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Comments 24

Midterms, Media & the Ever-Rolling Carnival of Distraction

Kit Knightly

WARNING: The caption is also just a distraction.

The US mid-terms happened this week – you probably noticed. There were maps everywhere, people talking about a blue-wave or a red tsunami or…something. None of it really made much sense.

And in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

For all the impact it will have on the way the world is run, these elections are as meaningful as voting for who wins Celebrity Big Brother or filling out a customer service feedback form at an off-brand coffee chain.

That’s not nihilism, or cynicism, or defeatism. It’s just the only reasoned response to decades of observational data. The American system can’t be changed from within, because nobody that wants change will ever be allowed inside. It is broken. Cancerous. Corrupt to the point of total atrophy.

Bernie Sanders is the best they have, and even he is an American Imperialist at heart, he just thinks poor people shouldn’t be freezing to death in the streets or drinking toxic water. Such is the face of American radicalism.

Sanders is hardly an extremist, but even then…in the end…the people in charge cheated to keep him away from the White House.

That is documented and admitted and filed away. We all know it happened. we’re just not supposed to talk about it.

There’s plenty of reason to believe both the 2000 and 2004 the Presidential elections were rigged.

So why do we bother talking about American elections anymore? There is no excuse for taking part in this ritual. There is no reason to pretend that it’s honest, or meaningful, or important.

It doesn’t matter whether blue wins or red wins, they’re both preprogrammed NPCs in the same rigged game. It doesn’t matter whether you cheer for Punch or Judy, the puppeteer controls both and he gets paid no matter who wins. It doesn’t matter that there’s more women in congress than ever before, or that a Somali muslim is in the house of representatives now.

None of that matters at all. From a distance any mixture of red and blue will always look purple. From a distance black and white looks like grey.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter.

…and yet it’s all the newspapers and television are talking about.

The Guardian, The Huffington Post, CNN, Fox News…all of them, all over the Angloshphere and beyond…talking about congressional midterms as if they are a battle for survival. Good vs Evil. Why?

Ken Livingstone famously said that if “voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.”

Well, you can apply this model to the news as well – if it really meant something, it wouldn’t be on the news.

The media talk about “Russiagate” as if it means something, they call Trump “Putin’s puppet” and berate him for kowtowing to Moscow…all while the US is pulling out of arms treaties, bombing Syria, conducting huge military drills right on the Russian border, expelling Russian diplomats and killing Russian servicemen.

For the first time in 30 years, there’s a very real danger of a nuclear war. The media won’t discuss it. These elections won’t change it.

The media talk about the “rise of antisemitism” and the dangers of the “alt-right”….while every mainstream outlet and most politicians are happy to sell weapons to Ukraine, where a coup government is using literal fascist militias in a war against people whose only crime is objecting to the removal of their elected president.

For maybe first time in 70 years, there are men with swastikas on their arms killing civilians in mainland Europe. And they are so with tacit approval of Western governments. The media won’t discuss it. These elections won’t change it.

The media talk about Jamal Khashoggi and rebuke Saudi Arabia for their alleged crimes….while real crimes go unreported. Most of NATO still happily sends weapons and trains pilots and enables the slaughter of 10,000s of Yemeni civilians.

The war in Yemen is an extension of US policy all over the Middle East. Fought with our support, and arguably on our behalf, by proxies we train and arm. The media won’t discuss it. These elections won’t change it.

The media talk about a CNN reporter being removed from the approved White House list as an attack on free speech and the free press…while a journalist is unlawfully detained in London for EIGHT YEARS without charge or trial.

Free speech is under real threat, both in the press and especially on the internet. People are deplatformed and victimised and unpersoned. The media won’t discuss it. These elections won’t change it.

The news is nothing but a carousel of convenient fictions, political manipulations, camouflaged agenda, made up statistics and vacuous distractions.

The media will chatter on about which corporate frontman has won which district, what colour Florida is turning, the migrant caravan or China interfering in the vote. We should disregard it.

