Together, The Left And Right Can Kill The Establishment Propaganda Machine
I was a little disappointed and more than a little hurt to see that the excellent lefty outlet Counterpunch had published not one but two highly personal attack editorials about me this week. I’ve received a stunning amount of support from my readers in response to the two articles, and it’s been really touching to see so many people rushing to my defense over this.
That said, if my readers will hear me out I’d like to strongly discourage them from abandoning Counterpunch over this. There just aren’t enough solid anti-establishment media outlets on the left for us to have that luxury; Counterpunch is far too good and far too useful to be rejected over some petty egoic bullshit, and at this critical juncture in the media war the work they do is too important.
And, as always with my writing, the media war is what this is all about. Reading some of the criticism my fellow leftists have leveled against my article “Lefties Need To Stop Being Shy About Working With The Anti-Establishment Right” you’d think I was saying we should all just abandon social progress and go work on political campaigns for neo-Nazis, but all I’m actually talking about is winning the media war, which I insist is the single best way to bring down America’s unelected power establishment.
This is not a difficult concept for anyone who wants to save the world more than they want to be a sanctimonious vanity politics left-puncher. All we’re talking about here is numbers: in order to kill the propaganda machine which holds the entire establishment power structure together, we’re going to have to shatter the public’s trust in it. This means getting anti-establishment narratives to go viral enough to punch into mainstream American consciousness and get people questioning what the talking heads on TV have been saying. If we join two political camps in advancing an anti-establishment narrative, as we saw with the WikiLeaks drops last year for example, we’ll be doing this with twice as many upvotes, twice as many likes, twice as many shares and retweets, which results in exponential virality, greatly increasing our odds of shooting an unauthorized fact over the walls of the Trump-Russia-Kardashians-Hollywood noise prison and into mainstream consciousness.
This is what I mean by collaborating with the anti-establishment right; I’m talking about winning the media war. If there’s an unauthorized narrative coming out about Russia, Syria, the DNC, WikiLeaks, or the mainstream media itself, for example, we need to all join in and fan the flames of interest and excitement about it. Don’t hesitate to share something solely because it comes from a conservative source or might help Trump in the short term, and don’t worry about your lefty and/or liberal friends giving you a hard time about it. We’re at war here. Just shove the propaganda antidotes through as fast and as hard as you can.
“You know it’s easy to joke about this, except that we’re at maybe the most dangerous moment in US-Russian relations in my lifetime, and maybe ever. And the reason is that we’re in a new cold war, by whatever name. We have three cold war fronts that are fraught with the possibility of hot war, in the Baltic region where NATO is carrying out an unprecedented military buildup on Russia’s border, in Ukraine where there is a civil and proxy war between Russia and the west, and of course in Syria, where Russian aircraft and American warplanes are flying in the same territory. Anything could happen.”
~ Stephen Cohen
As I never tire of pointing out, a leading authority on US-Russian relations, Stephen Cohen, says that we are at what could very well be a more dangerous nuclear situation with Russia than we were in at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The establishment propaganda machine has been used to manufacture support for the escalations which brought us to this point. Whose help would you reject to save the world? Whose hand would you swat away that was offering to help you stop every living terrestrial organism from being snuffed out in a nuclear holocaust?
I think the people who reject my message here simply don’t take this threat as seriously as I do. We’re on a spinning orb we can’t leave full of weapons that can kill everything on it, and everyone’s fine with the fact that we’re already in a new Cold War that the president is being politically pressured to continue escalating. If you think we’ve got the luxury of disunity and sectarianism, you must have a lot more trust than I do in the perfect functioning of all the many, many moving parts this nuclear brinkmanship necessarily has.
When you really grok that we could be at the brink of nuclear war or World War 3 with Russia and its allies, it brings a certain clarity and focus to your worldview. When you look around your neighborhood and think about it all disappearing in fire and screams, suddenly the idea of teaming up with the right to kill the propaganda machine that brought us here doesn’t seem quite so scary.
Well hot damn, talk about serendipity! This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
While gathering tweets for this piece just now I noticed that the viral hashtag #CNNDirt is currently trending on Twitter as thousands of people people dig through the social media accounts of CNN personnel and expose the awful things they’ve said and done over the years. A little research shows that it’s primarily Trump-supporting accounts using this hashtag, and that it was made viral by right-wingers Jack Posobiec and Mike Cernovich.
Am I still going to tag this article #CNNDirt when I post it, even though it’s being used by Trumpsters? You bet your sweet commie ass I am, snowflake! I might even tag Posobiec and Cernovich too if I’m feeling especially naughty. I know I’ve got a helpful idea to share here about the people’s revolution against propaganda outlets like CNN, and I’m going to ride that wave all the way through to help advance it. Will this mean that I’ve pulled a Fairbanks and switched teams? Of course not! It just means I’m doing what you should be learning to do: freely surfing the zeitgeist of the new media without shame.
In practice, riding the constantly-fluctuating spirit of the times in each moment feels kind of like what I imagine Tarzan experiencing as he swings from vine to vine across the jungle canopy, before swooping me up in his big, powerful arms and carrying me off to his secret jungle hideaway— sorry, I’m drifting. Where was I?
