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One Week, and Counting: Bottom-Fishing in America

Webster: frequenting the bottom. When a right-wing cell (FBI), from its inception, at the heart of government, now appears to the Left of the leading candidate for president (Clinton), one knows that she is fishing on the shoreline of fascism. From a democratic standpoint, it doesn’t get any worse. Even her challenger, matching her stride for stride in vulgarian (pretentious, indecent), gut-authoritarianism, the two the Janus-faced expression of the Class-State, at least does not demonize Putin and Russia, as preparatory, in her case, to still wider confrontation, including China, as dangerously leading up to a catastrophic war, or at first the breakdown of the international order.

The FBI, from cops and robbers, to reds and fellow subversives, as television and popular opinion would have it, was a spearhead for McCarthyism and a practical annex of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Those were the days, from Baby-face Nelson to the Rosenbergs, and now, hardly chastened from its turbid (muddy, foul, opaque) past, still the guardian of American innocence, Director Comey makes one correct move to undo the legacy of J. Edgar Hoover, and the American political world falls apart. I am not a fan of Comey’s for his initial exoneration of Clinton in her use of a private server at State, but surely, this is an eye-opener, about how far the political spectrum has shifted to the Far Right.

Whomever wins the election, America digs itself deeper into the cesspool of hierarchical class-differentiation, wealth-concentration, a pervasive ideological atmosphere of solipsistic hatred at home for human difference, rancid hegemony abroad for any who seek an alternative path to modernization away from the example of US petrifying capitalism. This election reveals that America, like a broken record, is stuck, playing over and over again the themes of domestic repression and foreign counterrevolution, the ideal synthesis for the unilateral assertion of world power. Neither candidate nor major party distances itself from the latter goal.

Comey, perhaps against his will and ideological proclivities, achieves standing here, merely, as he should, by doing his duty. The bipartisan consensus maneuvering in place to chastise him reveals the dark reality of a nation so devoted to denial and untruth, possibly to cover over its sins of commission (war crimes, indigenous racism and xenophobia) and omission (failure to act on environmental degradation, an adequate system of health care, a military budget crowding out the general welfare), that it has lost its way and falsified its original promised constitutional existence. America is presently normless, and has been since capitalism inaugurated its take-off stage following the Civil War. And before that, with institutionalized slavery, internal genocidal expansion, and cap-in-hand deference to political ideologues not adverse to compromise with, if not actually representing, vested interests.

Scratch America from the democratic column, transposed now to an enlarged banana republic wherein one can expect, from either party and successful candidate, enhanced features of an already ripening Police State. Surveillance, proscription, total exclusion of viable methods, measures, and structural changes pointed toward democratization, America will formally become what it already is: a panicked response to the self-realization of its nihilistic core of moral values and systemic attributes—a nuclear-armed Goliath lacking soul and conscience, and for that reason a menace to world peace and self-renewal at home. No, Comey, by his actions, is not the enemy, but one who for the first time has put on his spectacles and looked around him. There are some things that even an ardent “patriot” cannot stomach.

I recall how in the 1960s, e.g., Mississippi Freedom Summer, the FBI would interrogate us, try to sow doubts in the hearts of the demonstrators, act as intimidators pure and simple, combined with its undercover role in breaking up antiwar protests throughout the decade, so I hardly have much hope that things have changed. Yet, my hat is off to Comey, even if only to anger Clinton, force Democrats into self-protective mode, and raise questions about the rotten stinking fish used to fertilize her and the party’s position on war and peace, capitalism (Wall Street’s Miss America), and the Clintons’ own mind-boggling accumulation of personal wealth—all of which is instinctively known by the public, but unable to extricate from the mental prison of submerged guilt for totalitarian ways and practices.

We await the election, a studied exercise in un-freedom, where tyranny of false consciousness defines the psychological mental set of America, what Adorno writing sixty-six years ago called authoritarian submission, a framework where the Leadership Principle comes to the foreground if it has not already. Parallels to the incipient stages of Nazism are not an exaggeration, and it is not a loud-mouthed Trump who is necessarily the greatest danger. He is predominantly all-surface. It is Clinton who plumbs the depths of arrogance, ambition, congealed militarism. America, R.I.P.

My New York Times Comment to its editorial, “James Comey’s Big Mistake,” 11-1-16, follows:

Comey acted honorably. Unlike Hoover, he is here depoliticizing the FBI. The Times has demonstrated such partiality to Clinton, in news selection as well as editorial opinion, that it is hard to take its criticism seriously. Endorsement is one thing, blind-siding the other side quite different. Are not emails a legitimate area of investigation? Does not the public have the right to know, especially in an election? If there is no smoking gun, this will redound to Clinton’s benefit; if there is, yes, it might change minds. But what is wrong with that?

Clinton invariably is treated with kid gloves. Even the initial issue, the use of a private server to transact government business, is forgotten. Rather than jump on Comey, why not revisit the whole question–which Comey had originally dismissed–of Clinton’s valuing of transparency, and from there (although it is now late in the game) her whole foreign policy framework and hostility, in particular, to Putin and Russia?

To criticize Clinton does not necessarily make one an apologist for Trump. Call the shots with equal endeavor; responsible journalism requires no less.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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