The United States of Manufactured Hysteria

Thank God for the Charlottesville Nazis! For a moment there, it was looking like we were actually going to have a few days to stop and reflect on the state of America without being subjected to some new form of manufactured mass hysteria. Seriously, just a few short weeks ago, as the corporatist ruling classes’ ridiculous attempt to convince the world that Donald Trump is some sort of Russian sleeper agent appeared to be finally fizzling out, a significant number of leftist types were beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the fact that the United States government is controlled by a global corporate plutocracy that has no allegiance to any nation, or people, or to anything other than itself, and that is in the process of demonizing and potentially deposing an elected president … that maybe that might be something to focus on, not exclusively, by any means, but alongside other vital issues, like defending the rights of transgender drone pilots and purging syllabi of oppressive pronouns.

Fortunately, thanks to the Nazis of Charlottesville, this dangerous moment of doubt has now passed. If you were listening closely on August 11, you could hear the collective sigh of relief whooshing out of Resistance quarters like a hypnagogic idiot wind as roughly one hundred white supremacists marched into town with their tiki torches barking N.S.D.A.P. slogans and otherwise making asses of themselves. Corporate media apparatchiks, mandarins of the Internet Left, professional and amateur Naziologists, and assorted other Nazi experts immediately went to DEFCON 1, signaling imminent Nazi invasion. Photos of bug-eyed, torch-bearing Nazis, their mouths wide open in mid-Nazi shriek, veins bulging out of their Nazi necks, were released to the public and circulated widely. Millions of conflicted leftists (many of whom had been feeling uneasy about collaborating with the corporate plutocracy in their efforts to delegitimize Trump, and every last American who voted for him), upon seeing glossy, color close-ups of these Nazis waved in front of their faces, responded as every Good American has been conditioned to respond since early childhood. They instantly switched off their critical faculties and began reenacting the Second World War … or rather, the mythical version of it wherein the USA defeated the Nazis, which is one of Americans’ favorite pastimes.

Look, I don’t mean to make light of Charlottesville. We’re talking actual neo-Nazis, with actual Nazi flags and haircuts, shouting actual Nazi slogans, and the Ku Klux Klan, and heavily-armed militia, and just garden variety racist rednecks … all of which have been standard features of American life for decades, and longer, but this is no time to reflect on history, or try to put things into perspective. Also, one of these Nazi morons ran over people with his car the next day, killing one woman, and injuring many others, which renders any critical thinking about the actual size of the Nazi menace (which remains ridiculously small, as ever) or the motives of the corporate media in blowing it up all out of proportion tantamount to Nazi sympathizing, and I’m already in enough trouble as it is.

Plus, Charlottesville was just the beginning … kind of like a Nazi Tet Offensive. Just one week later, on August 19, literally forty to fifty Nazis (cleverly disguised as Trump supporters, libertarians, and right-wing oddballs) occupied a public gazebo in Boston, and were right on the verge of expressing virulent Nazi views to the cops surrounding them. Luckily, just in the nick of time, a contingent of approximately forty thousand anti-fascist Resistance members arrived on the scene to deny them a platform, and chase down anyone wearing one of those MAGA hats and verbally abuse them.

You’d think the Nazis would have gotten the message … but no, last Sunday, August 27, another ten or eleven Nazis (many of them posing as “Trump supporters,” as if that didn’t make them Nazis, and some of them even going so far as to attempt to pass themselves off as “Latinos”) audaciously tried to assemble in Berkeley. The Resistance showed them no mercy this time. Thousands of peaceful counter-protesters quickly frightened the Nazis away, then squads of masked-up anti-fascists hunted down any Nazi-looking stragglers, “apparent alt-righters,” and nosy photographers, and stomped the living Hitler out of them. This alarmed the more liberal Resistance, which set about branding the anti-fascists who beat the crap out of the folks the liberals had branded Nazis “domestic terrorists.”

Elsewhere in America, Resistance members were frantically tearing down Confederate monuments, which had suddenly become intolerably offensive, and searching through online business directories for anyone named after Robert E. Lee, or horses named after General Lee’s horse, or the horses of other racist Nazis. That, and hastily organizing the upcoming March to Confront White Supremacy (presumably in order to make a mockery of the 1963 March on Washington), and penning lengthy explications of the evils of racism, white supremacy, and all other forms of Naziism associated with Donald Trump … and otherwise whipping people up into a sputtering frenzy of Nazi hysteria.

Now, you have to hand it to the fake Resistance … this Nazi hysteria is good for everyone. Not only is it an easier sell than that ridiculous Russian hacking nonsense (because Trump really is a racist, of course), but it’s something the broader Left can embrace, as it plugs straight into identity politics, which is pretty much all we’ve got these days.

