“What appears is good, and what is good appears.”
— Guy Debord
— The Society of the Spectacle
“And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down on me
And I dreamed I was flying
And high above all my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea”
— Paul Simon
— American Tune
George W. Bush was the public face of a private corporate junta put into power by a judicial coup.
Among the reasons aristocratic reactionary Antonin Scalia gave for stopping the recount in Florida was, that Florida was embarrassing the nation.
Ah yes, the don’t make us look bad clause of the constitution. Nothing quite like a strict constructionist acting like a postmodern charlatan.
That of course is SOP for tyrants. The magical thinking and tortured pretzel logic as their hypocrisy exceeds the g-force tolerance of the truth. But they say, who cares? We won and you fucking spineless liberals and you screaming hysterics of the “left” are a joke.
And they’re not wrong.
As we’ve outlined previously the liberals are whores and their pimp is Wall Street, which makes them congenitally incapable of providing authentic opposition, and what we charitably call the “American left” is so disorganized not only don’t they have a movement, they don’t even have a clipboard, or a mailing list and can’t hold a meeting of three people without two of them being informants for the cops.
In such an atmosphere, the metastasizing corruption spawned by both the religion of deregulation, and the DNA of capitalism which is by definition, organized crime, the system begins to cannibalize itself.
When the conservatives say, “deregulation” they mean that they can’t say, bring back segregation, so instead they use a code word that means the same thing. But it is not just segregation based on color though it most certainly includes that as an ideal. It is truly targeted at removing the blunt instrument of the federal bureaucracy so that old money aristocrats and new money sociopaths, can regulate themselves through an updated feudalism of favoritism, cronyism, family and tribal ties, bribes, kickbacks and de facto organized crime and gangsterism. After all if the bureaucracy isn’t going to police things then, as was the case historically (see The Gangs of New York by Scorsese and The Godfather by Coppala) people will do it themselves.
The second reason is that while assorted reactionaries, fascists, goons like Jordan Peterson, and well-intentioned liberals talk about “poverty” and “crime” and how one does or does not cause the other, what none of them will admit is that capitalism is organized crime and the federal government is also a federal mafia.
After all, ask yourself the following question in light of the “opioid crisis.”
Is the federal government “managing the pharmaceutical industry” or are they “drug dealers” or, are they both? Is the “war in Afghanistan” a “fight against Islamic extremism” or is it a “stimulus package” for the “international heroin trade, the arms industry, and the pharmaceutical industry” or all of the above?
Out of this vortex government rises as a pillar of smoke.
It cannot publicly admit its innate corruption and contradictions because to do so would be to sacrifice the pretense of legitimacy, and to open itself to questions about its authority and power.
As a result of that, it must increasingly cheat both itself and the public, by increasingly diminishing the reality of its institutions, and replacing them with simulations that rely on spectacle and elaborate imitations of the genuine article.
Examples abound and include but are not limited to, Mitch McConnell refusing to allow a hearing for Merrick Garland. Symbolism attached to substance conveys intangibles, and even if they are abstractions they have power. To be seen publicly as a conservative allowing a “fair hearing” of the oppositions’ candidate serves to reinforce the idea that the system however imperfect, is self-aware and operates on behalf of the public and the uncertain future.
To deny that and replace it with ideology and cynicism, and the twisted syntax of hypocrisy, is to draw an ever smaller circle around the system which then demands greater displays of still more hollow simulations, to cover the truth and obscure the reality of a machine that is cannibalizing itself.
This of course is not a monopoly of the right as the liberals participate by ever increasing and ever more shrill denunciations of the right, that refuse to define them as fascists and refuse to define their fascism as the logical and inevitable result of capitalism, which can only “succeed” when it enforces artificial scarcity of goods and money (which turns money itself into a commodity to be traded by financial elites) and enforces that system by maintaining the existence of a permanent underclass of wage slaves. At the moment the wage slaves begin to gain economic traction, the ruling class announces the rise of “inflation” and sets in motion a series of measures that lower wages, cut employment, and increase the artificial scarcity of goods and money.
This system is both conservative and liberal and is defined by Gore Vidal’s observation that America has one political party – The Wall Street Party with two wings – Democrat and Republican.
