By Glen Ford
Source: Black Agenda Report
“The ‘hate speech’ trick, in practice, rewards Black people’s occupiers and abusers (the police) and renders voices of protest illegitimate and mute.”
The people that rule the United States are in the third year of a frenzy to blame Russia and its “trolls,” “dupes,” and witting or unwitting “colluders” – including a sitting president – for racial conflicts, eroding respect for public institutions and a general social breakdown in the nation. “We are at war!” they scream, incessantly, in a thousand well-placed voices. The relentless barrage of war-talk crowds out all other subjects in the corporate media — the Omnipresent Voice of Oligarchy — including the actual wars waged all across the globe by the U.S. and its shrinking gaggle of allies.
By now, 65 percent of Americans — if asked — tell pollsters they think Russia “interfered” in the 2016 elections. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released late last month, 41 percent believe that whatever the Russians did had some effect on the election, and 30 percent think Hillary Clinton would be president if the Russians had not interfered.
“The relentless barrage of war-talk crowds out all other subjects in the corporate media — including the actual wars.”
People don’t volunteer these opinions; the question is presented by the pollsters and respondents select an answer among the multiple choices offered. However, a Gallup poll , taken during the same period, that allowed respondents to offer their own list of problems besetting the nation showed that less than one percent thought “the ongoing situation with Russia was the top issue.” Immigration was the top problem on people’s minds (22 percent), followed by dissatisfaction with the U.S. government (19 percent), and racism (7 percent). Concerns over “unifying the country,” “lack of respect for each other,” “the economy in general,” “health care,” and the catch-all, “ethics/morality/religious/family decline” rank in the even lower single digits – but almost nobody considers Russia to be a top problem.
Apparently, Americans don’t yet believe that anything like a “Pearl Harbor” has occurred, despite the Herculean efforts of the corporate media, the Democratic Party, old school Republicans, and the National Security State (Spookland). Undeterred, these fevered fomenters of hysteria insist that Russia’s “war” against the United States — aided by a “fifth column” composed of left-wing and right-wing web sites — must be answered by putting the nation on martial footing, through further curbs on freedom of speech and association at home, and relentless pursuit of full spectrum military dominance over all potential adversaries and competitors abroad.
“Less than one percent thought ‘the ongoing situation with Russia was the top issue.’”
The oligarch-declared state of war requires that there be one set of “truths” and a common worldview to unite the nation at this time of peril — whether the people perceive such a peril, or not. If there is insufficient public resolve to respond to the “threat” from Moscow and their partners in Beijing, then that is blamed on Kremlin-disseminated disinformation designed to confuse Americans or cause them to lose faith in U.S. institutions, and to fight among themselves – to “hate” each other — thus requiring more censorship.
It is the ruling class that is in panic, and using Russia as an all-purpose foil. The U.S. is in terminal decline, and has already been economically surpassed by China, based on “purchasing power parity,” the standard of measurement preferred even by the U.S dominated International Monetary Fund. According to an analysis by business columnist Noah Smith in Bloomberg , “not only is China already the world’s largest economy, the gap between it and the U.S. can be expected to grow even wider.” Dean Baker , co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, says “China’s economy is already 25 percent larger than the U.S. economy and is on a path to be almost twice as large in a decade.”
The era of U.S. economic dominance has already ended, and the Potemkin façade of American economic supremacy is only maintained by the U.S. dollar’s artificial status as the main international reserve currency – from which pedestal it will ultimately be toppled, and the imperial era will be over. But this is an historical verdict that the U.S. rulers cannot accept. Having lost the economic capacity to lord over the planet, they must now rely on their military — a terror machine more expensive than most of the rest of the world’s militaries, combined — in a “generational,” twilight battle to preserve the empire. The Lords of Capital cannot imagine a world in which they are not on top. They have chosen permanent, “infinite” war.
“Not only is China already the world’s largest economy, the gap between it and the U.S. can be expected to grow even wider.”
On the home front, the ruling class policy is eternal austerity, dictated by the requirements of capitalism at this stage in its decline. It is a horrifically destructive process of corporate consolidation (the big get bigger, devouring each other and everyone else) and the shrinking of the public sphere, through public sector starvation and privation. The job market is restructured, with more and more workers becoming “casual” or “contracted” — the “gig” economy — and millions of others (especially Blacks) made permanently redundant and disposable.
A regime of permanent war and austerity — the fate that both corporate parties plan for us — requires the manufacture and perpetual maintenance of war hysteria, and the methodical suppression of popular demands for economic rescue of the affected classes. It demands Russiagate and the snuffing out of radical dissent. This is not about Hillary Clinton, although she was the presidential choice of the great bulk of the ruling class because she could be trusted to pursue permanent war and austerity. It’s about preserving and serving the oligarchy under capitalism in terminal decline.
