The Nights of the Long Service Agreements and Plastic Knives

I am generally uncomfortable with calling for insurrection laws being applied by persecutors. While the de-platforming of the President raises many, many concerns—including how arbitrary most social media providers are with enforcing their terms of service and how appealing them is a long nightmare–I am far, far more concerned with Joe “Crime and Counterterrorism Bills of the 1990s” Biden, our Healer-in-Chief, and how he has moved from his rhetoric of healing to invocations of “domestic terrorism” despite the DOJ and FBI being much more hesitant with the term.

You see, you can already throw the book at Freedumb Freikorp leadership as it is. You don’t need the invocation of domestic terrorism to do it either, particularly due to the laws around seditious conspiracy. Don’t believe me? Read Lawfare:

So the most relevant prohibition is Section 2384, which outlaws “seditious conspiracy,” defined as when “two or more persons … conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States … or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof.” Sedition is a serious charge, but a number of analysts (including Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes) have raised the possibility that certain conduct related to yesterday’s debacle might meet the terms of the statute.

However, even Lawfare notes that in the past, BLM protests have had this charge possibly hanging over their heads:

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen (then in his capacity as deputy attorney general) voiced support for seditious conspiracy charges against Black Lives Matter protesters. In a statement yesterday, he condemned the violence as an “intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy.”

And it’s not just Rosen. Federal prosecutors have brought seditious conspiracy charges several times within the past 40 years.

Even barring that, you have bomb charges, the destruction of property, and specific laws to protect government officials. The leaders of Wednesday’s insurrection are going to hurt and, probably, hurt bad.

A friend of a few friends of mine, Edith Ancheta, explains why this talk domestic terrorism is so dangerous, particularly if expanded from the prior DOJ understandings:

More thoughts on the terror framing, just because I want to drive this point home. The actions taken on the 6th were already illegal, even without domestic terrorism legislation. Many of those arrested so far are facing 4+ federal charges, and in truth many could be charged with more under existing laws. The simple fact is that if you do believe that its important for the federal government to be able to prosecute in the wake of events like the 6th, then I have good news: They already can. ;

What would domestic terrorism legislation actually achieve that current law does not? A few things, but most importantly, a massive expansion of the scope of “material support for terrorism” charges.

Courts have upheld that material support charges are valid when citizens have shared propaganda from international organizations designated as terrorists, offered advice to international organizations designated as terrorists on how to seek a peace plan with the states they are combatting, or even accidently providing financial support to front organizations for groups designated as terrorist groups.

So if you suddenly have a domestic terror law that can create a list of domestic terror organizations, the scope of the material support charge increases. Donated money to a bail fund that assisted a communist organization now deemed a domestic terror organization? You’re looking at 10+ years in federal prison. Shared a blog post from a black liberation organization now designated under this bill? Yeah same risk.

The only purpose of a domestic terror bill is to expand the scope of the material support charge. This is to isolate dissidents and make it illegal to publicly support their causes. Police departments around the US are finding that there officers were at the riot in DC. The fascists are part of the policing apparatus. The solution to this kind of right wing violence is not to expand the police state but to oppose it entirely.”

Currently, as Vox pointed out and I did in a post earlier today, the definition of domestic terrorism from a dictionary perspective may apply, but not a legal one.

Lastly, the impeachment push on Trump is something that I can theoretically support on matters of justice. If for no other reason than the public will, and while I had thought that there was no way Joe Biden would pursue criminal charges on Trump at the federal level, I no longer think this is necessarily true. However, it is also abundantly clear that the Senate will stall impeachment until after Trump’s term is concluded anyway. I agree with Mike Davis that this is a convenient way to kill Trumpism, but the paranoiac unconscious that has been brewing since Nixon that was unleashed with racialist overtones is not going back in the bottle:

The goal is a realignment of power within the Party with more traditional capitalist interest groups like NAM and the Business Roundtable as well as with the Koch family, long uncomfortable with Trump. There should be no illusion that ‘moderate Republicans’ have suddenly been raised from the grave; the emerging project will preserve the core alliance between Christian evangelicals and economic conservatives and presumably defend most of the Trump-era legislation. Institutionally, Senate Republicans, with a strong roster of young talents, will rule the post-Trump camp and, via vicious darwinian competition – above all, the battle to replace McConnell – bring about a generational succession, probably before the Democrats’ octogenarian oligarchy has left the scene. (The major internal battle on the post-Trump side in the next few years will probably center on foreign policy and the new cold war with China.)

That’s one side of the split. The other is more dramatic: the True Trumpists have become a de facto third party, bunkered down heavily in the House of Representatives. As Trump embalms himself in bitter revenge fantasies, reconciliation between the two camps will probably become impossible, although individual defections may occur. Mar-a-Lago will become base camp for the Trump death cult which will continue to mobilize his hardcore followers to terrorize Republican primaries and ensure the preservation of a large die-hard contingent in the House as well as in red-state legislatures. (Republicans in the Senate, accessing huge corporation donations, are far less vulnerable to such challenges.)

Tomorrow liberal pundits may reassure us that the Republicans have committed suicide, that the age of Trump is over, and that Democrats are on the verge of reclaiming hegemony. Similar declarations, of course, were made during vicious Republican primaries in 2015. They seemed very convincing at the time. But an open civil war amongst Republicans may only provide short-term advantages to Democrats, whose own divisions have been rubbed raw by Biden’s refusal to share power with progressives. Freed from Trump’s electronic fatwas, moreover, some of the younger Republican senators may prove to be much more formidable competitors for the white college-educated suburban vote than centrist Democrats realize. In any event, the only future that we can reliably foresee – a continuation of extreme socio-economic turbulence – renders political crystal balls useless.

If you are still thinking that taking out the rapid ends of the GOP base will all for Democratic hegemony. Democrats, even with the win in Georgia, lost out on state level redistricting in this election just like they did a decade ago.

Be prepared for massive instability and low-level but possibly deadly political violence, but don’t for a minute think that these calls for a domestic war on terror.

The Real Black Pill, or, Drinking Bitter Water to Go Beyond It.

March 20th [1978]

The Left indeed lost. But the Communists have won seats. They have openly played on the victory of the Right in order seats this time, to make progress in a space that had been vacated, and where they themselves had created a void

Basically, it’s not very different from Italy. There, too, every twist and turn of events allows the Communist Party to move up a bit farther . . . but toward what? Not power: it is happy with a technocratic or managerial tip-up seat that the Christian Democracy concedes to it, without demanding anything in exchange. The Communist Party does not reach irresistibly toward power, it irresistibly occupies the space left empty in the reflux and disenchantment of the political sphere. The slow progression signals the trivialization and desertification of the political sphere. Although it’s no longer clear where the salt of the earth is, we do know that the Communist Party is the greatest desalinization enterprise. Shame on it for having helped foster, with such energy, the functional stupidity required for its extension; shame on it for having eradicated the last remains of any political standard, simply to guarantee the cancerous homeostasis of the social. Marhais’s mug is a meta-figure of stupidity and the death drive, hilarious. A histrionic mug, exacerbated by burlesque demagoguery and the blackmail of vulgarity, which everyone accepts and submits to, apparently, as initiation of the sorts into future society.

The Communist Part works towards the beatitude of historic compromise. So that all of history can end on a compromise, the whole system has to limit to zero with no violent incidents, slowly, progressively, with calculated doggedness.

The End of history and of politics could have been something else than compromise; it could hvae constituted a violent and transformative hyper-event . .

