cognitive dissonance

Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/07/2018 - 10:06pm in

So it appears America and democracy have miraculously survived the dreaded Trump-Putin summit … or Trump’s meeting with his Russian handler, as the neoliberal ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media would dearly like us all to believe. NATO has not been summarily dissolved. Poland has not been invaded by Russia. The offices of The New York TimesThe Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC have not been stormed by squads of jackbooted Trumpian Gestapo. The Destabilization of the Middle East, the Privatization of Virtually Everything, the Conversion of the Planet into One Big Shopping Mall, and other global capitalist projects are all going forward uninterrupted. Apart from Trump making a narcissistic, word-salad-babbling jackass of himself, which he does on a more or less daily basis, nothing particularly apocalyptic happened.

And so, once again, Western liberals, and others obsessed with Donald Trump, having been teased into a painfully tumescent paroxysm of anticipation of some unimaginably horrible event that would finally lead to Trump’s impeachment (or his removal from office by other means) were left standing around with their hysteria in their hands. It has become a sadistic ritual at this point … like a twisted, pseudo-Tantric exercise where the media get liberals all lathered up over whatever fresh horror Trump has just perpetrated (or some non-story story they have invented out of whole cloth), build the tension for several days, until liberals are moaning and begging for impeachment, or a full-blown CIA-sponsored coup, then pull out abruptly and leave the poor bastards writhing in agony until the next time … which is pretty much exactly what just happened.

In the days and weeks leading up to the summit, the global capitalist ruling class Resistance deployed every weapon in its mighty arsenal to whip the Western masses up into a frenzy of anti-Putin-Nazi fervor. While continuing to flog the wildly popular baby concentration camp story (because the Hitler stimulus never fails to elicit a Pavlovian response from Americans, regardless of how often or how blatantly you use it), the corporate media began hammering hard on the “Trump is a Russian Agent” hysteria. (Normally, the corporate media alternates between the Hitler hysteria and the Russia hysteria so as not to completely short-circuit the already scrambled brains of Western liberals, but given the imminent threat of a peace deal, they needed to go the whole hog this time and paint this summit as a secret, internationally televised assignation between Hitler and … well, Hitler).

In order to render them even more repugnant in the eyes of Western liberals (as if being two Hitlers wasn’t repugnant enough), The New York Times produced this short porno graphically depicting Trump and Putin as insatiably horny homosexual lovers. A fusillade of apocalyptic op-eds followed, the most shamelessly paranoid and hysterical of which was Roger Cohen’s experimental dystopia, in which “The Alliance of Authoritarian and Reactionary States” trick the inherently fascist Europeans into launching a Second Holocaust with a “fake news” story about Moroccan migrants abducting poor little “Tatiana” from a beach resort in Fuengirola.

While faithful New York Times-reading liberals were still struggling to regain control of their sphincters and doubling up on their alprazolam prescriptions in a desperate attempt to banish these visions of the coming butch-gay Putin-Nazi Reich, go-to propagandist, Jonathan Chait, who has obviously been watching way too much Homeland, published this paranoid spec-fic novella (complete with a “Carrie is off her meds” flow chart) about how Trump has probably been “a Russian intelligence asset” since 1987. At the same time, MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance took to Twitter to denounce Glenn Greenwald as a treasonous “agent of Trump and Moscow” for physically traveling to a conference in Russia and speaking with several Russian people. Nance, who usually just makes things up, was actually telling the truth this time. Greenwald really did visit Russia, and was selfied in the company of Edward Snowden, on top of which he’s totally gay, and God knows what kind of Commie orgies go on in the Kremlin dungeon!

And the neoliberal “Resistance” was just getting started. As Trump was arriving at Stansted Airport to begin his “destruction of British diplomacy” (and possibly poison the Queen with more of that Novichok oatmeal that has been plaguing the UK), The Guardian‘s Owen Jones was personally preparing cells of the “London Resistance” for “the biggest demonstration in British history,” or “the biggest weekday protest in British history,” or a very large protest in any event. The London Resistance’s secret weapon was the baby Russian Agent Hitler blimp, which forced Trump and his Nazi goons to retreat to one of his Scottish golf resorts, but not before humiliating America, and horrifying The Washington Post, by failing to grovel before the British monarch. Still, the point is, London was saved. The forces of hatred, bigotry, and Russianness were roundly defeated by the forces of love, and goodness, and democracy, and tolerance, and whatever. If only the French had been willing to deploy a baby Hitler blimp in 1940 … or had been able to unite the corporate media, the intelligence agencies, the capitalist ruling classes, and thousands of virtue-signaling liberals to disapprove of the original Hitler!

But that wasn’t all … oh no, far from it. No, the weeks of white-eyed editorials warning us of the dangers of peace, the neo-McCarthyite smear campaigns, the virtue-signaling Stop Trump protests, all that was just an extended edition of Orwell’s famous Two Minutes Hate, designed to generate mass hysteria and paranoia in the run-up to the summit. By Friday, the Intelligence Community was issuing warnings of imminent Russian “attempts to undermine America” with September 11 scale “cyber attacks!” National Intelligence Director Dan Coats personally told the Associated Press that the little “Imminent Russia Attack” lights he has on his desk were all “blinking red.” Apparently, Trump and the Putin-Nazis are preparing “a crippling cyber attack” against “critical US infrastructure,” like “a power outage in New England in January,” or even “a cyber attack on banks” that will erase Americans’ entire life savings but somehow spare all the Russian accounts, or at least another devastating round of division-sowing Facebook ads!

