2017 might well go down in history as the year of choreographed fury. Pre-planned and prepaid, canned, induced, the mainstream media and Deep State flexing their muscles after an embarrassing defeat, pushing and pulling us back into line. “Bad children; don’t do that again!”
Among cognizanti of authoritarian political tactics it is understood that one very effective approach involves making so many things illegal that anyone can be “legally” accused of a crime and thus “legally” eliminated from public and political activities (we’re already there in case you wondered). That tactic, in modified form, has been adopted by the United States de facto governing oligarchy (non-elected), only it is not limited by the requirements of criminalization. Its primary tool is mainstream media generated defamation and it is not bound by anything, truth especially being absolutely irrelevant (unless it’s convenient). All it requires is proper coordination and constant hysterical repetition with anyone not in agreement tarred with the same brush.
Its orchestrators currently seek to tie the tactic to the political left but that too is a calumny. United States unelected power centers, the ones that “usually” count, are not bound by concepts such as a political right or a political left or a political center; their only ideology is the concentration of power, economic power through political means, and their sphere is everywhere. It’s just convenient for them right now to organize the verisimilitude of fury dressed in leftist sounding causes but bereft of potential leftist solutions. The politics of division and polarization tend to work best under innocuous sobriquets like “identity politics”. Just a bit ago however, the semblance of right wing anticommunist rhetoric, even in the absence of communism, worked just fine. It too created appropriate divisiveness.
The artists’ orchestrated fury can’t be criticized for lack of creativity. Give them a word, any word, and they’ll create an existential crisis. They’re good in an amoral manner, not ethical enough to be immoral, that would be too constraining. They needn’t be concerned about long term consequences, their focus is always on the present and immediate future, the next election; their tactics speedily reactionary and flexible, able to turn on a dime regardless of how incoherent. Compartmentalization is vital, nothing requires coherent cohesion; flexibility, moral and pragmatic is key. The tactics don’t require continuity or completion, just attention; one doesn’t need to blend into another. When the falsity of one becomes obvious it’s just dropped into the well where the “media’s conspiracy of silence” keeps it semi-somnolent until it becomes useful again, immediately moving on to the next staged or manipulated or appropriated event.
Take for example the panic driven campaign over the purported Russian cyber overthrow of the United States political system; no evidence required, but when evidence did leak into the public psyche and the campaign of ridicule seemed to be wearing a bit thin (damned pesky alternative media sources), well just uncork the bottles were the Civil War and World War II are stored, mix them with a bit of gasoline in an old bottle of vodka (in memory of the last campaign) and voila! A great new theme. The current President (not exactly a knight in shining armor but not exactly a black knight either) with orthodox Jewish children and a recipient of the Ellis Island medal from the NAACP is depicted as a neo Nazi white supremacist, and, notwithstanding criticism of other destroyers of cultural monuments (like ISIS, the Inquisition, Spanish Conquistadors, grave looters, etc.), race baiting campaigns to destroy memorials important to some and obnoxious to others (almost always the case with monuments) become the norm. Reminted competing tides of fury and recrimination, this time blended with violence, orchestrated and reactionary, generate new martyr factories without much in the way of capital investment required (although capital to invest abounds, mainly in the form of transportation and lodging).
You know, we don’t hear much about that anymore, or Syria, or the Ukraine, those are all so passé. And “Bernie Sanders and the Sanderistas” sounds more like an oldies band than a political movement. Michael Flynn is out but notwithstanding yesterday’s news he was never the problem, Sean Spicer is out but notwithstanding yesterday’s news he was never the problem, Reince Priebus is out but notwithstanding yesterday’s news he was never the problem, Tony Scaramucci (the Mooch) is out but notwithstanding yesterday’s news he was never the problem, Steve Bannon is out but notwithstanding yesterday’s news he was never the problem, and so on and so on and so on. Nothing really matters but anything can. All it takes is properly framed photos, sound bites, a few planted stories and a metaphorical match. Pooooof!
It’s an art and we too play a part.
We’re the bit players, the audience and the victims; the herd to be moved along, the sheep and the lemmings. One wonders whether having seen the show so often, one day we mightn’t wake and produce one of our own. The French people seemed to have done so towards the end of the eighteenth century. One wonders if the “masters” have learned from that unpleasant experience; no, not that it’s not wise to mess with us but rather how to better manipulate us, how to convince us that internal battles are fun and reality too dull to deal with. What are the chances that through overconfidence they’ll underestimate us again? One wonders, but then, the show is back on and as the ubiquitous “they” say, “there’s no business like show business like no business I know”.
So for now, let’s all just go eat some cake and enjoy the show.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.