Category Archives: Transparency/Secrecy

Left Gatekeepers Through the New Left: Monitored Rebellion Part II

Orientation

In Part I of this article, I raised some questions about the uneven distribution 0f media coverage (radio, newspapers, magazines) between leftists, social democrats and anarchists on the one hand, and Leninists on the other. The social democrats and the anarchists receive the most media attention.  Next, I showed how the social democrats and the anarchists can be grouped into a single category of “New Left,” while Leninists represented the “Old Left”. I looked for patterns in their differences as I compared them across thirteen categories.

In the second half of Part I of the article, I discussed the machinations of a CIA front group in the 1950’s and 1960’s called the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The purpose of this organization was to keep communism from spreading into Europe by drawing anti-Stalinists into their organization, writers and artists, to make the case against communism through books, movies and modern art produced by non-communist left.

In Part II of this article, I explore the presence of other organizations today that perform the same monitoring function, except that Left Gatekeeping is directed primarily within Yankeedom. In the second half of this article I identify the characteristics of a left organization that would threaten the Left Gatekeepers. I complete the article by revisiting the characteristics of the New Left I laid out in Part I and show how its theory and practice can work quite well with the goals and purposes of liberal foundations, think tanks, political campaigns and mainstream media. As it turns out, the Left Gatekeepers of the 2nd half of the 20th century use the New Left to do their monitoring of any kind of movement that has any independent aspirations from the Democratic party. These organizations perform a very similar role as the Congress for Cultural Freedom played in the 50’s and 60’s. The leftist patron saints I named at the beginning of Part I are all unintentionally being used as tools of the Left Gatekeepers today.

Stratospheres of the Ruling Class

William Domhoff is a political sociologist who spent his entire life as a social scientist tracking empirically how the ruling class rules. Two of his books that detailed this were The Powers that Be and Who Rules America?. Domhoff found that the three most powerful organizations in the United States are the National Association of Manufacturers, The Business Roundtable and the Rockefellers’ group, The Council on Foreign Relations. These organizations rule through eight descending levels, culminating in the control of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The first level is through university trustees and the setting up of foundations and grants. The second level are the think tanks which represent conservative, centrist and liberal viewpoints. More on this later. From the think tanks come policy discussion groups which develop public relations campaigns. Out of these public relations campaigns come reports, testimonies, books and newspaper editorials. From these are drawn “opinion leaders” who speak regularly to mass media. Policy discussion groups also lead directly to lobbyists and these lobbyists control the political candidate selection, whether they are Republican or Democrat. Lastly, there is the pageantry of elections where the public gets to vote. The important thing to notice is how passive both political parties are. They are the creatures of the upper levels, both liberal and conservative.

Most pertinent to Left Gatekeeping are the think tanks. Conservative think tanks include the Rand Group, American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Hoover Institute and the Manhattan Project. A centrist think tank is the Brookings Institute. Liberal think tanks include the Center for American Progress, the Ford Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

While the Congress for Cultural Freedom has supposedly dissolved, the ruling classes have learned quite well the importance of controlling alternative visions to capitalism through think tanks, media and selected personalities. Their goal is to exclude any serious organizing of a socialist movement independent of the Democratic Party.

But if the Old Left died with the fall of Stalin as I argued in Part I, what do the ruling classes have to worry about? The truth is that the Leninist tradition has not died out, especially outside the United States. It continues to be present in Cuba, in parts of South America, in Europe and in parts of Asia. The job of the liberal think tanks in the United States is to either censor them or vilify them. How do they do this? By indirectly supporting the Old Left’s competition – the social democrats and the anarchists of the New Left.

Liberal Think Tanks, Media, and Left Patron Saints as Left Gatekeepers

In his powerful research paper, Left Gatekeepers, Bob Feldman created a flow chart with ruling class powers such as Council of Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, the CIA, with the Carlyle Group at the top. The funding for liberal think tanks comes from the Rockefellers, Carnegie, and Soros.  The Ford and MacArthur Foundations establish grants for left liberal news and media sources such as Mother Jones, the Nation Magazine, Z Magazine, AlterNet, Fair, NPR, Pacifica, and Democracy Now.

The funding of any leftist organization depends on the organization’s willingness to “play ball” if it expects to get regular funding. In his paper, Feldman asks:

Are the interests of the people being served by dissidents who are being subsidized by the very agencies of the ruling class whom they should be exposing? What does it say about the motivations behind the left establishment ideological warfare against conspiracy researchers, and their adoption of an increasingly watered-down analytical view which fails to look closely at the inner power structures and conspiracies of the ruling elite?

What is Left Gatekeeping?

The purpose of both the CIA, the upper classes and the entire Left Gatekeeping organizational apparatus is to combat communism, whether at home or abroad. Left gatekeeping is a practice by the ruling class of setting up organizations, foundations and think tanks which funnel money into leftist organizations that are:

  1. To the left of Leninism (anarchism)
  2. To the right of Leninism (social democracy, and New Deal liberals)

They do this in order to infiltrate independent working-class movements, whether Leninist or not. This is the job of the CIA and FBI. The second purpose is to indirectly fund what is perceived as the weaker and less threatening tendencies of the left for the purposes of isolating the Leninists. This is the job of foundations, think tanks, the policy-making discussion groups and the political campaigns. Thus DSA, Jacobin magazine, Socialist Alternative and Global Exchange will always find a welcoming ear on the radio waves and journals of the Left Gatekeepers. Noam Chomsky, proclaimed anarchist, can come onto Democracy Now whenever he wants. But Michael Parenti, who will defend the Soviet Union or China and who is quite capable of matching Noam Chomsky, rarely gets on the air. Then, in election years, without too much nudging, DSA, Jacobin and Socialist Alternative will, one way or another, collapse themselves safely inside the Democratic Party. The rightward turn of the Green Party was orchestrated so that they limited themselves to campaigns in “safe states”. This way the Democratic Party will have no competition coming from the Left.

Left Gatekeeping in Action: Let’s Get Personal

In 2002 Naomi Klein made a wonderful documentary with Avi Lewis called “The Take”. The movie was about workers taking over bankrupt factories and running them without bosses. This was followed by a well-researched and popular book of hers called The Shock Doctrine. It described the destruction of economies around the world by a neoliberal economic policy founded by the “Chicago Boys”. A book or so later, she wrote This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. In this book she uses the term “capitalism” in a manipulative way. The word “capitalism” is provocative for selling the book. However, the book does not criticize capitalism as a system, but only the more neoliberalism version of it. So we are left to wonder, is she a Keynesian or is she a socialist?

Naomi Klein could have gone all over the world in a follow-up to her documentary and described workers’ self-management projects. She could have linked that to the workers’ councils that were present and operating in Russia from 1917-1921 and in Spain from 1936-1939. But this was perhaps not a project that a publisher would be interested in or a think tank or a foundation might support or promote.  So, Naomi Klein swings the gate between sympathy towards anarchism (worker occupations) and New Deal liberalism.

Cornel West is another critic who gives his followers mixed messages. In non- election years, he promotes a social democratic program. In most election years he bows to the “lesser of two evils” scenario and tells his followers to vote for the Democrats. Whether or not he promotes the Democrats or the Greens depends on who is running as a Democrat. So, for him, if he likes the person, which party the person is in is not so relevant. From a structural Marxist viewpoint, it doesn’t matter who is running as a Democrat. The Democratic Party is a ruling class party and whoever the individual may be is irrelevant. West also swings the gate between social democracy and New Deal liberalism.

Noam Chomsky swings the gate in a way similar to Naomi Klein. In election off-years, besides criticizing US foreign policy, he will promote anarchism by writing forwards to anarchist books. However, during election years his anarchism seems to disappear, and we will be told that the Republican Party is the most dangerous party in history, and we must vote for a Democrat. Chomsky swings the gate between anarchism and New Deal liberalism. Like the Cold War liberals of the 1950s, Chomsky is a dogmatic and relentless critic of any kind of state socialism and does not make a distinction between communists and fascists. Christopher Hedges also equated antifa to the Proud Boys as equally dangerous in that both advocate armed conflict. All these unwitting Left Gatekeepers share the characteristics of the New Left in Table A in Part I of my article.

Who do the Left Gatekeepers Censor and Vilify?

Any organization that is clearly for the working class. This doesn’t mean unions necessarily. In the business unionism of the United States from the 50s onward, union leadership lost all sense of vision, of fighting for workers to manage the workplace. Union dues were spent by the leadership on promoting voting for the Democratic Party rather than on organizing workers. Union bureaucrats were much more at home with Democratic politicians than they were with their own members. One organization that we predict will not ever make the news at either NPR or the Pacifica radio station is Labor Notes. Labor Notes has been in operation for 40 years. It tracks working class struggles around the United States from the point of view of the rank-and-file. Their goal is to “put the movement back in the labor movement.”

Another enemy of the Left Gatekeepers is the formation of a working-class party that is independent of both political parties. In his article on our website, Joe G. Kaye has nicely identified all the reasons a working-class party has not been formed in the United States. However, he has not included the machinations of the ruling class – the foundations, think tanks, etc. Despite whatever good intentions they may have, DSA, Jacobin, Socialist Alternative on the right, and anarchists Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert on the left, all are colluding in keeping a working-class party from forming when they invite us every four years to vote for the ”lesser of two evils”.

Whatever their shortcomings, Leninist parties all over the world have had some success in Russia, China and Cuba in organizing socialism at a national level and sustaining it over decades. Despite their political authoritarianism, they have done very well in reducing poverty, raising the literacy rate, and providing inexpensive housing. Leninist parties will always be condemned. The social democratic parties of Denmark, Sweden and Norway have also done well but only because their social democratic movement was a separate party and did not try to influence a ruling class party like the Democrats, as DSA has done here. While social democracy in these countries has not been condemned by the Left Gatekeepers, they are ignored as examples of how to be socialist and also produce a high standard of living. An independent socialist party terrifies the Left Gatekeepers.

The third group to be disinvited is any New Left group that is anti-Zionist. US foreign policy is very dependent on having a friendly base in the Middle East and we can rest assured that any group that is pro-Palestinian such as the ANSWER coalition will be attacked as being anti-Semitic. There is good reason why the scholar Norman Finkelstein has never been able to receive a full-time teaching position because of his defense of the Palestinians. The entire New Left must get a permit paper from AIPAC, the most powerful lobby for Israel in Yankeedom.

Another group targeted by the Left Gatekeepers are organizations that actively support anti-imperialism. Any Pan-African movement leaders like Gaddafi in Libya will be condemned as “authoritarian dictators”, mouthing CIA positions. The African People’s Socialist Party in Yankeedom would also be dismissed.

Furthermore, on an international level, any organization or media outlet that show the slightest sympathy to nations deemed an enemy of the United States will be targeted. The Left Gatekeepers will have no problem with anarchists who condemn both US foreign policy and the authoritarian governments of Russia, China and Iran. But any news source that reports some sympathy for Russia, China, Iran, Cuba or Venezuela are deemed enemies. It is very important to the Left Gatekeepers (whether inside or outside the CIA) that the left in the US tow the party line about its perceived enemies.

So, for example, it is impossible to say that that yes, China has an authoritarian government and, yes, there is a deep class structure and, yes, it is state capitalist. Nevertheless, the Chinese state has raised the standard of living for millions of people and internationally it is doing what Marx said was best about capitalism: developing the productive forces through building the New Silk Road. China is also going off the dollar, as is Russia, and they are backing their economies in gold. We think that any nation-states or states that attempt to break the domination of the Yankee empire is worth critically supporting. But for the Gatekeepers and their new left pawns, this is too much.

News sources that defend countries that challenge Yankees’ foreign policy will be harassed. This is the case for New Eastern Outlook, Russian Times, The Greanville Post, TeleSUR, or Venezuelan Analysis.

Lastly any group that suggests the United States has been and is capable of assassinations and false-flag operations at home or abroad will be labelled “conspiracy nuts”. This is certainly what happened and is happening to the 911 Truth Movement.

Strange Bedfellows: Is the New Left a Pawn of the Left Gatekeepers?

In this last section I want to show how easily the beliefs of the new left can mesh with the foreign and domestic policies of the Left Gatekeepers. First, when the New Left uncritically rejects the state socialism of the former Soviet Union or the current state capitalism of China, it cuts itself off from the Yankees’ greatest international rivals and it makes sympathetic collaboration impossible.  Secondly, when the New Left championed identity politics at the expense of social class, it lost the most powerful force for stopping the capitalist system — the working-class production of surplus value in the workplace. Organizing around race and gender does not have a concrete site in which surplus value is produced. As far as gender goes, however real “patriarchy” is, a women’s revolution against men is very far-fetched since it runs against evolutionary psychology’s sexual selection strategies.

When the New Left throws up its hands and says capitalism can go on forever, it deprives itself of understanding the weak points of the system and how it could be overturned. The Left Gatekeepers are thrilled with the 50-year wild-goose chase dissecting language, psychology, and sexuality, none of which are threats to capitalism. It would be one thing if the New Left approached political democracy with its own party. However, the New Left never built its own party and so it has been trapped for 50 years inside the Democratic Party. With the possible exception of the anarchists, the New Left ignored democracy, in the economic sense of democracy, in the workplace. Being trapped inside the Democratic Party is the ultimate aim of the Left Gatekeepers.