Then, just in time for the corporate media to milk it throughout the weekend, special counsel Robert Mueller, III released a 29-page indictment accusing a bunch of Russian spies of, well, basically, being Russian spies. The indictment alleges that these Russian spies destroyed the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who everyone knows is supposed to be President, by “hacking” the Democratic Party’s servers and stealing and disseminating emails revealing both Clinton and the Democratic Party to be the soulless neoliberal hypocrites most people already knew they were. The indictment of these Russian intelligence officers (and no Americans, nor any other parties who can ever actually be brought to trial, requiring special counsel Mueller to offer evidence to support his allegations) was followed up by a chorus of voices demanding that the summit be cancelled and that Trump slink home in complete disgrace to confess his crimes to a vindicated nation, and then presumably fire his entire administration, resign, and appoint Hillary Clinton President.

Sometime early Sunday morning, after hours of careful deliberation over cheeseburgers and sodas on Air Force One with the Gorilla Channel streaming on his smartphone for ambiance, Trump decided to go ahead with the summit. This left the Resistance no other choice than to turn up the dial on the manufactured hysteria by repeating the words “treason,” “treasonous,” and “traitor” as many times as humanly possible on every news site, television channel, and social media platform in existence, and just generally running around like lunatics shrieking about an “IMMINENT RUSSIAN ATTACK!”

On the morning of the summit, Charles M. Blow, maestro of alliteration and subtlety, in The New York Times (which, we must remember, holds itself to the highest journalistic standards and in no way resembles a rabble-rousing tabloid), published this impassioned piece entitled “Trump, Treasonous Traitor,” accusing the President of “betraying the nation,” and basically demanding that he be tried for treason. “America is under attack,” Blow announces, “and its president absolutely refuses to defend it.” If Mother Jones‘ David Corn has his way, Senator Rand Paul, who Corn denounces as “a traitor,” would also be taken outside and shot for the crime of noting that the Attack on America® Russia allegedly perpetrated is fairly standard clandestine behavior, engaged in by most developed nations, including the United States of America, whose history of election interference, coup-fomenting, assassinations, and other, more hamfisted forms of regime change is common knowledge, or at least it was, until the ruling classes and the corporate media turned the majority of Western liberals into paranoid McCarthyite fanatics denouncing anyone who questions the honesty of the US Intelligence Community as a “traitor,” and seeing Russians and Nazis coming out of the woodwork.

In the wake of Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit, which Garry Kasparov has called “the darkest hour in the history of the American presidency” (darker than Truman dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki!), the neoliberal establishment and the corporate media appear to have gone full Joe McCarthy. Virtually every establishment mouthpiece, former spook, official state clown, from Thomas Friedman to Stephen Colbert, have been braying about “treason” and “traitorousness,” and suggesting that Donald Trump be removed from office by, you know, whatever means necessary. At least David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, had the balls to openly call for a CIA-orchestrated military coup, because we can’t afford to wait for the legal process to take its course this time, as we are “facing a national security emergency!”

God knows where we go from here. It’s hard to believe the ruling classes can keep teasing liberals, and other Trump-obsessives, over and over and over like this, without eventually impeaching or shooting the guy … but then again, maybe they can. Perhaps they intend to continue conducting this experiment all the way up to 2020, just to see how paranoid and mindlessly conformist they make the majority of the Western public. In any event, if they decide not to impeach him, and then try him for treason, or just kill him, or whatever, the Democrats at least have a new campaign slogan that they can use in 2018 and beyond … “NEXT TIME VOTE FOR WHO WE TELL YOU TO, YOU RUSSIA-LOVING NAZI SCUM!” It kind of has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

 

CJ Hopkins
First published in CounterPunch, July 18, 2018, and ColdType, Issue 164 .
Photo: Adaptation of an adaptation of an original photo by Gage Skidmore.

CJH 2017 300DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reasons, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 a month), or send a contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his novel, Zone 23, which we hear is pretty funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, or come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg. Here he is at one of them, waiting to seditiously eat a plate of pelmeni or something.

Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/06/2018 - 10:38pm in

Last week, I published an inappropriate and deeply offensive satirical essay, for which I would now like to repeatedly apologize. The offensive satirical essay in question, Awaiting the Putin-Nazi Apocalypse, which I regret having written and for which I intend to repeatedly apologize throughout this essay, concerned what I perceived, at the time I wrote it, as an overreaction on the part of millions of decent, patriotic liberals to the first eighteen months of Donald Trump’s presidency and Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to destroy democracy and take over the world.

In light of recent revelations, and repeated viewings of heartbreaking close-up color photos of children in cages, I feel it incumbent on myself to confess what I recognize now as my part in spreading the scourge of Putin-Nazism that is metastasizing like a hideous Slavic colon cancer throughout our great nation, and to repeatedly apologize for having been an apologist for such Hitlerian evil, as well as any discomfort my Putin-Nazi Denialism might have caused anyone.

