identity politics

The Indiscreet Charm of the Gilets Jaunes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/12/2018 - 11:46pm in

So it appears the privatization of France isn’t going quite as smoothly as planned. As I assume you are aware, for over a month now, the gilets jaunes (or “yellow vests”), a multiplicitous, leaderless, extremely pissed off, confederation of working class persons, have been conducting a series of lively protests in cities and towns throughout the country to express their displeasure with Emmanuel Macron and his efforts to transform their society into an American-style neo-feudal dystopia. Highways have been blocked, toll booths commandeered, luxury automobiles set on fire, and shopping on the Champs-Élysées disrupted. What began as a suburban tax revolt has morphed into a bona fide working class uprising.

It took a while for “the Golden Boy of Europe” to fully appreciate what was happening. In the tradition of his predecessor, Louis XVI, Macron initially responded to the gilets jaunes by inviting a delegation of Le Monde reporters to laud his renovation of the Elysée Palace, making the occasional condescending comment, and otherwise completely ignoring them. That was back in late November. Last Saturday, he locked down central Paris, mobilized a literal army of riot cops, “preventatively arrested” hundreds of citizens, including suspected “extremist students,” and sent in the armored military vehicles.

The English-language corporate media, after doing their best not to cover these protests (and, instead, to keep the American and British publics focused on imaginary Russians), have been forced to now begin the delicate process of delegitimizing the gilets jaunes without infuriating the the entire population of France and inciting the British and American proletariats to go out and start setting cars on fire. They got off to a bit of an awkward start.

For example, this piece by Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian‘s Paris Bureau Chief, and her Twitter feed from the protests last Saturday. Somehow (probably a cock-up at headquarters), The Guardian honchos allowed Chrisafis to do some actual propaganda-free reporting (and some interviews with actual protesters) before they caught themselves and replaced her with Kim Willsher, who resumed The Guardian‘s usual neoliberal establishment-friendly narrative, which, in this case, entailed dividing the protesters into “real” gilets jaunes and “fake” gilet jaunes, and referring to the latter fictional group as “thuggish, extremist political agitators.”

By Sunday, the corporate media were insinuating that diabolical Russian Facebook bots had brainwashed the French into running amok, because who else could possibly be responsible? Certainly not the French people themselves! The French, as every American knows, are by nature a cowardly, cheese-eating people, who have never overthrown their rightful rulers, or publicly beheaded the aristocracy. No, the French were just sitting there, smoking like chimneys, and otherwise enjoying their debt-enslavement and the privatization of their social democracy, until they unsuspectingly logged onto Facebook and … BLAMMO, the Russian hackers got them!

Bloomberg is reporting that French authorities have opened a probe into Russian interference (in the middle of which report, for no apparent reason, a gigantic photo of Le Pen is featured, presumably just to give it that “Nazi” flavor). According to “analysis seen by The Times,” Russia-linked social media accounts have been “amplifying” the “chaos” and “violence” by tweeting photos of gilets jaunes who the French police have savagely beaten or gratuitiously shot with “less-than-lethal projectiles.”Are nationalists infiltrating the yellow vests?” the BBC Newsnight producers are wondering. According to Buzzfeed’s Ryan Broderick, “a beast born almost entirely from Facebook” is slouching toward … well, I’m not quite sure, the UK or even, God help us, America! And then there’s Max Boot, who is convinced he is being personally persecuted by Russian agents like Katie Hopkins, James Woods, Glenn Greenwald, and other high-ranking members of a worldwide conspiracy Boot refers to as the “Illiberal International” (but which regular readers of my column will recognize as the “Putin-Nazis“).

And, see, this is the problem the corporate media (and other staunch defenders of global neoliberalism) are facing with these gilets jaunes protests. They can’t get away with simply claiming that what is happening is not a working class uprising, so they have been forced to resort to these blatant absurdities. They know they need to delegitimize the gilets jaunes as soon as possible — the movement is already starting to spread — but the “Putin-Nazi” narrative they’ve been using on Trump, Corbyn, and other “populists” is just not working.

No one believes the Russians are behind this, not even the hacks who are paid to pretend they do. And the “fascism” hysteria is also bombing. Attempts to portray the gilets jaunes as Le Pen-sponsored fascists blew up in their faces. Obviously, the far-Right are part of these protests, as they would be in any broad working class uprising, but there are far too many socialists and anarchists (and just regular pissed-off working class people) involved for the media to paint them all as “Nazis.”

Which is not to say that the corporate media and prominent public intellectuals like Bernard-Henri Lévy will not continue to hammer away at the “fascism” hysteria, and demand that the “good” and “real” gilets jaunes suspend their protests against Macron until they have completely purged their movement of “fascists,” and “extremists,” and other dangerous elements, and have splintered it into a number of smaller, antagonistic ideological factions that can be more easily neutralized by the French authorities … because that’s what establishment intellectuals do.

We can expect to hear this line of reasoning, not just from establishment intellectuals like Lévy, but also from members of the Identity Politics Left, who are determined to prevent the working classes from rising up against global neoliberalism until they have cleansed their ranks of every last vestige of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, and so on. These leftist gatekeepers have been struggling a bit to come up with a response to the gilets jaunes … a response that doesn’t make them sound like hypocrites. See, as leftists, they kind of need to express their support for a bona fide working class uprising. At the same time, they need to delegitimize it, because their primary adversaries are fascism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and assorted other isms and phobias, not the neoliberal ruling classes.

