas canisters or rubber bullets coming your way. Oh, and it will definitely be televised.

The rebellion began on January 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration, when the nation’s capitol was stormed by thousands of militant liberals in pink woolly hats. Michael Moore and Madonna were there, as was John Kerry, and his dog, apparently. Expletive-laden speeches were delivered. Virtue was signaled. Selfies were taken. Requiems for Saint Obama were sung. Notwithstanding the totally unthreatening nature of the whole affair, according to Charles “The Withering Gaze” Blow, Resident Guerrilla Fighter at The New York Times, this was the birth of a new “dissident” movement. “This was an uprising! This was resistance!” The Withering Gaze cried out from the barricades, or from his offices high above midtown Manhattan. Much of the mainstream media concurred. “The Women’s March will spark the resistance!The Guardian assured its Jacobinian subscribers. “The Resistance Rises!” proclaimed Time‘s new cover. CNN featured “The Twitter Resistance.” Rolling Stone introduced “The Leaders of the Resistance,” a coalition of grassroots activists, NGOs, and business interests, but mostly it was the Pussy Hat People that were being marketed as the movement’s vanguard.

Which, all right, credit where credit is due to the organizers of the Women’s March. Calling it a “Women’s March” (a) imbued it with a grassroots aura, (b) obscured the larger power struggle between the neoliberal establishment and the neo-nationalist Trump regime, and (c) rendered it impossible to criticize without coming off as a misogynist creep. What kind of monster, after all, would want to criticize millions of women dressed as vaginas and other reproductive organs for “being proactive about women’s rights,” and “joining in their diversity,” and so on, because they accidentally happened to organize their protests in a way that perfectly aligned with the aims of the global neoliberal establishment, which is relentlessly delegitimizing Trump for reasons that have nothing to do with women? Imagine, if they had called it a “Liberals’ March,” or a “Deep State March,” or a “March to Restore the Democrats to Power as Soon as Possible.” It wouldn’t have been anywhere nearly as effective, in terms of framing the official narrative.

The “Resistance” sprang into action again in response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban” this weekend. Following word that he had ordered a blanket entry ban of people from a list of seven so-called “countries of concern” (that the Obama administration had identified in its Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, and stripped of Visa Waiver Program privileges), Michael Moore blew his Twitter horn, summoning thousands of outraged protesters to Terminal 4 of JFK Airport to militantly assemble in a designated area (so as not to impede the normal flow of traffic) and completely shut down an adjacent parking lot. The protests spread to airports throughout the country and “sparked “fury and anguish around the world,” according to the Sunday edition of The Guardian (which, as of approximately 08:30 this Sunday has gone to Emergency Live-Tweet mode to cover every fascistic twist in this evolving Fall of Democracy story).

Now, before any Trumpward-leaning readers get too excited about where I’m going with this, I should probably state for the record here that I regard the man as a dangerous idiot, made even more dangerous by the fact that his program appears to be primarily the work of Steve Bannon, who is not an idiot and is much more dangerous. I’m imagining Bannon slouched on a couch in his lair in the White House this Sunday morning, sporting his signature impish grin as he scans the reaction of the mainstream media to his latest perfectly calculated gambit. The man knows exactly what he’s doing. With a stroke of Trump’s pen he has simultaneously reassured his neo-nationalist base that Trump’s promises were not just empty threats and provoked the media and urban liberals into an understandable but mindless frenzy of unfocused anti-Trump “resistance.” This is a textbook insurrectionist tactic that Bannon has been employing with alarming success.

The reason he has been so successful is that the Trump regime and the neoliberal establishment are playing to two entirely different audiences. The Trumpians are playing to “flyover country,” not just nationally, also internationally. For reasons I’ll get into in more detail shortly, many of these non-urban working class folks are not real thrilled with Globalism and are responding to Trump’s neo-nationalist message. The neoliberal elites are playing to their base, most of whom are no less misguided than the folks they deride in “flyover country.” This is mostly due to the identity politics that have been part and parcel of neoliberal ideology for going on the last fifty years, and is why the so-called “resistance” to Trump is centered around issues like racism and misogyny, rather than any kind of cogent reading of the global political dynamics at play here.

This is the problem with identity politics when divorced from a broader political discussion and over-simplified for mass consumption. By occupying the conceptual territory where any deeper or more threatening analysis of political dynamics might take place, it prevents the formation of such analysis. It answers the question “Who is fighting who?” in advance of the question being asked, in order to prevent it being asked.

So who is fighting who in this case, if it’s not as simple as the forces of Love fighting the forces of Racism and Hate? Well, here’s one way of looking at it …

What we’re experiencing throughout the West at present is a neo-nationalist insurrection against Globalism. An “insurrection” because global Capitalism is a global-hegemonic system. It has no viable external enemies. People, unhappy with how Capitalism has been restructuring their lives since the end of the Cold War, and aware that power has been gradually shifting from sovereign nations to supranational entities, multinational corporations, international institutions, and so on, are reaching for the only alternative on offer, Neo-nationalism, in one form or another. Which is what the Trumpians and the Brexit gang are promising, a halt of the spread of global Capitalism and the restoration of national sovereignty.

The neoliberal ruling classes, naturally, would like to prevent this from happening. Which, make no mistake, they are going to do (although they may let Trump, Bannon, et al. go ahead and have their War on Islam to finish destabilizing the Middle East first). What is being marketed to us as the “resistance to Trump,” technically, is a counter-insurgency operation … the global neoliberal establishment quashing the neo-nationalist uprising. But that kind of thing doesn’t sell very well. What sells much better is Hitler hysteria, neo-McCarthyite propaganda, and emotionally loaded trigger words that short circuit any kind of critical thinking, words like “love,” “hate,” “racism,” “fascism,” “normal,” and of course “resistance.”

The irony is, the actual resistance (if the word “resistance” still has any meaning) is the one being waged by the neo-nationalists, who are in fact resisting something, namely Neoliberalism, which is clearly the dominant force in this equation. This doesn’t make them any more righteous, unless you’re in favor of racism, sexism, theocracy, and other such despotic values. “Resistance” is not a virtue in itself. Its virtue depends on who is doing the resisting, and what they’re resisting, and on various other sociopolitical and historical factors that won’t fit into a tweet or a sound bite.