In addition to repeatedly apologizing for any emotional or psychological discomfort or trauma my essay may have caused, I would like to attempt to explain why I wrote it, not to in any way excuse myself, but rather, in the hope that other political satirists might learn from my mistake, and stop and think about the consequences of going after cheap, easy laughs while hundreds of thousands of innocent people are being rounded up by the American gestapo and shipped off to concentration camps to be horribly murdered with poison gas, and experimented on by sadistic doctors, or just slowly starved and worked to death … which is obviously nothing to joke about.

Again, I’m not trying to rationalize the offensive nature of the essay in question (which I wrote on prescription sleep medication), but I was honestly not aware when I wrote it that there was such a thing as the American gestapo, or that there were any actual concentration camps in the United States at the present time. I just assumed that the stories I was seeing in the press about children being torn away from their parents, locked in cages, or disappeared, were referring to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, both of which were created in 2002, when everyone was still running around waving flags, backing the invasion of the Greater Middle East, the loss of any semblance of personal privacy, and the militarization of their local police, because the ruling classes and the corporate media had told them that Saddam Hussein was Hitler, or that Osama bin Laden, or someone, was Hitler. I had not realized that Putin had ordered Trump to transform the DHS (which during the beneficent Obama administration had been housing so-called “illegal immigrants” in comfort suites at the Holiday Inn, and providing the kids with Snow Cones, and so on) into a goose-stepping, Sieg-heiling Nazi kill-corps that is even now, as I am writing this confession, carrying out the Final Mexican Solution.

Fortunately, General Michael Hayden set me straight with his recent tweet, featuring a picture of Auschwitz itself, and a grim reminder that “other governments have separated mothers and children.” Hayden, a former director of both the NSA and CIA, and who has no qualms about torturing Muslims or illegally surveilling American citizens, surely knows a death camp when he sees one … so I figured I’d better dig a little deeper into this whole Nazified Amerika thing.

When I did, mostly by submersing myself in countless reports in the corporate media, and by spastically flicking through memes on Twitter, I realized what a fool I had been (which, again, I’m terribly, terribly sorry for). I had thought Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy was just another gratuitously sadistic twist on the long-standing practice of tormenting desperate people fleeing societies systematically destabilized by the US government and the corporations that basically own it in order to maintain a criminalized labor force to do the shit jobs Americans don’t want and drive down domestic wages, generally … but it turns out that isn’t it at all. No, this time, it appears it’s not just another Republican beating up on minorities to score political points with Americans too blind or ignorant to understand that “illegal immigrants” are not their enemies, but rather, the victims of the same corporatocracy that has been bleeding them dry for the last five decades while pandering to their tribalist fears and fantasies of racial superiority. No, this time, it’s the actual, literal Nazis with actual, literal concentration camps, except that this time they want to exterminate the Mexicans, or Mexican kids in any event, and Hitler is actually a foreign agent remotely controlled by Vladimir Putin, who is somehow, at the same time, also Hitler, and is trying to take over the entire world by allowing his country to be surrounded by NATO, except for his naval ports in Crimea, which Obama helped the Ukrainian Nazis try to steal away from the Russian Nazis, but that was way back in 2014, before Amerika went full-blown Nazi, when there were no Mexican kids in Walmarts converted into Nazi death camps. Or something more or less like that. I’ve been getting a little confused, myself, since I started trying to stop to overthinking things and instead just react to whatever stimulus the corporate media and the ruling classes wave in front of my face everyday.

Look, the point is, I’m terribly, terribly sorry for writing that offensive satirical essay, which I realize now was horribly insensitive, and hurtful, and possibly against some law, or corporate code of Internet conduct. I sincerely hope you will not read it, and that Google and Facebook caught it and deranked it before it lured any impressionable young minds into the cesspool of Putin-Nazi Denialism. As for me, I’ve decided it will be best for everyone if I withdraw from public life for a while to reflect on how I ended up here and … you know, to spend more time with my family.

Before I do that, I just wanted to mention (again, not to in any way defend the insensitive and narcissistic views I mindlessly expressed in the essay in question) that my failure to recognize what’s been happening back home might have something to do with the fact that I live here in Berlin, in Germany, where the streets are full of Stolpersteine, little brass cobblestones bearing the names of actual people torn out of their homes by the actual Geheime Staatspolizei, put on trains, sent to death camps, or just taken out into the woods and murdered. These Stolpersteine are embedded in the street outside the last houses where these people lived, so it isn’t that hard to imagine the Gestapo — i.e., the actual Nazi Gestapo — dragging, well, let’s say, Frau Elsbeth Piltz, out of what, until the 26th of February, 1943, was her home (and is now one of my local grocery stores), and sending her off to be gassed at Auschwitz. I pass her Stolperstein more or less daily, as well as those of other people … actual living human beings who walked the same streets I walk today, people who were murdered by actual Nazis … not the hysterical fantasies of Nazis that self-absorbed liberals entertain in order to short circuit their critical thinking and shout down any criticism of their self-righteous mission to defend democracy from imaginary Russians and Donald Trump. But whatever. Who gives a shit about history, or the memory of Elsbeth Piltz, or any other actual human beings, when you’ve got an official narrative to sell?

Damn it … there I go again with my Putin-Nazi Denialism. Forgive me. I’m still working on it. Just give me a little time alone with the corporate media, and Twitter, and I will eventually get my mind right, I swear.