Nothing scares the Identity Politics Left quite like an actual working class uprising. Witnessing the furious unwashed masses operating out there on their own, with no decent human restraint whatsoever, Identity Politics Leftists feel a sudden overwhelming urge to analyze, categorize, organize, sanitize, and otherwise correct and control them. They can’t accept the fact that the actual, living, breathing working classes are messy, multiplicitous, inconsistent, and irreducible to any one ideology. Some of them are racists. Some are fascists. Others are communists, socialists, and anarchists. Many have no idea what they are, and don’t particularly care for any of these labels. This is what the actual working classes are … a big, contradictory collection of people who, in spite of all their differences, share one thing in common, that they are being screwed over by the ruling classes. I don’t know about you, but I consider myself one of them.

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. According to The Guardian, as I am sitting here writing this, the whole of Europe is holding its breath in anticipation of the gilets jaunes’ response to Macron’s most recent attempt to appease them, this time with an extra hundred Euros a month, some minor tax concessions, and a Christmas bonus. Something tells me it’s not going to work, but even if it does, and the gilets jaunes uprising ends, this messy, Western “populist” insurgency against global neoliberalism has clearly entered a new phase. Count on the global capitalist ruling classes to intensify their ongoing War on Dissent and their demonization of anyone opposing them (or contradicting their official narrative) as an “extremist,” a “fascist,” a “Russian agent,” and so on. I’m certainly looking forward to that, personally.

Oh … yeah, and I almost forgot, if you were wondering what you could get me for Christmas, I did some checking, and there appears to be a wide selection of yellow safety vests online for just a couple Euros.

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CJ Hopkins
December 11, 2018
Photo: Joan Mora

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: 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 and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your 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 satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Beware the Trumpenleft!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 2:57am in

Unless you move in certain leftist circles, you may not have heard about one of the Russians’ most insidiously evil active measures, an active measure so insidiously evil that it could only have been dreamed up in Moscow, the current wellspring of insidious evil. Its official Russo-Nazi-sounding code name is still being decided on by leftist cryptographers, but most people know it as the “Trumpenleft.”

The Trumpenleft (or “Sputnik Left,” as it is also called by professional anti-Putin-Nazi intelligence analysts) is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is a gang of nefarious Putin-Nazi infiltrators posing as respectable leftists in order to disseminate Trumpian ideology and Putin-Nazi propaganda among an assortment of online leftist magazines that hardly anyone ever actually reads. The aim of these insidious Trumpenleft infiltrators is to sow confusion, chaos, and discord among actual, real, authentic leftists who are going about the serious business of calling Donald Trump a fascist on the Internet twenty-five times a day, verbally abusing Julian Assange, occasionally pulling down oppressive statues, and sharing videos of racist idiots acting like racist idiots in public.

The Trumpenleft is determined to sabotage (or momentarily disrupt) this revolutionary work, mostly by tricking these actual leftists into critically thinking about a host of issues that there is no good reason to critically think about … global capitalism, national sovereignty, immigration, identity politics, corporate censorship, and other issues that there is no conceivable reason to discuss, or debate, or even casually mention, unless you’re some kind of Russia-loving Nazi.

Angela Nagle’s recent piece in American Affairs is a perfect example. Nagle (who is certainly Trumpenleft) puts forth the fascistic proposition that mass migration won’t help the world’s poor, and she claims that it creates “a race to the bottom for workers” in wealthier, developed countries and “a brain drain” in poorer, less developed countries. After deploying a variety of Trumpenleft sophistry (i.e., fact-based analysis, logic, and so on), she goes so far as to openly suggest that “progressives should focus on addressing the systemic exploitation at the root of mass migration rather than retreating to a shallow moralism” … a shallow moralism that reifies the dominant neoliberal ideology that is causing mass migration in the first place.

This is the type of gobbledegook the Trumpenleft use to try to dupe real leftists into putting down their phones for a minute and actually thinking through political issues! Fortunately, no one is falling for it. As any bona fide leftist knows, there is no “mass migration problem.” The whole thing is simply a racist hoax concocted by Putin, Alex Jones, and other Trumpian disinformationists. The only thing real leftists need to know about immigration is that immigrants are good, and Trump, and walls, and borders are bad! All that other fancy gibberish about global capitalism, Milton Friedman, labor markets, and national sovereignty is nothing but fascist propaganda (which needs to be censored, or at least deplatformed, or demonetized, or otherwise suppressed).

But Angela Nagle is just one example. The Trumpenleft is legion, and growing. Its membership includes a handful of prominent (and rather less prominent) fake leftist figures: Glenn Greenwald, who many among the “Resistance” would like to see renditioned and indefinitely detained in some offshore Trumpenleft gulag somewhere; Matt Taibbi, who just published a treasonous article challenging the right of the US government to prosecute publishers as “enemy agents” for publishing material they don’t want published; Julian Assange, who is one such publisher, and who the US has scheduled for public crucifixion just as soon as they can get their hands on him; Aaron Maté of the Real News Network, a notorious Trump-Russia “collusion denialist“; Caitlin Johnstone, an Australian blogger and poet who the Red-Brown Putin-Nazi hunters at CounterPunch have become totally obsessed with; Diana Johnstone, who they also don’t like; and (full disclosure) your humble narrator.

