Monday, April 19, 2021

Manufacturing Discontent

 "Your (sic) not gonna hate your way to Medicare For All," hatefully sneered a recent anonymous commenter on one of my numerous posts on the subject.

Once I'd relegated the comment to the spam bucket to join thousands of its brethren from both the Right and the United Center, I marveled at how low the "discourse" has descended, when the expressed desire that one's fellow human beings enjoy the same guaranteed health care that every other advanced civilization on earth considers to be a basic human right can possibly be construed as "hate."

Hate for whom, exactly? 

Well, given that President Joe Biden and his corporate Democratic Party are adamantly opposed to this basic human right, and given that Biden and the corporate Democratic Party are nonetheless being almost universally praised as human rights champions despite perpetuating violent militarism, anti-immigrant xenophobia and fealty to the uber-wealthy entities that finance their campaigns, I concede that it is accurate to say that I hate them with a pure, unyielding passion. And since that, in turn, also makes me a dreaded "purist,"  then I might as well just heartily welcome the hatred of the haters of hate.

Media critic Alan MacLeod has written a very enlightening article for FAIR on the cult of "divisiveness" which is being wholly manufactured and disseminated by the scribes of the elite for the sole and ultimate benefit of the elites who pay their salaries. 

 Such broadly popular programs as the minimum wage increase, single payer health care, and reversal of capitalism-engendered climate change are often characterized by establishment media organs as "stoking divisions," "polarizing," "controversial," "risky," "contentious," "looks good on paper," "the math doesn't add up," and the like.

Any word or phrase will do, just so long as the pathological hatred that the ruling elite harbors for the masses of people is carefully disguised by gaslighting and concern-trolling. Otherwise, the estimated 70 to 80 percent of the citizenry in favor of a single payer public insurance program will never be convinced that they're completely nuts for daring to demand universal, guaranteed, government-sponsored health care. We have to be made to feel guilty about punishing people in love with their precarious, pricey employment-based coverage and condemning the insurance adjustors who work so responsibly hard to deny our claims into lives of penury and maybe even homelessness.

As if on cue, therefore, the New York Times has published a front page screed placing the blame for "divisiveness" not so much on the corporate media working overtime to manufacture the discontent, but upon the media consumers themselves, whose pre-existing feeble hate-brains are only being finessed by actors employed by corporate, consolidated media. It's a remarkable sleight of pen (or keyboard) by scribe Nate Cohn, given how cleverly and stealthily he transmutes this manufactured discontent from top-down propaganda into a powerful, dangerous, bottom-up, grassroots "sectarianism" reminiscent of religious wars both past and present.

The gist of it is that the people themselves, the great unwashed ignorant rabble, are the real threat to democracy. Elites, unite!

In Cohn's telling, you see, there is no such thing as the class war. There is no rich vs poor, or poor vs rich. It is solely about Democrats vs. Republicans. Whether you know it or not, your prime identity as a human being in America is your fealty to a political party. You are either a Trump supporter or a Biden supporter.  There will be no coloring outside of these lines, for fear that the elite media's narrative center will not hold. Cohn writes:

Whether religious or political, sectarianism is about two hostile identity groups who not only clash over policy and ideology, but see the other side as alien and immoral. It’s the antagonistic feelings between the groups, more than differences over ideas, that drives sectarian conflict....

  And as mass sectarianism has grown in America, some of the loudest partisan voices in Congress or on Fox News, Twitter, MSNBC and other platforms have determined that it’s in their interest to lean into cultural warfare and inflammatory rhetoric to energize their side against the other.

Cohn puts the chicken before the egg in that last paragraph. It wasn't the corporate propagandists who stoked the "sectarians" with their own inflammatory rhetoric, making enormous profits for their sponsors in the process. Cohn implicitly blames the audience itself. Were it not for the pre-existing hateful rabble, those noble propagandists would never have left the safety of their desks and studios to venture forth into the vast American wasteland to soak up and report on all that grassroots hatred and angst, which has nothing whatever to do with their own outlets broadcasting hours upon hours of Donald Trump (not to mention breathlessly broadcasting hours upon hours of his empty podium with themselves as the celebrity warm-up acts) to foment more discord for more profit and sky-high ratings.

