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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Are anti-Amerikans patriots? “Low information,” CIA influence, and the paradox of Amerikans’ knowledge, fascism and patriotism
April 2, 2016
Toward the beginning of March there was widespread coverage of U.$. presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s claim that opponent Donald Trump’s supporters are particularly “low-information.”(1) If they knew more about Trump and Cruz, they would support Cruz and not Trump, Cruz said. “When they inform themselves, they realize his record. He’s what they’re angry at. He is the corruption, and if you want someone to stand up to Washington, the only one who has been doing so in this race is me.” Also in March there was continuing discussion of CIA influence in the media in support of u.$. foreign policy and potential wars.(2) The juxtaposition of these raises 1) the issue that being knowledgeable in particular areas or in general doesn’t guarantee one won’t support one’s favorite u.$. political party, specific wars, and militarism in general, and 2) the matter of the alleged relationship between various cognitive issues and patriotism—a somewhat uncontroversial observation nonetheless relevant to different issues of importance. Of course, George W. Bush had an ignorant, not just “stupid,” image, but Bush’s so-educated, so-smart Democratic critics and their supporters ended up targeting other forces in Iraq, invading additional countries, and killing tens of thousands of more people including another rival head of state, in new ways or with new and not-so-new justifications. Criticism of the “dumb” when it was clear war was going to happen anyway, and would continue and become more complicated (from a Western viewpoint), just produced a need to have a president with a more intellectual image useful internationally and domestically for the next wars. Despite so much talk about “stupid” and “dumb,” and religion and science, many highly educated Democratic voters who would still be considered low-information voters voted for or supported Obama because of eir looks, basketball-playing, love for baseball or the Steelers/Bears, pot-smoking image, or Portuguese Water Dogs, or bits of biography, manifesting an informationally and intellectually vacant form of liberal chauvinism, nationalism and patriotism. Conservatives point to this matter for their own reasons instead of drawing conclusions about Amerikans in general, who can become more fascistic or reactionary (or sinful in Christian language) when they go from being “low-information voters” to being more ideological and knowledgeable.
The thrust of what Cruz said could be that Trump’s supporters don’t know Trump doesn’t represent the white working class in the united $tates. The less “educated” do not know Trump is against their interests, supposedly. Because the interests of the exploiter Euro-Amerikan working class are violently opposed in a very basic way to the interests of most of the world’s oppressed people, it’s clear that being informed about one’s interests and political representatives can lead to making a reactionary choice such as supporting somebody closer to David Duke or a phony “socialist” revolutionary. For that matter, many such fascists are also against CIA influence partly because of racist identification with white workers in the former Soviet Union and an inclination to believe theories exculpating the white working class and condemning those already elected to power, so raising the issue doesn’t lead in a clear-cut way to how democracy is supposed to work in Liberal theory. In addition to the usual parasitic, blatantly white-nationalist self-serving allegations of any powerful Western institution being Jewish-dominated, anti-Semites and others suspect the CIA of being influenced too much by other countries dialectically itself, cosmopolitans, and Kennedy liberals, and involved in migrants’ coming to the united $tates, and appears as an agency out of control or at odds with Amerikans’ class or national interests. Thus, neo-Nazis and many others had no problem with what Udo Ulfkotte said about CIA influence in the media in a context of inter-imperialist (Amerikan-Russian) rivalry. It doesn’t make what Ulfkotte said inaccurate, but there are limits to what one can do with the issue by itself. For that matter, the general content of what conservative Sharyl Attkisson has said about fake grassroots movements on blogs and Wikipedia creating certain impressions and propagating falsehoods is correct (as a variety of opponents of Obama know from experience) though the Internet astroturfing topic could be misused if the social structure and sociopolitical dynamics of Amerika are not understood. Many responses of Amerikans to deal with the astoturf problem will be equally problematic because of the reactionary nature of most class and social groups in the united $nakes and a propensity to support fascism or intervention via the government, or support reactionary causes or take up causes in a reactionary way when they become ideological or riled up for united action.
