Indicting Donald

3 Apr

As mainstream media pontificate on the significance for Western ‘democracy’ of the indictment of Donald Trump, here’s an extract from something Caitlin Johnstone wrote just before he left the White House:

All sides pretended that Trump was a radical deviation from the norm, and so did Trump, when all he actually did throughout his entire time in office was protect the status quo just like his predecessors did. As writer and activist Sam Husseini recently put it, “Trump is the opposable thumb of the establishment. He looks like he’s on the opposite side, but he just helps it grab more.”

After four years everyone–left, right and center–has been proven wrong about Trump. He was neither a uniquely evil monster (he was indisputably not even as bad as Bush), nor a populist hero draining the swamp and fighting for the common man against the Deep State.

In actuality Trump’s term has clearly established what he really was this entire time: he was a US president. Better than some, worse than others, but also deeply awful all around since he voluntarily served as the face of the most evil and destructive force on earth, namely the United States government. He was the same kind of monster as his predecessors.

Trump was a US president of fairly average depravity, with a truly massive overlay of narrative heaped on top of him by partisan media on all sides. In reality he was pretty much what you’d get if you took any average American Fox News-watching boomer who yells at Obama on TV, made him rich, and then made him president.

That’s what Trump is and has been. Nothing more extraordinary than that. It is only the effectiveness of echo chambers and the human tendency to prioritize narrative over factual data which prevents more people from seeing this.

To see Trump – on the 20th anniversary of Iraq, and as Washington thwarts peace in Ukraine while dialling up tensions in the Taiwan Strait – as egregiously vile is the Overton-tunnelled hallucination of a conditioned mind.

One of several reasons for saying Western democracy is 95% bogus is that (a) democracy implies consent, (b) consent is meaningless if uninformed, and (c) informed consent implies truly independent media. That last we do not have when they are, in Noam Chomsky’s pithily accurate formulation, “large corporations selling privileged audiences to other corporations …

what pictures of the world would a rational person expect from this arrangement?”

Which leads me to another of Caitlin’s observations:

The US doesn’t have political parties, it has narrative control ops disguised as political parties. One of them overtly promotes capitalism and imperialism by appealing to Americans’ worst impulses, the other covertly diverts healthy impulses back into capitalism and imperialism.

An elephant and a donkey fight in a puppet show and the crowd cheers for one or the other while thieves pick their pockets. And when people start to notice their wallets are missing, they’re told they can stop the pickpocketing by cheering louder for their favorite puppet.

People ask why the Democrats never codified Roe vs Wade into law, and the answer is, because that’s not their job. Their job is not to enact the policies you elected them to enact. Their job is not even to win elections. Their job is to keep you staring at the puppet show while the empire has its way with the world.

We are mesmerised by a narrow and trivialised understanding of politics. We look to media whose ability to be truthful on matters not vital to power fools us into believing them capable of being truthful on matters which are. Leveraging that human tendency to prioritize narrative over facts, journalists and editors ensure – less by conscious mendacity than through a mix of careerism, ideologically induced credulity and distortions and gaping silences imposed by their employers’ business models 1 – that our pictures of the world seldom rise above the level of B-movie caricature.

We are the consumers of entertainment dressed as news and, even more risibly, as intelligent and genuinely informed commentary. The circus which is Trump’s indictment is but the current episode in an unending soap opera. Like a toy given to a restless child it diverts and amuses, all the while reducing us to the status of noisy spectators in a boo-hiss melodrama while the most predatory ruling class on the planet – its status as such scrupulously ignored in an ignominious triumph of narrative over mere fact – seeks frantically to maintain its grip on circumstances fast spinning out of its control.

* * *

  1. Journalists who know what’s good for them please editors. Editors who know what’s good for them please proprietors. Proprietors not only crave seats at the high table. They also need advertisers and/or wealthy sponsors. I don’t say no journalist or editor ever lies; that would be absurd. Simply that bad faith – as opposed to self-serving credulity – is not pivotal to any reckoning of media’s services to power. Such subjective factors are secondary and ad hoc, while systemic corruption is primary, constant and hard-wired.

