Friday, June 30, 2017

The Real Reason So Many Loyal Democrats Hate Bernie Sanders


Now that it’s been around a year since the Bernie vs Hillary contest ended, I’ll be making it clear in pieces like this that I’m not just critiquing the worldview of many Clinton Democrats. I’m by extension commenting on all the demagoguery, blind tribalism, and narrow-mindedness that’s been driving our society toward self-destruction in recent decades, from the creeping in of fascist logic like “If I have nothing to hide, why not let the government spy on us all?” to the rise of neoliberal hatred for the poor. And while the ideology I’m mostly critiquing is partly based in a desire to maintain one’s economic and cultural status, it seems to mainly stem from something less subconscious: aversion toward what deviates from the traditional groupthink.
To put things in perspective, the facet I’m talking about makes up a very small fraction of the public. 80% of Democrats now view Bernie Sanders favorably, and 30% of Americans are Democrats, meaning I’m basically attacking the neoliberal equivalent of the Green Party. But the minority of Hillary supporters that continue to oppose Sanders and his followers deserve some focus, not just because unlike the Greens they have enormous institutional forces aligned with them, but because their choice to fight Sandersism has some interesting psychology behind it.
It’s not an armchair assessment that much of Clintonite hatred for the progressive insurgency stems, as I said, from pure tribalism; this is made almost explicitly clear in any of the anti-Sanders tirades that rank and file party loyalists continue to frequently compose online. He and his supporters aren’t even Democrats, the affront so often goes. They should stay out of our party and go start their own, or even better stop engaging in any kind of dialogue about the problems within the Trump opposition. How dare they ask questions! How dare they diverge from what the Democratic Party tells them to think! The fact that this animus comes from something so base as “you’re not part of the group” may be masked by additional types of attack lines, but that frequented “you’re not a Democrat!” statement is a tell.
These attacks have of course been used by the party bosses who have a direct interest in shutting out dissidents to the corporate state, but that anyone not trying to maintain their position as a power player would agree with them says a lot about tribalist thought. This is the same logic that’s been applied to almost all the cruel and bigoted behavior throughout human history; we’re part of the group, you’re not part of the group, so you deserve to be treated as inferior.
Thus the alarm calls from party loyalists who in many cases actually support Sanders’ agenda: he chooses not to identify as a Democrat! And neither do a lot of his supporters! They’re even applying scrutiny to our leaders! They’re upsetting the natural order by not conforming!
Like all instances of this closed-mindedness, the Clintonite hostility towards Bernie Sanders looks pretty silly when you point out its nature. Complex and media echo chamber-affirmed as the loyal Democrats’ case against accepting progressives can get, it’s all the result of the human mind’s easy mistake of distrusting what comes from outside the tribe.
Thankfully the fact that humans have a group instinct doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doomed to bigotry. The trick is to recognize the whole species as part of one’s tribe. That way instead of worrying about how something will affect any party or country or clique, the priority will be whether it helps the factory workers who are threatened by neoliberal trade, the communities of color that would be hurt by furthering the drug war, the middle eastern civilians who would be endangered by continuing American imperialism.
I know that last part sounded trite, but empathy really is all that can prevent calamity. Work to stop the government from making society even more unequal, most immediately by calling moderate GOP senators about voting against repealing the ACA. Build institutions that can counteract the oligarchical agenda of both parties, a suggested avenue for doing so being to get involved in the Democratic Socialists of America. And as the case of tribalist thinking I just illustrated implies, be wary of falling into a similar pattern. It’s 2017, and there’s just no time for things like that anymore.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

It Has To Be Said: Establishment Dems Are Now Celebrating Genocide


Oligarchies run on sociopathy. Warmongers need to condition themselves not to care about the suffering and death that will be caused by their instigation of selfish interest-serving military conflict. Robber barons need to teach themselves the lower classes deserve it if they’re hurt by economic exploitation. Those that instigate environmental disasters for their own gain need to develop a subconscious disrespect for the communities and planet they’re destroying. The whole system is based on rejecting empathy and becoming emotionally detached from the world around oneself, clearing the psychological path for unlimited power grabs.

