Saturday Commentary and Review #129
France Alight (Again), Germany's "Deplorables", The Durham Report "Fix", The Censorship Industrial Complex London, UK Event, US Politicians' Links to Slavery
Enter the search string “France Riots” into any search engine and you’ll be flooded with results from the past two decades or so. Whether it be the Gilet Jaunes, workers protesting against the increase in the age of retirement, farmers blocking roads, etc., the conclusion is obvious: the French love a good riot. In fact, it’s their national pastime.
I hesitate to write on the current bit of rioting that has now engulfed France, one blamed on the use of excess force by French Police that resulted in the death of a 17 year old French-Algerian male at a traffic stop just outside of Paris. I hesitate, because we have seen this before in France, particularly the three weeks of riots in the autumn of 2005 that were the result of the reaction to the deaths of two young men of North African heritage who were electrocuted when fleeing from police chasing them down for trespassing at a construction site.
I hesitate, because my prediction is that nothing will fundamentally change in France due to this present outbreak of rioting. France has shown an enormous capacity to absorb regular, violent, and destructive rioting time and time again. The only noticeable changes are in the continued rise in support for the hard right and the continued Americanization of French political discourse (e.g. racialized politics attempting to supplant France’s official colour-blind approach). Even Macron is phoning it in, blaming the riots on “video games and poor parenting”. His is a fundamentally non-serious reaction, but he may be right in treating it this way. “Hey, this is bad. Let’s stop this. Okay, it has stopped. Back to business as usual. Until next time!” Rinse and repeat.
Reports have come in that some rioters are well-armed, with accusations that arms might have been purchased on the Ukrainian black market. Who knows?
What we do know is that rioting is a permanent feature of French society, with the added confessional, ethnic, and racial facets courtesy of the mass immigration that has significantly changed France’s composition, beginning in the 1950s. Some migrant families have been in France for four generations now (particularly the Algerians), with many still yet to assimilate and/or adopt professed French values. This lack of integration (whether you consider integration good or bad) has created parallel societies with values that are not shared across the board. Some of these newer societies are inherently hostile to France and its stated core values.
To recognize the reality of contemporary France is to be immediately denounced as “far right” and therefore cast out of what is deemed “acceptable”. The problem is that the size of those supporting what is “unacceptable” has gotten too large for French elites to dismiss, forcing them to create a cordon sanitaire every election in order to prevent parties like RN from entering power. French political elites are in defensive mode, and have been for some time now. They exist purely to keep the “baddies” out of power, not to do anything for the French people themselves. So far, it has worked….but for how much longer can they hold the fort?
Almost half of French voters who vote during presidential elections cast their votes for the “hard right” option, that being Marine Le Pen. This is a significant bloc of people, so large that it can no longer be ignored. This is why other efforts are being made at blocking them, especially when it comes to media.
Vincent Bolloré, a “proud friend of Marine Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal”, has recently purchased the French media conglomerate Lagardère, which is now “scaring the hoes” i.e. raising concerns that the publications under its banner will now veer “far right”. This is, of course, unacceptable to polite French society:
For the second weekend in a row, French readers won’t find their traditional reading at newsstands or online, as journalists at the flagship Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) have been on strike following the appointment of a controversial editor.
The naming of right-wing personality Geoffroy Lejeune as the publication's top editor has stirred outrage not only in the newsroom, but also among politicians and a broad swath of intellectuals and celebrities, including filmmaker Nicole Garcia and the rapper and producer JoeyStarr, who are worried that the influential mainstream newspaper will become a mouthpiece for the far right.
“It’s almost a provocation,” Céline Calvez, a lawmaker from President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, told POLITICO. The media executive just lost his top job at anti-immigration magazine Valeurs Actuelles precisely for leaning too far to the right, she said.
Bolloré’s Vivendi group will soon become the JDD’s only shareholder when the acquisition of publishing group Lagardère is completed. Earlier this month, the European Commission conditionally cleared the deal amid calls from lawmakers and economists to block it over media pluralism concerns.
For years, the devout Catholic billionaire — dubbed "the French Rupert Murdoch" — has been accused of turning TV channels, radio stations and newspapers he buys into opinion media leaning well to the right, focusing mainly on identity issues and culture wars.
Under his ownership, news TV channel CNews has been compared to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News. Radio Europe 1 and weekly glossy magazine Paris Match are also tilting increasingly to the right as Lagardère is set to fall under Vivendi's full control. Bolloré, however, has consistently denied he provides editorial input to his media outlets.
“Pluralism concerns” is a new one, and I like it. The actual “concern” is that there will be pluralism in media, as the monopoly over narratives is eroded thanks to an increasing plurality of views being represented.