To hear Cohn and his cohort tell it, I have nothing better to do than to castigate my neighbors over their support of, or opposition to, the "cancelling" of Dr. Seuss.  Americans are divided into only two camps: the Trump lovers and the Biden lovers. And they hate each other's guts. That they have been encouraged to scapegoat one another through such top-down neoliberal job-destroying policies as NAFTA and the corporate destruction of organized labor and the deregulation of finance is, strangely enough, never even mentioned in Cohn's "political memo."

He breathlessly continues:

One-third of Americans believe that violence could be justified to achieve political objectives. In a survey conducted in January, a majority of Republican voters agreed with the statement that the “traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” The violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 suggests that the risks of sustained political violence or even insurgency can’t be discounted.

Left unmentioned is the US ruling elites' own sustained agenda of state-sanctioned violence, from this country's estimated one thousand military bases throughout the world, its status as the world's biggest arms dealer, its legalization of assault weapons for private ownership, and its primo status as Incarceration Nation, housing more Black prisoners today than there were enslaved people immediately prior to the Civil War. 

There has always been class sectarianism you can believe in, here in these United States, and it was spawned and constantly nurtured by capitalism and the unfettered wealth of the greedy few.   

Of course, since the media is still so enveloped in its Biden honeymoon swoon, Cohn also has no choice but to delve shallowly into his self-censoring hive-brain and to cast Joe Biden as the anti-sectarian hero who wants nothing more than to bring Democrats and Republicans together for the kind of incestuous orgy that has always worked out so well for the elites who bankroll the much more desirable state-sanctioned brand of social, economic and physical violence.

After spending whole paragraphs bemoaning how a nation full of sectarian folks like you and me are turning on one other, Cohn abruptly and without warning completely contradicts himself:

The median voter prefers bipartisanship and a de-escalation of political conflict, creating an incentive to run nonsectarian campaigns.

I feel so divided right now after reading that journalistic feat of bipolar disorder that I don't know whether to flee North in a contentious search for Santa Claus, or to completely blow my quickly dwindling $1400 stimulus check on a controversial trip to the South Pole to commune with the Antarctic penguins while there's still an ice shelf and no Green New Deal in sight.

 There are, after all, only ever two Manichean choices in this life. Corporate media tells me so.  And so did unindicted war criminal George W. Bush, who upon the illegal invasion of Iraq so famously and originally proclaimed to the whole world: "You are either with us or against us."

Fast forward to a Sunday morning CBS gabfest, and this same George Bush now bemoans that people are so "polarized" that they can't even imagine him being friends with Michelle Obama, who once called him "a very funny man" and almost single-handedly paved the way for his reputation rehab in liberal circles.

Though she didn't specify whether he is funny ha-ha or funny-scary, Bush explained in that endearingly narcissistic folksy fashion of his that "anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like."

Duopoly, Inc. You're Either For It Or Against It


Anonymous said...

Well, sometimes the working class learns to hate them right back, to wit -

VLT said...

The Neo-liberal Democrats sure are on a campaign to get us to hate the Republicans. When I look at dangerously moronic politicians like Rick DeSantis I must confess that I DO worry. However, I have been listening to interviews & speeches as well as reading articles and books by Thomas Frank. I reckon that we probably have more in common with most Republicans in small towns in the flyover states (who after Clinton asked "Where are they gonna go?" after knifing the working class in the back - actually had the temerity to go somewhere else.) Chris Hedges says the same thing. I think, despite the win in 2020, the Democratic Party is on the crash and burn and they know it. Their only weapon - other than actually doing the right thing and representing most of the working people in this country - is to demonize the other side.

Erik Roth said...


Thank you for another brilliantly profound and bulls-eye, on-the-mark exposé of what matters regarding media and the public's (OUR!) full access to true information.

