Saturday, May 20, 2017

Be Just As Afraid Of Democratic Establishment Propaganda As Trump Administration Propaganda

This can't last. The all-consuming blur of ridiculous information that's been lobbed our way for the past four months notwithstanding, cracks continue to appear in the larger order that are too big not to be confronted at some point. Last month a report was done proving, beyond the anecdotal evidence of the many dilapidated houses I encounter on a daily basis, that America has regressed to a third world country for the majority of the population; amid levels of societal debt bigger than that of ten years ago, the new housing bubble has entered its first stages of fraying; the behavior of Arctic weather alone in the last year veers into otherworldliness as the Trump administration does everything it can to accelerate climate change.

Yet as the most viscerally scary part of these converging disasters shows signs of its imminence, with the recent behavior of North Korea being just one of the hints a major attack on the U.S. is coming soon, the leaders and institutions that are supposed to protect us from this all have for the most part been doing anything but. Instead of preemptively fighting the spasm of military aggression and power grabs that the Trump administration will attempt when this attack happens, Democratic leaders, members of the "liberal" media, and so-called moderate Republicans have so far largely supported Trump's Syria strikes and helped confirm his most authoritarian cabinet nominees.

But this report isn't about how what passes for the political center these days is so often disappointing or lacking in principle, any more than my beef with the Democratic establishment is still about it not satisfying my ideals. In both cases, it's about how the supposed center, formerly a mere enabler of fascism and right-wing extremists, has taken on a reactionary bent of its own. And how it's looking more all the time like those beholden to the so-called Democratic Party will be the ones who make the difference in ending American democracy.

In this sequel to my similarly focused but incomplete piece from February, I'll show how the neoliberal Democrats' tactics have matched up not with those of the Trump administration, but with those of the fictional Party from 1984. I know Orwell analogies have become somewhat trite, but the reason they've been used so much is that they're based on some of the most terrifyingly keen observations about human society ever made. So get ready to do a lot of reading, as starting with the first out of my three illustrations on how the Democratic Party has become the embodiment of Orwellianism-as well as on the ghastly implications this has for the very near future.

War is Peace

The vision of the future described by Orwell during his 1949 composition of 1984 is one where, just a few years after the defeat of totalitarianism in Germany and Italy, it suddenly comes back like never before. Sometime mid-century, the novel enigmatically says, a new cabal of uniquely driven and skilled totalitarians started a powerful political movement, and then gained worldwide domination after the explosion of many nuclear bombs persuaded global leaders to hand things over to the fascists. What followed was a series of massive purges against anyone deemed a threat to the new order, the dividing of society into a meticulously maintained hierarchy with a possibly metaphorical figure named Big Brother at the top, and the creation of an infrastructure that almost totally monitored humanity's communications, movements, and thoughts, all amid a paradigm of perpetual war.

This prediction, which couldn't be considered a "prophecy" but a harsh conclusion of what humanity was capable of now that it had technologically advanced so much, was naturally not half inaccurate. Even as Orwell had written it, a circle of powerful fanatics had laid the foundations for a society whose status quo was reinforced by endless war-in 1940 business leaders met with government officials to design a new geopolitical situation where America acted as the dominant "world policeman," and where war for political and corporate profits would be easier than ever. Thus the immediate switching to new conflicts after World War II ended, and the series of almost perpetual wars that's been going on for as long as most have been alive.

And thus the attempts to normalize militarism on both the self-identified right and left. Obviously the Republican imperialists have been the most notorious propagators of enthusiasm for profit-making wars. But disturbingly unbeknownst to every Democratic Party loyalist I've tried to confront on this issue, the Democrats have been virtually identical to the GOP on foreign policy since Carter.

They've done little or nothing to reduce the insane American military budget; they've unnecessarily bombed Kosovo; they've made the difference in the number of Senate votes Bush needed to invade Iraq; they've created a horrific drone warfare program; they've escalated the war in Afghanistan to disastrous effect; they've joined part in the 2011 NATO effort to invade Libya; they've handled the outbreak of war in Syria in just about the most hawkish way possible; they've essentially started another Iraq War in impractical response to ISIS; they've doomed America to thirty years and a trillion dollars of nuclear weapons spending; and they've dropped over 26,000 bombs in 2016 alone. So their latest foreign policy project isn't any surprise.