CJ Hopkins
Photo: Colores Mari CC-BY 2.0
First published in CounterPunch, June 20, 2018.

 

CJH 2017 300DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reasons, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 a month), or send a contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his novel, Zone 23, which we hear is pretty funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, or come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg. Here he is at one of them, waiting to seditiously eat a plate of pelmeni or something.

Awaiting the Putin-Nazi Apocalypse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/06/2018 - 7:49pm in

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little tired of waiting for the Hitlerian nightmare that the corporate media promised us was coming back in 2016. Frankly, I’m beginning to suspect that all their apocalyptic pronouncements were just parts of some elaborate cocktease. I mean, here we are, a year and half into the reign of the Trumpian Reich, and, well, where are all the concentration camps, the SS units with their death’s head insignia, the Riefenstahlian parades and rallies? Trump hasn’t even banned the Democratic Party, or annexed Canada, or invaded Mexico, or made anybody wear color-coded armbands. If he doesn’t start Hitlering relatively soon, the oracles of the corporate media are going to have some serious explaining to do.

I don’t think I’m overreacting. After all, back in 2016, The Guardian promised us an “Age of Darkness,” and the end of “civilized order” as we know it. “Globalization is dead, and white supremacy has triumphed,” one of its more hysterical pundits proclaimed. “Donald Trump is actually a fascist,” Michael Kinsley assured us in The Washington Post. Charles Blow of The New York Times warned that Trump’s election was “the beginning of the end,” the descent of the republic into “racial Orwellianism,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. Thomas Friedman called it “a moral 911.” Paul Krugman predicted nothing short of “a global recession with no end in sight.” Jonathan Chait, after heroically vowing not to flee the country with his terrified family, but to stay and fight to the bitter end, guaranteed us that the “monster,” Trump, would “shake the republic to its foundations.”

Perhaps my seismometer is on the fritz, but I haven’t detected much foundation shaking. Yes, Trump repulses me, personally. I do not like the man. I never have. I was based in New York for fifteen years, in the 1990s and early 2000s, before he became a game show host, when he was still just a shady real estate mogul with alleged ties to organized crime who occasionally appeared on Wrestlemania and just generally went about the city making a narcissistic ass of himself and plastering his gold-plated name onto everything. So I have no illusions about his character … the man is an inveterate snake oil salesman with the moral compass of a Tijuana pimp. All I’m saying is, we were promised Hitler, or Mussolini at the very least, and it seems like all we’re getting so far is just regular old narcissistic Donald Trump.

Of course, he could just be laying low and holding back on the Hitler stuff as part of the evil master plan personally developed by Vladimir Putin to systematically brainwash Americans (with state-of-the-art mind-control Facebook ads) into embracing all-out National Socialism and marching through the streets in full Nazi regalia singing Amerika Über Alles… at which point Trump will rip off his mask, reveal his true Hitlerian face, Steve Bannon will suddenly reappear in the turret of an M1 Abrams tank at the head of a division of rebel infantry flying giant Confederate flags as they hideously rumble down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the Putin-Nazi Holocaust will begin.

Or maybe the extremely serious, Pulitzer Prize-winning political pundit David Leonhardt is onto something. In a prominent op-ed in The New York Times, he wonders if Putin’s “secret plan” is for Trump to destroy “the Atlantic alliance” by arriving late for the G7 meeting and “picking fights over artificial issues,” not to mention insulting the Canadian prime minister, which, it doesn’t get much more hair-raising than that. OK, I know you’re probably thinking that sounds like the hopelessly paranoid jabber of some conspiracy theorist nut on YouTube, but we’re talking The New York Times here, folks, and a bona fide “respectable pundit” who wrote a whole 15,000-word ebook and has been interviewed by Stephen Colbert, among his many other distinguished accomplishments.

Examined in the context of other blatantly loony theories the corporate media are currently attempting to ram down our throats, Leonhardt’s theory kind of makes sense. The Guardian, another very serious newspaper, in addition to covering the repercussions of its coverage of Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, is hot on the trail of the soon-to-be-infamous Putin-Banks-Brexit Connection. According to “documents seen by The Observer,” a Guardian sister publication, Arron Banks, a “Brexit bankroller,” allegedly had brunch with the Russian ambassador three times, instead of just once, as he had claimed. He was also allegedly offered a piece of some shady gold deal in exchange for the number of someone on Trump transition team, which for some reason it was otherwise impossible to obtain. Or whatever. It doesn’t really matter what happened. The point is, Putin orchestrated the Brexit, presumably as part of his secret plan to destabilize the Atlantic alliance, and then blackmailed Trump into running for president with that “pee-tape” the Democrats paid a former British spook to allege exists.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times concurs. In his latest extremely serious piece of totally respectable grown-up opinionating, he once again calls Trump “a quisling” (he’s developed a fondness for this term, which goes over well with New York Times readers) and reiterates that Trump is “a de facto foreign agent” and that “America as we know it is finished.” Tragically, according to Krugman, the FBI, CIA, and other Guardians of Western Democracy are utterly powerless to deal with this quisling, and his evil puppet master, Putin, because it turns out the entire Republican Party is “hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt.” Yes, it appears the only chance we have to save the world from Trumpzilla, and imminent Putin-Nazi Holocaust, is to elect a buttload of Democrats to office, and eventually an Obama-like Democratic President, so they can launch an all-out thermonuclear war against Russia and North Korea … that’ll teach these Putin-Nazis to screw around with our trade agreements!

