In American political discourse, all discourse is reduced to culture war talking points. Even when the stakes are real war. In Russia liberals try to spice up sex lives that are miserable by making Vladimir Putin into the man that none of them are in their post-industrial life. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the man they have. Vladimir Putin is the man they want, but don’t want to want because of suppression.
Zelenskyy plays the role of Will Smith for liberals. Ukraine as a country is Jada Pickett Smith. It wasn’t many years ago that all these people were on TV. Smith, like Zelenskyy, is framed as the good man because he defends his wife with violence. While defending one’s wife and country is honorable the reason both men are celebrated is that there is a crisis in the West of impotency and incompetence.
The American Right cruelly scapegoats transgender children thrown to the curbs by their parents who sexualize them for the state of post-industrial America. But the reason that men can’t be men anymore isn’t because of feminism, multiculturalism or the rise in gay and transgender rights. To the contrary men aren’t men because the world is run by machines.
Under capitalism, labor creates value and women’s labor is unpaid and the global South is enslaved. When labor no longer creates value and money can be created from thin air and machines can decimate entire countries in a day what do we need men for? Crudely, we need men for war. And liberals celebrate war because they want men.
Neocons fantasize about Vladimir Putin because he is framed as a man who is castrated and frustrated. Russia has been kicked and kicked again by the United States. Their population was stripped of communism, shocked into capitalism, and kept down with a boot on their neck with sanctions. No matter how many times Russia gave in to United States demands (Putin coming to power being one of them), it wasn’t good enough. Putin, like Frankenstein’s monster, terrorizes the innocent, citing his maker. But war is a losing game and Putin cannot make himself a man any more than we can make him one.
Conservative commentators point to the Will Smith slap of comedian Chris Rock as a sign of cancel culture. Just as Vladimir Putin said he was cancelled by the West. Being cancelled by the West usually means you end up like Muammar Gaddafi, not Louis C.K. But the problem with Will Smith isn’t just that he can’t take a joke it’s that he had no way of expressing who he is supposed to be. The rich just own the world. They don’t make it. The real stories of real men, real women, real transgender people are alien to the rich.
The rich are not real. They don’t have real sex. They don’t have real art. They don’t have real ideas. They don’t do real work. They don’t have real interactions with nature, and increasingly, neither do we. The rich get surgery, splice their genes, take the latest medicine, try the latest fad. They have no soul. It’s not that they are any less happy. No one is happy. They are just less real. They aren’t happy. Nor sad. Nor men. Nor women. Nor trans. They are nothing.
It Will Smith is Zelenskyy is Chris Rock, Putin? Chris Rock in his role isn’t Putin. He makes a joke, naively. Not only because people don’t tolerate free speech but more so because people don’t understand it. Humor can’t be registered. People are in such crisis in the United States that we believe only war will save us.
The war we have fought over Trump, then COVID, and now Ukraine, all implies marching orders for a people who can’t think for themselves. What actually happens is that people can’t get up for these manufactured outrages. Real horror is dismissed and petty grievances are turned up to 11 because we can’t distinguish between them and we are too tired to try.
Now I’m supposed to believe Ro Khanna and the rest of this sorry lot of “progressives” that America is the greatest country in the world. Joe Biden, like Trump before him, is a reckless senile brute of a nationalist who can’t and won’t fight for the people of his country. He can only punch down on those outside of it.
While it may be surprising that Joe Biden looks more like Trump than he does Obama it starts to make sense when we think of the weakness of America. Strength does not come from strong men but rather from loving humans.
Liberals censor Russia’s media, forgetting that CRT gained its popularity from the conservatives censoring it. But not only do liberals learn from conservatives, conservatives learn from liberals. Trump’s Big Lie of domestic election fraud that sparked January 6th looks far less dangerous than Hillary Clinton’s Bigger Lie that Russia rigged the election for Trump. If Trump’s lie could have ended American democracy, then Clinton’s lie could end American civilization.
Such a story made Trump and Putin into sexual icons for liberals and most of us were stunned. Such things can only be explained by admitting that the drive for sex isn’t just about making new life, it’s about making death acceptable because your life now lives on. Joe Biden has no such appeal. Making love to Joe Biden the politician would be like if your husband died and your best friend died and you have to fuck your best friend’s husband in old age. Let’s hope that this is good enough. Because if we remain in this nostalgic thirst for masculine valor we will all be cancelled.