When the New Left rebels against social evolutionary visions of progress domestically, it renounces the expectation that capitalism live up to its promises to use science and technology to reduce the work hours while creating a better life for all. It walks away from the prospect that socialism must be based on abundance, not on redistributing scarcity more evenly. With the exception of Murray Bookchin and his followers, when the New Left embraces the ecology movement it treats ecology as separate from political economy, as in the case of Earth First.  Ecological spiritual interventions of the 1980s and 1990s treat nature as separate from capitalism. It also loses the Promethean spirit of humanity as a higher form of nature. When New Leftists renounce the nation-state for localism or “small is beautiful”, these decentralized movements are much easier for the Left Gatekeepers to control.

When the Club of Rome tells us that the Earth has a limited carrying capacity, it looks to the size of the population in peripheral countries as a problem. Instead of understanding that these countries have larger populations because they have a resource base in agriculture, they are seen as irrational. In reality, like all agricultural societies, they have more children because more children mean free labor. If peripheral countries were allowed to industrialize, their populations would shrink. By telling these countries they have to do with less, the Left Gatekeepers deny peripheral countries their right to the fruits of modern capitalism. Less people in the periphery means less competition for wealth.

Internationally, when the New Left becomes anti-western and throws itself into tribal primitivism, eastern mysticism or Wicca, it loses the potential for an organized liberation theology within the major churches. As this anti-westernism spreads around the globe, it opens the door for the Left Gatekeepers’ promotion of religious fundamentalism. This keeps science and engineering from developing in peripheral countries. That is dangerous for the Left Gatekeepers because these scientists might discover new forms of energy harnessing that might undermine the resource base of western capitalism.

In the arts, the Left Gatekeepers are delighted when the New Left rejects representational art and considers socialist realism too constraining. Abstract expressionism doesn’t depict existing social reality or how social reality could be. It describes psychological rumination that is cut off from social issues. The Left Gatekeepers tell abstract expressionists – “by all means, throw paint on the canvas, you rebel you!”

The same goes for personal appearance. In my article Is Shocking People Revolutionary, I explain how infinite personal expression may be psychologically satisfying to some but it also creates distance between the middle class, who might be curious about this, and the 40% of the working class for whom this seems quirky or weird.

While pot smoking and LSD tripping may be relaxing and mind-transforming in small doses, too much of this is a loss of organizing potential. I could not organize anyone who was high on pot or in the middle of an acid trip. The CIA gatekeepers knew exactly what they were doing when they flooded black communities with hard drugs in the early 70s. The New Left began with an interest in Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism. But many disappeared into the rabbit hole of individualist psychology, whether it be primal scream or gestalt psychology. The feminist cry “the personal is political” soon became the belief that the personal is all there is. For close to a century of psychological manipulation of Gatekeepers, see Adam Curtis documentary Century of the Self, especially Part III.

Conclusion

The purpose of this article is not to suggest that the non-Leninist left is the passive victim of the CIA, foundations, think tanks and lobbying groups. After all, these organizations did not create the New Left out of nothing. The New Left created its own politics and culture in reaction to real social struggles of the 1960s. It is instead to say that once these politics and culture were created, especially in the late 1960s, they were massaged, sculpted, cut, pasted and smoothed over to also meet the needs of the Leftist Gatekeepers. It is to say:

  1. there is real documentation in the present and past that shows that most leftist groups were, and are, being monitored and controlled by Left Gatekeepers;
  2. that there is an implied profile of the kind of leftist groups that are the enemies of the Left Gatekeepers; and,
  3. that in the light of the current crisis in capitalism and the coronavirus, it is more urgent than ever to embody, organize and spread a political-economic movement along the profile in line with the enemies of the Left Gatekeepers.

First published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

See Part 1 here

Faschion: Dressing for Obedience 

Asset Deals: John Paul II and his successor ex-Hitler Youth and Roman Grand Inquisitor Joseph Ratzingen, Benedict XVI1

In 2015 I argued that the purpose of the CIA war against Vietnam was two-fold. First of all the company was charged with preserving the now US interest in what had been French business in Indochina. The second objective — a part of its global strategy — was to create a country, the Republic of Vietnam (aka South Vietnam), which could sustain the illusion — created in Korea between 1945 and 1952 — that there were two countries: one that counted as civilised (capitalist and subordinated to the West) and one that was not really Vietnamese (like the PRDK is not really Korean and at that time the PRC was not really China).

To understand this approach to world politics and the general hatred of humanity underlying it, one has to take very seriously a tiny detail in the history of US colonialism. That detail is the personality of the man who turned working class denim trousers into a fashion item, a guy named Edward Lansdale. The history of covert action — namely, the cowards’ war for capitalism or as Agee called it the campaign of “capitalism’s invisible army” — can be simplified as the marriage of desire and deceit. In a sense the opacity of covert action or what has been popularised as the “deep state” can be traced to the doctrine of sacerdotal celibacy. Sacerdotal celebacy — the rule that priests cannot marry — was first a rule to protect the property accumulated by the Church from dissipation by the inheritance in favour of clerical children. The second reason for it was to protect the investments of the Catholic Church in prostitution and slavery.2  As much as I would like to elaborate on this Western cultural phenomenon, a dogma derived from Roman Catholicism, that would go too far for what is intended here as a brief intervention. My intention here is simply to strongly suggest that readers think in broader contexts than are ever presented by any media.

We have now reached a point where the covert action programme formulated by those who organised and conducted the mass killing system in Vietnam and later in Latin America and in Central Asia has become the central product to be marketed worldwide. The so-called pandemic, the Covid-2019, is nothing more or  less than a product of the counter-terror factory that the Anglo-American Empire established in Vietnam — based on the template already developed in Korea.

In Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines and the Surveillance State, Alfred McCoy (2009) wrote that the machinery (now digital) for policing in the US began in the Philippines — a US colony from 1901 until 1949 — and thereafter a protectorate. That is also where the Levi’s marketer, Lansdale, began his career as a terrorist. Douglas Valentine (1990) showed in great detail from the testimony of those who actually created and executed the Phoenix “marketing campaign of South Vietnam” how this system was built and operated. Valentine, in contrast to McCoy,  emphasises the purpose of a system which is consciously defective but infinitely violent. Whereas the vast majority of opponents to US wars object to their injustice, they do so implying that these wars — were they justly waged — would somehow be less or acceptably imperial. Ultimately in his book The CIA as Organised Crime Valentine (2016) shows that the Phoenix program is the “new normal”.

What happened in between October 2019 and March 2020 can be translated into the sequences of the war against the VCI as conceived, planned and implemented by the US Central Intelligence Agency. (Actually it is irrelevant whether it or other government agencies actually was the overall planning and executive instrument.) Daniel Estufin called it in an rather unqualified fashion the recognition that the “limit to growth” had been reached. This explanation reminiscent of the Club of Rome and its eugenic report avoids an elemental difficulty with the entire “growth” concept. One can summarise that in the pathological definition of “cancer” as uncontrolled cell growth at the expense of the healthy organism. This is, in fact, a wonderful example of what the neo-conservative literary scholar described in her book Illness as Metaphor (1978). The economy must grow and grow without purpose or reason. The rulers, like cancer cells, must steal through all seasons. Cancer, the ubiquitous, virtually incurable self-destruction of the individual human body — almost entirely induced by the toxification of the environment by unrestrained theft under capitalism — is the sickness of surplus. In the 19th century people died of consumption — tuberculosis — the toxification by raw accumulation and the exhaustion of human bodies.

However, with the digitalisation of capitalism and its extraction methods, the disease which is the penultimate expression of capitalist pathology, is the virus. Communists were germs or bacteria. After the destruction of virtually anything resembling communism — the European communist parties notwithstanding — a new pathological model was needed. The virus is an insidious metaphor. It is not like bacteria, a life form which can both produce and destroy. The post-communist era — whereby communism was simply a term for any opposition to the ruling gangsters — requires new terror products. That actually means old products in new packages. Anti-communism was repackaged as anti-terrorism (of course, only pseudo-Islamic terror, an utter fantasy, like in the era of the Reconquista and Crusades). The so-called corona virus, for the honest, is really a fabrication — probably developed in the same kind of imperial laboratories where the computer viruses have been designed since a certain entity sought to guarantee the monopoly it expected from its IBM days.

In a previous appreciation I indicated that the “lockdown” should be understood in terms of the “strategic hamlet” program. Now I would advise those who are not saturated in obsequiousness or servility to consider the current phase — called contact tracing — in terms of what was called in Vietnam “census grievance”.

The historical crisis with which we are confronted today is first and foremost a crisis of literacy. It would take too much space to explain what I mean by that. However, reading Paulo Freire’s now very unfashionable Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968) would make my point clearer.

Irony is a term used to describe linguistic practices, reading, writing and speaking. It designates a discrepancy between the circumstances explicitly perceived and the language used to describe them. Yet if one applies the term with that rare quality, sincerity, then there is indeed some irony to be found in the appreciation of that part of the world with the most favourable population density (albeit thanks to the immeasurable homicidal capacity of its ruling class), where the ruling class mandates the most fanatical interest in social distancing and masking (or gloving). The irony lies in the fact that the most sociopathic segment of the world’s population is located in the Western peninsula of Eurasia and North America where very low population densities prevail. People who have on average more living space per capita than anywhere else in the world — just cannot get enough. Now people, who for some five hundred years have vented their malice on Africa, Central and South America, Australia and Asia (not to mention millions slaughtered between 1915-1945) just cannot bear being closer than 1.5 meters to each other and want this to be the British (or German) standard for the world.

It is hard to share sympathy or even affection with much of what is published as “critical” today. It is just as esoteric as the tatoos on so many legs, arms and backsides. Permanent jewelry and stenciled stupidity, masks and gloves substituting thinking or love. My sympathy at least is exhausted by people whose sterility and verility transcend human dimensions.

A few months ago I was adamant about the insincerity of the global warming crusaders. I remain so. I am convinced that these were witting or unwitting campaigners in the crusade of death that the rich white supremacists on this planet are waging against ordinary people. Their message was nothing more or less than the blind religious fanaticism that has made the West the best organised homicidal society on the planet. That is the legacy of Christendom.

Today at lunch I watched a report on the canonisation of the Polish fascist known by his papal name, John Paul II. Roman Catholics are now permitted to venerate this vile cleric as a saint. The rest of the “white” world will venerate him for his contributions to the world we have today. It is a world liberated from every respect for life in whatever form and dedicated to the cult of death.

If we do not resist the cult of death and its sociopathic instruments — like social distancing — we will actually join — but not as TV actors — a society of the “living dead”.

  1. Together with the US regime this dynamic duo in the Catholic cult of death- the ancient foundation of Christendom and global terrorism-  waged war against communism and national liberation.
  2. Henry G. Lea, A History of the Inquisition of Spain, Volume 3, 1907.

Left Gatekeepers Through the New Left: Monitored Rebellion

The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters by Frances Stonor Saunders
Cultural containment meant “ring around the pinkos”

Leftist Patron Saints

What do the following people have in common: Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Naomi Klein, Robert Reich, Michael Albert, Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman, Medea Benjamin, Norman Solomon, Chris Hedges, Michael Moore, Greg Palast, and Chip Berlet? With the exception of Norman Solomon and Chip Berlet, these are household names among “progressives”. What they appear to have in common is that they are “left.” How far left? On the surface, they appear to run the full spectrum.  After all, Chomsky and Michael Albert are anarchists. Most, if not all, of the rest are advocating some kind of social democracy. Robert Reich and possibly Amy Goodman are New Deal liberals. Have we missed any tendency? Is that it? Yes, we are missing a tendency. The Leninist tradition, whether Trotskyist, Stalinist or Maoist. Are there reasons they are not included?

Why would the most supposedly leftist of all tendencies, the anarchists, get airtime on a show like Democracy Now, while Leninists such as Michael Parenti or Gloria La Riva are rarely, if ever, invited? A crucial key to understanding why this is the case is to clarify the differences between the Old and the New Left.

The Old vs the New Left

What all these patron saints have in common is that they are members of the New Left in the U.S. as opposed to the Old Left. The New left grew up in the early 1960’s on the basis of rejecting the Soviet Union as a model for socialism. For the New Left, some form of social democracy or participatory democracy (anarchist) was the best model. Additionally, the old left emphasized that social class — specifically the working class — was the agent of revolutionary change. The New Left rejected this. For them, the working class has been bought off by capitalism and was no longer a revolutionary class. The New Left turned to philosophers like Herbert Marcuse who claimed that students were the revolutionary class worth organizing.

At the same time, some sections of the middle-class civil rights movement organized around Martin Luther King (a social democrat). The women’s movement had two wings, the liberal Betty Friedan wing and the radical lesbians. But what both these New Left systems of stratification had in common was that race and gender were more important than social class.

There were exceptions to the rule. For example, while the Weatherman were anti-working class, they were secretive (Leninist), and identified with anti-imperialism and the necessity of armed force in order to fight. They tended to idolize third world countries and blindly accept their leadership. Malcolm X had clear roots in the Black working class and poor and maintained a class perspective. He was murdered before he settled within a leftist tendency, but he seemed to be on the way to Trotskyism when he died. So, in the New Left, there were some Leninist tendencies but mostly the social democratic and anarchist orientations won out.