Oh, and also, we need to cancel the Brexit, and do away with all these “populist” movements that Putin has fomented all over Europe. For example, according to billionaire George Soros, the refugee-hating League in Italy is likely another Putin-backed front, part of his scheme to “dominate the West.” One can only assume that the AfD, the FPÖ, Rassemblement National, and every other extreme-Right party exploiting people’s rage and fear in Europe are parts of Putin’s grand conspiracy (except, of course, for the Ukrainian Nazis the Western alliance put into power). Soros, like billionaire Bruce Wayne before him, tired of waiting for the West to strike back, is taking matters into his own hands. Not only has he been tirelessly laboring to prevent Donald Trump from “destroying the world,” now he’s financing “Best for Britain,” a campaign to de-brainwash the British people, who, obviously, only voted for Brexit because they’d been brainwashed by the Putin-Nazis.

I could go on and on with this. Have you heard the the one about the Putin-Nazis conspiring with the NRA? How about the one where Emmanuel Macron, in order to protect the French from “fake news,” and division-sowing Putin-Nazi memes, wants the authority to censor the Internet? Or have you read the column in which David Brooks, without a detectable trace of irony, laments the passing of international relationships “based on friendship, shared values, loyalty, and affection” … seriously, he used the word “affection” in reference to the Western alliance, one of the most ruthless, mass-murdering empires in the history of ruthless, mass-murdering empires? Oh,yeah, and I almost forgot … MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is reporting that the North Korea summit was also orchestrated by Putin!

I’m not sure how much more bizarre things can get. This level of bull goose loony paranoia, media-generated mass hysteria, and mindless conformity would be hysterically funny … if it weren’t so fucking horrifying in terms of what it says about millions of Westerners, who are apparently prepared to believe almost anything the authorities tell them, no matter how nuts. That famous Voltaire quote comes to mind … “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities,” he wrote. Another, more disturbing way of looking at it is, people willing to believe absurdities, to switch off their critical thinking faculties in order to conform to an official narrative as blatantly ridiculous as the Putin-Nazi narrative, are people who have already surrendered their autonomy, who have traded it for the comfort of the herd. Such people cannot be reasoned with, because there isn’t really anyone in there. There is only whatever mindless jabber got injected into their brain that day, the dutiful repetition of which guarantees they remain a “normal” person (who believes what other normal persons believe), and not some sort of “radical” or “extremist.”

These people are the people who worry me … these “normal” people who, completely calmly, as if what they are saying wasn’t batshit crazy, explain how Trump is just like Hitler, and how Putin is trying to take over the world. I sit there and listen and smile at these people, some of whom are friends and colleagues, people who I genuinely like, and who genuinely like me in return, but who, under the right set of circumstances, would stand by and watch me marched into prison, or worse, and not utter a word in protest.

CJ Hopkins
First published in CounterPunch, June 15, 2018 and ColdType, Issue 162.

 

CJH 2017 300DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reasons, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 a month), or send a contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his novel, Zone 23, which we hear is pretty funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, or come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg. Here he is at one of them, waiting to seditiously eat a plate of pelmeni or something.

The Simulation of Democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 23/05/2018 - 6:57pm in

One of the most complicated and frustrating aspects of operating a global capitalist empire is maintaining the fiction that it doesn’t exist. Virtually every action you take has to be carefully recontextualized or otherwise spun for public consumption. Every time you want to bomb or invade some country to further your interests, you have to mount a whole PR campaign. You can’t even appoint a sadistic torture freak to run your own coup-fomenting agency, or shoot a few thousand unarmed people you’ve imprisoned in a de facto ghetto, without having to do a big song and dance about “defending democracy” and “democratic values.”

Naked despotism is so much simpler, not to mention more emotionally gratifying. Ruling an empire as a godlike dictator means never having to say you’re sorry. You can torture and kill anyone you want, and conquer and exploit whichever countries you want, without having to explain yourself to anyone. Also, you get to have your humongous likeness muraled onto the walls of buildings, make people swear allegiance to you, and all that other cool dictator stuff.

Global capitalists do not have this luxury. Generating the simulation of democracy that most Western consumers desperately need in order to be able to pretend to believe that they are not just smoothly-functioning cogs in the machinery of a murderous global empire managed by a class of obscenely wealthy and powerful international elites to whom their lives mean exactly nothing, although extremely expensive and time-consuming, is essential to maintaining their monopoly on power. Having conditioned most Westerners into believing they are “free,” and not just glorified peasants with gadgets, the global capitalist ruling classes have no choice but to keep up this fiction. Without it, their empire would fall apart at the seams.

This is the devil’s bargain modern capitalism made back in the 18th Century. In order to wrest power from the feudal aristocracies that had dominated the West throughout the Middle Ages, the bourgeoisie needed to sell the concept of “democracy” to the unwashed masses, who they needed both to staff their factories and, in some cases, to fight revolutionary wars, or depose and publicly guillotine monarchs. All that gobbledegook about taxes, tariffs, and the unwieldy structure of the feudal system was not the easiest sell to the peasantry. “Liberty” and “equality” went over much better. So “democracy” became their rallying cry, and, eventually, the official narrative of capitalism. The global capitalist ruling classes have been stuck with “democracy” ever since, or, more accurately, with the simulation of democracy.

