zaterdag 2 september 2017
SEPTEMBER 1, 2017
The Idiotic Lecture I Keep Getting
by PAUL STREET
The Idiotic Lecture I Keep Getting
A recurrent problem with some who read Left essays on U.S. politics is that a writer of such essays can’t criticize a Republican policymaker or politician without some “radical” reader sending that writer a snotty lecture on the writer’s supposed failure to understand that Barack Obama, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, and rest of the top Democrats are terrible too.
It’s very odd. It doesn’t matter how many times I have quoted the young Upton Sinclair or Eugene Debs on how the two dominant and capitalist U.S. political organizations are (in Sinclair’s words in 1904) “two wings of the same bird of prey.” It’s irrelevant how many times I have used the late Sheldon Wolin’s phrase “inauthentic opposition” to describe the Democrats – or how many times I’ve noted that that both reigning parties are captive to the same “unelected and interrelated dictatorship of money and empire.”
If I dare to criticize Donald Trump, I will get the same absurd online messages telling me that I am an apologist for the party of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and that I need to understand that the Democrats are capitalist and imperialist. “Paul,” one of these clowns – I’ll call him Big Bad Bob – recently wrote me:
“stop buy[ing] into the ‘Big Bad Republicans’ line. It’s a Con Game designed to implant the idea in the minds of the public that there is a genuine difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. They are a team. Need to read that again? THE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS ARE A TEAM! Both of them are paid and working for the Bad Guys, the centers of Capitalist power. Stop cooking up rationalizations of why your candidate is better than the other guy. They are both Capitalists and Imperialists.”
Gee, you don’t say. I had no idea.
Do I really have to attach an end-note listing my publications and speeches about and against Obama, the Clintons, and the Dems (an end-note that would run at least five pages even with a small font) every time I criticize a Republican? Do I seriously have to prove for the thousandth time my grasp of the elementary fact that the Democrats and Republicans “are both capitalists and imperialists”? (Though I never say they’re identical, with no differences at all, because that would be idiotic: the “two wings of the same bird of prey” have different if joined histories, different ethnocultural/demographic and regional constituencies, different funding bases, and different ideological and other permutations, of course. They need some real differences order to sell the corporate and imperial duopoly as “democratic” politics).
Imaging a Hillary Clinton Presidency So Far
Here, for it’s worth, are my reflections on what would be happening in America right now if Hillary Clinton (who Big Bad Bob calls “your [my] candidate”) had managed to squeak out an Electoral College victory (a far from fantastic possibility) last November. Yes, we would have been spared many of the terrible outrages, indignities and absurdities of the orange-tinted, malignantly narcissistic, Twitter-addicted, and eco-cidal beast called Donald Trump. But it wouldn’t be a pretty story, trust me.
Let’s start with the very elementary fact that Trump would not have conceded defeat. Recall that candidate Trump incredibly refused to honor the result of the election unless he emerged as the winner. The political campaign consultant and occasional CounterPuncher Geoff Beckman all-too commonsensically elaborates:
“Trump won the election by 77 electoral votes and he still screamed about 5-8 million phony voters and hired Kris Kobach and Hans Van Spakovsky to ensure that Democrats were barred from voting. Had he lost in a few states by 1%, he would have said the election was fixed and demanded recounts. Hilary — showing the dearth of sense for which she is known and reviled– would have demanded that there be no recounts (‘Al Gore don’t get a recount– why should he?’). Since a number of those states were in Republican hands, you would have had [Wisconsin Governor] Scott Walker, [Michigan Governor] Rick Snyder and maybe [Ohio Governor] John Kasich working against her. That would have gone on for months.”
Let’s assume Hillary Clinton survived a recount. Washington would be mired in the worst crippling partisan warfare since 1861. Congress would be in full revolt. The presidency would be endlessly mired in the email scandal. “And,” Beckman reminded two days ago, the Republicans’ “thing #1 (after another Obamacare repeal) would have been impeachment based on her email server.”
Indeed. Impeachment would have been a strong likelihood given the partisan balance in the House, though conviction and removal (requiring two-thirds of the Senate) would likely have been avoided.
