I’ve never been a swooning fan of Cornel West’s presentation (like those other On-Camera Academics, Slavoj Zizek and Camille Paglia, West’s branding tics… in Paglia’s case it was demotic gum-chewing, in Zizek’s case the tics are literal… are as lurid as a Professional Wrestlers’ masks and capes) but the man has tried to maintain a consistent, coherently dissident presence, against tremendous odds, for quite some time. Since 2008, at least, he has struggled: almost a decade of swimming against a terrifyingly lockstep crowd.
The tremendous odds against which West had to set himself were generated by the Charismatic Obama Regime and those in thrall to the Liberals-mesmerizing magnetism inherent in BHO’s unlikely (“historic”) Presidency. The public persona of the public official is deceptive, as a feature of the job and, as if we haven’t suffered enough lessons on the topic, people are not symbols: BHO couldn’t embody the “triumph over racism” (in any case, there clearly wasn’t one) any more than he could embody “the intrinsic decency of the underdog in a sudden position of power” (whether or not he could have, he didn’t). BHO’s Presidency was an extension of Dubya’s Presidency, for anyone who was paying attention and Cornel West was paying attention and speaking up about it. West spoke up and out about the idiot-prince Dubya, too, when it was first a bit scary to do so (soon after “9/11”, when speaking out, or even telling “anti-American jokes”, could put you in jail) and he continued when Bush-bashing became a harmless lifestyle choice and lots of pseudo-Lefties joined him, right before BHO took over. BHO’s reign became a perfect litmus test for Leftness. Pseudo-Lefties failed in droves.
Pointing out that The Bankers were still getting away with murder, as was the First Black (?) President’s illegal drone program (escalated from Dubya’s drones), West was merely doing what the Left had done to that other Democratic Warmonger, during the ‘Nam Years, LBJ… but with a lot less company.
The Left functioned, before it was rubbed out by Engineered Social Media Consensus, to protest War and Corporate Evil (perhaps that’s redundant), whether a Democrat or a Republican was in office. Most of the Black Public Figures back then (barring the wince-inducing exception of Nixon-hugging Sammy Davis Jr) were of the Left, a position that grew out of the earliest days of the practical dissidence of the Civil Rights Era and was probably best embodied by Eartha Kitt, who got herself in trouble by going off-script, regarding the topic of Vietnam, in front of Lady Bird Johnson, at a Whitehouse luncheon, saying (among other things): “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.” Causing Ladybird to “burst into tears”.
You can’t get much cooler than that. Eartha Kitt could have said the “right (collaborationist-type) things” at the luncheon and seen her income quadruple overnight. Instead she said “the wrong (morally and factually correct) things” and was forced to leave the country. The CIA (I am not making this up) branded Kitt a “sadistic nymphomaniac”.
The only people who were “with the president,” during the Left’s 1960s heyday, Democrat or Republican, were Conservatives and/or Right Wingers or just “apolitical” Squares. The Presidency represented the (corporate/ military) Power behind most domestic and foreign policy conditions that well-informed, Liberal and Left-leaning people abhorred. That was clear and it made sense and although being outspokenly Left-wing might have gotten you in trouble at home, in school or at the office (and with “the fuzz”), it certainly wouldn’t have gotten you shouted down and denounced by other Commies, Swingers, Hip Intellectuals, rock-throwing Radicals and Groovy People in general.
Well, TFIC (The Fuckers in Charge) changed all that with one master-stroke of installing the BHO Presidency. How can a charming Black President do evil… right? He talks like MLK and looks a little like MX and sings Al Green songs… !
If you ever forget just how naive/ gullible even the most well-educated Westerners can be, remember that Advertizing, Nigerian eMail Scams, and Organized Religion couldn’t continue to exist if they didn’t continue to work. Add “Politics as we Know it” to that list of things that would dry up and blow away if people, en masse, weren’t almost-infinitely, needily dupe-able.