The purpose of this simulation of democracy is not to generate fake democracy and pass it off as real democracy. Its purpose is to generate the concept of democracy, the only form in which democracy exists. It does this by casting a magic spell (which I’ll do my best to demystify in a moment) that deceives us into perceiving the capitalist marketplace we Westerners inhabit, not as a market, but as a society. An essentially democratic society. Not a fully fledged democratic society, but a society progressing toward “democracy” … which it is, and simultaneously isn’t.

Obviously, life under global capitalism is more democratic than under feudal despotism, not to mention more comfortable and entertaining. Capitalism isn’t “evil” or “bad.” It’s a machine. Its fundamental function is to eliminate any and all despotic values and replace them with a single value, i.e., exchange value, determined by the market. This despotic-value-decoding machine is what freed us from the tyranny of kings and priests, which it did by subjecting us to the tyranny of capitalists and the meaningless value of the so-called free market, wherein everything is just another commodity … toothpaste, cell phones, healthcare, food, education, cosmetics, et cetera. Despite that, only an idiot would argue that capitalism is not preferable to despotism, or that it hasn’t increased our measure of freedom. So, yes, we have evolved toward democracy, if we’re comparing modern capitalism to medieval feudalism.

The problem is that capitalism is never going to lead to actual democracy (i.e., government by and for the people). This is never going to happen. In fact, capitalism has already reached the limits of the freedom it can safely offer us. This freedom grants us the ability to make an ever-expanding variety of choices … none of which have much to do with democracy. For example, Western consumers are free to work for whatever corporation they want, and to buy whatever products they want, and to assume as much debt as the market will allow to purchase a home wherever they want, and to worship whichever gods they want (as long as they conform their behavior to the values of capitalism and not their religion), and men can transform themselves into women, and white people can deem themselves African Americans, or Native Americans, or whatever they want, and anyone can mock or insult the President or the Queen of England on Facebook and Twitter, none of which freedoms were even imaginable, much less possible, under feudal despotism.

But this is as far as our “freedom” goes. The global capitalist ruling classes are never going to allow us to govern ourselves, not in any meaningful way. In fact, since the mid-1970s, they’ve been systematically dismantling the framework of social democracy throughout the West, and otherwise relentlessly privatizing everything. They’ve been doing this more slowly in Europe, where social democracy is more entrenched, but, make no mistake, American “society” is the model for our dystopian future. The ruling classes and their debt-enslaved servants, protected from the desperate masses by squads of hyper-militarized police, medicated in their sanitized enclaves, watching Westworld on Amazon Prime as their shares in private prisons rise and the forces of democracy defend their freedom by slaughtering men, women, and children in some faraway country they can’t find on a map, and would never visit on vacation anyway … this is where the USA already is, and where the rest of the West is headed.

Which is why it is absolutely crucial to maintain the simulation of democracy, and the fiction that we’re still living in a world where major geopolitical events are determined by sovereign nations and their leaders, rather than by global corporations and a class of supranational elites whose primary allegiance is to global capitalism, rather than to any specific nation, much less to the actual people who live there. The global capitalist ruling classes need the masses in the West to believe that they live in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and so on, and not in a global marketplace. Because, if it’s all one global marketplace, with one big global labor force (which global corporations can exploit with impunity), and if it’s one big global financial system (where the economies of supposed adversaries like China and the United States, or the European Union and Russia, are almost totally interdependent), then there is no United States of America, no United Kingdom, no France, no Germany … or not as we’re conditioned to perceive them. There is only the global capitalist empire, divided into “national” market territories, each performing slightly different administrative functions within the empire … and those territories that have not yet surrendered their sovereignty and been absorbed into it. I think you know which those territories are.

But getting back to the simulation of democracy (the purpose of which is to prevent us from perceiving the world as I just suggested above), how that works is, we are all conditioned to believe we are living in these imperfect democracies, which are inexorably evolving toward “real” democracy but just haven’t managed to get there quite yet. “Real” being the key word here, because there is no such thing as real democracy. There never has been, except among relatively small and homogenous groups of people. Like Baudrillard’s Disneyland, “Western democracy” is presented to us as “imperfect” or “unfinished” (in other words, as a replica of “real democracy”) in order to convince us that there exists such a thing as “real democracy,” which we will achieve … someday.

This is how simulations work. The replica does not exist to deceive us into believing it is the “real” thing. It exists to convince us that there is a “real” thing. In essence, it invokes the “real” thing by pretending to be a copy of it. Just as the images of God in church invoke the “god” of which they are copies (if only in the minds of the faithful), our imperfect replica of democracy invokes the concept of “real democracy” (which does not exist, and has never existed, beyond the level of tribes and bands).

This is, of course, ceremonial magic … but then so is everything else, really. Take out a twenty dollar bill, or a twenty Euro note, or your driver’s license. They are utterly valueless, except as symbols, but no less powerful for being just symbols. Or look at some supposedly solid object under an electron microscope. Try this with a tablespoon. As that bald kid in The Matrix put it, you will “realize that there is no spoon,” or, rather, that there is only the spoon we’ve created by believing that there is a spoon.