In any event, the quandary folks on the Left are currently facing is twofold: (1) how to oppose the Trumpians, and other neo-nationalist insurgencies, without serving the interests of Neoliberalism; and (2) how to oppose Neoliberalism without serving the interests of the Neo-nationalists. Which is more or less a classic Zen koan designed to make one’s head explode.

Both the neoliberals and the neo-nationalists know this, and will be using it to pressure us into joining their camps. Until this insurrection is neutralized, and the Trumpians are either removed from office or tamed (which at this point seems rather unlikely), the Neoliberal Liberation Army will be barraging us on a daily basis with news of the imminent end of everything and histrionic entreaties to “resist.” Meanwhile, Bannon (who will continue to run things while Trump obsesses over the size of his whatever) will be relentlessly pushing his agenda forward. The scary thing is, he is obviously smart enough to know that his insurrection is doomed if the fight remains merely on the economic level (i.e, trade deals, bringing back jobs, et cetera). He understands the global economy, as do the rest of Trump’s Goldman Sachs team. Which means it probably won’t be all that long until the War on Islam gets officially launched, as there’s nothing like a war to unite a country … and manufacturing military ordnance at home won’t screw with the price of people’s smartphones.

Hopefully, by the time that war begins, The Withering Gaze and the Pussy Hat People (most of whom had zero qualms about Obama bombing seven Muslim countries to serve the interests of the neoliberal establishment that has been aggressively restructuring the Middle East since the end of the Cold War with total impunity) will have morphed into an actual revolutionary army, one that doesn’t get decommissioned whenever a Democrat moves into the White House, but I kind of have my doubts about that.

CJH

Ever wondered how the Nazi-style “Big Lie” propaganda technique really works? Well, you’re in luck, because here’s our in-house propagandist, CJ Hopkins, to explain it all to you …

good-germansWhy Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
(originally published in CounterPunch, January 13, 2017)

For students of official propaganda, manipulation of public opinion, psychological conditioning, and emotional coercion, it doesn’t get much better than this. As Trump and his army of Goldman Sachs guys, corporate CEOs, and Christian zealots slouch toward inauguration day, we are being treated to a master class in coordinated media manipulation that is making Goebbels look like an amateur. This may not be immediately apparent, given the seemingly risible nature of most of the garbage we are being barraged with, but once one understands the actual purpose of such official propaganda, everything starts to make more sense.

Chief among the common misconceptions about the way official propaganda works is the notion that its goal is to deceive the public into believing things that are not “the truth” (that Trump is a Russian agent, for example, or that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, or that the terrorists hate us for our freedom, et cetera). However, while official propagandists are definitely pleased if anyone actually believes whatever lies they are selling, deception is not their primary aim.

The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.

Imagine this Maginot line as a circular wall surrounded by inhospitable territory. Inside the wall is “normal” society, gainful employment, career advancement, and all the other considerable benefits of cooperating with the ruling classes. Outside the wall is poverty, anxiety, social and professional stigmatization, and various other forms of suffering. Which side of the wall do you want to be on? Every day, in countless ways, each of us are asked and have to answer this question. Conform, and there’s a place for you inside. Refuse, and … well, good luck out there.

In openly despotic societies, the stakes involved in making this choice (to conform or dissent) are often life and death. In our relatively liberal Western societies (for those of us who are not militant guerillas), the consequences of not conforming to the official narrative are usually subtler. Despite that, the pressure is still intense. Conforming to the consensus “reality” generated by these official narratives is price of admission to the inner sanctum, where the jobs, money, professional prestige, and the other rewards of Capitalism are. Conforming does not require belief. It requires allegiance and rote obedience. What one actually believes is completely irrelevant, as long as one parrots the official narrative.

In short, official propaganda is not designed to deceive the public (no more than the speeches in an actor’s script are intended to deceive the actor who speaks them). It is designed to be absorbed and repeated, no matter how implausible or preposterous it might be. Actually, it is often most effective when those who are forced to robotically repeat it know that it is utter nonsense, as the humiliation of having to do so cements their allegiance to the ruling classes (this phenomenon being a standard feature of the classic Stockholm Syndrome model, and authoritarian conditioning generally).

The current “Russian hacking” hysteria is a perfect example of how this works. No one aside from total morons actually believes this official narrative (the substance of which is beyond ridiculous), not even the stooges selling it to us. This, however, is not a problem, because it isn’t intended to be believed … it is intended to be accepted and repeated, more or less like religious dogma. (It doesn’t matter what actually happened, i.e., whether the “hack” was a hack or a leak, or who the hackers or leakers were, or who they may have been working for, or what whoever’s motives may have been. What matters is that the ruling classes have issued a new official narrative and are demanding that every “normal” American stand up and swear allegiance to it.)

The ruling classes are not exactly making it easy for their followers this time. Their new official narrative (let’s go ahead and call it “The Putinist Putsch to Destroy Democracy”) is so completely fatuous that it’s beyond embarrassing. The plot is more or less what you’d expect from a mediocre young adult novel or a Game of Thrones-type fantasy series. And if that wasn’t already humiliating enough for the liberals being asked to pretend to believe it, the PR folks in charge couldn’t even be bothered to assemble a new collection of liars to market their childish fairy tale for them. Not only are they insisting that liberals take the word of the “Intelligence Community” and the mainstream media that sold the world the “Saddam Has Secret WMDs” hoax, they actually dispatched James R. Clapper to sit there, in more or less the same spot he sat in the last time he lied to Congress, and do his dog and pony show again.

