Manufacturing Dissent Out Of Control Of Our Puppet Masters
Above photo: From Twitter, the new “resistance” by civil servants.
CJ Hopkins has penned, below, a very perceptive, snide (and funny) analysis of what we’re facing. Might as well call it “Manufacturing Dissent.” I pretty much agree with it, except that as a participant in many radical movements I’ve noted that things happen in the course of movements that the puppet-masters can’t control, although they try.
So the neoliberal Dems’ bolstering of the anti-Trump movement is a gambit that they’re willing to risk, just as they’ve done many times in the past. Usually they’ve emerged victorious, but with unanticipated side effects.
Our job is to make those “side effects” come back to haunt them.
Remember when the robber-baron Jay Gould in the 1880’s bragged that he could hire half the working class to kill the other half? His observation was correct — and so workers organized into the Knights of Labor, Western Federation of Miners, the Wobblies, and other militant working class organizations whose goals included unifying sectors of the working class around defending workers through direct action.
Which the Rockefeller arm of the ruling class spent decades trying to dismantle via assassination and cold-blooded mass-murder (Ludlow, for one), and then that “liberal” wing of capitalism applied the “carrot”, and attempted to coopt the movements. But the generally accepted “playing field” — the mass-consciousness — had changed as a result, and the class struggle began taking place on a different level.
Or when the gigantic pre-twitter anti-nuke march of 1 million people in NYC on June 12, 1982 — double the size of the women’s march the day following Trump’s coronation — was heavily promoted and advertised on all TV channels and corporate newspapers to counter and to “keep in line” Ronald Reagan’s finger on the nuclear trigger? The anti-imperialist movements’ support for liberation theology and guerrilla uprisings in Central and South America, and in South Africa gained a great deal of strength from “we the people mobilized”. The ruling class spent a great deal of effort to co-opt the South African struggle (and they’ve largely succeeded, particularly when it comes to economics and forcing South Africa to cater to the demands of the International Monetary Fund). Same with the revolution in Nicaraguan, which has deteriorated drastically.
There’s always opportunity when the masses mobilize. How to best “seize the time” so that it has long-lasting and revolutionary impact, there’s the rub!
At the risk of further delaying reading of Hopkins’ article, below, I want to take the opportunity to include here some very powerful and apropos observations and questions from the Red Balloon Collective’s Petros Evdokas, writing from his center of the universe (Cyprus) along these same lines as I’m laying out, which need deep thinking and answering — even though he submitted this in response to a very welcome news story about scientists on the march against Trumpism. (Sorry for all those who crave instant answers, who just want to stir and add water. Not so simple. But I am including that news story, too, below the Hopkins piece posted to Counterpunch.)
This news item is one of the most interesting items to emerge from the recent political “change of seasons” in the US. For those of us who worry over having a valid theoretical understanding of the revolutionary process in order to harvest those lessons in praxis, it will trigger concerns over whether what’s manifesting is:
• a materialization of Rosa Luxemburg’s perception of the revolutionary “spontaneity” of working people;
• Lenin’s perception of a successful “injection” of radical consciousness into the Movement by organized cells of revolutionaries;
• whether there’s any meaningful difference between the two; and,
• whether scientists and highly trained scientific and technical staff can be counted as members of the proletariat;
• whether the pro-democracy movement that’s now re-emerging in the US is objectively radical or simply an effort to “save the Empire”, or even simply to just keep its nose clean;
• whether the new information era has now entered an irreversible state within which tangible (physical) political acts have become indistinguishable from informational and/or symbolic actions;
• whether self-organized radical informational warfare can be an antidote for our domination by the Spectacle;
• whether co-operation of individuals through liberated channels of information can be an antidote to the individualism that holds back the Movement;
• whether these new emerging forms of resistance are adequate, or are they still in need of being accompanied by experiential elements of the revolution that require sexual and erotic liberation; mind-expanding substances; actual (physical-emotional) collective political experiences; and participation in organized units of activists in order for activists (and eventually the population) to break out of internalized domination by authoritarianism.
