It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.
Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this. The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.
Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.
There is no such thing as bad press.
So why are we still playing this game?
Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies. We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.
It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is. We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.
We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.
At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.
Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.
See how that happened?
We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA. Trump is gangsta personified.
Must be the money…
So I was on a semi-self-imposed news blackout until very recently due in no small part to my own personal upheavals, but also just because….Trump.
So now I’ve begun paying more attention, watching and reading more news and following more closely, the national goings on. Thankfully I’m in a much better headspace for all of this because if I’d decided to forgo reason and dive head first as my personal life was unraveling, I’m honestly not sure I’d still be writing today.
Watching our president move with the sound off is frustrating enough, but with the sound on, it’s utterly terrifying.
How could we have been so stupid? How in the hell could we have elected this orange-thin-skinned pussy grabber, the leader of the free world? How do we not see this as the horrible national embarrassment it truly is? That a uniquely unqualified buffoon who clearly has no aptitude for the truth because he hasn’t a clue as to what that word even means, could possibly win a plurality of electoral college votes, with not a single dissenting maverick to stand in the way of this thoroughly embarrassing national disgrace?
Where are our Paines, our Parks our Kings and Peltiers? Why don’t we see how obviously our dissenting voices are absent from the debate, and how obviously we’ve become twisted up in what it means to dissent in the first place? How did the Alt-right, an animal crafted as a propaganda arm of Nazis and internet trolls who finally feel like they have a place at a table that is owned by the Jewish Cabal, actually become a legitimate voice in national politics?
I’m not of the mindset that this country is over, that with this one election we have sealed our fate. I do believe this is the last death spasm of an old skin being shaken off, but what of what’s underneath?
When will we, as a country, as a people, realize that we’ve entirely fucked up.
When we have people like Alex Jones and Mike Chernovich actually participating in the public dialog as legitimate players, how do we not see how truly fucked we are?
At the same time though, it easy to become un-fucked, just pay attention.
We are all responsible for ourselves and each other. We are our brothers and sisters keepers.
Edited on 4/11 @ 12:10pm because of a missing “c.”
Clockwork Angels came out in 2012, the same year of the American election. It was Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney and personally, the stakes never felt higher. Even in retrospect, post Trump, this election was consequential in an exceptional way. Our first American president of African descent, our first multiracial president and our first potential two term Democratic president since Clinton.
I argue that Obama’s legacy was more at stake then than it is now. A two term president can ostensibly claim a real mandate, where a one term president’s legacy can be easily erased if the opposing party comes into power four years in.
But I digress….
The Anarchist felt like the soundtrack of the apocalypse to me then. There was so much uncertainty about the future, so much building anger and resentment from a segment of the population who had a tremendous run and now was being eclipsed by number and power, by browner and more estrogen rich carbon based bipeds.
The wont to blow up the world and everything in it, the desire and the seething anger behind it to destroy everything associated with the other while simultaneously blowing up what benefits you resonated strongly. The texture of the song, the choral progression to a droning finale, doom turned to music.
First song, for the first day: The Anarchist, by Rush.
I don’t do Facebook much. Every time I’m lured back by some innocuous post and I get sucked back into the insanity for a bit, I pull a little further away. On several occasions I’ve been worked into such a frenzy that I feel like my heart just might quit. Frankly, aside from a few friends and relatives, it really isn’t worth using anymore.
The ridiculousness of this past election cycle had me closer than ever to hitting “delete.”
When you hear friends you thought were reasonable, say completely unreasonable things, or friends you knew were unreasonable already, say things so outrageous you can’t believe they felt emboldened to say them “in public” it feels like time to pull away.
This whole planet has me concerned at the moment. Where the US is heading is very well a dangerous and potentially violent place. Some of us believed that having access, making information and opinion more democratic, would create a learned republic. One akin to the one the founding fathers envisioned, except more varied economically with women and Black folks included, effectively democratizing learning and making us all better voters and better citizens. HA!
It seems there is that little missing element that also exemplifies an egalitarian democratic republic, ignorance.
When you have no compelling reason to cooperate in the democratic process there is no incentive to educate yourself and its so very easy to just hit the nearest button that has written on it how you feel at that very moment. Not how you think, or have reasoned through, but simply how you feel.
Now feelings are great, they are great for creating art, for manipulating and coercing your kid to do their homework, great for schmoozing and wooing, but alone, they are terrible for democracy. Feelings betray biases, and generally biases are not reasonable, they may come from a vague place of reason, but they are not reasonable in and of themselves. Feelings should not be the sole reason you vote for a particular candidate, using feelings as a sole measure will always lead to buyers remorse.
So does this mean that democracy may not be the best way to go?
