Sunday, 23 January 2022

Look don't look.

There are these systemic phenomena that highlight or hush historical significance and/or default to follies over felonies in the interpretation of trustworthiness of state actors.

Somewhere in here I've got an entry wherein I puked a polemic, parodying the way authorities dictate to the public the most innocent interpretation of impropriety whenever someone important gets caught kneeling at the wrong altar. It went something like,
"We regret these unfortunate events and would like to clearly express that we at no time engaged in any illegal behavior whatsoever."
"Yes, it would appear the entire scope of things might have been misunderstood. We're taking a serious look at potential points of failure within the relevant agencies."
"Now you guys are just pointing fingers. We've said all there is to say on the matter. It's time to move on."
If you do not know the reference point of the above satire, there's a good chance the press have done a solid job by way of one or both aforementioned systemic phenomena. To take a local example, the reporting on what is referred to as the Wirecard scandal settled the "who knew what when" cliché part of its work so quickly that the former Chancellor's name doesn't even appear anywhere in the English Wikipedia article about it. For indeed that org's design enables self-appointed gatekeeping with a goalpost badmintoning interpretation of what constitutes a reliable source.
The politics that wrangle at places like Wikipedia and Snopes is not another story altogether, but nevertheless appear here as an unfortunate byproduct. Briefly, to get everything you need to know from those resources, you'd need to peruse all language versions for the links to all their sourced material, consider what follows regarding the function of their brands, and somehow effectively determine whether any of it bears out or eliminates reasonable suspicion. Think
critical theory rabbit holing.
Traditionally here I have cited the respective media brands primarily in how they bolster the case for a certain brand of politics. With respect to the playing up or down of things, however, there's also the effect a brand has on the views of those who oppose that brand. If you consider, for example, the psychological and emotional effect Murdoch media and the Springer press have on their active rivals, you can observe how those rivals are made dubious about things that could be in their interest not to be so dubious of and, ultimately, how both consumers and non-consumers of certain media messaging are kept ignorant.
In short, not only might someone distrust anything coming from media they distrust, but even to the extent that they do not necessarily kill the message along with the messenger, if their preferred source of news does not engage with the same subject matter, then it's more likely they'll simply question the motivation of the source they don't like and move the topic off their radar if they haven't already placed it in the expanding fake news folder of their unconsciousness.

In the US they have a political setup that functions in the same binary fashion, in that they have a two party system. Not that I want to make too much of that, for in every country I've resided you could argue there are two political parties that hold the majority of power. Still, the dynamic at work in the explicitly binary version in America comports cleanly with what I'm talking about.

Case in point is the Benghazi brouhaha, branded here previously as "Benghazi!!!11" (i.e. with a view to the blowhard's reaction rendering the activities of unaccountable war-making into a list of things for which to cut one's own slack, if not pretend doesn't exist). I hasten to point out that, whenever convenient, blowhards will highlight follies over felonies.
To bring home the point about categorical rejection of things perceived as coming from the wrong side, if I fail here to cite another example that reverses from the previous paragraph the roles of the political parties and their respective brands in the press, then I will have failed to counter one of the systemic phenomena. I will appear biased against one particular party and therefore will make someone who is biased against the party biased against the first feel like there's something crucial missing from my point and simply dismiss it. Whataboutery is defined as much by an order of events and reaction to them, which will work for one of two guilty parties, but its function is probably most often in mind only, i.e. remains unstated but with perhaps greater effect. And sensing that some pot is calling some kettle black is not down to irrationality, even if shades of gray getting lost in the mix results in behavior against one's interest.
As I multitask in search of an example to bring this in balance, I should mention that the example mentioned above follows the function of those two parties' brands and is therefore more likely to bring about more of the same dynamic in their relationship to each other, like what eventually resulted in Bernie Sander's saying, "People are sick of hearing about your damn emails!" If you didn't know, you might think that was a criticism of the candidate rather than the opposing party railing loudly against her. Maybe it was a sneaky sideswipe, critical of both the former secretary of state's email activity and "her emails!!!!11". Certainly, being sick of it all is an understandable reaction.

Anyway, perceived performative outrage falls onto a list of responses to that which ranges from the petty and insignificant all the way up to high crimes and misdemeanors, and because it falls onto the list of performative outrage it is easy to dismiss every one. This is not a conspiracy so much as the function of those who perform outrage well whether its genuine or not and, so purposed, grab at anything that will do the trick. It is systemically driven, this relegating criminal activity to the bin of insignificance, with machines within the machine that maintain their own parts and partisans.
So, yeah, we're not gonna come up with an example satisfactory to Democrats of Democrats doing the same to Republican post holders, because like their rivals they'd never admit to engaging is such antics. Consider, anyway, the effect Russiagate played in bolstering support for the targets of that investigation. "Putin!!!11" is a gift that keeps on gifting. Keep in mind that one's gift is another's poison, which's never stopped the manipulators of the machinery from slow dripping it to the great addicted, no matter how absurd the risk. On the contrary; it plays so well. I type this minutes after reading of the resignation of the Inspector of the German Navy for having said Putin had earned respect (and is needed against China). He basically rendered a statement plausibly presentable as pro-Putin enough to justify his ousting from a military strategic perspective, but also from anyone hedging in paranoia of the known unknown.
All this grandstanding on matters serious and insignificant also clouds that thing one could also be concerned about, which the fourth estate fittingly features among their most soothing of lubricants: bipartisanship. For all the promise and reassurance or relief there is in seeing one's representatives, for so long presented as bitterly divided, reaching across proverbial gangways to get (something or another) along, the preterite of compromise will always be compromised. But the alternative is so threatening. Fear is systemic, isn't it?
Built into that which rules from Berlin is a system so potentially non-partisan that it sheds a kind of light onto these phenomena on both sides of the Atlantic. Whereas in the US bipartisan bills are passed with barely a blip from the press, particularly in how they pale compared to the nail-biters presented to the people's gleeful agitation, in Germany coalitions between parties for the sake of meeting a majority threshold lead to wonky press speculation every election cycle regarding the whos and with whoms, and if im/plausible how the hells. It's down to the existence of several smaller parties that neither of the two Volksparteien may ever again hold a majority alone.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Fourteen years ago I told you the former outweigh the latter. Now, I think they cancel each other out. The Venn diagram that would represent like-mindedness between social democrats in Name, ecologists in Name, and libertarians in Name should be enough to illustrate how the opposition is never really the opposition, but a performative exercise in policy making.
But the alternative! Anguish about the dreaded alternative is systemic because people naturally would rather get along at every point where it preserves whatever they think they got. That's the tiny conservative in everyone. What passes for empathy is sometimes a superstition that says you could get what's coming to you, which is the latency that drives Democrats who like to think well of themselves, as well as the projection from Republicans who mock them for it.

Rather than an arbitrarily determined left-right model of desired governance, which enables the ground roots rule of ignorance, fallacious categorical thinking, and dishonesty, maybe it would be instructive to look at conservatism and radicalism as polar opposites that should move toward some sensible synthesis of preserving what's needed while changing what would prevent the same. At any rate, the plausible consent of lazy branding exercises achieves only the apparent consensus of its choir.
When you ask the entire poll-willing public whether they think private money in public politics is worth preservation, you get a distinct result compared to the answer to a question posed about one particular political personality or party's potential conflict of interest. But if that which is systemic has so far successfully prevented the unflawed application of a theory, then it will probably only ever remain just that.
The systemic flaw in this electoral binary has resulted in this wave of hand-wringing and finger wagging that people won't fall in line and thereby sentence society to the going unspeakable alternative. That that thinking could exist means there is only falling in line, stepping out of line, or more actively embracing the unspeakable alternative. Coalition-building parliaments around the world preserve next to this model an applicable alternative to being considered pariahs among putatively polite peers, as someone who doesn't deserve to sleep at night for not falling in line, getting with the program, and postponing the apocalypse.
A German Green voter would never get the Nader or Stein treatment from SPD bookholders. For they can just join ranks and trade together in what turns out to be a profitable enterprise for whomever wields its influence. That the latest coalition is down to one former coalition party's corruption in the extreme while not managing to taint Mutti Dearest might be enough to make Teflon Ron blush from six feet down. But it's the presentation of that corruption that has managed to bury that of the new chancellor in an even deeper memory hole.
The urge to preserve what might be left of what one thinks one has is probably age-old and instinctive. It applies recently as it relates to many millions having used a vote for President Biden as a bulwark against incumbent disaster. And as gobsmacking as it may seem to some, an additional record number of voters came out for that disaster as savior. In a base sense it applies to both billionaires, who do whatever will increase their winnings so as not to risk the relative insecurity of things going the other direction (in this economy?!-), and me in how I don't give the homeless guy the change from my shopping every single time I see him. I could probably do that (though I haven't done the math), and billionaires could easily forgo more money (and I'll bet they're doing the math).
Of course, billionaires can achieve the kind of regulatory capture that renders democracy irrelevant as it relates to changing their relationship to the wider world, and hence the wider world's relationship to them. What about we wider world's relationship to each other and the extent to which the ruling class can be considered the other?
It's not lost on me that every claim I make about the motivations of anyone but myself are right or wrong roundly shaped by the billions upon billions that maintain this infrastructure of projecting and reflecting presumptions. This was true when the press was paper. The algorithm has a way of making some aspect of this effect more efficient. Or maybe its again just this little notion in my head making it impossible for me to sever the tie between the real and virtual worlds, the assumption being that, however much it doesn't reflect my own real experience with people in the real world, these opinions out of virtual space must represent something larger than my neighborhood.
In my real experience, animosity toward the other party has been around long enough and of such quality that I don't think it's fair to say people are more divided now than any other time in recent history. Nor do I think the entirely understandable and often justified nature of much of the animosity is because criminal state actors have got more extreme. My argument hinges on the definition of values, of course, and you could make a case for an increased brazenness of malfeasance, but if you're blatantly honest I think you'd have to consider all aspects of potential whataboutery to assess how much brazenness serves as cover for something else you would consider anything but worthy of preservation were it not for systemic phenomena that would have you rather not think about it. I'd rather not think about it.