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


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.



In a departure from our usual behind-the-scenes-type operations, the Consent Factory announces today its endorsement of USAF Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper for President. Given the recent and ongoing series of relentless attacks on America, and democracy itself, being perpetrated more or less around the clock by the Russians (hereinafter the “Rooskies”), Wikileaks, Trump, and other Clinton-haters, we feel we have to take a stance this time.

The fact of the matter is, as recklessly military intervention-happy as Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be, we are concerned that she may not have the stomach to go toe-to-toe with Putin and the Rooskies once World War III gets started in Syria. For one thing, the Clintons own property in the northeastern United States, which might cause Hillary to hesitate for just a fraction of a second at that crucial world-annihilating moment, i.e., when the time comes to rain all manner of nukular hell down on the Rooskies, and the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and the rest of the planet, in order to safeguard America, and the principle of democracy, in some underground bunker complex that is already being stocked with essential supplies and nubile young bimbos. Say what you want about General Jack D. Ripper, but no one can honestly question his willingness to unhesitatingly launch all-out thermo-nukular war against the Rooskies, or Wikileaks, or whomever the corporate media hoodwinks Americans into believing is threatening their way of life, or their precious bodily fluids.

The Consent Factory management urges all Americans, aspiring Americans, and anyone who will actually believe the childish, paranoid propaganda we and our clients in the media peddle, to join our campaign to elect United States Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper 45th President of the United States, which we will have to do by writing him in, as Rooskie infiltrators have denied him a place on the November 8 ballot. This isn’t a joke, or some sort of satirical effort to highlight the kind of blatantly made-up nonsense the corporate media and its owners expect millions of Americans to unthinkingly buy into, as if they were a bunch of dupes who will just believe anything. We seriously want people to go to the polls on November 8, and write in General Jack D. Ripper for President.

So, please, help us protect America’s fluids from the Rooskies by spreading the word of this effort to all your red-blooded American and America-loving friends. If you’re on the Twitter, the hashtag is …


The Management

All right, for a moment there, we thought our in-house satirist CJ Hopkins had pulled his head out of his ass, gotten with the Program, and come in for the Big Win. But apparently not. Or maybe he has. We’re not quite sure. Take a look at his latest piece in CounterPunch and let us know what you think.


The Rise and Fall of the Trumpian Reich
(originally published in CounterPunch, September 21, 2016)

So here it is, mid-September, and it looks like Trump is still in this thing. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Despite the Hitlerization of this clown by more or less every major organ of the mainstream media throughout the spring, and his Russification throughout the summer, and his racism, narcissism, and blatant idiocy, he’s polling within a couple points of Clinton.

This was not supposed to happen. Neoliberal elites are panicking. It’s not that they’re worried about Trump himself as much as this “populist backlash” thing, which appears to be spreading throughout the West, and is screwing with stuff like the TPP, the European Union, and Great Britain, and so on. Which means, from now until November 8, the liberal media will be deploying every emotionally manipulative weapon in their arsenal to guilt-trip you into voting for Clinton, as if democracy and life itself depended on it. Here are some examples from the weekend papers …

The New York Times, having already done the “Trump-is-Hitler” thing to death, broke out the Klu Klux Klan analogy, proclaiming Trump the Grand Wizard of Birtherism. The Guardian reported he called on his brownshirts to assassinate Clinton at a rally in Miami (although they went back later and toned down their headline, which even for The Guardian was over the top). Washington Post, after conducting an in-depth analysis of three or four of Trump’s tweets, agreed that he was raising “the specter of violence.” And, following Jimmy Fallon’s hair-mussing incident, Slate announced that from this point on “there is no longer a non-partisan space … there are no Switzerlands in the 2016 election.” You’re either with Clinton or you’re a Hitler-lover.

The problem is, it isn’t working (or it isn’t working well enough), the tried and true “Hitlerization” tactic. Perhaps it’s the fact that Trump is an American. Hitlerization works much better on foreign “Hitlers,” like Ho Chi Min, Noriega, Milosevic, or Saddam Hussein. Or maybe they’ve just used it too often. I mean, sure, you can trick people into believing that someone is a “modern day Hitler” six, maybe seven times running, but eventually they start to feel like suckers who keep falling for the same crap over and over. Norman Solomon wrote a book about this, back in 2005, I believe … but whatever, this is no time for history or critical thinking. There’s too much at stake.

With that in mind, as a loyal American, I feel it’s time to dispense with satire and contribute to the effort to help the Democrats, and the Clintons, and their friends at Goldman Sachs, and the entire transnational capitalist ruling class, save the world from the coming Trumpocalypse. I intend to do that by scaring you shitless, because I can’t really think of any other reason you’d want to buy into this mockery of democracy and actually go out vote for Clinton … and, apparently, neither can she or her people, because the fear thing seems to be all they’ve got. So no more pussyfooting around. Here it is, the nightmare scenario. Vote for Clinton, or this is what you get.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Immediately after being sworn in as President, so right there on the Capitol steps, as a horrified nation watches on TV, Trump declares a National State of Emergency “to deal with the illegal immigrant threat,” dissolves the U.S. Congress, suspends the Constitution, and appoints himself “Leader of the Western World.” He orders the military to assemble its troops in football stadiums with corporate names and swear an “Oath of Allegiance” to him personally. He orders NORAD to go to DEFCON 3, for reasons he refuses to clarify. Global markets plunge precipitously. The entire American “Deep State” nexus (DOD, DHS, NSA, CIA, DOJ, NSC, CFR, Wall Street, et al.) have no choice but to follow his orders, because they have to respect the election results. In spite of the fact that Trump clearly intends to strip them of their enormous power, and establish some sort of megalomaniacal fascist empire and take over the world, they surrender, and do whatever he says.

Saturday, January 21

Trump appoints David Duke both Director of the Department Homeland Security and Chief of Staff. Duke promptly orders the DHS logo to be revised to prominently feature “Pepe the Frog.” Meanwhile, the Clintons, and most of the Democratic Party leadership, are arrested by Trump’s personal “Security Forces,” charged with sedition, and spirited away to an undisclosed location. Trump closes the United Nations headquarters in New York, nationalizes the Wall Street banks, unilaterally abrogates every international trade deal the U.S. has ever signed on to, and orders “persons of un-American ethnicity” to report to their local DHS office for “processing.” Again, nobody is able to stop him, because “he won the election fair and square.”