No more has this been seen lately than on the self-identified American right. In the last few decades, Republican leaders have been able to turn themselves and millions of others effectively against humanity-disdain for unions and the rights of working people, an active disregard for environment, and the glorification of harming or slaughtering scapegoated ethnic, racial and religious groups have all been parts of the standard right wing worldview for the last quarter century or so. And their culmination in the current regime, which aims to take health care away from 51 million people, balloon the fracking enterprise, and worse, should absolutely be combatted. But as is the sure sign of a fascist drift, the meme of sociopathy has reached both main sides of the political debate.
Establishment liberals are now the main American purveyors of genocide. There, I said it. Last week the U.S, under the guise of countering the (by the way still unproven) Russian DNC hacking, imposed sanctions on Russia. It’s easy for anyone looking outside the neoliberal echo chamber to see the neocons have done this because they want to replace Putin with a U.S.-obedient Russian leader, though to be fair, one of the neocon congressmen actually admitted this on Fox News a few months back. 
This means America is now literally trying to kill the ordinary Russians that will be economically deprived because of these sanctions to serve its imperial agenda. And that the subscribers of the Deep State’s narrative in regards to the issue are now condoning this genocidal mission-when Bernie Sanders voted against the Russia sanctions bill (unfortunately, as he made clear, only because it included similarly reckless sanctions against Iran), droves of zealous Clintonites and even a few public figures denounced him as a Russian agent.
It’s come as no surprise, seeing the ugliness of the rhetoric that’s been used in the effort to get people behind this. Noted real life telescreen enthusiast James Clapper, for one, has said on the matter that Russians are “genetically driven” to unethical behavior. “The Russians” has also become a very generally used phrase in propaganda about the Red Menace. This effort to dehumanize an entire people so that economic genocide can be justified is beyond appalling. But then again, so is everything else that’s wrong with This American Moment.
The sociopathy coming from the Trump facet has been focused on somewhat singularly, but it’s nonetheless deadly. When we’re faced with whatever geopolitical or economic catastrophe that’s sure to soon ensue from decades of bad choices, the fanatics in the White House will be ready to make their pitch for a society even more reactionary and repressive. Amid the crisis, insane measures will be put on the table, scapegoats will be made in paranoid abundance, and much of the population will be too rattled to question the push for societal self-implosion. And the ones responsible will not be those who’ve taken a stand against sociopathy no matter which party it comes from; it will be the ones who’ve normalized callousness and cruelty beforehand with things like these sanctions.
Chris Hedges-esque rant over. Now the call to action: let’s stop these scoundrels by countering their propaganda, helping candidates and causes that represent a humane vision, and simply trying to act compassionate and open minded. If the status quo depends on lack of empathy, you know what you need to do to end it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

To The Russia Warmongers: We're Not Going To Let You Get Away With This

I received an email a few days ago from the nice folks at BOLD Democrats (that's honestly how they spell it) with an exciting invitation, as made possible by the U.S.' putting sanctions on Russia last week: "Thank Senate Democrats for punishing Russia."

I would do one of those "no matter that so and so" routines. I would point out that we might want to see the much touted 17 intelligence agencies provide any evidence for the Russians having hacked the DNC before assuming that's the real reason Senate Democrats did this, or that the Russians who will be hurt the most by these sanctions aren't Moscow officials but Russian children who will die from the poverty this is sure to cause, or that it's actions like this that exacerbate the "I dare you to start it" game that Russia and the U.S. have been in for the last few months. But I won't make inconvenient facts like these the main focus, because those responsible for the world war that's likely to soon ensue have shown not to care about them. Our priority at this point should be keeping these fanatics from succeeding in their longer term mission.

How do we not let them get away with it? I mean this not in the sense of revenge, which also has no real benefit at this point, but in stopping the warmongers’ agenda. How do we stop demagogic drivel, as is exemplified these days in everything from the email mentioned to a billion similarly conceived internet memes, from taking their intended effect? Though we can’t do much for the Russian proletarians who will be hurt by the oligarchy’s latest move, how do we stop Muslims, lower class Americans, and the others in the line of fire from being hurt similarly in these next few years? How do we stop not just the Deep State’s war with Russia, but the economic and environmental collapses that the Deep State inadvertently brings us towards faster than ever, from taking too catastrophic an effect?