Amid the American empire-disobedient behavior of Putin and Assad in recent years, along of course with the financial and political rewards for the Deep State a war with Russia would bring, the operators of the U.S. war machine have been waiting to instigate such a war for quite some time. This became apparent last July, when the American intelligence and media establishment's first response to the DNC email leak was to blame Russia sans any evidence-just statements that it was so.

Sure, Putin has a history of interfering in elections, and yes, he clearly favored Trump over Clinton as the former wasn't promising to start a war with Russia. But the arguments for the Deep State having made up the Russian hacking claims, when you add them up, are far stronger; by making this claim, the establishment was simultaneously deflecting from the DNC's corruption, laying the grounds for threatening Trump with impeachment should he have won, justifying McCarthyite attacks against their opponents, and kicking off their campaign for war with Russia.

And I have to hand it to them how well they've played the card. Thanks to the Russian hacking line, pro-Clinton neocons and even some compliant NATO allies have been able to use language like "Russia committed an act of war" or "we were invaded;" Obama has been able to put sanctions on Russia in the last weeks of his term; and the Deep State allies in Congress have been able to threaten Trump with fake investigations on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the election, which Trump has naturally responded to by pleasing them with Syria strikes and attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks.

Yes, the neocons have had some good times with their "Russia hacked the election" talking point, and while Trump's capitulating to their agenda is forcing them to replace it with the similarly suspicious claim about Assad and Putin having been behind the gas attack last month, the times are sure to soon get even better.

In the last month or so, some clear signs have appeared that the start of the actual war effort is imminent. After forces have been set up by the American empire and Russia alike, the Democrats' favorite Russia conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch has kicked off the open calls for combat with the May 13 tweet advocating just that. Coupled with the CIA run Washington Post's column this week claiming it would be just too gosh darn hard to improve relations with Russia, it's clear we're one more easily Russia-blamed terrorist attack away from World War III.

When this attack happens, as evidenced by how most pro-establishment liberals supported Trump's April Syria strikes, support for this war will be stirred up among not just Republican but Democratic loyalists. And it will be the support from the latter that gives the regime justification to launch the whole affair-along, as I'll illustrate, with a lot of other things.

Freedom is Slavery

I know I shouldn't be surprised to see rank and file establishment liberals getting behind the neoliberal, authoritarian policies of their party. But I guess it's that Bernie Bro naivete of mine that makes me find the spectacle of people willingly giving up their economic and constitutional rights so baffling.

As I've illustrated by citing incidents where establishment liberals have said things like "we're always at war, what's one more?" and polls showing the vast majority of Democratic loyalists support Obama's drone terrorism, the drug war, neoliberal trade, and unconstitutional mass spying, the average loyal Democrat no longer opposes many of the most illiberal and repressive policies of our time. This isn't to mention the hostility Democratic elites have been able to incite towards heroic whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. And when looking at the origins of this shift towards authoritarian thinking on much of the supposed left, its implications for our fate come the next big terror attack look very ominous.

I'm of course talking about the normalization of approval for such policies that happened in the American consciousness post-9/11. Even ten years after the attacks, Americans were still being found to largely put security above civil liberties, and authoritarian attitudes have no doubt escalated since then with the emergence of ISIS and Trumpism. And looking back on how so many Democrats went along with the Bush administration's post-9/11 wars and power grabs when Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi endorsed them, the Trump administration's likely far worse actions after this next attack will largely have bipartisan support as well.

Already Democratic elites have been able to corral many of their followers toward backing some of Trump's ghastliest policies, like when Clinton campaign manager turned Washington Post columnist John Podesta praised the expansions of the military budget or when the supposedly left leaning major media outlets persuaded many of their viewers to back the Syria strikes. There's also the tactic the neocon propagandists have been able to use now that Bernie Sanders has become a major force of reminding their followers that those naive, sexist Bernie bros oppose such policies, compelling Democratic loyalists to support them out of spite.

Who's to say things would be different in the event of the administration trying to change the constitution post-terrorist attack, or create a Muslim registry, or something too awful to foresee? The answer, sadly, is that there's pretty much no limit any more to what Trump and Democratic loyalists alike will typically put up with from their leaders. The moral zeitgeist within both these groups has been twisted too much toward the warmongering, authoritarian, and overall Orwellian, and they can easily be expected to receive the coming calls for societal lockdown without question.