Meanwhile, the ruling classes’ papers of record, which cosmopolitan liberals rely on to provide a simulation of “serious journalism,” highbrow “arts and culture,” and so on, have descended to the level of the National Enquirer. Among the recent highlights was The Washington Post‘s “Russians Hacked the Vermont Power Grid” story, which it turned out involved neither Russians nor hackers, nor the Vermont power grid’s actual computers, and was basically just another made-up story, like the one about Putin’s Fake News Army. The New York Times, which has also been dutifully rolling out the new official narrative, has taken the leash off Charles M. Blow (aka “The Withering Gaze”), who is accusing Trump of being Russia’s appointment” and proclaiming his election “an act of war.” And now, as I was writing this piece, they hit us with the “Golden Showers” story, in which Trump paid a bunch of Russian hookers to pee on the bed where Obama slept. Any day now we are going to be told that Elvis is secretly working with Putin to deploy a Zhirinovskian gravitational weapon in a UFO disguised as Jesus that Assange and Snowden will personally pilot across the Atlantic to sink America. It’s like some kind of loyalty test in which the ruling classes are trying to determine just how far they can go with this crap before liberals refuse to salute any more of it.

The point of all this propaganda is to delegitimize Donald Trump, and to prophylactically reassert the neoliberal ruling classes’ monopoly on power, “reality,” and “truth.” In case this wasn’t already abundantly clear, the neoliberal ruling classes have no intention of giving up control of the global capitalist pseudo-empire they’ve been working to establish these last sixty years. They’re going to delegitimize and stigmatize Trump (and any other symbol of nationalist backlash or resistance to transnational Capitalism), bide their time for the next four years, and then install another of their loyal servants … after which life will go back to “normal,” and liberals will do their best to forget this unfortunate period where they pretended to believe this insipid neo-McCarthyite nonsense.

If I wasn’t worried that Trump is going to launch an all-out War on Islam, or that one of “our boys” in the tanks Obama has theatrically ordered to the Russian border was going to go bonkers and try to “git some” for Clinton, I’d be looking forward to seeing just how batshit crazy it’s going to get.

CJH

Here’s the latest from our in-house semi-post-structuralist satirist CJ Hopkins on the “fake news,” “post-Truth,” and “normalization” hysteria, originally published in CounterPunch, a Washington Post-certified purveyor of Putinist propaganda …

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Manufacturing Normality
(originally published in CounterPunch, December 6, 2016)

Sometime circa mid-November, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat (i.e., the beginning of the end of democracy), the self-appointed Guardians of Reality, better known as the corporate media, launched a worldwide marketing campaign against the evil and perfidious scourge of “fake news.” This campaign is now at a fever pitch. Media outlets throughout the empire are pumping out daily dire warnings of the imminent, existential threat to our freedom posed by the “fake news” menace. This isn’t the just the dissemination of disinformation, propaganda, and so on, that’s been going on for thousands of years … Truth itself is under attack. The very foundations of Reality are shaking.

Who’s behind this “fake news” menace? Well, Putin, naturally, but not just Putin. It appears to be the work of a vast conspiracy of virulent anti-establishment types, ultra-alt-rightists, ultra-leftists, libertarian retirees, armchair socialists, Sandernistas, Corbynistas, ontological terrorists, fascism normalizers, poorly educated anti-Globalism freaks, and just garden variety Clinton-haters.

Fortunately, for us, the corporate media is hot on the trail of this motley of scoundrels. As you’re probably aware, The Washington Post recently published a breathtaking piece of Pulitzer-quality investigative journalism shamelessly smearing hundreds of alternative publications (like the one you’re reading) as “peddlers of Russian propaganda.” The piece, a classic McCarthyite smear job perpetrated by the Post‘s Craig Timberg, was based on the groundless, paranoid claims of what Timberg unironically describes as “two teams of independent researchers,” The Foreign Policy Research Institute, a third-rate, former anti-Communist think tank, and an anonymous website, propornot.com, that no one had ever heard of prior to its sudden appearance on the Internet last August, and which, based on the tenor of its tweets and emails, appears to be run by Beavis and Butthead.

The Washington Post has been catching some flak for taking this courageous “pro-Truth” stand against the forces of Putinist falsehood and fakery. A host of dangerously extremist publications, like CounterPunch, The Intercept, Rolling Stone, The Nation, The New Yorker, Fortune Magazine, Bloomberg, and US News & World Report, have lambasted The Post for its “shoddy,” “lazy,” or otherwise sub-par journalism practices. The Post, of course, is “backing its boy,” and refusing to apologize for defending democracy, as it has throughout its storied history, like when it smeared Gary Webb as retribution for reporting the CIA-Contra connection, more or less destroying his career as a journalist, or when it blatantly shilled for Hillary Clinton throughout her ugly, fear-mongering campaign, notably publishing sixteen negative pieces on Sanders in sixteen hours, or when it ran this piece on how Clinton might have been poisoned by secret Putinist agents … and these are just a few of the highlights.

But I don’t want to single out The Washington Post, or its Executive Editor, Marty Baron, who is clearly a paragon of journalistic ethics. The rest of the corporate media have also been mercilessly flogging the “fake news” hysteria, and the “Putinist propaganda” hysteria, and the “normalizing of fascism” hysteria, and beating the “post-Truth” drum to death. The Guardian, The New York Times, et al., NPR, the TV news networks, the entire mainstream media chorus is barking out the message in perfect synch. So what is really going on here?

As I suggested in these pages previously, what we are experiencing is the pathologization (or the “abnormalization”) of political dissent, i.e., the systematic stigmatization of any and all forms of non-compliance with neoliberal consensus reality. Political distinctions like “left” and “right” are disappearing, and are being replaced by imponderable distinctions like “normal” and “abnormal,” “true” and “false,” and “real” and “fake.” Such distinctions do not lend themselves to argument. They are proffered to us as axiomatic truths, empirical facts which no normal person would ever dream of contradicting.

In place of competing political philosophies, the neoliberal intelligentsia is substituting a simpler choice, “normality” or “abnormality.” The nature of the “abnormality” varies according to what is being stigmatized. Today it’s “Corbyn the anti-Semite,” tomorrow it’s “Sanders the racist crackpot,” or “Trump the Manchurian candidate,” or whatever. That the smears themselves are indiscriminate (and, in many instances, totally ridiculous) belies the effectiveness of the broader strategy, which is simply to abnormalize the target and whatever he or she represents. It makes no difference whether one is smeared as a racist, as Sanders was during the primaries, or as an anti-Semite, as Corbyn has been, or a fascist, as Trump has relentlessly been, or peddlers of Russian propaganda, as Truthout, CounterPunch, Naked Capitalism, and a number of other publications have been … the message is, they are somehow “not normal.”