Despite the limitations or plasticity of anti-CIA struggle, it would be correct to say CIA influence poses a problem for Liberal democracy. What the CIA does with international media ends up appearing in domestic press, and there are many different indirect or direct u.$. government paths (overt and covert) to the u.$. domestic media besides the CIA. Perhaps the most obvious example is what the U.$. State Department does with both foreign and domestic media. Hillary Clinton and others who have used taxpayer money and government office to tell lies to the public on the way to war, and killed Amerikan government and military personnel as a result, should in theory be tried and executed for that, no Marxist or socialist rhetoric necessary. Like those who fabricate evidence in death penalty cases, they could be tried and shot by firing squad even though Amerikans are prone to going along with war on even manifestly flimsy pretexts. The seemingly inevitable revelations of government influence and corruption result in consternation and whiny objection year after year, decade after decade; nobody wants to look like a fool. In reality, the trials and executions never come, and there is both resignation and frustration with certain entrenched political legacies mistaken for a whole system that can be overthrown by parasites, somehow without producing fascism. Meanwhile, the whole idea of the CIA needing to do its job providing accurate information (directly to planners and decision-makers, but to a lesser extent also in the media because even a covertly CIA-influenced media is cynically tolerated as necessary to inform the public and elites outside the government) actually helps build for future wars by legitimizing operations based on apparently accurate intelligence. Though going along with war is often easy for them for various reasons (including a sense of benefiting economically from repression, which they do as exploiters and imperialist country parasites and oppressors), Amerikans would prefer to plan wars and kill Muslims and others in proletarian lands on an accurate basis at the leadership level even if they might tolerate stores in the media they sense are false, exaggerated, or hyped. It is true that a leader of the left-wing of u.$. parasitism, “Fahrenheit 9/11” director Michael Moore, raised the idea of invading Saudia Arabia with a sensational film and emotional talk of seizing Saudi assets and in effect suggested Amerika should go to war against even more Muslim countries than those the united $nakes and its allies had already been invaded, but that involved an idea about acting on intelligence. “Bomb them all”—supported by reactionary Amerikan workers and liberal atheists without business ties to Muslim countries—lacks finesse or intellectual justification to many Democrats and Republicans whether they voice crude condemnations of Islam openly or not.
Much Amerikan criticism of the CIA is criticism of alleged CIA incompetence as if the CIA should do a better job of helping with psychological operations aimed at both other countries and the u.$. public, and with military and spying operations and international bullying enabled by bloated budgets.(3) Yet, it is supposedly not patriotic even in Amerika to tolerate too much government corruption of journalism and civil society. Though distrust of government is now at a high in the united $tates with majorities not trusting the government in various areas including spying, militant anti-imperialists, at least those who aren’t Muslim, are among those whom some may perceive as some kind of radical patriot, or revolutionary Liberal democrat (not in ordinary Amerikan political senses of “liberal” and “democrat”). Stereotypical fascists and so-called socialists who supposedly aren’t fascists sometimes represent themselves as patriotic (which they usually are), revolutionary, or anti-Amerikan, while criticizing the CIA and war, but their universal flattery of the Euro-Amerikan working class, difficulty of one kind or another with migrants, perception of cultures in the Third World as threatening or stagnant, and enduring view of relatively poor people with businesses in the Third World as more exploitive that large percentages of capitalists or exploiters in the First World, evidences an inclination to latch onto imperialist power at the expense of democracy (what little there is in any capitalist country dominated by imperialists and imperialist nation labor aristocrats) and use bourgeois dictatorship and the power of finance capital for themselves.