Sunday, January 22

By Sunday morning the spirited but strictly non-violent anti-Trump protests that erupted overnight around the country have been brutally crushed by the U.S. military, which just mindlessly follows the obviously insane orders of recently unretired General Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Wisps of smoke rise from the National Mall, where David Duke and his Department of Homeland Security stormtroopers, most in full Klu Klux Klan regalia, conducted some sort of mass cross burning during the night. Trump nationalizes the television networks. He nationalizes the Internet and names Kellyanne Conway “Internet Czarina.” He closes the airports and seals the borders. The global economy completely collapses. Hording, rioting, and looting is rampant. The entire world is powerless to stop this, because, after all, “he won the election.” The global capitalist ruling classes tremble in fear in their yachts and mansions, wishing they weren’t bound by “the rules” to respect the people’s choice this one time.

Monday, January 23

America wakes to finds its streets occupied by Russian soldiers, most of whom are clearly drunk. Trump and Putin appear together on the lawn of the White House, both of them shirtless, looking like they’ve been up all night, and announce a new bilateral arrangement whereby the two of them will rule the world “with iron fists of decisive greatness.” The Russian invasion is only temporary. They all fly home at the end of the day, and immediately invade the European Union, for reasons that make no sense to anyone. India and Pakistan nuke each other. NORAD goes to DEFCON 2.

Tuesday, January 24

The Anschluss of Mexico and Canada begins … and ends victoriously three hours later. Trump, out of “an abundance of caution,” goes ahead and takes Central America, and orders a wall built on the Colombian border. Europe, at this point, has been reduced to rubble. Brussels and Berlin have been tactically nuked, rumor has it by Nigel Farage, who has somehow assumed control of Great Britain. Marine le Pen, who is running France, has been frantically trying to get through to Trump and find out who to surrender to, but unfortunately all the hot-lines are down. Meanwhile, back in the USA, David Duke, and a handful of other racist losers you’ve never heard of, have gathered in a villa on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain to sketch out “a solution to the Mexican problem.” Israel, figuring “oh, what the hell,” goes ahead and nukes Iran. Putin, relaxing in his Black Sea dacha with a bevy of bimbos and Edward Snowden, watches it all unfold on TV, laughing demonically as democracy burns. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who has somehow miraculously survived thus far, emerges from hiding to scold millennials for stubbornly refusing to vote for Clinton, the only person who could have prevented all this.

Wednesday, January 25

China nukes Russia. Russia nukes Japan. The U.K. nukes Brussels, which has already been nuked. Israel nukes Saudi Arabia and Egypt. North Korea nukes South Korea. France, apparently, nukes itself. Trump, consummate showman to the end, stages a enormous Riefenstahlian rally in honor of Wotan in Central Park, proclaims himself “the one-eyed God,” and orders all Americans to poison themselves with a mixture of cyanide and Peach Mango Kool-Aid, the trademark for which he has recently acquired with a loan from some no-name bank he nationalized … all of which could have been avoided if people had just shut up and voted for Clinton.

Thursday, January 26

The Trumpocalypse … the end of all life on Earth. This is Humanity’s final punishment for ignoring the warnings of neoliberal pundits and refusing to vote for Hillary Clinton. Trump, sensing the end is nigh, and (like every other megalomaniac) wanting to take all of Creation with him, launches his remaining nukes at Putin. He does this from the open bomb bay of a Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. As Putin launches his retaliatory strike, cursing the soul of his former puppet, Trump rides the snow white B83 thermonuclear gravity ordnance, Slim Pickens-style, down out of the heavens, wearing a “Make America Great” cap to keep his hair from looking silly …

Shantih … shantih … shantih …

N.B. The preceding was a work of political satire intended for mature audiences only. As a former New Yorker who had to live in physical proximity to Donald Trump, and read his name in big gold letters protruding from the facades of various buildings on a daily basis for fifteen years, and given the current political climate, I feel it necessary to reiterate here my previously expressed contempt for Mr Trump, whom I consider a disgusting, self-aggrandizing charlatan, not to mention a racist, misogynist pig. I do not support him or any of his activities. I wish him, and all those like him, ill. So take it easy on those tweets and emails. CJH

So it seems our self-appointed in-house satirist, CJ Hopkins, has been at it again. He’s published yet another completely inappropriate and gratuitously offensive disquisition in CounterPunch, this one clearly designed to infuriate as many decent, law-abiding, flag-waving, God-fearing Americans as possible, on the anniversary of 9/11, no less. Naturally, we condemn this essay, and any other displays of irreverence on the sacred Anniversary of 9/11, “the day that changed the world forever.” But here it is anyway, just for the record …


How America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The War on Terror
(originally published in CounterPunch, September 9, 2016)

The “War on Terror,” which former President George W. Bush officially launched in late-September 2001, and which President Obama officially rebranded as “The Series of Persistent Targeted Efforts to Dismantle Specific Networks of Violent Extremists That Threaten America” in May 2013, has, at this point (i.e. fifteen years into it), become our official consensus reality … or in other words, “just the way things are.” An entire generation has come of age during the “National State of Emergency With Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks,” which President Obama recently extended. For most of this unfortunate generation (which some are calling “Generation Homeland”), the sight of soldiers in body armor, rifles held in the sling-ready position, patrolling the streets of their towns or cities, the absurd “security procedures” at the airport, the hysteria pumped out by the mainstream media, the sanctimonious memorialization of anything even remotely connected to the “Certain Terrorist Attacks” in question, and all the rest of it, is entirely normal, the way their world has always been.

Of course, this is also the first generation for whom the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 are nothing but hazy childhood memories, or historical events they learned about in school, or on television, or the Internet. Odds are, what they learned about them was that “America” was attacked that day by a group of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, for no apparent logical reason, other than that “they hate our freedom.” Chances are they also learned that the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombing and destabilizing of numerous other countries (i.e. Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and any others I’ve forgotten to mention), the indefinite detentions, the assassinations, the torture, the illegal mass surveillance, the militarization of society generally, and all the other familiar features of the “state of emergency” that has been in effect for as long as anyone their age can remember … that all of this has something to do with “protecting Americans” or “America’s interests.”

My heart goes out to this generation … or at least to all those in their early twenties who have been bombarded with this official narrative since more or less the day they were born and yet somehow have managed to maintain their sanity (and who continue to struggle on a daily basis to recognize, analyze, deconstruct, and otherwise fend off the relentless barrage of ideological bullshit aimed at their heads). Resisting the force of the official narrative is exhausting, and usually unrewarding, at least in professional and financial terms (unless, of course, one enjoys being marginalized). It’s so much easier to do like the king in The Parable of the King and the Poisoned Well, drink the Kool-Aid, and embrace the madness. Never mind that the official narrative doesn’t actually make much sense, or have anything to do with … well … history … or facts, or other stuff like that.

