When Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, some of us expressed doubt as to whether a business man come reality game show host would have the political acumen necessary for the job. Others were concerned that a person with Trump’s impulsive character would have the worlds most powerful nuclear arsenal at his disposal. But, none of us could have predicted just how soon he would play the “covfefe” card.
The president’s mention of covfefe has set the heads of political analysts spinning:
Bunker Cheeks, BBC Political Analyst
This is unprecedented. To mention covfefe so soon into your first term as president represents an enormous political gambit, it’s a game changer. It will make or break his presidency. The last president to mention covfefe was Kennedy, and I’m pretty sure that he lived to regret that.
Many people were worried that the president had raised such a nebulous issue as covfefe at an inopportune moment, on the eve of important climate talks. But the president stuck to his guns, arguing that if Paris had an accord then why didn’t New York? The president then abruptly left the talks. Gerd Achterschip was a delegate in the meeting:
The President Trump stormed out of the talks so quickly that he resembled a sort of golden, orange gas. As he left the room he kept chuntering “covfefe” and made wild lurches towards all the female delegates.
One thing remains certain, amidst all of the political carnage, President Trump is unlikely to stop serving us with a veritable smorgasbord of covfefe and flapdoodle.
It’s testimony to the renegade maverick nature of this president, and shows all of us that he’s not going to kowtow to the Washington elite by using a lexicon they understand. Following the president’s tweet, covfefe climbed a point on the New York Pussy Grab Index as traders backed the president’s tough stance on covfefe.
Thursday 5th April may well prove to have been a day that will go on to shape the remainder of the Trump presidency. Has Trump finally cut himself free from the strings of his puppet master, Steve Bannon, and realized that the simplistic, populist ideology of the alternative right can’t be applied to the complex societies we live in today?
Whether you agree, and many do not, with Trump’s attempts to cozy up to Putin, the gas attack that appears to have been carried out by President Bashir’s forces, forces that have received Putin’s support, in the north-west of Syria killing at least 70, provided Trump with the brutal realities of what he will have to face during his time in office. Trump has learned that Putin can’t be trusted, and following Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council, it appears that he’s less than sure about his chief strategist as well.
The news of the horrific use of chemical weapons in Syria comes at a time when other very significant events are taking place. Yesterday CNBC broke the story that a new memorandum on the composition of the National Security Council (NSC), published by the Federal Register, no longer listed Trump’s White House chief strategist as a member of the principals committee, while reinstating the Director of National Intelligence. Why Bannon was ever included on this committee in the first place left many scratching their heads, and why the Director of National Intelligence needed to be reinstated seems equally strange.
The use of chemical weapons on civilians by a Russian backed Syrian government, as meanwhile another Asian nation, led by a tyrant one used to see starring as a villain in
James Bond movies during the 1970’s, develops nuclear weapons and test fires rockets towards Japan, and terrorists continue to wage jihad in the name of a distorted and morally bankrupt ideology in random cities throughout the western world. Not to forget that on Thursday President Trump meets with the President of a country the United States accuses of building sand bars on which to place strategic military installations throughout the South China Sea, and with whom Bannon has guaranteed the United States will be at war with in the next 5 -10 years, a claim he made on his own radio show on March 16, 2016. See link below.
Bannon’s military experience was limited to serving as a naval officer for 7 years, during which time, much to his own disappointment he never saw combat. For those of us who are cynical there might be questions asked why a man with apparently so little to offer, was placed on the principals committee , the innermost circle, of the NSC. But, aspiring to great heights with neither the credentials nor experience necessary appears to be Bannon’s forte. Having left the Navy Bannon the world of investment banking and Goldman Sachs welcomed him with open arms. After working at Goldman Sachs for only 6 years, Bannon and some colleagues found the time to start a Boutique Investment Bank creatively named Bannon and Co, specializing in the financial interests of media companies. Again, up until this time Bannon appears to have had no experience with the media, much in the same way that he’d had no experience of investment banking, but his “devil may care” attitude appeared to be all he needed to get him through.
From dealing with the financial complexities of the media, the next logical step for Bannon was to purchase himself a media company, and start writing and producing
right-wing propaganda films. Bannon’s films were much admired by the founder of the
right-wing website Breitbart News, Andrew Breitbart, who affectionately nicknamed Bannon, Leni Riefenstahl, after the famous female director responsible for producing many of the most famous Nazi propaganda movies, most notably Triumph of the Will. I’m left wondering how Breitbart’s comparing Bannon to a Nazi propagandist left Bannon feeling. I’m guessing that if we could get the answer to this question we’d have a good idea as to how the next decade will play out.
There can be little disagreement that the level of global insecurity with which America’s most politically inexperienced President is confronted with, is to say the least extreme. This is what makes the timing of Bannon’s dismissal from the inner sanctum of the NSC so mysterious, and can only be explained in one of two ways:
Trump has come to understand that Bannon is a right-wing maniac who will stop at nothing to destroy the American political establishment, and much of the world along with it. Bannon is reported have been heavily influenced by the pseudo-
academic text:The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, 1997 by William Strauss(Author), Neil Howe. The authors of this book identify that the history of Europe and the United States can be divided into saeculum, or generational periods in which events occur that fundamentally reset the course of western civilization. Strauss and Howe predict that circa 2008 to 2025 the United States will go through its fourth turning. Beginning with the global economic crisis of 2008 and culminating in western civilization taking on the rest of the world in an orgy of death and destruction that would have given Hitler second thoughts.
The second possibility is more disturbing. The White House can not be seen to entertain Bannon’s latent desire for global Armageddon. In all probability it’s unlikely that his lust for destruction isn’t shared by mainstream military advisers, who’ve actually experienced the horrors of war first hand. But, Bannon still remains chief strategist at the White House, and the concern must be, just how much of a voice does he remain in Trump’s ear. Banishing Bannon from the NSC projects a message that a more reasonable, and considered course will be taken, but honestly, I
wouldn’t trust any of these people to be able to sit the right way round on a toilet.