Now, normally, the opinions of some political journalists and rather marginal political writers wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but there’s a war on, so there’s no room for neutrality. As I mentioned in my latest essay, over the course of the next two years, the global capitalist ruling classes need to make an example of Trump, and Assange, and anyone else who has had the gall to fuck with their global empire. Part of how they are going to do this is to further polarize the already extremely polarized ideological spectrum until everyone is forced onto one or the other side of a pro- or anti-Trump equation, or a pro- or anti-populist equation … or a pro- or anti-fascist equation.

As you probably noticed, The Guardian has just launched a special six-week “investigative series” exploring the whole “new populism” phenomenon (which began with a lot of scary photos of Steve Bannon next to the word “populism”). We are going to be hearing a lot about “populism” over the course of the next two years. We are going to be hearing how “populism” is actually not that different from fascism, or at the very least is inherently racist, and anti-Semitic, and xenophobic, and how, basically, anyone who criticizes neoliberal elites or the corporate media is Russia-loving, pro-Trump Nazi.

And this is where this “Trumpenleft” malarkey fits into the ruling classes’ broader campaign to eliminate any kind of critical thinking and force people to mindlessly root for their “team.” See, the problem with us “Trumpenleft” types is not that we support Donald Trump. For the record, none of us really do. Some of us think he us a dangerous demagogue. Others of us think he is a blithering idiot. None of us think he’s Fidel Castro, or that he cares one iota about the working classes, or about anyone other than Donald Trump.

No, the problem is not that we’re on the wrong team; the problem is that we are asking people to question the propaganda of the team that we’re supposed to be on, or at least be rooting for. We are asking people to pay attention to how the global capitalist ruling establishment is going about quashing this “populist” insurgency (of which Brexit and Trump are manifestations, not causes) so they can get back to the business of relentlessly restructuring, privatizing, and debt-enslaving everything, as they’ve been doing since the end of the Cold War. We’re asking folks, not to join “the other team,” but to pay close attention to how they are being manipulated into believing that there are only two “teams,” and that they have to join one, and then mindlessly parrot whatever nonsense their team decides they need to disseminate in order to win a game that is merely a simulation they have conjured up (i.e., the ruling classes have conjured up) in order to inoculate themselves against an actual conflict they cannot win and so must prevent at all costs from ever beginning … which, they are doing a pretty good job of that so far.

In other words, the problem with us Trumpenlefters is, the prospect of defeating a fake Russian Hitler, and restoring neoliberal normality in the USA and the rest of the West, is just not all that terribly inspiring. So, rather than regurgitating the Russia hysteria and the fascism hysteria that is being produced by the global capitalist ruling establishment to gin up support for their counterinsurgency, we are continuing to focus on the capitalist ruling classes, which are actually still running things, globally, and will be running things long after Trump is gone (and the Imminent Threat of Global Fascist Takeover of Everything has disappeared, as the Imminent Threat of Nookular Terrorist Backpack Attack disappeared before it).

Or maybe all that is just a ruse, an attempt on my part to dupe you into going out and buying a MAGA hat and shouting racist abuse at Honduran kids, assuming you can find some in your vicinity. You never know with us Trumpenleft types. Probably the safest thing to do to protect yourself from our insidious treachery is to start your own personal Trumpenleft blacklist, and spread lies about us all over the Internet, or just report us to Twitter, or Facebook, or somebody, whoever you feel are the proper authorities. The main thing is to shut us up, or prophylactically delegitimize us, to keep us from infecting other leftists with our filthy, nonconformist ideas. The last thing we need at a time like this is a bunch of leftists thinking for themselves and questioning official leftist dogma. Who knows what that kind of behavior might lead to?

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N.B. As far as I could gather from my research, the “Trumpenleft” label was coined by Paul Street, a regular columnist at Truthdig and CounterPunch and all-around professional leftist. Like the editors of The New York Times, Street understands the importance of sloppily Germanicizing terms you want to frighten people with, because there’s nothing quite as terrifying as Nazi morphology!

CJ Hopkins
November 26, 2018
Photo: Jordán Francisco/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: 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 and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your 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 satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Workers of all Identities, Unite!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/10/2018 - 11:42pm in

image/jpeg iconmistakenidentity.jpg

For the past few years, but particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential election, the theme of identity politics has dominated political discourse on both the left and the right. Countless books, articles, blogs and comments have been written on the subject, but we ourselves have dealt with it only in passing.