One might say that the news item below does not warrant so much analysis — but then, aren’t the above concerns contained in EVERYTHING we are witnessing these days in the Movement?- Petros
So, let me end by quoting (from memory, so forgive any discrepancies — wow, I still remember what I’d written in magic marker across my dorm room wall at Stony Brook back in 1967, to the consternation of my wonderfully accepting roommate Marvin) from Percy B. Shelley:
Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep have fallen on you
Ye are many; they are few .
– Mitchel Cohen
Red Balloon Collective (rising from ye olde historic dustbin? Now is as good a time as any!)
by CJ Hopkins
So the neoliberal ruling classes are putting on a little revolution, to which you and I are cordially invited. The occasion is the takeover of the United States by Vladimir Putin and his Manchurian President or the official launch of the Trumpian Reich, whichever hysterical scenario you prefer. Dress is casual. Children are welcome, as this is a strictly non-violent uprising, which will take place on the weekends, mostly, so as not to interfere with school or work. Colorful signage and puppets are encouraged, but you can leave your gas mask and welder’s gloves at home, as there won’t be any tear gas canisters or rubber bullets coming your way. Oh, and it will definitely be televised.
The rebellion began on January 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration, when the nation’s capitol was stormed by thousands of militant liberals in pink woolly hats. Michael Moore and Madonna were there, as was John Kerry, and his dog, apparently. Expletive-laden speeches were delivered. Virtue was signaled. Selfies were taken. Requiems for Saint Obama were sung. Notwithstanding the totally unthreatening nature of the whole affair, according to Charles “The Withering Gaze” Blow, Resident Guerrilla Fighter at The New York Times, this was the birth of a new “dissident” movement. “ This was an uprising! This was resistance!” The Withering Gaze cried out from the barricades, or from his offices high above midtown Manhattan. Much of the mainstream media concurred. “ The Women’s March will spark the resistance!“The Guardian assured its Jacobinian subscribers. “ The Resistance Rises!” proclaimed Time‘s new cover. CNN featured “ The Twitter Resistance.” Rolling Stone introduced “ The Leaders of the Resistance,” a coalition of grassroots activists, NGOs, and business interests, but mostly it was the Pussy Hat People that were being marketed as the movement’s vanguard.
Which, all right, credit where credit is due to the organizers of the Women’s March. Calling it a “Women’s March” (a) imbued it with a grassroots aura, (b) obscured the larger power struggle between the neoliberal establishment and the neo-nationalist Trump regime, and (c) rendered it impossible to criticize without coming off as a misogynist creep. What kind of monster, after all, would want to criticize millions of women dressed as vaginas and other reproductive organs for “being proactive about women’s rights,” and “joining in their diversity,” and so on, because they accidentally happened to organize their protests in a way that perfectly aligned with the aims of the global neoliberal establishment, which is relentlessly delegitimizing Trump for reasons that have nothing to do with women? Imagine, if they had called it a “Liberals’ March,” or a “Deep State March,” or a “March to Restore the Democrats to Power as Soon as Possible.” It wouldn’t have been anywhere nearly as effective, in terms of framing the official narrative.
The “Resistance” sprang into action again in response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban” this weekend. Following word that he had ordered a blanket entry ban of people from a list of seven so-called “countries of concern” (that the Obama administration had identified in its Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, and stripped of Visa Waiver Program privileges), Michael Moore blew his Twitter horn, summoning thousands of outraged protesters to Terminal 4 of JFK Airport to militantly assemble in a designated area (so as not to impede the normal flow of traffic) and completely shut down an adjacent parking lot. The protests spread to airports throughout the country and “sparked “fury and anguish around the world,” according to the Sunday edition of The Guardian (which, as of approximately 08:30 this Sunday has gone to Emergency Live-Tweet mode to cover every fascistic twist in this evolving Fall of Democracy story).