Look, I don’t mean to get all spooky. What that kid (among various others throughout history) was trying to get us to understand is that we create reality, collectively, with symbols … or we allow reality to be created for us. Our collective reality is also our religion, in that we live our lives and raise our children according to its precepts and values, regardless of whatever other rituals we may or may not engage in on the weekend. Western consumers, no matter whether nominally Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, or of any other faith, live their lives and raise their children according to the values and rules of capitalism. Capitalism is our religion. Like every religion, it has a cosmology.

In the cosmology of global capitalism, “democracy” is capitalist heaven. We hear it preached about throughout our lives, we’re surrounded by graven images of it, but we don’t get to see it until we’re dead. Attempting to storm its pearly gates, or to create the Kingdom of Democracy on Earth, is heresy, and is punishable by death. Denying its existence is blasphemy, for which the punishment is excommunication, and consignment to the City of Dis, where the lost souls shout back and forth at each other across the lower depths of the Internet, their infernal voices unheard by the faithful … but, hey, don’t take the word of an apostate like me. Go ahead, try it, and see what happens.

CJ Hopkins
Photo: Wendy Piersall CC 2.0
First published in CounterPunch, May 23, 2018.

 

CJH 2017 300DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reasons, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 a month), or send a contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his novel, Zone 23, which we hear is pretty funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, or come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg. Here he is at one of them, waiting to seditiously eat a plate of pelmeni or something.

The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/04/2018 - 6:56pm in

So the global capitalist ruling classes’ War on Dissent is now in full swing. With their new and improved official narrative, “Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis,” successfully implanted in the public consciousness, the corporatocracy have been focusing their efforts on delegitimizing any and all forms of deviation from their utterly absurd and increasingly paranoid version of reality.

The Democratic Party is suing Russia, the Trump campaign, and Wikileaks (seriously … they’ve filed an actual lawsuit in an actual court of law an everything) for launching “an all-out assault on democracy” by publishing the DNC’s emails, “an act of unprecedented treachery,” according to Party Chairman Tom Perez. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, having already spent the last six years in a room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid being arrested by the British authorities, extradited to the United States, and imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life, has been cut off from the outside world in order to prevent him from further “interfering” with democracy by expressing his opinions.

In Syria, where the “international community” has been battling the “global terrorist threat” by supporting moderate jihadist militias intent on overthrowing the government and establishing a fundamentalist theocracy, the corporate media have been hard at work sanctifying the official story of the “chemical weapons attack” in Douma. According to this story, Bashar al-Assad, an uncooperative brutal dictator whom the corporatocracy has been trying to replace with a more cooperative brutal dictator, dropped a lot of chlorine gas bombs (and possibly sarin, the deadly nerve agent), onto a house full of innocent babies. He did this on the eve of victory over those moderate jihadist militias the “international community” has been supporting in their eight-year attempt to take over his country, slaughter him and his entire family, mount their severed heads on spikes, implement nationwide Sharia law, and then go out hunting homosexuals and heretics to gruesomely behead on YouTube. The evacuation of these freedom fighters was already being negotiated, but Assad didn’t want to miss his last chance to sadistically gas a lot of women and children and have the Western corporate media broadcast his war crimes throughout the world, or something more or less along those lines.

This gratuitous baby-gassing massacre could not be allowed to go unpunished, so Emmanuel Macron and other senior members of the “international community” hauled Trump in off a golf course somewhere (or wrestled him away from the Gorilla Channel) and ordered him to order a completely pointless one hundred fifty million dollar series of “retaliatory” missile strikes on assorted uninhabited buildings containing zero chemical weapons and of absolutely no strategic value. The corporate media and their paid menagerie of military experts and other talking heads took to the airwaves to celebrate this demonstration of international “resolve,” as did investors in Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, as the corporate media needed to immediately turn their attention to aggressively countering the malicious disinformation campaign being waged by the infamous International Putin-Nazi Propaganda Network (i.e., anyone capable of critical thinking). Reports by journalists actually in Syria, like Robert Fisk of The Independent, casting doubt on the official story needed to be strenuously ignored, ridiculed, and delegitimized. Fisk, a respected, award-winning journalist who has covered the Middle East for over four decades, had clearly been duped by his Putin-Nazi minders into publishing pro-Assad propaganda. Just as clearly, any actual Syrians contradicting the official story (which the corporate media had scrupulously fact-checked with the US military and intelligence agencies) had been intimidated into doing so by Putin-Nazi-Assadist death squads.

But Fisk and the Syrians are small potatoes compared to the discord-sowing threat posed by the International League of Assad-Loving Twitter Conspiracy Theorists, a decentralized network of “anti-Western,” “pro-Assad,” extremist traitors led by people like Sarah Abdallah, a shadowy figure whose current whereabouts the BBC is still trying to pinpoint (and presumably report to MI6), and Vanessa Beeley, an independent journalist who writes about Syria for an “extreme right” website, speaks to “fringe groups,” and has appeared on RT, which the BBC is at pains to remind us is a “state-owned” media organization.