So has Trump come to his senses and initiated a trial separation from Bannon and his right-wing fantasies, or is it all just the smoke and mirrors necessary to initiate Bannon’s wet dream of Armageddon? To start the conflict that he regrets not having experienced during his short naval career. One thing I do know is that I find it hard to trust two guys that profess to being heterosexual, hugging one another in Speedos, nipple on nipple.
Yesterdayafternoon, some journalists reported having seen a man looking like Steve Bannon cycling across the White House lawn, in the direction of the Breitbart offices.
A pretty decent documentary that exposes just how hideous Steve Bannon is.
It’s just been recommended to me that it’s a good time to read Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. I agree, but unfortunately I’ve already read it, probably at a time that wasn’t as good as now, but I haven’t got the time to reread it as I’m currently reading another book that I’ve also been told ‘it’s a good time to read,’ Sinclair Lewis’ It Could Never Happen Here. I’m reading It Could Never Happen Here after having just finished Camus’ The Plague, it also having been recommended to me on the basis of ‘it’s a good time to read.’ Other literary titles that seem to be being recommended as apropos are the unimaginative dystopian trio of 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Frankly if you’re over the age of 21 and haven’t already read these then I guess you’ve probably been too busy watching America’s Got Talent while masturbating into a sock. Recently I’ve also been recommended, and purchased, Assholes: A Theory,byAaron James, A People’s History of the United States, byHoward Zinn, and a rather more upbeat title, Utopia for Realists: Why Making the World a Better Place Isn’t a Fantasy and How We Can Do It,byRutger Bregman. I suspect that by the time I get round to finish reading these it will no longer be ‘a good time’ to read them, as Chelsea Clinton will have just become the president having edged out Kim Kardashian in an election that was so close it had to be resolved in the most democratic means available to a celebrity worshiping society, a naked mud wrestling splashdown, broadcast on pay per view, in high definition, surround sound. It’s either this or that sun dried fart of a president, Donald Trump, will have reduced our species to a pile of radioactive dust. I’ve also heard that Amazon has seen a surge in people wanting to read Mein Kampf, maybe because ‘it’s a good time.’
I just finished reading Camus’ The Plague, not as famous as The Stranger, but certainly no less skillfully written. Camus’ The Plague is a stifling, suffocating tale of a small Algerian town placed under quarantine after an outbreak of bubonic plague. It has been suggested that the story is an allegory of how Nazi ideology spread throughout Germany in the years leading up to World War 2, and the seemingly futile efforts of the French Resistance as they tried to find ways of overcoming the Nazi occupation.
While reading The Plague, it didn’t require any great leap of imagination to liken the spread of a highly contagious disease to the rapid spread of the alt right ideology. (An absolutely shameless and poor attempt to segue into what it is that I’m trying to say. I could have actually put in my opening paragraph; if I hadn’t become side tracked by dystopian literature, and the equally dystopian level of nudity that I predict will be required to decide our governments of the future.)
Despite having a name that sounds like a keyboard short cut it should be no surprise that the alt right has gained the majority of its following through the internet. The internet has proven to be an ideal breeding ground to facilitate the pervasive spreading of an ideology that only a couple of years ago would never have been discussed in public. The anonymity afforded by the internet has enabled people to voice radical opinions and meet up with others holding similar views. Over a relatively short period of time the numbers of people that have banded together sharing concerns over immigration, Islamic terrorism, feminism, and the preservation of the right to the freedom of expression, have increased at an alarming rate. To help put this into context I refer to the arbiter of public consciousness, Google. Type the terms ‘alt right’ into Google and you’ll get a choice of just over a quarter of a billion results to look at. Search ‘Democratic Party’ and you get a measly 64 million hits, search ‘US Constitution’ and you have what appears like an anemic choice of just over 10 million sources to look at. If the internet is the new battleground then it’s obvious that the alt right are winning the war. Mind if you do a search for ‘evil cat’, that’ll get you 43 million responses. So whether or not we should be fearing an alt right, evil cat coalition, or that the internet is really nothing more than a digital rubbish tip of mankind’s deranged sensibilities, I’ll leave you to decide.
The alt right has used the right to the freedom of expression as a foothold to gain itself a tenuous amount of legitimacy. They promote themselves as being the only political ideology that truly upholds this right, the self proclaimed guardians of the first amendment. It’s most likely that they’ve been able to achieve this as they’ve held opinions that were unutterable in civilized gatherings for the past twenty years. This logic is however flawed as any morally bankrupt ideology would be able to lay claim having had their freedom of expression limited by societal norms and values. For instance, and much to my own chagrin, people are very reluctant to engage in conversation that are open to considering the benefits of necrophilia. The truth is that the freedom of speech for those with repugnant ideas is no less than anybody else’s, what has to also be considered is the right that a large number of people have to react to those that espouse hate filled ideologies.
When Milo Yiannopoulos discussed his opinion that relationships between middle aged men and teen boys can be ‘life affirming.’ Mr. Yiannopoulos had the freedom, and made the choice, to express this opinion. His publishers Simon & Schuster, who were due to publish Yiannopoulos’ book, then exercised their right to react to Yiannopoulos’ statement by withdrawing their support and cancelling the book deal.
When a person promotes racist values that another person finds to be offensive, that person has just exercised their right to express their opinion. Anyone who listens to an opinion that they might disagree with, or find offensive, then has the right to disassociate themselves from such persons, who express such opinions. Simply put, we all have the right to say whatever it is we want, but we should also realize that there might be consequences to what we choose to say, in the form of how others might choose to respond to it.
And this is where I believe that we find ourselves today. A sizable group of people have, through the internet, suddenly found themselves empowered to express an extremely polemic point of view, leaving us with a society that is essentially in shock. The alt right is shocked that they have been able to voice opinions after they’ve had to bite their tongues for so long. The liberals meanwhile, are shocked there are so many people with such horrible ideas, and not enough people are thinking about the children.