“A regime of permanent war and austerity requires the manufacture and perpetual maintenance of war hysteria, and the methodical suppression of popular demands for economic rescue of the affected classes.”
A similar process is underway in Europe, where the welfare state is besieged by the ruling bankers and corporate chiefs. Some leftish pundits describe the corporate parties’ lashing out at “the left and the right” as an offensive of “the center” — but that’s nonsense. In both the U.S. and Europe, the corporate governments are to the right of the public; they don’t represent some political “center” — they represent only their corporate selves. The corporate leaders of the Democratic Party are positioned way to the right of Democratic voters, and also rightward of the general American pubic on most key economic issues. They are carrying out their corporate duties to preserve and maintain austerity and war.
This compels them to make a spectacle of Russiagate, and to ensure that the show never ends, but takes on new forms of hysteria. And it requires that internet-based dissent be brought to heal, as Hillary would say — even at the cost of billions to one of the top oligarchs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who has been mercilessly bludgeoned by his fellow corporatists. Facebook’s political tampering with its algorithms to marginalize left-wing sites like BAR cannot help but suggest that the company also puts its fingers on the scales of the algorithms whose results Facebook sells to advertisers. But Zuckerberg no doubt understands that the purge of “left and right” sites is in the best interest of his class, and has accepted to forgo some profits.
“The corporate leaders of the Democratic Party are positioned way to the right of Democratic voters, and also rightward of the general American pubic on most key economic issues.”
Facebook, Apple, Google, YouTube and Spotify all came down on right-winger Alex Jones and his Infowars, this week, in what appeared to be a coordinated purge. Although the corporate media have long accused Jones of spreading “disinformation,” he was not purged for telling non-truths. Apple announced that “it does not tolerate hate speech.” Facebook said “false news” was not the issue, but that Jones had violated its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”
When it comes to “hate,” the high tech oligarchs rely heavily on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Morris Dees – Richard Cohen legal outfit in Montgomery, Alabama. The Center has a special animus towards Black nationalists, to whom it dedicates a whole page on its web site. “Most forms of black nationalism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic,” the SPLC declares, as if its white, Jewish leadership are expert in the Black American polity. In addition to naming Min. Louis Farrakhan and every Nation of Islam mosque, the site lists a slew of “Black Nationalist Hate Groups,” including book stores, the Black Riders Liberation Party and all its affiliates, various Black Israelites, both halves of the split New Black Panther Party, and the Revolutionary Black Panther Party, as well as the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. We can assume that these groups’ internet sites and Facebook presence are marked for special attention and future purging.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center has a special animus towards Black nationalists.”
But, many more Blacks will be caught up in the “hate speech” net that the high tech monopolists have deployed. Anyone that has gone to protests against killer cops has shouted words that could be deemed hate speech — because we do hate killer cops, and we do hate their armed occupation of our communities, and we have every right to say so among ourselves or to shout it to the world. Black people — and especially Black activists — must be most zealous in defense of free speech, knowing that our speech will be the first to be curtailed and outlawed.
We can expect no defense of Black speech rights from the Black misleadership class, which has always opted to cut off Black lips in order to silence a few white racists’ mouths. In the early Seventies, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Atlanta NAACP tried to get the Federal Communications Commission to ban campaign ads by J.B. Stoner, the arch-racist candidate for one of Georgia’s seats in the U.S. Senate. I argued loudly against attempting to create a “hate speech” standard for the public airwaves, warning that among the first victims of such a standard would be Min. Farrakhan, whose weekly radio program was aired on over 100 Black-oriented radio programs.
“Black people — and especially Black activists — must be most zealous in defense of free speech, knowing that our speech will be the first to be curtailed and outlawed.”
The FCC ruled in J.B. Stoner’s favor in 1972, but it was a good day for Black political speech, too. In the same way, the high tech monopolists’ assault on right-winger Alex Jones under a “hate speech” standard is bad news for Black political speech, and for radical speech. “Hate speech” is a trap. A few months ago, all but eleven members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted to make any assault on police a “hate crime,” thereby giving police the status of a protected class. The “hate speech” trick, in practice, rewards Black people’s occupiers and abusers (the police) and renders voices of protest illegitimate and mute.
We will need every energizing expletive in our vocabularies to mobilize our folks against the racist repression that must accompany the rulers’ plans for permanent austerity and war. We need to hate them very deeply for what they are trying to do to humanity, and to express that hatred at the top of our lungs and in every forum possible.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.