Étranges discours II

Vat Don Ekes: While I agree with you about the undertones of white supremacy and ultra nationalism, I actually don’t think that this election was purely about race at it’s core. This outcome is a response to disappearing democracy which gave rise to generalized rage. Most serious political scientists agree that about 70% of Americans — and this figure definitely includes you and I — have absolutely no affect on public policy. This is horrifying and the population sort of intuitively knows it. In their rage, the slave class began blaming anyone they could — it’s an obvious and predictable process that appears quite racist (and to some degree is) but is truly rooted in a misunderstanding of market forces.

What we have before us isn’t a race war, it’s a class war. There has been no power grab, because the super-rich had power before the election, and the super rich have power still. If we don’t start to cultivate class-consciousness, this country is doomed.

Me: I agree with you about how this election came to pass, but I am more talking about the upcoming presidency here. The future as it looks from here.

The classist structures and forces that got us here, particularly the utterly atrocious failures (or are they successes?) of neoliberalism and endgame capitalism, need to be addressed and comprehensively understood by the general public so that they know just how badly The Establishment has stacked the deck against (We) The People. But I was thinking more about the projected future here, and the manifold ways that a white nationalist crypto-fascist chief advisor to the president will alter the public discourse and mainstream society in the coming years. We cannot get used to the malignance of Bannon et al.’s ideology, or the deft guile of theoretical praxis by which he and his ilk blend their ideas into the background noise of the 24 hour news cycle.

Remaining aware of and paying attention to the important memetic signifiers of, and psychological responses to, a discourse in transition is key here. But gaining awareness of the influence of the discourse is a difficult step.

We have a hard time talking about shifting discourses because those very same discourses are deep structures within any given culture, and as such support the worldview of a group of people living day-to-day lives. It’s difficult to conceive of the power our discourse has over our culture (and us as individuals) because we are constantly immersed in it. Anything spoken, enacted, or even thought about through a linguistic or symbol means is subject to that discourse, because it is linguistically derived. The substrate of discourse is all-encompassing, thus influencing the discourse influences culture. This is how mythological, political, historical, ethnic. narratives are born. Control the way that people can think about things, and you completely control their lives.

That’s how we often lose the forest of our wider culture in the individually delineated trees of ideology. When the window of acceptable discourse shifts, it introduces new ideological possibilities to the mainstream of people’s day-to-day lives, thereby making space for an ecosystem shift in our culture as a whole through a virulent replacement species of newly-acceptable ideology.

Think of it this way: how many times a day did you think about white nationalism before Trump’s campaign? Before he was elected? Before Bannon got put forward for a role in the cabinet? I’m going to go out on a limb and say the majority of the electorate didn’t consider white nationalism an existential threat to the fabric of our culture eight years ago. Maybe because we didn’t want to see it, or maybe because most of us couldn’t figure out how to pay attention. All the right wing nut job pomp and circumstance of the last decade planted seeds. Now, people are legitimately concerned about American interment camps.

You see what I’m saying? The ultra-right already won a battle simply by white nationalism being a subject warranting discussion. This is how memetics works.

And for anyone out there who doesn’t know what memetics or the Overton window are, you’d best start reading up to be prepared for the fresh new face of cultural warfare.