Why is this any different from the shameless smear jobs the press has been doing on people since the invention of the press and shameless smear jobs? Well, hold on, because I’m about to tell you. Mostly it has to do with words, especially binary oppositions like “real” and “fake,” and “normal” and “abnormal,” which are, of course, essentially meaningless … their value being purely tactical. Which is to say they denote nothing. They are weapons deployed by a dominant group to enforce conformity to its consensus reality. This is how they’re being used at the moment.

The meaningless binary oppositions that the neoliberal intelligentsia and the corporate media are supplanting traditional opposing political philosophies with (i.e., normal/abnormal, real/fake), in addition to stigmatizing a diversity of sources of non-conforming information and ideas, are also restructuring our consensus reality as a conceptual territory in which anyone thinking, writing, or speaking outside the mainstream is deemed some kind of “deviant,” or “extremist,” or some other form of social pariah. Again, it doesn’t matter what kind, as “deviance” in itself is the point.

Actually, the opposite of deviance is the point. Because this is how “normality” is manufactured. And how consensus reality as a whole is manufactured … and how the manufacturing process is concealed. Apologies for getting all Baudrillardian, but this is actually how this stuff works.

The media’s current obsession with “fake news” conceals the fact that there is no “real news,” and simultaneously produces “real news,” or, rather, the simulation thereof. It does so by means of the binary opposition (i.e., if such a thing as “fake news” exists … then, ipso facto, “real news” exists). Likewise, the focus on “not normalizing Trump” conceals the fact that there is no “normality,” and simultaneously manufactures “normality” … which is always only a simulation.

Similarly, the stigmatization of Trump as a modern-day Hitler, or Mussolini, or some other type of fascist dictator, conceals the fact that the United States is already virtually a one-party system, with concentrated ownership and control of the media, an omnipresent militarized police force, arbitrary enforcement of the rule of law, the maintenance of a more or less permanent state of war, and many other standard features of authoritarian systems of government. At the same time, this projection of “fascism” conjures, or manufactures, its opposite, “democracy” … or the simulation of democracy.

This neoliberal simulation of democracy, and normality, and reality, is what the corporate media, and the entire neoliberal intelligentsia, is desperately working to shore up at the moment, as they took quite a hit with this election mess. Trump was not supposed to win. He was supposed to be another Hitlerian bogeyman that the neoliberals could save us all from, but then, well, look what happened. The problem for the neoliberal ruling classes, and the mainstream media, and liberals generally, having gone balls out on the Hitler schtick, is that they pretty much have to keep it up now, which is going to get increasingly weird as Trump turns out to not be Hitler, but, rather, just another Republican plutocrat, albeit one with zero government experience and some certified bull goose loonies on his staff. I’m sure Trump will want to help them out, though (i.e., his neoliberal “enemies”), with the occasional racist or misogynist tweet, as he will need to maintain his “white working class” creds, at least until the “War on Islam” gets going.

In any event, we can all look forward to some serious pathologization of dissent throughout the coming four (and perhaps eight) years. And I’m not referring to Trump and his boys, though I’m certain they’ll be in there slinging it too. I’m referring to our friends in the corporate media, like Marty Baron and his smear machine, and the Guardians of Reality at The New York Times, The Guardian, and other “papers of record.” WNYC is already airing a daily “descent into fascism” segment. And of course the neoliberal left, Mother Jones, The Nation, et al., and The New York Review of Books, apparently (they just can’t get enough of this Hitler stuff), will be monitoring liberals’ every thought to ensure that fascism does not get normalized … which God have mercy should that ever happen. Who knows how America might end up? Torturing people? Attacking other countries that pose no threat to it whatsoever? Indefinitely imprisoning people in camps? Assassinating anyone the president deems a “terrorist” or an “enemy combatant” with the tacit approval of the majority of Americans? Surveilling everyone’s phone calls, emails, tweets, and reading and web-browsing habits?

Imagine the dystopia we would all be living in … if things like that were considered “normal.”

CJH

Here’s our in-house satirist CJ Hopkins’ completely backasswards contrarian take on the horrors of the approaching Trumpocalypse, which he slipped into the weekend edition of CounterPunch, in an attempt to ruin everyone’s Thanksgiving holiday …

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Trumpocalypse (a/k/a The Death Throes of National Sovereignty)
(originally published in CounterPunch, November 25, 2016)

So it looks like we’ve got about 55 days until the end of Western civilization, and possibly even life on Earth. That’s right, the Trumpocalypse has officially begun. According to the torrent of histrionic tirades the corporate media have been projectile vomiting out at us since November 9, we are on the brink of a new “Age of Darkness.” “Globalization is dead; white supremacy has triumphed!” America is descending into “racial Orwellianism,” or Zionist anti-Semitism, or “a bottomless pit of Fascism,” or something. In any event, in less than two months, the American ruling classes will peacefully surrender their control of the government to Donald J. Trump, and his legions of fanatical “Alt-Right” fascists, because Hillary Clinton lost an election. Or so goes the hard-line liberal narrative.

According to this narrative, shortly after Trump’s inauguration on January 20, the United States military (which presumably has just been waiting for an opportunity to mindlessly follow some dictator’s orders) will begin the round-up of all non-white Americans, and LGBT persons, and women, and journalists, and start loading them onto the trains, and so on. The American ruling classes, despite the fact that they control the legislature, and the banks, and the media, and the military-industrial complex, will have no choice but to allow this to happen … because, after all, Trump won fair and square.

This scenario will also unfold in Europe. Front National, AfD, UKIP, Golden Dawn in Greece, and other such neo-nationalist parties will band together with the Trumpian Reich and establish some sort of international neo-nationalist New World Order, which will form an alliance with Vladimir Putin, and Iran (and any other demons you can think of), and set about destroying the interdependent, supranational neoliberal economy that the global capitalist ruling classes have been implementing over the last seventy years. No one will be able to prevent this. The utterly remorseless corporate leaders of the most powerful global-hegemonic system in human history will sit idly by as nation after nation falls to the forces of “Alt-Right” revolution.

