Author: 21st Century Poet
No strike wave in 2021
There was a lot of enthusiastic talk about a wave of labor militancy last year—remember “Striketober”? With the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary data for December out—it will be slightly revised next month, but not by much—we can now look at the full year in historical perspective. It was a quiet year, even by […]No strike wave in 2021
The fight for independent, non-corporate radio flares up again
Here we go again. Listener democracy at the Pacifica radio network is in deep jeopardy again because the same people who violently shut down WBAI in 2019 and forced an expensive referendum that was soundly defeated in 2020 have forced a second bylaws referendum. Having lost last year’s referendum by a 2-to-1 margin — losing […]The fight for independent, non-corporate radio flares up again
“Even Six Feet Isn’t Covid Safe. New CDC Guidelines to Reopen Schools Could be Dangerous” [Video]
Censorship by corporations has become so rampant, this video by Paul Jay may not be up long on youtube, which is owned by google, which is owned by alphabet…
This is more than just a touchy subject, but it has to be faced if we hope to ever get on the right path to reducing Covid’s spread. Because vaccines have begun to be administered, many people are happy to believe we can start “going back to normal.” Without effective safeguards, it seems clear that will not be possible. Even without the proper safeguards, considering the vaccine plan on its own merits does not pass the smell test. If I understand the goal correctly, the point is to essentially achieve herd immunity; but, according to surveys and polls, 30-40% of people say they will never get a vaccine, which makes herd immunity impossible. This is known as the “free rider problem, ” which will eventually become a commonly known phrase if we continue on our current path.
In the meantime, the virus continues to mutate into more dangerous, possibly vaccine resistant, forms. To say the least, it’s not a recipe for success. For brevity’s sake I will not discuss vaccine hoarding, or the fact that many countries have extremely low vaccination rates and continue to remain part of this planet, which means that greatly affects the life and spread of the virus in the good ol’ u.s. of a. Like capitalists, borders mean nothing to the virus – especially when capitalist’s business is always the priority.
So, the plan of our dear leaders seems to be, ignore what’s worked in other countries, continue to let people die, give massive amounts of money to pharmaceutical corporations, bribe states to force teachers and students back into schools, and bet more lives on a kind of hail mary pass that those 30-40% of the free riding population will eventually change their minds.
The further insanity is that there are entire counties who have all but eliminated infection rates. Every one of them did this without a vaccine. This alone should be enough evidence to prove our so-called leaders have been criminally negligent.
The people nominally in charge of our welfare never did what worked in other countries. That is an incontrovertible fact. Because all of our institutions have been corrupted by corporate capitalists, most decisions have been made by considering the corporation before and above anyone else, especially us lowly “workers.” Profit, and the continuation thereof, has been the preeminent concern of the people in power. This is what they mean when they refer to “The Economy.” If we ignore the half million plus deaths and the immiseration of millions, they have achieved their goal. The stock markets are at record highs, and billionaires are over a trillion dollars richer than they were about a year ago. Until we are able to face the reality of our situation and see it for what it really is, I’m afraid things aren’t “going back to normal” anytime soon.
Private sector is “efficient” only at extracting money from public
There is nothing that capitalists won’t grab if they see a possibility to grab a profit. Not even the most basic needs for human life, such as water, are exempt. A favorite tactic for grabbing what had once been in the public domain and converting it into private profit is the “public-private partnership.” A tactic […]Private sector is “efficient” only at extracting money from public
Michael Hudson – Life & Thought (fascinating)
A Marxist who worked for capitalists/imperialists – and actually helped them, but was also able to lay bare that exploitation, explain it, and then get at its ancient roots. To hear him tell it, there doesn’t seem to be a contradiction. I’d have more than a few questions for him if I had the chance. I’ve been listening to him for years, but had no clue about his personal history and connection to the left. And the last few minutes is elucidating in more ways than one. Many questions that will never be answered…What can I say? Fascinating.