According to this official narrative, these Islamic terrorists who hate our freedom are waging some kind of fanatical holy war, the aim of which is to destroy the West, seize control of the entire world, and impose Sharia law on everyone. They launched this war on 9/11. They did this by dispatching a group of fifteen Saudi Arabian terrorists (and four others from Egypt, the Emirates and Lebanon) to hijack airplanes with three-dollar box cutters and fly them into iconic buildings, murdering as many people as possible. These attacks were meant to provoke “America,” and presumably the rest of the infidel West, into bombing the Middle East into oblivion, and rounding up Muslims throughout the world, which would trigger some kind of global Jihad that would wipe out Western Civilization, at which point the terrorists would pour out of their hidey holes and take over everything.

According to this same official narrative, these Islamic terrorists who hate our freedom magically appeared, more or less fully-formed, out of nowhere, just prior to 2001. The entire modern history of the Middle East, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, Western colonialism, two world wars, the Cold War chess game, and the end thereof, not to mention the now unimpeded spread of global Capitalism throughout the world … none of this has anything to do with anything. No, according to our official narrative, these terrorists materialized out of the ether. They took a look around, spotted America sitting there peacefully minding its business, and enjoying its cherished values, and so on, were overcome with fanatical hatred, and started strapping on their suicide vests.

The only way to stop these terrorists (most of whom were Saudis, remember) from taking over the entire world was to accidentally invade Iraq, which didn’t have anything to do with anything, and kill and torture a lot of Iraqis, and decommission its entire military, so they could go form terrorist groups that would terrorize the entire region, and France, and help destabilize Syria, which at that point we could also bomb. Also, we needed to invade Afghanistan, because the terrorists had their hidey holes there, so we could sort of half-way justify that one. Oh, and Libya. We needed to bomb Libya too, to do away with the evil Gaddafi, because … uh … I don’t quite remember. Something to do with the Arab Spring, which had something to with Al Qaeda, or ISIS … or whatever … I think you get the idea.

Now, before my conspiracy theorist friends get all excited about where I’m going with this, I’m not suggesting that the 9/11 attacks were some kind of US government plot, or extraterrestrial reptilian plot, or that any of the terrorist attacks that have followed — the actual terrorist attacks, that is, not the ones by deranged individuals who swore allegiance to ISIS on Facebook — have not occurred more or less as reported. (Frankly, it doesn’t really matter if they didn’t. The overall effect remains the same.) What I’m calling into question, or examining, or ridiculing, is the ideological narrative surrounding these attacks, and Terrorism, and the War on Terror, or whatever it is we’re calling it this week, and the sanctimony surrounding this narrative, which the “Homeland Generation” has grown up with.

Those of us who are a little older (or, all right, let’s face it, a whole lot older, and yes, I’m referring to the “baby boomers,” which generation I am technically part of, having just turned 55 last month) were indoctrinated with a different narrative. The “reality” we were born into, and that was shoved down our throats at school when we were kids, and then reinforced by virtually every aspect of our lives as adults, was Communism versus Democracy. It went a little something like this …

America, having recently saved the world from the Nazis and the Nipponese Empire, was engaged in an eternal struggle against the Commies, and the Commie sympathizers, who wanted to conquer the entire planet, and … basically, take away all our stuff. This eternal struggle, or Orwellian stand-off, was either going to go on forever or until the Commies launched their nukes, or we did, which was going to be the end of everything. Then we were going to go hang with Jesus (we Americans, that is … not the Commies). In the course of waging this eternal struggle (which former President Ronald Reagan finally ended, in 1987, by ordering Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”), America and its freedom-loving allies, and the Godless Commies and their ruthless proxies, exterminated countless millions of people, mostly in exotic, faraway places (e.g. Indochina, Korea, Viet Nam, Burma, Algeria, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Palestine … and the list goes on).

So nothing has really changed all that much, in terms of everyone exterminating everyone. What has changed, however, is our official narrative (a/k/a consensus reality). Those of us who are old enough to remember the pre-9/11 “reality” have watched this official narrative changeover more or less as Orwell’s protagonist, Winston, in 1984, watches Ingsoc make the switch from the War with Eurasia to the War with Eastasia right in the middle of that Hate Week rally … or, all right, it didn’t happen quite that abruptly. Still, it’s been pretty impressive to watch. In the fifteen years since 9/11 (which isn’t that long in historical time) the Specter of Communism has been seamlessly replaced by the Specter of Islamic Terrorism, and the Cold War supplanted by the War on Terror.

Following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, this was inevitable. Capitalism (not “America”), having vanquished, or outlived, its one and only adversary (i.e. Despotism, not “Communism” or “Socialism”), was finally free to restructure, privatize and exploit those markets it had been denied throughout the 50-year Cold War stalemate. The global capitalist ruling classes (who have no real loyalty to any nation) were now also free to start doing away with the trappings of Socialism they had maintained in the West to keep Western workers from growing dissatisfied with working their entire lives away so that the capitalist ruling classes do not have to. This Privatization of Virtually Everything, although occurring more gradually in Western Europe (apart from the busting-out of Greece, of course), has been going gangbusters in the US and UK, which are pretty much outright plutocracies at this point. As is Russia, and the former Eastern Bloc countries, and China, and most of the rest of the world.

And then there is the Middle East … which after the end of the Cold War stalemate was just sitting there, vulnerable, swimming in oil, and radiating strategic significance, and potential markets, and investment, and so on. The only little problem was those Ba’athists in Iraq and Syria, and Gaddafi, and his brand of Arab Nationalism, and those Wahhabists the US had been supporting to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and everyone else who wasn’t playing ball.

So the global capitalist ruling classes needed to get in there and restructure all that, which is what we’ve been witnessing since the end of the Cold War … but that isn’t a very good official narrative.

For one thing, it’s way too complicated, and these official narratives need to be simple. Also, there wasn’t any evil adversary, which, in the story-telling biz, is a major problem. You’ve got to have an evil adversary. How else are you going to dupe the masses into sending their kids off to fight your wars, or into swarming onto the Mall in D.C., and into Times Square, waving flags and fanatically shouting “USA, USA!,” when your Seal Teams kill some terrorist bogeyman?

Fortunately, for the global capitalist ruling classes, the Islamic terrorists stepped right up and took over the role of evil adversary. There wasn’t really anyone else to do it. With the disappearance of the Communist Threat, they (i.e. global capitalist ruling classes) had lost their last external enemy. What they needed, and got, was an internal enemy, an internal enemy that can never be defeated.

