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”

Kalundi Serumaga – On Reinventing Europe: An Open Letter to Mr George Soros

Link to an article/letter by Kalundi Serumaga:

“On Reinventing Europe: An Open Letter to Mr George Soros”

 

This pieces raises many excellent points.  But it is also worth pointing out some questionable aspects of its theoretical framework and recommendations.  First, while the article characterizes the essence of Europe as Bonapartism, it does so by applying philosophical standards that originated in Europe, or at least drew from European precedents.  While it may well be fair to call the current hegemonic ideology of Europe (and elsewhere) Bonapartist, to treat all of Europe as monolithic and without couter-currents seems rather reductionist.  Second, the “tasks for EU civil society” include “2. Find out what your countries truly owe, and make them pay it back”  This is basically both a politics of victimhood and an expression of ressentimentFrantz Fanon once wrote, “The colonized man is an envious man.”  That seems accurate in this context, but as a statement of limitation of vision.  The last chapter of Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks explicitly rejected Serumaga’s approach, and that is a big part of why Fanon is a stronger theoretical reference point than what is expressed in Serumaga’s article.  Lastly, the article concludes by saying, “It is time for the North to (once again, after Ancient Egypt) learn from the South.”  This is a dubious offhand assertion of identity politics, yet again in the service of the valorization of victimhood status and ressentiment.

Tom Secker & Matthew Alford – Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War on Behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA

Link to an article by Tom Secker & Matthew Alford:

“Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War on Behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA”

 

Bonus links: Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies and National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood and Hollywood and the CIA: Cinema, Defense and Subversion and Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film and “Modern Art Was CIA ‘Weapon'” and “Booting a Tramp: Charlie Chaplin, the FBI and the Construction of the Subversive Image in Red Scare America”

Nancy MacLean – The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

Link to an interview of Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains (2017), conducted by Nick Licata:

“The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America”

 

MacLean’s position should be problematized (i.e., critiqued from the left), which leads to criticisms of some specific things she says in the interview.  Domenico Losurdo‘s War and Revolution: Rethinking the Twentieth Century (as well as his Liberalism: A Counter-History) are the touchstones for this criticism.  Most of MacLean’s position is about defending the New Deal.   But she defends the New Deal from a position “within” it, which is to say she appears to agree with the “radical reactionary” libertarians in assuming an anti-communist position.  Isn’t it obvious that the way to oppose, in her words, the agenda of the Buchanan/Koch agenda of the supremacy of private property rights is to eliminate private property altogether?  It is fairly well-established now that the New Deal was only possible as part of an anti-communist agenda, as a conservative compromise to avoid communist government rule.  MacLean at one point jokes that she is not really a conservative, but Losurdo’s books suggest that perhaps she really is conservative, because political liberalism has more in common with the political right than the political left.  She seems to assume that the New Deal was a self-sustaining coalition, which, historically, it was manifestly not — the New Deal was sustained only as a largely unprincipled anti-communist compromise that required at least the threat of communism to sustain itself.  So when she praises, for instance, the recent student anti-gun march, she rejects the pro-gun position universally adopted by the leading figures of the political left (something explained principally by her anti-communist stance).  Also, she bemoans the “identity politics” vs “class” debate, though it is actually an important one because no legitimate politics can overcome class divisions by maintaining an “identity politics” framework, which is necessarily dependent upon maintaining class or class-like divisions of some sort as part of a liberal politics of exclusion.  MacLean’s history of the political right’s own tactics in the the United States in the second half of the 20th Century is nonetheless useful in many ways, and should be read alongside Isaac William Martin‘s Rich People’s Movements, Losurdo’s books, Fredric Jameson‘s An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army (which advocates precisely the opposite of the Koch plan to privatize the Veteran’s Administration), and the work of Slavoj Žižek (perhaps starting with Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Captialism).