Researching the ideology of the alternative right feels like driving to the dentists during the rush hour, because it’s an ideology that’s driven by fear, promotes intolerance and ultimately arrives at its final destination of self-loathing. Essentially what underpins the political philosophy of the alt right – I say political philosophy even though it has a set of opinions that are about as diverse as a satnav system stuck going round a roundabout – is nihilism. The alt right essentially rejects any reality that is in conflict with its own. It simply ignores the fact that culturally, racially, and economically our societies have become complex. Diversity has been the result of technology being able to transport people and goods, more quickly and cheaper than ever before. This doesn’t appeal to the mindset of the alternative right.
Steve Bannon, doyen of the alt right and Donald Trump’s chief strategist, promotes what he calls economic nationalism. According to Bannon, economic nationalism is the antithesis of globalization. Economic nationalism puts the American worker first, particularly when that worker is a white male. Bannon’s idea of economic nationalism provides us with an almost tangible glimpse into what an alt right Utopia would look like. It hearkens back to the days of 1950’s America. An America that rewarded hard working men, provided they came in the right shade of white. America before the civil rights movement. As a baby boomer this was the America that Steve Bannon grew up in, which makes me wonder if economic nationalism is nothing more than Bannon’s fantasy to relive his youth; so he can murder his father and have sex with his mother in order to fulfill an Oedipal complex that has laid dormant in him for the best part of half a century. I tried to make that last bit sound funny, but I can’t. It’s difficult to make a joke about a man who has admitted in public that he respects the power of Satan and who might also, in my opinion probably does, harbor sexual fantasies for his own mother.
Bannon’s economic nationalism has been criticized as populist in its appeal. As being an ideology that over simplifies economic issues, reducing them to the sort of sound bites that appeal to a stigmatized group, which in this case happens to be the working class white male of the American Rust Belt. Perhaps the most fundamental premise at the foundation of the alt right ideology is a belief that western culture has been destroyed by years of liberal economic
policy. The sorts of policies that have made it easier for the free movement of goods and people have been blamed for causing the economic downturn that has caused the rust belt. Being opposed to economic policies that promote globalization is a perfectly valid opinion for a person to have, but this opinion starts to become a concern when it’s hijacked by a group of people that espouse populist rhetoric in order to appeal to a group of people and get them believing that they have been the targets of economic policies that have seen other ethnic groups taking their jobs. Such rhetoric is extremely effective at spreading fear and hatred of the groups that appeared to have not fared as poorly. This type of rhetoric can cause alarm as it echoes that of Hitler identifying the Jews as the cause of Weimar Germany’s economic disaster.
But if I’m honest then I have to admit that I’m utterly bored, even contemptuous towards the economy. Whilst all of us have grown up to unquestioningly believe that economics and politics are ingredients fundamental to the running of a developed society, politics and economics have been the exclusive domain of intellectuals and economists. On the one hand we are made to feel that the health of the economy we live in is so vital that it closely mirrors our own well being. If the economy was a game that truly affects us all then I’d refuse to play as I have very little understanding of the rules. In fact the only people who do know the rules seem to be the sort of people I read about after they’ve drained all the money out of a pension fund.
Banking, as far as I can tell, seems to be almost as precise a science as using a slot machine. You either blindly hope for the best, delude yourself into thinking you’ve worked out a system, or open it up when no one’s looking and rig the settings so it’ll pay out illegally.
Just spend 5 minutes watching Bloomberg, inevitably you’ll hear two people trading economic jargon in a sort of duel to the death to prove who owns the most absurd lexicon. A man wearing a blue suit with a hair style so impossible that it defies all hitherto understanding of the laws of physics will open with an idea to “cultivate robust e-services,” the other participant in this discussion of virtual economic pugilism, parries this opening salvo and counters with “benchmark web-enabled e-commerce,” this backs the impossible hair into a corner, forcing them to respond with “scale out-of-the-box partnerships,” this for a moment catches his opponent off guard, he seems to stagger, his eyes roll back in his head, before he gathers his senses and unleashes a devastating combination of “brand vertical networks,” quickly followed by “productize clicks-and-mortar e-markets”. There’s an awkward pause as the hair realizes that he’s beaten, defeated in a contest that I failed to understand a single word of, and find hard to imagine that anyone else who’s just watched it has been able to comprehend.
The fact that the economic system is so unintelligible means that it relies on a public suspension of disbelief. A tacit understanding from the working classes that just because it sounds complicated, and that money is important, this imbues it with all the credibility that is necessary. I however am more cynical than that, and suspect that the financial sector has invented a lexicon so impenetrable so as to place itself outside of the realm of common sense, thus enabling those with an understanding of its strange, esoteric language, carte blanche to steal as much money as and when they like. The economy has done its best to marginalize the working class, who have then been told to hate immigrants, or globalization as being the reasons why they have lost their jobs, when in actual fact their frustrations should be focused on the bankers who will remain in their jobs irrespective of whatever government we might have.
If there’s one thing that the election of Donald Trump and Brexit should have taught all of us it’s that the working class, and in particular the white working class, are tired of being framed pejoratively by a media that has for too long looked down its nose at them. And this is an incredibly dangerous thing to have done which again has been seized upon by, the psycho with an unrealized fantasy of sleeping with his mother, Steve Bannon. Discrediting the media strikes a chord with working class people that have good reason to feel that it has failed to represent either them, or their concerns for a very long time. When a government is able to discredit a weak media it removes society’s most effective means of enforcing checks and balances upon that government. Being supported by a group of people that have long since seen it given up on listening to reason, who are now convinced that their government are the only voice of truth, inevitably empowers that government to do essentially whatever it pleases.
Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?