Terrorism is that enemy. In our brave new unipolar age (an age in which transnational Capitalism, and not “America,” or Russia, or China, or any other nation state, dominates the entire planet and determines what is and is not “reality”), there can be no more external enemies, because there isn’t any “outside” anymore. We’re all in here together now … in our global capitalist consensus reality, which the majority of people throughout the world are doing their best to accept and conform to.

The problem with these Islamic terrorists (and with any other religious fanatics, socialist fanatics, environmentalist fanatics, and any other type of fanatical persons holding or espousing “extremist views”) is they haven’t yet accepted this “reality.” I’m having trouble doing that myself, as I assume is fairly obvious at this point. From what I understand, though, the pharmaceutical industry offers a variety of remedies for that … or maybe it would help if I made a pilgrimage back to New York to pray at the Holy Shrine of the Martyrs of September 11, and picked up one of those souvenir hats, or NYPD water bottles, and tried to forget about all this crazy consensus reality and history stuff.

ShhhOne of the essential aspects of operating an anti-authoritarian hacktivist cult is monitoring and controlling communications, both on the cult member-to-cult member level and within the minds of individual cult members. This is what is known as Milieu Control, and is not as complicated as many people think. All we’re actually talking about is controlling more or less every single word your cult members say to each other, and to non-cult members, and, ultimately, to themselves.

In an anti-authoritarian hacktivist cult, Milieu Control is best achieved through peer pressure, social stigmatization, and other group-think tactics, rather than with threats of actual violence. Implying that anyone talking to the authorities (or “outsiders” in general) about cult activities will be hunted down and brutally eviscerated by an acid-crazed kill-squad of lullaby-singing former cheerleaders with 8-inch Bowie knives may get the job done in a conventional cult — i.e. one with a psychotic Charles Manson-type leader who the members believe is both Jesus and Lucifer — but it’s liable to put off your hacktivist types, who don’t go in for religion all that much, not to mention the whole acid-crazed “killer hippie” thing.

This doesn’t mean your hacktivist cult should be entirely paranoia-free. On the contrary, paranoia is vital, as it’s virtually impossible to get any kind of decent Milieu Control without it. The point is, in a hacktivist cult, you need to keep the paranoia flowing mostly from the inside outward, at least for the vast majority of cult members. The authorities should be the primary threat that everyone lives in constant fear of. You want your cult members believing they are under constant surveillance by government agents, who are liable to storm through the doors of their squats (or parents’ houses) at any moment. Later, once you’ve got them all paranoid, and seeing “agents” everywhere they look, you can channel this outwardly-directed paranoia into a deeper inwardly-directed paranoia, which will lead them to fear your charismatic cult leader even more than they fear the authorities, and to regard him as a type of “higher” being, like a god, or prophet, or revolutionary hero, or the loving but somewhat frightening father they never had, or couldn’t ever please. But that comes later. The first priority is your outwardly-directed paranoia.

New cult members should be introduced to the concept of “security culture,” ideally involving a complicated scheme with numbered levels of “operational security,” and generally made to feel as paranoid as possible about who they talk to about cult activities. When socializing with newer cult members, make sure to drop subtle hints about “snitches” — i.e. former members who betrayed the cult by discussing “secrets” with the authorities, or “outsiders.” Starting rumors about current cult members who have fallen out of favor with your charismatic cult leader — i.e. how they might be “snitches,” or “traitors,” or parts of some elaborate government conspiracy to defame or otherwise neutralize your cult leader — is also an effective technique. In any sort of public gathering, make sure to warn that there are “infiltrators” present, as not only will this increase paranoia, it will make new cult members extremely uncomfortable and eager to prove their loyalty to the cult. Encourage new cult members not to use their real names or to refer to the real names of other cult members. Get the Tor and Signal thing going.

These are just few suggestions. Any technique that leads your cult members to enter a state of hypervigilance, or constant low-level paranoia, wherein anyone who isn’t a member of the cult is regarded as a potential threat, and possibly even a government agent, will help you to maintain control of your milieu, and ultimately the minds of your individual cult members.

Your initial investment in Milieu Control will pay off tenfold as you grow your cult and experience the inevitable intra-cult crises that every cult eventually experiences. These intra-cult crises are not to be feared — they are part and parcel of running any cult — and, if managed properly, are opportunities both to reinforce loyalty within the cult and to purge it of potential troublemakers. When the inevitable occurs and, for example, some of your less-devoted cult members rebel against your charismatic cult leader, and publicly accuse him of … well, being a cult leader, and of deceiving, exploiting and manipulating people, or touching them inappropriately, or serially drugging and anally raping them, and then bragging about it to his celebrity friends, you’re going to want to be able to depend on the rest of the cult to rush to his defense, categorically deny said accusations, and accuse the accusers of orchestrating some byzantine international conspiracy to baselessly persecute him and destroy him professionally. Assuming you’ve been controlling your milieu, you won’t have to order your cult members to do this — they will do it automatically (albeit it an embarrassingly cultish way that will seem really creepy to non-cult members, who’ll be following the drama on Twitter.com).

Not only will this reinforce unquestioning loyalty to your charismatic cult leader, and to the cult itself, among your remaining die-hard cult members, but it will escalate the intra-cult paranoia, and help create a siege-type atmosphere wherein your persecuted charismatic cult leader will achieve the kind of “martyr status” that every charismatic cult leader craves.

Once he’s done that, he’s more or less untouchable, as any future accusations will be attributed to malicious entities (e.g. government operatives or spiteful ex-cult members), and will only serve to reinforce his persecuted martyr status, at which point your hacktivist cult will have evolved to the stage where it milieu-controls itself.

All right, that does it for Milieu Control. We’ll be back, at some point, with Part 3 of our series, which will focus on another essential aspect of operating your hacktivist cult. Until then, enjoy the rest of the Summer …


Apparently nothing is sacred anymore, or at least not to our insubordinate in-house neo-Situationist employee, CJ Hopkins, who’s been at it again. Here’s his latest piece for CounterPunch, which we assume he thinks is terribly funny …

antiterror beach

The Dawning of the Age of Non-Terrorist Terrorism
(originally published in CounterPunch, August 1, 2016)

Of all the types of terrorist threats we are being conditioned to live in a more or less constant state of low-level fear of, the most terrifying of all has got to be the type we’ve witnessed throughout the Summer — a Summer so terrifying The Guardian is now officially calling it “The Summer of Fear.” Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray … the Terror just keeps coming, and coming, like the monster in some blockbuster Hollywood movie. The most terrifying part of it is that these are no ordinary terrorist attacks carried out by ordinary terrorists at the behest of ordinary terrorist groups, but, rather, the work of a new breed of terrorist … a terrorist who has no connection to any type of terrorist groups, is not primarily motivated by Terrorism, and, basically, has nothing to do with Terrorism. Let’s go ahead and call him the “non-terrorist terrorist.”