Seriously, this is the level of discourse the corporate media have been churning out, and that is being recycled on social networks. Shameless mandarins of the corporatist Left like Krugman, Friedman, Jamelle Bouie, Jonathan Chait, David Corn, Kurt Eichenwald (who appears to have totally lost it, and started stalking Susan Sarandon on Twitter), and their counterparts across the Atlantic, are assuring us it’s pretty much the end of the world, which is what we deserve for not voting for Clinton. Liberal parents are terrorizing their children with visions of the approaching holocaust. The “national gathering” of 275 fascist creeps in a DC restaurant is now, apparently, front page news. This tiny group of neo-Nazi asshats (who practically no one had ever heard of before the mainstream media showered them with coverage, although they’ve been around for years) is purportedly just the tip of the enormous “Alt-Right” iceberg now menacing America.

The good news is, the Resistance is back. Militant liberals are out in the streets battling Fascism with pithy placards, in a peaceful, non-violent fashion, of course. A Safety Pin Brigade has been hastily organized, and has set out to accessorize Fascism to death. Owen Jones is flying in from London to lead the anti-Trumpian uprising. His colleague at The Guardian, Steven Thrasher, is heading up the “abnormalization” effort. And, of course, The Nation magazine will be hosting a luxury Caribbean cruise for affluent anti-fascist liberals (spa, paddle tennis and yoga included.)

These liberals, of course, are the very same liberals who have had no problems whatsoever with the bombing of seven Muslim countries, the refusal to prosecute the Bush regime’s war crimes, the arbitrary assassination of anyone the President feels like assassinating, and other such hopey changey features of the Obama regime for the past eight years. They have also not been terribly troubled by the knowledge that most of the products they purchase are manufactured by de facto slaves in “developing countries” the corporations they’re invested in have been privatizing, or by their racially-segregated neighborhoods and schools … which, of course, they have nothing to do with, personally. But whatever, at least they’re out there now, defending us all from the Forces of Darkness, or at least the simulation thereof.

Which is not to deny the rising tide of neo-nationalism throughout the West, or the xenophobia that is part and parcel of it, or that Trump is feeding off that sentiment, as are various other neo-nationalist parties. This neo-nationalist backlash, however, is no real threat to Neoliberalism, at least not over the longer term. (And, make no mistake, it is Neoliberalism that the liberal Left is staunchly defending.) While I hate to disagree with Cornel West, what we’re experiencing is not the death of Neoliberalism, but, rather, the death throes of national sovereignty.

Neoliberalism, let’s remember, is just a new name for laissez-faire Capitalism, which has been evolving out of feudal Despotism since some point in the 16th Century. The sovereign nation-state, which Capitalism needed, first, to replace the feudal aristocracies, then, to advance us to where we are now (i.e., a global-hegemonic economic system policed by a single super-nation-state), has become a liability to Capitalism. Though it continues to need the nation-state as an administrative/ military apparatus, the sovereignty aspect has outlived its usefulness. It did this circa 1990, when global corporations gained unfettered access to a worldwide labor force they could ruthlessly exploit.

And now these globalized corporations, and the investment banks that trade their stock, and the politicians whose campaigns they fund, are going to allow the Trump regime to bring American jobs back home, and crash the entire global economy? Call me crazy, but that seems unlikely.

The neo-nationalist backlash we’re witnessing is not some inexplicable outbreak of xenophobic hatred and racism; it’s a reaction to the loss of national sovereignty. Despite what the corporate media will tell you, people aren’t total idiots. They realize that power is shifting from national governments to global corporations, and they’re none too pleased about this development. The neo-nationalists (who are also not idiots) are capitalizing on this extreme displeasure. Some of these neo-nationalists are fascists, or “ethno-nationalists,” and some are not. It doesn’t actually make much difference, as the problem for the neo-nationalists is, their national economies are already globalized, as are their national financial systems. They can wave the flag as much as they like, but there isn’t any going back at this point, not without committing national suicide.

Take the United States for example. Imagine what would happen to Apple’s balance sheets (or what consumers would have to pay for their iPhones) if the company were forced to give up its slave labor. The same is true for most corporations, and most of the consumer products we own (like the notebook I’m sitting here writing this piece on). Greece is another example, of course. They called a national referendum, and the people voted to reject the terms that the Troika was ramming down their throats, so the government simply ignored the people, because what were they going to do, after all, start a violent revolution? That’s what all the militarized cops are for. The Brexit process will also be interesting, assuming it ever actually happens, and that the Brits don’t call a second referendum to nullify the results of the first. I could go on, but I don’t think I have to … no, I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Neoliberalism will survive the horrors of the Trumpian Reich.

As for those horrors, all hysteria aside, odds are, they’re going to be fairly horrible. And I don’t just mean swastikas painted on storefronts. Steve Bannon, the Trump regime’s Chief Strategist, unlike Trump, is not a babbling imbecile. He appears to be an extremely intelligent, long-term thinking, staunchly Zionist, “Judeo-Christian values” zealot, who is looking forward to a War Against Islam, which shouldn’t be hard to sell to Americans, considering that the USA has been bombing, invading and otherwise attacking the Middle East since the end of the Cold War, with the support of liberals and conservatives alike. This War Against Islam will dovetail nicely with the global capitalist ruling classes’ broader objectives in the Middle East (namely, to destabilize and restructure the region, which they’ve been aggressively doing since the 1990s).

ISIS will be more than happy to cooperate, as they are also looking forward to this war. General Flynn will be ecstatic, as will Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and assorted other merchants of death. One or two serious terrorist attacks should be enough to get the ball rolling. An Osama bin Laden-caliber bogeyman, while not a requirement, would certainly help to reunite our divided country. Just think back to the weeks and months in the wake of the September 11 attacks, how America came together as a nation …. as they say in the motion picture business, the story pretty much writes itself.