Chris Hedges: American Requiem
“If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient.”Chris Hedges: American Requiem
The US economy – some facts
As we await the result of the US presidential election, here are some facts about the US economy within a world context. Share of world GDP In 1980, it looked like this: The US had more than twice of the share of global GDP than Japan, and more than Japan, Germany and France combined. China’s […]The US economy – some facts
Why Bitcoin is not a socialist’s ally – Reply to Ben Arc
On 15th July, Ben Arc published in Bitcoin Magazine an open letter addressed to me in a bid to convince me that I should re-assess my rejection of Bitcoin as a force for good; as a bulwark for democratising capitalism and paving the ground for socialism. Here is my reply: Dear Ben Arc, Thank you […]Why Bitcoin is not a socialist’s ally – Reply to Ben Arc
Chomsky: “The rich are running wild”
This clip sums up our current state pretty well. It’s nothing new to anyone who has been paying attention, but ideology can blind people. Even people watching this clip who have “trump derangement” symptoms might miss what Chomsky is saying. This is corporate power stealing as much as they can and killing with impunity. Listen to every word and sentence. If you don’t truly understand, a word, concept, or expression of an idea, research it.
For example, Chomsky mentions Greg Palast. Greg has a new book out detailing how trump will steal the 2020 election. What most people don’t know is that Greg has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that trump stole the 2016 election. Is it new that a u.s. election has been stolen? No. But most people are unaware of that fact, and for the strangest of reasons, even most on the left have discussed the trump win as legitimate. Discussing voting and elections is fine, but assuming any aspect of the voting and elections process is not corrupt and at the bare minimum broken (which Chomsky does briefly mention of course) will get us nowhere. In fact, discussion untied to action will get us nowhere. The inextricably connected issue of corporate power run amok, using the state as its play toy and free money machine, killing and decimating the systems we need to live, was here before trump and it will be with us long after he is dead and gone, so it is far from simply an issue of voting the monster out so “everything can get back to normal.”
While the republicans are as dangerous and horrific as Chomsky states, just blaming the republican party for this is disingenuous, or misguided to say the least. Chomsky does mention that we De facto have one party rule: the business party, but then he singles out republicans. It is good and right to point out how unhinged they are, but the Dems should be mentioned in the same breath.
As some might know, Chomsky has angered some on the left for always advocating for the lesser of two evils vote when it comes to the presidential election. He has doubled down on this with biden. It’s hard to take issue with Chomsky personally because he has been consistent in this view his entire life. He holds this view because he doesn’t ascribe all politics to voting. He identifies as an anarchist after all. His assumption is that people who do more politically than just walk into a booth for a couple of minutes every two years will just vote and then get back to being actually politically active. A problem with this message is that people misinterpret it to mean voting is all they have to do. Another issue is that it assumes a “free and fair” voting and elections system and tacitly promotes that idea. Yet another and possibly most obvious flaw in this logic is that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, things keep getting worse.
While it’s true that trump is in unprecedented territory, it is also true that he could not have gotten there or done as well for himself and capitalists without the last 40 years of the Dems enthusiastically implementing the neoliberal project, which is essentially class war by the rich on almost everyone else on the planet. Just in the last four years, the Dems have given this administration essentially everything it wanted, from keeping children in concentration camps, to war, from packing the courts with the federalist society judges Chomsky mentions in the clip, to more money for the military – the list goes on and on…They have not simply acquiesced to republican power, they largely agree with them when it comes to the implementation of u.s. power and because they have largely been purchased and directed by corporate power, they serve the same master: capital.
It’s important to understand everything Chomsky mentions here and it’s important to understand that voting will not “save us.” We are too far gone for that. I address the “what is to be done” question in many posts here. Essentially, in the last 50 years, the left has crumbled from within while being crushed from without. Not only has it been unable to mount a challenge to capital, it has been unable to re-win the fights it won in the past that, for the most part, the bipartisan implementation of the neoliberal project has reversed.