Now, before any Trumpward-leaning readers get too excited about where I’m going with this, I should probably state for the record here that I regard the man as a dangerous idiot, made even more dangerous by the fact that his program appears to be primarily the work of Steve Bannon, who is not an idiot and is much more dangerous. I’m imagining Bannon slouched on a couch in his lair in the White House this Sunday morning, sporting his signature impish grin as he scans the reaction of the mainstream media to his latest perfectly calculated gambit. The man knows exactly what he’s doing. With a stroke of Trump’s pen he has simultaneously reassured his neo-nationalist base that Trump’s promises were not just empty threats and provoked the media and urban liberals into an understandable but mindless frenzy of unfocused anti-Trump “resistance.” This is a textbook insurrectionist tactic that Bannon has been employing with alarming success.
The reason he has been so successful is that the Trump regime and the neoliberal establishment are playing to two entirely different audiences. The Trumpians are playing to “flyover country,” not just nationally, also internationally. For reasons I’ll get into in more detail shortly, many of these non-urban working class folks are not real thrilled with Globalism and are responding to Trump’s neo-nationalist message. The neoliberal elites are playing to their base, most of whom are no less misguided than the folks they deride in “flyover country.” This is mostly due to the identity politics that have been part and parcel of neoliberal ideology for going on the last fifty years, and is why the so-called “resistance” to Trump is centered around issues like racism and misogyny, rather than any kind of cogent reading of the global political dynamics at play here.
This is the problem with identity politics when divorced from a broader political discussion and over-simplified for mass consumption. By occupying the conceptual territory where any deeper or more threatening analysis of political dynamics might take place, it prevents the formation of such analysis. It answers the question “Who is fighting who?” in advance of the question being asked, in order to prevent it being asked.
So who is fighting who in this case, if it’s not as simple as the forces of Love fighting the forces of Racism and Hate? Well, here’s one way of looking at it …
What we’re experiencing throughout the West at present is a neo-nationalist insurrection against Globalism. An “insurrection” because global Capitalism is a global-hegemonic system. It has no viable external enemies. People, unhappy with how Capitalism has been restructuring their lives since the end of the Cold War, and aware that power has been gradually shifting from sovereign nations to supranational entities, multinational corporations, international institutions, and so on, are reaching for the only alternative on offer, Neo-nationalism, in one form or another. Which is what the Trumpians and the Brexit gang are promising, a halt of the spread of global Capitalism and the restoration of national sovereignty.
The neoliberal ruling classes, naturally, would like to prevent this from happening. Which, make no mistake, they are going to do (although they may let Trump, Bannon, et al. go ahead and have their War on Islam to finish destabilizing the Middle East first). What is being marketed to us as the “resistance to Trump,” technically, is a counter-insurgency operation … the global neoliberal establishment quashing the neo-nationalist uprising. But that kind of thing doesn’t sell very well. What sells much better is Hitler hysteria, neo-McCarthyite propaganda, and emotionally loaded trigger words that short circuit any kind of critical thinking, words like “love,” “hate,” “racism,” “fascism,” “normal,” and of course “resistance.”
The irony is, the actual resistance (if the word “resistance” still has any meaning) is the one being waged by the neo-nationalists, who are in fact resisting something, namely Neoliberalism, which is clearly the dominant force in this equation. This doesn’t make them any more righteous, unless you’re in favor of racism, sexism, theocracy, and other such despotic values. “Resistance” is not a virtue in itself. Its virtue depends on who is doing the resisting, and what they’re resisting, and on various other sociopolitical and historical factors that won’t fit into a tweet or a sound bite.
In any event, the quandary folks on the Left are currently facing is twofold: (1) how to oppose the Trumpians, and other neo-nationalist insurgencies, without serving the interests of Neoliberalism; and (2) how to oppose Neoliberalism without serving the interests of the Neo-nationalists. Which is more or less a classic Zen koan designed to make one’s head explode.