According to the official narrative being propagated by the Western media, non-terrorist Terrorism officially began in late September 2014 with a statement by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a terrorist spokesman for ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, or whatever we’re calling it this week. This statement, which has since been quoted as often as humanly possible by the press, exhorted decentralized terrorist cells, aspiring terrorists, and other random individuals, to launch attacks against innocent Westerners, to wit, to “[s]mash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with a car, or throw him down from a high place …” and so on.

According to the same official narrative, the first attack by a non-terrorist terrorist was carried out in Dijon, France — yes, the place the mustard comes from — in late December 2014, three months after the al-Adnani statement. (The 2013 Boston Marathon bomb attack apparently doesn’t count anymore, as it occurred before the al-Adnani statement, and thus doesn’t fit the official narrative.) The prosecutor in the case — the French case, of course — described the perpetrator as a “barely coherent,” mentally unbalanced, middle-aged man who used his car to mow down over a dozen innocent French pedestrians while shouting Islamic stuff out the window.

This, we are learning, is part of the cunning modus operandi of the non-terrorist terrorists, the way they are able to extensively plan and carry out terrifying terrorist attacks while posing as mentally disturbed individuals, or as sexually confused or alienated loners, who have absolutely nothing to do with Terrorism. This ruse was deployed again in Orlando, where the non-terrorist terrorist went as far as to pose as a closeted homosexual; and in Nice, where the attacker maintained his cover for years as a wife-beating petty criminal; and in Würzberg, where apparently the teenage terrorist had been masquerading as an orphaned refugee, but in fact was an insidious sleeper agent sent by ISIS to attack some random train in the middle of the German countryside.

According to knowledgeable Terrorism experts, Western governments, and the mainstream media, we’re going to be seeing more and more of this — these seemingly uncoordinated attacks, both on targets like Nice, which fit the narrative, but also on targets that make no sense, and that terrorists like ISIS have never even heard of, but to which they have nonetheless dispatched their agents to attack Asian tourists with kitchen knives and hatchets while shouting “Allahu Akbar” at the top of their lungs. Who knows where the next attack will take place? Vossevangen, Norway? Demming, New Mexico? Menomonie, Wisconsin? The Outer Hebrides? Your guess is as good as mine.

The point is, as the War on Terror — which, as you probably remember, President Obama officially ended in 2013 — enters this new and more terrifying phase, we will need to prepare ourselves, both logistically and emotionally, for the dramatically heightened level of Terror engendered by the non-terrorist terrorist threat, as well as the invasive “security measures” that will be required to pretend to combat it. Fear, as ever, will be the watchword. Everyone will need to do their part to assist the authorities in identifying, indefinitely detaining, and enhanced-interrogating potential non-terrorist terrorist suspects, and anyone else who looks kind of fishy. Let’s take a look at how that will work.

How to Spot a Non-Terrorist Terrorist

The non-terrorist terrorist is difficult to identify and place on a secret government watch-list as he exhibits few — and sometimes none — of the characteristics of the conventional terrorist. Whereas the conventional terrorist is typically a devout Muslim, and a member of some notorious terrorist group, like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or Al-Nusra Front (although the latter may not be terrorists, currently, depending on what’s going on in Syria), the non-terrorist terrorist is usually not at all religious, is not a member of any terrorist group, and has absolutely no connection to Terrorism. This lack of any type of terrorist background, or any other ties to actual Terrorism, given the current restrictive limits imposed on anti-Terror professionals by laws, national constitutions, and the like, effectively renders the non-terrorist terrorist undetainable in advance by government agents, anti-Terror police units, and corporate mercenaries, at least in developed Western countries, so they’re going to need all the help they can get in terms of surveilling and profiling everyone. With that in mind, here are some tips for identifying potential non-terrorist terrorists.

The most important thing to remember is that the non-terrorist terrorist is definitely a Muslim, or at least is vaguely Muslim-looking, or has a Muslim-sounding name. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, heavily-armed fundamentalist Christians, and garden-variety white-skinned criminals, unattractive and dangerous though they may be, do not fall into the Terror category, unless, that is, they blow up something like the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, but even that might not count anymore, as it happened before the War on Terror, and … well, once you start calling white people “terrorists,” the distinctions between things get really confusing.

In spite of the fact that he is definitely a Muslim, the non-terrorist terrorist exhibits any or all of an assortment of “non-Muslim behaviors.” He drinks, smokes, abuses drugs, is sexually promiscuous (or aspires to promiscuity), does not attend mosque, rarely prays, and otherwise appears to be just another stressed-out, debt-burdened Western consumer struggling to make sense of late-capitalist society, and to support himself — and, in some cases, his family — with some soul-crushing job at the foreign subsidiary of some global corporation he isn’t even aware of, or as an Uber-driver, or temporary security guard, or with some other type of micro-entrepreneurial activity that’s making his life a living hell, which feeds right into his other cover.

The non-terrorist terrorist often goes to great lengths to create the appearance of having had a long history of psychological and emotional problems. This cover (which the non-terrorist terrorist may begin constructing as early as his late-adolescence) may involve the feigning of a series of nervous breakdowns, or episodes of clinical depression, or suicide attempts, or other such symptoms. Don’t let this “emotionally unstable” act fool you by playing on your empathy for other human beings. If ever in doubt about a disturbed individual, or anyone expressing extremist views, or acting in any way unusual, best to just go ahead and report him, and let the authorities sort it out. You could be dealing with a non-terrorist terrorist in the process of “sudden self-radicalization.”

The “Suddenly Self-Radicalized” Non-Terrorist Terrorist

Unlike the conventional, or “actual” terrorist, the non-terrorist terrorist is often radicalized shortly before the time of his attack, or during his attack, or shortly thereafter. “Radicalization” is a tricky process, which can occur in any number of ways, e.g., over time, in structured settings, but also in purely imaginary ways that only exist in the minds of the terrorists, or the media, or anti-Terrorism experts. In any event, it’s not like the old days, when aspiring terrorists were forced to attend those terrorist training camps out in the desert, and actually get involved with Terrorism. Nowadays all it takes is the Internet, and sincere desire to radicalize yourself.