See, up to now, the dilemma we’ve been facing (or some of us have been facing, anyway) is how to respond to the ruling establishment’s concerted campaign to “regime-change” Trump. On the one hand, Trump is a living embodiment of everything the Left opposes. On the other hand, going after Trump has meant carrying water for the fake Resistance, i.e., that global corporatocracy (which, by the way, does not mean “the Jews.” I always like to slip that in to piss off my anti-Semitic readers.) This has been a bit awkward for some of us, restraining our impulse to stick it to Trump (at least on whatever talking points the Resistance is currently putting out) because in doing so we would align ourselves with the ruling establishment’s attempt to demonize, and eventually depose an American president who isn’t playing ball with them properly. If we oppose regime change in other countries, shouldn’t we also oppose it at home? Or do the ruling classes get a pass this time because Trump is such an exceptional monster? But wait … wasn’t Saddam a monster? And Gaddafi? And all the other “Hitlers” that wouldn’t play ball with the corporatocracy? And Assad? Isn’t he a monster?

You can see how confusing all this gets … when you’re trying to figure out how to oppose both the supranational corporatocracy that is superseding sovereign nations as the hegemonic power in the world and the neo-nationalist reaction against it, which is essentially fascist in nature, and which the corporatocracy also opposes … and desperately wants you to help them oppose by buying their manufactured hysteria about Russians, or Nazis, or whatever scary monster they wave in front of your face. After a while, your brain starts to hurt, and you just want someone to make things simple.

Charlottesville Nazis to the rescue! How much simpler could it possibly get? Corporatocracy? What corporatocracy? We got goddamned Nazis coming out of the woodwork! Racist Nazis! Confederate Nazis! Nazi apologists! Nazi sympathizers! This is no time to worry about who’s actually wielding political power, or how they’re manufacturing hysteria and otherwise manipulating people (not you, of course … other people). No, what we need to do now is censor the Internet, and other venues for Nazi hate speech, and round up all these racist Nazis and subject them to anti-Nazi therapy, or anti-racist empathy programs, or just gang up on them and beat them senseless.

OK, sure, that might sound extreme, or authoritarian, or just plain old creepy, but keep in mind that This Is Not Normal! And racism and Naziism is very, very bad. And Love Trumps Hate! And Scope Kills Germs! And we never literally meant that Trump was an actual Russian agent or anything. Forget about all that Russia stuff now. Trump is Hitler. Trump has always been Hitler. America has always been at war with Hitler. America will always be at war with Hitler.

Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot, today’s edition of the Two Minutes Hate will begin in approximately fifteen minutes. Please assemble in the usual location. Thank you for your cooperation.

CJ Hopkins
(first published in CounterPunch, September 1, 2017)

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8 thoughts on “The United States of Manufactured Hysteria

  1. (From Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals)

    I want to say at the outset that that was not how my remark — the remark that I feel like Red Peter — was intended. I did not intend it ironically. It means what it says. I say what I mean. I am an old woman. I do not have the time any longer to say things I do not mean.

    That’s the ultimate luxury to, at last, come to be able to afford for people like us, Hopkins.
    I want to share to you a chapter from a psychology paper, it’s an excerpt I sheerly love:

    During our long and traumatic evolutionary history, we learned to perceive the environment selectively, selectively process information, selectively store memories, selectively disengage from stored memories, and to replace dissociated data selectively with less disturbing data. The neural devices subserving this ability to deceive ourselves resulted in a sense of personal reality that could vary dramatically, from person to person and culture to culture.

    This personal, individual sense of reality is profoundly determined by how much it lines up and is consistent with what our culture defines as reality. Cultural reality has been defined as ‘the constellation of externally delivered suggestions that are normalized on the basis of group endorsement’. Defining a shared cultural reality is a central function of any workable culture. Religious, moral, political, and economic ideological systems are designed to provide a basis for that sense of cultural reality in which each individual participates. The main difference between culturally accepted alterations of reality commonly noted in religious ceremonies and political events, and the common forms of twisted reality noted as the symptoms of psychopathology, is that in the former people agree together to ignore and deny the distortions and contradictions that exist, while in individual pathology no one else agrees with the view of reality shared by that individual. Instead, the person is called delusional, mad, or at the least eccentric. There is a borderline between these two realities, however. Children, artists, prophets, visionaries spend time there and how they will be greeted in their culture will be determined by many factors including how willing the culture is to come to grips with a denied reality and how well the individual can manage to fit into the culture without appearing too threatening.

    Children, artists, prophets, visionaries, and madmen, all together.

    But why do it? After you try for a while to spread your condition to the normal, their never-changing response flusters you to, at best, indifference for their destiny.

    Or is it our narcissism, hurt for we aren’t listened to?

    But they can’t listen to us!

    Father, forgive them, for they don’t know…

    And you, child, artist, visionary, prophet, and men confined into the asylum, forgive them likewise.

    Like

  2. hej CJ,
    looking forward to your take on trump’s little sportpalast speech, exhilarating bibi and friends. while the golden apprentice might not be hitler or goebbels, the tone of preparing the world for more & total war after 16 years of blitzkrieg sure must make any military-intelligence-waffen-stormtrooper in the US happy as bibi.
    greetings,
    CB

    Like

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