Meanwhile, the right-wing militias (at least 500 strong near the end of Obama’s reign) would be on the murderous march. Who knows what their homeland body count would be by now with Trump, Breitbart, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh et al. egging them on to new levels of frothing white-nationalist and hyper-masculinist paranoia and violence?
“Crooked Hillary” has long been the gun-toting hard-right’s top bete noire – a bigger enemy for them than even the dastardly “Kenyan Marxist-Lenninist and Reparations Advocate Barack Obama”? A Clinton45 presidency would have pushed the looney-tunes, paranoid-style right into new heights of apocalyptic brutality.
The Clinton 45 administration would be loaded with top globalist ruling-class and imperial operatives from Wall Street and the Council on Foreign Relations. A dangerous Russophobic war hawk and a dedicated enemy of left popular nationalism in Latin America, Mrs. Clinton might well have initiated significant direct and dangerous military conflict with Russia in Syria or Ukraine and already orchestrated a U.S overthrow of the Maduro regime in Venezuela. She would be doing this to the measured applause of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
Just how much a President Hillary’s likely mass-murderous militarism would reflect her strong ideological commitment to the American Empire Project (never forget her U.S. Senate vote to let George W. Bush criminally invade Iraq if he wanted to [he did]) and how much it would reflect a “wag the dog” need to deflect attention from domestic political chaos is an interesting question.
The anti-war movement would remain largely non-existent, crippled by so many liberals’ and progressives’ strange, and deeply conditioned inability and/or refusal to see Democrats as the war mongers they are
Hillary’s Wall Street speeches (the ones Bernie Sanders pressed her to release) suggest strongly that a Madam President Clinton would be working toward the privatization of Social Security or at least the rollback of Social Security benefits while otherwise and more generally advancing the Bob Rubin-approved-neoliberal-pseudo-“inclusive”-capitalist agenda she and her husband have trail-blazed for decades. Serious union organizing would remain essentially illegal, wages could continue to stagnate, wealth would continue to concentrate into ever fewer hands. A new financial meltdown would beckon.
This would set the GOP up for gaining yet further hard-right-wing power in Congress after the 2018 mid-term elections. The nation would be waiting for a right-wing presidency possibly worse than Trump’s in 2021 or 2026.
As under Obama44 and Clinton42, the nation’s disproportionately Black, Latino, and Native American poor would continue to endure harsh socio-economic and criminal justice oppression – with little if any help from the federal government despite best effort of Identity-politicized liberals to rally them to the defense of the Democratic Party.
Maybe it was best to go through this TrumPence shit sooner rather than later. The rightmost party wants to completely deregulate energy and accelerate the exterminist cooking of the planet beyond human livability. Is it better to confront that horrific reality now or in four or eight years, when capitalogtenic climate change has moved us closer to extinction?
The Obstruction Out
It would be useful, perhaps, for a Democrat to be seen sitting atop the corporate and imperial state. One ultra-left theme (another staple in my email in-box) welcomed Trump as the “spark for the revolution we need.” But it doesn’t really work like that, I’m afraid. Horrible moronic white-male Republicans in the White House tend to reinforce the narrative that the national fix is electing a Democrat. Masses of people are more likely to get it that a radical popular uprising is required when a sitting Democratic administration demonstrates that the dismal, dollar-drenched Dems are every bit as corporate as the other capitalist party – and that “everything still sucks” when the hold the highest office. The Democrats are better at posing as an Opposition Party – and thereby coopting real popular resistance – when they are out of office than when they are “in power.”
But, of course, Hillary, like Obama after 2010, would have Republican and Congressional “obstruction” to blame for her failures, making it all too easy for the Democrats not to own the state-capitalism they help advance.
So thats my take on how wonderful things would be if “[my] candidate” (right) Hillary (I voted Green as usual) had won.
In the Absence of a Left, It Doesn’t Really Matter….