Despite trying to consider the Trump government, and the alternative right with an open mind, what I struggle to get beyond it its sense of nihilism. It seems to believe that everything that has been done over the course of the past 20 years has been wrong to such an extreme that everything must be discarded and replaced. It makes me feel that the last 20 years were all just a waste of time, and that we would have all been better off if we’d just stayed at home, watched The X Factor and masturbated into a sock, which is largely what I think most of us were doing. It rejects any idea that mankind is just one race, the human race. Instead it concentrates all of its malevolent energy into focusing on what makes people different. It then takes these differences and tries to convince mostly the white working class males, that these differences mean that diverse societies are incapable of peace or prosperity. The Utopia of the alternative right would seem to be a homogeneous society of people whose shade of white only varies according to how long ago it was they were last on holiday. However, whether these holidays could be taken abroad remains unclear. With the alternative right being so fearful of economic globalization and cultural diversity, holidaying in a country that dares to speak a different language or eat rice will probably not be possible if the fantasy of the alternative right comes to fruition.
I can see how the alternative right is being made to appeal to white, working class males. But I end where I started, with a quote from Camus’ The Plague, which is how I would feel if I found myself supporting the alternative right:
I was with them and yet I was alone. When I spoke of these matters they told me not to be so squeamish; I should remember what great issues were at stake. And they advanced arguments, often quite impressive ones, to make me swallow what none the less I couldn’t bring myself to stomach. The Plague – Albert Camus
Below are some pages that might interest you if you’re looking for more in depth, and frankly better written articles. Not something that sounds like it just leaked out of the mind of a person that was having their soul devoured by a xenophobic, hate filled wraith at four in the morning.
During a largely incoherent rant last week I stated my intention to write a series of posts that would attempt to report objectively on the alternative-right, with the purpose of encouraging more meaningful debate that is based on informed opinion, as opposed to the incomprehensible hysteria that has been the reaction of many of those who would consider themselves liberals, progressive liberals, or as the alt-right pejoratively refers to them Social Justice Warriors.
Liberals React to the Trump Presidency
The Origins of the Alternative Right
A Not so Immaculate but Understandable Conception
Like some sort of hideously deformed love child that could be expected in the aftermath of some Obama, Clinton orgy of Armageddon. Rising like a phoenix that’s struggled for it’s freedom after fighting its way out of the retentive anus of liberal political correctness. However you choose to look at it, the alt-right is an ideology that’s not going to just disappear. Historically speaking a new age of philosophy, art, or literature is always formed as a response to, as opposed to a continuation of, the central ideas and values of the age that preceded it. The alternative right is the ideological by product that follows two decades of ‘touchy feely,’ ‘wishy washy,’ liberal values. As a political movement it has gained enormous traction in what appears to be a very short amount of time. Whether you support it or find it to be an abomination, the alternative right looks like it’s set to form a part of the political landscape for a considerable time to come. Whatever becomes of the alt-right only time will tell, but I’m pretty sure that ignorance on the matter will in no way benefit the outcome.
The start of the alt-right is attributed to a blogger and podcaster called Richard B. Spencer, I’m a little skeptical as to how much we can attribute the start of the movement to Spencer. It appears that Spencer was probably the person that first coined the phrase “alt-right”, but naming something and starting something must surely be different. It seems a little absurd to think that something fails to exist before it can be named, and as such I believe that the credit for starting the alt-right movement might have been been misappropriated.
Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for Spencer to be called a white supremacist. When charged with such an accusation, the cerebrally adroit Spencer responds by informing us that he is in actual fact an “identitarian”. What that exactly means, or even if it is successful at side stepping the accusation, I can’t be sure. This is an issue that I find myself running up against continually as I try to work out exactly what the alt-right is, I am always left to feel like I’m knitting with fog, dealing with an amorphous society of shape shifters. Every time when I feel like I’m close to being able to definitively label them as a far right, fascist cult, they change. They re-brand themselves, they distort semantics in order to extricate themselves out of corners they have backed themselves into. Spencer is a case in point, upon Googling his name and looking at a number of articles my eye is quick to see terms like, “white supremacist,” being used with what appears to be a certain degree of ease and confidence when discussing Spencer and his creation the alt-right. But like I said, if you throw the label of white supremacist at Spencer, he effortlessly blocks it with identitarian and I inevitably just get more and more confused.
If this is the first time that you’ve heard the name Richard B. Spencer I’m pretty sure that you would have already seen him. It was Spencer, who while addressing the far right think tank the National Policy Institute, of which he is the president, referred to Trumps election victory by saying, “‘Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” This was followed by a number of over zealous delegates who’d had one too many Starbucks, then giving Nazi style salutes.
While watching the video it occurred to me that not only does Spencer appear to be comfortable with displaying the sort of oratory skills one would expect of a 4th grader performing ‘show and tell’ without a prop, but he’s also capable of projecting the kind of stilted awkwardness that one would imagine from an acute sufferer of Asperger syndrome. In short it’s as if he has all the screen presence of the invisible man combined with the sex appeal of a fatal head wound. If he wasn’t spitting out such venomous verbiage no one would give him a second look. Despite suffering these setbacks, and perhaps all to predictably, Spencer’s speech gained a huge media response from people who were unable to fully comprehend Spencer’s level of benign, bland incompetence. Spencer defended the event with the following statement:
“There’s an ironic exuberance to it all, I think that’s … one of the things that makes the alt-right fun, is that we’re willing to do things that are a bit cheeky.”
Again when backed into a corner by public outrage, Spencer deflects concerns by passing it off as a bit of a joke. The alt-right aren’t afraid of telling a joke, or for that matter making any statement, if it results in a public reaction that easily can be argued as being disproportionate to any level of offence they are accused of having caused. This mentality would appear to be a natural progression from the days when Spencer and his friends would be trolling the internet whilst masturbating into a sock. Links between the alt-right and the internet phenomena of trolling are incontrovertible. I’ve found it particularly helpful in my understanding of the alt-right to appreciate that they are just the physical and political manifestation of the cyber troll.