A movement historically in both the united $tates and other imperialist countries, the Maoist Internationalist Movement’s own anti-Amerikan reputation is well-deserved because it considers the vast majority of Amerikans to be enemies or potential enemies of the proletariat, does not view the united $tates as having anything special to offer to the world, holds that Amerikans should be viewed with contempt and distrust globally, opposes Amerikan interventions in Third World politics that cannot be structurally distinguished from CIA work or cover, consistently opposes u.$. imperialism because of a well-developed theoretical framework and understanding of the united $tates’ particularities, and welcomes the invasion of the united $tates and capitulation to the international proletariat and its allies resisting imperialist aggression as during World War II. So did even patriotic Nazis support collaboration with their foreign enemies at one point to stop Hitler from bringing more destruction to Germany, but some will perceive uncompromising anti-imperialists (those known or imagined to be Amerikans, Britons etc.) as being patriots prior to such a situation. Many seem to be interested in politics much more than most Amerikans, to want to give the Amerikan public accurate information to make informed decisions as citizens, to not justify the existence of huge apparatuses of war and spying that early Amerikans would have opposed even in today’s geopolitical environment, to be driven by an ethical imperative, and to sacrifice career to serve a greater good. Real anti-imperialists do not do the bidding of a King Obama or a King Bush or kiss reactionary white worker a*s, which many, including phony “communists” and other supposed leftists, do and did after decades of war, counterrevolution, and growth of spying. Amerika’s “Founding Fathers” might have regarded some modern revolutionary anti-imperialists quite positively in comparison with all of these people in the u.$. government and outside it who seem to be traitors putting their careers or budgets before other people’s lives and democracy. The paradox is that people who offer real ways to end militarism and unnecessary deaths of Yanks, Brits, Canucks, Aussies and Kiwis in wars, and uphold internationally recognized rights of oppressed countries to destroy invaders (rights Amerikans would claim for themselves despite acting like Afghans, Arabs and Muslims have no such rights), end up being investigated by so-called anti-terrorist task forces while people who spend most of their free time watching other people play video games or sports, playing golf, infecting people with disease through dating apps, or watching the f*cking 400th or whatever episode of “Law & Order,” “Big Brother” or “Survivor,” end up being called patriots. Most of these patriots could care less about their own country’s people coming home in coffins or bags, let alone the oppressed nation people they genocidally view as worth less. They grab some low-hanging fruit of patriotism such as worshiping the flag at sports games or thanking military amputees for their service instead of making any sacrifice themselves, and they congratulate themselves for it because that is actually what being an Amerikan is supposed to be about—enjoying freedom. Relatedly, many Amerikans are able to drink some Duff Beer and barbecue pork ribs on the 4th of July while wearing the Amerikan flag as underwear and name hundreds of athletes, celebrities or comic book characters, but know less about their own country’s own political system and philosophy, or ideals of these, than people in other countries do. As many others have pointed out, huge numbers of Amerikans well-past college age don’t know enough to discern some potentially very significant developments in government. Yet, somehow some unicorn of a revolutionary u.$. majority is supposed to bring socialism or democracy to themselves and other countries.
So, people who are uninformed and unengaged, and just don’t care much about what goes especially in international affairs, are known as patriots and flattered by everyone including Ted Cruz when Cruz isn’t critiquing Trump’s support. Some of those who are knowledgeable and engaged as befitting people supposedly living in beacons of democracy end up on watch lists or considered security risks. Such oddness is inevitable when a country is so rich, or has a lot of money to distribute, and there isn’t much motivation to be very concerned about the country’s military activity, international spying, and diplomatic gangsterism. A desire to preserve and expand imperialist country privilege—including by opposing domestic inequality—leads to fascism by fusing more imperialist state involvement in economic affairs to war, repression, and selective attacks on elites.
Ted Cruz gestures at an affluenza problem even among the lower-income in Amerika and a need for more motivation to learn as if white males would really care that much about some other anti-Islam, anti-migrant, pro-Amerikkkan-worker candidate’s abortion and health care views or position history, flip-flopping on same-sex marriage (inversely comparable to Obama own’s “evolution”), particular ideas about how to imprison Blacks with non-hunting weapons, business opportunism toward Democrats, and affairs (as opposed to Cruz’s or Obama’s supposed family values), but then flatters the “angry.” Cruz knows that the knowledge gap between elites and non-elites will not disappear any time soon. Amerikans are often not motivated to learn about their country’s international activity even when accurate information is available.
When they do get interested, the outcome is reactionary including among the highly educated and people with strong anti-racist and anti-sexist images. Donald Trump signals that ey appeals to both conservatives and liberals and people of various educational backgrounds—points to the widespread appeal of anti-Muslim and anti-migrant positions among liberal polytheists and all sorts of put-Amerikan-workers-first people—and Cruz’s response is to miss the point and make a tepid remark as though Trump were just beguiling the ignorant who may not be that interested anyway. Cruz addressed a “certain demographic,” people with certain characteristics that might make even the best campaign targeting and messaging unfruitful. Trump “does well in the southeast.” Other conservatives who have tried to explain the popularity of Trump and Democratic candidates have suggested there must be something wrong mentally with a large majority of Amerikans—a notion that actually defends the pathologized Amerikans relative to foreigners who are just demonized. It’s not that the Republican supporters of Trump need to catch up with Democrats in education, but that an Amerikan majority seems to have some kind of chronic problem justifying undemocratic action by conservatives (or liberals looking at the same question) for Amerikans’ own good.