. . . But the Communist Party is there to prevent the system from dying a violent death.” — Jean Baudrillard, The Divine Left, p. 55

While in some sense, this sentiment is alien to the US, as “the Communists” or even “the Socialists” were but whimpers adjacent to the Democratic Party’s racial and labor coalition from the 1940s to 1970s. From the SPUSA’s failure to achieve relevance after the Russian and Mexican revolutions of 1917 and the election of 1918 and Deb’s imprisonment, from the CPUSA’s failure to do anything but make communists a special radical interest group in the civil rights movement, since they were effectively purged from labor by the AFL-CIO merger and by Taft-Hartley thereafter, to the emergence of the sectarian left who functioned as a radical steam valve for progressive disconnect while having party presses sell books to the very progressive fads that they mocked within the party, the US left never got a chance to fail this big. Indeed, it had done so way before the disillusionments with the results of Mai 1968 or even, in the US, the hollowing out of both the civil rights and the black power movements as US labor began funneling more and more of its functional dues to just maintaining leadership and its donations into lobbying. We never got Baudrillard’s disillusionment, or at least, we like to pretend we didn’t.

If something in the above paragraph offends you and your sensibilities, good. You may be able to object to my historiography, but one would be hard pressed to disagree with the history or results. The economic left, as much as the political left, functions as part of the buoying of the existence of the status quo in the US. The historical reasons for this are complicated and can’t be pinned down to just betrayal or to just structural impediment. Nor can the victim-blaming of “the workers’ movement was reactionary” or “the workers’ movement failed to be radical enough”: Why did it fail to be radical? What levers were really there?

After the degeneration of the 1920s in Europe and America, people saw Fordism as what was hollowing out the left, ie managerial elites and monopoly capital. Then they were blindsided by the oil shock breaking the Keynesian consensus and by declining profitability rates making prior assumptions unviable. Then neoliberalism was blamed, seemingly, reintroducing old laissez-faire economics and cutting the welfare state that, in the prior era, even most of the far left thought both disempowered the working poor through removing their agency and empowered the administrative state, buying capital time. Except, as economic historians have known for a while, neoliberalism was not really laissez-faire–as many such as Philip Mirowski have shown–it was a bipartisan consensus to restore profitability through rentier relations, fiscalization, public-private partnerships, and compelled markets. Given the mask of the old heroic bourgeoisie and a myth about even its reliance on the state, politicians and capitalists alike got the states MORE involved in markets and less involved in the deracinated social welfare programs. Between the 2008 housing crash and the COVID-19 response, the quantitive easing has made it clear: markets without risk for investors and with moral hazard for things like healthcare. Rentier relations play increasing roles in our lives. The left seems to blindsided by this too.

So we are seemingly always invested in saving the last systemic shift in capitalism. The communists trying and failing to save post-Fordism from the French right seems to be just another example. Irony upon irony, even most progressives think that post-Dengist China may save capital from itself through its state investment programs. Socialism again, the 18th and 19th century imagery of the ruthless critique of the capitalist order that emerged in Europe and its (soon to be former) colonies, is seen as the means to save it and humanize it.

So when millennial progressives hear the word “socialism” and think of Norway, Sweden, and even Canada, and the boomer anti-communists, including the leftists ones, think of China during the Great Leap Forward or USSR during either the purges or the slow decline of the late 70s and early 80s, both are deluded. Nor can we do, as the left opposition, anarchists, and left-communists have often done, of pretending that, since none of these mean a platonic form of the original 19th century goal, that this doesn’t count. “It’s just the left of capital”? Well, there is no other left and apophatic theology which substitutes something beyond the value form for the nameless attributes of the ultimate unity of God as the minimum definition of socialism makes socialism esoteric but secular mystogoguery.

Yet most of what ink is spilled in so-called socialist press and “alternative” media space–a branding I used from habit as it no longer clear what it is alternative to–wants to talk about Jimmy Dore versus the Squad. Most of the post-left wants to talk about Mark Crispin Miller and academic freedom. Most of the (formerly neoconservative) now faux-populist right complains about freedom of speech and the socialism of Kamala Harris. The actual populist and evangelical right–having moved public sentiment into the realm of paranoia and religiosity into heresy from their own religious standards–fall into QAnon and Alex Jones denials of reality. There are differences in kinds of delusion and, no, they aren’t the same, but there is delusion across the board.

In light of this, all of the commentary I do on Pop the Left, Theorizing with a Hammer, and Mortal Science, the various podcasts I work with and on, feel well, less important. However, the less important and more trend-driven it is, the more engagement there is. This doubly extends to social media–particular Twitter where meta-irony and antisocial takes are often rewarded with tons of high schoolers who are highly online sharing them without even totally realizing how much nonsense it is. Indeed, the ability to know what is sincere or meta-ironic seems often beyond them. Hate-sharing the “bad takes” spreads them further and further, incentivizing being wrong. This, by the way, is not unique to social media and never has been. But like how conspiracy theory shows about Big Foot in the 70s and 80s turned into a new and politicized form of the Satanic panic in QAnon now, concept drift and democratic media feed each other. Further, much of the liberal center’s attempt to use expertise to stomp this out overreaches and seems to vindicate the degenerative impulse. The left counter-signals to both, but ultimately sides with one impulse or the other. Furthermore, good information being paywalled while misinformation is generally plentiful and free doesn’t help. This, again, was always the case: good documentaries were arthouse productions in the 90s where one often needed not just the social but literal capital to live in an expensive city to see them, whereas Unsolved Mysteries was on basic cable.

At first this seems removed from my initial jeremiad on the left in the West above. However, when looking at some notes on kinds of engagement I get, it will become relevant. If I get mad and yell at people over getting stuck on a trend, I’ll get tons of superficial engagement. It isn’t lost on me though that getting mad at the trend gives the trend air. Criticizing pseudoscience without offering a NEW and NOBLE counter-explanation often spreads pseudoscience, and this is doubly bad with toxic counterfactuals and incoherent frameworks.

If you want to remove something from the public discourse, you don’t cancel it or even criticize it without offering an alternative. Canceling things gives it moral weight and you actually spread its voice; when the left wanted to make Richard Spencer go away, it wasn’t just punching him that did it. After all, that is STILL just symbolic if it leaves a physical bruise. It got bored. The left had bigger fish to fry, and Spencer largely took care of himself only sometimes gaining relevance in critiquing Donald Trump. The left learned a lesson there but also refused to learn it. Canceling can hurt you if you have an academic or media job where public access matters, but it doesn’t make you irrelevant. In fact, canceling and getting criticized is often an effective media strategy to gain access. In the 1960s, it was people using evangelical backlash for that, now it is deplorables fighting blue hairs. The results are similar.

You give it the silent treatment and you convince others, quietly, it isn’t worth your time. Contempt is more powerful than hate and unstated and unacknowledged contempt more powerful than mockery.

I need often to remember this myself. But there are structural reasons we have to be dishonest about this, and mine are little different. For all the complaining about the “spectacle”–the most untheorized idea ever to come out of communist critiques of modernity–complaining about the spectacle is itself number one in this grift. It calls out the illusion of spectacular and symbolic politics by also participating in it, keeping it alive.