There is real fascism and real suffering and real corruption and a real risk of nuclear war. These are what we should be discussing, not what colour tie the used-car salesman on TV is wearing.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

24 Comments

  1. peas says

    Totally agree with the article.

    But just a little nitpick:

    “The media talk about Jamal Khashoggi and rebuke Saudi Arabia for their alleged crimes….while real crimes go unreported.”

    Did you really mean to say that Saudi Arabia did not commit any crimes or that their crimes are not real?

  2. John2o2o says

    How right you are Kit, how right you are.

    I was watching Jimmy Dore last night lampooning the elderly dems Dianne Feinstein (85) and Nancy Pelosi (78).

    Credit to their make up and hair stylists though – you do an incredible job guys!

    And I don’t mean to sound unkind America, but here in the UK we allow old people to retire. We don’t expect them to run our country. Have you considered introducing old age pensions?

  3. The elections were as meaningless as the concept that the Democrats constituted some form of ‘resistance’ Resistance to what? Resistance to imperialist neoliberal economic policies? No. Resistance to imperialist neoconservative foreign policies? No. Corrupted, crony capitalist neoliberal economics has been a complete bust which has been covered up by central banks printing money and all developed nations massively building up additional debt. The policies of dealing with the great financial drama (which was turned into a crisis) mean that the 1% have been made vastly richer and the rest have had to suffer austerity. Students are graduating with £40-60K debts and they just blindly accept this. The UK government is quietly attacking the vulnerable and systematically removing benefits from the disabled in the PIP scheme outsourced to Crapita and no-one resists. All of this carries on despite May’s meaningless claim that austerity is ending. Its been programmed into the system and no-one is going to change that. One could go on and on. The middle and working classes around the world have been under financial attack for more than a decade and are getting poorer. Where is the resistance?

    Millions have died and been displaced in the Middle East yet there is no resistance or even outrage. Progressive neoliberals refuse to even acknowledge the problem. Their dirty secret is that the liberal humanist minded progressives do not even object to such military imperialism because they are quite happy with the projected neocon outcome as they believe it will lead to a safer unipolar world with everyone sharing exactly their same point of view. They intellectually write off the deaths of millions in pursuit of their ideals as an unhappy but necessary collateral damage in their grand scheme of things. All of this fits splendidly well with the aims of the project for a new american century. Where is the outrage and resistance to this imperialist bloodbath? It was there on the streets in 2003 when millions marched around the world why has it now disappeared?

    Instead of any meaningful resistance, all that is left of this supposed politics of resistance is being anti something. Anti Trump, Anti Brexit etc whilst offering nothing in the way of any real or meaningful critique of very real problems in the world. They just spend their time endlessly and pointlessly chasing the tails of identity politics. These people are not the ‘resistance’, they are a very real part of the problem.

    The war on Terrorism was never a war on Terrorism. It was planned and designed as a neoliberal and neoconservative war on what remained of Socialism in the Middle East and it also carries on in South America. All countries attacked with demands for regime change had socialist leaning governments who believed that the country’s resources belonged to the people. This was unacceptable to the logics of our now universalized principles of neoliberal economics that demanded such riches should be released for exploitation by private corporations. Where is the resistance or critique? How many more people have to die and suffer before we say enough is enough.

    • Hugh O'Neill says

      Bravo, Simon. Like you, my flabber has rarely been so gasted which is why we voted with our feet and emigrated. The fact that 2 million marching through London in 2003 (and 78 million around the world!) achieved absolutely nothing was significant. The CIA have a torture technique called “Learned Helplessness” which causes the victim to become compliant, apathetic, and broken in spirit. I suspect that the technique went from micro to macro. However, in Jim McGregor and Gerry Dougherty’s “Hidden History of WWI”, the phrase “Ignore the Screamers” seems prescient i.e. the screaming will eventually stop, especially if you carry on regardless. Thus I suspect that society has been rendered even more dysfunctional by this deliberately induced apathy. The trouble is though, that the lies accumulate until no-one nows anymore what truth is, and propagandists believe their own lies. As Yeats wrote in 1919: “The best lack all conviction, whilst the worst are full of passionate intensity” which resonates with the current malaise.

