The Lockdowns and Hate Week #2
As dissent was growing rather widespread regarding the lockdowns, the imposed vaccinations, and the inconsistencies in the virus narrative, we’re once again at the onset of Hate Week. This time, the heel of the story has been allowed to defile Democracy’s inner sanctum, and the media is replete with images of smiling MAGA-men desecrating the Capitol. A particularly nice picture showed a jolly man wearing a knitted Trump-hat carrying away the podium of the Speaker of the House.
Preventing the breach of the US Capitol by a disorganized group of protesters in one of the world’s most heavily secured locations, aided by the surveillance apparatus of the US police state, would have taken no effort whatsoever. This spectacle was entirely by design. It was possibly instigated from the very beginning, as its value to the system is manifold.
First of all, it effectively establishes a broad, popular consent for the transition of power after the contested US election. Every Western media outlet now describes these events as a ”violent attack on democracy” perpetrated by the authoritarian Trump regime, while the ascendant Biden administration stands out as a beacon of hope, stability and normalcy.
As a spectacle, it’s a quite effective distraction from growing dissent, that also actualizes and reinforces established lines in a strategy of tension. But it also clearly and effectively stigmatizes any particular forms of opposition associated with this strongly scapegoated faction, such as lockdown skepticism, resistance against the pandemic profiteering, or opposition to big tech censorship. In the days and weeks ahead, we are going to see a progressive dehumanization and pathologization of groups and individuals representing such dissent, which will be anchored in these spectacular events and their reception.
Only deranged nazis refuse to wear masks.
1. The "Hate Week", or the actualization of an already established enemy image at this particular time, can plausibly be considered a response to the development of potentially destabilizing dissent in relation to the pandemic politics, the vaccine roll out, and not least to the controversies surrounding the US election. These forms of dissent are projected onto the current target, the increasingly influential right-wing populism. In the US context, a measure of this kind would also be helpful in establishing consent for the transition of power. The riots and the media reception killed all questions regarding the 2020 election, and in practice ended Trump's presidency.
2. The media reception and spin establishes the fact and character of such an actualization, i.e., a common discourse of "a violent attack on democracy" perpetrated by the somewhat ambiguous Trump-supporter is reproduced throughout Western corporate media. It can also be thematically related to the protests of 2020 which both tended towards an antagonization between the identity groups and served to refocus attention as the first wave of the pandemic seemed to ebb out.
3. The facts that a) an actual assault upon the Capitol would easily have been blocked without much effort, and b) that US intelligence services would be aware of most details of any such planned protest beforehand, renders it likely that it was allowed to take place.
4. The relative ambiguity of the antagonist allows for a broader projection of forms of dissent upon it, so that everything from criticism of Covid politics to "climate change skepticism" or (traditional left-wing) criticism of economic globalization can be funneled into the character of the populist deplorable. This also has clear precedent in contemporary media discourse.
5. On a broader level, a narrative of this sort, and its amplification through this type of spectacular event, allows for increased ostacization and delegitimization of the right-wing populist movement in the West, which in a tangible sense is challenging the established power structures. The broadly painted enemy will likely be marketed as "domestic terrorists" in Western media, in concert with the new bill promised by Biden in November. The narrative also allows for a further recuperation and disarming of the dissident left, in portraying the corporate state as an ally in combatting this "fascist insurrection", particularly as traditional left-wing critiques, e.g. of the media and of neoliberal policies, are now increasingly associated with the radical and populist right, while the ostensible left is relegated to reformism and identity politics.