For some self-criticism on how this works: I keep calling myself an educational entertainer. I don’t view myself as a pundit, but I admit I’m also tired of people who constantly talk about politics insisting that doing so isn’t an intervention into politics. It was false when Jon Stewart did it, and it is false when Chapo Trap House does it. It’s also false when I do it. The old claim from the 1960s that the personal was political rendered politics undifferentiated from all other forms of life. Yes, feminists did this for good reason; progressive men promoting equal rights in theory but beating their wives at home was a long and unfortunately honored tradition which more radical forms of feminism were trying to expose. But every well-meaning intervention has a shadow side, and here that shadow side was making lifestyles seem political. In a deep sense, politics, culture and economics AREN’T actually separable–they are different lens to view and manage our collective and aggregate lives, but by rendering them inseparable in focus, many things seemed more radically different than they were. By making the personal political in a time of hollowed-out individual selves, nothing became properly political. It shows in our rhetoric now where we are constantly claiming that even engaging in policy debates or aiding political candidates are not, really, political.

Often I have screamed into the void that merely inverting a bad troupe doesn’t free you from it, but often leads to a worse one.

So here’s why I am getting to the end of my rope as a pundit who doesn’t really want to be one: I keep saying we need to offer a viable alternative to the talking points of the left and quit trying to defend a debate that is set up for multiple sides to draw bad conclusions. But we can’t easily do this because it doesn’t get engagement. People LIKE the horserace, and they like the idea that engagement with fictions they make of real people (celebrity and micro-celebrity media personalities) is both read as a way to gain access to power and a way to “be honest” about one’s (lack of) role in it. Trust me–working for Zero, I see this. Mortal Science is a better podcast of what I aim to do. It necessarily has a more limited audience. Like right now, it has a few orders of magnitude smaller audience than Pop the Left or Theorizing with a Hammer. Pop the Left is good but we still do left ambulance-chasing despite our commitment not to. Why? We need views and clicks or it doesn’t matter. Mortal Science’s agenda is not set by clicks at all, but it is necessarily a disillusioning and largely under-engaged with affair.

Furthermore, let’s be honest for a second. The “alternative” media’s populist narrative about Patreon and what not leading to a more “authentic” left is a myth. There is a reason why the Brooklyn and Berkley left defined podcasting once Patreon weakened NPR’s hold on pushing its radio shows into podcast form. It’s a money-making media sphere and that is where the money is. No, not the kind of money you need for an old capital-intensive media set, but that has since changed with technology. Power law still applies. You need capital, either cultural or, well, real to expand capital. True word of mouth takes forever. You need to invest in advertising and relaunch campaigns. A part of the Dirtbag Left had money prior to raking in thousands a month on Patreon, and many had media access way, way before they broke out in podcast land. Their obsession with political media spheres and mocking it made it abundantly clear. I didn’t know or care about Ben Shapiro until new media started mocking him on the left. This becomes a mutually constitutive identity, and one that is still dominated by Ivy Leaguers, even if they aren’t WASPs anymore (on either political side, actually).

I still have rely on rich and connected friends to land interviews outside of the normal left book-tour circuit or left professional activist circuit, and if you haven’t noticed that some of your favorite “marginal voice” podcasters and activists have Ivy League degrees, you’re a fool. It need it too; for all our criticisms of the “elites” and their myth of meritocracy, we are always excepting what we like.

I was friends with a working-class dude who was brilliant and is now a journalist, who was let into Harvard Divinity School to work on Buddhism. He does the work, so this wasn’t a silver spoon placed into his mouth, but he knows that his access was not from primary merit. It was being given access to Harvard and thus gained in an entirely unrelated field from what he worked in, and then he would freelance for things like Teen Vogue. Did he earn his way in? Or was he there to assuage some elite conscience? Well, if you believe that meritocracy is a sham, then you can but draw conclusions closer to the second. Even with an editor, I don’t have that access. I have helped people get that access and, yes, I am an aphasiac and, yes, I am aggressive, but that isn’t the primary reason why. I am not bitter about this either. If I got in that deep, like a few of my friends from similar backgrounds have and are, I would be even more limited in what I say. Instead being frustrated about having to talk about Jimmy Dore versus the Squad two minutes hate (on both sides), I would have to pick how I defended our continued relationship with a party that doesn’t deliver shit and hasn’t since the 1930s.

As it is, I get to get play a role and an important one which is good for a guy from a central GA working class background with a communication disability (which I don’t generally play up). In fact, even the regional access to capital is often not dealt with: being poor but promising in a major city affords more access to ways out of poverty than being so in central GA. In central GA, there isn’t the wealth or the guilt for such noblesse oblige from our haute bourgeois oligarchs or their well-invested middle managers.

This brings me to another point, which you would know if you listen to my podcasts, but not if you just read this: my criticism of things like the PMC thesis isn’t to dismiss it. It’ss actually SUPER important, but because of that, I want to be coherent and watertight. The above is WHY it is super-important. Incoherent frameworks are easily attacked and legitimately so, but there is sociological reality to the fact that a precarious strata of professionals and their children are interested in representing leftist interests instead of liberal ones. Furthermore, many do misrepresent their origins. “Common podcasters” and “politicians with working class backgrounds” (because they had to do the common middle-class thing and take a gig during college) with Ivy League credentials and rich, connected patrons will fool you. If you are mad at Jack Vance for hiding how he broke out of the working class (good luck in a military gig, access to a state senator who helped him get into good schools in addition to having the grades) then you have to be mad at people like AOC who had the help of Ted Kennedy for pretending to be Jenny from the Block. It is not to say that AOC didn’t earn her position; it isn’t all that relevant. Even with hard work, you need access and ways to get it. I am not mad about it; I realize this is how this works, but I am not going to lie to you about it.

I also know that most people who “earn” their way up to have to pick up these narratives to maintain themselves. They really believe them because that is a circle of exposure, but they also NEED to believe them to continue to climb up. You don’t need to believe them though if you don’t have that access. You don’t need to think you have an actual relationship with these people or that they represent you. “It’s good to have people to project possibility unto.” True, but it also a way to hide that YOU still don’t really have that possibility.

Two generations ago–in the time of better politicians and better elites—we had congresspeople without degrees or without being billionaires. Good luck with that now. Good luck even getting a job at a think-tank from a state school, even if you have perfect scores and can prove yourself smarter than well-connected Ivy Leaguers. Cultural capital works this way. Look at “pragmatism”. Even the far left screams “pragmatism” when it fails to deliver, whether it was with the Five-Year Plan or with the Democrats. Fine, but don’t pretend to be investing in ruthless criticism if that all exists. You are very much thinking you can tame the dragon without any evidence that it’s likely. Thus, ultimately, to try to save this possibility, the most radical-seeming critics of society actually are protecting elements of the status quo.

This is the necessary black pill to swallow in order not to give up on change. It is the bitter water you must drink not to die of thirst, hoping for there to be sweet water at the mirage in the distance. It means you have to give away something to which you have invested a considerable amount of your time and identity into. Just admit it to yourself, and then you may be able to make a change, or, at least, if not, not be invested in people–despite even their real intentions–not doing so.

Brief Thoughts on Brotopia: Or reflections on Silicon Valley as Wall Street and quasi- monopoly capitalism

Reading Emily Chang’s adaption from her book, Brotopia, in Vanity Fair,  I have to admit that the lurid details don’t surprise me at all.  Yes, it is a boy’s club, and yes, it seems to engage in boy’s club excesses and “decadence.”  I wouldn’t dispute any of that.  Is it in any way surprising that a new attempt make money from innovation and disruption in an area of the economy that is heavily dependent on monopoly mirrors the decadence of similar booms in the financialization period of the late 70s through the Mid-80s?  It was a transitional state of economics who “disruption” is oddly dependent on barriers to access being selectively broken down.    It shares similar traits in a variety of ways–it creates bubbles of investment fueling innovation that applies largely to the outside world and has little checks that such cultures in the earlier periods of capital development that created more clearly physical commodities.