A fourth major difference between the Old and the New Left was the economy. For the Old Left of the Communist Party of Russia, China and Cuba, capitalism by its very nature has contradictions that will drive it to destruction. All Leninists agreed that capitalism was doomed. For the New Left, capitalism seems to have survived its crisis of the Great Depression and the World Wars and was expanding production. It was thought that capitalism could go on forever. The New Left became increasingly cynical that capitalism could be stopped due to any inherent contradictions. Only by revolutionary will would it be possible for capitalism to be overthrown.

Who developed revolutionary theory? For the Old Left, revolutionary theory was developed by professional revolutionaries inside the Communist Party or by members of trade unions. At least hypothetically, if not actually, Leninist theory should be informed by political practice in organizing the working class and its struggles. On the other hand, led by the Frankfurt school, New Leftist theory was developed not within a party or a union but within the academy. Most New Leftist theory after 1970 came out of universities, whether structuralism, Foucault, post-structuralist or postmodernist. These theories were not informed by any connection to practice. They built on each other and increasingly lost touch with any kind of practical tests. One exception to this academic trend was Murray Bookchin and his anarchist followers.

Next, the Old Left did not think much of democracy. Leninist democratic centralism had limited democracy, but once a party decision was made there was no more arguing. Every member of the party carried out the program. For the New Left, democracy was very important. For the social democratic wing, democracy could be obtained by participating in elections either as an independent party, such as the Socialist party, or even by entering the Democratic Party, as had been done for 50 years by the Democratic Socialists of America. The anarchists would have nothing to do with representative democracy but wanted participatory democracy as in the early years of SDS.  This participatory democracy continued in the strikes in France in May 1968, and in the theories of the Situationist International. The social anarchists who followed Murray Bookchin and the Occupy movement of nine years ago incorporated this participatory model.

The attitude towards the arts between the New Left and the Old Left were at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Leninist left thought the responsibility of the artist was to represent reality as it really was from a working-class viewpoint (socialist realism). For the New Left, art was a rejection of the life of the working class. Beat poetry and abstract expressionism moved away from reality and expressed the psychological idiosyncrasies of the artist. What was revolutionary was individual expression.

As for appearance, Leninists tried to emulate the dress of the working-class so that short hair and jeans were a sign of solidarity. For the New Left appearances were determined by the countercultural tastes which included beads, long skirts, bell bottoms and tie-dyed clothes.  Among the Leninist Black New Left, dressing in the clothes of the African country they were originally from was an option.

In terms of social evolution, the Old Left embraced Marx’s linear model of primitive communism through three forms of class society before reaching communism. Like the bourgeoisie of their country, they championed the notion of progress through science and technology. The New Left was having none of this. They questioned whether capitalist society was more evolved than what went before and they were skeptical of science in delivering us to the promised land. They were much closer to romantics, who identified with tribal societies, whether in the United States or around the world.

For the Old Left, one’s personal life had little to do with the political world. It was possible to be withdrawn, apathetic or abusive in personal life and that had nothing to do with the revolution. For the New Left, specifically the women’s movement, “the personal was political”. What this meant was that your personal life needed to be a microcosm of the world you wanted to build. That meant you could not have a bad marriage and a good revolution. You had to “be the change you wanted to have happen”. This was enhanced by pot and LSD trips.

Where does psychology fit into the picture? For the Old Left, personal psychological problems were just “nerves” not worth taking seriously. It is understandable that the Old Left was skeptical or cynical of psychology and dismissed it as “bourgeois”. The work of Vygotsky, Luria and Leontiev in Russia remained untranslated, so they had no “communist psychology” to draw from. The New Left was much more interested in psychology. It was very sympathetic to the Freudian left of Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm. For the socialist women’s movement Karen Horney was a heroine. Reich’s work The Mass Psychology of Fascism helped explain not only the rise of fascism but the failure of the working class to rise up. For the Black Leninist left, Frantz Fanon was the best at explaining self-hatred among colonial people.

For the Old Left ecology was not an issue. They treated the ecological setting as a backdrop for social evolution which was understood as a higher form of nature. In terms of scale, the Old Left took for granted the nation-state as the smallest, most realistic political body to organize around. The Old Left thought of nature as infinitely fecund and able to carry a growing population without limits. But for the New Left, the ecology movement in the 60’s saw nature as under attack and should be defended and appreciated. The romantic tendency of the New Left meant “going back to nature”. This was later accompanied by the “small is beautiful” movement which fit well with anarchist decentralization concepts. Furthermore, in 1972 the Club of Rome issued its first report stating that the carrying capacity of the planet was limited. This meant that unlimited growth could no longer be sustainable. People had to learn to do with less. For the first time since the eugenics movement, the question of too many people on the planet was broached, however tentatively.

The last categorical difference has to do with the differences in religion and spirituality. For the Old Left, atheism was the ideal and organized religion and spirituality were all part of the same superstition. The New Left was more open to institutionalized religion (as in following Martin Luther King), while making a distinction between institutionalized religion and spirituality (which was separate from organized religion). By the early 1970’s, the New Left became susceptible to Eastern mysticism (TM, yoga) and the Gurus who came with it. Women especially were leaving institutionalized religion for wicca and other neo-pagan traditions. Some New Leftists later morphed into Rudolf Steiner Waldorf education and Gurdjieff movement.  Anarchists were more likely to gravitate to the magical work of Aleister Crowley. See table 1 for a summary.

But why does this matter? If the Old Left is marginalized and excluded in the press, magazines and on radio waves today and the New Left —  social democrats and anarchists — are welcomed, what does this have to do with Left Gatekeeping? After all, maybe the Old Left is not paid attention to because they are “out if date” with their Leninist vanguard party and mindless defense of the Soviet Union. To some extent this may be so, but that is far from the whole picture.

Old Left vs New Left – Table I

The Congress for Cultural Freedom

How it started

In his book The Mighty Wurlitzer Hugh Wilford describes the events that led to the founding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF):

In March 1949, the Waldorf-Astoria hotel hosted a gathering of Soviet and American intellectuals, the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace. This was sponsored by the American Popular Front attended by, among others, Paul Robeson and Lillian Hellman. It was a publicity disaster. The State Department derailed preparations by refusing to grant visas to would-be European participants.  Anti-communist vigilantes were alerted by the Hearst Press. Disruptions were staged by anti-Stalinists, organized by Sidney Hook. (Page 70)

What it did

In her book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, Frances Stonor Saunders traces the activity of an organization called the Congress for Cultural Freedom which existed from 1950 to 1967. The secret mission of the organization was to promote cultural propaganda in Western Europe to keep it from going communist. The idea was to make it seem that the cultural criticism of communism coming from the West about the Soviet Union was a spontaneous irruption, rather than stage-managed. The CIA poured tens of millions of dollars into this project.

As it turns out, groups of ex-communists for the most part inadvertently, helped to invent the weapons with which the CIA fought communism. Later, these ex-communists were sidelined as the spies attempted to professionalize their front operations with their Ivy League recruits.

As Stonor Sanders tells it, the congress:

…stockpiled a vast arsenal of cultural weapons — journals, books, conferences, seminars, art exhibitions, concerts and awards. Whether they knew it or not, there were few writers, poets, artists and historians, scientists or critics in post-war Europe whose names were not in some way linked to the covert enterprise. It consisted of former radicals and leftist intellectuals whose faith in Marxism had been shattered by Stalinism. (Page 2)

In terms of propagandistic goals, as Stoner Saunders says, “The most effective kind of propaganda is where the subjects move in the direction you desire for reasons which he believes are his own” (Page 4)

The strategy of promoting the non-communists was to become the theoretical foundation of the agency’s political operations against Communism over the next two decades. (Page 63)

Suitable texts were easily available from the CCF such as Andre Gide’s account of his disillusionment in Russia, Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Yogi and the Commissar, and Ignazio Silone’s Bread and Wine. Further, the CIA subsidized The New Class by Milovan Djilas about the class system in the USSR. Books with titles like Life and Death in the USSR by a Marxist writer criticizing Stalinism was a book widely translated and distributed with CIA assistance. The compilation of articles made into the book The God That Failed was distributed all over Europe.

On the surface it may seem that the purpose of the CIA front groups was to destroy communism. However, Stoner Saunders denies this.

The purpose of supporting leftist groups was not to destroy or even dominate… but rather to maintain a discreet proximity and monitor the thinking of such groups to provide them with a mouthpiece so they could blow off steam. It was to be a beachhead in western Europe from which the advance of Communist ideas could be halted. It was to engage in a widespread and cohesive campaign of peer pressure to persuade intellectuals to dissociate themselves from Communist fronts. (Page 98)

Besides publishing, the CIA set up front groups for disseminating their ideas. In 1952 it began setting up dummy organizations for laundering subsidies. The formula was:

Go to a well-known rich person and tell them you want to set up a foundation in the name of the government:

  1. Pledge this person to secrecy.
  2. Publish a letterhead with the would-be name of the donor.
  3. Give the dummy organization a neutral sounding name.

When it came to the arts:

With an initial grant of 500,000 Laughlin launched the magazine Perspectives which targeted the non-communist left in France, England, Italy, and Germany. Its aim was not so much to defeat leftist intellectuals as to lure them away from their positions by aesthetic and rational persuasion. (Page 140)

According to Stoner Saunders the animated cartoon of Orwell’s Animal Farm was financed by the CIA and distributed throughout the world. But the CIA did more than distribute. They actually changed the story.

In the original text, communist pigs and capitalist man are indistinguishable, merging into a common pool of rottenness.

In the film, such congruity was carefully elided (Pilkington and Frederick, central characters whom Orwell designated as the British and German governing classes are barely noticeable) and the ending is eliminated. In the book:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man and from man to pig and it was impossible to say which was which. Viewers of the film saw something different — which was the sight of the pigs impelling the other watching animals to mount a successful counter-revolution by storming the farmhouse. By removing the human farmers from the scene, leaving only the pigs reveling in the fruits of exploitation, the conflation of the Communist corruption with capitalist degradation is reversed. (Page 295)

When it came to his novel, 1984, most everyone assumed that the idea of it came from Orwell’s Trotskyist criticism of Stalinism. However, Trotsky’s biographer, Isaac Deutscher, claimed that Orwell got the symbols, plot and chief characters from Yevgeny Zamyatin’s book We.

Image is of author Arthur Koestler, trade-unionist Irving Brown and Professor James Burnham

Who was involved?

What leftists or former leftists were involved in the Congress for Cultural Freedom? Sidney Hook (former Marxist), Arthur Koestler (former communist), James Burnham (former Trotskyist), Raymond Aron, Harold Laski, Isaiah Berlin, Daniel Bell (The End of Ideology), Irving Kristol (former Trotskyist,) Franz Borkenau (former communist), and Lionel Trilling to name just a few.

For the most part, without knowing exactly who they were dealing with, these former communists like Burnham, Koestler and Louis Fischer wanted to directly confront Stalinism politically. They felt no one knew better how to fight communism than they did. Burnham went so far as to say that CCF should form a true anti-communist front embracing the non-socialists right as well. Koestler, Burnham, Hook, Lasky and Irvin Brown met every evening as an unofficial steering committee. But cooler heads prevailed. Michael Josselson, one of the founders of the organization, believed in the soft-sell strategy, which is winning intellectual support for the western cause in the Cold War by fostering a cultural community between America and Europe.

Did these ex-communists know they were working for the CIA?

The parameters of knowing ranges from who knew and who didn’t. But these extremes are too easy. Better to separate points of gradation into:

  • Those who knew everything about the CIA involvement;
  • Those who knew some things and not others and did not want to find out;
  • Those who thought some things were fishy but didn’t inquire further; and,
  • Those who were completely naïve and didn’t know.

One who knew was Sidney Hook, who was in contact with the CIA. He was a regular consultant to the CIA on matters of mutual interest. In 1955 Hook was directly involved in negotiations with Allen Dulles. Another who knew but was not ashamed of it was Diana Trilling who said, “I did not believe that to take the support of my government was a dishonorable act”. Late in his life Orwell knew the CIA was involved and actively supported them. He had handed over a list of suspected fellow travelers to the Information Research Department in 1949.

Deeply suspicious of just about everybody, Orwell had been keeping a blue quarto notebook close to hand for several years. By 1949 it contained 125 names. (The Cultural Cold War, Page 299)

It would seem that most leftists fell into categories two and three. It is highly unlikely that those involved in radical politics both internationally and domestically, and those subjected to the intrigues of Stalin would be completely naïve about the machinations of any other large political organizations that were involved.

Furthermore, as Primo Levi points out insightfully in The Drowned and the Saved, those who consciously lie to others as well as themselves are in the minority:

But more numerous are those who weigh anchor, move off from genuine memories, and fabricate for themselves a convenient reality. The silent transition from falsehood to sly deception is useful. Anyone who lies in good faith is better off, he recites his part better, he is more easily believed. (The Cultural Cold War, Page 414)

How successful was the CIA?

