The Ministry of Focus Never Sleeps: Punditry by Other Means

Reality is serving up a changing-of-the-guard in America in no small order. The fourth estate et al is left punch-drunk following the political outcome of an election that was supposed to be ‘in the bag’. Media and the ‘celebrity’ interpretation of events failed to focus a vast numbers of disposed (deplorable) people on how to act. A billion dollars spent as voice-over failed to do the trick. An election that conveniently ignored America’s very deplorable foreign policy turned out to be a class event.

It now seems that jamboree and anti-jamboree is occurring simultaneously in post-election America and that navel-gazing hubris is equally dividing the two-party duopoly in ways most unbecoming to the “Leaders of the Free World” now beating their breasts while trumpeting their right to impose their hegemonic-identity on the lesser mortals of the world.  The colloquial jocks — America’s bombastic-blathering from useful idiots — may once more carry the day. The divide between the suck-it-out-of-main-street-tax-haven-mob and the shafted-fuck-you-tent-city-deplorables, is the narrative of an America that is weak when it comes to the question of internal values. Change may be in the air, but we will just have to wait and see what is in store for us vis-a-vis the mighty propaganda machine.

However, “Make America Great Again” as promoted by the top-jock is ultimately a euphemism for make-America-competitive again, thus keeping the focus on external values yet again. How supermarket shelves are stocked, the health of the economy is understood, employment stats read, national security evaluated are equally matters of external interest, none of which have meaning unless we reflect on how wealth is achieved and at what cost to the environment.

So the American existential crisis that is upon us is typically inverted towards seeing the world in terms of which of the two parties should hold power. Which side better represents the duopoly in their quest to legitimize their own actions seems to be as good as it gets. The ancient Roman god Janus, a two-faced entity symbolising movement, transition, passage, beginnings, endings and change, has two faces as it looks to the future and to the past is yet to be discovered by the Washington crew.

In the campaign for the White House, the Don did more looking back than the Hill. The Don decried the waste of treasure foreign wars had brought to a country mired in debt. He even mentioned the lives and limbs lost on one side and the other. Hill on the other hand, did a lot of looking ahead in a more-of-the-same sort of way. She could hardly contain herself in her eagerness to eviscerate the BDS movement once she had won the presidency…so much for the future we might have had!

But consumerist phenomenology caused the ‘people’ to shop for meaning on the shelves of the supermarkets. While being manipulated by elites who had come to treat so many of them as ‘sheeple’, the apparatus of the free-market slyly separated them from participation in the industrial narrative by expatriating their jobs abroad, leaving many of them victims to a business-cycle that cynically severed the link between the past and future for most of them.

Neoconservatism is no Janus.  It is one-purpose Mammon, myopically looking one way, and that is towards its bottom line. The elites who did their shopping — for degrees — in supermarkets for the institutionally upwardly-mobile, became the complacent let-me-tell-you-apparatchiks who dutifully applied themselves as experts (in every conceivable way) so as to retain a footing in the profit-versus-austerity proxy wars. Neoconservative economics became a culture that rearranged the outer world to the detriment of the inner world, crapping on human values that until then had managed to preserve decency as the bottom line.

So who in their right mind can believe anything that is said after the shit-storm that was the election-campaign. Nobody spoke about reparation that should be paid to make Iraq or Libya or Syria or Afghanistan great or viable again. Nobody spoke about how Zionism had implanted itself in the very entrails of the American system and engineered wars that made America a hegemonic junkie. Nobody spoke about how the Stars of David and Goliath, George W. and Bibi, allowed the State Department to become a war-room from whence conflagrations of choice translated into change de jour of the stomach-turning kind.

What does this say about America and The West in general regarding the control they exert over the lexicon vis a vis propaganda-speak, informing the ‘sheeple’ that it is the provenance of elites to tell them  how to  interpret Zionism and to avoid opinions emanating from anti-semitic-memes perjuring the pedigree of dubious purists who walk ahead of ‘the people’.