A younger me would explain this purely in terms of labor theory of value.  An even younger me, in my more geo-libertarian days, would explain this in terms of monopoly access creating a quick influx of wealth in limited area.  Indeed, the housing patterns around the Bay Area in California even mirror those of New York.  In a way, now, I think both are right because this kind of market boom is not impossible, but things like IP protect the risky behavior. After all, not only are a lot these Silicon Valley ventures not really profitable with IP, many aren’t profitable without government money directly.  Often this will be explained as reinvestment into products, which in some cases it is, but in physical commodities not protected by IP, the re-investment has to be slower as the competition driving prices down off-sets the gains.  By definition, this tamps down on risk behavior and on QUICK excess income.  It also makes investment more risky even with slower growth, which is why in the dreaded “neoliberal” period, these markets depend on state level invention to really work.  Even the heroic periods of capitalism, such as the “Robber Barons” period, depended on access to exclusive rights to both moderate overuse and to secure pricing.

OF course, a male-driven culture with a lot of young people with money would be decadent, we know that because it rhymes with the wall street boom.  There are reasons why it rhymes with Wall Street though in ways beyond the madcap hedonism and excess Chang describes.

Multiculturalism is not a thing.

The battle between “multiculturalist” and anti-Davos nationalists is a battle based on fallacious premise: that there even is “multiculturalism” in any thick sense.  The old metaphorical argument goes, multi-ethnic nation states used to be melting pot, softening down the differences and melting the identity down into a singular white paste. Now, in a metaphor, I have heard since the 1990s, we have replaced that melting pot with salad bowl, each element contributing to the dish, whole and without it’s identity changed.  The nationalists argue that either a melting pot is still needed with basic cultural softening returning, or, increasingly, even that was a utopian pipe dream and we need barricades of good, decent frog-nazis to combat the force feeding of salad the Lizard people at Davos and D.C. are forcing upon us.

Yet, all this is predicated on some simple misconceptions about culture and identity. Misconceptions that inform ideas beyond “multiculturalism” itself.  Most of these battles define culture in various superficial degrees.  To ask ourselves, what truth there could be between these two positions, we have to ask ourselves, “what is culture in the first place?”  Culture is, like most abstractions, is disputed term in itself. Like more obvious and semi-cognitive terms like “equality,” “freedom,” etc., part of the battles about culture have both sides of the debate hide a definition that is often different from what is being debated.   Culture is larger than religion, language, even ethnicity, as anthropologists will inform you that their can be common cultures between ethnicities, classes, genders, etc.

If we trace the etymology of the term, it is comes Cicero in his Tusculanae Disputationes here he referred to “cultura animi.” He meant the grounds to cultivate the mind towards it’s highest good. It was an agricultural metaphor for teleological development.  To cultivate yourself was a social practice that made one something more than mere being, a barbarian, but fully human.    Note that it has none of descriptive habitus in its original use.

To stop here or to assume this root gives us the sole insight into what culture is would be etymological fallacy. And, frankly, it would cut against my point: even people who share a language, a religion, a technological level of society, have different ways of being fully human.  More modern definitions will, such as the one in the Cambridge dictionary,  will assert: “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time,” or to use the definition in the source of all that is easily looked up on the internet, Wikipedia, “a culture” is the set of customs, traditions, and values of a society or community, such as an ethnic group or nation. Culture is the set of knowledge acquired over time. In this sense, multiculturalism values the peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between different cultures inhabiting the same planet. Sometimes “culture” is also used to describe specific practices within a subgroup of a society, a subculture (e.g. “bro culture”), or a counterculture. Within cultural anthropology, the ideology and analytical stance of cultural relativism holds that cultures cannot easily be objectively ranked or evaluated because any evaluation is necessarily situated within the value system of a given culture.”   The definition is expansive, but it can be reduced to “the elements of a person and group’s that are acquired through social learning.”

So, at various, levels of analysis, there are multiple cultures within on culture: different religious, gendered, class, regional, and even professional practices. However, there are common forms of life they share.  To return to out salad bowl metaphor, if we whole cultures to co-exist in a polity or economy in a completely self contained way, the metaphor also implies they are cut from the root and cannot grow.  Indeed, one sees this in a lot of talk of “cultural appropriation” as if “habits” and customs can be owned by abstractions like nations or ethnicities.  An abstract “owning” an abstraction. Often the practices have roots in other cultures, so we tend to go back to the early modern period and freeze time there, or at the development of separate cultures.  There is nothing “progressive,” or, frankly, even anthropologically or philosophical coherent about this.  Yet it fits with the “salad bowl” notion of intact and easily frozen identities. Admittedly, the history of ideas behind “cultural appropriation” are more complicated than this, and some of which are even legitimate in my view, but this more common and base understanding seems to be a misconception that fits with our shallow notion of identity and multiculturalism.

However, the moment two “cultures” interact without its members trying to eradicate each other, a “third” culture is born from the exchange.  New habits are socially learned, modified, exchanged.  Boundaries are softened, loan words are spread, ways of life alter.

In short, there is no way to stop the melting effect, but it is rarely total unless a campaign of erasure is attempted.  However, this still does get to why,  any thick description of “multiculturalism” is generally false.  A friend of mine, who writes the blog Cold Dark Stars, pointed out in “Multiculturalism and the Clockwork City,” points out:

Canada sells itself as one of the most multicultural countries in the world. It is true that many religions, skin tones, and languages coexist here. But the diversity stops there. In a clockwork world where synchronicity is required, only the right sized gear or spring can fit. The immigration system has already filtered the worthy candidates that can adapt to the friendly and generous canadians. That cab driver used to be a doctor in Islamabad. That engineer’s parents were the upper one percent in China. I am studying a PhD in the natural sciences. Someone in some office with a masters degree in public policy has decided that we were more worthy than the others. There is no diversity in any of this. No varied modes of life. Either a skilled worker, a technocrat, or a capitalist.

I would go further then him, but it hints at the key point. Economies cannot tolerate cultures that are counter to production. Sub-cultural modes can co-exist, home languages can remain intact, but material culture still has to fit in the dominant modes of production, consumption, and exchange.  Cultural forms that cannot be commodified are simply not sustainable.

In short, the overarching culture trumps not matter how much civic or national difference one allows.  This is why isolated peoples are changed by the moment of study or contact with the outside, and if they are fit into the networks of trade, are subsumed into the larger global culture around capitalism.

I lived in many countries and seen this over and over.  It is not that capitalism or liberal modernity erases most cultures, or even melting into the same stew of whiteness, but it dissolves their boundaries.  Remnants remain.  The Protestant capitalism has differences from the Confucian capitalism even after both have given up their traditional faiths and speak a common language. However, can they be said to have completely separate “life-ways?”

Indeed, many of the frognazis point out that multiculturalism has a homogenizing effect.  They aren’t entirely wrong, but except themselves from the equation. They say multiculturalism is about creating new markets, finding cheap labor, undercutting the common culture. This seems like a profits imperative, and one that goes far beyond immigration issues.

Multiculturalism in a sense of completely separate and intact cultures co-existing unchanged is not a thing.  Most of what is fought for by “progressives” and “reactionaries” (two terms of orientation that are merely slurs without the specific issues that one is progressing or reacting to being stated) around this so-called “multiculturalism” is proxy for other issues.  Be it free movement of peoples, or belief that economies can grow perpetually behind the imagined communities of nation-states. Something else is almost always at stake.