It is tempting to think that an organization as powerful as the CIA would overwhelm and turn to mush another group that stood in its way. But that is not what happened. Ex-communists fought among themselves and twisted the intention of the CIA and took things in another direction. As if to answer Stoner Saunders’ excessive attribution of power to the CIA, Hugh Wilford says that the CIA might have called the tune, but the piper didn’t always play it, nor did the audience dance to it.

Did This Left Gatekeeping End with the Ending of the Congress for Cultural Freedom?

It is fair to say that Khrushchev’s revelations about Stalin broke the hearts and backs of The Old Left. The sad story of disbelief and denial of communists who spent years bending over backward justifying Stalinist terrors and show trials was exposed. The Congress of Cultural Freedom contributed to this downfall to some extent, though the whole operation was exposed by Ramparts Magazine in 1967.

But what about the New Left? Since the Congress of Cultural Freedom had ended, was there anything left to monitor? After all, the New Left was not Leninist. Is there a relationship between the characteristics of the New Left in Table I and some new monitoring organizations like foundations, think tanks, public relations campaigns and lobbyists? Or was the New Left an autonomous, spontaneous eruption of the youth culture of the 60’s? Part II will discuss these important questions.

• First published at Planning Beyond Capitalism

Welcome to the Era of the Great Disillusionment

This is a column I have been mulling over for a while but, for reasons that will be instantly obvious, I have been hesitant to write. It is about 5G, vaccines, 9/11, aliens and lizard overlords. Or more accurately, it isn’t.

Let me preface my argument by making clear I do not intend to express any view about the truth or falsity of any of these debates – not even the one about reptile rulers. My refusal to publicly take a view should not be interpreted as my implicit endorsement of any of these viewpoints because, after all, only a crazy tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist sympathiser would refuse to make their views known on such matters.

Equally, my lumping together of all these disparate issues does not necessarily mean I see them as alike. Rather, they are presented in mainstream thinking as similarly proof of an unhinged, delusional, conspiracy-oriented mindset. I am working within a category that has been selected for me.

Truth and falsehood are not what this column is about. To consider these topics solely on the basis of whether they are true or false would distract from the critical thinking I wish to engage in here – especially since critical thinking is so widely discouraged in our societies. I want this column to deny a safe space to anyone emotionally invested in either side of these debates. (Doubtless, that will not deter those who would prefer to make mischief and misrepresent my argument. That is a hazard that comes with the territory.)

I am focusing on this set of issues now because some of them have been playing out increasingly loudly on social media as we cope with the isolation of lockdowns. People trapped at home have more time to explore the internet, and that means more opportunities to find often obscure information that may or may not be true. These kinds of debates are shaping our discursive landscape, and have profound political implications. It is these matters, not questions of truth, I want to examine in this column.

Social media and 5G

Let’s take 5G as an example. I am not a scientist, and I have done no research on 5G. Which is a very good reason why no one should be interested in what I have to say about the science or the safety of 5G. But like many people active on social media, I have been made aware – often with little choice on my part – of online debates about 5G and science.

Like TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, I have inevitably gained an impression of that debate. To a casual viewer, the debate looks (and we are discussing here appearances only) something like this:

a) State scientific advisers, as well as scientists whose jobs or research are financed by the mobile phone industry, are very certain that there are no dangers associated with 5G.

b) A few scientists (real ones, not evangelical pastors pretending to be former Vodafone executives) have warned that there has not been independent research on the health effects of 5G, that the technology has been rushed through for commercial reasons, and that the possible dangers posed long term to our health from constant exposure have not been properly assessed.

c) Other scientists in this specialist field, possibly the majority, are keeping their peace.

Business our new god

That impression might not be true. It may be that that is just the way social media has made the debate look. It is possible that on the contrary:

  • the research has been vigorously carried out, even if it does not appear to have been widely reported in the mainstream media,
  • mobile phone and other communication industries have not financed what research there is in an attempt to obtain results helpful to their commercial interests,
  • the aggressively competitive mobile phone industry has been prepared to sit back and wait several years for all safety issues to be resolved, unconcerned about the effects on their profits of such delays,
  • the industry has avoided using its money and lobbyists to buy influence in the corridors of power and advance a political agenda based on its commercial interests rather than on the science,
  • and individual governments, keen not to be left behind on a global battlefield in which they compete for economic, military and intelligence advantage, have collectively waited to see whether 5G is safe rather than try to undercut each other and gain an edge over allies and enemies alike.

All of that is possible. But anyone who has been observing our societies for the past few decades – where business has become our new god, and where corporate money seems to dominate our political systems more than the politicians we elect – would have at least reasonable grounds to worry that corners may have been cut, that political pressure may have been exerted, and that some scientists (who are presumably human like the rest of us) may have been prepared to prioritise their careers and incomes over the most rigorous science.

Looney-tunes conspiracism

Again, I am not a scientist. Even if the research has not been carried out properly and the phone industry has lobbied sympathetic politicians to advance its commercial interests, it is still possible that, despite all that, 5G is entirely safe. But as I said at the start, I am not here to express a view about the science of 5G.

I am discussing instead why it is not unreasonable or entirely irrational for a debate about the safety of 5G to have gone viral on social media while being ignored by corporate media; why a very mainstream TV presenter like Eamonn Holmes might suggest – to huge criticism – a need to address growing public concerns about 5G; why such concerns might quickly morph into fears of a connection between 5G and the current global pandemic; and why frightened people might decide to take things into their own hands by burning down 5G masts.

Explaining this chain of events is not the same as justifying any of the links in that chain. But equally, dismissing all of it as simply looney-tunes conspiracism is not entirely reasonable or rational either.

The issue here is not really about 5G, it’s about whether our major institutions still hold public trust. Those who dismiss all concerns about 5G have a very high level of trust in the state and its institutions. Those who worry about 5G – a growing section of western populations , it seems – have very little trust in our institutions and increasingly in our scientists too. And the people responsible for that erosion of trust are our governments – and, if we are brutally honest, the scientists as well.

Information overload

Debates like the 5G one have not emerged in a vacuum. They come at a moment of unprecedented information dissemination that derives from a decade of rapid growth in social media. We are the first societies to have access to data and information that was once the preserve of monarchs, state officials and advisers, and in more recent times a few select journalists.

Now rogue academics, rogue journalists, rogue former officials – anyone, in fact – can go online and discover a myriad of things that until recently no one outside a small establishment circle was ever supposed to understand. If you know where to look, you can even find some of this stuff on Wikipedia (see, for example, Operation Timber Sycamore).

The effect of this information overload has been to disorientate the great majority of us who lack the time, the knowledge and the analytical skills to sift through it all and make sense of the world around us. It is hard to discriminate when there is so much information – good and bad alike – to digest.

Nonetheless, we have got a sense from these online debates,  reinforced by events in the non-virtual world, that our politicians do not always tell the truth, that money – rather than the public interest – sometimes wins out in decision-making processes, and that our elites may be little better equipped than us – aside from their expensive educations – to run our societies.

Two decades of lies

There has been a handful of staging posts over the past two decades to our current era of the Great Disillusionment. They include:

  • the lack of transparency in the US government’s investigation into the events surrounding 9/11 (obscured by a parallel online controversy about what took place that day);
  • the documented lies told about the reasons for launching a disastrous and illegal war of aggression against Iraq in 2003 that unleashed regional chaos, waves of destabilising migration into Europe and new, exceptionally brutal forms of political Islam;
  • the astronomical bailouts after the 2008 crash of bankers whose criminal activities nearly bankrupted the global economy (but who were never held to account) and instituted more than a decade of austerity measures that had to be paid for by the public;
  • the refusal by western governments and global institutions to take any leadership on tackling climate change, as not only the science but the weather itself has made the urgency of that emergency clear, because it would mean taking on their corporate sponsors;
  • and now the criminal failures of our governments to prepare for, and respond properly to, the Covid-19 pandemic, despite many years of warnings.

Anyone who still takes what our governments say at face value … well, I have several bridges to sell you.

Experts failed us

But it is not just governments to blame. The failings of experts, administrators and the professional class have been all too visible to the public as well. Those officials who have enjoyed easy access to prominent platforms in the state-corporate media have obediently repeated what state and corporate interests wanted us to hear, often only for that information to be exposed later as incomplete, misleading or downright fabricated.

In the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, too many political scientists, journalists and weapons experts kept their heads down, keen to preserve their careers and status, rather than speak up in support of those rare experts like Scott Ritter and the late David Kelly who dared to sound the alarm that we were not being told the whole truth.

In 2008, only a handful of economists was prepared to break with corporate orthodoxy and question whether throwing money at bankers exposed as financial criminals was wise, or to demand that these bankers be prosecuted. The economists did not argue the case that there must be a price for the banks to pay, such as a public stake in the banks that were bailed out, in return for forcing taxpayers to massively invest in these discredited businesses. And the economists did not propose overhauling our financial systems to make sure there was no repetition of the economic crash. Instead, they kept their heads down as well, in the hope that their large salaries continued and that they would not lose their esteemed positions in think-tanks and universities.

We know that climate scientists were quietly warning back in the 1950s of the dangers of runaway global warming, and that in the 1980s scientists working for the fossil-fuel companies predicted very precisely how and when the catastrophe would unfold – right about now. It is wonderful that today the vast majority of these scientists are publicly agreed on the dangers, even if they are still trapped in a dangerous caution by the conservatism of scientific procedure. But they forfeited public trust by leaving it so very, very late to speak up.

And recently we have learnt, for example, that a series of Conservative governments in the UK recklessly ran down the supplies of hospital protective gear, even though they had more than a decade of warnings of a coming pandemic. The question is why did no scientific advisers or health officials blow the whistle earlier. Now it is too late to save the lives of many thousands, including dozens of medical staff, who have fallen victim so far to the virus in the UK.

Lesser of two evils

Worse still, in the Anglosphere of the US and the UK, we have ended up with political systems that offer a choice between one party that supports a brutal, unrestrained version of neoliberalism and another party that supports a marginally less brutal, slightly mitigated version of neoliberalism. (And we have recently discovered in the UK that, after the grassroots membership of one of those twinned parties managed to choose a leader in Jeremy Corbyn who rejected this orthodoxy, his own party machine conspired to throw the election rather than let him near power.) As we are warned at each election, in case we decide that elections are in fact futile, we enjoy a choice – between the lesser of two evils.

Those who ignore or instinctively defend these glaring failings of the modern corporate system are really in no position to sit smugly in judgment on those who wish to question the safety of 5G, or vaccines, or the truth of 9/11, or the reality of a climate catastrophe, or even of the presence of lizard overlords.

Because through their reflexive dismissal of doubt, of all critical thinking on anything that has not been pre-approved by our governments and by the state-corporate media, they have helped to disfigure the only yardsticks we have for measuring truth or falsehood. They have forced on us a terrible choice: to blindly follow those who have repeatedly demonstrated they are not worthy of being followed, or to trust nothing at all, to doubt everything. Neither position is one a healthy, balanced individual would want to adopt. But that is where we are today.

Big Brother regimes

It is therefore hardly surprising that those who have been so discredited by the current explosion of information – the politicians, the corporations and the professional class – are wondering how to fix things in the way most likely to maintain their power and authority.

They face two, possibly complementary options.

One is to allow the information overload to continue, or even escalate. There is an argument to be made that the more possible truths we are presented with, the more powerless we feel and the more willing we are to defer to those most vocal in claiming authority. Confused and hopeless, we will look to father figures, to the strongmen of old, to those who have cultivated an aura of decisiveness and fearlessness, to those who look like down-to-earth mavericks and rebels.

This approach will throw up more Donald Trumps, Boris Johnsons and Jair Bolsonaros. And these men, while charming us with their supposed lack of orthodoxy, will still, of course, be exceptionally accommodating to the most powerful corporate interests – the military-industrial complex – that really run the show.

The other option, which has already been road-tested under the rubric of “fake news”, will be to treat us the public like irresponsible children, who need a firm, guiding hand. The technocrats and professionals will try to re-establish their authority as though the last two decades never occurred, as though we never saw through their hypocrisy and lies.

They will cite “conspiracy theories” – even the true ones – as proof that it is time to impose new curbs on internet freedoms, on the right to speak and to think. They will argue that the social media experiment has run its course and proved itself a menace – because we, the public, are a menace. They are already flying trial balloons for this new Big Brother world, under cover of tackling the health threats posed by the Covid-19 epidemic.

We should not be surprised that the “thought-leaders” for shutting down the cacophony of the internet are those whose failures have been most exposed by our new freedoms to explore the dark recesses of the recent historical record. They have included Tony Blair, the British prime minister who lied western publics into the disastrous and illegal war on Iraq in 2003, and Jack Goldsmith, rewarded as a Harvard law professor for his role – since whitewashed – in helping the Bush administration legalise torture and step up warrantless surveillance programmes.

Need for a new media

The only alternative to a future in which we are ruled by Big Brother technocrats like Tony Blair, or by chummy authoritarians who brook no dissent, or a mix of the two, will require a complete overhaul of our societies’ approach to information. We will need fewer curbs on free speech, not more.