Vines. Tarzan doesn’t care what tree the vine’s hanging from, he only cares if it will take him where he wants to go and if it’s strong enough to carry the weight of his sexy muscular body. In the same way, when surfing the zeitgeist of the new media you’ve got to be awake to what’s hot in each moment and be ready to jump on it and ride its energy on its terms. If the energy is coming primarily from the left, like it was the other day when I wrote about net neutrality, you take that vine and you ride it with all the appropriate anti-establishment ideas you can. If the energy is coming primarily from the right, like it was last week when I wrote about CNN’s downfall, you do the same. If you’re closing yourself off to one direction, not only are you killing your ability to move across the jungle canopy by halving your options, you’re also halving the energy with which the ideas you share will be carried.
In both the articles I just mentioned, I wrote about pretty much the same thing I always write about: how unelected elites are controlling America and are steering our species off a cliff. But they were carried by energy coming from two different directions. If I’d closed myself off to the right last week I would have had to write about some low-energy subject that day that nobody really cared about (which I still accidentally do sometimes because I’m still figuring this thing out myself), or write nothing at all. Instead I just grabbed vines and rode the energy of the moment, and both pieces ended up getting a decent amount of reads.
Thanks to my having learned this ability — and of course thanks to my wonderful patrons — I’ve been able to make a living attacking the propaganda machine full-time. I’m not saying you have to do this (though you totally could!), but just pointing out how powerful this tool is and what a hunger there is for its use. Attune yourself to what people are excited about online and you can ride the collective energy far enough to start waking people up out of their propaganda slumbers. Like any skill it requires practice and dedication, but it’s so much fun and it’s so worth it. Share ideas and information, make podcasts and videos, write blogs, make memes, whatever your thing is, just keep finding where the anti-establishment energy is at and send your gifts riding forward on its current.
I interact with Trumpsters a lot online, which is why I feel confident collaborating with them in the media war. I know which ones are workable and which ones aren’t, which ones are white nationalists and which ones just have some crappy ideas, and I’m not at all uncomfortable with the fact that I’ve picked up a sizable following from the political right. Getting out of our echo chambers and interacting with people is a great first step toward collaboration.
And I like that they sometimes have to wade through a feminist rant of mine or put up with me making fun of their faith in the magical Free Market Fairy (who in my mind looks like Ron Paul in a tutu). Kudos to all of my right wing readers who don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t put our differences aside and share my articles when they do agree; their willingness to collaborate puts us on the left to shame. I have had swathes of lefty readers go from lover to worst enemy over a tweet they disagree with, suddenly thinking I’m the worst person in the world because of some esoteric ideological transgression. The learned hopelessness and negativity that has consumed the true left means we’re always policing each other for the tiniest flaw and slamming on the brakes as soon as we see one.
One thing I’ve learned watching the Trumpsters dance their mischievous dance is that they have an infinitely better grasp of the media war than we have. Reddit’s r/The_Donald is just one long parade that’s been going on since 2015; it’s pure “Yeah! Yeah! We’re so awesome! Are you tired of winning? I’m not tired of winning! Bill Clinton is a rapist! Infowars dot com!” It’s all one big positive push outward, rather than the negativity and infighting that engulfs any group of lefties if you leave us in a room for five minutes. Trump’s online support base basically figured out how to floor the gas pedal without touching the brakes at all, with their energy dominating the Reddit front page so consistently that the site has had to change its own rules multiple times to scale them back a bit.
I’m convinced this online campaign made all the difference in the election, and the difference between their relentless, linear enthusiasm is why they’ve got their guy in the White House while we’ve got high-profile outlets like Leftpunch — sorry, I mean Counterpunch — publishing back-to-back attack editorials about a socialist blogger. I think we could learn a lot from the Trumpsters and fight the media war far more efficaciously if we could find a single direction to push in enthusiastically without turning to bite one another every ten seconds. In my opinion, handing the legacy media its long overdue death certificate would be the perfect endeavor for us to pour that positive energy into.
What’s really crazy is that, for all the fuss these ideas are drumming up, this left-right collaboration I’m talking about is already happening anyway. Lefties are already collaborating with Trumpsters in the media war all across the internet, but they’re doing it carefully, slyly, and/or apologetically. All we need to do is drop the shame and push toward where we know the light is, whatever end of the political spectrum it happens to be dancing in at any given moment.
The invention of the internet took the power establishment by surprise; this whole thing came out of left field and they’re still scrambling to find an answer to it. 2016 saw the establishment fully lose control of the narrative for the first time ever, and it’s only going to get worse for them. Humanity has never before had the ability to network and share information that it has right now. These are unprecedented times, and we need to fight the elites who are driving us off a cliff with unprecedented weapons. They still do not have an answer for the new media. Let’s stop bickering, focus on winning the media war, take our foot off the brake pedal and floor this thing. We can fight about ideological differences after we save the world.
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Featured image by Mike Ramsey. Check out more of Mike’s work at ramseycartoons.com
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