Category: poly sci

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Why the Alt-Right Vanguard look like Hipsters

Gone are the accouterments of the old neo-Nazis and skinhead punks. Gone are the black shirts, the khaki fatigues, gone are their wardrobe’s variations on confederate flags or regurgitation of Nazi emblems. Gone are the steel toed jack boots and shaved heads of the aggressive prison-tattooed machismorati. When the white supremacists moved from Idaho to Metropolis, they stopped of at Urban Outfitters. So there is Steve Bannon, who sports three layers of untucked shirts and cargo shorts and a pair of Birkenstocks. Under grey awnings he sports a permanent stubble. And Richard Stevens, that Eddie Bauer model, whose National Policy Institute presents the aura of yet another run of the mill political think tank.

A key part of this cultural move is to re-brand white nationalism with a more laid back, authentic, communicative style, poses as an inclusive ideology.

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O.J. and Trump: A Comparative Study in Post-Truth Justice

I think that to watch this (O.J.) documentary, you can get a harbinger, a microcosmic impression through a media-circus kaleidoscope, of a country that is preparing for a phenomena like President Trump. The social forces at work in letting Simpson off the hook are the same ones – if the racial vectors are switched from black to white – that elected Donald Trump. So that Trump too is a story of all of those same things – celebrity, domestic violence, race, tv, a media circus, money, a brain damaged sociopath, cities ravaged by racial profiling and corruption and a public that was fed up with it all.

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Against Optimism

We tell each other that our reality is what we make of it, that if we just knew The Secret, we could generate our own prosperity, that God would meet us halfway and provide. We’ve mesmerized ourselves, told ourselves that everything was possible. This is the utopia of self-determination, where we could all be winners. We encouraged each other’s self esteem, told ourselves bromides about our own pride. We told ourselves not to focus on the negatives, only the positives. We were superstitious of negative thinking, told ourselves that it wasn’t okay to be down. That depression was negative, not a normal human feeling indicating that something was wrong. We treated the symptom, took some pills and a dose of pop psychology, never asked what was wrong, never figured it was a sick culture at work.  We, without basis, told ourselves that we should be happy, think positively.  We put up signs in our houses, “live, laugh, love,” we prayed away negative thoughts as sinful.  We went to Tony Robbins seminars, Joel Osteen, Amway, Creflo Dollar, bought books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

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Why Liberal Comedy Failed

Why, we may ask, is satire news prone to this kind of burn out? I propose that it is prone because it really offers no substantive challenge to the status quo. Sure, it can snidely critique the ludicrous or offensive behavior and activities of politicians and elites, but stripped of this, it has no real point of view. As Chris Hedges noted, these “liberals are tolerated by the capitalist elites because they do not question the virtues of corporate capitalism, only its excesses, and call for tepid and ineffectual reforms.” So it becomes, instead, an activity of cynical liberal identity politics, because their shows, whether being run by Viacom like at Comedy Central, or at CBS, are part of the same system of wealthy coastal elites that rural America resents.

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Krampus on Wall Street

Basically, people are paradoxically engaging in a consumer take ethic in order to be great in a give ethic, which is, of course, the gift giving virtue represented by the largess of Santa Claus. It’s this precise ironic dualism that our sudden contemporary fascination with the lesser known tradition of Krampuslauf finds its proper and welcome home.