  4. Yonatan says

    “The media talk about “Russiagate” as if it means something, they call Trump “Putin’s puppet” and berate him for kowtowing to Moscow…all while the US is pulling out of arms treaties, bombing Syria, conducting huge military drills right on the Russian border, expelling Russian diplomats and killing Russian servicemen.”

    A perfect example of NBE aka TBD syndrome

    * NBE – nothing between the ears, TBD – total brain disconnect

  5. Lora Jasan says

    Nuclear war became inevitable the instant the people decided to allow their governments to keep the bombs they have and to build new ones. One does not build bombs without ever intending to use them.

  6. Kavy says

    The Guardian banned me twice too. But I learnt my trade and was able to get some radical ideas over covertly, but I doubt if anyone clicked on the links I put out as I could not advertise it loudly. But nowadays they won’t allow comments at all under many of their articles, so I hardly bother with the Guardian now.

    I remember when they had an article about an advert for the City of London which showed blatant opulence for posh fleets in the Canary Wharf and some people complained. There was all the usual right wingers in the comment section underneath saying how the bankers worked hard and helped our economy and how we all benefited, they said. So I found this blog by an ex City policemen who said that the City of London was the financial crime centre of the world and I posted extracts and a link to his site on CiF and I thought I had a bulls eye, but within a jiffy the Guardian removed it, so I found another article by the Independent and put some of that out but they removed that too. The right wingers were having a field day in CiF, and no one was allowed to take them on.

    Then the Guardian had an article once on Virgin Trains and I found a Daily Mail article saying what a scallywag Richard Branson was, but the Guardian removed it, so I searched the internet and found a similar article written by the Guardian and I put that out but the Guardian removed that too. Gee!

    When I first got moderated the Guardian I felt guilty, but then it started happening more and more. I would have extracts and links and .net comments were well researched, but the Guardian was removing then. Eventually I was out under permanent moderation and I couldn’t get anything out. I then did a search to see if this was happening to anyone else and I then I found the Off -Guardian. Then I realized that I was not a trouble maker after all, I was an empathic considerate person putting out the real news.

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    • Seamus Padraig says

      Welcome, Kavy! All of us here know how you feel. You’re at home now …

    • DunGroanin says

      Kavy – give us that link to the City policeman please.

      The comments are harder to keep track of here, as there is no ‘personal’ account where you can see replies. Maybe that’s for the good. I’d like to see that functionality though. There are though the usual guard hounds – not that many yet but you’ll know them by their bark.

      The only thing I really miss is the non-political bantz on sports/science/misc. – much to the loss of these there, i’d like to think🙄.

      off-G, is now one of a bunch of indy sites that I now check regularly, mainly collated from btl commentators like us. I have found that the banishment has therefore not only widened my scope, but given a much greater, quicker, understanding of issues in the news. Also it has restored a lot of personal time that the Obsessive/Groaniad was consuming in fighting the DS/PR trolls there!

      A win/win there. A third win from the Groans owngoal of banishment, is that they are not getting anymore money from me – having been a daily buyer of the hard copy for 4 decades previously, infact that money goes a long way in supporting a whole bunch of indy’s and I don’t have piles of old papers and mags (yet another win)

      Anyhoo, welcome to freedom of thought and expression without censorship and propaganda. Enjoy.

  7. BigB says

    “There is real fascism and real suffering and real corruption and a real risk of nuclear war. These are what we should be discussing…”

    Absolutely Kit, so let’s discuss it?

