Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”

Photograph Source: Gerard van Honthorst – Public Domain

…but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

– W.B.Yeats, The Second Coming

Hive-mindedness seems to be growing — at the same time that bees are heading towards kaputzville. DARPA’s got a fix for the bees, they say. Then again, (D)ARPA gave us the Internet, which is where the hivemind is located. On the other hand, Al Gore ‘claims’ to have invented the Internet. Some people say he invented Climate Change, too. Riddle me this: If a guy can be that clever, then how come he can’t win his home state in 2000, without the need to blame Nader? And how come Watergate felon Charles “Dirty Tricks” Colson can be given back his voting rights by Jeb, but not all those Black voters? Is there a koan in a haystack locked up in all this? Or is it all rhetorical?

End Days thinking really, isn’t it? You gotta tamp that bong shit down. Anyway, I was thinking if Christ came back to Earth today, all swaddled again, which three Wise Men would show up in Bethlehem to report on it. Would it be Old Schoolers like the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Washington Post? Or would it be the Upstarts — Amazon, Google, and Facebook?

Some things are certain: they are all pushers, dealing in cut info, trying to slide you into that crystal blue persuasion dream; and they are all in it for the frankincense and myrrh, baby. And all of them are spies for the Mighty Whitey, either directly or in- in- indirectly. And God help us if He came back black: They’d up and lynch Love all over agin’. Eternal recurrence, amor fati, my ass, Mr. Nietzsche.

All of which led me somehow to Bernie Sanders — a Jew, (hey, like Jesus!) and some say a messiah for democracy, who has been lashed 39 ways to Sunday recently for criticizing the Fourth Estate, who now want the public to wash their hands of him, it seems. They’ve called him out for his “Trump-like” assaults on the press. The equivalent of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” How Trump rally-like.

What’s Bernie done? Well, he’s criticized, in general, the poor quality of the MSM’s work in recent times, and, specifically, called to attention the problematical conflicts of interest Jeff Bezos has presiding over Amazon and the Washington Post. He also does very serious business with the CIA. Jeff is the only one with a foot in both Wise Men scenarios (see above). In his various, mostly tax-free ties, he heads an information cartel; he is Tony Montana with a Joe Montana personality; he is the Mightiest Whitey of them all. He will make infomaniacs of us all. He deserves more scrutiny.

Bernie, for all his faults and foibles, has a right to be pissed after the way the MSM handled the shenanigans that fellow Democrats got up to during the 2016 presidential run. Debate questions were secreted to Hillary. The donkey party worked to undermine Bernie’s campaign and was ever the elephant in the room. Had he been more favorably treated by the press, he might have been the populist who won.

So Bernie fought back. He wrote an op-ed for the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) the other day. If one role of the MSM is ostensibly to Keep the Bastards Honest, then the CJR is there to keep the MSM honest in how they report stories, especially ones of national public interest. In a typically cogent, feisty and practical-minded op-ed, “Bernie Sanders on his plan for journalism,” makes the obvious point: reporters on the national scene aren’t doing their jobs any more; they’ve become shills, stenographers, and partisan mainstream trolls who, rather than mediate between those in power and the public, shape and push selfish agendas in ways that leave issues entirely obfuscated.

It’s an excellent op-ed. Bernie notes, “Real journalism is different from the gossip, punditry, and clickbait that dominates today’s news. Real journalism, in the words of Joseph Pulitzer, is the painstaking reporting that will ‘fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, [and] always fight demagogues.’” He expands on what he believes is the role of journalism in a democracy and recounts all of the changes that have taken place in the industry over the last three decades to reduce its role and effectiveness — money: mergers of media corporations and massive job lay-offs. “Today, after decades of consolidation and deregulation,” he writes, “just a small handful of companies control almost everything you watch, read, and download.” His observations are accurate, fair and innocuous.

CJR reserves op-ed space for presidential candidates to unveil their view of the media and to outline how they will face them as president. The MSM largely ignored Bernie’s piece (only TNR dug into it). But the New York Post didn’t waste an opportunity to baste the Left’s lamb of god in an op-ed. In unfairly flippant prose the editorial board accuses Bernie of being upset with the media because of unenthusiastic coverage of his “pet subjects” on the campaign trail. They rebuke him for his ‘socialist’ fixes for the media’s problems. And they chide him for citing Joseph Pulitzer, now the rarified name associated with prize-winning journalism, but once a pusher of “yellow journalism” — the kind the Post puts out now — to its hive-minded junkies.

But it’s pretty much all yellow journalism right now, sensationalism for a buck — as Matt Taibbi points out in his new book, Hate, Inc: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another. Cheap shots, low blows, sucker punches — that’s the order of the day. And Trump further divides and already divided and captive audience. He is both mad King George and his own court jester in one. Says Taibbi, “Few seem troubled by the obvious symbiosis between Trump’s bottom-feeding, scandal-a-minute act and the massive boom in profits [my emphasis] suddenly animating our once-dying industry….”

Even the latest and absurd media contrivance of likening Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the media to Trump’s has the ring of profit-making. Ironically, in their own ways, each is absolutely correct when they talk of the “failing media,” who deflect, and repackage the criticism: two cartoon wrasslers mauling the referee between them, while the hivemind audience goes berserk. For a journalist like Taibbi, steeped in the gonzo tradition, and well-read in Chomsky, what’s happening seems less episodic than it does a crisis. “This is a profound expression of political instability at the top of our society,” he writes in Hate, Inc., “There is a terror of letting audiences think for themselves that we’ve never seen before.”

There’s something surreal and genuinely evil about what’s happening, like some shape-shifty scene from a Black Mirror episode — or worse, you find yourself looking at a hivemind, split between politically left and right hemispheres, just moments before a free-fall collapse into their own mind-prints. As if you were the observer in the space between paradigms, before and after, waking with shudders from a disturbing dream about a dystopian world — only to find yourself living in a dystopian nightmare you can’t escape, except by going back to sleep.

Not long ago, I saw a headline in my local paper indicating that there is an epidemic sweeping the nation — people hooked on receiving mobile updates while driving. It’s a worldwide epidemic.. A DSM entry is bound to follow, an appropriate psychotropic assigned. We are ripe for hive-minded manipulation — mere Citrix drones stripped of independent thinking, our realities provided by a central server. A pandemic affecting human consciousness (if bees suffer from ‘colony collapse syndrome’, why not we?). Waiting for Wise Men, or something else more apocalyptic. Imagine Trump president for five more years. Pass the bong.

More articles by:

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.

Weekend Edition
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The  FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Occupied Pelosi’s Office for 13 Days
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Jill Richardson
Standardized Tests are Biased and Unhelpful
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
Martin Billheimer
Knight Crawlers
Elliot Sperber
Dollar Store