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The #MeToo campaign versus the presumption of innocence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 12/10/2018 - 11:00pm in

Eric London, World Socialist Website In the US, the Democratic Party and its celebrity and media allies, through the vehicle of its #MeToo campaign, are waging a battle against the presumption of innocence. By seeking to whip up hysterical moods surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct, they are trying to popularize the idea that those accused of sexual assault should be presumed guilty. This campaign is, in its essence, reactionary and should be opposed. The proponents of this view have put forward four primary arguments: All accusers must be believed, and doubting any accuser is tantamount to “victim blaming” or “rape apology.” The actress Rose McGowan said in December 2017, “I would challenge the media to stop using the word ‘alleged.’ My beef is really with all the people who are complicit. It’s the first time in history women are being believed, even though we get slagged.” The impact of such crimes on victims is so devastating that basic protections for the accused are obstacles in the way of justice, not only for the particular accuser, …

Who Doesn’t Love Identity Politics?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 5:00am in

CJ Hopkins If there is one thing that still unites Americans across the ever more intellectually suffocating and bitterly polarized political spectrum our imaginations have been crammed into like rush hour commuters on the Tokyo Metro, it’s our undying love of identity politics. Who doesn’t love identity politics? Liberals love identity politics. Conservatives love identity politics. Political parties love identity politics. Corporations love identity politics. Advertisers, anarchists, white supremacists, Wall Street bankers, Hollywood producers, Twitter celebrities, the media, academia … everybody loves identity politics. Why do we love identity politics? We love them for many different reasons. The ruling classes love identity politics because they keep the working classes focused on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, and not on the fact that they (i.e., the working classes) are, essentially, glorified indentured servants, who will spend the majority of their sentient existences laboring to benefit a ruling elite that would gladly butcher their entire families and sell their livers to hepatitic Saudi princes if they could get away with it. Dividing the …

Who Doesn’t Love Identity Politics?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 9:05pm in

If there is one thing that still unites Americans across the ever more intellectually suffocating and bitterly polarized political spectrum our imaginations have been crammed into like rush hour commuters on the Tokyo Metro, it’s our undying love of identity politics.

Who doesn’t love identity politics? Liberals love identity politics. Conservatives love identity politics. Political parties love identity politics. Corporations love identity politics. Advertisers, anarchists, white supremacists, Wall Street bankers, Hollywood producers, Twitter celebrities, the media, academia … everybody loves identity politics.

Why do we love identity politics? We love them for many different reasons.

The ruling classes love identity politics because they keep the working classes focused on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, and not on the fact that they (i.e., the working classes) are, essentially, glorified indentured servants, who will spend the majority of their sentient existences laboring to benefit a ruling elite that would gladly butcher their entire families and sell their livers to hepatitic Saudi princes if they could get away with it. Dividing the working classes up into sub-groups according to race, ethnicity, and so on, and then pitting these sub-groups against each other, is extremely important to the ruling classes, who are, let’s remember, a tiny minority of intelligent but physically vulnerable parasites controlling the lives of the vast majority of human beings on the planet Earth, primarily by keeping them ignorant and confused.

The political parties love identity politics because they allow them to conceal the fact that they are bought and paid for by these ruling classes, which, in our day and age, means corporations and a handful of obscenely wealthy oligarchs who would gut you and your kids like trout and sell your organs to the highest bidder if they thought they could possibly get away with it. The political parties employ identity politics to maintain the simulation of democracy that prevents Americans (many of whom are armed) from coming together, forming a mob, dismantling this simulation of democracy, and then attempting to establish an actual democracy, of, by, and for the people, which is, basically, the ruling classes’ worst nightmare. The best way to avoid this scenario is to keep the working classes ignorant and confused, and at each other’s throats over things like pronouns, white privilege, gender appropriate bathrooms, and the complexion and genitalia of the virtually interchangeable puppets the ruling classes allow them to vote for.

The corporate media, academia, Hollywood, and the other components of the culture industry are similarly invested in keeping the vast majority of people ignorant and confused. The folks who populate this culture industry, in addition to predicating their sense of self-worth on their superiority to the unwashed masses, enjoy spending time with the ruling classes, and reaping the many benefits of serving them … and, while most of them wouldn’t personally disembowel your kids and sell their organs to some dope-addled Saudi trillionaire scion, they would look the other way while the ruling classes did, and then invent some sort of convoluted rationalization of why it was necessary, in order to preserve democracy and freedom (or was some sort of innocent but unfortunate “blunder,” which will never, ever, happen again).

The fake Left loves identity politics because they allow them to pretend to be “revolutionary” and spout all manner of “militant” gibberish while posing absolutely zero threat to the ruling classes they claim to be fighting. Publishing fake Left “samizdats” (your donations to which are tax-deductible), sanctimoniously denouncing racism on Twitter, milking whatever identity politics scandal is making headlines that day, and otherwise sounding like a slightly edgier version of National Public Radio, are all popular elements of the fake Left repertoire.

Marching along permitted parade routes, assembling in designated “free speech areas,” and listening to speeches by fake Left celebrities and assorted Democratic Party luminaries, are also well-loved fake Left activities. For those who feel the need to be even more militant, pressuring universities to cancel events where potentially “violent” and “oppressive” speech acts (or physical gestures) might occur, toppling offensive historical monuments, ratting out people to social media censors, or masking up and beating the crap out of “street Nazis” are among the available options. All of these activities, by herding potential troublemakers into fake Left ghettos and wasting their time, both on- and off-line, help to ensure that the ruling classes, their political puppets, the corporate media, Hollywood, and the rest of the culture industry can keep most people ignorant and confused.

Oh, and racists, hardcore white supremacists, anti-Semites, and other far-Right wing nuts … my God, do they love identity politics! Identity politics are their entire worldview (or Weltanschauung, for you Nazi fetishists). Virtually every social, political, economic, and ontological phenomenon can be explained by reducing it to race, ethnicity, religion, or some other simplistic criterion, according to these “alt-Right” geniuses. And to render everything even more simplistic, each and every one of their simplistic theories can be subsumed into a meta-simplistic theory, which amounts to (did you guess it?) a conspiracy of Jews.