“Self-radicalization” is a growing problem, and not just among Islamic terrorists. “Radicalism” in any form that opposes or questions global Capitalism, Neoliberalism, and other Western values, is spreading like a mass psychological disorder (see Jonathan Rauch’s recent article in The Atlantic, where he diagnoses the American public’s pathological resentment of the political class). Like the child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, sometimes even the non-terrorist terrorist — or whatever type of “self-radicalized” person — doesn’t even realize he’s becoming a terrorist, or a non-terrorist terrorist, until it’s too late.

“Self-radicalization” often begins with irrational and inappropriate resentment, which is typically projected onto affluent individuals, major corporations, investment banks, politicians, billionaires, members of the media, or the populations of other countries that happen to be invading or bombing the country of the “self-radicalizing” person in question. This misdirected pathological resentment, if allowed to fester, inevitably leads to the thinking of extremist or terrorist thoughts, which leads to the tweeting of terrorist tweets, and to terrorist Facebook posts, and so on. In no time at all, the self-radicalizing person has transformed into a full-blown non-terrorist terrorist, and is snorting up lines of pulverized Captagon, drawing half-assed ISIS flags on the walls of his apartment with indelible markers, and loading up on weapons at Walmart, or whatever passes for Walmart in his country.

This is just a preliminary check-list of the hallmark features of the non-terrorist terrorist, which the mainstream media will be adding to as The Summer of Fear approaches its climax, and presumably throughout the indefinite future, as the Age of Non-Terrorist Terrorism continues, possibly until the end of Time.

A Word of Warning Regarding Terminology

All right, I know what you’re probably thinking … you’re thinking we’ve finally reached some level of absurdity with this calling people “terrorists” thing where the term completely loses its meaning, and its ability to scare the bejesus out of people. Fortunately, this is not the case. In fact, it’s almost exactly the obverse — the more nonsensical, oxymoronic and utterly meaningless the terms we use to describe the heinous, subhuman enemies (who want to slaughter us because of our freedom) are, the more meaningful, effective and terrifying they are. This is crucial when distinguishing between, for example, our friends in Saudi Arabia and barbarous mad-dog terrorists like ISIS, both of whom chop off people’s heads for crimes like apostasy, idolatry, and adultery … but, of course, the Saudis are not savage terrorists, despite their involvement in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and … well, you can see the danger here, when you start to actually think about things.

The point is, our new “non-terrorist terrorist” designation should not in any way call into question the widely-acknowledged definition, and constant repetition, of the terms “terrorist,” “Terror,” and “Terrorism,” when applied to terrorists, whether of the “non-terrorist” or “terrorist” type. Terrorism is not a word game, or some specious semiotic construct, or an essentially arbitrary made-up label that can be slapped onto any type of violent activity or ideology we want to demonize. Terrorism is Terrorism. The word means exactly what it means … whatever that might be at this point. You can look it up on the Internet, on Google, or Wikipedia, or whatever.

And as for the “non-terrorist terrorist” designation, let’s not get all freaked out about it and make it any more confusing than it is. We can sit around and argue forever over whether the “non-terrorist terrorist” is a terrorist, but, honestly, where is that going to get us? The simple fact of the matter is, as the adjectival in the term denotes, the non-terrorist terrorist is not a terrorist … nevertheless he is a terrorist, and the fact that he is and is not a terrorist simultaneously defines what he is and makes absolutely no difference at all, at least not within the official narrative.

No, despite what terrorist apologists will tell you, calling some terrorists “non-terrorist terrorists” doesn’t mean they aren’t terrorists, or that there isn’t any such thing as “Terrorism,” except within the simulation of “reality” the global capitalist ruling classes need to maintain to keep the masses entertained and borderline paranoid, as they — i.e., the capitalists, not the masses — transform the rest of the entire planet into a combination shopping mall/labor camp.

If that were true, the “War on Terror” would be nothing but an elaborate farce, a simulacrum that was there to distract us from the sociopolitical and economic dynamics of the historical period we were actually living through … which dynamics might have something to do with something a bit more complex than “Terror,” “Evil,” “Hate,” and other empty but terror-inspiring words like that.

As stressful as things are at the moment, imagine how exhausting that would be … having to think about all that stuff, transnational Capitalism’s ideology, the manufacturing of consensus reality, all the childish narratives we would be being fed moment by moment by the corporate-owned media, and the amount of mental energy it would take to try to resist it on a daily basis … but then, seeing as you’ve made it to the end of this piece, I’m pretty sure you already have.

It appears our in-house poetic terrorist, CJ Hopkins, has published yet another lengthy essay in CounterPunch, this one exploring the atmosphere of panic the corporate media has been working so hard to propagate throughout the Western world, to prevent people from actually thinking about anything, except on the most superficial level. We’re pretty sure you know our position on that, and on this Hopkins character’s activities, generally, so without further comment, here’s the piece …

fear eyes

The Blood-Dimmed Tide of Neo-Nationalism and Other Scary Simulacra
(originally published in CounterPunch, July 12, 2016)

“Europe is caught in a vicious cycle, oscillating between the Brussels technocracy unable to drag it out of inertia and the popular rage against this inertia, a rage appropriated by new more radical Leftist movements but primarily by Rightist populism.” — Slavoj Žižek, Marxist philosopher

“The 21st century is going to be a war between nationalism and globalism.”
— Matthew Heimbach, White Supremacist

Well, it’s shaping up to be a long, hot Summer, or year, or possibly decade or two, what with all the global political chaos, racial tensions, social unrest, and the blood-dimmed tide of Neo-nationalism rising inexorably out of Spiritus Mundi like the contents of a backed-up toilet. Whatever is actually going on — which is probably not as apocalyptic, but more insidious and dystopian than it seems — the worst are certainly full of passionate intensity. Based on the miasma of mindless hysteria being pumped out at us by the corporate media, and then endlessly echoed on Facebook and Twitter, you would think the end of days was nigh. Or at least the end of Western civilization, or democracy, or America, or Capitalism … or something. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, for the global capitalist ruling classes, the transnational corporate and deep state elites — the folks who are actually running the show, to the extent that anyone is actually running it — things couldn’t be going much better at the moment. Sure, for the vast majority of us, the future is looking increasingly miserable, but try to see things from their perspective. Here we are, barely twenty-five years since the dissolution of the last real impediment to their domination of … well, pretty much everything, and just look at all they’ve managed to accomplish.