The real test of our societies – and the only hope of surviving the coming emergencies, economic and environmental – will be finding a way to hold our leaders truly to account. Not based on whether they are secretly lizards, but on what they are doing to save our planet from our all-too-human, self-destructive instinct for acquisition and our craving for guarantees of security in an uncertain world.

That, in turn, will require a transformation of our relationship to information and debate. We will need a new model of independent, pluralistic, responsive, questioning media that is accountable to the public, not to billionaires and corporations. Precisely the kind of media we do not have now. We will need media we can trust to represent the full range of credible, intelligent, informed debate, not the narrow Overton window through which we get a highly partisan, distorted view of the world that serves the 1 percent – an elite so richly rewarded by the current system that they are prepared to ignore the fact that they and we are hurtling towards the abyss.

With that kind of media in place – one that truly holds politicians to account and celebrates scientists for their contributions to collective knowledge, not their usefulness to corporate enrichment – we would not need to worry about the safety of our communications systems or medicines, we would not need to doubt the truth of events in the news or wonder whether we have lizards for rulers, because in that kind of world no one would rule over us. They would serve the public for the common good.

Sounds like a fantastical, improbable system of government? It has a name: democracy. Maybe it is time for us finally to give it a go.

Brave New Normal

So the War on Populism is finally over. Go ahead, take a wild guess who won.

I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t the Russians, or the white supremacists, or the gilets jaunes, or Jeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, or the misogynist Bernie Bros, or the MAGA-hat terrorists, or any of the other real or fictional “populist” forces that global capitalism has been waging war on for the last four years.

What? You weren’t aware that global capitalism was fighting a War on Populism? That’s OK, most other folks weren’t. It wasn’t officially announced or anything. It was launched in the summer of 2016, just as the War on Terror was ending, as a sequel to the War on Terror, or a variation on the War on Terror, or continuation of the War on Terror, or … whatever, it doesn’t really matter anymore, because now we’re fighting the War on Death, or the War on Minor Cold-like Symptoms, depending on your age and general state of health.

That’s right, folks, once again, global capitalism (a/k/a “the world”) is under attack by an evil enemy. GloboCap just can’t catch a break. From the moment it defeated communism and became a global ideological hegemon, it has been one evil enemy after another.

No sooner had it celebrated winning the Cold War and started ruthlessly restructuring and privatizing everything than it was savagely attacked by “Islamic terrorists,” and so was forced to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, and kill and torture a lot of people, and destabilize the entire Middle East, and illegally surveil everybody, and … well, you remember the War on Terror.

Then, just as the War on Terror seemed to be finally winding down, and the only terrorists left were the “self-radicalized” terrorists (many of whom weren’t even actual terrorists), and it looked like GloboCap was finally going to be able to finish privatizing and debt-enslaving everything and everyone in peace, wouldn’t you know it, we were attacked again, this time by the global conspiracy of Russian-backed, neo-fascist “populists” that caused the Brexit and elected Trump, and tried to elect Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, and loosed the gilets jaunes on France, and who’ve been threatening the “fabric of Western democracy” with dissension-sowing Facebook memes.

Unfortunately, unlike the War on Terror, the War on Populism didn’t go that well. After four years of fighting, GloboCap (a/k/a the neoliberal Resistance) had … OK, they had snuffed both Corbyn and Sanders, but they had totally blown the Russiagate psyop, and so were looking at four more years of Trump, and Lord knows how many of Johnson in the U.K. (which had actually left the European Union), and the gilets jaunes weren’t going away, and, basically, “populism” was still on the rise (if not in reality, in hearts and minds).

And so, just as the War on Populism had replaced (or redefined) the War on Terror, the War on Death has been officially launched to replace (or redefine) the War on Populism … which means (you guessed it), once again, it’s time to roll out another “brave new normal.”

The character of this brave new normal is, at this point, unmistakably clear … so clear that most people cannot see it, because their minds are not prepared to accept it, so they do not recognize it, though they are looking right at it. Like Dolores in the Westworld series, “it doesn’t look like anything” to them. To the rest of us, it looks rather totalitarian.

In the span of approximately 100 days, the entire global capitalist empire has been transformed into a de facto police state. Constitutional rights have been suspended. Most of us are under house arrest. Police are rounding up anyone not cooperating with the new emergency measures. They are pulling riders off of public transportation, arresting people whose papers aren’t in order, harrassing, beating, intimidating, and arbitrarily detaining anyone they decide is “a danger to public health.”

Authorities are openly threatening to forcibly pull people out of their homes and quarantine them. Cops are hunting down runaway grandmothers. They’re raiding services in churches and synagogues. Citizens are being forced to wear ankle monitors. Families out for a walk are being menaced by robots and Orwellian drones.

Counterterrorism troops have been deployed to deal with non-compliant “rule breakers.” Anyone the U.S. authorities deem to have “intentionally spread the coronavirus” can be arrested and charged as a coronavirus terrorist. Artificial intelligence firms are working with governments to implement systems to log and track our contacts and movements. As a recent Foreign Policy article put it:

The counterterrorism analogy is useful because it shows the direction of travel of pandemic policy. Imagine a new coronavirus patient is detected. Once he or she tests positive, the government could use cell-phone data to trace everyone he or she has been in close proximity to, perhaps focusing on those people who were in contact for more than a few minutes. Your cell-phone signal could then be used to enforce quarantine decisions. Leave your apartment and the authorities will know. Leave your phone behind and they will call you. Run the battery down and a police car will be at your door in a manner of minutes …

I could go on, but I think you get the picture, or … well, you either do or you don’t.

And that is the really terrifying part of the War on Death and our “brave new normal” … not so much the totalitarianism. (Anyone who’s been paying attention is not terribly shocked by GloboCap’s decision to implement a global police state. The simulation of democracy is all fine and good, until the unwashed masses start to get unruly, and require a reminder of who’s in charge, which is what we are being treated to currently.)

No, the terrifying part is how millions of people immediately switched off their critical faculties, got into line, and started goose-stepping, and parroting hysterical propaganda, and reporting their neighbors to the police for going outside for a walk or jog (and then sadistically shrieked abuse down at them like the Goodbye Jews Girl in Schindler’s List as they were wrestled to the ground and arrested).

They are out there, right now, on the Internet, millions of these well-meaning fascists, patrolling for signs of the slightest deviation from the official coronavirus narrative, bombarding everyone with meaningless graphs, decontextualized death statistics, X-rays of fibrotic lungs, photos of refrigerated morgue trucks, mass graves, and other sensationalistic horrors intended to short-circuit critical thinking and shut down any and all forms of dissent.

Although undeniably cowardly and sickening, this kind of behavior is also not shocking. Sadly, when you terrorize people enough, the majority will regress to their animal instincts. It isn’t a question of ethics, or politics. It is purely a question of self-preservation. When you cancel the normal structure of society and place everyone in a “state of emergency” … well, it’s like what happens in a troop of chimpanzees when the alpha chimp dies or is killed by a challenger. The other chimps run around hooting and grimacing until it’s clear who the new dominant primate is, then they bend over to demonstrate their submission.

Totalitarians understand this. Sadists and cult leaders understand this. When the people you are dominating get unruly, and start questioning your right to dominate them, you need to fabricate a “state of emergency” and make everyone feel very afraid, so that they turn (or return) to you for protection from whatever evil enemy is out there, threatening the cult, or the Fatherland, or whatever. Then, once they’ve returned to the fold, and stopped questioning your right to dominate them, you can introduce a new set of rules that everybody needs to follow to prevent this kind of thing happening again.

This is obviously what is happening at the moment. But what you probably want to know is … why is it happening? And why is it happening at this precise moment?

Lucky for you, I have a theory.

No, it doesn’t involve Bill Gates, Jared Kushner, the WHO, and a global conspiracy of Chinese Jews defiling our precious bodily fluids with their satanic-alien 5G technology. It’s a little less exciting and more abstract than that (although some of those characters are probably part of it … all right, probably not the Chinese Jews, or the Satanic-Alien Illuminati).

See, I try to focus more on systems (like global capitalism) than on individuals. And on models of power rather than the specific people in power at any given time. Looking at things that way, this global lockdown and our brave new normal makes perfect sense. Stay with me now … this gets kind of heady.

What we are experiencing is a further evolution of the post-ideological model of power that came into being when global capitalism became a global-hegemonic system after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In such a global-hegemonic system, ideology is rendered obsolete. The system has no external enemies, and thus no ideological adversaries. The enemies of a global-hegemonic system by definition can only be internal. Every war becomes an insurgency, a rebellion breaking out within the system, as there is no longer any outside.

As there is no longer any outside (and thus no external ideological adversary), the global-hegemonic system dispenses with ideology entirely. Its ideology becomes “normality.” Any challenge to “normality” is henceforth regarded as an “abnormality,” a “deviation from the norm,” and automatically delegitimized. The system does not need to argue with deviations and abnormalities (as it was forced to argue with opposing ideologies in order to legitimize itself). It simply needs to eliminate them. Opposing ideologies become pathologies … existential threats to the health of the system.

In other words, the global-hegemonic system (i.e., global capitalism) becomes a body, the only body, unopposed from without, but attacked from within by a variety of opponents … terrorists, extremists, populists, whoever. These internal opponents attack the global-hegemonic body much like a disease, like a cancer, an infection, or a virus. And the global-hegemonic body reacts like any other body would.

Is this model starting to sound familiar?

I hope so, because that is what is happening right now. The system (i.e., global capitalism, not a bunch of guys in a room hatching a scheme to sell vaccines) is reacting to the last four years of populist revolt in a predictable manner. GloboCap is attacking the virus that has been attacking its hegemonic body. No, not the coronavirus. A much more destructive and multiplicitous virus … resistance to the hegemony of global capitalism and its post-ideological ideology.

If it isn’t already clear to you yet that this coronavirus in no way warrants the totalitarian emergency measures that have been imposed on most of humanity, it will be become clear in the months ahead. Despite the best efforts of the “health authorities” to count virtually anything as “a Covid-19 death,” the numbers are going to tell the tale. The “experts” are already memory-holing, or recalibrating, or contextualizing, their initial apocalyptic projections. The media are toning down the hysteria. The show isn’t totally over yet, but you can feel it gradually coming to an end.

In any event, whenever it happens, days, weeks, or months from now, GloboCap will dial down the totalitarianism, and let us out, so we can go back to work in whatever remains of the global economy … and won’t we all be so very grateful! There will be massive celebrations in the streets, Italian tenors singing on balconies, chorus lines of dancing nurses! The gilets jaunes will call it quits, the Putin-Nazis will stop with the memes, and Americans will elect Joe Biden president!

Or, all right, maybe not that last part, but, the point is, it will be a brave new normal! People will forget all that populism nonsense, and just be grateful for whatever McJobs they can get to be able to pay the interest on their debts, because, hey … global capitalism isn’t so bad compared to living under house arrest!

And, if not, no problem for GloboCap. They’ll just have to lock us down again, and keep locking us down, over and over, indefinitely, until we get our minds right. I mean, it’s not like we’re going to do anything about it … right? Didn’t we just demonstrate that? Sure, we’ll bitch and moan again, but then they’ll whip out those pictures of mass graves and death trucks, and the graphs, and all those scary projections, and the Blockwart-hotlines will start ringing again, and …

Phantoms of “The Operation”

Tis the times’ plague, when madmen lead the blind.

— Shakespeare, King Lear

Many thousands of New Yorkers have temporarily moved into the small Massachusetts town (permanent population approximately 7,000) where I live because of fear and panic created by fraudulent disease and death data gathered and disseminated under the umbrella term Covid-19.  Such deceitful, fear-inducing news concerning diseases is old hat, but this time it’s part of perhaps the biggest propaganda campaign in modern history, resulting in an unprecedented government crackdown on people’s freedom, a massive transfer of trillions of public dollars to the banks and corporations, and crumbs for average Americans.

In my little town, second vacation homes, Airbnbs, room rentals are packed. It is a flight to “safety” reminiscent of the months following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax attacks that originated from a U.S. government bioweapons laboratory.  In the years immediately following those attacks, McMansions were built throughout these hills and local houses were bought up like penny candy as New Yorkers flooded the area.  Now as then, the wealthy refugees absconding on the road of flight accept official explanations and arrange their lives accordingly. Little is learned as repetition compulsion rules and the latest terror alert has them cowering in fear, playing their parts in a theatrical production conceived by master dramatists.

Let’s call it “The Operation.”

During the day, you can see small numbers of them out walking, yards apart, on the country roads. The downtown streets are deserted day and night. This in a town that over the past twenty years has become an upscale movie set catering to tourists and second-home owners who have brought great wealth with them, making it very difficult for regular people to afford the town and survive on jobs in the service economy. Now that the country has been brought to a halt by the government shutdown, the regular people are screwed big-time. Many small businesses will never again open. The town’s largest employer, Jane Iredale cosmetics, the perfect employer for life the movie, has just laid off forty-seven employees. Make-up for the psycho-social drama might run short now, even though the theater has temporarily gone indoors. I don’t know if Iredale’s mascara (Italian, maschera, mask) is still available.

In normal times, the town would be filled with people frequenting the restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, parading down the streets dressed like movie stars in SoHo. Black clad actors.  Now it is a ghost town without many ghosts.  The few you do see wear cloth or paper masks.