According to this meta-theory, this conspiracy of Jews (which is headquartered in Israel, but maintains offices in Los Angeles and New York, from which it controls the corporate media, Hollywood, and the entire financial sector) is responsible for … well, anything they can think of. September 11 attacks? Conspiracy of Jews. Financial crisis? Jews, naturally. Black on Black crime? Jews again! Immigration? Globalization? Gun control laws? Abortion? Drugs? Media bias? Who else could be behind it all but Jews?!

See, the thing is, there is no essential difference between your identity politics-brainwashed liberal and your Swastika-tattooed white supremacist. Both are looking at the world through the lens of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or some other type of “identity.” They are looking through this “identity” lens (whichever one it happens to be) because either they have been conditioned to do so (most likely from the time they were children) or they have made a conscious choice to do so (after recognizing, and affirming or rejecting, whatever conditioning they received as children).

Quantum physicists, Sufi fakirs, and certain other esoterics understand what most of us don’t, namely, that there is no such thing as “the Truth,” or “Reality,” apart from our perception of it. The world, or “reality,” or whatever you want to call it, is more than happy to transform itself into any imaginable shape and form, based on the lens you are looking at it through. It’s like a trickster in that regard. Look at “reality” through a racist lens, and everything will make sense according to that logic. Look at it through a social justice lens, or a Judeo-Christian lens, or a Muslim lens, or a scientific or a Scientologist lens, or a historical materialist or capitalist lens (it really makes no difference at all) … and abracadabra! A new world is born!

Sadly, most of us never reach the stage in our personal (spiritual?) development where we are able to make a conscious choice about which lens we want to view the world through. Mostly, we stick with the lens we were originally issued by our families and societies. Then we spend the rest of our fleeting lives desperately insisting that our perspective is “the Truth,” and that other perspectives are either “lies” or “errors.” The fact that we do this is unsurprising, as the ruling classes (of whatever society we happened to be born and socialized into) are intensely invested in issuing everyone a “Weltanschauung lens” that corresponds to whatever narrative they are telling themselves about why they deserve to be the ruling classes and we deserve to exist to serve them, fight their wars, pay interest on their loans, not to mention rent to live on the Earth, which they have claimed as their own and divided up amongst themselves to exploit and ruin, which they justify with “laws” they invented, which they enforce with armies, police, and prisons, which they teach us as children to believe is “just the way life is” … but I digress.

So, who doesn’t love identity politics? Well, I don’t love identity politics. But then I tend to view political events in the context of enormous, complex systems operating beyond the level of the individuals and other entities such systems comprise. Thus I’ve kind of been keeping an eye on the restructuring of the planet by global capitalism that started in the early 1990s, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., when global capitalism (not the U.S.A.) became the first globally hegemonic system in the history of aspiring hegemonic systems.

Now, this system (i.e., capitalism, not the U.S.A), being globally hegemonic, has no external enemies, so what it’s been doing since it became hegemonic is aggressively destabilizing and restructuring the planet according to its systemic needs (most notably in the Middle East, but also throughout the rest of the world), both militarily and ideologically. Along the way, it has encountered some internal resistance, first, from the Islamic “terrorists,” more recently, from the so-called “nationalists” and “populists,” none of whom seem terribly thrilled about being destabilized, restructured, privatized, and debt-enslaved by global capitalism, not to mention relinquishing what remains of their national sovereignty, and their cultures, and so on.

I’ve been writing about this for over two years, so I am not going to rehash it all in detail here (this essay is already rather long). The short version is, what we are currently experiencing (i.e., Brexit, Trump, Italy, Hungary, et cetera, the whole “populist” or “nationalist” phenomenon) is resistance (an insurgency, if you will) to hegemonic global capitalism, which is, essentially, a values-decoding machine, which eliminates “traditional” (i.e., despotic) values (e.g., religious, cultural, familial, societal, aesthetic, and other such non-market values) and replaces them with a single value, exchange value, rendering everything a commodity.

The fact that I happen to be opposed to some of those “traditional” values (i.e., racism, anti-Semitism, oppression of women, homosexuals, and so on) does not change my perception of the historical moment, or the sociopolitical, sociocultural, and economic forces shaping that moment. God help me, I believe it might be more useful to attempt to understand those forces than to go around pointing and shrieking at anyone who doesn’t conform to my personal views like the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

But that’s the lens I choose to look through. Maybe I’ve got it all assbackwards. Maybe what is really going on is that Russia “influenced” everyone into voting for Brexit and Donald Trump, and hypnotized them all with those Facebook ads into hating women, people of color, transsexuals, and the Jews, of course, and all that other “populist” stuff, because the Russians hate us for our freedom, and are hell-bent on destroying democracy and establishing some kind of neo-fascist, misogynist, pseudo-Atwoodian dystopia. Or, I don’t know, maybe the other side is right, and it really is all a conspiracy of Jews … transsexual, immigrant Jews of color, who want to force us all to have late-term abortions and circumcise our kids, or something.