There has been a weak resurgence of the left since around 2011 and it has gained some steam over the years as material circumstances have continued to worsen for the majority of people, but it hasn’t been enough and in many cases it has been on the wrong path. As moribund and weak as the left is, it is our only hope to survive long term. The left has been unable to (and often refused to) organize itself, unify, and internationalize. Without everyday people (as Cornel West calls us) getting involved on the left, joining and forming organizations, and then unifying those organizations (eventually internationally), the corporate assault on everything we hold dear, including the means for life itself, will continue. If people want to see the changes they say they believe in they will have to become radical. Radical just means change at the root. We have to uproot the system of capitalism. The good news is that it will take a relatively small portion of the population to do it. The bad news is that the left has to be turned in to something new and is resisting it in many ways. It’s bleak. It’s up to us no matter what. It’s almost a cliche at this point, but Gramsci said, “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” And as Chomsky just said again, time is running out.
Good luck to us all.
Matt Taibbi: Bailing Out the Bailout
This is bare bones, basic info that everyone should already know, but that doesn’t mean people know it, so, here it is…
It will take years to sort through the details, but Trump’s $2 trillion COVID-19 response looks like a double-down on the last disaster
New York Stock Exchange building. (photo: Tayfun Coskun/Getty)
’ve never signed anything with a ‘T’ before,” Donald Trump quipped at the signing of the $2 trillion CARES Act. He reportedly wants his signature on coronavirus relief checks, as if they were Trump Plaza casino chips. This might be a fitting metaphor for America’s post-virus economic future.
The new bailout bill, which combined with a series of Federal Reserve interventions is more like a $6 trillion rescue, is a massive double-down on the 2008 rescue efforts. This bailout of the last bailout sets the stage for permanent state sponsorship of America’s overheated financial markets.
Like 2008, only more so, the new…
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Beyond the Economic Chaos of Coronavirus Is a Global War Economy,
The rise of the digital economy and the blurring of the boundaries between military and civilian sectors fuse several fractions of capital — especially finance, military-industrial and tech companies — around a combined process of financial speculation and militarized accumulation. The market for new social control systems made possible by digital technology runs into the hundreds of billions.
William I. Robinson Truthout March 23, 2020
What does a virus have to do with war and repression? The coronavirus has disrupted global supply networks and spread panic throughout the world’s stock markets. The pandemic will pass, not without a heavy toll. But in the larger picture, the fallout from the virus…
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The Corporate Debt Bubble Is A Train Wreck In Slow Motion
By Brandon Smith
There are two subjects that the mainstream media seems specifically determined to avoid discussing these days when it comes to the economy – the first is the problem of falling global demand for goods and services; they absolutely refuse to acknowledge the fact that demand is going stagnant and will conjure all kinds of rationalizations to distract from the issue. The other subject is the debt bubble, the corporate debt bubble in particular.
These two factors alone guarantee a massive shock to the global economy and the US economy are built into the system, but I believe corporate debt is the key pillar of the false economy. It has been utilized time and time again to keep the Everything Bubble from completely deflating, however, the fundamentals are starting to catch up to the fantasy.
For example, in terms of stock markets, which are now meaningless…
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Karl Ove Knausgård Interview: The Other Side of Edvard Munch [Video]
I’ve never read anything by Knausgard, but this does make me a little more curious to read him. When the cabbage painting came on the screen, my first thought was, death is always out there, waiting. I was a bit surprised when Knausgard then mentioned it and saw the same thing. I guess when you get to middle age and beyond, some things become impossible not to see.
I was lucky enough to see a Munch exhibition in Paris in the late ’90’s. I was transfixed and moved. Munch might as well have been standing there talking to me. The canvases were much larger than I was expecting and they had what I can only describe as an aura. I’ve experienced this a few times with great works of art. It is a kind of magic. Unfortunately, there is no way to experience this kind of work without being in its presence. Fortunately, the same is not true of all art forms, including writing. When writing is magic, it can be reproduced for anyone and everyone to experience – as long as you can read the language in which it was written that is (and sometimes the magic is so powerful it even comes through in translation). In a world where the people in power are fighting against the humanities, it’s important to remember that kind of magic is always around us. We are going to have to fight if we want that to continue to be true.
Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg, 1913
Живописная мастерская Академии художеств профессора В.Е. Маковского. Санкт-Петербург, 1913 год
Painting studio of Professor V.E. Makovsky in the Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg, 1913
Union density: yet another low
Preparing to write up the 2019 union density statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I looked at last year’s and was tempted just to copy–paste. Here’s the lede, as we say in journalism:
Union density—the share of employed workers belonging to unions—fell to 10.5% in 2018, the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the data in its modern form in 1964, down from 2017’s 10.7%.
The only edit I’d have to make in this bit is to change “10.5% in 2018” to “10.3% in 2019.” Similar things could be said for subsequent sentences. Union membership for private sector workers fell 0.2 point to 6.2% and 0.3 for the public sector, to 33.6%. (See graph below.) The private-sector number is an all-time low, and down almost 30 points from its 1953 peak, and below the level in 1900 (though that number must be taken with several grains…
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“All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone
All governments – and the politicians that make up those governments…
Yes, it’s true, there are honest, non-corrupt politicians – they just don’t have any power.
“All governments lie,
but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials
smoke the same hashish they give out.” – I.F. Stone
from “In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967” (1967), p. 317
Discussion of the UK Media Landscape & Future Prospects for Left Media (Worth watching even if you don’t live in the UK)
If I get the time I may add my comments here, but in short: Getting serious union support (money) for left media is a great idea. The more unions are democratized and the more radical they become, the greater chance there is of that happening.
The thing that’s missing is an organized left. Could Momentum be turned into an activist movement that doesn’t just advocate for the Labour Party but actually pushes politicians from the left? If so, could they be useful enough to everyday people (I mean actually useful, like providing actual help) that they would join up and grow the left? As an outside (far outside) observer, I would guess not. How could they change that? Or maybe the most left in that organization could branch off and try to start something that tries to go in the direction just described. Right now if Momentum members threw a pound in the pot every month they could fund a lot of left media. See how that works?
Yes, there is an irony, or maybe more specifically a catch-22: In order to have a large effective left media, people have to be educated about politics and more specifically they need to have a solid basis for an analysis. And in order for people to be educated in that manner it greatly helps to have a thriving left media.
A thriving left media can be built out of a thriving radical movement, but we don’t have that. At the moment, all over the world, the left continues to be atomized and essentially refuses to organize itself and unite under one flag. There is a little movement in the right (correct) direction in some countries, but viewed optimistically, the most you could say is that it is nascent. If you listen to left media and left orgs, you can hear brief mentions of the necessity of the left to be an organized international force, but that is putting the cart before the horse because the majority of the left in most countries think they can stay in their own lanes and just get together for protests and specific events – and even worse, there is a conventional wisdom that permeates the left that assumes building a unified left under one flag (say a party or something like a better IWW) is not only not necessary, but is a bad idea. I have no problem with a diversified left, but one that isn’t as organized and unified as capitalists are worldwide can never hope to win, let alone put up a credible fight. When we are faced with actual extinction, not being organized and unified is not an option.
To tie up this non-comment comment, an organized unified left could easily fund left media. Not only that, but a media that is organized and unified worldwide could more easily share information, knowledge, resources, and would definitely help build the left and the movement we need.
Chris Hedges and Abby Martin: No Way Out Through Elections
Abby Martin sits down with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges to discuss the ignored reality behind Trump, the bipartisan road from neoliberalism to fascism, how the Democratic elite are an institution of corporate power, and how there’s no way out through the #2020election without destroying the system.
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Consolidation of power, continuation of oppression, people of color, police state, 2020…
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Jon Stewart asks Hillary how to fix america. Her answer might surprise you. [from the archives 2014]
Originally posted 7/30/2014
The show is linked here. You can watch and read the “play-by-play” below.
Recently Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to sell her new book. Watching politicians hock their products on TV is not my idea of a good time, but this particular appearance was so revealing on so many levels, I think it’s worthy of some review and explication.
From here on in, Hillary shall be referred to as “The HRC,” because she has made herself into oh so much more than a demure upper-class first name. She is an administrator of empire, one of The Power Elite, and she deserves a moniker befitting that role.