The word mask comes from Latin, larva, a ghost, specter, a disembodied spirit – a maskLarvatus, masked, a personality, or person, an actor, one who wears a mask. Person, Persona, a mask, a false face – personare – to sound through the hole in the mask.

Shakespeare was right.  To grasp the social play, one must be a theater critic.  There is a reason ghosts play such important parts in his plays.  If life is but a walking shadow, a poor player, then what are we the cast?  Are we but seldom masters of our fate but usually only underlings, dancing to the tunes our masters play for us?  It seems tis so.

For the paper and cloth masks people are wearing are just a second layer of masking, the first being what sociologists – diminutive descendants of Shakespeare – call status/roles and regular people just call roles, even when they don’t know they are playing them, which is most of the time. Most people associate playing a role with being phony, while failing to notice that social life is comprised of such play-acting, “as if” the play were natural.  To admit that it is fictitious and that one is performing in a play written and directed by someone else is to open a trapdoor beneath one’s feet.

The sociological term status refers to the very many positions one occupies in a lifetime such as occupational titles, family positions, even racial statuses that society imposes on people.  So a person could, for example, be categorized as a medical doctor who is a father and an uncle.  Each status – doctor, father, uncle – would have socially imposed expectations attached to it that are called roles that one is expected to play or else one is considered an oddball at best.  To treat them as playful simulations in a life of experimentation, and to treat social titles and statuses as comical, results in one not being considered a team player or actor in the social play.  Only children and crazy people do that.

Imagine you are an impostor and dress in the uniform of an airline pilot.  To pass for a pilot you must know how to perform the role.  In other words, to be a good actor in the role and pass yourself as the “genuine” thing.  This is what Shakespeare meant by all the world’s a stage, with the wooden stage where Hamlet and Othello are performed just being another artificial form of the “naturally” occurring fabricated life of society.  So social life is phony in that sense, which raises the basic question of what then does it mean to be genuine, to be real.

The philosopher René Descartes once said:

As an actor, to conceal his blush of embarrassment, enters the stage masked, so I step forth onto the stage of the world, masked.

But to be masked is to be hidden, to be a ghost that no one can see, a cipher. So Descartes and Shakespeare were asking us that fundamental question: Who are we?  Are we?

Nietzsche asked it this way:

Are you genuine?  Or merely an actor?  A representative?  Or that which is represented?  In the end, perhaps you are merely a copy of an actor.

Most people, as good underlings do, have now obeyed the director’s instructions and retreated into their Plato’s caves where they huddle fearfully around the flickering screens that have become their well-nigh reality, and which will become even more so in the future as the powers-that-be push their digital agenda.  It’s still showtime but of a different sort with the performers receiving the director’s cues all electronically. That the cast didn’t write the play and doesn’t know who did doesn’t seem to bother many.  They see it as the only show in town and they’re playing it, and while the anonymity of the digital life adds to the comedy of errors, it may be what many desire.

We live in the culture of the copy in every sense of the term.  There is rarely one of anything, even people.  Long ago Walter Benjamin wrote a famous article called “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”  In it he says that the mechanical reproduction of a work of art eliminates its “aura.”  “By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence,” he wrote.  In the age of film and digital screen existence, this is very true for people as well. Uniqueness is fading. The more people live in and by screen images and the propaganda such technology affords to the powerful, the more they can be reproduced.  This, of course, has happened.  Once the masses had to be gathered into a herd in one place and induced to act in unison. Today place has been replaced with cyberspace and the masquerade ball can be directed without movement.

Welcome.  “The Operation” is just beginning.

Standing on the Precipice of Martial Law

In my recent paper Why Assume there will be a 2020 Election?, I took the opportunity of today’s multifaceted crisis in order to revisit an important Wall Street funded coup d’état effort of 1933-34. As I explained in that location, this bankers’ coup was luckily exposed by a patriotic general named Smedley Darlington Butler during one of the darkest moments of America and profoundly changed the course of history.

The Deep State Plot Against JFK

The danger of World War and a military coup arose again during the short-lived administration of John F. Kennedy who found himself locked in a life or death struggle not with Russia, but with the Military Industrial Complex that had become dominated by the many Dr. Strangeloves of the Joint Chief of Staff and CIA who fanatically believed that America could win a nuclear war with Russia. Kennedy’s valiant efforts to achieve dialogue with his Soviet counterparts, move towards peace in Vietnam, support of colonial liberation, promotion of space exploration and advocacy of a Nuclear Test Ban treaty made him a target of the Deep State of his time. During this period, this effort was led from the top by JFK’s two most powerful American opponents: Allan Dulles (director of the CIA) and General Lyman Lemnitzer (head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), both of whom were proponents of pre-emptive nuclear war, architects of the Bay of Pigs regime change trap and advocates of Operation Northwoods (an ultimate “inside job” precursor to 9/11 which JFK subverted).

As historian Anton Chaitkin recently reported:

Lemnitzer had displayed what his faction viewed as his qualifications for this role back in August 1960, when, as Army chief of staff, he announced that the Army was all ready to “restore order” in the United States after a nuclear war with the Soviet Union—to bring back normalcy just as the military does after a flood or a riot.

This plot was detailed in a quasi-fictional book written by investigative journalists Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey published in 1962 entitled Seven Days in May and swiftly made into a famous film with unprecedented support by JFK himself who gave the film crew and director John Frankenheimer full access to the White House, advisors and materials for the film which he believed every American should see.

In the story, a patriotic lieutenant discovers the plans for the coup which is scheduled to take place during a vast military drill whereby a President who is close to finalizing a de-armament treaty with Russia will be incapacitated in a bunker while a military regime takes over America.

Tragically, where the lieutenant is able to expose the plot and save the nation in the story, by the time of the film’s 1964 release, JFK had been deposed by other means.

Now 56 years later, history has begun to repeat itself with distinctly 21st century characteristics… and a viral twist.

The Stage is Again Set for Martial Law

Another President resistant to regime change and nuclear confrontation with Russia and China finds himself today in the White House in the form of Donald Trump.

As in 1933, today’s financial collapse threatens to rip the social and economic fabric of America to shreds, and just as in 1963 a powerful military industrial complex and private banking system manages a web of power which is devoted to overturning the 2016 election (and 1776 revolution) by any means. The biggest difference today is that a global coronavirus pandemic threatens to be the catalyzer used to justify military dictatorship in America and broader nuclear confrontation with Russia and China.

Instead of names like “Dulles”, or “Lemnitzer”, today’s coup directors feature such names as “Pompeo” and “O’Shawnessy”… both Deep State assets highly positioned in 3rd and 4th place to take over the Presidency at the drop of a hat.

Terrence O’Shawnessy: The Man Who Could Be President

Having slipped silently under the radar four weeks ago, the American Government passed a new emergency protocol into law which vastly expands powers and procedures of Martial Law under “Continuity of Government” which must be taken very seriously. These new protocols deal at length with the triggering of Martial Law should the nation become ungovernable through a variety of foreseeable scenarios that COVID-19 has unleashed, such as “unwanted violence” caused by “food shortage, financial chaos” or also if the President, Vice President and Secretary of State all become incapacitated for any reason.

Even though this act was classified “Above Top Secret” a surprisingly in depth March 18 Newsweek report by William Arkin documented how the “Combat Commander” of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will immediately take power as a part of the “Continuity of Government” procedures which took on monstrous dimensions under the control of Dick Cheney in the wake of 9/11. According to Newsweek, the new regulation drafted by the Joint Chiefs states that the military may take control where “duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation” even when “authorization by the President is impossible”. Arkin describes the new protocols for “devolving” leadership to second-tier officials in remote and quarantined locations.”

General O’Shawnessy, (former Deputy of UN Command in Korea) currently doubles as the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and has devoted his past 14 months to the promotion of a military confrontation over the Arctic which he has described as “the new frontline of our homeland defense” against Russia and China who are “determined to exploit the region’s economic and strategic potential”.

NORTHCOM went operational on October 1, 2002 as part of the Neocon takeover of America. This neocon coup which came to full fruition with 9/11 was governed by a manifesto entitled the Project for a New American Century which laid out a Pax Americana of police state measures at home, regime change abroad and containment of a rising China and Russia under a religious belief in a unipolar world order.

This continental organization interfaces closely with both FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, and was given a wide jurisdiction embracing not only the USA but also Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, acting as “primary defender of an invasion of America”. NORTHCOM interfaces closely with the deep state by hosting personnel from the FBI, CIA, NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency in its headquarters and is responsible for the protection of the President, Vice President and Secretary of State.

Most recently, RT has reported on March 28 that O’Shawnessy has ordered teams of “essential staff” deep into vast bunkers 650 meters below the surface in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado to “wait out the COVID-19 crisis”. Announcing this secretive mission, the General tweeted “Our dedicated professionals of the NORAD and NORTHCOM Command and control watch have left their homes, said goodbye to their families and are isolated from everyone to ensure they can stand watch each and every day to defend our homeland.” 

Other military personnel have been banned from travelling and commanded to stay near their bases ready for action and as of March 30, over 14,600 National Guard forces have been deployed to all 50 states. Although they cannot currently engage in policing due to the 1878 US Posse Comitatus Act, Martial Law would render that provision null and void.

It is also noteworthy that only one day after the Coronavirus was labelled an “international public health emergency” by the World Health Organization on January 30, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved nationwide pandemic plans and warned NORTHCOM to “prepare to deploy“.

This author doesn’t believe it to be a coincidence that patriotic voices who would typically be opposed to such a Martial Law agenda have been taken out of public life due to chaos emerging from the Coronavirus with Senator Ron Paul’s March 22 COVID-19 diagnosis forcing him into quarantine and the politically naive Tulsi Gabbard’s dropping out of the presidential race in order “to be prepared for the national guard duties”. It isn’t very hard to imagine a COVID-19 diagnosis, real or fabricated, to take the President and other members of the government out of office at a moment’s notice.

Time is running out for America and only bold, decisive action taken courageously and swiftly can change the course of self-annihilation upon which the republic now finds itself.

Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin have opened their arms to welcome America and other western nations into their new multipolar system which is built not upon a worship of money or militarism, but rather cooperation and creative mutual growth. Project Airbridge collaboration between China and the USA has begun as a part of the Health Silk Road bringing millions of medical supplies to America. Meanwhile a brilliant coalition of former Latin American heads of State called for the creation of a new just economic order and debt jubilee as a response to the failure of the neoliberal system which shines a principled light out of the current threefold danger of economic collapse, war and Martial Law.

• First published at Strategic Culture Foundation

The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus

Things often look the way they do because someone claiming authority tells us they look that way. If that sounds too cynical, pause for a moment and reflect on what seemed most important to you just a year ago, or even a few weeks ago.

Then, you may have been thinking that Russian interference in western politics was a vitally important issue, and something that we needed to invest much of our emotional and political energy in countering. Or maybe a few weeks ago you felt that everything would be fine if we could just get Donald Trump out of the White House. Or maybe you imagined that Brexit was the panacea to Britain’s problems – or, conversely, that it would bring about the UK’s downfall.

Still feel that way?

After all, much as we might want to (and doubtless some will try), we can’t really blame Vladimir Putin, or Russian troll farms spending a few thousand dollars on Facebook advertising, for the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we might want to, we can’t really blame Trump for the catastrophic condition of the privatised American health care system, totally ill-equipped and unprepared for a nationwide health emergency. And as tempting as it is for some of us, we can’t really blame Europe’s soft borders and immigrants for the rising death toll in the UK. It was the global economy and cheap travel that brought the virus into Britain, and it was the Brexit-loving prime minister Boris Johnson who dithered as the epidemic took hold.

The bigger picture

Is it possible that only a few weeks ago our priorities were just a little divorced from a bigger reality? That what appeared to be the big picture was not actually big enough? That maybe we should have been thinking about even more important, pressing matters – systemic ones like the threat of a pandemic of the very kind we are currently enduring.

Because while we were all thinking about Russiagate or Trump or Brexit, there were lots of experts – even the Pentagon, it seems – warning of just such a terrible calamity and urging that preparations be made to avoid it. We are in the current mess precisely because those warnings were ignored or given no attention – not because the science was doubted, but because there was no will to do something to avert the threat.

If we reflect, it is possible to get a sense of two things. First, that our attention rarely belongs to us; it is the plaything of others. And second, that the “real world”, as it is presented to us, rarely reflects anything we might usefully be able to label as objective reality. It is a set of political, economic and social priorities that have been manufactured for us.

Agents outside our control with their own vested interests – politicians, the media, business – construct reality, much as a film-maker designs a movie. They guide our gaze in certain directions and not others.

A critical perspective

At a moment like this of real crisis, one that overshadows all else, we have a chance – though only a chance – to recognise this truth and develop our own critical perspective. A perspective that truly belongs to us, and not to others.

Think back to the old you, the pre-coronavirus you. Were your priorities the same as your current ones?

This is not to say that the things you prioritise now – in this crisis – are necessarily any more “yours” than the old set of priorities.

If you’re watching the TV or reading newspapers – and who isn’t – you’re probably feeling scared, either for yourself or for your loved ones. All you can think about is the coronavirus. Nothing else really seems that important by comparison. And all you can hope for is the moment when the lockdowns are over and life returns to normal.

