Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Block Party: Why Hillary Clinton is Not President of the United States and What This Will Mean

At the block party set up outside the convention center, a host of Clinton surrogates took the stage. A newly re-elected Senator Chuck Schumer ended up with the unenviable task of trying to whip up a crowd suddenly aware of its own futility. ‘I believe that she will win!’ he called. ‘I believe that she will win,’ the audience mumbled back. 
Claire McNear, “The Celebration That Wasn’t: Inside the grim scene of Hillary Clinton’s defused victory party” The Ringer, November 9th, 2016. 
“The masses are no longer a referent because they no longer belong to the order of representation. They don’t express themselves, they are surveyed. They don’t reflect upon themselves, they are tested. The referendum (and the media are a constant referendum of directed questions and answers) has been substituted for the political referent. Now polls, tests, the referendum, media are devices which no longer belong to a dimension of representation, but to one of simulation. They no longer have a referent in view, but a model.” 
Jean Baudrillard, In the Shadow of Silent Majorities tr. Paul Foss, Paul Patton and John Johnston (New York: Semiotext[e], 1983), 20.

Duke Phillips has been elected, WESAYSO Development Corporation magnate Bradley P. 'B. P.' Richfield from Fox's The Dinosaurs has been elected. At the same time, the bourgeois press informs us that while the Jihadis in Aleppo are good, the Jihadis are nonetheless bad in Mosul. Our epoch presents a trainwreck, a pileup of past events masquerading as the present. Of the global political and economic situation in 1935, at the outset of the Second Italian-Ethiopian war, Wilhelm Reich wrote that “one event followed another precipitately,” and that “no one knew or could know how the world would change in the following months and years.”[1] Acceleration is the increase or decrease in the intensity and diformity of a velocity. Our age, like several others before us, is an age of accelerant History. Events are intensely deformed and move at an impossibly mutable speed. As Reich wrote of 1935, “new, undreamed-of-catastrophes were to be expected.” [2] But, of course, the events of Europe in the 1930s, or the events of 2016 in the United States, are unintelligible without reference to the French Presidential election of 1848, and Karl Marx’s journalistic work ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon’ in particular. The Eighteenth Brumaire charts how the factions of the very wealthy conspired to suppress the political demands of the emergent French proletariat, “the disintegration of the republican faction of the bourgeoisie,”[3] and the election and consecration of executive power in the hands of a rankly unknown and indiscernible upstart, “le roi des drôles. . . the king of buffoons,”[4] “chief of the lumpenproletariat,”[5] the durable seizure of executive power and the exercise of it to dissolve legislative power. Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire explains not only the formal processes by which this impoverished image dissolved the political establishment of the bourgeois, but the macrosociological underpinnings, the subterranean movements and interactions of the economic classes so concerned. Liberalism is not merely defeated by, but is moreover inextricably implicated in, the empire restored as parody.

The Eighteenth Brumaire is thus not merely a journalistic work, but moreover, as Kojin Karatani suggests, an effort to explain the political and psychosocial expression of certain class forces at a certain point in the development of, and contest over, the means of production and exchange. That is, what is particularly important about The Eighteenth Brumaire was its extrapolation of political and economic processes and the macrosociological registration of microsociological activity. In France, in 1848, the Liberals, the so-called ‘pure republicans,’ parliamentary representatives of the bourgeoisie, the owners of the means of production and exchange, in their failure to transcend “the bourgeois limitations of the content of their struggles,” [6] and their participation in the subordination of the working classes to “an appendage of the petty-bourgeois-democratic party,”[7] facilitated the circumstances and conditions which led to the election of Louis Napoleon. Indeed, this bourgeois limitation haunts us today with its historical inertia. The Eighteenth Brumaire is, therefore, indispensable for those seeking to understand the structural forces that have recently produced such otherwise inscrutable political outcomes.
“Upon the different forms of property, upon the social conditions of existence, rises an entire superstructure of different and distinctly formed sentiments, illusions, modes of thought and views of life. The entire class creates and forms them out of its material foundations and out of the corresponding social relations. The single individual, to whom they are transmitted through tradition and upbringing, may imagine that they form the real motives and the starting-point of his activity.” 
Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 128.
The Block Party is the concrete obliviousness of the urban elite. A sociological stratum erstwhile insulated from concrete reality looked to the personages of the private means of communication for an explanation and the priests of hyperreality, in effect, stalled for time, themselves still reeling from the force of circumstance and the catastrophic collapse of their ideological horizon. The inescapable fact, however, remained, for several unacknowledged hours, that Donald Trump had won, and Hillary Clinton had lost, the election. The functionaries of the owners occlude their own interventions from reality, their steadfast refusal to acknowledge that their failed economic practice and world-view, that of the owning class which they represent, implicates them in the general social disintegration in each and every instance in which they selectively whine about this or that aspect of it. Computer cultists, NPR mouthbreather quants, an intellectually stunted caste of bourgeois retainers, a livery of Neoliberal technocrats so oblivious to their own economic station that they cannot realize how demographic revulsion at their own existence as a caste in society impacts and rebounds upon the elections they survey and scrutinize. They imagine themselves as elevated above class struggle generally. Deleuze writes that they appeal to difference only as “respectable, reconcilable or federative differences, while history continues to be made through bloody contradictions.”[8]