These queries, while taken seriously by most, are too intimidating for most to confront directly. The problems are so big, and the social pathologies standing in the way of their solutions are so noxious, that it seems the only way to stay sane is by tuning them out. Enough about how ordinary people disengaging is what the establishment wants, the disengaged probably reason; the establishment’s schemes are going to go through regardless. And I’d leave them alone in their decision if this article’s headline were meant conditionally.

I’ve recently done a piece with a similar point of rejecting inaction, but in this case I’ll make it more to the point: when we disengage, we let the BOLD Democrats of the world get away with it.

When we don’t speak up if someone says something power-serving, don’t directly support or contribute to alternative media, or don’t publicly voice dissent to the actions of the Deep State, demagogues and the supporters of the status quo are empowered to spread their reactionary messages without opposition. If someone isn’t actively countering things like the exemplified email, the email, so to speak, will be all that makes up the general consciousness.

When we don’t express solidarity with the neoliberal order’s victims, don’t participate in getting legislation passed that would help them, or don’t fight the elitist logic behind society’s oligarchical drift, we are enabling the plutocrats, white supremacists, and genocide-creating foreign policy neocons. Without an effort towards equality, the ideology that says poor and downtrodden individuals have brought their disadvantage on themselves will be all that society goes by.

And above all, without active focus on the dynamics that threaten civilization as we know it, the types that ignore climate destabilization, plunder natural resources with abandon, and advocate what could lead to nuclear war will be the only ones to have a say. In that case, BOLD Democrats and the rest, we’re not going to let you get away with it. We’re going to resist the fearmongering and misinformation you use to keep your ideas afloat, work to dismantle your autocratically maintained power centers while building inclusive systems of our own, and create a world where no one can hurt innocent bystanders for personal gain and then try to get people to cheer them on by calling it “punishing Russia.”

To put on my newsroom face after that slight editorializing, the apocalypse is almost here and the zombies are within sight-just in the last few days, Russian and U.S. war planes have been feet away from actual combat. The zombies may have bitten Bernie Sanders, as was indicated by his happy endorsement of Russian sanctions, but we survivors shouldn’t let that discourage us-as Bernie says, this was never about a man but about a movement, and the movement is going to make things right.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why The Berniecrats Aren't Going To Back Down

The houses above, like tens of thousands of others in Detroit, obviously used to look very different. But then came the advent of what was at first seriously referred to as "free market capitalism," followed by what was initially called "job-creating" free trade, followed by what was at least honestly referred to as the Great Recession. Throughout these developments, most in Detroit and America overall have seen the opposite of freedom or job creation. They've seen their livelihoods taken away for the benefit of a few corporate executives. They've seen their tax dollars used to fund unending wars (the volunteers for which largely came from poor areas of color like the one pictured), along with trillion dollar bailouts for the billionaires who caused the economy to crash. They've seen the system be redesigned to make it much harder for people like them to live happy, secure lives.

They've also seen the way those responsible for their misfortune have overwhelmingly responded to it: by blaming the victims. Just like hatred towards blacks had to be propagated for slavery (and the parts of its legacy) to be widely accepted, hatred towards the poor has been instrumental in selling the neoliberal enterprise. Thus the countless statements over the last few decades from corporatist politicians, right wing media figures, and thus tens of millions of ordinary people about how poor people aren't trying hard enough, how they aren't entitled to anyone else's money, how they should be self-reliant, etc. At no point has the majority of the population accepted this classist ideology, but the fact that it's been pushed so aggressively has had the desired effect: everyone who's grown up in lower class lifestyles throughout the last forty years or so is familiar with the view that people like them shouldn't be complaining about their situation.

The unintended problem with this is that when people are told their struggles are illegitimate and they should just accept the status quo, they do the opposite of become compliant. Except in the statistically rare cases where they've shown to fall for this neoliberal gaslighting, those left behind by the current system have overwhelmingly come to reject the oligarchy's agenda in recent years. This is clear in how the majority of Republicans now support single payer health care, higher taxes on the rich, and ending neoliberal trade despite their different views on these things in the recent past. More importantly, this awakening has shown in the emergence and so far spectacular success of the Bernie Sanders revolution, with tens of millions of people now actively working towards bringing the changes our society desperately needs.