The first segment of the show was essentially a cringe-worthy comedy bit, a send up of the will-she-or-won’t-she-run game the corporate media constantly play Ad infinitum, Ad absurdum, Ad nauseam, but it really just served to continue the whole time-wasting, mind-numbing enterprise. Stewart could have had a number of justifications for using the majority of the first segment for this joke. For example: he was buttering her up, making her comfortable before lowering the boom, or, he’s just a comedian doing his job on a comedy show and he’s actually parodying the press spending so much time on the question by spending too much time on the question, etc… the list could run on for a long time. Suffice it to say, Stewart has been consistently politically ignorant, naïve, and has lobbed innumerable softballs at politicians for years, so this wasn’t shocking behavior. But to give credit where credit is due, he eventually managed to ask some substantive questions (though most of them were not aired. They only appeared on the the web extras).
After the first “bit,” he called out The HRC right away for “pivoting” to an income inequality talking point while she was supposed to be answering a question about her recent “dead broke” comment. First she tried to diminish the lie, and then tried to change the subject, essentially saying she cares about kids not believing in the american dream anymore. You know, the dream she has significantly helped to crush through the neoliberalism she and bill embraced and implemented. Admittedly, Jon scores a point here by using the will-she-or-won’t-she-run shtick to point out her slick attempt to not answer his question was truly presidential. She doubles down to make sure she doesn’t have to be confronted with her lie about formerly being dead broke by continuing with the inequality discussion, to which Stewart asked this reasonable question: “So, in your mind then, are you suggesting that that [a chance to succeed] no longer exists for people, or that there is something abjectly wrong with government – or the system – that we need to reform?”
She answers, “Both…and that we have to change our political and economic system to make that a reality again.” It’s significant that she admits it outright and admits our so-called representatives essentially only represent “special interests” and the people they deem to be their constituents, even if those constituents are not their actual voters… This has actually been said by other mainstream politicians, mostly as simply rhetoric, i.e., they would never do anything to actually challenge the status quo. I’ll leave it to you to decide who sees inequality as a great talking point and who would (and could) do anything about the actual problem. Do I think any mainstream politician would actually do anything significant? Hell no. You have to go back quite a ways to find people who actually did something. You can go back to FDR if you want – but The HRC sure isn’t.
If we take The HRC at face value here, her words sounds good, right? Facing the problem, saying we need change – oh wait a minute, actually, that’s beginning to sound familiar…I seem to remember someone saying something about change…and hope…but it’s still significant that an administrator of empire is admitting the level we have reached, especially in the context of running for president of the u.s. of a. It is establishing an official baseline of sorts that only someone with her power has the ability to do, and that baseline is: we are a nation corrupt to its core. The rich and powerful have purchased most of our politicians, and politicians like her have gotten rich unleashing class war against us and the rest of the world.
The HRC goes on to give a few details of our increasing inequality and Stewart asks a heartfelt but misguided question that is based on right-wing “small government” talking points that have been around for decades: “Has the bureaucracy of government become unmanageable to the point where it’s no longer able to effectively raise the opportunities for the people that it is trying to do so?”
Well, he appears to have had a little trouble phrasing the question, but we know what he means. The thing is, it’s still a right-wing talking point that contains the old magic technique of misdirection: blame government bureaucracy. The inefficient bureaucracy is responsible for all of your problems. Don’t worry so much about corporations and big money, the free market will sort all of that out. Pay no attention to the fact that the takeover of much of the government by corporations has been undermining government programs, institutions, and regulatory agencies for decades. The irony (or one of many ironies) is that the entire political spectrum has shifted so much to the right – a shift that The HRC and slick willie played a huge role in – that a “moderate” talk show host can ask a right-wing talking point question to a far right-wing Democrat. And this is what most people call “The left.” Time to laugh, but only to keep from crying…
In a less confused, more honest world, Stewart’s question would have been, do you think the corporate neoliberal takeover of our country and government can be challenged and reversed? How? And why should we let you, a totally complicit paid-off lackey of those very corporations and full-fledged executive administrator of empire, say one word to us about it? Oh, and by the way, why did you vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq?
Click here to see The HRC vote to invade Iraq.