The point: Cornel West took a(nother) swing at one of the most slavishly pro-BHO, flagship brands of the Black Kapo Class, the richly-remunerated Ta-Nehisi Coates (when the Empire’s Media-Tool anoints you, bestsellers, juicy speaking engagements and Twitter-followers follow). Coates is an intellectual mediocrity who pushes the right tonal buttons (“militant” about the surface-effects of America’s mile-deep domestic race problem, “agnostic” about America’s Genocidal Foreign Policy and Existential threat to the planet), a man with one of the most arrogantly-blank masks, of utter smugness, that I have ever seen. West, in an essay critical of Coates, wrote:
“Coates praises Obama as a ‘deeply moral human being’ while remaining silent on the 563 drone strikes, the assassination of US citizens with no trial, the 26,171 bombs dropped on five Muslim-majority countries in 2016 and the 550 Palestinian children killed with the US supported planes in 51 days etc.”
“Unfortunately, Coates’ allegiance to Obama has produced an impoverished understanding of black history. He reveals this when he writes: “Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as ‘our living, Black manhood’ and ‘our own Black shining prince.’ Only one man today could bear those twin honorifics: Barack Obama.” This gross misunderstanding of who Malcolm X was – the greatest prophetic voice against the American Empire – and who Barack Obama is – the first black head of the American Empire – speaks volumes about Coates’ neoliberal view of the world.”
These accusations remain relevant because BHO remains relevant (just as Bill Clinton did as much, or possibly more, damage in his behind-the-scenes post-Presidency as he did in office: much of the power and only a fraction of the scrutiny and a default increase of public good will for his persona; the modern office of the Presidency is the gateway to post-Presidential power). The hierarchy that BHO was hired to front still runs the country and it still needs the passionately-irrational belief in the Pseudo-Liberal Project that BHO helps to maintain among the Nanny Fascists and Black Kapos who don’t understand that making such a grandiose (and highly-selective) show of “resisting Trump” does little but distract from, and bury, the ongoing crimes of Empire as initiated under the grinning masks of the Clintons, Bushes and Obamas. Trump is nothing but the latest in a long line of corrupt figureheads; I’m still amazed that otherwise-intelligent people can claim to prefer a slick, effective psychopath like Hillary Clinton to a bumbling psychopath like Trump. Which is a bit like preferring to be wined and dined by Ted Bundy than be approached by a raving, blood-smeared lunatic in an alley.
The CIA branded Kitt a “sadistic nymphomaniac”. What is Twitter branding Cornel West today?
The Normative Antibodies of Liberal Black and White Twitter (The Nanny Fascists and Kapos and Co) went to work with impressive efficiency.They worked over West the way they’re working over Matt Damon (it’s not a little irritating having to “defend” Matt Damon) for being so “dick-nuts” as to suggest that an unwanted “pat on the butt” is definitely actionable behavior without, on the other hand, being anywhere near the same category of child rape. Both Consensus-Violators are being worked over as I type this and they will both, in the end, be sorry they expressed their frank opinions under the illusion that their right to “Free Speech” is somehow protected. But at least they’ll live.
That’s the upside of the New Propaganda/Control Model: so much of the Operative World is now Virtual that a dissident can be silenced and disappeared without necessarily needing a Nazi or a Stalinist to kick her or him to death in the flesh. It’s only the IRL-effective dissidents (eg Aaron Swartz or Gary Webb or John Lennon) who get the classic Imperial pink slip of a “car crash/plane crash/robbery-gone-wrong/ deranged stalker” or “suicide”.
Because the Propaganda is now Total and seamless and intoxicatingly delicious, there is no movement we can call “Left” left, and lonely little Truth-telling dissidents like West are more of a nuisance than a threat. Genuine Threats potentialize the backing-momentum of counter-Consensus; Twitter/ Facebook/ Tumblr (et al) make sure just how unlikely that is to happen… the Propaganda is no longer top-down but from the inside-out. The CIA rarely, I’m guessing, bothers to fuck with dissidents like West anymore because they’ve got all those Twitter-dupes, who aren’t even on the payroll, to do it for them.
By rebranding half of itself as “Liberal”, and deputizing one half of the gullible electorate to persecute the other half, the Right has consolidated immense power of a protean nature.
The Useful Idiots who have allowed themselves to be swept up in the Bizarro-World swirl of this paradigm shift… the Nanny Fascists and Black Kapos and the pseudo-Lefty Hackademics, et al… display outright contempt (bordering on hatred) for the Trumpists but the difference, in the end, is purely one of style. Does a three-year-girl with her face burned off in Syria or Afghanistan really care who did or didn’t vote for yet another in a long line of corrupt figureheads who will okay those drones, and “open those markets” to Genocide, no matter what?