This nefarious network of dissension-sowers is also responsible for the “4000 percent increase” in Putin-Nazi propaganda in the wake of the Poisoned Porridge Attack that “Russia” carried out in Salisbury in March, in which operatives allegedly smeared the doorknob of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter with oatmeal laced with Novichok, “the deadliest nerve agent ever devised,” instead of, well, you know, just shooting the guy, or throwing him out of an upper-floor window. Despite the potency of this lethal nerve agent, which, for some reason, “can only be made in Russia,” both victims are expected to completely recover. Tragically, their cat and guinea pigs, having also managed to survive the attack, were slowly starved to death by the police, presumably out of an abundance of caution.

In any event, according to the diligent, authoritative investigative journalists at The Guardian, following this brazen porridge attack, “automated bots” “based in Russia,” like @Partisangirl and @Ian56789, spread Putin-Nazi disinformation to millions of unknowing Twitter users in an attempt to “undermine the international system” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). As it turns out, @Partisangirl is just a human being and not a robot at all, and @Ian56789 is just a feisty British pensioner who is tired of being routinely lied to by the government and the corporate media … unless, of course, he’s a sleeper agent just posing as a feisty pensioner, which he hasn’t been able to conclusively disprove to the satisfaction of the corporate media. (Watch Ian being interrogated by a Sky News Russian Bot-Hunting Team and judge his loyalties for yourself!)

These are just a few examples of how the global capitalist ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media have been generating an atmosphere of mindless hysteria and paranoia in the service of drawing “a line in the sand” between neoliberalism (i.e., global capitalism) and any and all forms of dissent therefrom. They’ve been at this, relentlessly, for almost two years now, since they recognized they were being confronted with a bona fide widespread “populist” insurgency against the hegemony of global capitalism, not just in the Greater Middle East, but right in the heart of the Western empire.

I’ve been writing about this since 2016, so I’m not going to try to rehash all that here. The short version is, Western societies are being divided into two opposing camps … two extremely broad ideological camps, both of which encompass the traditional political division into left and right. Let’s call camp number one “the Normals” (i.e., those who support and conform to the values and ideology of global capitalism, regardless of whether they identify as conservatives, liberals, neoliberals, neoconservatives, or anything else). Let’s call camp number two “the Extremists” (i.e., those opposing global capitalism, or not conforming to its ideology, regardless of whether they identify as socialists, communists, anarchists, fascists, anti-fascists, jihadists, or whatever).

While, of course, real political conflict still takes place within each of these two broad camps, the global capitalist ruling classes are less concerned with the “left/right” equation than they are with “Normal/Extremist” equation. This is the battle they are fighting currently. Short some sort of miraculous event, it is a battle they are going to win. They are going to win it by demonizing anyone opposing global capitalism as one or another form of “extremist” … an Islamic terrorist, an Antifa terrorist, a white supremacist, a Black identity extremist, an anti-Semite, a conspiracy theorist, an Assad apologist, a Russian bot, a Putin-Nazi propagandist … or whatever. It doesn’t really matter which labels they use. The point is, anyone not conforming to the global capitalist version of reality is an enemy of all that is normal and good.

In an atmosphere of mass hysteria and paranoia (like the one we’re living in at the moment), the authorities’ narratives do not have to make sense, or stand up to any type of real scrutiny. Their primary purpose is not to deceive, but rather, to demarcate an ideological territory of acceptable belief, expression, and emotion to which “normal” people are expected to conform. Beyond the boundaries of that territory lies the outer darkness of “abnormality” and “extremism,” which no “normal” person wants anything to do with. To avoid being cast into this outer darkness, people will conform to the most absurd and paranoid nonsense you can possibly imagine. The global capitalist ruling classes know this, which is why they don’t care if you disprove their narratives on Twitter or some “disreputable” website they’ve rendered virtually invisible anyway. They are not debating the facts or the truth … they are marking the boundaries of that “normal” territory, and herding frightened people into it.

This article in Haaretz by Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer at Portland State University who has been publishing (or attempting to publish) a series of rather paranoid pieces smearing people he disagrees with as neo-Strasserist sleeper agents, provides an extreme but clear example of what Western governments and the corporate media have been doing, albeit on a much subtler level. Read the piece through if you can possibly stand it. You will be told how people like Michael Savage, Rania Khalek, Alex Jones, Breitbart’s entire UK office, Cenk Ugyur, Max Blumenthal, Caitlin Johnstone, Glenn Greenwald, The Nation‘s Stephen F. Cohen, Tucker Carlson, Vanessa Beeley (again), various British fascists, Jeremy Corbyn, and that modern-day Rasputin, Lyndon LaRouche, are all parts of the insidious Putin-Nazi plot to … well, I’m not sure, exactly, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with killing Jews and gassing babies.

Would you like to be associated with people like that … Assad-loving, Putin-supporting Nazis? No? Then stop and think very carefully before sharing, “liking,” or commenting on this essay.

CJ Hopkins
First published in CounterPunch, April 25, 2018.

 

CJH 2017 300DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not reflect the views or opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reasons, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 a month), or send a contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our staff up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his novel, Zone 23, which we hear is pretty funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, or come find him in Berlin and buy him a beer. He’s been known to frequent an assortment of extremely suspicious RUSSIAN establishments in Kreuzberg. Here he is at one of them, waiting to seditiously eat a plate of pelmeni or something.