Gary Olson – Are We Governed By Secondary Psychopaths?

In his article “Are We Governed By Secondary Psychopaths?” Gary Olson suggests that political leaders in the West are psychopaths/sociopaths.  While well-intentioned, Olson’s article can be rejected as based on dubious theory.  Namely, the concept of “psychopathy” or “sociopathy” is premised on a DSM-style psychological theory of deviation from normalcy.  This is a contested and highly politicized topic.  For instance, Lacanian psychoanalysis rejects the concept of “normalcy”, instead positing that there are only different ways interacting with the world but none of them can objectively be called normal or abnormal.  (For what it’s worth, Lacanians recognize psychosis and neurosis, and address ethics and duty in a very different framework — see Ethics of the Real).  Second, Olson’s attack on politicians for what amounts to hypocrisy (he calls them secondary psychopaths) can be seen as medicalizing political questions to bracket out and essentially de-politicize the central political questions that underlie his analysis through an appeal to expert medical authority (much akin to appeals to “expert” economists or teachers).  For example, Domenico Losurdo‘s Liberalism: A Counter-History provides a very convincing alternative theory, namely that political liberalism is a politics of exclusion that devotes its energies to drawing lines between the community of the free and those excluded from those same freedoms — this theory is very similar to what Jacques Rancière calls the “part of no part”.  Losurdo explains this as not simple hypocrisy in the sense of being an “error” in practical application but rather consistency with an outwardly-denied exclusionary tenet of political liberalism.  From that perspective, Olson’s claims suggest that anyone who subscribes to political liberalism is a sociopath, a notion that is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.  Olson is making an unfortunate ploy here to sidestep questions of politics and surreptitiously insert his ideological framework through a disingenuously “neutral” medical (psychological) framework.

Jason Hirthler – Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes

Link to an article by Jason Hirthler:

“Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes”

 

Bonus links: “Clinging to Collusion” and “Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies” and “Mueller Investigation Seeks to Implicate WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in ‘Russian Interference'” and “Be Careful What You Ask For: Wasting Time with Manafort, Cohen, and Russiagate” and “Leaked NSA Report Is Short on Facts, Proves Little in ‘Russiagate’ Case” and “Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era” and “Hey Intercept, Something is Very Wrong with Reality Winner and the NSA Leak”

Slavoj Žižek – Three Variations on Trump Quote

“There is an even greater problem with the underlying premise of those who proclaim the ‘death of truth’: they talk as if before (say, until the 1980s), in spite of all the manipulations and distortions, truth did somehow prevail, and that the ‘death of truth’ is a relatively recent phenomenon. Already a quick overview tells us that this was not the case. How many violations of human rights and humanitarian catastrophes remained invisible, from the Vietnam War to the invasion of Iraq? Just remember the times of Reagan, Nixon, Bush… The difference was not that the past was more ‘truthful’ but that ideological hegemony was much stronger, so that, instead of today’s greater melee of local ‘truths,’ one ‘truth’ (or, rather, one big Lie) basically prevailed. In the West, this was the liberal-democratic Truth (with a Leftist or Rightist twist). What is happening today is that, with the populist wave which unsettled the political establishment, the Truth/Lie that has served as an ideological foundation for this establishment is also falling apart. And the ultimate reason for this disintegration is not the rise of postmodern relativism but the failure of the ruling establishment, which is no longer able to maintain its ideological hegemony.”

Slavoj Žižek, “Three Variations on Trump: Chaos, Europe, and Fake News”

Paul Lyons – YouTube’s Content ID: A Case Study

Link to an article by Paul Lyons:

“YouTube’s Content ID — A Case Study”

 

The DMCA was pejoratively referred to as the “Microsoft Bill” when it was passed, and few had any illusions at the time that it was anything other than industry-written special-interest legislation.

 

Bonus links: The People’s Platform and “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism” and Platform Capitalism and “The Market Economy: Theory, Ideology and Reality” and Articles on Silicon Valley Monopolies and Alternatives (“instead of fighting this monopoly through the state apparatus (remember the court-ordered splitting up of the Microsoft Corporation), would it not be more ‘logical’ simply to nationalize it, making it freely accessible?”)

Jodi Dean – Four Theses on the Comrade

Link to a video of a lecture by Jodi Dean:

“Four Theses on the Comrade”

(Note: Dean begins speaking at about 12:00 minutes in; fast forward to that point)

Her distinction between “survivors” and “systems” here, and suggestions for moving past that dichotomy, are very useful.  See also Crowds and Party Review and “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism”

Joe Lauria – Clinging to Collusion

Link to an article by Joe Lauria:

“Clinging to Collusion: Why Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in the Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’”

 

Rather curious how much press this unsubstantiated “Russian meddling” trope gets, whereas the old story of tampering with voting machines by Republican party operatives received little: “The Ghost of Rigged Elections Past: New Revelations on the Death of Michael Connell”See also “Reflections on Media Gone Russia-Wild” and “The Utility of the RussiaGate Conspiracy” and “The Road to Disaster?”