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via Apology Not Accepted

Is Bernie Sanders destined to become the next Jeremy Corbyn? A second excerpt from the Jonathan Cook essay we looked at yesterday.

 

The Sanders threat

Sanders is one of those glitches. Just like Jeremy Corbyn was in the UK. They have been thrown up by current circumstances. They are the first signs of a tentative political awakening to power, sometimes dismissed generically as “populism”. They are the inevitable outcome of the ever greater difficulty power faces in concealing its self-destructiveness as it seeks to remove every last limit to its voracious acquisitiveness.

Once upon a time, those who paid the price of power were out of view, in disenfranchised, urban slums or far-off lands. But the accelerating contradictions of power – of late-stage, global capitalism, if you prefer a specific name – have brought those effects much closer to home, where they cannot so easily be ignored or discounted. Growing sections of western societies, the central locus of power, understand that there needs to be serious, not cosmetic, change.

Power needs to be rid of Sanders, just as it previously had to rid itself of Corbyn because both are that rarest thing – politicians who are not imprisoned within the current power paradigm. Because they do not serve power cultishly like most of their colleagues, such politicians threaten to shine a light on true power. Ultimately, power will use any tool to destroy them. But power prefers, if possible, to maintain its cloak of invisibility, to avoid exposing the sham of the consumption-driven “democracy” it engineered to consolidate and expand its power. It prefers our collusion.

The reason the Democratic party establishment is trying to bring down Sanders at the primaries stage and crown a power-functionary like Buttigieg, Biden or even Elizabeth Warren – or if it must, parachute in a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg – is not because Sanders would on his own be able to end the globe-spanning power of pathological capitalism and consumerism. It is because the nearer he gets to the main shadow play, to the presidency, the more power will have to make itself visible to defeat him. (Language makes it difficult to describe this dynamic without resorting to metaphors that make power sound fancifully human rather than structural and ideological.)

As the other candidates increasingly look unsuited to the task of toppling Sanders for the nomination, and rigging the primaries has proved much harder to do covertly than it was hoped, power has had to flex its muscles more publicly than it likes. So narrative is being marshalled to destroy Sanders in the same way that the antisemitism and Brexit narratives were used to halt Corbyn’s grassroots movement in its tracks. In Sanders’ case, the corporate media is preparing a readymade Russia narrative against him in case he gets nearer to power – a narrative that has already been refined for use against Trump.

(Trump’s relation to power could be the basis for an entirely separate post. He is not an ideological threat to power, he is one if its functionaries. But he is a potential Harvey Weinstein or Prince Andrew. He can be sacrificed if needs be. The Russiagate narrative has served two purposes useful to power. It has tamed Trump’s ego-based politics to ensure he does not threaten deep power by making it more visible. And it has created a compelling political drama that channels and dissipates the “resistance” to Trump, satisfying much of the left’s own need to feel they are doing something, when in fact they are simply strengthening Trump and deep power.)

Caught in a trap

Late last week, as the landslide in Nevada for Sanders was imminent, the western media uncritically reported claims, based on unnamed “US officials”, that the Vermont senator is seen by the Russians as an “asset”, and that the Kremlin is trying to help either him or Trump to get elected. No one making that claim was identified, no explanation was offered of how Sanders could serve as an asset, nor was evidence cited for how the Russians might be able to help Sanders win. Power doesn’t need facts or evidence, even when its claims are self-evidently disruptive to the democratic process. It exists chiefly in the realm of narrative and ideology. This is a story, just like Corbyn’s “antisemitism crisis”, that is made true simply through repetition.

Because power is power, its narratives can defy the most elementary rules of logic. After all, how could an unverified, evidence-free narrative about Russian interference on behalf of Sanders’ campaign be more important than actual interference by anonymous “US officials” intended to damage Sanders’ campaign? How could such undemocratic, unaccountable efforts to interfere in the outcome of the US election be so readily peddled by the media unless the entire press corps is incapable or unwilling to engage their critical faculties in favour of the democratic principles they claim to uphold? Unless, in truth, they are not there representing us, the people, and our interests, but are instead simply servants of what amounts to a power-cult.

As I have documented many times before, Corbyn found himself caught in a trap of the kind now faced by Sanders. Any supporter (including Jews) who denied that the Labour party Corbyn led was antisemitic, or argued that the antisemitism claims were being weaponised to damage him, was cited as proof that Corbyn had indeed attracted antisemites to the party. Concluding that Corbyn’s Labour party was not antisemitic, based on the evidence, was treated as evidence of antisemitism. But as soon as Corbyn agreed under media and party pressure to accept the alternative – that an antisemitism problem had taken root on his watch – he was also implicitly forced to concede that something about him and his values had allowed antisemitism to take root. He found he was damned either way – which is precisely how power makes sure it emerges the winner.

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