The Big Lie Triumphant

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

+ One of the eternal axioms of American politics: When you don’t know anything claim that you’re right about everything and wrong about nothing.

+ This strategy pays off, time and time again. Consider that 3.5 years into the Trump administration, where the President averages 30 lies big & small a day, and 4 months into a pandemic he did nothing to prepare for, stop, or even slow the spread of: 44% of Americans, according to the latest Morning Consult poll, have either a “high” or “moderate” level of trust in the information coming out of his mouth.

These quotes are from Jeffrey St. Clair’s latest Roaming Charges column (4-24-20). They suggested to me the following brief reflections: Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels were not the first to figure out that if you were able to get ahold of a prominent means of disseminating information, you could persuade large numbers of people to accept lies as facts.  This came to be called “the Big Lie technique.” Today big capital has monopolized media to an extent not imagined even by the Nazis. And almost everything we call “news” (and “entertainment” too) is filtered through a handful of corporate-owned media. People now have very little direct contact with anything that could be called “reality.”

The result is a magnified popular acceptance of the lies and chaos spread by those in power that never goes beyond the political dynamics of the two capitalist parties. The Repugs are open representatives of monopoly capital, always “conservative” and now eager to promote neo-fascism (big capital’s default choice for keeping power in a crisis). The Dems are more veiled reps of monopoly capital but “great pretenders” to being an alternative, whose leaders portray themselves as less “extreme” (more “liberal”) than the Repugs, but in fact collaborate with them to contain the spontaneous class struggle within corporate-managed boundaries, and make certain that nothing that would threaten capitalist rule, or even cost the billionaires much money, gets done. One example can stand for the generality here: Obamacare, versus single payer.

This way we have the continuation of Margaret Thatcher’s profound contribution to political science that “there is no alternative” to capitalism.  This political containment  two-party game has been played in the US almost from the beginning. Lincoln described how the two political parties (in his day Whigs — of which he was one — and Democrats) were like two boys fighting in a snow bank: they fought out of and into each other’s coats!  Slavery expansion and the resulting Civil War disrupted this for a time, but it re-emerged (with the Republicans replacing the Whigs) after the CW. And as Ronald Reagan famously put it to Jimmy Carter (with some slight modification): “here we go again!”