Note more on point:

The Media Lied Repeatedly About Officer Brian Sicknick's Death. And They Just Got Caught. —
Just as with the Russia Bounty debacle, they will never acknowledge what they did. Their audience wants to be lied to for partisan gain and emotional pleasure.
April 19, 2021 ~ by Glenn Greenwald

Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One —
The most significant Trump-era alliance is between corporate outlets and security state agencies, whose evidence-free claims they unquestioningly disseminate.
April 16, 2021 ~ by Glenn Greenwald

‘Divisive’: How Corporate Media Dismiss Ideas Unpopular With Elites —
April 17, 2021 ~ by Alan Macleod

Media’s Top Meaning for ‘Proxy’ Is ‘Iranian Ally’ —
April 21, 2021 ~ by Gregory Shupak

Also, please note, off point, but nonetheless pertinent, and timely:

[Yesterday’s] verdict isn’t ‘justice’. But accountability is a first step to justice —
In a short speech following the George Floyd verdict, Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison distinguished between the concepts.
20 April 2021 ~ by Keith Ellison

Meanwhile, Minneapolis is still boarded up by a forest of plywood, fenced off with chain-link topped by razor wire, patrolled by heavily militarized legions of goons, in armored jeeps, with automatic rifles wearing camouflage outfits, utterly incongruous in any cityscape. It would appear silly if it weren't so scary.
No doubt the entire downtown is under total surveillance (put into place for the 2018 Super Bowl).

“Protection is the first necessity of opulence and luxury.”
~ Joseph Conrad

What and who the police are protecting couldn't be made more crassly obvious.

Jay–Ottawa said...

I'm not against discontent, no sir. Discont manufactured by elites inclined to justice against elites inclined to injustice in just dandy. Trouble is, so many of the formerly good guys have been anesthetized, lost their tongues or gone over to the other side. It has fallen to us, the unorganized, each in our own way, to make up for the right kind of discontent that is so missing. Instead of merely sighing while reading about the bad actors in corporate boardrooms and the district of Columbia, do something. Open discontent is the first step towards effective resistance.

There are three kinds of discontent: make-believe discontent, indecent discontent and decent discontent. The Democratic Party specializes in make-believe discontent on our behalf. Indecent discontent is the kind that gets the plebes fighting among themselves or punching down, as described above, for the benefit of rich and rotten elites long practiced in the art of distracting the lower ranks.

In the good old days, big unions kept their eye on the ball. If the remnant of old union power would only drop its corrupt support of neolibs and neocons and rewind the class war, unions would soon be in a position to manufacture decent discontent, like class war propaganda and tough strikes, against the real enemies of labor, those obscene powers supporting endless war and economic disparity. By telling the ptb that union members no longer care to serve as serfs, canon fodder or taking their turns at the execution post, unions might grow in numbers and force once more. Alas they, like all the other big dogs of organization, continue to nuzzle up to corporate capitalism.

Bottom line: manufacturing discontent is OK; just depends on who is doing the manufacturing, and why. That picture of Michelle giving Shrub a hug is proof the two major parties amount to one party with a common plank of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Shrub should be in jail, along with Cheney and the rest of the war criminals from that administration. How many millions of lives must one destroy, at home and abroad, before being hauled into court?

Steven Markoff has documented their crimes in The Case Against George W. Bush. Markoff will give you a copy of his book free –– yes, FREE, so believe your lying eyes –– IF you send a note to your representatives in D.C. BTW, our representatives have all received copies directly from the author. Imagine: A detailed and fact-checked indictment of Bush & Co on the desk of every member of Congress. Demand hearings on the matter in the House and Senate. (Details at this link.)

Not sure yet how to get a copy into Michelle's hands.

Erik Roth said...

The Case Against George W. Bush, by Steven C. Markoff, Rare Bird Books, 2020.

From the desk of Ralph Nader —
Steven C. Markoff, author of the recent book The Case Against George W. Bush, documenting his war crimes, torture and lying the U.S. into the Iraq War, told our listeners on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour this week that he will send, free, his hardback book to your two Senators and Representative on behalf of you, their constituent. He will also send you a free copy of this definitive indictment.

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, by Vincent Bugliosi, Vanguard Press, 2008.

“A president cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws.”
~ DaShanne Stokes

"War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.”
~ Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court Justice

Erik Roth said...

"The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a Free and Unrestrained Press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a Free Press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people." ~ Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice