Friday, November 8, 2013

Chris Hayes and Sheldon Wolin present a picture of Chris Christie that should scare you

Sheldon Wolinin his expose of modern Authoritarian forms of Empire and global capital, the book Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism, notes that, "the crucial political issue of our times concerns the incompatibility between the culture of everyday reality to which political democracy should be attuned and the culture of virtual reality on which corporate capitalism thrives."  Those capable of exploiting modern communication, who aspire for the power of Empire, are the type of people we should fear and organize against in Wolin's mind.

Those who are masters of exploiting reality--via the tools of Public Relations, and propaganda spin machines (often called "conservative think tanks")--have awesome power at their finger tips to do whatever they damn well please.  As was proved to devastating consequence during the GW Bush first term of office.  It appears that Governor Chris Christie is the next master of media manipulation and virtual reality.  Not only are the elite media failing to do their job in holding a check on Chris Christie's power--by fact checking his spin--they are feeding the flames with the gushes and accolades; Hurricane Sandy has become Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will in far too many ways for the Christie political machine.

Governor Chris Christie, his failure to help Sandy victims, and the Media Spectacle that is catapulting Christie into the spotlight as the "Sandy savior" was elucidated quite nicely by Chris Hayes the other night in his segment: The Real 'spirit of Sandy'.

Again I must turn to Sheldon Wolin's excellent book Democracy Inc.
Lying is more than deception; the liar wants the unreal to be accepted as actuality, so he sets about to establish as true what is not actually the case, not really real.  A lie by a public  authority is meant to be accepted by the public as an "official" truth concerning the "real world." At bottom, lying is the expression of a will power.  My power is increased if you accept "a picture of the world which is a product of my will."
 Chris Christie appears to be a master manipulator of reality.  If there is one "name to fear" in 2016 for Democrats I'd argue that rather than the flat earth society Ted Cruz who seems to only have the trust of a small faction of dying off Dixiecrats and Libertarian curmudgeons, Chris Christie is the true Republican to fear.  Christie has a capacity to enthrall in the way that Reagan did--the herd of Nietzsche's "Last Man" who blink.  Wolin speaks of this "performance president"
The roles Reagan played in her earlier career were an apprenticeship for his original contribution to American government, the creation of "performance president" who fashioned illusion (a tough leader who had learned to throw a crisp salute) from inauthenticity (almost persuading himself that he had been present when inmates were freed from concentration camps). With little or no interest in policy and the details of governance he took on the task of evoking nostalgia, overlaying the present with an idealized past, warmer, believing, guileless, "a shining city on the hill" that provided an illusion of national continuity while obscuring the radical changes at work.  The other element characterizing his administration was a presidential entourage that included hard-nosed, ideological zealots and operatives from the corporate world and the public opinion industry. These agents were intent on expanding the power of the president,reducing governmental oversight of the economy, overriding environmental safegaurds, and dismantling welfare programs; simultaneously they expanded vast sums in order to build up a military sufficiently intimidating to stare down an "evil empire," causing it to collapse, exhauste, unable to compete, its power spent from being outspent.
Wolin then goes on to note in the next few paragaphs the damage wrought by our next Master of Performace GWBush.  Christie, I would argue, is the next "Master" waiting in the wings.  Nietzsche reminds us  the Performance President has one role and one role only--inspire the herd to blink, so that the corporate raiding of social wealth can go unchecked.
alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.
     'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?' thus asks the last man, and blinks.
     The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.
     'We have invented happiness,'say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...
     One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.
     No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
     'Formerly, all the world was mad,' say the most refined, and they blink...
     One has one's little pleasure for the day and one's little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.
     'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."
from Nietzsche's Thus spoke Zarathustra

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