“They blanched. They stood like this, mostly in silence, their phones glowing blue in their hands, flashing updates confirming that the country they thought they would live in — the country they thought they did live in — was not to be.” 
Claire McNear, “TheCelebration That Wasn’t: Inside the Grim Scene of Hillary Clinton’s Defused Victory PartyThe Ringer, November 9th, 2016.

“Certainly there is something startling in the fact of a comparatively unknown adventurer, placed by chance at the head of the executive power of a great republic, seizing, between sunset and sunrise, upon all the important posts of the capital, driving the parliament like chaff to the winds, suppressing metropolitan insurrection in two days, provincial tumults in two weeks, forcing himself, in a sham election, down the throat of the whole people, and establishing, in the same breath, a constitution which confers upon him all the powers of the state.” 
Friedrich Engels, “The Real Causes Why the French Proletarians Remained Comparatively Inactive in December Last (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 212.
Guy Debord writes that Fascism is “an extremist defense of the bourgeois economy threatened by crisis and by proletarian subversion.”[9] It is neither possible nor intelligible without a bungling antecedent attempt by the bourgeoisie to retain class rule. A Bonaparte figure emerges from the minor ranks of the bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie as a whole cannot rely upon such a figure to advance their total collective interests above those of his own petty interests with any certainty, but in whom the peasantry, lumpenproletariat, and lower bourgeois see their own petty interests personified, over and above this dithering monopolist elite. Guattari calls these “imaginary phenomena of collective pseudo-phallicization”[10] that is, “ridiculous totemization[s] by popular vote. . . without any real control over the signifying machine of the economic system, which still continues to reinforce the power and autonomy of its functioning.”[11]
“Driven by the contradictory demands of his situation and being at the same time, like a conjurer, under the necessity of keeping the public gaze fixed on himself, as Napoleon's substitute, by springing constant surprises, that is to say, under the necessity of executing a coup d'état en miniature every day, Bonaparte throws the entire bourgeois economy into confusion, violates everything that seemed inviolable to the revolution of 1848, makes some tolerant of revolution, others desirous of revolution, and produces actual anarchy in the name of order, while at the same time stripping its halo from the entire state machine, profanes it and makes it at once loathsome and ridiculous.” 
Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 197.
Liberalism is constitutively incapable of overcoming fascism because of its constitutive incompleteness, its pseudouniversalist myopias and omissions – the things it intentionally and concertedly omits consistently - which implicate it in society's degeneration. Liberalism cannot explain the seizure of executive power and the collapse of the political form of bourgeois rule without implicating itself, and cannot allow others to diagnose this condition, lest the foundations of class rule be exposed. Liberalism is ‘pseudouniversalist,’ or cynically cosmopolitan, in that it purports to represent all of society, but does not in fact represent all of society one or another crucial respect. Oftentimes it misrepresents or ignores the interests of the lower economic classes and marginalize peoples, while nonetheless superficially including them in the breadth of their professed universal. Liberalism is a pseudo-universalist ideology of the owners in society, it scapegoats the masses for the social and political consequences of Liberalism’s own class myopia; Socialism is the substantive universalism of the working class, it serves to elucidate the culpability of the ruling economic class in political degeneration. Liberalism, in its reactionary instance, in the moment of scapegoating the masses for the consequences of their own failed attempt to wield authority, is not 'better' than Fascism, it is rather a constituent element of Fascism as a process. Fascism and cynical and reactionary economic Liberalism cannot exist except but in molecular combination with one another; cynical cosmopolitanism is preceded by and suffused with annexation, the state monopoly on violence within a given expanse, and bourgeois malfeasance necessarily precedes reaction. The only force which stands outside of and in opposition to this elemental fusion is the working class and their substantive universalism, i.e. socialism. When Liberalism conspires with the forces of reaction against the working class, to ensure the maintenance of its class rule, it implicates itself in the social irrationality and degeneration that ensues. As Marx wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire, “the democratic party had infected the proletariat with its own weakness and, as is usual with the great deeds of democrats, the leaders had the satisfaction of being able to charge their ‘people’ with desertion, and the people the satisfaction of being able to charge its leaders with fraud.”[12]
“Bourgeois republic signifies the unlimited despotism of one class over other classes.” 
Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 111.
“No party exaggerates its means more than the democratic, none deludes itself more light-mindedly over the situation.” 
Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 133.