That is what toeing the party line looks like – and it wasn’t even her party. (Originally that is, because almost everyone in both parties voted to invade.)
Yes, I know, wishful thinking. You will never hear those questions asked to The HRC. You might hear something about the Iraq vote and invasion, but that is way down the u.s. memory hole and most people don’t even know what neoliberal means. Tellingly, it is a term rarely heard in mainstream media and I would be surprised if Stewart has ever uttered it. And, yes, his audience would be shocked, because up until very recently, neither Stewart nor the news clowns (thank Philip K. Dick for coining that phrase – in 1966!) ever confronted The HRC directly with the fact that she has been running from mega corp. to mega corp., collecting money like the most expensive, busiest call girl of all time. Just one example amongst many: $400,000 in one week at goldman sachs for two separate speaking gigs – to say nothing of the university money she’s been getting, which is fraught with problems all its own:
Click here for story about The HRC and her speaking fees
He could have pursued any of these major “conflicts of interest,” otherwise known as pay-offs, but no, he went the other way and offered the supposition that all of these attacks would fade away if she weren’t running for president. Unfortunately, his supposition is probably true, but here it just serves as a neat way to ignore her numerous crimes against humanity and let her move on without being confronted. So, that was just a freebie I guess.
On with the show!
More talk from The HRC. A bit of truth mixed with obfuscation, with a soupcon of weirdness. And here we see an interesting shift (not much of a shift needed of course) from HRC the politician to HRC the corporate CEO in a frankly weird context. She starts talking about how the Executive branch “…has not kept up with the times. We don’t have the kind of agility, flexibility, and technology…”
Wha? There is clearly agenda and ideology here without any explanation (and smart phones helping to spread “democracy and american values” ain’t it), but we will have to leave that aside for brevity’s sake.
Then, a quick statement, “So, we have a crisis in our democracy.” If anyone has been paying attention, this is not exactly a small statement. Take a moment. Think about it. Consider… Welcome to the new normal…
And then this gem: “…I learned how important it is that we function in the united states because people look to us.”
Really?!? Is that what you learned? We should function? I mean, what can you say to that? Well, the least you can say is that it shows where her priorities are – and you ain’t even on the list buddy, unless you happen to be a dictator to support, or a fracking oil executive, or a for-profit prison, bank, or hedge fund owner, etc…This is like a caricature of a solipsistic corrupt leader being reminded there are people “out there,” but the only reason they thought about them at all was because they were reminded it might affect how they are seen by other corrupt leaders they “do business” with.
Stewart then begins to talk about technology democratizing power and The HRC agrees. Really? You mean in the same time that corporate power raped the american people (and the world for that matter), was rewarded for it, got richer and consolidated that wealth while people got poorer and lost opportunities – and the cost of living was increased? No, apparently that’s not what he was talking about. The more he goes on, the more he seems to be just talking about terrorists using technology. So he muddled his point and it wasn’t a good one to begin with.
Ok. It doesn’t look good for Stewart, he fumbled the ball again, but then, a recovery – from way out of left field:
“We are a large imperial power…what is our foreign policy anymore?”
Watch The HRC nod and nod and nod as he vaguely talks about terrorists somewhere out there, until he says, “Imperial power.” That stops the head nod right away.
Classic TV folks.
The HRC leaps over the imperial power topic like a world-class athlete and picks up Stewart’s nonsense and comes up with another doozy: “we can’t practice diplomacy and define our foreign policy as leaders talking to leaders anymore because that’s not the way the world works.” Wha-wa? (That’s a double-take.) Again, for brevity’s sake, unfortunately we will have to leave that alone as well.
Now, get ready. For no immediately discernible reason, The HRC starts walking us right toward the curtain: (I just realized she makes reference to “pulling the curtain back” in the beginning of the interview, but this was obviously not the curtain she meant to pull back.)