I really don’t know but as the days go by, I’m doubting American democracy more and more and that scares the shit out of me.
I went to this class a few nights ago.
Less a class and more a collection of terrifying American troupes.
Survivalists, preppers and possibly even a White Supremacist or two. Could be just my perceptions of people are out of whack but they have rarely been wrong before.
Thing is, taken with a dose of caution the advice made sense, being prepared for a disaster isn’t a stupid thing at all. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty damn smart, sane and reasonable. The climate is changing, storms are getting wilder and stronger and people are getting more unpredictable. Well, the last is a debatable fact, people may be more encouraged to be so by a lack of trust which is at least partially fed by everything else.
The tension we all feel, the stress of navigating through the post-racial, post-truth, post-professional media world, where nothing is true and everything is fake news even if we witness it and document it, the echo-chambered, gaslit, fear-mongering, make it up as you go along assemblage of truthiness, all of it shreds us apart neuron by neuron. We are all veterans of the psychic wars now.
No, the above way-more-educated-than-I-am, quote is not intended to describe this year’s election cycle. But it is, in my view, what many want out of it in the end.
Let me explain.
I’ve been reading excerpts and reviews of a lot of books about men lately. Many of these “books” are written by bloggers and other assorted malcontents and sold on Amazon (Amazon, who will, in fact, publish damn near anything if some of these “works” are any indication).
Some are well written and through the murk of chest-beating manliness, and to an extent even within that milieu, they offer interesting and accurate commentary on the state of manhood in these changing times. I don’t touch this subject matter directly as so many others do it so much better, but manhood is in crisis. Womanhood is as well, the changing roles and responsibilities that have defined our genders for years are upending. I charge that this is for the better, but just as with any large scale change there are bound to be those who see the bad looming greater than the good.
Occasionally, I am one of those people.
As a wannabe writer of fiction, I push myself to imagine futures. Futures in far-flung societies and in this one advanced a few hundred days or a few thousand years. I write about the future, at least in part, due to my inability to research and my personal bias against meddling with history. I also write about the future because it’s easy to see myself there and it’s also easier to reflect a mirrored image of what we are now back at us by looking at what we will be.
I often imagine futures where the norms are different. Frontier societies that have developed strict social codes that rely on violence to keep those who would stray, in check. Societies that were founded on Hobbesian principles of centralized power (a throwback to the subject of this post) and developed accordingly are a favorite topic of mine lately. Of course, this requires some of the dreaded “research” I despise, but only in a broad sense. I look at things like culture, the size of the society, its early development and its key figure’s personalities, location, climate, and the temperament of its neighbors.
Doing all this imagining often takes me down dual roads, one leading to a mostly civilized and safe society and another leading to industrial serfdom for most and great luxury and wealth for a few. The trick is that these futures are not necessarily aligned with what you might think their respective paths are. The road to serfdom does not necessarily come directly from the path of kings and enlightened despots, nor is the egalitarian future born solely of democracy and participation. When you look at civilizations on this planet, you come up with many paths to sometimes the same conclusion.
So back to manhood. Yes it all ties in together, just a few paragraphs more of patience I ask.
I make no apologies for being a man; no one should have to apologize for what they are by birth. No White man needs to apologize for being what he is no Black woman should be implored to beg her case for being born into herself. We are not the sole determination of our race, class, or origin; they do not FULLY define us. But we are impacted and affected by them all, we bear the burdens and the responsibilities we were born into, we inherit, however unfairly, the cultural baggage of our predecessors. We are partially the sum of our ancestors, with a dash of our present culture and a heaping helping of our perceptions of it, and finally rubbed with a coating of our environment.
There is a rub here, though. We all need to take responsibility for not only what we have personally done, but for what our culture, collectively and associatively, has fostered upon us. It isn’t a choice, it isn’t something to run away from nor run into, it just is.
I am very much an imperfect man, for all my virtues I have at least as many faults. And men in general, have much to atone for. When women reach the same pinnacle men have in this society, they too will have sins of their own. Some will be determined by their “gendered” view of the world (every woman as every man has a unique view which is determined by living as what they include, gender identity, race, cultural identity, income, the number of parents…, etc.) others are simply a consequence of increased power.
Men, right now, are the ones who should be doing the soul-searching FROM that place of power. We are forced to do it because the sands beneath us have shifted.
For some in the alt-right, this shift has taken an apocalyptic tone. As when bankers, now bereft of what defined then, defenestrated during the great depression (greatly exaggerated I know, but a great narrative device nonetheless), a largely white male population is feeling the push-back of the new world order of diminishing power by virtue of belonging to that group.