People will fight to maintain elements of their traditions, language, and ethnic identity beyond joining or participating in a culture, but they are also subsumed within that culture.  Even culture separatism is borderline impossible because that act itself changes the culture in response to perceived foreign elements.  Any definition of “multiculturalism” thus must remain thin and focus on elements of identity that don’t impede the general economic culture of a polity or system.  Cultures that really and truly oppose this often just die out from their members being unable to reproduce their ways of life.  Most battles about so-called “thick multiculturalism” are thus red herrings, or people trying to sell you something. Furthermore, anytime you hear about defensive of a pristine and unadulterated culture, feel free to roll your eyes because the very declaration of that battle means adulteration has already happened.

The Strange Death of Liberal Wonktopia, Day 4, or The Years of Magical Thinking part 2: Maybe You should start enacting that Emotional Labor Now (and stop fronting)

So today I saw a lot of my friends from mixed race, but affluent suburbs of Atlanta, double down on their politics hardcore.   The Trumpkin from former “Sundown Towns” on the outskirts of Atlanta saying what you would expect them to say about heir “country being invaded” but they are stealing it back, but then I saw tons of posts about how fairly wealthy people from affluent liberal areas talk about the judo moves of exhausting their compassion on Trump voters while they should show no quarter and only protect those would Trump would hurt. We have save up our emotional labor to fight any vote that went for Trump and save the people that it will hurt.  

I say emotional labor because aside from sharing pictures of racists incidents and posturing, I really don’t see what they are doing. Sometimes spreading agitprop is important, but this is still kind of the definition of the least you can do if you are doing anything at all.

What both these narrative miss is 47% of the electorate didn’t vote. I am suspecting because those (non-)voters are tired of this kind of posturing that hasn’t changed anything for anyone.  I know a lot of these liberals care about race and racial oppression, but I also know, for a fact, most of them saying this kind of thing come from upper middle class suburbs of major cities.  They feel unsafe but they aren’t in the areas that really aren’t unsafe.  They have multi-racial friends, but they don’t go into ghetto either and don’t send their kids into hardest schools in those areas.  I wouldn’t either, and I did used to teach in them.  I don’t just know this from voting trends, I know this because when I was in college I visited their homes. I also know, for a fact, that I could not convince them to take plight of rural and exurban people seriously.

So now they are talking about who should and should not get compassion and posting the storm front style vandalism they see on Shaun King’s feed while Trumpkin in equally rich suburbs a little more outside of the city are talking about black on black crime.  Both have real statistics to show the increase of both types of crimes, even though until the last year, crime has been dropping dramatically since the early 1990s. One of the most infamous “Sundown Towns” in the South actually had a black candidate run for elected office.  This is to not to derail anyone or claim the racism isn’t real, but to say clearly that things are more complicated than the pictures people are painting.

So I see posts about #Calexit. Every year since the Bush years when I see liberal threaten this kind of succession movement.  Even though they were just calling Brexit racist. “Let the South leave.”  So your US can be even more lily white outside if minority neighborhoods in Chicago, New York, LA, and the Bay? That is what would happen. Doesn’t that seem objectively a little racist to you?  Furthermore, it’s delusions. While California is the sixth largest economy in the world, it also is completely dependent on water resources from other states, so no, won’t work. Just like how Red States wouldn’t survive without the military Keynesianism because bipartisan support for the farm bill encouraged agricultural mono-cropping and commodities always tend to fall in value over time, they elite areas can’t survive without the recourses from those other areas. It’s mutual parasitism. So, no, quit dreaming.

It’s like every time there is an election and people threaten to leave to Canada. I am just going to quote a Hispanic friend of mine as disgusted with liberals and Democrats with me on this: “The most offensive display of white privilege after voting for / supporting Trump this year I have seen yet is liberals saying shit like [I am going to be move to Canada]. How little shame can you have in the face of Latino undocumented workers and North African and Levantine refugees from war, terrorism, and deprivation to presume that a nice upbringing, a college degree, and a pasty pale ass is some automatic entree to anywhere with development and high GDP/capita while those people huddle in migrant worker tailer parks, barrios, and refugee camps? To think that ‘I’m butthurt when I see the news’ is an appropriate basis to even jokingly put yourself in the ranks of possible political exiles? You really care about the marginalized when you’re ready to abandon them to the tender mercies of a further augmented right-wing majority, am I right? The kind of minds who think this shit is cute are sick and selfish.”

And the Trumpkin who ask them “Why not Mexico” have a good point?

Why not? I lived in Mexico for two years, even during a Cartel War, Mexico was kind of lovely. Locals separated Americans from the atrocities of their government even more, in my experience, than Canadians do. They also know that butchery was bipartisan although most thought Trump may be the closest thing to a hateful the Cheeto Caudillo that they would like to bash in effigy.  And yes, parts of Mexico are super dangerous.  Parts of it are more peaceful the average suburb in the US though.

So why not?

I suspect I know why not.

Secondly, the idea that large swatches of liberal compassion from suburbs are going to save people from the scary Stormfront types who read Radix and Counter Currents and have white rabbit tattoos  is delusional too. In fact, I am going to quote another hispanic, this one lives in “fly over country” like me and grew up in the same North Mexican town I lived in for two years: “Ethnic minorities depending on a bunch of hipster coastal liberals for protection and patronage is the worst possible political decision in my opinion. It’s probably the main reason the Alt-Right and Joe Blow America hates them: they’re seen as the pets of an immoral and corrupt establishment, and they’re not totally off the mark. Poor white people think that the wealthy liberal elite fosters the interests of minorities at their expense. That may or may not be true, but it certainly is the perception that is given off every time someone invokes “white” “hetero” “cis” etc. privilege. Mainly, ethnic and racial minorities in particular have hitched their wagons to “allies” whose main tactic is to virtue signal and antagonize. They constantly argue about whose piece of the pie is bigger, or who suffers the most injustice, without proposing how to stop dividing the pie into smaller and smaller pieces or simply creating an order without injustice. If you take your eyes off the size of pie slices, and if you don’t address every slight and microagression, you’re automatically a racist, a homophobe, etc. As long as things are portrayed as a zero sum game, bigotry and circling of wagons will be the norm, not the exception”

The thing is, he and I both know this, is that most ethnic minorities don’t actually do expect hipsters to save them.  Go into a burned over district in a black town in the South, they aren’t fond of the liberals claiming their best interest either.  At best, they suspect they are Atticus Finches:  People are speaking for them and “White” knighting them.  Be it aspirational middle class second generation immigrants or upper middle class white liberals. However, He and I both know hip kids from the suburbs who are now “threatening” to buy guns to protect people. To quote my friend again:

Hey, just a few quick points as a PSA: leftists and anarchists with guns is a super-bad idea in general. I get it, we just elected Hitler or whatever you think in that little head of yours, but it’s one thing for Billy Bob and his white militia an hour outside of Shreveport to have a bunch of dudes shooting guns on private land in the middle of nowhere, and it’s entirely another for your vegan latte-sipping ass to try to form a gun group with a bunch of other vegan-latte sipping leftists who never shot a gun before, all collected around Hipster City, USA. Lemme fast forward that for you: it will end badly. Even the right-wing militias are infiltrated up to their eyeballs in FBI in case they’re being funded by illegal meth labs or whatever. But you start forming leftist militias or gun groups in cities, and they’re gonna be so far up your ass they’ll see your tonsils. I wouldn’t recommend it. One unhinged or compromised person (because y’all like to toke etc.) will get you framed on federal charges and your ass isn’t prepared to do that time for bullshit. Just sayin’

Yeah, the FBI is probably going to treat you differently than Clive Bundy and Friends but life is not fair. Guns in U.S. law and practice are acceptable for the defense of your property and maybe yourself, but also keep in mind you’re more likely to shoot yourself or someone else on accident. And the heat you could possibly store and carry is no match for if the Feds decide that your the lucky contestant on Who Are We Gonna Fuck With Today? Black Panthers, MOVE, etc. it didn’t end well for them. There are not enough guns that you can have to protect yourself from that.