She says, people all over the world – especially young people – don’t know the history of ‘murca’s greatness, or our sacrifices, or our values. She gives examples: we won WWII, liberated Europe and Asia, fought nazis and won the cold war. Well, yes and no. Some of these facts are a little more complicated when the full history is examined (hint: they wouldn’t have been possible without the soviet union and they might have been nipped in the bud much earlier if we weren’t bent on world domination), but we keep moving, further, toward the curtain…
The HRC is quickly morphing into something resembling an executive pitching a campaign to revive a former industrial mega corporation who shit on its employees, poisoned the environment, and then shifted most of its work off-shore, leaving horror and desperation in its wake:
“We have not been telling our story very well. We do have a great story. We are not perfect, by any means, but we have a great story, about human freedom, human rights, human opportunity and let’s get back to telling it – to ourselves first and foremost – and believing it about ourselves, and then taking that around the world. That’s what we should be standing for.”
So, the sum of her acknowledgment that we have been a vicious force for death and destruction from the moment the first white man stepped onto these shores? “Look, we are not perfect, by any means.” You say that’s an unfair characterization? Ok, let’s move on and see exactly what she was referring to.
Jon then actually hits her with good stuff, outlining america’s hypocrisy and using “our” treatment of democratically elected hamas as an example. This question is actually worthy of a good journalist. Of course, she gives a standard answer filled with foreign policy phrases about “american interests” and “security.” If you are unclear about what american interests are, I highly recommend doing a bit of research. (Hint: american interests don’t usually have much to do with most actual americans.) Not only that, but she mentions we deal with “unsavory characters” and maybe occasionally support “autocratic” leaders too long. Hey, nobody’s perfect, right? You gotta admit, it’s a great story…
She really likes our story. Don’t worry, we’re getting closer to the big reveal.
The HRC then tries to use Egypt as an example. She’s off to a good start with the story about the election of the MB, saying we supported the process even though we weren’t thrilled with the MB. Then, it’s, “We were blamed by everybody,” you can’t please everyone, etc…and of course, she avoids acknowledging the u.s. supported the military coup by not intervening and continuing military aid. So before she even utters the word military, she says, then they [the MB] get “overturned,” (because she can’t officially acknowledge it was a “coup”) but, they wanted to help us broker a cease-fire, so that helps us with other interests (hmmm…what “interests” could those be…) so essentially, overall, in the big picture, we stand for the right things, our values are strong, but oftentimes we have to add-in and balance our security and keep in mind what we really stand for, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah…In other words, pure bullshit all around.
Jon lets all of that go without acknowledging that she just used okaying a military coup and supporting another dictatorship as an example of how we stay true to our “values.” What a great way to show what we really stand for…
Instead he comes up with another decent, humane, more general question: “Can we expect other countries to view us with such nuance, when we so clearly don’t view them with nuance and that kind of understanding?”
The HRC perks up and says what a great question it was. She doesn’t answer it, but it clearly makes her think of something, something that she has obviously put a lot of thought into, something that she actually sees as an answer to all of the problems we face as a nation. I think this is where the broadcast portion of the show ends because he makes a joke and says something like, that’s all the time we have, but will you stick around and tell us how you would fix all this? This is probably where the web only version starts, i.e., most people didn’t see this next part.
And now, we get down to the real nitty gritty. Though she alluded to it before, now she walks us straight up to the curtain and rips the whole thing down. When faced with the question of how to “fix all of this,” her mind goes straight to (you didn’t guess it) cold war propaganda:
The HRC: “We did a much better job telling people who we were back in the cold war. You know, it was a simpler job, to be fair. You know, we had the Soviet Union, we had the United States, we had a big information effort. We sent talent, we sent all kinds of poets and novelists and rock stars…american culture, american ideas, permeated the world. Well, fast forward. That ended and we kind of thought ok, fine, ‘end of history,’ ‘democracy won,’ you know that story, and in fact we withdrew from the information arena. And look at what happened initially with Ukraine: Russian media was much more effective in sort of telling a story – that wasn’t true – but they kept repeating it over and over again. So I think we have to get back to, you know, a consensus in our own country, about who we are, what we stand for – hopefully a bi-partisan consensus, like it used to be in foreign policy – and then get out there and you know, tell that story…”
Even for the cynical among us, doesn’t that set off a few alarm bells? Let’s break this down a bit:
She actually waxes rhapsodic about the simpler times when propagandizing the people in the u.s. and the world was easier and recommends we get back to platitudes about human rights and freedom. Big sellers dontcha know… How? Well, we have to “start believing it” and then we have to take that story around the world. You know, like the old days. Just click our heels together three times. What’s a good example of what we have to do? You know, like Russia lying to its people and the world. They have been effective promulgators of lies. Just flog a pack of lies and stick to it, and repeat, repeat, repeat. We just have to keep repeating it, over and over, to ourselves and others – and we have to “start believing it.” Just like old times. Don’t you get nostalgic over the Red Scare, nuclear brinkmanship, and McCarthyism too? C’mon people, where’s your can-do attitude? Where’s your patriotism?
