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There Are More Important Things Than The Truth

All that I want

Is to wake up fine

Tell me that I’m alright

That I ain’t gonna die

All that I want

Is a hole in the ground

You can tell me when it’s alright

For me to come out

— Paramore, Hard Times

We are living in times of mass inequality. The concerns of a “decent” and “civil” society in the age of Trump ring hallow to all of us struggling to get by. The rich are alarmed by Donald Trump because he lies, and lies proudly. The rich know that in order to stay rich at a criminal rate, they need sophisticated propaganda. Donald Trump is stupid. Crisis for the rich.

Yet, not really. Donald Trump’s detractors are educated, but stupid. In fact, they may be, in their own way, even more hopeless than the Trump fascists, seeing as they are more sure of themselves, despite being completely wrong. Donald Trump is scolded for his uncivil lying. He is fact-checked at every turn. I wonder what they get out of fact-checking Donald. Who reads a Donald Trump fact-check and changes their mind? If you like Trump, you will know that the fact-checking is fake news, although your impression of real news is likely to be the openly fascist Fox News, who has kept truth out with a steel wall. Fox almost seems to racially profile truth, as if all truth is bad. There is a clear prejudice there. If you don’t like Trump, you will read a Trump fact check and find out that Trump has been lying—something you already knew but just felt good about confirming.

Liberals are only concerned about truth because it is the one thing that separates them and the conservatives. Liberals lie, and lie a lot of course, but let me explain this “opinion” of mine. The liberal media’s crime is not lying—as Donald Trump claims. Their main crime is the omission of the class struggle. Their main crime is being funded by the 1% and reporting in the interests of the 1%. If the liberal media lied at the same clip as Donald Trump, what would they call Trump? They couldn’t call him a liar.

What the liberal media can do is choose which stories to talk about. Russiagate is the most obvious example. While the mainstream media does lie about Russia, they generally say accepted truths, which are, in broad terms, hard to disprove, in a society largely ignorant of Russia. But I don’t think any of us Americans really care about Russia. We like the idea of a foe in the battle ring and we hate communism, but that’s about it, and Russia isn’t interested in fighting us or going communist, so what gives?

No, the bigger crime in relation to Russia is that they are in the news every day. Hours and hours of speculation and fear-mongering that jumps to hostile and misleading conclusions. But hardly ever do the mainstream media need to outright lie to get there. The sheer amount of coverage creates a paranoia around Russia. The speculation itself creates suspicion. The frightened experts create reasonable doubt. Yes, one big lie such as “weapons of mass destruction” may need to be said to push us over the edge, but the majority of the time lies are not even necessary. Quick side note in relation to that reference. I saw Vice. A courageous film to make. Excellent acting. I fell asleep and missed most of the movie. Maybe that was Cheney’s fault.

Likewise, the war on Yemen was never covered until a journalist from Jeff Bezo’s propaganda paper was killed there (the individual reporter was certainly admirable in my opinion). Climate change is often classified as a human problem (fine) but no one ever simply says the 1% are killing us all. There are many cooking recipes available in your corporate paper, but few stories on the housing crisis. That’s not fake news, that’s just the priorities of the 1%.

As the Democrats gear up for a larger role in 2018 with an eye on 2020, we once again see the liberal media scapegoating the leftish side of the Democrat Party. Imperialist capitalist monsters live within all shades of Democrat, but some are far less “pro-business” than others, and always get picked on.

The attacks on Bernie Sanders have always been relentless. Like the Russia narrative, there is simply little, if anything, there. But the sheer amount of stories and the hysteria generated around them are designed to scare the public. Any positive things about Sanders (including his reign as America’s most popular politician) are buried. Lies about Sanders may be rare, but petty stories are commonplace. Likewise, scare tactics about “democratic socialism” are always very vague and ominous, with little serious scholarship on socialism at all, as if that was ever the intention!

Bernie’s safety word “democratic socialism” uses that awful “democratic” in front of it, and I see why now. It is because Bernie’s socialism is always coded in the American idea of democracy. America’s democracy has always relied upon on imperialism abroad and some form of class and racial human rights violations at home. It has, especially lately, relied on this imperialism being an expression of liberal democracy. It is based in private property as an expression of democracy—with the individual overcoming the community being assumed as an expression of democracy. This inevitably places the earth as something to be owned and exploited, with each individual (company) having a right to do this being an expression of democracy. And of course, democracy and the right to speak itself has always had a certain class, gender, race, sexuality, able-bodied and aged assumptions itself. Nature is perhaps most hurt by the concept of democracy as it fundamentally is denied a voice precisely because we do not speak Her language. Likewise, the colonized, the immigrant and those who are victims of our imperialist blunders get no voice in our democracy.

Bernie is going to be our President in 2020 then for both reasons good and bad. Good in that he speaks to the American working class majority in ways that no politician has in a long time. Bad because even America’s definition of socialism relies on imperialist assumptions of economic growth, subversion of nature and imperialist misadventure. Regardless, it appears inevitable that Bernie will win in a landslide. It is also nearly inevitable that sabotage of Bernie by both himself and others will happen, and may derail what should come naturally.

What say you? This piece is arguing against both truth and democracy. How Trumpian! Perhaps. But it is not that these values aren’t important, it is that these values themselves are not tangible, and therefore are of focus to the materialist based capitalists. Truth and democracy can be given to us very easily—not in reality—for this has damning implications for the ruling class, but as concepts and slogans because these values can be manipulated. What cannot be manipulated are tangible wins for the working class which should be of more importance. Access to health care, social benefits, clean environments, well-funded schools, food stamps, housing, etc. These are things that can be counted and are of no interest to the ruling class who are obsessed with fascism.