So this new narrative arises among its ranks, one of doom, gloom, and violence. Ideas that were, when their numbers and their power was greater, casually cast off as un-American, are now common in its language. Where the coded has become explicit. When Bigots, Racists, and Traditionalists have been re-branded as White Nationalists, and people like David Duke have an out-sized voice in the conversation (again).
The above headline feels like a goal.
The alt-right, the new Vikings, the explosion of men with more muscle mass than 10 Charles atlases, PUA, MGTOW, GamerGate (if there are any of these things you aren’t familiar with you should be) the harassment of feminists and their supporters, doxing in general, whether it be of the proponents or opponents of these “movements” all lead us to the above conclusion.
Hobbes uses the above to justify control of a kingly presence over everyone else; he defines civilization as the reaction to the fear of that life. That the fear of the return of a short, nasty, brutish life is what keeps people in line, but when your life was by virtue of your “race” already the above, or that it now could be, I guess part of our natural tendency is to embrace what we feel is inevitable.
Well in these guys eyes a nasty, brutish life is inevitable.
It is inevitable that the patriarchy will be toppled by hypergamy. It is inevitable that white men of every income will be “cucked” and castrated and thrown from the horse they were born atop only to be thrown into the mud with all the “sharks.”
It is inevitable, in this world, that instead of recognizing how badly fascism ends for most people, including many of those raising their fists for it, they will call for it loudly and without irony. This is where the consequences of not understanding history are dooming us to rewarm the meal and take it, salmonella and all.
Men are in a crisis state, and because we are so greatly tethered to the mythology of a country that shows 1/2 of 1% of what we are and have ever been and probably gets that at least 1/2 wrong, our country is flirting with a very dark path.
Fear, anger, hatred, yeah George, you called it, you so called it.
Yes waiting until the whole story of the trial and its result is probably the best course of action but my immediate reaction is disgust and anger. White privilege indeed.
Edited 10/26/16 @10:46 EST for clarity and stupid grammar tricks.
A continuing irony in this election cycle has been the outcry by many Republicans at Trump’s apparent distaste for the American system of elections. His bloated, arrogant, and above all ignorant toss-off of peaceful power transitions and little things like the will of the people mirroring exactly what they have done for the past eight years. His manipulation of the drooling doglike obedience of his followers maligns the very constitution they collectively seem unable to comprehend, something the Republican establishment knows full well how to do.
As has been the case with much of Herr Trump’s rhetorical upchucking, mainstream conservatism has been caught with its pants around its ankles, bent over, inviting the diddling it publicly decries.
They have been riding this pony sidesaddle for some years now, and now that it is trying to buck them off they are suddenly aware of its wild nature? There is no doubt that Democrats have done similar damage to their base over the years by not adhering to fundamental fairness (in the case of the infamous Sanders emails) and refusing to appear with the current president for fear of political self-immolation, putting their re-elections against the better nature (and needs) of the party.
Democrats are equally (in measure) guilty of half-stepping but not nearly as guilty (in scope) of torching the country in a burning hatred that consumes all reason.
The Republicans have taken it several steps further into wackadoodledom. While espousing fairness, honor, and dignity they have spat and shat on both concepts repeatedly by reflexively blocking everything the Obama administration has put forward, not even allowing a break-fix of Obamacare, just setting out to break it. They have stirred racial animosity through the coded language of the Tea Party and its affiliates and promised a one term president instead of working with him to get some of their agenda included in the discussion at the adult table. They have done for the past eight years what the Donald has threatened to do for at least the next four, not recognize the duly elected president of the united states, just not in those words.
Again, the conservative “establishment” is late to its party. It’s been off somewhere snorting coke with supermodels that look suspiciously like David and Fred while its “base” raids the local white sale. Arriving near the end of the soiree, they, still snowblind, are amazed at the sight of so many Black men hanging limply from the burning cross in the middle of the living room. It only takes a year or so for them also to realize that the word effigy has nothing to do with this scene, oops.
I’ve said it before; the GOP owns Trump, and every word that comes out of his mouth is a distillation of the entitlement rage complicitly and explicitly stirred up by them. Trump is the Frankenstein’s monster assembled from puppet parts by the puppets themselves, made of hate, anger, and fear and brought to life with the words and actions of the party’s surrogates.
Aside from the fact that they knew that Trump was a sociopathic, groping, drooling, egging on-ish boor who’d look at the burnt out remains of the GOP’s grotesquely scorched statue as its centerpiece and not recognize it as his doing. They invited this party crasher inside, not only by giving him the keys but by laying out clear, concise directions to the mansion and in a coca leaf fueled haze giving him free rein to bring all his friends in and trash the place.
Just because they blacked out doesn’t mean they get to disavow the destruction they’ve wrought, not only on the Republican party but the entire country.
And you know what? They probably never will.