CJH

Here’s the latest from our obviously emotionally unstable in-house commentator, CJ Hopkins. If this doesn’t get him on some kind of list, we’re not sure what will …

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The Pathologization of Dissent
(originally published in CounterPunch, October 27, 2016)

According to the mainstream media, in a recent speech in West Palm Beach, Donald Trump finally completely lost it. Sawing the air with his tiny hands in a unmistakeably Hitlerian manner, he spat out a series of undeniably hateful anti-Semitic code words … like “political establishment,” “global elites” and, yes, “international banks.” He even went so far as to claim that “corporations” and their (ahem) “lobbyists” have millions of dollars at stake in this election, and are trying to pass the TTP, not to benefit the American people, but simply to enrich themselves. He then went on to accuse the media of collaborating with “the Clinton machine,” presumably to benefit these “global elites” and “international banks” and “lobbyists.”

Now, a lot of folks didn’t immediately recognize the secret meanings of these fascistic code words, and mistakenly assumed that “global elites” referred to the transnational capitalist ruling classes, and that “lobbyists” referred to actual lobbyists, and that “banks” meant … well … you know, banks.

As it turned out, this was completely wrong. None of these words actually meant what they meant, not in anti-Semitic CodeSpeak. So the mainstream media translated for us. “Political establishment” meant “the Jews.” “Global elites” also meant “the Jews.” “Banks” meant “Jews.” “Lobbyists” meant “Jews.” Even “corporate media,” meant “Jews.” Apparently, Trump’s entire speech was a series of secret dog-whistle signals to his legions of neo-Nazi goons, who, immediately following Clinton’s victory, are going to storm out of their hidey holes, frontally attack the US military, overthrow the US government, and, yes, you guessed it … “kill the Jews.”

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the mainstream media’s reaction just a little bit. Or maybe Trump’s speech really was that fascistic. Judge for yourself. Read the transcript. (NPR offers a complete version of it here.) Then compare the reactions of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, The Inquirer, The Guardian, and other leading broadsheets, and magazines and blogs like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and a host of others, most of which rely on Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to the President, as their authoritative source on Trumpian cryptology. (Mr. Greenblatt, incidentally, should know better, given the treatment he has received from hard-line Zionist publications for refusing to demonize Black Lives Matter, and for “taking sides against” the State of Israel.)

Look, I’m not defending Donald Trump, who I consider a self-aggrandizing idiot and a soulless huckster of the lowest order, and whose supporters include a lot of real anti-Semites, and racists, and misogynists, and other such creeps. I’m simply trying to point out how the corporate media have, for months, been playing the same hysterical tune like an enormous Goebbelsian keyboard instrument, and how millions of Americans are singing along (as they were before the invasion of Iraq, which posed no threat to the USA , but which according to the media had WMDs), and how terribly fucking disturbing that is. In case you didn’t instantly recognize it, the name of the tune is “This guy is Hitler!” and it isn’t the short vulgarian fingers of Donald Trump that are tickling the ivories. And no, it isn’t “the Jews” either. It’s the corporate media, and the corporations that own them, and the rest of the global capitalist ruling classes … in other words, those “global elites.”

The thing I find particularly disturbing is how these rather mundane observations — i.e., (a) that a global ruling class exists, (b) that it’s primarily corporate in character, (c) that this class is pursuing its interests and not the interests of sovereign states — how such observations are being stigmatized as the ravings of unhinged anti-Semites. This stigmatization is not limited to Trumpists. Anyone to the left of Clinton is now, apparently, an anti-Semite. For example, Roger Cohen, in The New York Times, riding the tsunami of condemnation of the insidious verbiage of Trump’s West Palm speech, executed an extended smear-job on Jeremy Corbyn and his “Corbynistas” (they’re fond of coining these epithets, the media), denouncing their virulent “anti-Americanism,” “anti-Capitalism,” “anti-globalism,” and “anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.”

Which, let me hasten to add, and stress, and underscore, and repeatedly emphasize, is not to imply that the Labour Party, or the British Left, or the American Left, or any other Left, is anti-Semitism-free. Of course not. There are anti-Semites everywhere. That isn’t the point. Or it isn’t my point.

My point is that this stigmatization campaign is part of a much larger ideological project, one that has little to do with Trump, or Jeremy Corbyn, or their respective parties. Smearing one’s political opponents is nothing new, of course, it’s as old as the hills. But what we’re witnessing is more than smears. As I proposed in these pages back in July, political dissent is being gradually pathologized (i.e., stigmatized as aberrant or “abnormal” behavior, as opposed to a position meriting discussion). Consider the abnormalization of Sanders, back when he was talking about “banks,” “global elites,” and other things that matter, or the media’s portrayal of British voters as racists in the wake of the Brexit referendum. And, yes, the charges being leveled against Trump, much as we might despise the man. Anti-Semitism, inciting violence, paranoid conspiracy theorizing, insurrection, treason, et cetera — these are not legitimate arguments one needs to counter with superior arguments; they are symptoms of deviations from a norm, signs of criminality or pathology, which is increasingly how the corporate ruling classes are dismissing anyone who attempts to challenge them.

A line is being drawn in the ideological sand. On one side of it are the decent people, the normal people, in their business wear, with their university degrees, and prescriptions, and debts. On the other side are … well, the deplorables, the ignorant, racist, anti-Semitic, neo-nationalist, populist extremists. This line cuts through both the Left and the Right … supersedes both Left and Right, making bedfellows of supposed adversaries like Obama, Clinton, Kagan, Wolfowitz, Scowcroft, and their ilk on the Normal team, and a motley crew of Trumpists, Putinists, European populists, Corbynistas, Sandernistas, socialists, anarchists, Wikileakers, anti-Zionists, anti-capitalists, neo-Nazis, Black Lives Matterers, angry Greek pensioners, environmental activists, religious zealots, the Ku Klux Klan, David Graeber, most of the contributors to CounterPunch, and various other “extremist” types, many of whom detest each other, in the Deplorables’ current starting line-up.