6 Replies to “Indicting Donald

  1. The Western ‘Demos’ is not the only feature of Western culture which is wholly or largely bogus. The charts, graphs and stats – as well as the analysis – on these two sites demonstrates just how much our financialised economy is little more than a mirage:

    With the world map showing the prospective size of the emerging BRICS economy as an alternative to the busted flush of the West’s paradigm in the first link (which does not yet feature Mexico who are interested in joining) generating some hard and pertinent questions. Such as question marks over the economic and industrial capacity to sustain the military capabilities necessary for maintaining the Western Imperium and its projection of both hard and soft power?

    Particularly when critical mass is reached on de-dollarisation. An inevitable event which will likely eventually collapse the economies of the US, the EU, and the UK.

    Another feature, additional to the demos and the economy which is increasingly giving all the appearance of being bogus.

    This quote, alongside that world map of the emerging BRICS economy is of particular note and relevance:

    If accepted, the new proposed BRICS members would create an entity with a GDP 30% larger than the United States, over 50% of the global population and in control of 60% of global gas reserves.

    At the rate things are proceeding – and unraveling for the bogus side of the equation – the most appropriate sentence for not just Trump but the rest of the crazies on both sides of the Atlantic (including the DAVOS/WEF crowd) would not be far away from this scenario:*

    *it would, arguably, be a more palatable option to insects. Maybe?

    • Re your first two links, a few of us layfolk at least are coming to see just how distorting a measure of economic health, in the West’s hyper-financialised economies, is GDP. Given our species intolerance of cognitive dissonance, it is unsurprising that the spinmeisters wind up believing their own spin: never in such dramatically visible form as when Europe’s leaders thought they’d bring Russia to her knees through economic warfare.

      Now Russia is emerging economically stronger, not despite but in part because of that economic warfare – which nevertheless continues – we see a darker truth still. Those leaders are not so much stupid as Quislings. The careers not only of Scholz and Macron but der Leyen and Lagarde too are groomed from across the Atlantic. These ‘technocrats’ owe their first loyalty to Washington and do its bidding even when that wreaks havoc on Europe’s prosperity. As the semicolonial status of Europe becomes clearer by the day, and with it the comprador status of its leaders, the interests of ordinary Europeans have never been more at odds with those of a Macron, Scholz or Sunak.

      • Giving ‘credit’ where it is due that list would also include potential replacements. Like Starmer (who prefers Davos to Westminster*), Yousaf (now bumped up to Scottish Head Boy), and everyone else from the false choice of a systemically rigged game.

        * See here for example:

        ““It is politically funny that we had three prime ministers, four chancellors and four budgets in 12 months,” says Starmer. “But from an economic growth [and] investment point of view it’s a complete disaster. And that message was played to us loud and clear in Davos by global investors who told us they will not be investing in the UK any time soon. Because we haven’t got the stability, we haven’t got the leadership and strategy to give them the confidence to do so.””

        or here:

        • Yes. The second Caitlin extract – re TweedleRep and TweedleDem – applies on our side of the pond too, in TweedleRish! and TweedleKier. For their part Germany’s ‘Greens’ have been the most avid cheerleaders for upping the stakes in Ukraine.

  2. And another reason “for saying Western democracy is 95% bogus” is the role played by money, especially in the US where millions of dollars are required by anyone aspiring to election. These dollars are provided by the large pharmaceutical, armaments, and financial firms which require the US ‘government’ to do their bidding. I imagine that these sorts of things also go on in the EU and UK, but they are much more discreet about it, and as usual, the ‘free’ press conspires to not notice any such activity, unless it becomes too obvious.

    (TweedleRish! and TweedleKier) – I like it – as does TweedleLabour.

    Pity The Nation

    Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
    and whose shepherds mislead them.
    Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
    and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
    Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
    except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
    and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
    Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
    and no other culture but its own.
    Pity the nation whose breath is money
    and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
    Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
    and their freedoms to be washed away.
    My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.”

    Laurence Ferlinghetti

    • Yes, the need for candidates to secure the backing of big money is also massively distorting. Especially in the USA, which is more up front and less shamefaced about it. (After all, being poor in the US of A is itself a crime against Apple Pie Order.)

      There are other mechanisms. Britain’s sovereign can dismiss his or her government. Over the channel Macron uses presidential fiat on pension ‘reform’. The chimera of democracy is incapable of withstanding close scrutiny but then, thanks to the media, it seldom has to.

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