Monday, January 8, 2018

The Normalization Of Barbarity

The social progress made in the last several hundred years is rapidly being reversed. Torture is now acceptable. Deporting entire populations is a popular idea. Versions of ethnic cleansing, including the surveillance of Muslim communities and a ban on Muslims from entering the country, are seen by many as vital. The ideas of democracy and freedom of speech are losing support around the world, and a sixth in the U.S. are polled to now want outright military rule. We seem to be reverting to barbarity as the centers of modernity become unstable.

“We are angry. There is a craving to return to an age of violence. We want a war,” wrote the neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin days before the riot in Charlottesville last year. Anglin’s faction of this authoritarian movement may be fringe, but the broader society already in many ways resembles it. State violence against Muslims, brutal police repression against dissenters, jailings without trial, and other formerly unacceptable policies have become dominant. And the proto-fascists trying to take it further have been empowered by the decayed state of our liberal institutions.
The Democratic Party and its class of intellectuals ignore the suffering of the working class while retreating into technocracy and elitism. Law enforcement has become heavily militarized and focused on locking up mass numbers of Blacks and Hispanics. America’s massive economic inequality enforces systemic racism by driving nonwhites further into poverty, while demagogues tell the white working class to blame immigrants and nonwhites for their poverty.
The corporate media enables demagoguery and fear-mongering while making the poor invisible. Academics, public intellectuals, and religious leaders preach and collaborate with corporate capitalism to gain favor with the establishment. Politicians, now mainly the president, dispense idiocy and garbage claims to advance their self-serving agendas. Magazines, newspapers and television bombard us with inane celebrity gossip and superficial political controversies. Ubiquitous corporate advertisements glorify mindless consumerism and shallow thinking. It was inevitable that Trump and our other political monstrosities would emerge from this society.
The Trump administration’s corruption and authoritarianism only adds onto the four decades-long corporate coup made by both major parties. In 2016 the Clinton campaign and the DNC-the ones who elevated Trump in the primaries-employedmass illegal voter purges, systematic exclusion of Sanders voters, and computer vote tally manipulations to steal the presidency from Bernie Sanders. Billionaires and corporations can now invest unlimited money into the political process through Citizens United. Jeff Bezos, currently the richest of these oligarchs, is closely colluding with intelligence officials to help expand and enforce his sphere of control over society.
Now we survey the wreckage: 80% of the country is burdened with debt or without job security. Half the country is living in poverty. A third can’t afford shelter, medical care, or adequate food. Most Americans can no longer afford a new car. 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated, while the rest live under an all-intrusive surveillance state that only the elite can avoid being incriminated through. The austerity and banks bailouts that the last financial crash created has further expanded the power of the big banks, and there’s no telling what will happen when the next crash comes.  
The cascading effects of our rotten system have produced variations of “Trumpism” around the world, including widespread jihadism in the Middle East, resurgent European nationalism, and growing authoritarianism in Japan and the Philippines. Much of these political deteriorations can be blamed on the global economic disparity, others on climate change, others on the American empire’s destabilizing Middle Eastern wars. But it’s all directly related to our society’s decadence, anti-intellectualism, and arrogant belief in our own infallibility.
Corporate capitalism is the disease, and reactionary neo-fascism is the symptom. A lot of hope has come out of these worldwide revolutionary sentiments though, and several nations, like Austria and the U.K., have already been mainly taken over by Greens and socialists. Otherwise when the demagogues have gained dominance in these countries, like with Poland, Hungary or Russia, they’ve forced themselves into power indefinitely, crushing their opposition and destroying democratic institutions. 
We’re lucky for the Trump administration’s incompetence and infighting, or else our situation would be a lot worse by now. But the ruling oligarchy will take every extreme measure before it surrenders its power. And when Trump eventually goes away he no doubt won’t be the last-or the worst-demagogue to appear. We must raise our hands, however small and unnoticed they may seem, in demand of a different future.

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