Ultimately, I increasingly find, tactical considerations on whether it’s better for those of on the left to have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House are fairly immaterial in the absence of an actual and functioning Left in this country. Let’s say you think it’s better to have the GOP in – this out of some Maoist or other “backlash theory” of revolution (“heightening the contradictions” and all that). Or let’s say you share my longstanding (if fading) sense that Democrats in the White House tend to be more educationally useful in demonstrating how both of the capitalist parties suck (something I understand very well, whatever Big Bad Bob wants to think). In the absence of serious Left organization beneath and beyond the quadrennial, major-party, big-money, big media, and candidate-centered electoral spectacles that are sold to us as “politics” – the only politics that counts – it really doesn’t matter all that much. Either way, we’re screwed.
Neither progressive policy proposals nor radical societal vision beyond the current reigning unelected dictatorships are in short supply on “the Left.” Leftists are commonly, even almost ritually told that they carp and complain without offering solutions. But as Noam Chomsky wrote eleven years ago, “there is an accurate translation for that charge: ‘they present solutions and I don’t like them.’” What is most missing on the Left are not policy and societal solutions but rather cohesive, resilient, long-lasting radical organization tying together the various fragmented groups and issues around which Left progressive and Leftists often fight very good struggles in the U.S. Without serious, durable, unified, and convincing Left organization, neither revolutionary vision nor reform proposals are going to go very far.
This is no small matter. Given capitalism’s systemically inherent war on livable ecology – emerging now as the biggest issue of our or any time – the formation of such a new and united Left popular and institutional presence has become a matter of life and death for the species. “The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros rightly argued 16 years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.”
Last year, as every four years, the U.S. “Left,” such as it is, tore itself up in the usual quadrennial debate about how to best respond to the narrow and stupid, plutocratic electoral choices on offer from the horrid party and elections system. We can obsess and hold our breath until we’re blue in the face about supposedly nice cops (Carter, Clintons, Obama) versus bad cops (Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, Trump) – about execution by bullet versus execution by hanging, death by heart attack vs. death by stroke – or we can stop, breathe, and dig down to do the elementary work of building ongoing, dedicated, popular movements beneath and beyond the masters’ deadening election cycles.
More articles by:PAUL STREET
AUGUST 18, 2017
by CJ HOPKINS
So the de-Putin-Nazification of America couldn’t be going much better at the moment. In terms of emotionally manipulating people (and especially any heretofore wayward members of the American “left”) into forming a mindless, hysterical mob and running around like headless chickens branding anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton a goose-stepping Nazi, this past week has been a huge success. At this point, if you haven’t yet posted an anti-Nazi loyalty oath on Twitter, Facebook, or some other platform, you’re a potential “Nazi sympathizer” … and you don’t want to be one of those, now do you? No, I didn’t think you did. So, if you haven’t done that, you’d better get on it. Here are few tips to get you started.
Your anti-Nazi loyalty oath should include a clearly-worded statement acknowledging that Donald Trump is Hitler, or at least the leader of the tens of hundreds of imbecilic, neo-Nazi losers who, according to most of the mainstream media, are on the verge of overthrowing the entire American ruling establishment. It should also include a threat to unfollow, de-friend, and otherwise socially ostracize anyone who hasn’t posted such an oath, or who, despite the Charlottesville Kristallnacht, stubbornly continues thinking critically, or maintains any form of historical awareness, or presents any kind of rational arguments challenging the prevailing Nazi hysteria.
It should also include one or more of the following:
(1) If not an outright call for the First Amendment to be repealed, then at least a demand for a ban on “hate speech,” and the removal of every hate-based statue, flag, painting, book, film, song, joke, or other expression of racism, hatred, religious bigotry, misogyny, extremism, general rudeness (and any other forms of speech or expression that you don’t like) from public view. Don’t worry about the ramifications of this ban. It will never, ever, be used against you, or anyone that you agree with, or against any authors or artists that you like. It’ll be a ban on “hate-speech,” after all, and it’s not like that term is completely subjective, or subject to the whims of those in power, or anything like that.
(2) A demand that the already overly-broad definition of “terrorism” now be expanded even further, to include the fascist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, killing one and wounding many others. Never mind that this murderous idiot seems to have done this on the spur of the moment (or, if it was a planned attack, that he’s even more of an idiot than he seems, which, judging from his mug shot, is hard to believe). The important thing is to help the Resistance expand the definition of “terrorism” to the point where they can slap it onto anyone. Again, don’t worry about the ramifications. The “terrorist” label will never, ever, be used against groups that you approve of, or innocent people in faraway countries that some future president wants to murder with drones. The Resistance would never, ever, do that. They know who is and who isn’t a terrorist. And if they don’t, they can always check with Obama.