But once again, while the dissenters represent the majority, we haven't been able to do our work for this movement without intense disdain from within the beltway. The attacks against us involving Stalinism have thankfully been relatively rare, but the more mainstream anti-Sandersisms, as articulated by outlets like the Washington Post, haven't been any less disingenuous: Bernie Sanders and his supporters are fringe, are purist, are unrealistic, etc. When the majority of the country backs Sanders and his ideas, the best the oligarchs can do is try to convince those in that majority that they're naive. And once again, as I'll illustrate, such tactics have a way of backfiring.

To the rank and file establishment loyalists, corporate news columnists, and occasional Goldman executives that denigrate what we're doing, I'll say it in a more complete and direct way than I've said it before: the Berniecrats will not back down. Just like we wouldn't accept that the status quo shouldn't be challenged, we will not accept that challenging it is naive.

We will not accept that a party which has hurt people of color through mass incarceration more than Reagan did, reordered the global trade system to benefit large corporations, caused the Great Recession by deregulating Wall Street, made the difference in Senate votes for the Iraq War, set us up for a new crash by refusing to adequately re-regulate Wall Street, escalated Bush's wars, took us to the brink of climate collapse, and so much more is an adequate alternative to the GOP. Nor that this party did not undeniably and directly steal the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders, who the majority of the Democratic base has embraced.

We will not accept that goals like keeping corporate money out of politics, ending the paradigm of perpetual war, and single payer health care are unrealistic when all of Bernie's agenda is not just practical, but politically attainable due to the revolutionary dynamics that are emerging amid staggering economic inequity. Nor that the American people, who are found in every public opinion poll to support these reforms, will reject Sandersist candidates in the coming years for offering them.

More to the point, we will not accept that those on the receiving end of the destructive policies Sanders' critics often champion shouldn't see their concerns addressed. We will not tell the Detroit workers who've lost their homes because of neoliberal trade and Wall Street greed that they're naive for wanting these things stopped. We will not act like the tens of millions of Americans now living in third world conditions because of lack of an adequate minimum wage, lifetimes worth of student loan debt, and an outrageously racketeered health care system aren't realistic for wanting these problems alleviated. We will not dismiss the struggles of the millions of people who've been unjustly incarcerated, the tens of millions who can't afford their obscenely overpriced prescription drugs, or the countless families throughout the global south who've been literally torn apart by the U.S. military empire because anyone says doing so would be impractical.

The political establishment essentially used this strategy of telling disadvantaged groups that their concerns are naive as a means to beat Trump last year. As a result, enough lower class and nonwhite people chose to opt out of voting for Hillary Clinton, and enough downtrodden Rust Belt residents chose to vote against Clinton, that the unthinkable happened. And now, as the majority's concerns continue to be sneered at by the members of the McResistance, an insane specter looms: when a major U.S. terrorist attack inevitably occurs sometime soon, and the Trump regime no doubt lays the case for totalitarian lockdown in response, most Americans, I predict, will jump on board the push towards nationalistic fanaticism. Because at least the faux-populist right wing extremists in the White House are different from the "moderates," who mock the very idea of change and barely even pretend to care about the needs of ordinary people.

Society is on the brink of willing self-destruction because of the political establishment's condescending and callous attitude towards the have-nots, and Berniecrats aren't going to stand for it. We will continue promoting our progressively populist message as an alternative to the Trump team's reactionary temptations. It may not be what Paul Krugman wants us to do, but it's what the people who used to live in the houses above would probably want us to do.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Democratic Loyalists Are The Trump Regime's Greatest Asset

I recently learned that I'm a sexist. The news seemed a little unexpected at first, as it was delivered by a man who actively supports an abashedly anti-woman agenda, but since he professed to know so much more than I do about advancing equality, it was only honorable for me to accept his judgement. Namely, that I and all the others who'd like to see Nancy Pelosi replaced by Sandersist insurgent Stephen Jaffe in 2018-and by extension, who want to see the Democratic Party start working for the people-seek these things out of naturally bro-ish contempt for women like Pelosi.

