Bland “Resistance” Punditry

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

The Establishment Left labors under the delusion that Trump supporters, if confronted by facts, would simply drop their guns and renounce their Orange Savior. Thus they churn out ham-handed editorials and think pieces with such scintillating headlines as “Why Trump is Wrong on Jobs” and “How Trump Lost the Debate”. As usual, they are pontificating in a vacuum, where any real critiques of their own class are drowned out by the drone of the political machines that manufacture absolute consensus on this point. Notice it’s always the voters who are blamed for the defective candidates that their infernal engines belch out. Never the monied interests who fan the flames of social and environmental upheaval, creating the perfect storm that resulted in pandemic and Donald Trump alike.

Conveniently, they forget that fascists, like farts, don’t come out of nowhere. Both are the cumulative outcome of a system in distress; a noxious mingling and buildup of toxic gases that seek release, eventually escaping into the social sphere with unpleasant consequences for all. “Stand Back and Stand By”. There is no shrewder political operative on the campaign trail than Trump’s own sphincter. Unlike its rivals, it doesn’t try to determine which way the wind blows, it creates the wind. It was this force of nature that blew Joe Biden off the debate stage.

The bland punditry of The Resistance misses the mark entirely, as it lays the blame squarely on an underclass too stupid (in their view) to comprehend algorithm-derived data sets on a line graph that prove Trump’s job numbers are as accurate as his attempts to navigate his urine stream inside the toilet bowl. Unsurprisingly, they are acting all surprised that the peasants are greeting their neoliberal Overlords with racist slurs and assault weapons on one side, and demands for racial justice on the other. Never mind, either, that their “scientific” polling data handed Hillary Clinton a “slam dunk” in 2016, only later to re-define the term to mean “a cannonball nosedive into the drained end of the swamp”.

Trump meanwhile, promises his “useless eater” base deliverance into a giant, revolving steakhouse in the sky, where everything is fancy and nice, especially the chocolate cake . . . And the ruling class’s stenography pool still wonders why they are failing to convince the rubes that Joe Biden – a thin slice of veal served on a single, wilted lettuce leaf – can compete with “Donkey Sauce” slathered on aged and burnt Black Angus sirloin. Trump is the dead man’s boner booster. Biden is a boner killer full stop.

American elections offer little more than chain restaurant offerings that diners know will never live up their glossy photos on the menu. Still voters ike any customer, remain convinced that they have made an ‘autonomous’ and ‘rational’ choice, when in fact, they have been steered towards a mirage ideal imbued with the notion of ‘change’, rather than change itself. Just as “Hope” bamboozled the electorate in 2008, a return to its undelivered promises is touted as a revolutionary act of resistance.

“Greatness”, as Trump embodies the term to is low-rung spear carriers, is less a marketing pitch than a televised tilting at wind farms as a means towards an orgasmic, Apocalyptic finale. Within this sphere of action, the players are the rogue pawns of the elite, easily identified by their visible ammo belts and MAGA hats. Here, they are content to operate inside power’s circus tent – a safe space, if you will – where their “rights” are protected under the rubric of the ruling class – just as campus ‘safe spaces’ exist within an elite structure to preserve ‘identity’ within an allotted broom closet.

In contrast to this cynical non-solution to the problem of democratic, electoral politics-as-usual, fascism provides a wrestling ring where the self can be fully expressed within this sphere of violence. Neoliberalism demands straitjacket conformity to a vague dogma of ‘positivity’ within a political vacuum. According to Adorno, “Fascism is itself less ‘ideological’ in so far as it openly proclaims the principle of domination that is elsewhere concealed”.

Under Biden, authority would present itself as a DMV ‘diversity’ hire telling you to take a number before taking away your driver’s license and your Second Amendment rights. Trump offers his base a false reckoning with past “injustices” (black people jogging, picnicking, birdwatching . . . ) even as he remains barricaded in his golden throne room, issuing dog whistle from his Twitter account – all “sound and fury” signifying flatulence and racism. The alternative according to the DNC isn’t much different, only quieter.

The promise of ecstasy is more joy-inducing than its actual fulfillment, and the nihilistic buffoon-in-chief offer death as a means towards achieving eternal life at a casino buffet table with donkey sauce on tap. The end of the world promises endless possibilities to those on the bottom rungs, its continuation only guarantees further marginalization. A familiar mythology cobbled together from the junkyard scraps of the rust belt Red States to counter a now dogmatic paradigm of ‘reason’ emerges, and with it, a new Messiah to welcome the masses into his five star hospital suite. MAGA is the incantation uttered by the undead to raise themselves from their burial mounds to seek vengeance on NAFTA and Colin Kaepernick.

Contrary to the prevailing discourse surrounding Trump, End Times didn’t start with a bankrupt real estate baron in the White House, it began when capitalism absorbed all matter into its collapsing death star and commodified this now nothingness into nuggets made from the suggestion of a chicken, conceptualized from poultry, and atomized through billboards, cathodes and pixels as “buffalo wings”. (And on the seven billionth day, God created Hooter’s from the genetic code of an owl. And indeed, it was fingerlickin’ good.)

By this process, “a new and improved” detergent or a foreign policy position is born from this self-generating media kaleidoscope. Special effects replace the physical battlefield, while permanent war is waged on everything outside a narrow lens that offers a view of a meaningless assemblage of detritus packaged as “spectacle”. After a while, familiar patterns of propaganda emerge from this shifting, but ultimately unchanged cultural landscape, assembled from an imaginary past that has undergone the same processes that turn an egg into mayonnaise (and even its non-egg, vegan alternatives). Eventually, mayonnaise is fetishized to the extent that it becomes Donkey Sauce; a gonzo-porn accompaniment to a cheeseburger, signaling gluttonous, sated masculinity riding roughshod over the electorate on a golf cart.

Eggs, in other words, are so alienated from their true function and meaning under capitalism that they become a distant cousin of an image of a McNugget inside a fiber optic network necessary to broadcast a war in real time or the finale of ‘The Bachelor’. Politicians undergo the same abominable processes that transform sentient beings into ‘livestock’ and livestock into petroleum-infused pink sludge shaped like a Prime Time game show host, or a Senator from Delaware – light years removed from actual human experience and struggle, embodying opposite principles of both. Inevitably, ‘morbid symptoms’ appear: a pox on chickens and the body politic alike, or a virus derived from gene-spliced rodents with buffalo wings.

Just as the Soviet Union dissolved into a slag heap of neoliberalism before emerging as the steroid-driven fiefdom of a former spook, the US has tasked its own spy agencies with preserving its “democracy” against a President that was installed by its own oligarchs, and soon to be removed by its own military bureaucrats. The civil war that pundits warn is imminent is already being waged at the highest levels of power, but not fought between its non-rival factions. Regardless of the outcome in November, it will be a bipartisan coup d’erat against the people that will be celebrated on both sides as a victory against them.

Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo and a columnist for the print edition of CounterPunch magazine.