Exit Woodward and Bernstein, enter Jack Bauer. We’re in fantasy land now: all the president’s men can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. We’ll stop those bullets. We’ll put Jack’s skull back together. We’ll restore our timeline. We’ll recriminate. If only in fiction.
What’s funny is how apparently stubbornly we grasp on to social identities that can in reality be tissue thin. In the self-preservation society instinct, we want to be on the right side of the consensus, whatever we believe the consensus is.
Change doesn’t happen with this much encouragement from the neoliberal centers of power. Real change won’t be marketed like the latest iPhone. It won’t be packed neatly and endorsed by the “experts.” In fact, it’ll be called bad names. It’ll be made fun of, insulted, talked down to, ridiculed. The innuendo and probing and narrative construction will go on 24/7. Television news, MSNBC, CNN, Fox, NPR – doesn’t matter which consumer infotainment product you subscribe to – will be suspicious, hesitant to cover it, and have pundits who cynically mock anyone with a plan or vision of anything substantially different that might disrupt the status quo. But this is what change would look like. And if it actually does happen, television personalities will be completely astonished and chalk it up to a strange twist from out of the blue. They’ll have no idea.
This may be dismissed off-hand as the bizarre world of the madman, but it’s indicative of a broader social pattern of grave suspicion of social reality, a kind of full flowering reifying the post-truth world we’ve found ourselves in. Entertainment has conquered reality after all, and buried the world of facts with it. Everything became suspicious, cynical. Art or entertainment no longer a reflection of the real world, but its hall of mirrors absorbing reality itself. Only when everything became an absorbing simulation, reality became somehow more melodramatic. It was emotional. It was meaner, fearful, dumber. The masters of the suspicion proliferated in tandem with the explosion of the phony world, and everyone’s lost their minds.
History is a pile of bones, and even if offensive, should perhaps provoke us and shake us from the amnestic waters of late capitalism, which by its own design wishes to maintain the façade of reason, order, and omnipotence making us all feel the helpless consumerist torpor. Shoppers don’t want to be bothered by statues of Puritans restraining the mohawked red menace. It’s a historical fissure breaking through the postmodern simulacrum revealing the truth of our world. Racist statues pierce the veil of McWorld, exposing its menace. One cannot understand the history of his nation without understanding that its history can be measured in red, brown and black bodies. Both in flesh and wood.
In place of political power of an enriched citizenry, the firearm, like God and gold, takes on a totemic power, representing the last stand of individual liberty.
There is a similar architecture of doom, a destructo-politics at work here, descending into such tribalism that voters would rather support a pedophile than (shudder) a Democrat. Moore is perfect for Trump’s America where the goal isn’t actually to win or make America great again. The goal is actually to lose …
It’s a dangerous tactic played by the conspiracy-minded, at worst it rattles the saber for war against another nuclear power, fueled by hawks on both sides of the isle. And at least it perpetuates a cynical politics of blame and externalization, a politics of blindness as harmful as McCarthyism, and uses Kremlingate as a cudgel against the alienated populist progressive left.