Less than two months later Spencer was back to his provocative best. While giving an interview on the Day of Trump’s inauguration, a masked man approaches Spencer from the left of the picture and punches him in the face. The already surreal situation took a turn for the even more bizarre as Twitter, society’s recognized arbiter on such matters, wrestled with the question “Is it OK to punch a Nazi?” It didn’t take long for people to point out that denying a person the freedom of expression through physical violence, was in actual fact acting like a Nazi in order to deal with someone who might be talking like one. With the moral high ground having been completely lost, liberals retreated to think of equally more imaginative ways of shooting themselves in the foot.
From what I have told you about the bumbling idiot Richard B. Spencer, you would be forgiven for wondering how it is that the alt-right have found any legitimacy whosoever? There’s an easy explanation for this, and that’s because Spencer really has done little more to promote the alt-right other than giving it its name. The alt-right has the backing of some very high profile people in academia and the media.
The Breitbart Brotherhood
Breitbart is a partisan, multi-media, American news network, established by Andrew Breitbart in response to what he believed was a liberal biased media. Breitbart addresses this issue by unashamedly rejecting objectivity in favour of opinion and commentary to support a right wing point of view. It’s very easy to equate Breitbart’s role in relation to the alt-right with that of Joseph Goebbels and the Nazi’s, which is exactly why I’ve just gone and done it.
Liberal biased media, hate speech, safe spaces. The alt-right, social justice warrior paradigm has a vocabulary all of its own. In truth it’s a vocabulary that I’m having a hard time getting my head round. A vocabulary that appears to have been invented by a class of kindergarten children whilst being waterboarded with a potent mix of Coca Cola and caffeine energy drinks. What is the difference between a liberal biased media and a media that just prefers you not to call black people ‘niggers’? When does a different opinion become hate speech? And as for the term ‘safe space,’ to me that sounds like a it could be a grave. A place safe from criticism, safe from having your ideas challenged, and a place safe from confrontation, a grave fits all of these requirements.
As a platform from which to become a recognised political, or social commentator, Breitbart simply appears to be unstable. But I’m quickly going to look at three people who can prove this assertion to be spectacularly wrong.
Steve Bannon: A recipient of a masters degrees from each of the Universities of Georgetown and Harvard. Bannon then served as an officer in the U.S Navy. During the 1990’s Bannon started to produce movies that it would be fair to say upheld right wing values. In 2007, alongside Andrew Breitbart, Bannon became a founding member of Breitbart news, and following the death of Breitbart in 2012 he became the companies executive chair, complete with reclining and swivel functions. In 2017 President Trump named him as White House Chief Strategist, which I’m sure must have come as quite a relief to Mr. Bannon having spent the previous five years being sat
on by successful businessmen. Putting asinine jokes aside for a moment, Bannon’s position as Chief Strategist has many suggesting that Bannon is the President’s puppet master, a pretty powerful position to assume from the unstable platform of Breitbart.
Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos
Breitbart’s top gun provocateurs. Shapiro and Milo might sound like the type of crappy comedy double act one might have to endure on a cruise ship as it makes its way slowly around the Greek islands, but they are undoubtedly the rock stars of the alternative right movement.
Ben Shapiro: Out of all the characters I’ve read and seen videos of who are related to the alt-right and/or Breitbart, Shapiro is by far the most impressive. Although still only 33 years old, I confidently predict that one day this guy will be the President of the United States. Shapiro came to the public’s attention when he effectively ended Piers Morgan’s career at CNN during a debate with Morgan on gun control. In a little under 15 minutes Shapiro made Morgan look like the stupid fool that he might well be. The Shapiro – Morgan Discussion can be seen here:
A graduate summa cum laude of UCLA in political science, Shapiro then went on to graduate cum laude from Harvard Law School, all by the age of 23. In 2012 Shapiro was appointed ‘editor-at-large’ for Breibart, a position that sounds more like a title given to a serial killer. Being Jewish Shapiro is a perfect foil for Breitbart enabling them to deflect any claims of antisemitism with ease. In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from Breitbart essentially because he’d outgrown them, and started his own conservative news website The Daily Wire. http://www.dailywire.com/
As I mentioned earlier, the internet, in particular YouTube, has proven the ideal environment for propagating right wing politics, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Shapiro. Shapiro’s debate with Piers Morgan has received over 4 million views. Shapiro’s top 5 videos on YouTube total over a combined 9.7 million views, that’s the top 5 videos of the 660,000 that you can look at after entering ‘Ben Shapiro’ into the site’s search bar. Google ‘Ben Shapiro’ and you have access to over 11 million results, he’s got nearly half a million Twitter followers who could have read any, or all of the 80,000 comments that he’s made. From these figures it’s easy to understand why he’s been labeled ‘prime time propaganda’.
With his diminutive stature Shapiro might resemble an ambitious Hobbit whose determination has enabled him to leave the Shire and establish a successful law firm on Wall Street, but you ignore him at your peril. It’s easy for me to visualize Shapiro at some time in the future, malnourished, with pallid skin and thinning hair, stumbling through the post apocalyptic remains of some mid-west American city, repeating the same words over and over again to himself, “my precious” as he searches through a landscape of rubble for a copy of the constitution.
Milo Yiannopoulos: Like Shapiro Yiannopoulos makes for a perfect spokesperson of the alt-right given the fact that he’s a half British, half Greek homosexual. How can the alt-right be racist or homophobic, even completely against immigration with a person like Milo appointed to its vanguard? Milo can be heard waxing lyrical on the three issues that really seem predominantly to concern the alt-right, Islam, feminism and the right to the freedom of speech. More often than not Milo addresses each of these sensitive issues in such a camp fashion that he resembles a sort of cheap pantomime drag artist. Having watched too many of Shapiro’s and Milo’s videos it does appear that most of his opinions on each of these three issues are shamefully stolen from Shapiro, but Milo’s very unlikely to care about that. There’s no doubt that Milo has the intellect to actually develop his own opinions, but why should he when he can command huge audiences by just repeating Shapiro’s material in the character of an eloquent drag queen?