They obsess over fascism because no one knows what it is and no one can agree what it is. Stopping fascism is such a dangerous goal precisely because of its undemocratic implications. This fact is lost on the ruling class as they fret about democracy. The truth is that if the country wants to be fascist, what should a person interested in democracy really be doing? It’s sort of a catch-22. A paralyzing, conversation ending catch-22. Why not aim for tangible goals for the working class instead?

The young Bernie (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) has already proven to be more feisty than Master Sanders. More reckless too. Would she have rolled over for Crooked Hillary so quickly? Given her deference to Democrats, maybe so. But she has signs of life, spontaneous life! We’ll see what happens with her.

It’s hard to fall in love with anyone in American politics. But Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez can be admired in a lot of ways. When thinking about lying I was reminded of some trouble Ocasio-Cortez got in for a “wild” claim that the Pentagon was wasting money and that it could be spent on health care. This claim of course needed to be fact-checked. Why? Because it was true. And the larger truth can always be lost on the specifics.

Part of the charm of Ocasio-Cortez is that she shoots from the hip and is not such a whiny liberal when it comes to conventional wisdom. She’s like Trump in this way, and it’s appealing. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all proposal is said to cost 32 trillion over 10 years. AOC said that 2/3 of this budget could be paid through the Pentagon’s accounting errors. She cites The Nation, which actually accounts for how this is basically a correct statement at face value in their exposé.

The big scandal is that while the Pentagon eats up 54% of our nation’s budget, it can avoid an audit and lie about how much it spends each year. Now the mainstream media gets lost in the specifics. Well, they say, who cares if we are literally missing 21 trillion dollars that could keep 2/3rds of our country healthy for a decade. We’ll skip over this fact and point out that AOC couldn’t really just bring that money over. It’s not all kept in some vault somewhere! Yes, they literally were upset with AOC for implying that the money, while lost, couldn’t be spent on the working class. How dare you say you found the money when we are still hiding it!

The Washington Post gives Ocasio-Cortez four Pinocchios for this. Good for her! Who on earth really believes the 137 billion dollar man Jeff Bezos. Why does he get to buy a newspaper and decide who is telling the truth. After sleeping with his friend’s wife, Bezos is getting divorced and could lose half his money! His ex-wife is said to be getting 69 billion, the first 69 I’m sure she has gotten from Bezos, even though it has been rumored that he still does the dishes (good guy).

One of the fears of our society going communist is that all individual rights will be given up to a tyrant dictator. And maybe, maybe so. But does anyone really care that Donald Trump is a fascist, outside of the ruling class? Does anyone care that he degrades our cherished institutions already hijacked by neoliberal capital? There are concrete actions Trump takes that hurt the working class. People are losing food stamps soon because he is closing down the government, to name one of many examples. But as for his role as a dictator and his assault on the precious rule of law embodied by Bob Meuller? No one cares besides a few crusty lawyers and political hacks.

If Donald Trump were to lock up all his political enemies while transforming trade, war, infrastructure and health care in this country as he promised to do, I would call him a great President. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done anything productive politically. He has been the working class’s number one enemy. The ruling class is thriving under Trump. Perhaps this exposes a link between fascism and capitalism, perhaps not.

Regardless, the hurt felt in this country right now has little to do with Trump’s disdain for civic values. He has continued the assault on unions, on education, on the environment, on health care, on social spending. He’s a neoliberal. An extreme neoliberal.

America expresses free speech through imperialism and private property. These are the ultimate freedoms, granted in practice only to the ultra-rich. America is a very individualist culture. We hold great value in individual expression and free speech. These are coded values. Protest is a crime, that is one way this is coded. Real resistance will still be met with prison and assault by the police. The poor have no right to speak.

But this is a concern mostly because the poor must speak. They must speak for their right to survive because the rich won’t let them. For the rich person in a big house and a fancy car, self-expression becomes the most important, if not the only value. As soon as a strong man like Trump comes in the world has been shook for the rich man who believed in a civil society where the whole game was rigged for him.

The poor must speak, but they also must eat, drink, breathe, get shelter, health care, education and live in peace. Such rights are denied by the United States. Political expression is celebrated, while material uplift is disdained. The ruling class weaves itself a web of satisfied narcissism that disdains a dictator and celebrates a society that gives speech as its only right.

Lies now are being criminalized. There are attempts to criminalize dissent of Israel. Getting overly concerned with who is lying and who isn’t is a mistake. The ruling class’s definition of lies may not always be false in their basis, but they are morally wrong in who gets criminalized for speech.

So, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, lie away! Throughout human history the ruling class has lied to maintain its power. The idea of free speech and the truth that comes with it are privileged by the ruling class. For the rest of us we want health care, we want to pay rent, we want clean air and water, we want food, we want peace. As Donald Trump rips families apart, liberals are offended that he lied to them about it.

There is nothing moral about a society that is giving 95% of its economic growth to the top 1%. Donald Trump hangs on only because he knows that the ruling class has no moral authority anymore. Enough whining about the truth. If you want people to believe the truth, give them an education, or better yet, a roof over their heads. Until that happens, expect the scapegoating of immigrants and all the lies behind it to ring true. And the biggest crime will not be the lie that brought us over the edge, but the condition created that fostered a society where truth did not matter anymore. There are more desperate needs here so when a man like Trump says he can help we do not ask him if he is telling the truth, we only ask how we get to somewhere, anywhere better.

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Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

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