But that’s not objectively the “real world” either. Terrible as the coronavirus is, and as right as anyone is to be afraid of the threat it poses, those “agents of authority” are again directing and controlling our gaze, though at least this time those in authority include doctors and scientists. And they are guiding our attention in ways that serve their interests – for good or bad.

Endless tallies of infections and deaths, rocketing graphs, stories of young people, along with the elderly, battling for survival serve a purpose: to make sure we stick to the lockdown, that we maintain social distancing, that we don’t get complacent and spread the disease.

Here our interests – survival, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed – coincide with those of the establishment, the “agents of authority”. We want to live and prosper, and they need to maintain order, to demonstrate their competence, to prevent dissatisfaction bubbling up into anger or open revolt.

Crowded out by detail

But again the object of our attention is not as much ours as we may believe. While we focus on graphs, while we twitch the curtains to see if neighbours are going for a second run or whether families are out in the garden celebrating a birthday distant from an elderly parent, we are much less likely to be thinking about how well the crisis is being handled. The detail, the mundane is again crowding out the important, the big picture.

Our current fear is an enemy to our developing and maintaining a critical perspective. The more we are frightened by graphs, by deaths, the more we are likely to submit to whatever we are told will keep us safe.

Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, countries like the US are transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

There are many other dramatic changes being introduced, almost too many and too rapidly for us to follow them properly. Bans on movement. Intensified surveillance. Censorship. The transfer of draconian powers to the police, and preparations for the deployment of soldiers on streets. Detention without trial. Martial law. Measures that might have terrified us when Trump was our main worry, or Brexit, or Russia, may now seem a price worth paying for a “return to normality”.

Paradoxically, a craving for the old-normal may mean we are prepared to submit to a new-normal that could permanently deny us any chance of returning to the old-normal.

The point is not just that things are far more provisional than most of us are ready to contemplate; it’s that our window on what we think of as “the real world”, as “normal”, is almost entirely manufactured for us.

Distracted by the virus

Strange as this may sound right now, in the midst of our fear and suffering, the pandemic is not really the big picture either. Our attention is consumed by the virus, but it is, in a truly awful sense, a distraction too.

In a few more years, maybe sooner than we imagine, we will look back on the virus – with the benefit of distance and hindsight – and feel the same way about it we do now about Putin, or Trump, or Brexit.

It will feel part of our old selves, our old priorities, a small part of a much bigger picture, a clue to where we were heading, a portent we did not pay attention to when it mattered most.

The virus is one small warning – one among many – that we have been living out of sync with the natural world we share with other life. Our need to control and dominate, our need to acquire, our need for security, our need to conquer death – they have crowded out all else. We have followed those who promised quick, easy solutions, those who refused to compromise, those who conveyed authority, those who spread fear, those who hated.

If only we could redirect our gaze, if we could seize back control of our attention for a moment, we might understand that we are being plagued not just by a virus but by our fear, our hate, our hunger, our selfishness. The evidence is there in the fires, the floods and the disease, in the insects that have disappeared, in the polluted seas, in the stripping of the planet’s ancient lungs, its forests, in the melting ice-caps.

The big picture is hiding in plain sight, no longer obscured by issues like Russia and Brexit but now only by the most microscopic germ, marking the thin boundary between life and death.

From Rags to Riches, from Plague to Profits

One of the lessons I recall from school was about the theory of spontaneous generation with regard to disease. Of course, there is the well-known phenomena of spontaneous combustion, when something starts to burn without any apparent external ignition. Spontaneous generation we were taught was the idea that something considered dirty or impure, like rags, could give inception to diseases. This was superseded by the germ theory, where microorganisms — that might actually be harboured by such rags — actually were the cause of the illnesses blamed on the rags.

In economics a similar theory still prevails.  It could be called spontaneous wealth. It was popularised in the US by stories like those of Horatio Alger, Jr.  It has also been called the “rags to riches” myth whereby under rather ambiguous conditions rags could also give inception to wealth. Although this has been superseded by other theories, whereby microeconomics — that might actually cause the production of such rags — actually caused the wealth originally attributed to the bearer/ wearer of said rags.

During the period of European peninsular history known as the Middle Ages, there was an outbreak of disease also called the Black Death, identified as bubonic plague. The result of the epidemic that swept through the peninsula was not only a reduction in the population but an increase in the cost of labour. Since the rich do not work, the scarcity of those who do meant that labour costs increased drastically, whether measured in wages or weaponry to acquire forced labour.

Fast forward to 2020. China appears close to controlling, if not eliminating, the residue of baggage left behind by abusive visitors. These might have been borne in rags, but certainly not in dead bats. As has been argued elsewhere, the response of the PRC leadership, the Chinese Communist Party, was commensurate with the intended threat and reflects government policies since Mao and Deng that are diametrically opposite to those of the US, EU and its vassals.

While the mass media in the West — both state-held and privately owned — has continuously attacked China for its reactions to anything the West does to it, the fact remains that such attacks serve to reinforce the prejudices and ignorance promoted by the China Lobby after it was evicted from the mainland seventy years ago. Not only does the 80% US-controlled mass media feed upon two centuries of cultivated racism, it also distorts history beyond recognition—with ease given the general ignorance of accurate history fostered in Western schools and universities, where Forrest Gump has become the standard.

The central economic doctrines foisted on the post-WWII world by the Anglo-American establishment could be summarised as “socialism for corporations” and “private enterprise for everyone else”. It would exceed the scope of this comment to explain all the silliness that has become economics orthodoxy in the West. However, it is important to recognise that the argument I make here is not from a “Marxist” perspective. Rather it is a sober restatement of the policies adopted, in fact, by the oligarchy that runs the West and the world financial system too. The so-called Great War, great for firms like DuPont, J P Morgan, et al., was followed by the Great Depression primarily to force states to return to the system by which profits of 40-100%, as were made during that war, would again be possible.1

The Great Depression only ended once these folks has a major war against the Soviet Union and to conquer Asia under way. George Kennan wrote sincerely or cynically at the end of World War II that only military force exercised worldwide would guarantee the profits and US access to 60% of the world’s resources after 1945.2 This meant war in the Congo, war against Korea, war against Vietnam and the overthrow of independent governments from Indonesia to Iraq, not to mention an iron fist in Latin America. It is a testimony to that very 80% of the US-controlled world media that this was all called a “Cold War” and blamed first on the Soviet Union and then on China. This slander persists today when Europeans and North Americans blame Russia and China for all the violence and destruction perpetrated by NATO since 1989.

Permit me to return to our “economics”. Elsewhere I have explained the persistent tubercular myth called the American Dream, the result of trillions spent since 1916 to create a popular vision of America only rivalled by the Catholic Church’s vision of the Resurrection3. (At least the Resurrection does not depend on Hollywood or whatever sock puppet occupies the W**** House.)

There is a lot of needless debate about the motives and intentions of possible actors in the lead-up to what has obviously been well described by the “experts” at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security October last. As I wrote in February the “cause” of the present global calamity is deniable. There will never be an admission nor unimpeachable “broken vial” or saliva-saturated handkerchief to prove the author(s) of the contagion known as novel corona virus or COVID-2019. The “cause” cannot be the point of departure.

It is necessary to recognise first of all that this is not a medical problem! Moreover we must recognise that the institutions that have positioned themselves since October as authorities are not medical experts nor is their central mission — despite nomenclature — human health and well-being. The US CDC and the WHO bureaucracies are extensions of the Western corporate and state intelligence apparatus. One must understand that “health security” in practice and in the language used is just a mutation of “national security”. It is a part of what US doctrine calls “full spectrum dominance”.4

Why do I say that? I have no privileged information. However, if one reads the official biographies of the key persons in the WHO, for instance, detailed with handling the novel corona event, one will find that they are all directly concerned with vaccination/ inoculation. This is their career path. This is hierarchical militarised science at its worst.

Vaccination/ inoculation is an industrial-chemical value chain; in other words, it is the biological warfare equivalent to the career path for those who serve in the armed forces and develop other weapons systems. Vaccination/ inoculation has nothing to do with public health, per se. Rather public health is the battlefield/ battlespace in which population control operations are conducted — since 2020 globally.

For over 30 years in Europe, and as permanent policy in the US, what the US regime calls “socialised medicine” has been vigorously attacked. The most aggravated form now pursued is so-called “individualised medicine”: an approach which aims to use genetic engineering to restrict any kind of medical treatment by creating disease-treatment combinations which can only be used exclusively for one individual. It does not take much fantasy, just a little legal knowledge, to understand that the individual caught in the grips of such a medical model will be entirely dependent upon the intellectual property held by the disease-treatment delivery firm. This would end the threat of every pharmaceutical company’s horror — expiry of the patent and cheap generics.

As a result of this international corporate onslaught — supported overtly and covertly — public hospitals, state health services, statutory health insurers, GPs and other medical practitioners bound to the state-sponsored/ managed remuneration systems have been deliberately and maliciously destroyed or handicapped beyond the capacity to do more than issue prescriptions and administer injections. Nurses and physicians who chose medicine not for maximum profits but because they felt committed to the profession of healing the sick have been driven into bankruptcy or unemployment. Those from the professional classes who have only sought the best income for the least effort have prospered, albeit only if they became full merchants rather than physicians.

Hospitals have been privatised both as a means of undermining social services, per se, and on the pretext of solving municipal and state indebtedness foisted upon governments by criminal banking cartels infesting the finance ministries and the central banks. Since cartels are not taxed realistically but as if they were ordinary enterprises, there has been a “purification” of the economy, just like under the Weimar and NS regimes. In addition to an inadequate tax base, the other income sources of the State have been depleted by sales — privatisation of assets that generated rents and user fees. Now all that income accrues to the bondholders in whose hands the State and its citizens are now in thrall.

This is obviously just a sketch. Whoever has done their homework over the years and read the public sources and listened carefully to what is said and watched what was done, cannot take any statements made by the EU, the governments in the member-states, or in the US seriously. Even if the dragon corona were slain by the St. Georges and Georginas, we would still be stuck with their malicious policies of the past thirty years. If tomorrow every alleged corona patient were healed — like the sudden recovery of everyone in Saramago’s Blindness — we would have the same insipid parasitical and militarised full spectrum dominance of our demolished public healthcare infrastructure!5

That is definitely very different from the situation in which China finds itself. Over the past 70 years, the Chinese and the Chinese Communist Party have worked against all odds to put 20% of the world’s population in a condition which the US regime has spent all its energy denying, even to its own working people. There are lots of long-noses who will say — oh, but what about human rights, etc… Those folks ought to ask about the human rights of the Blacks, Mexicans, Asians and poor whites who have been systematically deprived of rights like housing, jobs, healthcare, pensions, relief from police brutality, freedom to express their views and defend themselves at the workplace etc. Those folks ought to ask why the US, for example, has the largest prison population in the world? But that too is beyond the scope of this comment.

Thinking, caring, human beings have to stop their senseless panicking and blind obedience to whatever messages they receive in their solipsistic social media. We have to recognise that this is not a pandemic but a political crisis. The crisis is not medical, it is mental!

Since the first governments in Europe decided to follow siege methods and to police the population, quite accidentally preventing public demonstrations or any meetings of popular organisations, the very effective propaganda already described has led people to forget very important questions:

  • Who decides in our society what the acceptable relationship between health risks and overall social risks: economic, political, sociability, etc. is? And what measures are appropriate to take this relationship into account?
  • Who defines what the objectives of any health prevention policy are?
  • When has enough been done? Who decides that?
  • What kind of public social, health and economic policy is to be pursued now and after this calamity?

Under the present conditions the vast majority of the population on the European peninsula and in North America have surrendered their political and social capacity to the national security state, to soldiers dressed in surgical gowns, wearing stethoscopes or masks like pre-schoolers. The “white” EU leaders of the North; e.g., Macron and Merkel, have made it quite clear that their “brown” brothers and sisters will only get aid if they refrain from working with China and Russia and are willing to pledge even more of their income streams to the banks for which Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, The Hague, and Helsinki most happily work. It should be clear to all that the token financial relief fed now is symbolic and divisive.

It is symbolic because these grants; e.g., up to EUR 9,000 for small businesses in Germany, feign an active response while the purification of small and medium sized enterprises continues.6 Selective awards now will divide the victims of the ludicrous large-scale closures into those who got some subsidy and those who will get nothing but unemployment. The psychological tactic will divide those who believe they are worthy from those who deserve to fail. It is also symbolic because every member-state knows that they cannot monetise their aid. They will have to finance it within the Maastricht regulations administered through Brussels on behalf of those who own the West’s central banks.7 That means that any further aid—and massive aid will be necessary Europe-wide—can only be financed by more privatisation and a conversion to what Macron advocates—tax farming via Brussels. Two hundred years ago the owners of the British East India Company destroyed India by the same crimes.8

In August 1914, what Barbara Tuchmann so prosaically called the “guns of August” began to fire.9 What Pauwel later called The Great Class War began — it was to be over by Christmas.10 By 1921, some fifty million were dead, almost as many as Event 201 assumed in its little plan game. A century of organising the labouring classes ended in the West. Not the scarcity of labour was the problem, but the scarcity of life itself among labourers was the result.

