Thursday, January 28, 2021

Truest statement of the week

The U.S. corporate ruling class finally has its “Reichstag fire” to justify suspension of constitutional liberties under cover of “national emergency.” There is, of course, no imminent threat to the U.S. state and its structures. The rightwing mob that broke through the U.S. Capitol’s remarkably thin blue line of defense on January 6th was visibly amazed at the ease of their penetration of the building, and clearly had no plan for what to do once they found themselves inside. However, the same corporate news media that spent four years convincing Americans that “the Russians” were bringing down “our democracy” through brilliant deployment of $100,000 in Facebook ads, now shrieks that free speech is poisoning the body politic.  The great threat to the “stability” of American institutions is the proliferation of speech that does not conform to the corporate version of reality. Free speech must be brought “to heel” – as Hillary Clinton would put it. 

The Reichstag fire that consumed the German national parliament in February of 1933 -- supposedly set by a Jewish communist -- allowed Adolph Hitler to turn his November 1932 electoral victory into a mandate to smash all opposition to Nazification of the country.  From that point on, no worldview was permissible in Germany except Hitler’s own. The U.S. ruling class, beset by real crises of its own making at home and abroad, is desperate to regain control of the national and global narrative. As Barack Obama blurted out  on stage with German chancellor Angela Merkel, barely two weeks after Hillary Clinton’s surprise 2016 loss to Donald Trump, he was fearful of “an age where there’s so much active misinformation and its packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”

What Obama and his corporate Democratic colleagues were determined to “protect” is the continuity of U.S. never-ending war policies abroad and the “Race to the Bottom” austerity regime at home. As real crises multiply, the first line of capitalist defense is the corporate narrative that deflects blame from the system, itself. But counternarratives of the Right and Left have found deep traction in social and online media whose audiences often dwarf CNN viewership. Thus, the oligarchs, whose obscene wealth multiplies by the day, are unable to halt by normal means the public’s consumption of narratives that question the corporate order.  The ruling class’s crisis of legitimacy must be made to appear as a patriotic defense of American institutions and “values” – of truth, itself -- requiring restraint of critical speech and deep surveillance of suspected dissidents. The proof of the threat is displayed on the streets of Washington, DC, where 25,000 troops remain on guard against invisible enemies

Although corporate media claim that Donald Trump’s antics in the White House have necessitated curtailment of free speech rights, it was clear to us at Black Agenda Report four years ago that the corporate Democrats were preparing to muzzle dissent. On November 30, 2016, after the Washington Post published a list of 200 web sites slandered as “Russian propaganda outlets and sympathizers,” including Black Agenda Report, I wrote: “Had Clinton won the election, she would have begun a campaign of repression against the Left along the same national security lines as the Washington Post article, with that paper probably leading the propaganda charge.” The BAR article was titled, “Fascism with a Democratic Party Face” – a fascism that grows out of the neoliberal corporate order in crisis. As we wrote:

“Donald Trump’s fascism is largely the residue of the fascism of apartheid America, under Jim Crow, which had many of the characteristics of – and in some ways presaged – the ‘classic’ fascism of pre-World War Two Europe. The establishment corporate Democratic and Republican brand of fascism is far more racially, sexually and culturally inclusive, but just as ruthless. And, at this moment in history, the corporate Democratic fascists are the more aggressively warlike brand.”

-- Glen Ford, "Democratic Fascists Prepare to Drop the Hammer" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).




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