The Greater Middle East has been successfully destabilized. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, any country not playing ball with transnational Capitalism has been brought to its knees by a series of invasions, bombings, sanctions, support for insurgencies, corruption, et cetera. Iran is currently negotiating in the hope of avoiding a similar fate. Russia, following its transformation into an autocratic capitalist free-for-all for ex-KGB men and their oligarch cronies — a transformation designed by folks like Jeffrey Sachs, Lawrence Summers, the Harvard Institute for International Development, the IMF, and other shock therapists — has been more or less surrounded by the EU and NATO, and is being pressured to get with the program. China, in spite of its playing grab-ass with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea, is deep into the global Capitalism thing. Vietnam and Laos have joined the club. Cuba is even opening for business again. South America is a work-in-progress, as ever, what with the recent neoliberal “soft” coup in Brazil, the re-neoliberalization of Argentina, the destabilization of Venezuela, and so on.

This is just a quick summary of the highlights. The point is, apart from some isolated pockets of resistance — which the corporatists will get to eventually — and the various nightmarish terrorist theme parks operating out in the imperial hinterlands, it’s one big global capitalist world … one Market under Mammon, indivisible, with privatization and austerity for most, and distractionary paranoia for all.

The Simulation of National Sovereignty

One of the most effective ways the global capitalist ruling classes distract us from the fact that they are transforming the entire planet into a combination shopping mall/labor camp is the simulation of national sovereignty. Most of us, since the late-18th Century, have been conditioned to perceive the world as a competition between sovereign nations, each pursuing its own national interests. Which, of course, it is to some extent. However, as we have all been experiencing, sovereignty isn’t what it used to be. JPMorgan Chase, ICBC, HSBC, Berkshire Hathaway, Royal Dutch Shell, AXA Group, Toyota, Exxon, Pfizer, Novartis … does anyone believe these transnational banks and corporations have any real allegiance to the “sovereign nations” they nominally reside in, or to the citizens of those “sovereign” nations? No, and yet we go on perceiving and discussing things as if they did.

We talk about the foreign and domestic policies of the government of the United States as if they had been intended to somehow benefit the “American people,” as if the offshoring of “American” jobs, the debt-enslavement of “American” college students, the real estate bubble Ponzi schemes, the commodification of healthcare, culture, and more or less every other aspect of society, not to mention the invasions and bombings of other countries, as if all this wasn’t designed to serve the long-term interests of global Capitalism, and was simply the result of series of “mistakes” on the part of incompetent and misguided politicians.

The “failure” of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is a perfect example of this way of perceiving things. Yes, of course, for the “American people,” it was, indeed, a colossal failure, a total waste of lives and money which accelerated the spread of Terrorism both within the Middle East and around the world. However, for the transnational capitalist ruling classes, who couldn’t care less about the American people, or the Iraqi people, or any other people, this “failure” was actually an enormous success, in terms of removing a major impediment to their eventual domination of the region, and upending the regional balance of power that had been established during the Cold War.

The invasion of Iraq, as you might remember, was planned well prior to September 2001. It was part of the agenda of the neoconservative “Project for the New American Century,” and deep state players like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, Robert Kagan, and other corporatist think tank-types. And of course it was … this was perfectly logical. After the USSR disintegrated, the Greater Middle East was ripe for restructuring — there was nothing to stop the military arm of global Capitalism (i.e. the US military) from moving in and beginning the process we’ve all been experiencing ever since.

Now, I’m not suggesting there’s a bunch of capitalists sitting around in a room somewhere — at the annual Bilderberg Conference, for example — consciously planning this kind of stuff. Conspiracy theories are fun and all that, but worldwide sociopolitical transformations — like the one we are in the middle of — are a bit more complex than an Oliver Stone movie, and probably have less to do with the intentions of individuals than we would like to think, even extremely creepy individuals, like the ones whose names I just ran off above.

What I am suggesting is that what we’re experiencing — and have been since the end of the Cold War — is not a series of policy “blunders,” but, rather, the emergence of a global power structure none of us really understands yet, not an empire in the classical sense, but an omnipresent power structure governed by the interests of global corporations … and not by the interests of sovereign nations. (Bona fide scholars — which I am not — have been attempting to articulate this structure, which is more complex than I’m making it sound here, given how the corporate and government spheres overlap and feed each other, Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Noam Chomsky, Sam Gidin and Leo Panitch, among them, each of whose books is probably worth reading … but you don’t exactly need a PhD to perceive that corporations are running the show.)

It is the interest of these corporations, and the global capitalist ruling classes (including government and deep state elites), that we do not perceive the world this way, and that we continue to believe in the sovereignty of nations, and that we think of ourselves as citizens of these nations, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Neo-Nationalism vs. Neoliberalism

The simulation of national sovereignty, in addition to acting as an ontological decoy, drawing our attention away from the fact that power is now primarily corporate, plays another essential role in the ongoing spread of neoliberal Capitalism. As the global capitalist ruling classes seize control of more and more of the planet, absorbing what little is left of society into their global simulation of society — a heterogeneously homogenous worldwide marketplace of products and services that no one really needs, the growth-obsessed production of which is destroying the entire biosphere — a considerable number of human beings are beginning to express their discontent.

In the US, UK and Western Europe, the heartlands of the global capitalist empire, after nearly four decades of globalization, deregulation, privatization, austerity measures and debt-enslavement, the working classes have finally had enough of getting pissed on and being told it’s raining, or at least, according to mainstream media, the “less well-educated” members of them have. This demeaning characterization is extremely important. The global capitalist ruling classes need to ensure that any resistance to globalization, privatization, and neoliberal Capitalism, generally, is perceived by the public as neo-nationalist, xenophobic, racist, or just plain ignorant. Not that a lot of it isn’t. It is. A lot of it is, but not all of it is. The global capitalist ruling classes need us to believe that all of it is, and that the only two options available to us are Neoliberalism and Neo-nationalism.

The corporate media is working hard to convince us that these are our only two alternatives. Their “coverage” of the Brexit referendum and its aftermath is a perfect example. Somehow, despite the doomsday campaign waged by the British liberal press, the UK voted to leave the EU, that bastion of European democracy, the one that is currently privatizing Greece in order to pay back the banks and speculators who made a killing lending billions to a country that everyone knew from day one was totally unfit for the single market, the one that is going to approve the TTIP, in some iteration, once they’ve cleaned it up. According to the bipartisan Oxbridge establishment, and their American counterparts across the pond, the only plausible explanation for the public’s failure to follow orders, and respond to a series of last-minute threats issued by Obama, Soros and Junker, is a combination of Neo-nationalism, xenophobia, and elderly dementia. The Guardian is reporting that an epidemic of British xenophobia has appeared out of thin air. Neo-nationalists, white supremacists, and other assorted racist twits, emboldened by their Brexit victory, are roving the streets in search of anyone “foreign-looking” to hurl abuse at.