Media concentration in the hands of major industrialists is not new in France, he added, and French industrial powerhouses have long controlled big media conglomerates given the sector's need for capital. “What's different with Bolloré is that he's much more extreme, ultra-conservative — some might say far right."
He is the wrong kind of capitalist, I guess.
Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak hinted that France’s “republican values'' were in danger. Bombarded by parliamentary questions, spokesman Olivier Véran stressed: “It’s not for the state to interfere in newsroom choices in the private sector,” but added the government was open to more media pluralism guarantees.
What should be clear by now is that what is considered “appropriate” speech continues to be defined ever-more narrowly, and by pure coincidence always overlaps that which is supported by present ruling elites. All else is “hate speech” that “endangers values”, despite their country burning down thanks to those who find themselves on the opposite side of the “far right”.
The French reaction continues to grow, and the elites are increasingly desperate to cling to power, becoming increasingly creative in how they try to block their opponents.
We're truly witnessing a radicalization on both sides in France. This is an unreal communiqué by the main French police unions, essentially declaring France is in a civil war and that the police is in the "resistance" against the government.
This is the translation:
"Now that's enough... Facing these savage hordes, asking for calm is no longer enough, it must be imposed! Restoring the republican order and putting the apprehended beyond the capacity to harm should be the only political signals to give. In the face of such exactions, the police family must stand together. Our colleagues, like the majority of citizens, can no longer bear the tyranny of these violent minorities. The time is not for union action, but for combat against these "pests". Surrendering, capitulating, and pleasing them by laying down arms are not the solutions in light of the gravity of the situation. All means must be put in place to restore the rule of law as quickly as possible. Once restored, we already know that we will relive this mess that we have been enduring for decades. For these reasons, Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA Police will take their responsibilities and warn the government from now on that at the end, we will be in action and without concrete measures for the legal protection of the Police, an appropriate penal response, significant means provided, the police will judge the extent of the consideration given. Today the police are in combat because we are at war. Tomorrow we will be in resistance and the government will have to become aware of it."
How long can France continue to maintain the present state of affairs?
“Honest is in short supply” is a tired cliche, but like all tired cliches it contains an essential truth. This is why honesty, especially from political figures, should always be appreciated it. The participate in a field where your every utterance is magnified, dissected, and capitalized on if the opportunity to do so presents itself. Honesty in politics leaves you exposed, which is why honesty is often bad policy for them.
Hillary Clinton dismissed half of Trump’s voters as “deplorables”, in that they were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic”, going so far as to characterize some of them as “irredeemable”. This was a big unforced error by Hillary, something that she later admitted helped her lose the election. Contempt for your own fellow people is not a good look.
Some people can’t help themselves, and that includes Stephan Kramer, the Intelligence Chief (formally, President of Thuringia’s regional Office for the Protection of the Constitution) for the German state of Thuringia, who recently dismissed 20% of all Germans as .”right wing extremists”, using the term “brown dregs” to allude to the brown shirts worn by the SA:
“We’re at about 20 percent brown filth in the Federal Republic,” Kramer told broadcaster NDR Info after Alternative for Germany’s landmark election victory in the district of Sonneberg, which came after the AfD hit a polling high of 20 percent nationwide, or one in five Germans. The “brown” reference is clearly an allusion to the Nazi brownshirts, with many on the left and within the establishment media routinely attempting to frame the AfD party as National Socialists.
Kramer, who is himself a member of the left-wing Social Democrats (SPD), said that he still has “hope” of reaching AfD voters.
In principle, he said, all AfD party members are right-wing extremists.
“Party members know what the party stands for. That’s why they are members, that’s why they are right-wing extremists,” he said.
Extremists to his left as well:
Kramer also warned against what he described as a merger of left and right-wing “extremists.” He claimed there was an ideological overlap between the Left Party wing that supports Sahra Wagenknecht and AfD supporters. He said it is “problematic that many actors in the political arena keep dismissing the possibility of the emergence of a cross-front between the far left and the far right as absurd theater and malicious propaganda.”
He had a role in officially listing the state AfD branch as “right wing extremists”:
Kramer is known for speaking out against the AfD and his aggressive stance toward the party. His office has labeled the regional branch of the party in Thuringia as “proven right-wing extremists,” which means the office is permitted to use extremely intrusive intelligence methods, including surveilling emails, browsing history, and phone calls all without a court warrant. The office only requires knowledge that a target is a member of the AfD party.
“Democratic will of the electorate” has gone out of style in the West. Voting for the wrong parties or candidates is not an expression of democratic will, but rather extremism.
I am not certain, but I think it might have been the UK sitcom “Yes, Minister” that taught me that the way to defuse a toxic political scandal was to drag it out via a government-mandated inquiry that would inevitably get bogged down in committees, details, etc., to the point where its relevance has been significantly diminished, and its impact entirely neutralized.