    It’s easy to be critical (what’s not to criticise) of the merry-go-round of the carnival of the Spectacle …but all that creates is a detached observational merry-go-round of the carnival of the Spectacle …but all that creates is a detached observational merry-go-round of the carnival of the Spectacle …but all that creates is a detached observational merry-go-round of the carnival of the Spectacle…

    …an Nth order regress of critical (not necessarily positive) detached inactive observation. In this way, inactive observation becomes sectarian and atomising.

    But the process is not occurring independently (the so called ‘Black Box’ artifice: as an unknown mechanism over which we have no control or intervention …from which we are a separate entity imagining the workings). We are part of the process: in which observer and process are synergistically coupled. Recursive application of observation (circular causality; second order cybernetics) could reveal just how much part of the system we really are. And our true interactive (enacted) strength.

    Nevertheless, we are affected by the output of the system: but under the current media/socio-political meta-system we retain marginalised agency and minimised (negligible) input. To borrow a biological term: the meta-system displays ‘blind variation and selective retention’ (BVSR).

    Blind variation, in this context, is a form of invariance. The meta-system is neo-deterministic and operating close to equilibrium (dynamic responsive systems operate far from equilibrium. In biological terms: equilibrium = moribund and near death). Essentially, the meta-system is repeating the same patterns of behaviour over and over and over …recursively determining maximal entropy (no one wants that). This is known as an asymmetric transition from stable to unstable (a potentially irreversible regression): from social order to social chaos. Selective retention, applied in this context: is the thoughtless (unconscious) programming and re-programming of damaging short term behaviours that minimise the long term viability of the meta-system. For instance, and perhaps most critically, damaging the very environment that sustains and supports the meta-system.

    We all know it is happening. The question is how do we diagnose the inclusive patterns of behaviour and mitigate entropy? Put more simply, how do we survive the current hegemonic meta-system? How do we develop the social and community intelligence to consciously intervene and avoid maximal social entropy?

    • You’re right, it isn’t enough just to talk about it. We need to to decide what to do about it. In other words, we need a plan.

      Let me suggest, as a first step, that we get organized. We need to start finding each other. We need to find each other, and then we need to get together. As long as we remain isolated from each other, we are rendered ineffective. What we need is to get organized.

      Recognize that proximity matters. Ideally we would form groups, even communities. The more we collaborate, the more effective we become. As isolated individuals we are at the mercy of our environments. Working together our efforts have a synergistic effect, and the more closely we work together, the greater the effect. We become our own support network, we grow our own safety net.

      This safety net provides us with stability, and it makes us less reliant on the current system. This stability allows us more opportunities to effect positive change, and it will also provide an example to others. As others see the stability we have achieved, they will be inspired to join ours or form their own support networks. As these networks of communities grow, the effect they have on the world will only become more pronounced.

      Sure, it may take some time, but at least it’s a start. It starts with communication, organization, and a commitment to do whatever it takes to help each other out through these terrible times we’re living in.

      Please, I’d love to start getting organized. If you would too, please email me at eddisonflame@gmail.com. By working together we can change the world.

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    • Admin says

      Absolutely Kit, so let’s discuss it?

      Your suggestion being OffG doesn’t discuss real fascism, real suffering, real corruption and a real risk of nuclear war??! Maybe you should check our archives.

      • It’s kind of like if the doctors keep diagnosing you with a terminal illness, and in ever meeting (article) they discuss other reasons your illness is going to kill you. If you’ve been aware of these things for some time, eventually you want to discuss treatments.

      • BigB says

        I echo Eddison’s comment: we all recognise the presence of real fascism, real suffering, real corruption and a real risk of nuclear war …and we’ve all discussed them: on a discursive symptomatic level, here, and on other forums. Very few ask the obvious question: “Why?” Why is there real fascism, real suffering, real corruption and a real risk of nuclear war? Recursive application of the question, with a childlike repetitiveness, would reveal root causes right down to the cognitive and perceptual level, as the Buddha revealed 2,500 years ago. From the diagnosis comes the curative remedy, not merely the symptomatic amelioration.