After all, Nancy were capitalists get used to it Pelosi may be “pro choice” but she is incapable of realizing let alone articulating that capitalism is organized crime, that it is a ruthless system that demands and celebrates, a Manichaean all against all sociopathy if not psychotic sadism, and that support for “a woman’s right to choose” requires either anti-capitalist measures like universal health care (on the assumption that health care is not a commodity but a right because as a right it is a corollary to the enumerated rights of the constitution) or it requires support for the capitalist and slave idea, that while you have the “right to speak freely” it is compromised to the point of being irrelevant when you have no right to bodily health, which renders speech meaningless because you’re too busy coughing up a lung from some toxic event caused by the piratical corporatocracy, empowered by a corrupt judiciary, put into power by a corrupt political gangsterocracy.
This circle of political life gives rise to well intentioned but essentially too weak to succeed forces like “Democratic Socialism” which is really nothing more or less than The New Deal 2.0 but compromised by the refusal to say, unequivocally, that it is against capitalism.
As a result it punts and says it’s in favor of universal healthcare, universal housing, and universal access to work, and education but it insists, it is not against the Market.
Which are of course, FDR’s Four Freedoms wrapped in a new, ill fitting rhetorical suit.
And are also Socialism and would require disengaging healthcare, (hospitals, insurance, and the pharmaceutical industry) education, housing (including construction, transportation of material for construction) and labor from capitalism and the stock market.
Which is not a bad idea.
The problem is that Democratic Socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, don’t understand that or do but wont say it publicly, and wont explain how they propose to force the amalgam of conservatives, reactionaries, and market fascists to go along with it.
And while they dither, and the liberals hold them back, and they hold themselves back, and the conservatives become increasingly radical and blatantly thuggish and increasingly panic as the demographic tide and the brutal truths of the corrupt system cause ever increasing levels of anger and rage, the system eats itself.
The Merrick Garland catastrophe must be understood for what it is – a kind of Dread Scott moment where the system not only betrayed the public, and itself, but jumped off a cliff.
In a just society, in a reasonable system, bound by a sense of shared moral responsibility, when a racist thug stood up during the State of the Union, and screamed, you lie, at the president, and did so precisely because as a White Southern fascist, he was brought to the point of hysteria and near violence because the president was Black, Mitch McConell should have apologized publicly, should have expelled the goon from the party and the House, and should have announced that for the good of the nation, he was resigning.
But gangsterism, cynicism, and corruption demand loyalty to gangsterism, cynicism and corruption as the DNA of power in a system that in the absence of dignity thrives on violence and mendacity.
And so to Brett Kavanaugh and the spectacle of his confirmation.
George W. Bush supported Kavanaugh because Kavanaugh knows where the bodies are buried and installing him on the court helps protect the Bush Cheney junta.
The reactionaries led by McConnell supported him because their mission is to throw the country back to the feudalism and apartheid era from before the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and even further back to the era before the New Deal.
And the liberals, despite their mock outrage, supported him by participating in the spectacle instead of denouncing it as a sham and then engaging in acts of civil disobedience to demonstrate that they recognize the system has collapsed, and that Trump is a demagogue and a gangster willing to make common cause with fascists like Steve Bannon, evangelical tyrants like Mike Pence, and aristocratic reactionary racists like McConnel and that all of them as a group support the Wall Street dictatorship.
All that remains in such a system is spectacle and simulation presented in ever increasing doses of hollowed out substance.
This is politics transformed into the half time show of the Super bowl with banal and blunt displays of mock “patriotism” “masculinity” “femininity” “group cohesion” and empty symbols of “nationalism” “family” and “militarism.”
Any and all authentic criticism is labeled illegitimate and all discourse is pushed into the mulching machine of corporate media, which exists in undeclared symbiosis with the corrupt system both denouncing, profiting from and celebrating the incoherent, logically illogical verbal vomit of the tyrants, from Trump’s psychotic Delphic mutterings, to the coma inducing, slithering aristocratic distortions, half truths, and delusional the south shall rise again bigotry of McConnell.
This is the Brett Show.
This is fascism.
This is a torch lit parade recast in modern drag, broadcast in real time with live commentary, prefabricated templates of outrage, and counter rage, ending in the ever deeper hole being dug by the grave diggers of the revolution – liberals, progressives, conservatives, fascists.
This is a coup.
And while the target is the constitutional order, the bullet ricochets, and strikes the participants, slowly but inevitably, and as with a Shakespeare tragedy, you know it’s over when the stage is littered with corpses.
All coups and all revolutions consume themselves.
All efforts at power for the sake of power, fail, even as they appear to succeed.
In the end the cannibal only has one mouth to feed.