We find ourselves a herd of deer, caught in the blinding headlamps of the great armoured car racing down the road, having shot out all the streetlamps with its top-mounted MG. Not one is able to drive them across the road and away from the crushing steel plate under which their bones and flesh will be melded into the slowly cooling tar of one hot summer’s day.

  1. Gerald Colby-Zilg.  DuPont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain, 1974.
  2. Cold war ideology, formulated by Bernard Baruch, Walter Lippmann, and Winston Churchill leads most attention to Kennan’s article in Foreign Affairs about the Soviet threat. His more sincere work comprised the papers leading to the draft of NSC 68.
  3. T.P. Wilkinson. Rethinking Anglo-American Empire, Dissident Voice,  October 21st, 2017; To the Halls of Montezuma, from the Shores of Tripoli:  Donald Trump as “Anti-Wilson“, February 6th, 2017.
  4. “The cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment, which includes cyberspace, that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.“ See also Joint Vision 2020, US Department of Defence, although this doctrine was pronounced much earlier with the so-called Global War on Terror and derived from the Project for the New American Century.
  5. Jose Saramago, Blindness, (1995). To see the entire problem as presciently as Saramago did the sequel Seeing (2006) is a must.
  6. Franz Neumann, Behemoth, Part 2 (1942) details the economic policy of Germany from Weimar through the NS era. “Purification” in the German edition “auskämmen” was the strategy of Germany’s cartels together with the quasi-governmental industry and commerce chambers to prohibit workers from running small craft and trade shops. These small businesses helped many who were hit by the depression to survive wage and hour cuts and maintain union organisation in heavy industry. When they were prohibited by withdrawal of their business licenses on “efficiency” grounds, then they joined the unemployed — allowing industrial cartels to more aggressively lower wages and increase hours. This policy has been pursued by the German tax administration for years now by means of discriminatory auditing and refusal to defer tax assessments—while granting large corporations tax holidays.
  7. For those that do not recall, the Maastricht regime prohibits member-states from public borrowing in excess of limits set by the European Commission (in fact, the banks that control it). Within the euro, the European Central Bank decides how much money—in euros—may be circulated at under what conditions. All governments are prohibited from issuing their own debt to cover their public expenditure—they must cover public expenditure by floating debt on the private capital markets (also controlled by said banks). Any similarity between the heads or senior officials of major European central banks or finance ministers and alumni of either Goldman Sachs or Rothschild Group is merely coincidental.
  8. Nick Robbins. The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational, 2006.
  9. Barbara Tuchmann. The Guns of August, 1962.
  10. T.P. Wilkinson. “Romanticism and War”: Contextualising a Theory of Interpretation, Dissident Voice, September 15, 2016.

How the Joint List Got it All Wrong for ever Believing Benny Gantz

Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, abandoned the central plank of his platform at the weekend – that he would never sit in a coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu, who has led Israel continuously for the past 11 years.

A former military general, Gantz justified his dramatic change of course under cover of claims that Israel needed an “emergency” unity government to deal with the coronavirus epidemic.

Israel’s government has been paralysed by three elections in which neither Netanyahu’s bloc of ultra-nationalist and religious parties, nor Gantz’s anti-Netanyahu bloc of secular, largely right-wing parties, could muster a parliamentary majority.

Gantz argued it was time to set aside differences, ignore Netanyahu’s impending criminal trial for corruption and rally against the virus. The about-face means that Netanyahu will remain prime minister for at least the next 18 months – and possibly longer if he makes good on his well-earned reputation for subterfuge and double-dealing.

“No alternative”

Gantz has said he is “at peace” with his decision. “There was no other alternative route, and had there been, we would have taken it,” he told supporters stunned by his decision.

The reality is rather different.

Gantz actually enjoyed a narrow majority of legislators in parliament after the 2 March election. As a result, President Reuven Rivlin had tasked him last week with forming a government. His majority bloc was resolutely opposed to Netanyahu as prime minister, accusing him of increasingly authoritarian rule and pointing to his indictment for corruption.

The bloc also opposed Netanyahu’s cultivation of a new, more religious kind of politics, in which extremist rabbis and settler leaders have moved ever closer to centre-stage.

So why is Gantz now sitting in a government with a man he supposedly despises – one that Haaretz this week called “the king of corruption” – rather than leading a majority government of his own?

There is only one honest answer: racism. Gantz and his bloc may passionately hate Netanyahu and his megalomaniacal style of politics, but they detest with even greater intensity, it seems, one faction of their majority bloc: the Joint List.

Degraded citizenship

The Joint List, which currently has a record 15 seats in parliament, is an alliance of four parties that represent the fifth of the country’s population who are Palestinian by heritage.

They are the remnants inside Israel of the Palestinian people, most of whom were driven from their lands in 1948 to create a “Jewish state” on the ruins of their homeland, an event known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe.

Today, some 1.8 million Palestinians have Israeli citizenship and are entitled to vote in Israeli elections. Nonetheless, theirs is a very degraded form of citizenship. They enjoy far fewer rights than Jewish citizens, especially in language, land and housing rights.

After many months of Gantz and his allies denouncing Netanyahu as corrupt, what lesson is the Palestinian minority supposed to draw from his decision now to abandon his own bloc in favour of Netanyahu?

Gantz and his supporters have demonstrated through their actions who they really abhor. They have chosen the criminal suspect, Netanyahu, over the Palestinian minority.

Gantz and the so-called Jewish “centre-left” may claim to be guardians of Israel’s democracy, but it is clearly a version of democracy that does not include a fifth of the population – because they are of the wrong ethnicity.

Annihilation and fraud

The discourse of Gantz’s bloc throughout the three election campaigns focused on maintaining a “Jewish majority” government – the only one they considered “legitimate”.

Gantz’s secular Jewish right, masquerading as “centre-left”, has ended up spurning representatives of the Palestinian minority on exactly the same grounds as Netanyahu.

“For each of these supposed ‘two sides’ of the political debate, the ‘Arabs’ are not seen as included in Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state,” Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at the University of Haifa, observed to Middle East Eye.

Netanyahu has been intensifying his incitement against the Palestinian minority since 2015, when he presented their very act of voting – or their coming out in “droves” to vote, as he phrased it – as a threat to Israeli democracy. More recently, he warned that Jewish opposition parties must not ally with the Joint List because “Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men”.

In recent months, he has repeatedly called Palestinian parties “terror supporters”, thereby not only discrediting those parties in the eyes of the Jewish public, but also discrediting the Palestinian citizens who sent them to parliament.

Gantz, supposedly running a campaign against Netanyahu to uphold democratic values and institutions, has not rejected this anti-democratic incitement. He has accepted and complied with it, treating Palestinian parties like some kind of contagious coronavirus patient, to be kept at a safe distance.

Treated ‘like a mistress’

From the outset of every election campaign, Gantz made it starkly clear that he had no intention of including the Joint List in any future government. As he said in the run-up to the 2 March election: “I’m not afraid of talking to any legitimate political party, but the Joint Arab List won’t be a part of my government.”

With no credible path to power without the Joint List, however, Gantz was reluctantly forced to engage in pro forma talks with its leaders.

Those discussions were never about more than whether the Joint List might be allowed to support a minority Gantz government – comprising only Jewish parties – from the outside. A similar situation unfolded in the early 1990s, when Yitzhak Rabin needed Palestinian parties to pass legislation supporting the Oslo peace process through the parliament’s hostile majority of Jewish members.

As with Rabin, the goal of Gantz and his bloc was never to let the Joint List anywhere near government, Ghanem noted. The negotiations were intended as leverage over a power-hungry Likud party, pressuring it to ditch Netanyahu as leader.

That was why Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, argued that Gantz was using his party “like a mistress”.

Made to look foolish

When Gantz unexpectedly called last month for a unity government that would include “representation of all parts of the house” – a reference to sections of the Joint List – he was again not playing straight. As his latest actions reveal, he was using the Joint List as a sword over Netanyahu’s head, “hoping to secure better terms for his own entry into the government”, Ghanem pointed out.

The Joint List suspected all this. But even so, in the September election and then again after the March vote, Odeh broke with the prior, natural caution of Palestinian parties in dealing with right-wing Zionist politicians and backed Gantz to head the government, rather than abstaining.

All of this was done in the desperate hope that Gantz and the Jewish “centre-left” really were concerned about the state of Israeli democracy and getting rid of Netanyahu. In recent weeks even Balad, the most hardline and recalcitrant faction in the Joint List, agreed to support Gantz.

They will pay a price with their own public for that mistake, according to Wadea Awawdy, a senior Israeli-Palestinian journalist from the Galilee.

“This has not just embarrassed the Palestinian parties; it has demoralised the wider Palestinian community,” he told MEE. “On social media, the Joint List members are being called foolish and naive for ever believing Gantz. The List made big claims that they would use their 15 seats to stop the Trump plan, that they would help send Netanyahu to jail. Now they have been left entirely empty-handed.”

It will be hard to persuade Palestinian citizens to turn out again in the large numbers that were seen in September and March – which is exactly what Netanyahu hoped to achieve when he began the incitement campaign against Palestinian voting back in 2015.

Avoiding the ‘Zoabis’

Those sections of the Blue and White alliance that have refused to follow Gantz into Netanyahu’s government are no less racist, Nabila Espanioly, an education expert from Nazareth who has run as a candidate for the Israeli parliament, observed to MEE.

“They may present themselves as an alternative to Netanyahu, but it is all baloney,” she said.

Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid faction will now head the opposition to Netanyahu. But back in 2013, he rejected an earlier chance to oust Netanyahu if it meant sitting in a government supported by Palestinian parties. In ugly fashion, Lapid dismissed Palestinian politicians as “Zoabis” – a reference to Haneen Zoabi, a prominent and much-reviled female Palestinian politician of the time.

Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu, a former defence minister, is an even worse inciter than Netanyahu against Palestinian parties – as well as Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

He has called the Palestinian leadership in Israel “terrorists” and called for them to be beheaded. He has threatened to strip the Palestinian public of citizenship if they fail his “loyalty” test, and called for an area where many Palestinian citizens live to be transferred to the occupied West Bank.

Secular backlash

None of these “opposition” politicians are really guardians of democracy, except in the sense of a democracy for Jews only. All have sat in previous Netanyahu governments that incited against and legislated against Palestinians.

Rather, noted Espanioly, their current opposition to Netanyahu is chiefly an angry backlash by right-wing secular politicians – on behalf of right-wing secular parts of Jewish society – to the increasing power Netanyahu has handed over to the Jewish religious leadership, including the more extreme, messianic sections of the settler community.

Lapid, Lieberman and Moshe Yaalon of Telem also share a deep personal antipathy to Netanyahu, who has repeatedly stabbed them in the back. Their supposed concern for democracy emerged only when Netanyahu was at his weakest, as the noose of an impending corruption trial tightened around his neck.

And the vitriol they have now directed at Gantz, the novice politician, is recognition that he is treading the same credulous path they previously followed.

But even these phoney “centrists” have been outdone by the so-called “left” part of their bloc. The Labor party, which founded Israel more than 70 years ago, has gradually become a pale shadow of its former self as the Israeli Jewish public has lurched ever further rightwards. In March, the party won a mere three seats, passing the electoral threshold only by allying with another tiny leftist party, Meretz.

Its current leader, Amir Peretz, and another Labor legislator intend to head into the Netanyahu government too, keen to get their hands on a small slice of the corrupt power they have been excoriating Netanyahu for wielding.

Negligible differences

The negligible differences between Gantz and Netanyahu should become starkly clear in the coming months.

Ghanem observed that Netanyahu would be “freed to pursue the same policies he has been implementing for the past 11 years. Apart from the Joint List, there is a consensus across Israeli politics on how to treat the occupied territories and on the importance of Jewish supremacy.”

Like Netanyahu, Gantz has backed US President Donald Trump’s so-called “peace” plan, which includes provisions to annex swaths of the occupied West Bank that have been illegally colonised by Jewish settlers, stripping Palestinians of any hope of a state.

Now that Netanyahu has a majority government, there is nothing standing in the way of this plan. This week, Peace Now and other Israeli groups that back a two-state solution sent an urgent letter to Gantz, pleading with him to block the drive towards annexation.

Gantz, the former head of the army who oversaw the widespread destruction of Gaza in 2014, is also unlikely to oppose future attacks on Palestinians under occupation, or the worsening of their conditions. In fact, his party will be in charge of the defence ministry, organising any such attacks.

Deep crisis

And Gantz will undoubtedly abandon his main promise relevant to the Palestinian minority – “fixing” the 2018 nation-state law. The law confers constitution-like status on Israel’s Jewishness, revokes Arabic as an official language, and puts as a top priority Judaisation – a policy of settling Jews into Palestinian areas inside Israel and the occupied territories.

According to Espanioly, Gantz’s actions have brutally exposed the sham of an Israeli “opposition” to Netanyahu.

“The reality is that Israel’s political scene is in a deep crisis about values,” she said. “Opposition politicians talk about the importance of democratic values, but no one actually wants to do the hard work of embodying those values – or of protecting them.”

• First published in Middle East Eye