I was reminded of this when I saw how some US conservatives put a lot of faith into the The Durham Report, the US Justice Department investigation into the origins of the FBI investigation into supposed Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. What a perfect way for the US deep state to mime doing something while actually engaging in CYA (cover your ass).
My friend,has “done the work” that the rest of us are too lazy/uninterested/demoralized/incapable to do:
The bureaucrat does what only a bureaucrat can do; dig deep into the available documentation stemming from the final report in order to cast light on what it actually means (it has nothing to do with its stated intention):
In the 1960s, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard penned a series of policies for dealing with critics of Scientology known as Fair Game. The policies endorsed legal and potentially illegal actions to silence and destroy critics. Among the tactics endorsed, and still widely practiced by Scientologists, were vexatious litigation, infiltration and surveillance of critic operations to collect opposition research, character assassination campaigns in the media, and various other harassment techniques.
In summary, the policies prescribed Machiavellian tactics that exploited legitimate institutions like the First Amendment, the courts, the press, freedom of association and so forth to pursue immoral and potentially illegal ends. At the height of Scientology Fair Game operations, Scientologists implemented Operation Snow White, achieving the largest known infiltration of the Federal government in American history. While some Scientologists were imprisoned for the operation, Hubbard and core Scientology organizations remained insulated from law enforcement.
The effectiveness of Scientology Fair Game depended upon the creation of a parallel non-state institution with loyal cadres who were employed in, and capable of directing, the operations of various legitimate public and private institutions toward the goals of the parallel non-state institution.
The American ecosystem:
The American ecosystem includes more individualistic, putatively neutral public institutions like the Department of Justice and private institutions like the media, as well as legal and cultural institutions like our civil rights and popular sovereignty, each category of which possesses public legitimacy.
Non-state organizations like political parties, religions, ethnic groups, special interest blocs like AIPAC, the ADL, NRA etc., seek through various kinds of Fair Game tactics to exploit legitimate institutions to advance group-level interests. For purposes of this article series, I’ll refer to such institutions as machines.
Machines are representative of the forms of power that classical and enlightenment regimes were developed to suppress. Philosophical/enlightenment regimes impose neutral laws and procedures designed to obstruct the tendency of power to impose its will partially and without regard for truth.
Human nature nevertheless dictates that power will tend toward secrecy and partiality. In the United States, the Constitution and our civil-religious culture of tolerance of private individuality imposes restrictions on power by, for example, giving individuals a suite of rights against public impositions on what they say, their form of worship, and their privacy, and against surveillance of their communications with their spiritual advisors, spouses, and attorneys.
On how to use the Durham Report:
This brings us to the 2016 Presidential Election and the subsequent and ongoing attacks upon Trump, his organizations, and his political agenda. The DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) and special prosecutor John Durham compiled ample evidence on the operations of some kind of machine directly connected to the Democratic Party, Clintons, and GOP, all surrounding attempts to connect Trump to Russia. Perhaps it is significant that this machine once again emerges in connection with the Democratic Party, which is the party of downscale group-identitarian interests like ethnic and racial groups that historically trend toward machine-like organizations, but it should be stressed that this machine does not entirely overlap with the Democratic Party.
While the OIG and Durham Office were restricted in their conclusions by legal standards of proof, the public should not be so limited for pragmatic reasons that I’ll explore more fully in the final article. The public, including individuals from across the political spectrum, should approach Durham’s report from the standpoint of predictability to protect themselves from the consequences of being outsiders to institutions they trust, and to empower themselves with a metapolitical understanding of an American empire, the legacy institutions of which have long been circumvented by machine activity.
Stated differently, the public should use the information in reports like Durham’s to predict political outcomes and decode the actions of legitimate institutions with an eye to protecting their own interests. In a sense, this means that the American public should use the reports to add a sort of Bureaucrat Mindset or Holmesian Bad Man perspective to their political heuristic toolkit.
2cb’s state goals:
The first part of the series uses evidence and analyses from the Durham report, coupled with my own analyses and speculation, to construct a model of a non-violent political assassination operation. The second part will look at the relationship between conspirators and the nuts and bolts behind the operation, specifically the lower rank and file employees caught up in the scheme with little or no knowledge of the overarching conspiracy (a Bureaucrat’s story). The final part sets forth my general observations about the possibilities for reform through a broader scope than what was used in the Durham Report.
This is a very, very long analysis (therefore not for everyone). Here is a portion of his conclusion to the first article in the series:
The model described above demonstrates how homosociality and the penetration of legitimate institutions can empower a machine to exploit legitimacy to accomplish a political assassination. It further shows how each of the legitimate institutions, their interpenetration, and their collective penetration by a machine can make the private sector collude with the public sector, law enforcement and intelligence dictate what is newsworthy, and the press dictate what is relevant and corroboratory for law enforcement and intelligence.
We’ve also learned how individual and entity-level compartmentalization allows a machine to insulate favored conspirators from culpability while exploiting legitimacy and patronage to farm patsies and fanatical fall guys.
2cb is effectively showing how the sausage is made. Click below to read the rest:
I was invited to attend (but not to participate in) an event held in London last week that focused on what is now being referred to as the “Censorship Industrial Complex”. Yes, I was meeting interesting and notable people and having fun while doing so, slacking on my Substack output. I apologize, but this Substack will be all the better for it.
A coalition is brewing to take down the CIC, and this event served as its catalyst., a friend of this Substack, reviews the event:
Shellenberger’s idea to get an international bunch of reporters, journalists, writers, editors, politicians, comedians, satirists, and commentators together to understand what the f—happened to free speech over the last three years globally, and how to fight it, had been a desideratum to any rational thinking being for a long time. In London’s City of Westminster, it was realized on the spot. It was a private event (invite only) and the main thing I flew down to London for.
But the cherry on top that really made me overcome my excruciating hatred of travelling and fear of flying was a major event for the public that preceded the event on the night before (admitting I had been excited about this one just as much). In a much anticipated night announced as The Censorship-Industrial Complex Exposed!, every dissident’s (i.e. sane person’s) darling Russell Brand hosted an event that the satirist Francis Foster – the somewhat more entertaining half of Triggernometry – introduced to the 1500-strong audience (thanks, Daniel) as an “international meeting of the alt-Right.” Wait, you don’t know what the alt-Right is? “The alt-Right, that’s Labour-voters who still believe in free speech.” Cockney accent and all. Lighten up leftists, it’s just your old buddies taking the piss.
Russell Brand, pulling off the Dandy hippie look we love and matched it with the whitest pair of sneakers I have ever seen, took centre stage, flanked by Michael Shellenberger to the left and Matt Taibbi to the right. But it was Michael who took the spotlight: “Some people say that the Censorship-Industrial Complex does not exist.” Boo to them. It’s not as though FBI agents boasting in emails about having killed 20 million Tweets for, among other things, private citizens telling their stories about serious mRNA vaccine side effects or “flagging” them as “mis-/mal-/or disinformation” has anything to do with censorship, right. Right? Or having the New York Post’s account suspended on October 14th, 2020, incidentally the day Hunter Biden’s Laptop demonstrating documents of his mafia deals with the Ukraine and China were the breaking story. Nothing to do with censorship. Nothing to see here.
The event was a call to arms, with people like actor Tim Robbins answering that call and being very present in the first row of the audience.
“Michael and I are here to tell a horror story that concerns people from all countries. Last year, he and I were offered a unique opportunity to look at the internal documentation of Twitter. I entered that story lugging old-fashioned, legalistic, American views about rights, hoping to answer maybe one or two questions. Had the FBI, for instance, ever told the company what to do in a key speech episode? If so, that would be a First Amendment violation. Big stuff!
But after looking at thousands of emails and Slack chats, I first started to get a headache, then became confused. I realized the old-school Enlightenment-era protections I grew up revering were designed to counter authoritarianism as people understood the concept hundreds of years ago, back in the days of tri-cornered hats and streets lined with horse manure.
What Michael and I were looking at was something new, an Internet-age approach to political control that uses brute digital force to alter reality itself. We certainly saw plenty of examples of censorship and de-platforming and government collaboration in those efforts. However, it’s clear that the idea behind the sweeping system of digital surveillance combined with thousands or even millions of subtle rewards and punishments built into the online experience, is to condition people to censor themselves.”
There is an energy that is building up and that spans both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and it is focused on defending our right to free speech (in the American and UK contexts, and hopefully the EU too, where it is already quite limited). A coalition is being built, one that cuts across traditional political divides. It is in the interest of everyone here to wish it success, as no one wants their own speech to be curtailed.
We end this weekend’s Substack with a look at an interesting Reuters investigation which reveals that 118 of the USA’s most influential leaders have slave-owning ancestors:
In an examination of the genealogies of America’s political elite, Reuters found that at least 118 of the country's most influential leaders – presidents, lawmakers from the last sitting Congress, governors and Supreme Court justices – have a slaveholding ancestor.
In notifying political elites of their family ties to slaveholding, we identified which of their ancestors enslaved people, how many people that ancestor enslaved, and how many generations removed that ancestor is from them.
I love this stuff!
Click here to read the rest.
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