Both the neoliberals and the neo-nationalists know this, and will be using it to pressure us into joining their camps. Until this insurrection is neutralized, and the Trumpians are either removed from office or tamed (which at this point seems rather unlikely), the Neoliberal Liberation Army will be barraging us on a daily basis with news of the imminent end of everything and histrionic entreaties to “resist.” Meanwhile, Bannon (who will continue to run things while Trump obsesses over the size of his whatever) will be relentlessly pushing his agenda forward. The scary thing is, he is obviously smart enough to know that his insurrection is doomed if the fight remains merely on the economic level (i.e, trade deals, bringing back jobs, et cetera). He understands the global economy, as do the rest of Trump’s Goldman Sachs team. Which means it probably won’t be all that long until the War on Islam gets officially launched, as there’s nothing like a war to unite a country … and manufacturing military ordnance at home won’t screw with the price of people’s smartphones.
Hopefully, by the time that war begins, The Withering Gaze and the Pussy Hat People (most of whom had zero qualms about Obama bombing seven Muslim countries to serve the interests of the neoliberal establishment that has been aggressively restructuring the Middle East since the end of the Cold War with total impunity) will have morphed into an actual revolutionary army, one that doesn’t get decommissioned whenever a Democrat moves into the White House, but I kind of have my doubts about that.
C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (US). He can reached at his website, cjhopkins.com, or at consentfactory.org.
By Steve Gorman, January 26, 2017
(Reuters) – Employees from more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have established a network of unofficial “rogue” Twitter feeds in defiance of what they see as attempts by President Donald Trump to muzzle federal climate change research and other science.
Seizing on Trump’s favorite mode of discourse, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other bureaus have privately launched Twitter accounts – borrowing names and logos of their agencies – to protest restrictions they view as censorship and provide unfettered platforms for information the new administration has curtailed.
“Can’t wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS,” one anonymous National Park Service employee posted on the newly opened Twitter account @AltNatParkService. “You can take our official twitter, but you’ll never take our free time!”
The @RogueNASA account displayed an introductory disclaimer describing it as “The unofficial ‘Resistance’ team of NASA. Not an official NASA account.” It beckoned readers to follow its feed “for science and climate news and facts. REAL NEWS, REAL FACTS.”
The swift proliferation of such tweets by government rank-and-file followed internal directives several agencies involved in environmental issues have received since Trump’s inauguration requiring them to curb their dissemination of information to the public.
Last week, Interior Department staff were told to stop posting on Twitter after an employee re-tweeted posts about relatively low attendance at Trump’s swearing-in, and about how material on climate change and civil rights had disappeared from the official White House website.
Employees at the EPA and the departments of Interior, Agriculture and Health and Human Services have since confirmed seeing notices from the new administration either instructing them to remove web pages or limit how they communicate to the public, including through social media.
The restrictions have reinforced concerns that Trump, a climate change skeptic, is out to squelch federally backed research showing that emissions from fossil fuel combustion and other human activities are contributing to global warming.
The resistance movement gained steam on Tuesday when a series of climate change-related tweets were posted to the official Twitter account of Badlands National Park in South Dakota, administered under the Interior Department, but were soon deleted.
A Park Service official later said those tweets came from a former employee no longer authorized to use the official account and that the agency was being encouraged to use Twitter to post public safety and park information only, and to avoid national policy issues.
Within hours, unofficial “resistance” or “rogue” Twitter accounts began sprouting up, emblazoned with the government logos of the agencies where they worked, the list growing to at least 14 such sites by Wednesday afternoon.
An account dubbed @ungaggedEPA invited followers to visit its feeds of “ungagged news, links, tips and conversation that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is unable to tell you,” adding that it was “Not directly affiliated with @EPA.”
U.S. environmental employees were soon joined by similar “alternative” Twitter accounts originating from various science and health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Weather Service. Many of their messages carried Twitter hashtags #resist or #resistance.
An unofficial Badlands National Park account called @BadHombreNPS also emerged (a reference to one of Trump’s more memorable campaign remarks about Mexican immigrants) to post material that had been scrubbed from the official site earlier.
Because the Twitter feeds were set up and posted to anonymously as private accounts, they are beyond the control of the government. (By Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)