After several days of advancing xenophobia or misogyny exclusive explanations for the causes of Hillary Clinton’s defeat, and being at every turn forced to everywhere acknowledge questions of economic classes and their social relationships with one another, liberals have taken to forms of mystification which require neither confirmation nor analysis of economic classes at all. First among these is a demonization and pathologization of social media. In the immediate aftermath of the election Buzzfeed published a report that alleged that 'fake news' had outperformed 'real news' during the election cycle. The problem with this analysis was that it merely compared the top 20 most shared 'news' items by assuredly 'fake' enterprises like the 'Denver Guardian,' to the top 20 news articles published by a list including Vox and Huffington Post, but excluding Reuters and the Associated Press. In other words, they attempted to assert the veracity of safety-pin Liberalistoutlets by comparing them unfavorably to so-called ‘fake news.’ The mind reels.  If you are writing, posting, liking or retweeting hysterical neoliberal think-pieces about 'fake news' right now, congratulations, you are an exemplary producer, consumer and promulgator of fake news. Glen Greenwald notes thatthe Washington Post recently uncritically reproduced a ‘blacklist’ including “prominent independent left-wing news sites such as Truthout, Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News, and Truthdig. . . popular libertarian hubs such as Zero Hedge,, and the Ron Paul Institute, along with the hugely influential right-wing website the Drudge Report and the publishing site WikiLeaks.” Vox is the Brietbart of the neoliberal professional caste. The fact that the Slate-brigage's misrepresentations and obfuscations are morally rectified and Brietbart's are morally repugnant is irrelevant, as neither is in any discernible fashion describing reality. Their respective ideological mystifications are implicated in and inextricable from one another: the Liberal omissions and mystifications exacerbating the white supremacist mystifications and vice versa. The idea of the general strike, direct coordinated labour action, the expropriation of the means of production and exchange, are totally incomprehensible to an economic Liberal; and so the Liberal ideologically and materially sabotages its basis, the living-labour from whom it absorbs surplus-value, or profit.

The veracity of news is ultimately earned through hard work, criticality, good research, and the like. The mouthpieces of the cynical liberal elite, however, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, not to mention their digital progeny, like Vox, Slate, Huffingtonpost, among others, all earnestly, if ingloriously, abdicated their journalistic integrity this past election cycle, becoming primarily, if not entirely, propaganda institutions for the ruling class. There is a vestigial trust, or reputation of credibility, that is attributed to these 'venerable' presses which is, frankly, undeserved. When the so-called “legacy media institutions” cry foul over 'fake news' it rings hollow because they are so profoundly implicated, materially and ideologically, in that which they charge others with, i.e. mystification. They aim to insulate the particular mystification effected by the private media concerns from a generalized confusion and universal discrediting; the fungibility of the category of “fake news” provides just such an insulation. Be sure to consult only 100% airtight and vetted, hardnosed, ticker-tape in trilby, just-the-facts-jack, news like the Huffington Post. . . Neoliberals are very avid to point out to you how social media is a 'wild west,' and that the flow of information must be controlled and sterilized, made to conform to implicit societal norms. Pious voxified condescension towards democratized media is the vanguard of neoliberal apologism. 'Fake news' is a methodologically untenable neoliberal hysteria and pretext to stifle dissent, open and transparent communication, and criticism of the present economic system, for the censorship of views contrasting with those of the mouthpieces of the owning classes, the New York Times first among them. ‘Fake news’ is itself fake news.