The HRC’s short survey of american history continues: After the spread of feel good (Lou Reed?!?) ‘murcan culture all over the globe (which the CIA played a large role in and that just happened to coincide with the u.s. becoming the biggest imperial power in world history) and the glory days of the easily propagandized cold war, we “fast forward to” what was widely touted as the triumph of American Capitalism. Essentially, she is saying when the Soviet Union collapsed and the wall fell, we took our eye off the ball and stopped our massive propaganda machine – or as she puts it, “withdrew from the information arena.” That is euphemism, and that means it’s obscuring the truth. On purpose. Of course. This should be as obvious as being punched in the face multiple times, but the audience is eating it up. Or they’re eating up the idea of The HRC talking and saying american things that sound like something positive. Whatever is going on in their liberal brains, they’re eating it up. After this smorgasbord of lies and delusion and cynicism and sheer banality of evil, our delicate sensibilities should not be offended by yet another euphemism.
The irony is that “we” actually did no such thing. “Our” propaganda machine was retooled by Edward Bernays after the end of WWII and has been running 24/7 ever since. After the war, he thought propaganda might have a slightly negative connotation and renamed it Public Relations. He called his science of manipulating people, the “engineering of consent.”
Remarkable, non? The HRC ripped the curtain right down and behind it is just a corporate PR executive selling finely-honed and well-established bullshit manipulation techniques that “engineer consent” to the highest bidder. PR and old fashioned propaganda is now incorporated into the body of capitalism, and therefore, our life. PR is replacing policy or covering up laws made for the rich by the rich. It is the veil over this circus of entrenched venality and inequality we call a country. And if somehow a crime is found out and/or offense is committed, don’t worry, there is a PR agency out there that has a very expensive apology for that.
Of course, the cynics (or realists, depending on your perspective) amongst you say, what else is new? Well, aside from the increasing degree of corruption, wealth consolidation, and the inequality and increased oppression they breed, the new twist is that PR has gone beyond “spin,” it is part of the way “government” “works.” To people who know what’s going on, this is not news, but the remarkable thing in this instance is who just did the show and tell, and how – and to whom. Maybe she’s so used to giving speeches to goldman sachs, she just used the same one on the The Daily Show.
See how far this is from a New Deal? The new deal is this: corporations run the government and every aspect of our lives, bending the world back to feudalism, while politicians are now part of the PR machine to spread the lies that keep it all going – and then they swing through the revolving door to get rich – or richer – then back again, Ad nauseam, Ad absurdum – hopefully not Ad infinitum, but, at this point, it sure feels like it.
Finally, Jon revisits the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” The HRC mischaracterizes and lies about the entire situation. She gives context that actually gives no context at all and puts the onus completely and totally on hamas. Ridiculous. Laughable, if it weren’t so deadly serious. In that exchange, Jon comes out looking decent, for what it’s worth.
To end, let’s just meditate on the very end of the “interview” or “conversation,” where The HRC segues from lying about Israel’s attempt to extinguish the last vestiges of Palestinians from Palestine to a quick slick last pitch for her book. Jon Stewart: “You did not just do that!” Oh, she did. Yes she did. This is a country founded on violence, extremism, hustling, and hucksterism. How is that not a perfect ending?
The thank you, the handshake, the audience cheers.