The corporate media is sending a message … a message aimed at a much broader audience than undecided American voters (assuming such creatures really exist). The message is, “get with the fucking program, or get stigmatized as an anti-Semite, or a racist, or a Russian spy, or whatever.” The message is, “drop the populist rhetoric, shut the hell up about the Wall Street banks, and the corporations, and the ‘one percent,’ and … actually … forget about politics completely, except for identity politics, of course. Go ahead and knock yourself out with that.” The message is, “you’re either with us or against us … and it doesn’t matter why you’re against us, or what it is you think you’re for. Right, Left … who gives a shit? It’s one big Basket of Deplorables to us.”

This message, of course, displays many of the hallmarks of the classic authoritarian mentality, the need for nearly total conformity, mindless allegiance to one’s so-called superiors, delegitimization of all opposing viewpoints, and the infantile type of hero-worship figures like Obama and Clinton inspire … not the old-fashioned authoritarianism that would-be despots like Trump represent, but, rather, a more attractive version, a hopey, changey, lovey version, where there are no frightening Hitlerian leaders barking out anti-Semitic code words, and no one is exterminating thousands of people in faraway countries they want to destabilize in order to entirely dominate the region. No, this is the version where Obama sells the TPP on the Jimmy Fallon show, and wars of aggression are not wars of aggression, but “humanitarian interventions.” It’s also the version where universal healthcare is, regrettably, “unrealistic,” but $38 billion for the State of Israel so it can operate its Apartheid State, and weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, so they can bomb the shit out of farmers in Yemen, and cut off people’s heads for blasphemy, is somehow in “America’s vital interests.”

But what do I know? I’m just a satirist. I should probably leave all this complex stuff, like what is and isn’t in my interest, and what words really mean and all that, to the experts in the mainstream media. Since they did so well decoding Trump’s speech, maybe they could translate some of these other code words I’ve been having trouble with, like the ones I put in scare quotes above, or other such code words, like “enemy combatant,” “free trade agreement,” “security barrier,” “indefinite detention,” “targeted killing,” or “troubled asset relief program.”

I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t. Odds are, I’m already on the list of Putin-worshiping, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynist, neo-nationalist, non-standing up for the National Anthem, conspiracy theorizing America-haters. The last thing I need to do at this point is start jabbering about how the United States is an authoritarian corporatist dystopia ruled by a global capitalist elite that couldn’t give less of a shit about Americans (or any other actual people living in any other actual countries), where the corporate media can whip up mass fanatical support for wars of aggression, or corporate puppets, by pointing their fingers at yet another bogeyman and shouting “Hitler” at the top of their lungs. Next thing you know I’d be writing about “banks,” and “global corporations,” and “national sovereignty,” and we all know what that’s about, don’t we?

CJH

Just when our clients’ simulation of democracy was going so well, our treasonous in-house satirist, CJ Hopkins, had to go and publish this extremely grim picture of the American political system in the weekend edition of CounterPunch

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The Party
(originally published in CounterPunch, October 14, 2016)

“The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is
the business party.” — Noam Chomsky, from a 2008 interview in Der Spiegel

Being an expatriate American in Berlin, I am occasionally asked by my German friends to explain what the hell is wrong with America. “CJ,” they ask me, in their scary German accents, “was zum Teufel ist los mit Amerika?” In the past, this question normally referred to the latest mass shooting at some school or church, or the murder of yet another innocent Black guy by the American police. These days, of course, it refers to Trump, and the American political system, generally.

My friends do not understand this system. They have a different system over here. Although it is dominated by two big parties, it’s nonetheless a multi-party system. Currently, there are fourteen parties seated in the Bundestag, the federal parliament. Berlin’s state government is comprised of six parties, none of which hold a majority of seats. Coalition governments are the norm. Election campaigns are primarily financed by the state and party membership dues. Television ad time is limited by law. It isn’t a democratic utopia or anything, but it is, for the most part, democratic.

So it usually comes as a bit of a shock when I explain to my semi-socialist friends that the present-day United States of America is, technically, a de facto one-party state. I emphasize the “de facto” part, because, obviously, the United States of America is not a classic one-party state, i.e., a state wherein one political party maintains the exclusive right to govern, and all other parties are either banned or strictly controlled by the ruling party. In that type of system, there are no elections, or, if there are, they are staged affairs. My German friends, a few of them having grown up in the GDR, and the others in close proximity thereto, are very familiar with that type of system.

So I use that as a point of reference. I remind them, my former communist friends, that in that type of classic one-party state, the Party rules primarily by force, in an unapologetically despotic matter. Although it may, from time to time, demand demonstrations of loyalty from the people in the form of parades and fake elections, the Party does not require the people to be genuinely enthused about these parades, or to believe that these fake elections are real. It simply needs them to show up and clap, or go to the polls and push whatever button the Party wants them to push. Likewise, the Party does not require the people to actually believe whatever blatant propaganda its media disseminate, or the ideology its intelligentsia espouses. It is enough that they mouth the Party’s slogans, and do not openly criticize the Party. Basically, in a classic one-party state, the Party maintains its hold on power by dominating the people’s behavior — the people are permitted to believe what they like, as long as they don’t express it openly. My former East German communist friends remember all this very clearly. This sets me up to make my point.

See, unlike in a classic one-party system, I explain, in extremely clumsy German, to my somewhat curious ex-communist friends, in the de facto one-party American system, the Party cannot content itself with merely controlling the people’s behavior, and allowing them to believe what they like in private. Rote compliance is not enough, not in a system that relies on the appearance of governance according to the rule of law. Thus the Party needs the people — or an overwhelming majority of the people — to actually believe in its ideology, which it disseminates not as blatant propaganda, but as news, opinion, cultural commentary, art, entertainment, et cetera. Multi-party elections are allowed, but other parties are prevented from competing in and winning elections of any actual significance. These elections are not staged, or fake, but carefully managed simulations of democracy. The Party does not compete in these elections, or, rather, the Party alone competes in them. It does this via its proxy parties (the Republicans and the Democrats), the finances of which it tightly controls, and by ensuring that running for political office is so absurdly and prohibitively expensive that no one can succeed without the Party’s backing. Every four years, the people are either whipped into a state of mindless panic by the media (which the Party owns) or sold some hopey, changey vision of the resurrection of the American Dream, and then driven to the polls to cast their votes. The results, sadly, are always the same. In the American de facto one-party system, it makes little difference whether one votes Republican or Democrat … one votes for the Party.