My respect for this columnist's striking insight into the minds of tens of millions of people he's never met was unchanged as I read further. The reason besides misogyny that we want to primary Pelosi, he keenly observed, was because she doesn't support single payer health care, which has no chance of passing anyway despite its now bipartisan majority support, and Pelosi has done some good things despite her otherwise staggering history of betraying progressives, and Jaffe isn't a progressive himself because of his non-policy related personal characteristics, and so on till the Berniecrats are hopefully so overwhelmed by this barrage of baseless attacks and efforts to change the subject that they leave the Democratic establishment alone.

And so on indeed. When we stand up to power, we can always expect to be met with unrelenting efforts from the ruling class' surrogates to gaslight us, to marginalize us, to make us feel like our concerns are absurd. This has always been the case when rulers have been challenged, but in modern times it's different. Never before most people's lifetimes have oligarchies been able to surveil the entire citizenry. To impose themselves and their ideas on all aspects of life. To endlessly perpetuate war with impunity. To wipe out massive populations and resources in an instant. To steal sizable fractions of the world's wealth with such little effort. So the modern oligarchy's propaganda has become naturally elevated as well.

The ruling class controls the vast majority of the media Americans consume, much of our political and legal institutions are engineered to control the outcome of elections. Dissidents can be persecuted with relative ease. So defending the status quo, especially when it comes to the Democratic establishment, has become a convenient task. You're remembering things wrong, the modern establishment propagandist can so easily say; millions of Sanders voters were not disenfranchised last year, Russia was not considered an ally just a few years ago, a new housing bubble did not appear during Obama's term, etc., etc. Nearly all media statements and public records can be revised to fit the oligarchy's narrative, so its deceptions are made virtually unassailable-and its presence is made seemingly unshakable.

I imagine you've guessed by now how this relates to the article's title. When a political establishment like this exists amid a rogue new administration's attempts to create a self-styled dictatorship, it's inevitable that these two forces will merge in their shared mission of dominating society. Numerous instances have come up of the Trump regime working with the Deep State to conquer the world, from new Washington Post columnist John Podesta's praising Trump's military budget increase, to Trump's responding to the neocons' Russiagate outcries by attacking Syria, to Trump's trying to prosecute Julian Assange.

As the geopolitical horror show goes on, the Deep State and the Trump administration will no doubt grow further united, such as when they'll partner in launching the next American imperial war after the next major terrorist attack gives them an opening. The factions within the ruling class are mutually moving in for an unprecedented seizure of power, and it doesn't matter that one of those factions-the Clinton Democrats-claims to oppose the other. They're still both participating in the takeover.

This is what Democratic loyalists like the one mentioned above are working towards when they attack the so-called radical left's efforts. Whether said exposer of my sexism is unaware that Pelosi is on record for supporting a litany of right-wing policies and fully capitulating to the post-9/11 Bush administration, or whether he thinks she's an acceptable Trump opposition leader in spite of this, the message is clear: so many Clinton Democrats are willing to give the Trump regime an easier path to autocracy if it means their favored Democratic leaders stay in power. And this attitude has been observed within all parts of the establishment liberal echo chamber, from the Clintonite columnists who were so eager to defend the Senate Democrats that voted for Trump's cabinet nominees to the Democratic loyalists who continue to insist, against all evidence, that moving left is a bad electoral strategy for defeating the GOP.

But there I go, talking about the standard political horse race like it will have any relevance amid the harsh, not so superficial reality to come. The financial framework is on the verge of collapsing. The Deep State's plans for war with Russia, along with Syria, Iran, and maybe even North Korea, are close to being realized. The nation is a major terrorist attack away from having its ailing democracy blown to pieces by the fanatics in the White House. There's no telling what things will look like by the next midterm or presidential election, but it's certain they'll be radically changed for the worse-perhaps so much that the elections won't take place. Regardless, most Americans will likely be focusing on crisis-induced paranoia and jingoism rather than on any elections, with a great deal of the Democratic base being no exception.

As for those who put their country above their party, be only emboldened by the establishment's attacks against you. In response to Trump's pulling out of the Paris climate deal, join Democratic Socialists of America instead of a professedly pro-climate action group that's unwilling to fight corporate power. Do all you can to help Berniecrat Tom Perriello win the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nomination on June 13 rather than his unreliably anti-Trump opponent Ralph Northam. And most importantly, don't concede the war of ideas to the defenders of the oligarchy. For all their clout, they can only manipulate the interpretation of reality, not change it. And that will be their downfall.