So I dunno, martial arts or something, carry a Maglite. I feel for you kinda, but this isn’t Weimar Germany, and your ass is getting taken out in a street fight and THEN you’re still going to jail. Just gotta keep it 100.

He’s right. Maybe gun clubs are a good idea for training and understanding of weapons culture, but you can’t get people who literally think that guns are number one thing killing America because of statistically low possibilities of mass shootings and who have never owned a weapon to become militia’s overnight.  Read what the Panthers doing this while also dealing in drugs allowed the FBI and local law enforcement to be able to do. It did not end well.

I have even seen liberals, when they aren’t sharing articles about how Warren and Sanders may work with Trump on infrastructure, call for a new civil war.   This is particularly insane. Liberals live in urban areas and by and large don’t come from a weapons culture, they are underrepresented in the military and police (areas that give free combat training in exchange for  willing endured servitude), and they can’t grow enough food to feed themselves since the majority areas they are talking about are rural, even more than regional.  It doesn’t take long to starve out a city.

Those fantasies are ways of avoiding hard labor, rethinking, and doing actual labor.  I am going to quote one last friend:

Machiavelli understood why the strategies of liberal social justice don’t work. You can’t just shame someone by calling them a bigot, sexist, racist or what have you, even if they are, and expect it to modify their behavior. You have to either win them over and show them why they’re wrong, by treating them like a human being through rational discussion, or you have to smash their face until they shut the fuck up. There are no half measures. The idea that you can win by virtue of your “righteousness” needs to be buried with Chamberlain and Wilson. Liberals have just been poking ignorant people for 16 years without actually engaging them or getting rid of their structures of power. Trump is their hen come back to roost.

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”-Machiavelli

Shaming people doesn’t work that well in church, even when the soup kitchen is on offer. You offer people nothing and you still shame them.. well…

If you want to “help”–stop fronting, start communicating to people who aren’t like you, and do the work.

The Strange Death of Liberal Wonktopia: Some thoughts on Trump as he appears to win from an expatriate “leftist”

I am sitting at my work desk at school on the edge of the desert, near the outskirts of Cairo, where the wealthy developments have moved away from the slums around the Nile.  Here the government is talking about building a new city Akhenaten-style away from the bustle of Cairo, which has been the seat of some of the Egyptian government for most of 4000 years. Cairo itself is an Islamic city, but the Hellenistic Roman settlements that made up coptic Cairo were right near by and so was the ancient capital of Memphis and the tomb complex at Giza.  The reason for this is that Egypt has had to make hard choices:  float the currency to get more imports in and hurt the poor, or continue subsidies but get have no cash to buy imports and hurt the poor that way.  Given the number of impoverished here, either choice was politically destabilizing potentially and, which the five year anniversary of the “revolution” that spring from the Arab Spring coming up, the atmosphere is tense.   This and Occupy Democrats are the ashes of the hopes of Occupy and the rebellion against politics as usual.

Politic as usual, however, deserved what it got.  These politics will have costs and the costs are painful.  In it not just in “revolution” that breaks a few eggs but the march of change breaks this period.

It is with this in mind that write about Donald Trump and the US election. Sleeping through the early stages of polls being called because I was in seven hours in the future thanks to magic of the curve of the earth, I awoke at 5 am Cairo time to my social media feeds in a frenzy of panic: “I hate America,” “Jill Stein cost us a woman President,” “All those who voted for a third party showed that they didn’t value my life, or the people I loves life.”  Rachel Maddow apparently almost crying on national television.   I have never seen so much panic, and there would have been panic either way.

This, however, is what I predicted would happen, and, in a way, the Democrats played with fire and got badly burned.  However, to be completely honest, it does not seem that any of them will let go of their identity as a kind of person to look at why this happened deeply.  The confluence of events that has led to the likely defeat.  Instead, they will blame third parties, and not why third parties had an appeal. They will blame racism and sexism, and not why the voters in swings states ignored those things.  They go into histrionics as the polity that they have so throughly identified themselves with gave two fucks about them.  It doesn’t. It hasn’t. It wouldn’t have.

The last two elections the liberal wonks were certain that I was wrong about the anger at them and certain that me calling midterms for the GOP was wrong. I was right.  I was right because I listened to trends and patterns because I know that their is a tendency for those who rule to isolate themselves and those who identity with rulers to self-select.  Friends who have grown up during the Bush years, but didn’t remember how that happened because they were in their teens forget the tenor of American politics or why the end of the Bush years were unique.  They ignored business cycles, and then cynically prompted up abstract economic growth that had not trickled down into the working class, particularly the rural working class for years. These Democrats and left-liberal “independents” embraced most of the very things they had criticized during the GOPs ascension in the late 1990s and 2000s.   Then thes good liberal people feel shame for the decisions of their country’s people when they showed a center-right or even populist mood but not shame at what would have let to that anger. This is part of what DeMaistre saw in ancien regimes. DeMaistre, even though he saw the French Revolution as essentially Satanic, did not blame the revolution primarily on the people but on a cycle of decadence in the Ancien Regime itself.

DeMaistre also said, “every country gets the government it deserves.”  

I have often said, “nothing is about what anyone deserves.”  Perhaps, in a sense, both DeMaistre and I are right depending on the level one is taking about.  Almost assuredly most of the existential threats made by Presidents are to non-citizens, and in that sense, both Clinton and Trump made plenty.  Ironically, though, it does not lead the conclusion that people voting against Clinton do not care about Democratic lives. Indeed, if anything, they don’t care about non-American lives, but this election proves that this is a bipartisan affair. So that contradiction of sentiment remains regardless of outcome.

This, however, is deeper than that. The Clinton campaign deliberately played with fire and got burnt.  I wrote about this a few weeks before Jacobin did, but Jacobin goes into more detail.  If there was a vast right-wing conspiracy here, it was from operatives within the DNC and the Clinton campaign themselves.  This began in the primaries:

For many, the earlier DNC emails release proved their suspicions that the DNC had placed its thumb on the scales in favor of Clinton’s campaign, such as one email that showed DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz nixing a final debate between Clinton and Sanders. The latest release all but confirms it, with a briefing memo laying out discussions between the Clinton campaign and the DNC about the debate schedule, including the need to “limit the number of debates,” “start the debates as late as possible,” and “keep debates out of the busy window” between the Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary. At least the DNC failed to “eliminate the possibility of one on one debates,” as the memo had advocated.

Furthermore, Clinton’s explicit strategy in 2015 was the build up marginal candidates to undermine the establishment GOP and allow an easier win.  Again, I will quote Jacobin:
Upon pivoting to the general election, the Clinton campaign has largely eschewed a positive, affirmative vision in favor of stressing how much worse Donald Trump would be in office. “We cannot allow this man to become president,” her campaign recently tweeted. But back in the campaign’s early days, Trump was one of three “Pied Piper Candidates” — along with Ted Cruz and Ben Carson — the campaign planned on “elevating” so “they are leaders of the pack.”