Certain questions—such as does Syria have chemical weapons—are obviously CIA- or NSA- (or DIA-, NGA- or NRO-) type questions. The questions and attempted answers have clear drawbacks politically. The general reliability of secret CIA information and, to a lesser but still significant extent, the accuracy of CIA-influenced media, is of debatable importance in some contexts. There is no point in having trustworthiness or accuracy with one agency, or professional standards and ethics in journalism, if there are going to be wars anyway and journalists supporting wars on their own. The bourgeoisie and oppressors can dominate in the media and social media regardless. A subject in a Muslim or poor country could be reported entirely accurately, in terms of ““who,” “what,” and “when,” and “where,” by a Western journalist without any government prompting, but it could still serve u.$. imperialism to raise it. The State Department can influence some traitors in the Third World to post something on Twitter, and parasites in the First World will amplify it—totally oblivious to any government influence, or aware and just uncaring. There is evidence many ordinary Amerikans don’t have a problem with repeating claims they know are probably false. There are studies that seem to indicate Amerikans are particularly likely to value “freedom of speech” or “freedom of expression,” and Internet access, more than press freedom.(4) Being able to spread potential lies on Facebook and Twitter may be more important to them than whether the sources are corrupt or more important than having independent professional media. Self-expression can be telling the internalized lies of others.
The educated who are inclined to support pseudo-socialist fascism and the less-educated are both involved in the development of fascism. Would-be patriots are regarded as terrorism cultivators or extremists instead of being celebrated as Amerika’s own founders would have celebrated them. Deception of the Amerikan public with most Amerikans’ own consent in the long term is the norm. It is ignorance by choice connected to easygoing lifestyles. Amerikans’ celebrate their lack of engagement as somehow progressive (which it almost might be relative to forms of engagement involving reactionary movements and supporting militarism), criticize others’ language and tone for a patina of progressivism or anti-racism and/or take easy shots at Islamic and Third World countries and movements to demonstrate their allegiance to the flag, and then end up supporting this or that Republican or Democratic warmonger, anti-Islam bigot, would-be-deporter and CIA-patronizer. These piece of sh*t careerist and individualist parasites, who really don’t care about their fellow countrypeople ending up as corpses or only care about them enough to want to replace some of them with drones, CIA agents, or hackers stooging for Uncle $am, are the patriots. Some of those concerned with the humyn and political costs of militarism and gigantic spying operations are targets of repression or sidelining. The repression and sidelining is done or supported by people claiming to value reason, education, and science, and by conservative and liberal jingoists exhibiting tokens of patriotism and falsely claiming loyalty to an Amerikan democratic tradition that to some extents was never realized in society and could not be realized until imperialism is overthrown by mostly foreign forces working with collaborators. ◊
“Americans distrust government, but want it to do more.” http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/poll/govt/summary.html
1. “Ted Cruz’s attack on Trump’s ‘low information’ voters as he claims frontrunner’s supporters are ‘not that engaged’,” 2016 March 10. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3486671/Ted-Cruz-s-attack-Trumps-low-information-voters-claims-frontrunner-s-supporters-not-engaged.html
“Does Trump v Cruz foreshadow irreversible Republican divisions?” 2016 March 30. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18131&page=0
“Trumpster: Cruz thinks I’m dumb,” 2016 March 10. http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2016/03/10/trumpster_cruz_thinks_i_m_dumb
“Ted Cruz: Trump’s voters have ‘relatively low information, not that engaged’,” 2016 March 10. http://www1.cbn.com/thebrodyfile/archive/2016/03/10/brody-file-exclusive-ted-cruz-says-donald-trumps-voters-have
2. “Attention, propagande à tous les étages!” (French). 2016 March 15. http://www.lecourrier.ch/137404/attention_propagande_a_tous_les_etages
3. A recent example: “The CIA as a public relations phemonenon,” 2016 March 17. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-macaray/the-cia-as-a-public-relat_b_9492594.html
4. “State of the First Amendment: 2013.” http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/SOFA-2013-final-report.pdf
“The State of the First Amendment: 2014.” http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/State-of-the-First-Amendment-2014-report-06-24-14.pdf
“Global support for principle of free expression, but opposition to some forms of speech.” http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/11/18/global-support-for-principle-of-free-expression-but-opposition-to-some-forms-of-speech/