Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The dynamics of the hegemonic ideological life-cycle AKA Why we are fucked in the West

I wanted to quickly outline the dynamics at play in the US and UK, to show how the betrayal of the left by the Democrats and New Labour set us on this terrible path. Again, I do not speak as someone who identifies as left. I speak as someone who is anti-ideological hegemony (so it just comes across that I am far-Left sometimes), and who understands these dynamics as universal dynamics across all complex adaptive systems. This is merely written in the context of political economy..

When an ideology has cross party (or dictatorial) support for long enough, when that ideology is reflected in all shared cultural production at the expense of other identities, then it becomes hegemonic. Not just in power, but as part of peoples identities and their culture.

To give you an extreme example. The Nazi's took over all shared cultural production, from film to schools to public spaces.. everywhere was saturated with Nazi ideology. This feeds into people identity, either directly making them agree, making them ambivalent, or making them not disagree either through fear of some sort, or through thinking everyone else might agree. 

In the US and, to a lesser extent the UK, a handful of corporations own all shared cultural production via national media, and have done for over two generations (except BBC/NPR/PBS - but they tow the state line anyway). Both parties support (or supported, until Corbyn) the Neoliberal political economic regime: the FED, the World Bank, the EU, the IMF, Central Banks, the Washington Consensus, Neoclassical economics, global finance, etc. Every piece of shared culture is filtered and shaped through a myriad of conscious and subconscious forces to, if not reinforce neoliberal ideology, then to not oppose it.

Now, party politics only functions when you have a Left and a Right. You go one way for a while, then the other party takes a turn and goes the other, correcting the previous mistakes. And thus we move forward in a balanced way. But when Bill Clinton and Tony Blair embraced Neoliberalism, they turned their parties from the left to the anti-left, and thus broke the functioning of party politics.

When you have a hegemonic consensus, progress in governance doesn't happen. You simply keep moving in one direction, regardless of party. This creates what are known as path dependencies; the longer you go down said paths, the harder it is to reverse course.

So, what happens? Well, without any challenge to the hegemony, those involved do not see the root of the problem. Previously, religion acted as a moral challenge as in the Great Depression, but no more. Since government and institutions evolve at a much slower rate than the rest of society due to their doctrinal, ideological structure, tension begins to build. Like an earthquake.

This is where we are now. Power is in an ideological bubble, unable to see that it is their own ideological path dependencies and doctrine that are causing the tension. A growing number of people in society outside of that bubble do recognise it however, yet they are denied any route within the system by which to make reform.

And you know what JFK said about reform, right? Those that make peaceful revolution impossible and violent revolution inevitable. It's not just a slogan. It's real.

The only way that a hegemonic ideological structure can maintain itself in such a situation is to get more and more authoritarian. The hegemony doesn't evolve, society does, and so the tension grows and grows and grows until SNAP.

The way that these ideological hegemonies collapse is called a cascade event, or a transition. They happen quickly, suddenly, and unpredictably, and the violence (or energy) involved is determined by how much tension the ruling power has allowed to build. Not by those responding to it.

Voting Clinton or Owen Smith doesn't release the tension. It simply allows to keep building, because they are ideologically blind and unable to deal with the root causes of the tension, the root causes of why we have Trump. It doesn't make the threat of fascism go away with Trump losing, it makes the the eventual fascism likely to be even worse.

That's because the energy in the tension will be higher. Which direction the cascade event falls depends on which force outside of the hegemonic system triggers the cascade. If to the right, we move *even further* right, meaning unsustainable fascism. If to the Left, we return to the mean, and correct the mistakes that were made over the last 40 years.

Right now, the main priority should be in ensuring it breaks to the Left. I fear that should Clinton get in, the momentum from outside forces will come from the right; liberals won't mobilise in the same way if their own President is in. It could mean that come 2020, the insurgent challenger is on the Right once again, and the Left will once more be urging us to support the lesser evil. If Trump gets in, however fucked up that will be in the short-term, at least the Left will be the insurgent force, and the Neoliberal consensus will be well and truly shattered.

There is no happy ending here. At least in the UK we have managed, somehow, to repel the Neoliberal backlash and maintain an anti-neoliberal Labour leader. The US is a much bigger shit-show.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Why Hillary may be a worse option than Trump (beyond the short-term).

The following is a scenario that merely extends current, long-term Neoliberal trends, making two base assumptions that Clinton is a) Neoliberal, and b) Hawkish. I consider these premises to be self-evident, and I make no attempt to justify them in this short post. This scenario is why I think that Hillary winning in 2016 may be worse than Trump winning, in the medium-to-long term.

It’s 2020.

Hillary Clinton is once again the Democrat nominee, with Elizabeth Warren long ago having sold out and no other anti-neoliberals left in the party. Third parties have failed to make headway, thanks to the rigged electoral commission still being half Democrat and half Republican. America is slowly “recovering” from yet another global economic crash - which people this time blame on those such as Kaine who pushed for more deregulation just before it happened - and any systemic reform is still being resisted. Hillary’s friends and donors hold sway in the White House, which has allowed Goldman Sachs to avoid collapse through yet more bailouts. The wealth of the rich continues to grow.

National debt has increased even more (in line with wealth inequality), a situation not helped by increased military funding to counter the growing threat of Iran and Russia (due a deterioration in relations that's the result in large part of Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy strategies), as well as combatting both ISIS and white nationalist terror attacks domestically. This also results in even more powers for the FBI, NSA and CIA, and further expansion of the NSA base in Utah and enforced corporate cooperation.

The police have continued to kill blacks with impunity, and to become even more militarised, as “super-predators” start fighting back in larger numbers. Riots and bomb threats from a new Black Panther resurgence and KKK groups (empowered since the loss of Trump) rock major cities throughout the summer, while the media scream about the need to crack down on radical anti-neoliberals, far-left, and far-right (somewhat less so, mind).