I wish I could help you sort all that out, but I’m just a lowly political satirist, and not an expert on identity politics or anything. I’m afraid you’ll have to pick a lens through which to interpret “reality” yourself. But then, you already have, haven’t you … or are you still looking through the one that was issued to you?

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CJ Hopkins
October 8, 2018
Photo: The United Colors of Benetton

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: 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 and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your 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 satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Down with the Working Classes!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 7:23pm in

If the Left is ever going to come together to save the world from Donald Trump and his legions of fascistic Putin-Nazis, we’re going to need to confront our primary enemy … the international working classes. Yes, my comrades, I’m afraid it’s time to face the facts, depressing as they are. The working classes are not our friends. Just look at how they’ve been betraying us … and after all we’ve done for them all these years! This cannot be allowed to continue, not if we are going to rescue democracy from Trump, Putin, Assad, the Iranians, and Palestinian kids with terrorist kites, and eventually stem the blood-dimmed tide of neo-fascist anti-Globalism!

Now, OK, I know you’re probably asking, “how can the international working classes possibly be the enemy of the Left?” and “wouldn’t that render the whole concept of the Left completely absurd and essentially meaningless?” and other pertinent questions like that. And that’s totally fine, you’re allowed to ask that. Questioning aspects of the official narrative the ruling classes are forcing everyone to conform to like members of a worldwide cult doesn’t make you a Nazi or anything. It’s perfectly OK to ask such questions, as long as you don’t continue to ask them, over and over, and over again, after the facts have been explained to you. Here are those facts, one more time.

The international working classes are racists. They are misogynists. Xenophobic transphobes. They do not think the way we want them to. Some of them actually still believe in God. They are white supremacists. Anti-Semites. Gun-toting, Confederate-flag-flying rednecks. Most of them have never even heard of terms like “intersectionality,” “TERF,” and so on. They do not respect the corporate media. They think that news sources like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and so on, are basically propaganda outlets for the global corporations and oligarchs who own them, and thus are essentially no different from FOX, whose pundits they believe every word of. Their minds are so twisted by racism and xenophobia that they can’t understand how global capitalism, the graduated phase-out of national sovereignty, the privatization of virtually everything, the debt-enslavement of nearly everyone, and the replacement of their so-called “cultures” with an ubiquitous, smiley-faced, gender-neutral, non-oppressive, corporate-friendly, Disney simulation of culture are actually wonderfully progressive steps forward on the road to a more peaceful, less offensive world.

Now this has been proved in numerous studies with all kinds of charts and graphs and so on. And not only by the corporate statisticians, and the corporate media, and liberal think tanks. Why, just this week, Mehdi Hasan, in an exasperated jeremiad in the pages of The Intercept, that bastion of fearless, adversarial journalism owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, proved, once again, that Donald Trump was elected because PEOPLE ARE GODDAMN RACISTS!

Apparently, Hasan has just about had it with these Putin-loving Trump-apologists proposing that general dissatisfaction with global capitalism, neoliberalism, and identity politics could have had anything to do with Americans electing a bombastic ass clown with absolutely no political experience to the highest office in the land. Hasan cites a number of expert studies, among them one by the Democracy Fund, which just happens to be another Omidyar outfit. But let’s not get all paranoid or anything. There are literally hundreds of such studies at this point, each and every one of which has been cited by the mainstream media, the alternative media, the far-alternative media, and virtually every Trump-obsessed loon with a blog or a Facebook or Twitter account.

Look, I realize the truth is painful, but the science of statistics leaves no room for doubt. As much as some of us may want to deny it, the fact is, the country that elected Barack Obama (who is Black) president, twice, has been transformed by Putin’s brainwashing agents into a cesspool of xenophobia and racism, and it is up to us lefties to set things right!

Now, to do this, we need to unite the Left, and get everyone marching in lockstep, and so on. Which means that we need to identify and weed out all the fake leftists among us. Then, and only then (i.e., after we’ve tracked down, sanctimoniously denounced, and exiled any and all neo-Stasserist “alt-Right” infiltrators, Sputnik leftists, and Assad-apologists), can we turn our attention to meeting face-to-face with the international working classes and sanctimoniously denouncing them as a bunch of filthy racists.

OK, that sounds a little harsh, and possibly totally idiotic, but what other choice do we really have? If we’re going to defeat these Putin-Nazis, a few eggs are going to have to get broken. This is not the time to abandon our commitment to imposing our identity-based ideology on every last person on the planet Earth, or to indulge in that ugly kind of old-fashioned leftism that is based on what the working classes want. Who gives a damn what the working classes want? What’s important is what we want them to want. This isn’t the 1990s, after all. All that nonsense about globalization, and supranational entities like the WTO, and the World Bank, not to mention “American jobs” … only fascists talk like that these days!

But, seriously … if you’ve made it this far in my essay, and you consider yourself a leftist of some sort, you’re probably extremely frustrated with what passes for the Left these days, and with how the working classes are flocking to the Right, both in the United States and all over the world. If I’ve got that right, you might want to read this essay by Diana Johnstone (which we lefties are technically not allowed to read, because it’s posted in The Unz Review, where a lot of “alt-Right” pieces are also posted … and you don’t want to get any of that stuff on you!)