(3) A reference (either veiled or direct) to someone who may be a Nazi-sympathizer. This is crucial in terms of motivating others to post their loyalty oaths, and fostering an atmosphere of paranoia, which is always so helpful at times like this. Surely, you know of someone who has said, tweeted, published, or posted something that could be interpreted as “Nazi-friendly.” Don’t bother with the Trump supporters. The corporate-owned media will take care of them. You want to go after other leftists, specifically leftists who have been reluctant to call Trump Hitler, or a Putinist agent, or who disagree with you about Syria, or, you know, just people who get on your nerves. This is a golden opportunity to pore through their tweets and Facebook posts, find something you can use against them, and then accuse them of harboring Nazi sympathies. Given the current level of hysteria, few people are going to check your facts. This is one you can really have fun with. See how far you can push the paranoia. Make up elaborate conspiracy theories. If you’re not quite sure how to go about that, check The New York Times or The Washington Post … they’re masters of that kind of thing.
Your anti-Nazi loyalty oath should definitely not include any of the following:
(1) Any mention of the Ukrainian Nazis that Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the Resistance (before it was the Resistance, of course) helped regime-change the Ukrainian government when it wouldn’t play ball with the EU and NATO. Mentioning the Resistance’s support of these Nazis would only confuse those reading your oath, who might not understand that there are good Nazis and bad Nazis, and who have probably forgotten how the US government smuggled a number of actual Nazis (i.e., members of the NSDAP) into America after WWII … or how, since the end of that war, the United States has mass murdered countless millions of people all over the planet (but, technically, not in a genocidal fashion, so that doesn’t make us the same as Nazis).
(2) Actual membership figures on neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, because those figures are pathetically small. Doing this would make your loyalty oath (not to mention the whole Nazi hysteria thing, generally) seem, if not paranoid, then at least absurd, or like part of some manufactured effort to whip up support for a ruling class coup by waving Nazis in front of everyone’s faces. This would be extremely counterproductive. Remember, one of the primary goals of the De-Putin-Nazification program is to convince the public that Richard Spencer (and the handful of other insignificant idiots that the corporate media is showering with publicity) is about to lead an overwhelming force of tiki torch-bearing neo-Nazis into the streets of American cities to battle the hyper-militarized police, the national guard, and the US military, or some other preposterous scenario like that.
(3) Any reference whatsoever to the corporatocracy that runs the country, and that normally decides who can run for president, and which is currently making an example of Trump in order to dissuade any future billionaires from having the audacity to fuck with them. You’ll be better off avoiding this subject entirely, as it only reminds folks how screwed they are, and how, odds are, they’re probably all worked up about something the corporate-owned media wanted to get them all worked up about, neo-Nazis, Russian hackers, nuclear war with North Korea, Syrian gas attacks, lone wolf terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, or whatever. Take it from someone who’s worked in show business. No one likes being made aware of how they are being manipulated … or provided with a binary set of officially acceptable contextual parameters within which they can think and speak.
But don’t worry too much about that binary stuff. There’ll be plenty of time to get into all that after we rid the world of these Nazis, and these racists, and all these Confederate statues. And Trump, of course. That’s the main thing … getting rid of Donald Trump, and getting a Democrat back in office. Oh, yeah … and the books. We need to look at the books. God knows how many Confederate books are still out there in the public libraries, and in people’s homes, where children can read them. We’ll need to get to the books eventually.
In the meantime, focus on Priority One. Go hard on the Nazi hysteria, at least throughout the rest of the weekend, after which they’ll probably need to switch us back to the Russia hysteria, or possibly the North Korea hysteria, or … damn, see? Here I go with that contextual parameter stuff again. I’ve really got to stop doing that. The last thing I need is to get myself accused of being some kind of Nazi sympathizer, or Confederate apologist, or Russian propagandist, or extremist, or terrorist, or, you know … whatever.
More articles by:CJ HOPKINS