To address something everyone not in either of these groups will soon be wondering, there are some understandable reasons so many Americans have become willing to take the plunge into fascism.

Ignorance is Strength

Then again, maybe it's not so much been warmongering and authoritarian propaganda that's gotten much of the left to embrace the Deep State's policies, but efforts to simply hide the Democratic Party's Orwellian actions from its base. When confronted about their party's behavior in recent decades, I've seen Democratic loyalists deny that it happened far more often than I've seen them (at least directly) say they support it. Most alarming have been the cases where they've claimed specific misdeeds from Democratic leaders aren't real-according to the party loyalists I've met online, Obama ended the wars, mass spying stopped after Bush, Bill Clinton didn't sign NAFTA, Democrats didn't deregulate Wall Street, and the documented cases of massive voter suppression and electoral fraud in the 2016 Democratic primary are all "allegations."

The instances go on and on of top Democrats getting away with neoliberal, neocon policies by convincing their supporters that they didn't enact those policies in the first place (see the Party's historical revisionism tactic in 1984). This dynamic has been able to survive in an era where anyone could find out the true history of the Democratic Party with a half minute of searching on Google due to the tactic the neoliberal propagandists have lately taken up, of saying any online source that isn't part of the mainstream media is "fake news" and/or Russian propaganda.

Thus the declarations from every establishment liberal I've shown links proving the truth about the Democratic Party that the article I've provided is an opinion piece, is Russian lies, etc. And thus the insular attitude that's emerged within the establishment liberal groupthink towards any information challenging the status quo, as paralleled in what Orwell described as the "orthodoxy" of the Party from 1984.

And while this aggressive campaign against facts has been central in the Democratic establishment's public relations mechanisms from the start, it's gotten more fine tuned and extensive in recent years. Following the  consolidation of this country's major media outlets into a vast series of propaganda outlets for a handful of large corporations (as made possible by Clinton's 1996 Telecommunications Act), the Democratic wing of the plutocracy took a big step toward expanding its influence over public discourse in 2007: establishing, as revealed by WikiLeaks, an explicitly described echo chamber used to organize corporate Democratic politicians and media outlets around molding the sentiments of liberals as effectively as possible. Thus the seemingly lockstep nature of this movement towards war with Russia.

Then, of course, came the 2013 law quite literally legalizing psychological warfare, having allowed the CIA to send secret agents into American and foreign media and try to influence public opinion. Thus the bizarre new breeds of deception that have come our way of late, such as CNN's subliminally saying last year that it's illegal to read WikiLeaks, or the Bana Al-Abed Twitter account. The most recent effort to put control over discourse into the hands of the state has been Obama's so-called Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, to be quite possibly followed by the FCC's dismantling net neutrality and the passage of the internet freedom-imperiling TiSA deal. Even the establishment liberal-owned private companies have been participating in the war on open debate, with Facebook now suppressing sites it deems "fake news."

However far this psychological coup goes, though, it's already entered some very unsettling terrain. In direct parallel with the introduction of the Newspeak language in 1984, which was designed to make questioning the status quo linguistically impossible by limiting one's vocabulary to a few nonthreatening basic words, Democratic propagandists have lately been discouraging use of revolution-encouraging terms like Deep State and neoliberalism. Our language itself has become under attack by the forces of regression and greed, and Orwell has shown what comes next.

Then again, on the one hand things will keep getting worse. The regime's following, having grown virtually impervious to ideological threats from the outside, will continue to rally around demagogues of both the Trumpist and Clintonist kinds from within their insulated social microcosms. The state of the world outside those microcosms will continue to deteriorate as a result, with economic, environmental, and geopolitical collapses happening on a wildly unprecedented level. And those responsible for the looming calamity will continue to cling more determinedly to the status quo, employing scapegoating, conspiracy theories, and ideological reinforcement with ever more insistence and elaboration.

On the other hand, sanity will prevail. The populist left and right will decide to unite in their shared goal of taking down America's unelected power structures. This anti-establishment front will use the unprecedented potential for sharing information it now has, online censorship or not, to win the war of ideas against the already weakened and self-constrained traditional media. And despite the best efforts of the regime (which, it turns out, is supported by a solid minority of the population), a better world will emerge. Whichever happens, I'll be glad when this is gotten over with.

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