Archive for trump

The Language of the Fourth Imperium

Posted in Dispatches with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2020 by Magadh

Lingua Quartii Imperii #1: Domination

Mr. Trump described the police response to the demonstrations in Washington D.C. last night as “domination,” alongside praising the “many arrests.” This represents a translation of domination from the lexicon of sport into that of American politics. Of course, there is already an active conceptual commerce between the two. News coverage of the politics in the United States was long ago colonized by the argot of the sports report. Competition for political office is commonly described in terms befitting a horse race rather than the substantive consideration of political programs and norms. It is difficult to say what role this mode of commentary had in bringing that situation into being, but it is clear that any element of rational consideration of policy has been completely evacuated from the decision-making process.

Mr. Trump seems grossly unaware of the inappropriateness of importing the concept of domination from sport, where its consequences are trivial, to that of politics, where its consequences are death and the diminution of life chances. If my team is dominated on the playing field we can simply dust ourselves off and prepare for the next match, be it tomorrow or next season or whatever. If I am politically dominated it means that I am fundamentally unfree, and a basic element of my humanity has been taken.

All this means little to Mr. Trump, for whom the concept of humanity is abstract in the extreme and, in most cases, only applicable after the fact. Living in a world of shadows and meatsacks, my Trump’s id searches incessantly for grist for the mill, and those beings that inhabit his shadow world can only be seen through the lens of their advantages or disadvantages for satisfaction of his appetitive soul. As such, domination is a concept with fundamental appeal. The vicarious appetitive satisfaction of a successful sporting conquest can be translated into direct satisfaction by the domination of those with the temerity to oppose the dear leader’s fulfullment in any respect. Mr. Trump’s particular version of postfascism is, therefore and fundamentally, a politics radiating is the sign of the unconstrained id.

A Statement of Resistance

Posted in Dispatches with tags , on November 16, 2016 by Magadh

The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!

Damn Donald Trump, the most loathsome combination of bullying and mendacity to afflict American politics for generations. Damn his circle of toadies and yes-men. Damn the Republican Party, whose toxic mix of cynicism and zealotry are making this happen. Damn the Democrats, who suck up to bankers and hedge fund managers and yet try to argue that they have the answers for the men and women left behind by neoliberalism. Damn the misogyny of the American electorate that determined that an obviously better qualified woman was less appealing that a preening, self-important buffoon with the right kind of junk.

baudrillard-1968

I’ve talked to a number of people who are seriously considering leaving the country. I can’t really blame them. I’m sufficiently conversant with the history of fascist regimes (especially National Socialism) to recognize that it’s too much that people breast the tide of violence and hatred with no way of knowing when it will end or how bad it might get. I, for one, am staying. I recognize that part of my willingness to do so is based on the fact that, as a heterosexual white male (and a property owner to boot) I am not in the line of fire in the way that women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and others are. Given all that, it’s still tempting for me (and for many others like me) to go into what used to be called in the era of Nazism “inner emigration.” Forget that. This stupid regime will not get my compliance, my silence, or any sort of concession that the klepto-fascist order that they seem intent on building is in any way normal or acceptable.

My family has been in this country since the revolution. Does that make me more American than anyone else? No, it does not. Quite the contrary. We have benefitted in so very many ways from the freedom ensured its democratic institutions. And if that freedom has not been open to all, as the stated ideals of the Constitution declare that it should be, then the burden weighs on us all the more. It is the responsibility of those of us in communities under less immediate threat to show solidarity with those for which the danger is greater. We can’t stand up for them, but we can stand with them and let them know that we refuse to acquiesce in their debasement.

Once, as a child, I asked my father why it was that he would always talk about the virtues of American democracy given that it so often failed to live up to them. “Because,” he told me, “those are ideals that we are aiming for. We’ll always fall short of them, But we have to remember that the ideals themselves are important because they give us a way to know if we’re headed in the right direction.” America has fallen so gravely short of her ideals in the past: in the era of slavery, of colonialism, and in its continuing marginalization of people of color, of women, and of sexualities that don’t “fit in”. Now, in the moment that those ideals are challenged, it is time to reaffirm them and to make the goal of building a just, non-exploitive society, that recognizes and practically affirms the dignity of all human beings regardless of race, gender, or sexuality a reality in the world.

There will be struggle in the months and years ahead. We are likely to be under heavy manners for quite some time, and much of the progress that was bought as such great cost of lives and effort in the 20th century will be lost. So be it. We are the fighters, the rebels, the ones who don’t fit. I address this particularly to those of us who came of age in the hardcore punk scene of the 1980s. In the years before the rise of bands like Green Day made punk domestic, acceptable, and profitable, we experienced things of which “normal” people never dreamed. We know what it is like to be out of step with society. But we also have amongst ourselves a wealth of knowledge and experience of building a culture outside the mainstream and of operating in adverse conditions. Let’s use it to take the fight to the enemies of civilization and to let them know that we have the strength to resist over the long haul.

Everyone is going to have to do their bit, and every little bit helps. Not everyone is comfortable marching in demos. Don’t worry. There’s a lot that you can do. Network, post on social media, contribute money to worthy causes, let people who are afraid know that you are looking out for them and that they are not alone. Authoritarianism works, to an important degree, by isolating its victims. Don’t be isolated. Don’t let others be. Know in your heart that generations before you resisted and carried on the struggle without knowing what the end would be. Have courage and be strong. The era of resistance starts today.

Magadh