It is not merely that social media is less inaccurate than the powerful interests in society would have it understood to be, it is moreover that ‘legacy media’ are more inaccurate, and less critical, than the powerful interests in society would have them understood to be. The old guard of the economically elite press, like the New York Times, and their digital progeny, like Vox or Slate, are not getting beaten by so-called 'fake news' because they are such unrelenting truth-tellers, but precisely because they aren't. Nowhere is it asked, or reflected upon, in these presses whether or not their glaring class-myopias, in every-single-article-and-think-piece, might have aggressively alienated everyone outside of a very narrow backscratching elite stratum of society.
“Capital shows itself more and more to be a social power, with the capitalist as its functionary – a power that no longer stands in any kind of relationship to what the work of one particular individual can create, but an alienated social power which has gained an autonomous position and confronts society as a thing, and as the power the capitalist has through this thing.” 
Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Volume III tr. David Fernbach(London: Penguin, 1991), 373.
The occlusion of economic class from an analysis of why Hillary Clinton lost is prelude to a successive neoliberal political articulation premised upon incrementally milder patriarchal and xenophobic populist elements than were evidenced in the Trump campaign. The ideological intent of neoliberal mystification is the preservation of the system of capitalist exploitation of living-labour. In an interview with the Guardian shortly after the election execrable war-criminal,Tony Blair, argued that the Democrats had failed to sufficiently address “radical Islam and the Islamist threat;” that they had, in other words, been insufficiently islamophobic.

To the extent that one emphasizes the primacy of xenophobia in the electoral loss, one will be meted out by the representatives of the bourgeosie a milder, more sanitized xenophobia; to the extent that one emphasizes the primacy of sexism in the electoral loss, one will be meted out by the representatives of the bourgeosie a milder, more sanitized sexism. The intended effect of promulgating a neoliberal xenophobia-exceptionalist narrative or neoliberal misogyny-exclusive narrative is to ensure the absence of economic class analysis from the social recomposition. Neoliberals would rather make concessions to racism and xenophobia than class conscious politics, they are more willing to telegraph ‘strengthen the borders’ than ‘break up the banks.’ The Neoliberal endgame is to subordinate and consign the interests of the global working class to the interests of global financial capitalists, and to a lesser extent the individual interests of the owners of the means of production and exchange in each Capitalist-Nation-State. This is achieved by assuring the contiguity of control over the means of political intervention, by personages representing the interests of financial capitalists and owners. Whenever neoliberals concede the legitimacy of mass grievance, they always do it in a way that surreptitiously absolves themselves of responsibility. They focus on the masses' alleged fear and suspicion of immigrants, and not at all at their rage and disdain for economic and political elites. On the one hand they can thus claim to be orienting themselves to working class concerns, while actually misrepresenting those concerns and exacerbating the class contradictions that do exist.
"Here is the biggest problem with elevating sexism to the defining explanation of Mrs. Clinton’s loss: It lets her machine and her failed policies off the hook. It erases the role played by the appetite for endless war and the comfort with market-friendly incremental change, no matter the urgency of the crisis (from climate change to police violence to raging inequality). It erases the disgust over Mrs. Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street and with the wreckage left behind by trade deals that benefited corporations at the expense of workers. . . In this version, it’s all about sexism. And that is the surest way to ensure that the Democratic Party’s disastrous 2016 mistakes will be repeated — only next time, with a man at the top of the ticket. . . That Mrs. Clinton could be defeated by the likes of Mr. Trump remains disgraceful. But Mrs. Clinton was too flawed a candidate for this disgrace to go down in history as a defeat for her gender." 
Naomi Klein, "Trump Defeated Clinton, Not Women" The New York Times, November 16, 2016.
Mark Lilla set off a so-called ‘liberal’ firestorm when he wrote in the New York Times that Liberal Identity-Politics has produced a generation of Liberals and ‘progressives,’ so-called, “narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life,” who “assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good.” An analysis of the election by Brookings found that Clinton won less than five hundred counties, accounting for 64% of the economic activity in America, Trump, by way of contrast, won more than 2600 counties, which accounted for a mere 36%. In other words, the report found that there was a prominent spatialization of inequality, that whereas Trump won the hinterlands, country, Clinton won the centers of the concentration of capital, cities. As the Washington Post notes, “U.S. economic activity has grown increasingly concentrated in large, 'superstar' metro areas, such as Silicon Valley and New York.” Clinton apologists are quick to point out that she won the popular vote, and that, according to exit polling, Donald Trump lost among those who voted who were working class or marginalized peoples. They conveniently omit, however, that working class and marginalized people, by a much larger measure than in 2008 or 2012, did not vote.

“Society now seems to have fallen back behind its point of departure; it has in truth first to create for itself the revolutionary point of departure, the situation, the relations, the conditions under which alone modern revolution becomes serious.” 
Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 106.
What must be rejected above all is the cynicism that there simply is no alternative. To blithely absolve the ruling economic class of their culpability chiefly because they assert that it could not have been otherwise is to accept a shallow and inconsistent account of History. The consequence of sustained bourgeois economic irrationality is the election of a thief who threatens to make private the gains of that irrationality. The most important thing to remember is that while these events are wild, they are nonetheless not unpredictable, they conform to some very basic and axiomatic social laws that can be derived from an analysis of recent past history. The more one understands about material history and social practice, the relations between political forces and economic classes, the more one can effectively intervene in contemporary events, both alone and together with others of one's economic class. The only conceptual framework which can effectively identify and oppose both monological nationalism and bourgeois mystification at once is that of socialism, the concrete analysis and practice of the struggle between opposing economic classes. It is not the superior ideology that is decisive in the class struggle, however, but rather the relative strength of the competing classes themselves. Any response to the historical process that wants to evade falling victim to its repetition must be premised upon an irrevocably intersectional understanding of class, and must understand how economic class is inextricably bound up with racial and gendered hierarchies, conditioning and maintaining class rule. It is imperative today to supplement and transform the universal, to transcend its historically recurrent bourgeois limitations, its hypocrisies and oversights; and in so doing sublate, preserve, hold up, amplify those elements of universality that emerged in and through the process of class struggle. The situation that confronts us is much as it was for Marx, everywhere an oblivious ruling economic class whose political representatives will not function outside of the narrow class interests of the owners in society, and whose political interventions are so disastrously malformed that they doom all classes to mutual subjection under an unrestricted executive power.

The Block Party is bourgeois Liberalism turned rotten. It is the political ideology whose only remembrance of struggle is to instrumentalize the legacy of struggle against struggle today. The Block Party is hysterical complacency. Bourgeois Liberalism and its contemporary discursive practices and material institutions are implicated in the general social degeneration. The election of Donald Trump is not a repudiation of bourgeois executive power, but rather its primary symptom, its latest recurrent implosion. The Block Party is clientelist networks of preening Comprador backscratchers and neoliberal princelings who habitually inflate the importance of their palace intrigues. The Block Party is pitiful because of its incoherency, and because its collapse is the consequence of its own incoherent practice. The election of Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss, is certainly shot through with a great amount of racism and sexism, but it is intellectual malpractice to present these things in a way that does show how bourgeois political limitations, economic Liberalism, exacerbates and is implicated in this. The rich console themselves that such consequences are caused by the moral degeneration of the lower classes, rather than their economic immiseration and desperation. This is not merely recrimination. Liberalism as an ideology has discredited itself, but it is discredited itself by the historical practice and advancement of class struggle, not by the force which it immediately succumbs to, i.e. Bonaparte. For Bonaparte is not distinct from the bourgeoisie, or so he claims, his ridiculousness is, in fact, their ridiculousness.

[1] Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism tr. Vincent R. Carfagno (New York: The Noonday Press, 1970), 208.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)” Marx & Engels Collected Work Volume XI 1851-1853 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1979), 12.
[4] Ibid, 196.
[5] Ibid, 149.
[6] Ibid, 124.
[7] Ibid, 104.
[8] Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition tr. Paul Patton (London: Continuum, 2004), 64.
[9] Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit: Black & Red, 1970), 109.
[10] Félix Guattari, “Transversality (1964)” in Psychoanalysis and Transversality: Texts and Interveiws 1955 – 1971 tr. Anne Hodges (South Pasadena: Semiotex[e], 2015), 105.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852,” 132.

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