TPP has been passed, and foreign-owned corporations are suing states that seek to pass environmental regulations to adapt to the increasingly violent and extreme impacts of climate change across the country. The subsequent rise in environmental activism has been labelled as domestic terror, with police forces infiltrating and preemptively arresting anyone with any connection to anti-fossil fuel direct action, including thousands of indigenous peoples. Drought and hurricanes rock the West and South like never before, yet corporations are largely untouched by water sanctions, and investment in infrastructure and adaptation is not forthcoming.

From this situation, a new fascist emerges. Using the same language and techniques as Trump, only this time more conservative, and far less easy to ridicule. The Republican base takes to this newcomer in a broader fashion, the establishment more willing to work with him. People on the left who were anti-Hillary in 2016 remember the emotional blackmail and refuse to succumb to the same cries of “Vote Hillary or you support Fascism!”.

The fascist wins. Suddenly, the (neo)liberal “left” realise their mistake. They realise that this fascist has all the infrastructure he needs, infrastructure built under Democrats watch - to immediately impose fascism through declaring a state of emergency. They go to protest, and they are crushed by a police force that welcomes new poers and military equipment. Many ask.. "Maybe if things hadn’t gotten this bad before we stood up, we might have saved America?"

I don’t say I told you so, even though part of me scream it. I say welcome to the club, now let’s do something about it.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

An Open letter to establishment Democrats and Republicans, and US liberals.

Let me begin by saying that America does not become fascist simply because a fascist becomes President. The US political system was explicitly designed for that not to happen. 

No. Trump needed Obama and Bush to create fascist infrastructure first.

Bush & Obama militarised police, built an unprecedented surveillance state, killed US citizens with no trial, gave sovereign power to banks and financial institutions, codified torture and pre-emptive war, and only now y'all are freaking out about fascism? 

Where the fuck have you been for the last 15 years? This is merely a culmination of decades of ideological hegemony.

Bush and Obama, Democrats and Republicans, Neoliberals, the lot of them, have together, with all of your help, created a turnkey fascist police state. Now that an actual fascist - recognisable to you only because he isn't a Neoliberal - might turn that key, now is the time you all realise? 

This isn't an aberration. This is the telos of consistently voting the lesser of two Neoliberal evils, interspersed with Neoliberal hope (but still neoliberal). Any ideological hegemony, be it a dictator or a "democratic" cross-party consensus, will devolve into authoritarianism as it tries to sustain its doctrine in the face of societal evolution and growing dissonance. By ignoring that, you've all contributed to this approaching fascism. 

And if Trump doesn't win, it doesn't matter a jot in the medium-term. You've done fuck all to stop what is now inevitable. It will simply be 4-8 more years of increasingly authoritarian Neoliberal oppression, exponential inequality, unaccountable finance, militarising police.. until another fascist comes along, but this time in conditions worse than now.

And it will keep going like that until shit gets so fucking bad that people revolt. You had a chance. You could have broken the Neoliberal hegemony. But Clinton’s hubris and ambition, the DNC's neoliberal colluding heart, and the indoctrination of neoliberal "left" scuppered Sanders.

That was your shot. You won't get another. Not unless HRC wins, the DNC allow a democratic challenger in four years, then you vote for them. But all you Neoliberal "left" will be like "Don't split the party! Don't fight amongst ourselves! Look at the fascist! Support our Hillary!"

Unless you break the Neoliberal hegemony, you will get fascism, sooner or later. And it won't be non-voters fault. It will be Neoliberals. The "Liberals" that besmirch the name recognisable to those in the 60s. The New Liberals. The Neoliberals. The now inherently anti-left Neoliberals thanks to the rapidly disappearing Overton window.

Only Neoliberalism has the power to change course, because only Neoliberals have power. But they won't. Not without a fight. Ideological hegemony doesn't just look in the mirror one day and say "Huh, we've gone too far, let's allow our opponent a turn to correct our mistakes". That's not how ideological hegemony ends.

Democrats and Republicans alike, both those in power and you who have supported them, have collaborated in creating a fascist infrastructure the likes of which the world has never seen. And now a fascist - only recognisable to you because he isn't Neoliberal - has come along with the key to the turnkey state, and now you freak out.

You have stood aside while your guy built a fascist state, whether Bush or Obama, and instead of self-reflection, you guilt trip those who have had enough and can no longer continue to facilitate the gradual decline into authoritarianism.

Fuck that. Fuck you. Everybody who has supported Neoliberalism, or even failed to learn what the fucking word means, you all helped make Trump. Even worse, you supported the making of the tools and the infrastructure that means that simply having one psycho in one office is enough to have fully fledged fascist state.

If the US wasn't in the grip of a dying ideological consensus, if it was a functioning democracy, Trump couldn't do fuck all. Again, the whole point of the US governance system was to avoid one man being able to create a tyranny. That fucked up way before Trump appeared.

It fucked up under Bush. It fucked up under your precious Obama. I mean, how good a President can Obama be if Trump inheriting his system is such an existential threat?

So don't give me "Vote Hillary coz Trump!", because another Trump is inevitable anyway, and it was your bullshit ignorance and apathy that made it so. Unless every one of you can make a pact to never again vote for the lesser of two evils, to take Trump as the warning he is, to reflect on your own role in this shit-show and commit to becoming dedicated political reformers should conscientious people vote for Hillary against their will, then excuse me while I angrily dismiss your emotional blackmail. 

If Trump alone can make America a fascist state, you need to take a long damn look at yourselves and ask why that is so. All of you. You don't get to participate in building a turnkey fascist police state, and then blame others for allowing one to turn the key.