“Who, or what, exactly, is the Party?” my suspicious friends usually ask at this point. “The Party is the business party,” I inform them, quoting that old Chomsky interview, the one I quoted at the top of this piece. Normally, I’ve had a few beers by then, so I may refer to it as the “corporate party” or the “corporatocracy,” or something like that. Other people call it the “corporate plutocracy,” or the “oligarchy,” or the “one percent.” It doesn’t really matter exactly what you call it. Every American knows what it is. When they tell you, “politicians are bought and paid for,” which the majority of Americans will, the Party is the people who bought them. It’s the supra-partisan investor class of insanely powerful individuals and corporations who are actually running things.

This has never been as obvious as it has throughout this election season, thanks to the candidacy of Donald Trump, which has forced the Party out of the shadows and into the unflattering light of day. Witness the mass defections to Clinton of virtually every neoconservative and Republican bigwig you could possibly think of … and long before the big groping scandal. Witness the relentless and concerted efforts of the mainstream (i.e. corporate) press to delegitimize Clinton’s opponents, not just Trump, who, being a repulsive clown, has made it laughably easy for them, but also Sanders, back when he was saying things that actually mattered, and it looked like maybe his sheepherding schtick was going to interfere with Clinton’s coronation. Witness how the American ruling classes, i.e., business leaders, Wall Street, Hollywood, politicians, academics, et al., have effortlessly fused into one gigantic deeply-concerned non-partisan entity frantically reciting from the same PR script the horrors that will befall humanity if every single American citizen does not go out and vote for Clinton.

All of this, of course, is extremely unusual. The Party, under normal circumstances, goes to great lengths to maintain the illusion that … well, basically, that it does not exist. Which it doesn’t. Not organizationally, at least. There is no grand conspiracy at work here, no international Jewish cabal or Babylonian Brotherhood of lizard people. No one, not even Jennifer Palmieri, is sending daily talking points to the corporate media and ruling elites. And no one has to. They know what to say. They’ve been trained what to say, and think, and believe, most of them, from the age of five or six. They commenced this training in their private prep schools, continued it in their private boarding schools, and later in their private universities. Along the way they made the acquaintance of other elite young persons like themselves, many of whom, through some weird coincidence, also ended up in powerful positions in business, government, and the corporate media. Those unfortunate few who weren’t born on third base learned how to dress, walk, talk, where to vacation, lunch, and so on, all the other important markers of membership in the Inner Party, as they networked their way up the ladders of power. These folks don’t need to jet off to wherever the Bilderberg Conference is meeting next year. They attend the same exclusive parties, dine in the same exclusive restaurants, enroll their children in same private schools, sail around on each other’s yachts, blurb each other’s latest memoirs, donate to the same celebrity causes, and so on. I think you get the picture. As the late George Carlin so elegantly put it, “it’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

The point is, neither is Donald Trump, despite his billionaire celebrity status, as I inform my now quite confused German comrades. Money alone doesn’t get you in. You don’t just waltz into Party Headquarters and announce your intention to run the place. There are ways to do things, hoops to jump through, asses to kiss, bones to make. They need to be sure, when the chips are down, that you’re willing to put the Party first, and murder a few hundred thousand people in some faraway country they need destabilized, or bankrupt millions of American families to further enrich their friends on Wall Street. Being Puppet-in-Chief of the Party is not all playing grab-ass with Bono, droning families, and pimping the TTP on the Jimmy Fallon show. No, the position comes with responsibilities, not to the American people, of course, but to the global capitalist ruling classes.

By this time my horrified German friends are wondering whether I’m a Trump supporter, which I have to assure them, repeatedly, I am not. See, the thing I’m trying to get across to them, in fluent but ungrammatical German, is that the Party’s problem with Donald Trump is not that he’s a racist, misogynist moron, but, rather, the fact that he’s been trying to skirt the extremely elaborate vetting process the Party maintains to ensure its puppets understand where their bread is buttered. Trump, narcissistic idiot that he is, actually believed that he could run for President, and win, without the Party’s blessing. So the Party needed to teach him a lesson, and to dissuade any future billionaire idiots from doing likewise, which is what we’ve been witnessing. This is what all the Hitler stuff, and the Putin stuff, and all the rest of it, has been about from the very beginning. They’re hoping they can force him to withdraw in disgrace, but, if not, they want to destroy him in November. A squeaker is not going to do it this time. The Party is looking for a Clinton landslide. They need to make an example of this Trump … and they’re counting on you to help them do that.

And this is the hardest part of trying to explain all this to my German friends … the part about how millions of Americans, the very Americans whose families the Party has been ruthlessly exploiting, debt-enslaving, denying basic social services that virtually ever other Western nation has somehow figured out how to provide (like affordable education and healthcare, housing and basic support for the poor) in order to amass obscene amounts of personal wealth they could never spend, how these very Americans, whose grandchildren are going to inherit a planet the Party is ruining for the sake of fourteen brands of deodorant, self-driving cars, and internet phones, how these very Americans are going to go out on November 8th and vote for the Party. And not only are they going to go out and vote, they’re going to pressure you to go out and vote, as if the fate of democracy depended on it, or as if November 8 were some kind of National Masochist Day or something.

The one little ray of hope I have to offer my, at this point, terribly depressed and deeply frightened German friends is that something like forty percent of Americans will not be casting a vote for the Party. They will vote for no one, out of some misguided sense of self respect, or something. Others will cast a vote for Stein, or write in Pigasus, or Alfred E. Neuman. I know, it isn’t much to cling to, but the revolution has to start somewhere, and it isn’t going to have a chance to do that until people stop voting for the Party’s puppets … or some neo-nationalist throwback alternative.

In any event, in another few weeks, the spectacle will finally come to an end, except for Clinton’s coronation in January, and America will go back to business as usual, and it’ll be like none of this ever happened. Peace will reign throughout Oceania, Love (of the Party) having conquered Hate.

CJH

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