Milo took his series of talks named “The Dangerous Faggot” on tour, causing riots on university campuses across the U.S. The name of the tour itself implies that it’s not always what he says that is important, but it is the fact that he is a gay person saying it that somehow adds an extra cutting edge to it. It’s on this front that if I’m honest Milo pisses me off. If you have a strong, well researched argument then it shouldn’t really matter whatever mineral, animal or vegetable it is that you have a preference to enjoy sexual intercourse with. Sadly though, for Milo to deliver his message he seems to feel it necessary to couch it, at every available opportunity in an unnaturally exagerated homosexual context. Obviously Milo has recently made the news for his comments regarding the age of sexual consent, my thoughts on this were covered a couple of weeks ago and can be read here:
Don’t get me wrong, Milo Yiannopoulos is a brilliant polemicist, he’s acted as a catalyst in getting people, certainly myself, to challenge the basis of their long held values. What I’m less than convinced about is whether Milo’s contributions will benefit the gay community, but to be honest I doubt Milo cares about that, so long as he can continue capitalise from peddling his sexuality like it’s some curiosity in a Victorian circus freak show purveyed by an audience of overly sensitive, easily offended liberals. I have attached the link below, An Establishment Conseratives Guide to the Alt-Right, as it is co-authored by Yiannopoulos and is an excellently written piece that does an outstanding job of giving an insight into just what the alt-right is. Of all the videos I’ve watched and articles that I’ve read, this is by far the most enlightening:
As I approach the end of this thrilling installment of what is essentially my vain attempt at trying to understand the rationale that defines two groups of polarised arse-holes, I start to wonder whether I’m taking this all a little too seriously. I mean so what if some boorish fool who lacks the common sense to sit the right way round on a toilet has become president of the United States. Hasn’t my whole life up to this point been little more than one long voyage that’s required me to navigate myself around these icebergs of idiocy? From what I can recall of the rapidly diminishing memories of my time at university this was all I did for those three years. Admittedly, none of those idiots were the leader of the free world, nor did any of them I assume have the wherewithal to launch a nuclear Armageddon, the second time I’ve managed to use the word Armageddon so far, or does that now count as three? I guess my point is, and it’s only a very weak and vague one at best, that when we get down to the bare bones, the brass tacks, the crux of the issue, is that even if Trump wasn’t the President it would in all likelihood only be someone else of equal arse-holery, all be it probably more adept at hiding the fact. And, whether it’s the alt-right, fascists, neo-cons, neo-Nazis or just groups of old fashioned sentimental, nostalgic Nazi’s that like to meet up at the weekend and chase Jews through the streets, Is it reasonable for any of us to think that these people are likely to be persuaded to consider any alternative ideologies if they are being presented to them by groups of people that choose to use rioting and violence before debate?
That’s it for this week. I’m now going to try and do something slightly less futile and nail some jello to the wall.
If you find that too hard to visualise here’s a video.
Conservative, ultra-conservative, right wing, far right, extreme right, fascist, and neo-Nazi. The inevitable path down which anyone that, dares to to have a thought to the right of centre. It’s like the argument of the gateway drug, the slippery slope that leads every thirteen year old who starts smoking pot to be destined to become a rent boy in order to facilitate a crack addiction that spiraled rapidly out of control. From the moment you start to ask yourself “Do I understand the complexities of immigration?’ elements in society will make you feel as if you’ve only got somewhere between 12-18 months left before you’ll be goose stepping up and down the street, knocking on doors to ask if they are hiding any Muslims, Mexicans. or the ultimate spawn of Satan himself, Mexican Muslims.
The current sociopolitical atmosphere in the United States of America is unprecedented. Even going back to the dynamic and divisive times that surrounded the civil rights movement during the 1960’s, there has been no other political movement that has so rapidly established a footing in mainstream political discourse as the alt right has managed to do. The burden of history makes it understandable that whenever a branch of new right wing politics emerges, re-branding itself and appealing to the mainstream, people become alarmed. While there are elements of the alt right agenda that I do find it difficult to identify myself with, I find the visceral, mindless, and the hysterical response of the so called progressive liberals to be equally difficult to relate to. This new political paradigm seems to be one that suggests all of our problems can be solved through making the most simple binary choices, Trump or Hilary, pro-immigration or racist, pro LGBTQ rights or homophobia, feminist or sexist. A person who risks to voice an opinion that suggests an alternative view, no matter how mild, to a liberal agenda will often leave that person, pejoratively branded, like Hilary said as “deplorable”. But, these issues are far too complex to entertain the notion that they can be solved with simple, ‘either or’ reasoning. The all or nothing, black and white, binary approach to reason and debate has only has resulted in a political landscape in which the two sets of opinions have been polarized to the outer fringes of reason. To resolve such complex social challenges the level of debate needs to be more informed than ever
Last week I wrote about the alt-right poster boy, agent provocateur, polemicist and troll Milo Yiannopoulos following comments he’d made, over a year ago, on the age of consent. This involved watching a large number of videos and reading a number of articles that I had hitherto never been interested in being exposed to. It did however, become obvious to me rather quickly that the alt-right movement cites facts, and asks questions that deserve considered discussion as opposed to being shut down by large groups of emotional people throwing childlike tantrums. It also became obvious to me that the response following that blog strongly suggests this is an issue engaging an incredibly large number of people.
By now, it should also have become obvious to all of us that many of the issues that the alt-right are attempting to bring to people’s attention, some might even claim baiting the public with, are often multi faceted constructs which extend far beyond political ideology. To attempt to deal with this issue in a single blog would have all the superficial symbolism, of burning a bra or hurling a trashcan through a shop window. It is for this reason that during the month of March I intend to produce a series of four posts that will endeavor to objectively consider the arguments put forward by the alt-right, what they mean and whether they are worthy of the hysterical reactions so many of us have seen on the news. I hope to remain impartial at all times, which should mean that anyone twho reads this series of blogs will feel at one time or another, uncomfortable or offended. If your method of debate only extends as far as pulling out clumps of your own hair whilst shouting incomprehensible obscenities at the television, then what I’m going to write about over the coming month will not be to your taste. If however, you have a genuine interest in trying to understand this argument, no matter how perverse it might become, then I encourage that you come along for the ride, to make comments, and to start dealing with this issue like 21st century adults, not like two troops of opposing monkeys hurling their faeces at one another.
