T.J. Coles – Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex

Link to an article by T.J. Coles:

“Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex”

 

Note that this identified deGrasse Tyson as an old-fashioned shill rather than part of the “idiot pool”.  Anyway, this article doesn’t explicitly reach deGrasse Tyson’s secular humanist “scientism” ideology which is really what drives his sociopolitical status quo boosterism:

“The relevance of these practices is that they account for Tyson’s scientism as a tactic in a culture war. I’ll lay out some principles of Tyson’s apparent culture to show how the conflict arises. Tyson’s all-business impatience with philosophy and his allusion to progress indicate that he stands not just for the supremacy of science, but for the modern institutions (capitalism, private industry, democracy) that have exploited scientific knowledge. The liberal values (freedom of thought, environmentalism, admiration for underdog scientists) and inchoate pantheism that surface in his series, Cosmos, show that he stands also for secular humanism. Put these together and you have a culture that reduces to neoliberalism, an ideology that’s analyzed thoroughly by Philip Mirowski’s Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste. Neoliberalism is the rebirth of the social policies that led to the Great Depression, which rebirth was made possible by some propagandists’ mastery of the double standard. Neoliberalism is what powerful Republicans and Democrats have in common, the understanding that capitalism runs counter to democracy, but that a semblance of the latter is needed as the noble lie to sustain the magic of the former. Thus, neoliberals are both populists and technocrats, depending on their audience. In any case, in so far as Tyson despises philosophy for being useless in contrast to science, he must approve of the modern applications of science—not just the medical breakthroughs and technological advances, but the egoistic, materialistic mass culture of consumerism that bankrolls the loftier work of scientific inquiry.”

Benjamin Cain, “Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Scientism and the Scapegoating of Philosophy”

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?”

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”

Frances Stonor Saunders – Modern Art Was CIA “Weapon”

Link to an article by Frances Stonor Saunders:

“Modern Art Was CIA ‘Weapon'”

 

Bonus Links: “How the CIA Secretly Funded Abstract Expressionism During the Cold War” and Who Paid the Piper?: the CIA and the Cultural Cold War and The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters and Archives of Authority: Empire, Culture, and the Cold War and The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America and Satchmo Blows up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War and Dance for Export: Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War and Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy and Music in America’s Cold War Diplomacy and Jazz Diplomacy: Promoting America in the Cold War Era and Fall-Out Shelters for the Human Spirit: American Art and the Cold War

Some of the books above applaud the anti-communist propaganda that the CIA, State Department, and other U.S. institutions were pushing/funding, while others are more critical.

What is sort of most bizarre about all this is that the Soviets took the bait!  That is, many people in the Soviet Union did believe they were falling behind the U.S. and western nations and their abstract art (etc.), as described in Moshe Lewin‘s The Soviet Century.

Ben Norton – Former CIA Director Admits to US Foreign Meddling, Laughs About It

Link to a news video by Ben Norton:

“Former CIA Director Admits to US Foreign Meddling, Laughs About It”

 

Bonus links: “Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies” and Killing Hope and “Overthrow: 100 Years of U.S. Meddling & Regime Change, from Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to Cuba”

Bonus quote: “Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.” Frederick Douglass – July 4, 1852