Not that this isn’t actually happening. It is, and not just in Britain either. The tide of neo-nationalist sentiment is also on the rise throughout the Continent. Neo-nationalist parties haven been making gains in Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Switzerland, and elsewhere (not to mention the unabashed neo-Nazis Hillary Clinton’s State Department helped to install in the new Ukrainian government; that is, after they regime-changed the old one). Here in Germany, the AfD (the Alternatives for Germany party), a prettied-up neo-nationalist front for uglier neo-Nazi types, while still fairly marginal, has been growing steadily. In France, it’s Le Pen and the Front National. In the Netherlands, it’s Geert Wilders — who, rumor has it, has kidnapped David Lynch’s hairstylist — and the PVV (the Party for Freedom).

Meanwhile, back in the USA, from what I’ve been able to gather from the pundits, Trump and his legions of down-market racists are still threatening the very fabric of democracy, never mind that, according to very same pundits, he has absolutely no chance of winning. Worse yet, it appears a troubling number of fanatical Bernie Sanders followers are refusing to get behind Hillary Clinton, who doesn’t really need them anyway, as at this point she has the endorsement of every neoliberal and neoconservative pontificating talking head in existence, and is being sold by the liberal media as the thin blue line between “love” and “stability” and the thousand-year fascist Trumpian Reich.

But I don’t want to make light of the threat. Neo-nationalist sentiment is definitely spreading, and white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Alt-Right creeps, like the one I quoted at the top of this piece, are making the most of it. The liberal press has been churning out a non-stop series of “What-the-Fuck-Is-Happening-to-Democracy?” features, as if they didn’t have the slightest clue. The entire intelligentsia, such as it is, appears to be completely baffled. Inexplicably, having been offered the chance to embrace a utopian capitalist future in which each and every one of us will be a thriving micro-entrepreneur marketing our asses to some global corporation, derivatives trader, or techno-oligarch, and all our outdated cultural values, religious beliefs, and personal prejudices, will either be eradicated or rendered meaningless interchangeable “lifestyle” choices and marketed back to us, a lot of people are retreating into the safety and familiarity of tribalism … as humans have done for millions of years. Yes, it’s certainly quite a conundrum, all this neo-nationalist sentiment.

None of it, of course, if you believe the punditocracy, has anything to do with global Capitalism, or the globalization of the labor market, or with the end of an historical era in which sovereign nations were actually sovereign … or with people’s desire, however clouded by ignorance, to cling to some semblance of actual democracy, as opposed to being ruled by corporations, investment banks, and their governmental proxies.

No, according to the corporate media, and to over-educated, half-bright, liberal authoritarians like Jonathan Rauch — for whom democracy is now an official disease worthy of inclusion in the next DSM — the problem isn’t global Capitalism; the problem is people, and their “neurotic hatred” of politicians, and the whole “political class,” who are simply trying to do the bidding of the global corporations that bought them. It isn’t that the entire world is undergoing a radical restructuring — the transfer of sociopolitical power from sovereign nations to corporations, and the transformation of what remains of society into one big global capitalist marketplace — and that some of us aren’t entirely thrilled. No, according to neoliberal sages like Rauch, Thomas Friedman, and numerous others, this “populist anger” is either some kind of mass behavioral syndrome or conduct disorder (e.g. “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” — think about that one for just a moment) or is symptomatic of pathological racism, xenophobia, “thought disorder,” or some other psychological condition.

The Pathologization of Political Dissent

We can expect this type of pathologization of any and all resistance to Capitalism to continue and accelerate throughout the future, as it functions as a perfect double bind. In a globally hegemonic system like ours, the system’s ideology, no longer challenged by any credible competing ideology, transcends ideology and becomes normality. The enemy of the dominant class — and thus the one projected throughout the entire system as “everyone’s enemy” — is no longer an external “foreign” enemy, but, rather, an internal, or “systemic” enemy … a deviation, an abnormality. The extremist, the terrorist, the neo-nationalist, the racist, the sociopathic child, cancer, depression, inappropriate anger, the malicious hacker, the government leaker … such are the threats to the new global order.

None of them poses a serious challenge to the reign of global Capitalism (unless you believe that the corporate elites and the US military are going to permit some Hitler-alike to undo everything they’ve been building for going on seventy years, in which case I’ve got a bridge to sell you). No, Neo-nationalism and religious fundamentalism — short some sort of global catastrophe that wipes out modern civilization — are just vain attempts to turn back the clock to 17th Century despotism. (And as trendy as the Anonymous and Snowden stuff is, hacktivism and whistle-blowing pose no significant threat to power, no more than protesters masking up and throwing bottles at riot cops).

Neo-nationalism is a simulacrum … a living, breathing representation of something that has never “really” existed, other than as a simulacrum. Islamic Fundamentalism, Christian Fundamentalism, Stalinist Communism, and every other attempt to reverse the spread of Capitalism throughout the world since the 17th Century, also fall into this category.

Simulacra serve a purpose, namely, to conceal the absence of something. Religious icons and other representations of monotheistic deities do not conceal the existence of those deities — they conceal the non-existence of those deities. (Apologies for getting all Baudrillardian, but there isn’t a better way to say this. Perhaps a more concrete example would be the “psychiatric disorder” I referred to above, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which was first “discovered” in 1980. This “disorder” is, of course, a simulacrum, an invention of the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries, but an actual disorder nonetheless, with categorizable symptoms, which respond to “treatment.” All these new psychiatric “abnormalities,” being simulacra, conceal the fact that it is “normality” that does not exist … and thus keep everyone obsessed with normality.)

The blood-dimmed tide of Neo-nationalism currently sweeping the Western world is a simulacrum in the classical sense. It isn’t a deceptive (i.e. “fake”) alternative concealing an authentic (i.e. “real”) alternative to globalized neoliberal Capitalism, but, rather, an all-too-real phenomenon concealing the fact that there is no alternative, and that, at present, an alternative is unimaginable … literally unimaginable, in the sense that we are not yet capable of conceiving a credible alternative system, or a way to get there.

The global capitalist ruling classes are extremely fond of this simulacrum, as it distracts us from facing where we actually are, and from working together to conceive that alternative, or even just asking the kind of questions that might help us actually get there, someday. It also keeps everyone afraid of Terrorism, Islamic Fundamentalism, Neo-Fascism, Populism, Trumpism, and pretty much any other variety of “Extremism” they can possibly think of … as if there were the slightest chance of any of these “movements” actually succeeding, and toppling global Capitalism.

All right, that’s enough reality for now. It’s time to get back to the Internet. On behalf of the global capitalist ruling classes, and their friends in politics and the mainstream media, I apologize for this lengthy interruption, and return you to their regularly-programmed hysteria …

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