Before even really getting into this properly, following on the back of only the couple of weeks of research that I’ve already done, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to conclude that there are concerns and opinions on both sides of the argument that are valid. It is equally likely that there will be examples of opinions and reactions, of both sides, that to me will appear to demonstrate a deficiency of any informed reasoning. In essence, what I hope to be able to do is approach both sides of the argument with an equal degree of despair.
Over the course of the next four weeks I intend to address the following:
define exactly what the alt-right is, the personalities that support the movement, and who they claim to be representing.
Try to understand how the alt-right have made so much progress in such a short amount of time and just how powerful the alt-right has the potential to become, before looking at the values and topics that are at the core of their ideology.
The alt rights views on Islam, immigration, sovereignty, feminism, freedom of speech and political correctness. While considering the opinions of the alt right on such issues it will be equally as important to consider the arguments that have been expressed challenging these opinions.
A conclusion and n answer to the initial question: Is the Alternative Right Still Equally Wrong?
While writing these four posts I intend to challenge my own values by considering opinions that for my whole life I have always cast aside without giving them any thought. Failure to reason through the fallacies contained within a simple idea or a complex ideology, failure to engage in conversation with people that hold a different opinion is what has got us into the mess that we currently find ourselves in. If you are unable to challenge your own beliefs, if you are uncomfortable to defend them by answering questions, then what you have can’t be called a belief, nor would it be right to call it a value. All you might actually be clinging onto is nothing more a half understood idea.
It’s pointless to even write about Trump, it only feeds the beast. Whatever you say is inevitably subjected to, and twisted by a perverse sense of logic, spun in a way so as to support a new ideology that resembles something dreamt up by the mind of a prepubescent delinquent in the throes of an elaborate meth binge. I say ideology but at the centre of an ideology there must be some sort of coherent idea, and as yet I’m not sure that Trump has ever had one of those. Trump simply thrives off of attention, whether it’s good or bad. Like Oscar Wilde once said,
There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about.
Since Trump’s inauguration, I have on a couple of occasions been in conversation with people who expressed opinions along the lines of how certain past writers would be reacting to this current state of affairs. Writers and social commentators like George Orwell, Christiopher Hitchens, Tom wolfe, Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson, each of whom possessed the ability to express their observations with a well honed laser like focus and precision that enabled them to clinically dissect their way to the heart of any situation. While I agree that they were all exceptional writers, I disagree that they would have found Trump to be a muse worthy of any great journalistic endeavour. This opinion might surprise you, I’m not saying that Trump wouldn’t have shocked them like he has nearly everyone else, but as a subject of skillful and considered pieces of journalism Trump is severely lacking. The reason for this is that Trump is too easy a target, about as big a challenge as shooting fish in a barrel. Writing about Trump is like trying to get your voice heard amongst a crowd of drunken, vociferous football supporters, whatever it is you have to say, no matter how enlightening, will inevitably be drowned out by chants that imply the referee is addicted to masturbation.
Trump is the tip of the iceberg, a clown at the head of a vanguard, beating a drum heralding in the dawn of a new era. A post-truth age, the epoch of the alternative fact. Every literary or artistic movement is a rebellion to that which preceded it. For what has seemed like an eternity, the catch-all, inescapable terms that have been used to define postmodernism have shackled the potential for artistic creativity and expression. Political correctness has been perhaps the most pervasive and pernicious progeny of the fetid fertility of postmodernism. Recently people have asked the question what would Obama’s legacy will be? And the answer is simple, Obama was a part of the system that produced an audience willing to listen to Trump’s perverse rhetoric. The ambiguity and lack of identity that has resulted out of the centrist, middle ground politics of presidents Jimmy Carter through to Barrack Obama, helped spawn this love child that we now see kicking and screaming before us, the brat that we are labeling the Alt-Right. But, as they say hindsight is 20/20, it’s fairly straightforward to see how we now find ourselves in a Bunyanesque slough of despond.
I’ve seen the healthy cynicism of a generation of our youth trying to satisfy its intellectual needs by feeding off of the vast, barren plains of the internet. Somewhat like an all you can eat buffet at McDonald’s, while appealing to the palates of the masses and satisfying the hunger of only a few, its nutritional deficiencies leave the consumer inevitably suffering long term health issues as well as preventing them from ever gaining the experience of, and sustenance from, a more wholesome diet. It is impossible to understate the role that the internet has played in facilitating the rapid and alarming rise of the alt right.
A polemicist, an agent provocateur, or what the digital age reduces to calling pejoratively, a troll. Right now Milo is the voice of the Alt Right, and a self proclaimed cultural libertarian. Yiannopoulos is an advocate for the freedom of speech, thought and expression. As a half Greek half British, 100% gay pseudo-celebrity aggressively defending America’s first amendment, one might quickly disregard this most improbable of characters. Initially demonized to me by the headlines of articles, that until this week I’d never even bothered to read as he appeared to me to be nothing more than a celebrity whose agenda was just to put make the Opinions of the new president look moderate, even warm and fuzzy. He uses his sexuality as a weapon in a carefree and blatantly offensive way, often making casual references to how he has a penchant for fellating black men, to intimidate his listeners and put them immediately on the back foot. Leading a rainbow colored crusade up to the heavily fortified citadel of political correctness. Adopting a siege warfare mentality, loading his verbal trebuchets with payloads of acerbic vitriol and charging at the doors of decency with an enormous battering ram shaped like phallus. Yiannopoulos has declared war against what most people would consider common decency.