What she is writing about is the ongoing “populist” insurgency against globalized capitalism, which is what I’ve also been writing about for the better part of the last two years. This is the historical moment we are experiencing, a clumsy, sloppy, partly fascistic, partly non-fascistic democratic uprising against the continuing spread of global capitalism, the erosion of what is left of national sovereignty, and … yes, people’s cultures and values.

The international working classes understand this. The neo-nationalist Right understands this. The majority of the Left does not understand this, and is refusing to admit that it’s happening, and so is standing around on the sidelines calling everybody “racists” and “fascists” while the global capitalist ruling classes and the neo-nationalists sort things out.

Which is exactly what the ruling classes want, and what the official Putin-Nazi narrative was designed to achieve from the very beginning. The “Overton Window” (i.e., the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse) works best when divided into two clean halves. During the so-called “War on Terror,” it was Democracy versus the Islamic Terrorists. Now, it’s Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis. Both of which narratives are fairy tales, of course, the reality, as ever, being rather more messy.

If what is left of the Left expects to play any meaningful part in our historical moment (other than sanctimoniously cheerleading for the global capitalist ruling classes), it is going need to get its hand a littler dirtier, mingle a bit more with all those working class “populists,” talk to them, and, I don’t know, maybe even listen to them.

Or maybe I’m completely out of my mind … I mean, actually listening to the working classes? Some of them are sure to say racist things, and anti-Semitic and transphobic things, which we cannot ignore for even one second, or rationally discuss and disagree with, because that would mean giving their racism a platform. Yeah, screw it, I don’t know what I was thinking … forget all that stuff I just made you read. Down with the fascist working classes!

CJ Hopkins
September 21, 2018

CJ Hopkins Summer 2018 thumbnailDISCLAIMER: 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 and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Patreon page (where you can contribute as little $1 per month), or send your 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 satirical dystopian novel, Zone 23, which we understand is pretty gosh darn funny, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, please feel free to contact him directly.

Alt-Right Dreaming, by Alison Caddick

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/08/2018 - 10:58am in

We seem to be on the brink of having a government that shares the assumptions of the alt-Right. Peter Dutton’s challenge to Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership (with Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop now also waiting in the wings) is the high point after weeks and months, and indeed years, of incitement by alt-Right media figures and of course lengthy destabilisation by Tony Abbott and his parliamentary supporters.

The campaign has seen any number of calculated campaigns and attacks in recent times. Turnbull appalled any constituent still sympathetic to his plight as ‘liberal’ heart amid the conservative hardheads with his emphatic endorsement of Dutton’s assertion that Melburnians couldn’t go out for a meal without fear of assault by Sudanese youth. Really? That this obvious political manoeuvre might incite racial acts and foster violence itself, not to mention wound Victoria’s black communities—our fellow workers and friends—was of no concern—indeed quite the opposite. Andrew Bolt’s infamous Herald Sun piece generalised the message a few weeks on with the observation that the problem was ethnic and religious ‘tribes’ of all sorts. Were we to see this as any less racist than Dutton’s comments? Now the North Caulfield ‘tribe’ of Orthodox Jews might be added to the list of ‘ghettoised’ communities—bravely ‘outed’ in this gesture of balance (for their obvious marks of difference?). And then there was Fraser Anning’s speech to parliament that carried forward the Right’s attack on ‘cultural Marxists’—supporters of multiculturalism, Islam, refugees, same-sex marriage, Labor and who knows what else—embedded in a paean to Joh Bjelke-Petersen and to settler-colonial nation-building (Queensland was terra nullius, by the way). Here, we were told, a vast engineering project to turn back the rivers would, together with many more coal mines, ensure jobs and prosperity through direct state involvement: the alt-Right’s partial vision of a guided economy. Peter Dutton is also promising coal mines and infrastructural developments—anything brought home to Australian soil for Australians to ensure a closing of the borders around an Australian way of life.

The assumptions and messages of this grouping are hardly novel. They replicate in form, content and tone those of alt-Right conservatives across the Anglophone world and beyond. As we have seen in the Trump ascendency and in Brexit, racialist accounts of social decline, the targeting of visible minorities for taking jobs and for undermining common values, and supposed challenges to established authority structures, not least the authority of the nation state to delineate its borders absolutely, are the triggers for alt-Right indignation and the stuff of its inflammatory strategies. The references are to the value of a common identity, of a common culture, though clearly not that celebrated by small-‘l’ liberals and democrats, who see Australian culture in terms of the civic values of a democratic and pluralistic nation.

If many of us are not just rationally opposed but also spooked by the Dutton ascendency, and the populism of media figures like Andrew Bolt, Peta Credlin and the Sydney shock jocks, it is because historically, too, there are forerunners to our alt-Right. There is plenty in the unfolding political culture of the present—it is certainly retributive, perhaps malevolent—that is unnervingly redolent of cultural-political crises of the past. The answers to the social problems of the mid-twentieth century in many countries in the West were that a place of strength and action outside the established polity needed to be established; that retrieving a certain purity of culture or common identity would fuel the people’s strength; that firm lines would need to be drawn and hard decisions made; that offending categories of people would be identified; that modernity would deliver technical progress—even while appeals to some mythical past would drive that onwards. While certainly not all of these factors are present today, as Guy Rundle in this issue of Arena Magazine makes clear, the appeal of the alt-Right is increasingly to a construct of an ethno-religious grouping—Anglo and Christian. Peter Dutton’s ‘priority refugee’ in the figure of the South African farmer (see Jeremy Baskin’s article in Arena Magazine no. 154) is illustrative of these various points.