“We don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates,” the memo strategy read, but “tell the press to [take] them seriously.” The Clinton camp hoped their rise to prominence would “move the more established candidates further to the right,” making the eventual nominee unelectable come November. Depending on the Trump campaign’s afterlife, the Clinton team may come to regret helping create this monster.

Despite all this, many groups on the radical Left, including groups that had advised against tactical and strategic alliances with Democrats in the past, other groups tactically sided with Jill Stein, and other groups and individuals outright endorsed Trump as a means accelerating the contradictions, including the recently much maligned Platypus Affiliated Society and even Zizek.  The smug answers to liberals on this was “why don’t these leftists ever learn?” while also demanding that the Marxists vote for them because Trump was going to send everyone to FEMA camps run by Putin, or something. Nevertheless, in a frenzy of speculation, opportunism, and borderline civil war, most of the gains made by the left were lost.  While not to blame exactly, the elephant in the room was the naiveté around both Bernie Sander’s and the ability to march back into the Democratic party and endorse an outsider after trying and failing to hold even Obama’s feet to the fire.

Ultimately, though, the radical left is tiny–it was growing, but it could still be metaphorically drowned in the bathtub.  Furthermore, as Cutrone points out, may who voted for Obama-some who even voted for him twice-would vote for Trump. My friend, Arya, said to me in light of all this: “If a Trump victory has done one positive thing, it has dispelled the illusory bourgeois myth of a “post-racial America”, by having a melted G.I. Joe action figure who kickstart his campaign by referring to roughly 15 million undocumented migrants from Latin America as “rapists” and consistently appealed to the racist anxieties of white middle-class voters, achieves a definitive victory.”  While not entirely wrong, the there is more a play here. The rural white working class seems to have gone with the middle-class because, not just lie of post-racial America, but also the lie of post-class America and the naive (and racist itself) demand that minorities support the lesser evil of rich, largely white parties of US capitalism. Cubanos, for example, have so far gone for Trump, and while many of my friends would call them gusanos, it does not change this fact.

Furthermore, consistently calling anyone who had any skepticism revolving around the erasure from class from most racial dialogues themselves suspect was a self-fulfilling prophecy in regards to many on the left.

Yet what I did I see today?  Everyone blaming everyone else. I will bring up something I said years ago:

There is a strange tendency Americans have to say shit like “Americans are so stupid.” This seems like a habit particular to US politics: to claim you represent the majority but also to insult the majority as stupid. That’s trying to have your cake and eat it too: Yes, there is a lot of idiocy coming out of the US, but honestly, the populist opinion out of most countries I have been exposed to has a tendency to be “regressive,” at least in parts, and definitely ignorant of history.  There is something interesting about US culture that so many feel the need to both be representative of and be smug against the majority of the culture. And, honestly, a majority of the people I encounter from the US do this at some point.

 This attitude of wanting to be the majority while also insulting it has arisen lately in a way that shows cracks in US self-identity.  The inversion of exceptionalism that doesn’t fix economic problems but shames people for their problems just like conservatives are said to do. It’s as if the the Puritans are ashamed that since they are not the shining city on the Hill, they must be not just utterly depraved and deplorable, but uniquely damned.   This is not an attitude in just the left or liberals either.

Furthermore, when you believe that your existence is at stake over the executive because for the past 30 years the believe in executive power has even outstripped its usurping other checks and balances, then is it surprisingly that the majority of the country feels like you would do the same to them?  Isn’t it easy to see how this hyperbole and histrionic behavior could, actually, bring about something akin to the very thing that wouldn’t have happened without it?

I have been asked for the prospects of the left again?  I don’t know. The world’s political memory is both ancient and very brief:  we remember our myths of the past, and the past eight years.  There is a global recession brewing, nationalism is in the air across the planet, and trade is down globally.

Furthermore, there are many trends missed in this black swan year. The youth vote was not mobilized, but probably out of the contempt. The Democrats could not dependent on the automatic support of several minority communities.  New York dominates our politics at the executive level because regional politics has been declining year by year.  The Democrats have had, and not even really attempted to have, any electoral game outside of Urban areas, and their hope that the inversion of the Southern strategy was somehow not racist in and of itself is beyond me.  The Religious Right is coopted and dead. The neoconservatives have split into three camps depending on their social inclinations and how much they valued trade.  Clinton had no incentive structurally or electorally to move to left to capture the Warren or Sanders vote.  Both sides engaged in heavy conspiracy mongering, but the press largely gave the Democrats conspiracy mongering a pass, and ignored aspirational “whiteness” among many voting demographics as well. These trends were, indeed, marginal, but with polls as close as they were as last two weeks of mega-scandals, the margins mattered.

What is apparent: People don’t trust the wonks anymore at a time when US wonk culture has become the global culture of the world.  The educated students I have worked with in Mexico, Egypt, and South Korea all knew more about US popular culture and US politics than about any other country aside from maybe Britain, often including their own.  Trust in democracy is down world wide, and yet the advent of American liberalism dominating the educational system of the states has affected the young elites of the world. They are somewhat disconnected from the events on the streets of their own country, even if those myths and conspiracies are wrong. They don’t know them.

Brexit has happened, and yet few in the Labour circles around the UK foresaw it. Indeed, many had adopted much of the language and lifestyle politics of the US left while also opposing Americanism.  Indeed, not entirely realizing the fracturing of their own thought in relationship to the US domination of Anglosphere media. Indeed, that so much the UK’s editorials in the Guardian were devoted to the US election is telling.

The problems that have led the liberals to the this point are world wide. Larger than just the states. Yet the disgust will be aimed at traitors who wouldn’t vote for a candidate that began with 55% disapproval rating and lose a primary just eight years ago. They would not revitalize a Democratic party that was increasingly represented by pale, white faces of people in the sixties and seventies who claimed to represent progressive ideas and the pulse of the opinions of people of color.

Of course, though, when all seems lost and you are bleeding from fresh wounds, it is best to blame everyone else for things and not see that very act as part of why you lost in the first place. That’s a totally winning strategy.

So, perhaps, DeMiastre was right here after all.

Liberalism Delenda Est: On the 2016 Election and the farce called “democracy,” or why the Podesta e-mails indicate something darker than you think


The above image is shocking to many people. How could there be so clear race and sex divides in the body politic? It must be the moral degeneration of white men, right? Why do they revel in fear and hatred so much? Is it merely the decline of their overall cultural power?  Is there a moral degeneration going on with power who do not recognize their privilege?

These are the questions I see asked when people just aren’t mocking the subject. Why are white men so reactionary? Is it their success in the past slipping away ? Is it fear of a brown America? Why are why men such a plague to the body politic?

There are a number of bad faith assumptions in those questions, and also a few assertions hidden in plain view in those questions which are not wrong. There are numerous editorials about this, some shaming the white working class for their bad faith, but also pointing out that the white working class have experienced real declines in outcomes in the past ten years–its not just their relative social power slipping, their lives are shortening and they are increasingly out of work.   Yet also the polling shows that white (mostly male) voters are in favor Trump but they are middle and upper middle class, politically engaged, and college educated, although slightly less highly than the Democratic counterparts.   A conclusion one can make from this desperate facts  is that similar to working class black men, although for different reasons, the white working class is not politically engaged and does not generally vote.