        MLK was an advocate of just such a root cause satyagraha. He repeatedly said that if we could could harness the power in this room, in this crowd, in these people …we could conquer real fascism, real suffering, real corruption and a real risk of nuclear war – forever. He showed us the tools of non-violence and non-cooperation with illegitimate sources of power. All we need is the humanity power.

        I was inspired by your film yesterday to watch another of Regis Tremblay’s films, “Thirty Seconds To Midnight”. He gets it. The clock is ticking and nothing else currently matters more. The Russians don’t want war: no one does …apart from a tiny minority of those who are furthering and protecting their own interests. Their empowerment is our inaction …or isn’t it? Discuss …

  8. Once again we in America went to the polls to choose between Democrats and Republicans, and therefore to answer the most basic and important question facing our nation and the planet as a whole:

    “Do we Americans want our illegal immoral regime change wars and invasions, endless drone murders, economic sanctions on the entire planet and continued support for our head chopping jihadist buddies in Syria – (“WITH”) or (“WITHOUT”) – “gender specific bathrooms?” Voting to answer that question my friends is “American democracy” in a nutshell.

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  9. Yes. All the pictures of people weeping, cheering or waving flags in foreign countries always brings home to me how pointless elections in our own country are. Look at Theresa May – humiliatingly rebuffed by the voters, yet two years on still in power as though nothing had happened because it suits her masters.
    As for mid-term elections in the US – they will make no difference to anyone in the UK but unfortunately promoting the American news agenda has become a cottage industry for our media. I guess it says something about who owns the these outlets, as well as giving our journalists an excuse not to report problems here at home. It’s of no relevance to me who the US Attorney General is – yet that story led the news at lunchtime.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says

    I am DISGUSTED that the author quotes that dreadful, ‘antisemitic’, unperson, Ken Livingstone. I will contact Margaret Hodge to complain.

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  11. Makropulos says

    And the distractions will continue until half way through Strictly Come Dancing and Gogglebox, the big one will land and everyone’s eyeballs will be fried into their tellies.

  12. Loverat says

    ‘For the first time in 30 years, there’s a very real danger of a nuclear war. The media won’t discuss it. These elections won’t change it.’

    Nuclear war looks inevitable. It’s simply a matter of time.

    Two things which might prevent it though – a godly intervention or something crazy happening in the geo-political world.

    An example of godly intervention this, if true:

    SAA LIBERATE SWEIDA WOMEN AND CHILDREN KIDNAPPED BY ISIS

    Just amazing news: The Syrian Arab army managed, in a valiant and accurate operation, to liberate the civilians abducted by ISIS terrorist organization from …
    youtube.com

    Let’s all celebrate this great news.

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  13. harry stotle says

    “Free speech is under real threat, both in the press and especially on the internet. People are deplatformed and victimised and unpersoned. The media won’t discuss it.” – quibble alert.

    The media DO discuss this issue – but generally as a means of expediting an era when public discourse is reduced to an approved form of group-think (defined by self-appointed devotees of identity politics, of course).

    In fact in their quest to stamp out ‘hate-speech’ the censorship lobby find it hard to sleep at night unless comedians are criminalised for teaching a pug dog to perfrom the kind of salute that thanks to Russophobia has now become rather more commonplace in the Ukraine.

    Needless to say if you point out their intolerance you are usually labelled as an apologist for the views of other people rather than trying to defend a principle that must be protected at almost any cost.

  14. Emily Durron says

    “Ken Livingstone famously said that if ‘voting changed anything, they’d abolish it’.”

    Goes back way further than Ken, that quote. Commonly said to have been by Emma Goldman, among others.

    • Makropulos says

      And Emma Goldman may have stolen it from Mark Twain’s “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

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      • Emily Durron says

        Unlikely, since that isn’t actually anything Twain is known to have ever said or wrote.

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole