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Not the mask-wearing, Ukrainian-flag-flying Left. Not the pronoun-using, segregationist Left. Not the WEF, WHO, FBI, CIA, DHS, and MI6-loving Left. Not the global-capitalist New Normal Left. The other Left. The old-school Left. The “Covid-denying, conspiracy-theorizing, Putin-loving, far-right-extremist” Left.
There were approximately 150 of us, and we gathered in a “homophobic church” in Islington. Yes, Islington, which is more or less the British headquarters of the New Normal Left. We did not care. “Let them come for us,” we said. They didn’t. It was a Saturday. They were probably out shopping or hunting down imaginary anti-Semites. So, we went ahead and did our thing.
Our “thing” was a conference loosely based on leftist opposition to the WEF and its assorted dystopian visions for our future … you know, eating the bugs, owning nothing, being happy, that kind of stuff. I was invited by this group called Real Left to speak on a panel with Fabio Vighi, a professor of Critical Theory at Cardiff University. We didn’t talk about the WEF very much. We mostly talked about global capitalism, totalitarianism, and “the New Normal Left.”
Here are the broad strokes of what I said at the conference.
In order to understand what happened to the Left (i.e., how it became the New Normal Left), you have to understand the history of global capitalism over the last 30 years or so.
Actually, you have to go back a bit farther, back to the early 20th Century, when the Great Ideological Game was still afoot. Back then, capitalism, having overthrown the aristocracies, was on the march, transforming the world into one big marketplace. It was challenged by two opposing ideologies, fascism and communism. They fought it out. Long story short, capitalism won.
Global capitalism (“GloboCap”) was born. It’s one big global-capitalist world now. It has been since the early 1990s. GloboCap has no external adversaries, so it has nothing to do but Clear and Hold, i.e., wipe out pockets of internal resistance and implement ideological uniformity. Which is what it has been doing for the last 30 years, first, in the former Soviet bloc, then, in “The Global War on Terror,” and finally, in our so-called “Western democracies,” as we have just experienced up close and personal during the shock-and-awe phase of the rollout of the New Normal, and are continuing to experience, albeit somewhat less dramatically.
In other words, GloboCap is going totalitarian. That is what the New Normal is. It is not your granddad’s totalitarianism. It is a new, global-capitalist form of totalitarianism. It displays a number of familiar features — suspension of constitutional rights, official propaganda, goon squads, censorship, ubiquitous symbols of ideological conformity, gratuitous restrictions of freedom of movement and other aspects of everyday life, hatred and persecution of official “Untermenschen,” segregation, criminalization of dissent, mob violence, book burning, show trials, etc. — but there won’t be anyone goose-stepping around in jackboots shrieking about “the master race.” It’s not that kind of totalitarianism.
To understand it (which it would behoove us to do), we need to understand global-capitalist ideology, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Global capitalism has no ideology … or, rather, its ideology is “reality.” When you have no ideological adversaries, you don’t need an ideology. You’re basically God.
“Reality” is whatever you say it is, and whoever disagrees is a “science denier,” or a “conspiracy theorist,” or a “malinformationist,” or some other type of deluded “extremist.” You don’t need to argue ideology with anyone, because you have no ideological opponents. Society is divided into two fundamental groups, (a) “normal people,” who accept “reality,” and (b) the “deviants” and “extremists,” who do not.
Your political and ideological opponents are pathologized, preemptively delegitimized. After all, who would argue against “reality” except liars and the clinically insane?
Yes, of course, there is intramural political and ideological conflict within the confines of so-called “normality,” just as there is intramural competition between global corporations, but challenging the ideological system itself is impossible, because there is no ground outside it from which to mount an attack. This is probably the hardest thing for most of us to come to terms with. There is no ideological territory outside global capitalism. There is no “outside.” There are no external adversaries. There are only insurgencies, and counterinsurgency ops.
The rest is intramural competition.
And here’s another thing that we need to understand about global-capitalist ideology, and it isn’t going to make my conservative readers, or my libertarian readers, or my leftist readers, happy. But it is essential to understanding the New Normal Left and the shape of the current ideological landscape. I’m going to try to keep this as simple as possible and not get lost in a bunch of post-structuralist mumbo jumbo.
Ready? OK, here we go.
Capitalism is a values-decoding machine. It decodes society of despotic values (i.e., religious values, racist values, socialist values, traditional values, any and all values that interfere with the unimpeded flows of capital … capitalism does not distinguish). This is how capitalism (or democracy if you’re squeamish) freed us from a despotic “reality” in which values emanated from the aristocracies, kings, priests, the Church, etc. Basically, it transferred the emanation and enforcement of values from despotic structures to the marketplace, where everything is essentially a commodity.
So, hurrah … capitalism freed us from despotism! I’m grateful. I’m not a big fan of despotism. The problem is, it’s just a machine. And it has no off-switch. And now it dominates the entire planet unopposed or restricted in any meaningful way. So it’s doing what it is designed to do, stripping societies of their despotic values, rendering everything and everyone a commodity, establishing and enforcing ideological uniformity, neutralizing pockets of internal resistance.
The vast majority of that resistance is reactionary. I do not mean that in the pejorative sense. Most of the opposition to the New Normal has come from the traditional political right, from folks who are trying to preserve their values, i.e., to prevent them from being decoded by the GloboCap values-decoding machine. A lot of these folks don’t see it that way, because they do not want to face the fact that what they are resisting is global capitalism, so they call it other names like “crony capitalism,” “corporatism,” or “cultural Marxism.” I don’t really care what they call it, except when they call it “communism,” which just makes them sounds extremely silly.
The point is, these folks comprise a reactionary force that is pushing back against the advance of global-capitalism and its ideology, whether they know what they are resisting or not. Russia is another such reactionary force, at least insofar as it is attempting to defend what remains of its national sovereignty. Syria and Iran are two other examples. All of these reactionary forces are integrated within the GloboCap system and at the same time are resisting their absorption by it. The dynamics are complex. It isn’t a cartoon or a Hollywood movie with “good guys” and “bad guys.”
Anyway, the battlefield looks like this … you’ve got GloboCap conducting its Clear-and-Hold op, and you’ve got the reactionary (“populist”) backlash against it. And that’s it. Those are the only significant forces on the battlefield, currently.
Which brings us to the miserable state of the Left.
The Left — and I mean “the Left” broadly, so liberals, and both serious and Brooklyn leftists — are in an ideological double-bind. Either they align with an increasingly totalitarian GloboCap or they align with the reactionary backlash against it.
They can’t align with the reactionaries, because a lot of them are … well, you know, somewhat bigoted, or they believe in God, or they object to drag queens rubbing themselves all over kids. Many of them own multiple firearms (i.e., the reactionaries, not the drag queens) and fly giant American flags outside their homes (or whatever flags they fly in Great Britain). Many of them voted for Donald Trump, or Brexit, or the AfD here in Germany, or the National Rally in France, or The Brothers of Italy. These are not BBC/NPR-listening people. These are not pronoun-using people. These are scary working-class people.
So the Left has aligned with GloboCap, which, after all, is still decoding all those nasty despotic values (i.e., racism, and other forms of bigotry), and is opposing dictators and religious zealots, and is spreading “democracy” all across the planet. You might think I am being facetious. I am not. Global capitalism is still doing that. Which I support, as do all liberals and leftists.
The catch is, as global capitalism continues to do that, and makes a big show of doing that, it is also going totalitarian. It is not decoding those despotic values out of the goodness of its heart. What it is doing is establishing ideological uniformity. The problem is, it has no ideology. All it knows how to do is decode values, transforming societies into markets and everything in them into valueless commodities. Which it is doing in totalitarian fashion. The Nazis referred to this process as “Gleichschaltung,” the synchronization of all elements of society according to official ideology. That is what is happening, currently, globally.
GloboCap has begun the transition from a “reality” of competing ideologies, sovereign nation-states, cultures, and values to a new, supranational, post-ideological, eventually trans-human, globalized “reality,” and the message is, “you are either with us or against us.”
Just as the “populist” Right cannot accept the fact that what it is opposing is a form of capitalism, the New Normal Left cannot accept the fact that it is aligned with a new form of totalitarianism. It is literally inconceivable to them. You can show them screenshots of their posts and Tweets in which they called for “the Unvaccinated” to be locked up in camps, and pictures of when they formed fanatical mobs and threatened people who wouldn’t chant their slogans, and they will look at you as if you are out of your mind.
And so we are in a bit of a fix. Which is basically what I told the conference in London. I wish I had some brilliant plan of action to offer. Sadly, I do not. Probably no one does at this stage of things. After all, the New Normal is just getting started.
That said, one thing I’m sure about is, if you don’t want to end up eating the bugs and owning nothing and being happy in your AI-monitored 15-minute city while you wait for your social-credit app to update your vaccination record so you can access your CBDC account and make another minimum payment on your ever-deepening credit-card debt, it would probably be a good idea to try to understand what is actually happening.
Or maybe not. What do I know? I’m just an old “far-right extremist lefty.”
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