So how does one explain this? What do we make the above post by Nate Silver’s pollster-number crunchers on this one.  I find this fascinating, and I find it more fascinating that the general liberal reaction to this is that white men are a plague in most the country without trying to seriously figure out why it had gone this way. After all, white men were the primary theoreticians of liberalism as it currently exists too given the structure politics prior to the 1970s–its racial exclusivity still effective and the dominant halls of power being predominately WASP then Jewish, Catholic, and WASP but still white.  Although the definition of white expanded significantly by the 1970s too, and this also changed the nature of the complaint at hand.  The effect of these changes and the beginnings of the Nixon strategy in the South need to be addressed more completely for what it has done to the liberal political strategy as much as the nearly obsessive pointing out the obvious in regards to the Republican strategy. This needs serious thought for liberal thinkers, not merely shaming and virtue signaling, which of the people who have posted this, only one friend did not do.

Furthermore, the Podesta emails are damning for both sides and directly related to this. Trump can’t say “look Clinton so corrupt she empowered me?”  They also illustrate the problems of Bernie Sanders copitulation is factored in indicate that part of this has been strategically encouraged by the elite end of Democrats.   Some key things that the Podesta e-mails showed us:  casting Bernie as old white man and the “Progressive” left as low-key white racists asking for a handout was preplanned strategy.   Furthermore, so Podesta indicates that the Trump and Carson were favored by Democrats, and it was part of their strategy to get those candidates more attention.   Why? Why are so many of you complaining about my cynicism when the response to Podesta emails is generally “that’s just politics.” So you don’t see so sinister here beyond a personalities.

Again, this is not “a Clinton is corrupt and evil” line of thinking. Increasing amounts of the public are depoliticized, they have little incentive to vote and little practical incentive to care enough to keep up with key issues.   The Nixon strategy seems to be functionally embraced by Democrats themselves as way of tying identity to a specific electorate and keeping virtue-signaling in their favor.  The Republicans rely on this too because it means, while they are disfavored in national elections, the structure of the state electoral maps rural/urban divide and the sortition allows them to maintain power in a majority of states and run the politics out most non-urban areas, even in blue states.

So some better questions are:  Until the 1970s, white men even the South and mid-west supported populist progressives. Why did that stop?  Even some dyed-in-wool racists I knew in Georgia growing up over the age of 1950 had pictures of Roosevelt in their house.  Indeed, my grandmother became a conservative Republican on racially progressive grounds in the 1950s, and while she complained about Goldwater’s misstep on the civil rights act and about Nixon’s treachery, she never abandoned the GOP as a good Catholic matriarch with a mixed race family of that has Koreans, Jews, Protestants, and black members by marriages against the norms of Southern society.  So this has been in the back of my mind:  I have almost vestigial memory the pre-Nixon, pre-“neo-liberal” sorting of America because the politics of the South did not fit the politics on television.  This is also true for the mid-west, which now hosts more Klan than the South but also gave us sewer socialism.

All that seems unexplainable now.   The Nixon strategy itself is managerial tactic used across the board by both of the major US parties. The key players of power do not deny the contents of these e-mails, but try to “wag the dog” on the relationship to Russia in exposing these.  Look up Podesta and Trump, and you will not get the Wikileaks e-mail, but Podesta accusing Trump of colluding with foreign governments to undermine democracy.   Which may or may not be true, but Podesta colluded in the DNC to make Trump a viable candidate, and conditions on the ground where supportive because deleterious effects on several demographic groups in the so-called “recovery.”   This is kind of transparent cynical use of geo-politics that liberals saw against the Bush administration, but “progressives” are feeling powerless and afraid of the true crassness of Trump, his supposed extremity (Democrats have embraced most of his policies at earlier times, including stop and frisk, the wall, etc), and his legit support from an enlarged group with deep ties to racial nationalists.

The morbid joke arises that in four years it may look like this: “Sure, Clinton started a nuclear war with Russia and we lost New York, but do you want David Duke to win and open up the camps.”  And what would the outcome of that devil’s bargain eventually be?

Why do so many people continue to play the role assigned to them? I don’t have answers for this but I can tell you that it implies that the farce you mistake as a democracy gets less democratic anyway by the cycle, and that in this, partly because the tribal alliances in face of stress, people are becoming easier and easier to manage through the fragmentation of social media and regional sorting.


There are a few darker implications that run into the structure of a Republic based on representative democracy whether parliamentary or congressional.  The predominance of management to handle an increasingly fragmented and complex society will increase in democracy and while their policies will effect more or more of daily life as they control the executive and judicial branches beyond the presidency, they will be effectively a class that is anti-political.  Anti-political in the sense that is anti-deliberative and anti-representative.  Moneyed powers will have increased say. One of the darker elements of the Podesta e-mails was not about the Clintons, but about Obama’s cabinet.  I will just quote the New Republic:

This is a fight over who dominates the Democratic Party’s policy thinking in the short and long term. In 2008 the fight was invisible and one-sided, and the fix was in. In 2016 both sides are angling to get Clinton to adopt their framework. Those predisposed to consider Clinton some neoliberal sap might not agree, but this is actually a live ball. Presidents lead coalitions, and they have to understand where their coalition is and how things change over time. Peter Orszag this week suggested a trade-off: Give the Warren wing its choices on personnel, in exchange for more leeway to negotiate an infrastructure package with Republicans that gives big tax breaks to corporations with money stashed overseas. While that deal needs more detail, it reveals the power the Warren wing has, relative to the Obama era, to make significant strides on appointments.

To say that movement of liberal polity is itself illiberal and that democracies are increasingly anti-Democratic to the point of being farcical sounds both contradictory and maddening. To say that DNC really is deliberately playing with racial fire as a managerial strategy sounds conspiratorial. In some sense, it is, although I think all this was hiding in plain sight and is a logical extension of regional trends.   After all, we have known members of the Black Congressional Caucus to play with conservative politicians in the South to keep “progressive” influence smaller but their majority black contingency intact. In fact, this isn’t even necessarily malicious if one believes that one is serving a particular community that would be under-represented in “progressive” polity otherwise. It is a logical and not entirely intended consequence of the structure of the system.  It self-reinforces and becomes dark.   Given the demographic trends of the country, the decline of the US Protestant identity, the fiscal liberalization of politics, and the increased role of capitalist elites in both parties financing, this is almost inevitable and requires no deliberate conspiracy.

How can we explain the media’s bias?  Their increased pushing wikileaks as a Russian conspiracy–again, does anyone remember the Bush years?–and the predominant role in supporting Clinton as well as giving Trump much of his campaign advertising for free? Access is the media’s bread and butter, and they can’t get it without willing partners on the political side.  So what they have access too are increasingly prepared statements, especially considering that lower profit margins in news media means that no one can afford to fund investigative journalism anyway.  So re-running talking points of dominant politicians at least gives one something increasing to print that will get spread on social media because it plays to people’s confirmation biases anyway.

Is Trump a Clinton creation?  No. But again, people increasingly play their role.  A role that even the alt-right and far leftists seem to be factored into.  Occupy becomes a staging hashtag for Democratic pro-party activism.  BLM increasingly is moved from the streets into college campuses.   Alt-right becomes increasingly Milo and crew, and not related to the explicitly racial nationalists who created the moniker ten years ago. Paleo-conservatism is made relevant to millennials by anti-SJW rants on youtube, but also loses its content, and its history.  Sargon of Akkad has not read James Burnham or probably even Pat Buchanan.  In fact, the darkest implication in all this is this one seeming fact: Most of your rebellions are not only factored in to political and social management, their strategies are founded on the predictability of the patterns of it.