It was of some interest that in Fraser Anning’s speech, Antonio Gramsci, a mid-twentieth-century Italian Marxist, emerged as the apparent key to grasping who the ‘cultural Marxists’ are and what their program is. Unbeknown to this supposed group, it is Gramsci’s notion of culture that informs their views and activities. Languishing in a fascist prison and preoccupied with why then-contemporary worker revolutions had failed and no lasting change in people’s consciousness had been achieved, Gramsci had looked to a notion of cultural hegemony to explain the hold of the status quo, a major element being the deep-set influence of the Italian Catholic Church, together with other aspects of ‘culture’. But of course the contemporary setting is nothing like the one Gramsci was relating to—pre–Second World War capitalist nation-state polities, societies with the obviously delineated class divisions of a manufacturing economy and ‘backward’ peasant life, the Catholic Church a singular and all-pervasive moral authority in the lives of the poor.

We know that the moniker ‘cultural Marxist’ is a scare word meant to condense feelings of insecurity into the figure of some militant, organised leftist vanguard. But the idea that radical cultural politics today conforms to any such view is ridiculous. The alt-Right’s ‘cultural Marxists’ are not a group, and they certainly aren’t Marxist (LGBTI groups, climate-change activists, refugee-rights advocates), and it is only by a postmodern adaptation that anyone who calls themselves Marxist today propounds the programs of those various social movements and identity groups. Indeed one of the vastly different aspects of anything that can be considered cultural politics today is exactly its expression as identity politics, and as pointed out by others, the alt-Right itself fits this description. If it now projects its base as first and foremost an ethno-religious value grouping, it is at the expense of other Australians seeing them as the ‘farmers’ or ‘Queenslanders’ who would once have sought representation and redress as regional and economic entities within the terms of a ‘commonwealth’.

It is exactly the universality of the arrangements and logics of a notion of a commonwealth that are now in question. Identity politics of any stripe shifts the emphasis away from social structure or relations onto subjectivity, and thus onto feeling, ‘authenticity’ and perspective, fuelling and giving a certain political shape to demands and grievances. It suggests difference from the outset in a positional battle rather than similarities or likenesses across groups—which would provide a ground for well-intentioned exchanges—and it does not look to broad social developments that might underpin the emergence of new social actors and relations. In other words, this kind of politics reacts to an emergent sense of change rather than examining what might be a general cause of unease or a sense of loss, and certainly not the complex means by which such feelings are mediated, as in the case of climate change and its denial.

If the right wing really wanted to understand the cultural emphasis in much of today’s politics, including its own, it would ask what has shaped that general movement towards identity politics rather than focus on the particular claims of various groups. Why does identity emerge as a key element in political consciousness today? Why can’t it be taken for granted as once it was? What are the social springs of this form of politics? As these are social questions, a social answer, rather than an overly ideological reaction, might emerge.

Of course this would be to ask the Right to understand something of the nature of the type of capitalism it has, at least until very recently, aggressively championed, and in large part still will, despite some forms of protection being reintroduced, as in the case of Trump. None are willing to address how the processes of economic globalisation that have been unleashed over the past thirty years have transformed how economies work, how banks work, how the relatively stable social relations of a nation have been undermined, and how in such circumstances the nature of personhood and the experience of self are set in motion. In other words, they have no convincing conception of the underlying processes causing the upheaval so many feel, instead blaming only what seems at some obvious level to challenge the familiar past—like taking climate change seriously.

History, if there is one, will look back on this period and the contortions politically around climate change, which again is at the centre of the political crisis, as surely a deep psychological effect, not primarily the result of rational or ideological contestation. How can any of us bear to imagine that that familiar world—of beloved place, of nature, of embodied and sensuous existence in relation to a given world, to the taken-for-granted ‘backdrop’ of all our lives and of life—may disappear? It doesn’t have to be part of a catastrophising imagination to see this possibility. Quite apart from the science being there to support this scenario, it could be the kind of question that would open us all, as part still of something like a commonwealth—an imagined framework for the welfare of all—to an assessment of the things that matter most, and of the forces that skew and undermine them.

Neoliberal capitalism has delivered the precariousness that so many people experience today: in work and employment, in families and mental health, in relation to place and climate, in relation to war and displacement. That liberal democracies as our representative form of government have presided over these developments is a crucial observation, made often in the pages of Arena Magazine, but any critique of that form of government is not limited to the grievances of the alt-Right or the constituencies it seeks to represent.

As the major political parties lose legitimacy among the people, and we look ahead to upheavals on a scale not seen before, we must ask what form of democratic polity might yet be created to face those challenges in a truly representative way. The alt-Right thinks it has the solution, but, being unable to address the question of the nature of late-capitalist life and its deep structures, it can only resort to authoritarian solutions. If the attacks on liberal democracy in the mid-twentieth century were serious, what is to be said when liberal democracy is unable to address the profound challenges of the present? Will it—will we—be able to come to terms with the fact that high-tech capitalism does not offer a stable world with a place for all and a living planet for us to inhabit?