From the Guardian, 17/11/16, Jonathan Freedland’s column “The US will no longer feel like a haven for Jews under Trump” writes:

Trump pushes the same age-old canard in his closing TV ad. It featured a gallery of three villians, all of whom were Jews: philanthropist George Soros, the Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen and the Goldman Sachs’ boss, Lyoyd Blankfein. The narrator’s words used as each of those faces appeared came from the lexicon of classic antisemitism. Soros: “Those who control the levers of power”. Yellon: “Global special interests”. Blankfein: “Global Power structure”. “Trump supporters have taken their cue and bombarded Jewish journalists with the vilest form of abuse”.

To read this sort of hysterical rant is to be left wondering if Jonathan Freedland considers himself an exemplar of Lamed Vov humility, one of the thirty six Lamed Vovniks who are simply too humble to believe that they are actually one. Because on reading this, one is painfully aware of the sort of thinking that adumbrates the tribal values that precede universal critiques — and this from within the country that gave the world a valorous model of English Bardic wisdom. One should not walk ahead or behind truth, but walk along with it and know it to be your best friend. The human imagination is made free and unfettered from ghetto babble when it recognises the value of the universal.

It is too soon to judge what Trump and his supporters may do. But it is not too late to reflect upon the fact that Zionism, in cahoots with the excesses of American militarism, can be something American Jews are prone to gloss over while excusing themselves of any wrongdoing in their atonement phase… before reverting to business as usual. Now is the time to recognise the exploitation and manipulation of the Muslim world as an abominable exercise in power politics that cost the lives of millions of innocent citizens. Their gnashing of teeth and nail-biting anguish is somewhat more poignantly an existential crisis than Don beating Hill to the finishing line.

Freedland concludes his article with the following paragraph:

Either way, this is unfamiliar and unwelcome territory for American Jews. They are discovering that antisemitism is not a thing of the past, nor confined to distant Europe. It is alive and active in their own golden land-and now it is endorsed from the very top.

With this very solipsistic finale, one is tempted (before setting him out to pasture) to suggest to Jonathan Freedland that he spends some time in Iraq or Syria or Gaza observing what is left alive and active in their ‘golden lands’ where occupation and regime change have succeeded in immiserating  once-upon-a-time whole communities of unsuspecting innocents into circumstances that beggar belief.

When out to pasture, Jonathan might find time to reflect on the words of Lord Edwin Montague:

Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom.

So what can one make of this mantra of Trumps’ “make America great again”? Wouldn’t it be great (lovely) if the American public could wake up to its inglorious recent record of using calumny to justify its penchant for regime-change. Wouldn’t it be great (lovely) for the rest of the world too, knowing that regime-change is kaput…Putin would think so, right? Wouldn’t it be great (lovely) if the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping,  could tip-toe through a multi-polar-tulip-patch with Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin, without Vlad having to follow Don, or Xi having to walk ahead of Don and Vlad, or Don ahead or Vlad needing to follow Don?

The idea of a new world order being something one nation can dream up is laughable…no matter how much gas it may have in its tank. To imagine that nationalism can be dreamed away is laughable too. The whole is only as good as its parts and human society, like nature, abhors controls that limit diversity and freedom of choice. The parts of the whole also abhor interference in their sovereign right to evolve and develop their own characters.

The Don suggests that he will talk to Vlad — a constructive move by the constructer of things — towers and tall talk to wit. In a world crying out for dialogue, the sound of one hand clapping is already apparent in a bumbling elephant-in-the-room sort of fashion. The revolving door that served Treasury and Wall Street in equal parts and installed a similar contraption in the fourth estate may very well have to take a hike. The “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush, So early in the morning” sort of thing, indicates that circuit-breakers may have to be introduced to pension-off the parasites that keep these doors revolving. There is no guarantee in any of this that Janus has come to Capitol Hill.  One set of rogues may very well replace another, but, hey, hope springs eternally and the deplorable ‘sheeple’ have nothing to lose.

Denis Conroy is a retired businessman and journalist and a voracious follower of matters political outside of the mainstream arena. Read other articles by Denis A..