Milo Yiannopoulos’ The Dangerous Faggot Tour has provoked a firestorm of criticism as it makes its way across the universities of the United States, and that’s nothing less than what has always been his intention. Only 32 years old and a senior editor of the alt right American news website Breitbart, he has been responsible for producing articles with the titles Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer, and Birth Control Makes Women Ugly and Crazy. He shot to infamy after having been banned from Twitter for branding one of the female stars, Leslie Jones, of the unwatchable Ghost Busters reboot, a dude and a man.
This was a far as I’d got with this blog article before the enigmatic Milo’s already volatile career took a rather dramatic turn as a result of comments he made during a show streamed live on YouTube over a year ago, coming back to haunt him. The opinions that Milo expressed were quite easily interpreted as being that of an apologist towards paedophilia. These comments have resulted in him losing a book deal which had record pre-sales, and having to resign from his post at Breitbart, but given the publicity they have gotten him I’d be very surprised if lost any sleep over the public condemnation he’s recieved. It is from this point on that continuing to write about Milo has felt like jumping down a rabbit hole into a world of nebulous, vague and fallacious reasoning. The comments that Yiannopoulos’ made during the Drunken Peasants show streamed live on YouTube in January 2016. The video is attached below. If you only wish to listen to Milo’s most inflammatory comments, (which I advise as the show itself reminds me of one of those conversations that you’d get into at a bar at two in the morning, in some small town, jerky chewing backwater that the United States has been so adept at nurturing) then they start at around 56 minutes. That’s not to say that the opinions he expresses prior to this are in any way reasonable, it’s just that they tend to become less memorable once he starts to discuss the issue of paedophilia and the age of consent.
Milo went on to express a similar set of opinions When he appeared on Joe Rogan’s radio show some six months later. Watching the video below left me with the same uncomfortable feelings I experienced while reading Nabakov’s Lolita. What makes Yiannopolous’ comments that much more disturbing is that he relates the stories in the first person, a trick that has been in the armory of story tellers since the dawn of time and one that didn’t escape Nabakov.
Paedophilia is always a highly dangerous topic for humour. Myself, I only know one paedophile joke and I take into very careful consideration the company that I’m in before I venture to tell it. If I’m honest the joke itself is pretty weak and really just trades off of the shock value that the joke teller has decided to tell it. I’m no comedian, in fact when I told people I intended to be a comedian they all laughed at me, well they’re not laughing now. But even to me, the subject of paedophilia appears to be somewhat anaemic at best in its opportunities for humour. It’s considered the fifth worst topic to make a joke about by the website http://www.ranker (a website whose name alone is enough to make me smirk like a mischievous school boy who’s just been caught staring at his teacher’s breasts). They list the top 5 inappropriate topics of humour as follows:
Milo’s interview with Joe Rogan is disturbing and there should be little doubt that it was ever intended to be anything else, but a person doesn’t have to spend much time or effort to find people saying things that can be reasonably argued as being equally inappropriate. The jokes made by the comedians in the video compilation below make reference to the real life cases of the murders and abductions of children, people jumping to their deaths on September 11th, and the practice of necrophilia with victims of the holocaust, but none of these were capable of courting the controversy that Milo has achieved recently.
Is Milo Yiannopolous just a new type of celebrity spawned out of the moral vacuum that is the internet? A direct descendant of the genealogy of shock humour? The inevitable progeny that had to follow on from Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Bill Hicks, Dennis Pennis , and Frankie Boyle? My own personal opinion is that Yiannopolous is just a pioneer for the next generation of media whore. I’m not even sure that Yiannopoulos even exists or whether he’s just a character that has been skillfully constructed just to annoy the masses. The combination of far right, flamboyantly gay Catholic, and Breitbart editor, is a volatile mixture that will raise the hackles of anyone who considers themselves to be “reasonable”. But, I very much doubt that these ingredients were something that have randomly coalesced to form society’s most toxic cocktail, instead they have been skillfully blended together in order to serve us with the most indigestible aperitif possible. Essentially Milo is a new Sacha Baron Cohen character with the exception that we don’t know the person who is playing Milo, and it is this that makes his character so entertaining. Milo is shock art in the genre of social media for the 21st century and as such he’s about as original as a Star Wars reboot.
Anyone older that forty will remember that back in the late eighties through the turn of the millennia Madonna produced a number of music videos that were quickly banned by MTV and therefore immediately garnering them more attention and ensuring that they would be immortalised in pop folk lore. Entertainment has always found room to accommodate the shock artist and it always will. It would be wrong to consider shock art as a necessary evil, it’s an essential part of the fabric in the tapestry of entertainment.
What can, and can’t be said? What is and isn’t acceptable? Who decides what is decent? Is there anyone decent enough out there to be empowered with deciding upon decency? Isn’t it always the case that if somebody doesn’t like what they are watching or listening to always has the right to reply or walk away?
Shock artists have pervaded every medium of society and entertainment, from comedy, through to politics, from sport through to art. Polemics have been offending their way to making a living since the time of ancient Greece. The word itself deriving from the Greek Polemikos, meaning warlike or confrontational.
I had intended to finish this piece with the following quote by Volataire:
‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that!
It is from this that we hear the somewhat tired and overused saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. This is commonly misattributed to Voltaire, instead, these are the words of a biographer of Voltaire Evelyn Hall, whose aim it was to summarise Voltaire’s ideas on the freedom of speech.
One thing that we probably can’t deny is that this week Milo Yiannopoulos dropped the cultural libertarian version of the atomic bomb. It’s difficult to find any meaning in the destruction he’s left behind if we are to allow a person’s right to the freedom of speech to include the right to make the comments that Mr. Yiannopoulos decided to make. Despite the grotesque nature of some of his comments, I do still stand by every human’s right to be able to say whatever they wish, no matter how gratuitous, inappropriate or disgusting it might be. Ultimately the audience must be responsible and exercise their right to respond, not to listen, or marginalise people that express views that promote the suffering of others.
So for today at least, I can still say that I disagree with what Milo says, but will defend to the death his right to say it.