So, ‘fake news’ is now practically a fully fledged moral panic.

 

As we tend to do in the modern West, the lazy term has now been claimed and recontextualised depending on who is using it.

 

‘Fake news’ to the BBC is any blogger or independent media which does not agree with the mainstream consensus.

 

‘Fake news’ to the government is anything which threatens their agenda, regardless of truth.

 

‘Fake news’ to Donald Trump is anything critical of him or his statements.

 

‘Fake news’ to me, and I hope most others, is a nonsensical lengthening of the conveniently short and punchy synonym: LIES.

 

Just like I don’t consider terrorism worse because someone of Arabian heritage rather than a white nationalist committed it; like I don’t consider theft worse because a drug addict committed it rather than an investment banker defrauding seven figure sums; LIES are LIES regardless of their messenger.

 

Fiction; fabrication; falsehoods, fake news; plenty of alliteration but not enough clarity. They’re lies.

 

Donald Trump is a pathological liar, possibly even convincing himself that his lies are truth. Theresa May is a skilled liar, honed by the party that perfected the art. “There is no crisis in the NHS”, she says; with one statement implying that the BMA, junior doctors, nurses, NHS staff, independent media, clinicians and medical experts are all engaged in some labyrinthine scaremongering conspiracy.

 

Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre and Richard Desmond’s newspapers consistently headline stories which are demonstrably lies, and yet are only required to print retractions the size of the cheapest version of classified ads. So long as the lies only aim at individuals or organisations that can’t sue them for libel, they’ll continue to do it with impunity.

 

Why do power structures lie? Well, we know that power structures seek to either reinforce the status quo, or take more for the elites. The liars seek to confuse, bewilder, divide and distract opposition to their agendas.

 

The curious part of this whole charade is that it’s almost certain that a lot of these ‘fake news’ blogs are actually funded by the extreme right who already have tentacles in government. After all, if the opposition make headway with their factual arguments against you, the best method of attack is to seek to discredit by implying that you can’t tell fake news from truth, so best just not question the elites. Just look at Alex Jones: the prototype conspiratorial idiot paid to consistently discredit serious opposition by implying they’re all raving maniacs.

 

If we’re going to really tackle the ‘scourge’ of ‘fake news’, we need to do what we should have done a long time ago: equip children with the ability to critically think and examine news sources objectively. But of course that would lead to a population harder to govern. So, call me a cynic, but I have a feeling this “war against fake news” will simply be a front for crushing dissent from any non-mainstream institution. You have been warned.

We live in a time where language has never been quite as manipulated by politicians and the mainstream media. Words like ‘aspiration’, ‘security’, ‘democracy’ and ‘economy’ have been perverted from their original definitions and context; mangled into shiny new tools to shape the national discourse. If words are weapons, the Establishment have dodged the harpoons and fashioned them into dirty bombs, pointed at any resistance to their agendas.

One term it occurred to me has been entirely subverted by its original targets is “professionally offended”. Now of course, we all seem to attribute this to ‘luvvy liberals’, who apparently ‘no platform’ any controversial speakers, and make death threats to anyone online who doesn’t check their privilege. I tend to see this happening chiefly when people make derogatory comments with a sexist or bigoted tone to them, whether intended or not.

Meanwhile, the original “professionally offended” brigade were actually the hardline conservatives, who couldn’t stand anyone with a pubic platform even gently mocking religion, or the sanctity of the family; who frothed at the mouth when smut, violence, vices or non-hetero-normative behaviours were covered in any way that didn’t position them as an affront to God. This led to frightening censorship in things like the Hays Code and the Parental Music Resource Centre in America; with Mary Whitehouse’s prudishness and even Section 28 in Britain. These “professionally offended” actually successfully suppressed culture and free thought in a similar manner to fascist dictatorships.

When I compare the great works of art and thought that were destroyed and smothered by these people, to the casual bigotry being suppressed by today’s apparently “professionally offended”, I don’t really think there’s a contest in terms of which is the more detrimental. Particularly since the modern understanding of the idiom challenges language used to demean oppressed sections of society for generations, in ways that bigoted conservatives couldn’t possibly comprehend.

It is a rich irony that the side now crying foul on over-sensitivity has declared a ‘role reversal’, while failing to acknowledge the gravity of their own inability to handle free speech in the past (and present).

Clown. Imbecile. Cretin. Bigot. Dimwit. Demagogue. Dictator.

And now President.

We joked about nobody dumber than Bush possibly getting into the White House, and we tempted fate. The US has imploded in parody.

America has today finally reaped what it has sown for the last thirty years, with news as entertainment, fiction as truth and reality television as dystopian reality.

The years since 9/11 spent ramping up racist rhetoric, moronic conspiracy theories and vacuous nationalist libertarian slogans as ideology have seen some very loud Frankenchickens coming home to roost and shitting all over everything. The Tea Party nutjobs, pro-life simpletons and God-bothering hypocrites have taken the wheel, drunk and without insurance.

All we can do now is try and stay on the grass verges and hope they run out of gas before doing too much damage.

I’ll leave these thoughts with a paraphrased comment I read under an article earlier today:

“So long, America, it’s been fun. We await the rise of the next Evil Empire.”

Whenever I see an American comment (referring to Donald Trump) “We can’t have an incompetent, reactionary moron in the White House”, I always wonder why they’ve neglected to add ‘again’. Is there some form of collective amnesia, driven by the media, in relation to George W. Bush’s disastrous reign as President?

As the last millennium drew to a close, it’s fair to say that most ordinary people in the US and UK felt great hopefulness about a future where the Cold War had ended, the old right-wing parties had been ejected from office, their economies were booming, and the advent of the internet was growing apace.

Of course, little did non-seasoned politicos realise the seeds of destruction were being planted in the US by the so-called “centre-left” Democrats, what with their Alan Greenspans and their repealing of Glass-Steagal. On the surface though, the West seemed more optimistic than at any time since the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ was ended by the Oil Shock and the ‘New Right’ of Reagan and Thatcher. Perhaps the ‘Third Way’, espoused by messrs Blair and Clinton, really was the correct remedy for the sicknesses of globalisation.

Then, in 2000, it happened. The genial, managerial style of Bill Clinton was replaced, controversially, by the braindead ‘aw shucks’, God-fearing, gun-totin’ jingoism of Dubya. From illegal wars to enormous national debt increases, it’s hard to hypothesise just how his eight-year tenure could have gone worse.

The swathes of destruction wrought by his merry band of chickenhawk Neocon cronies across the Middle East saw that terrorism was added to labour, goods and capital on the list of free movements in the ‘free market’. (Note how the modern version of ‘free’ tends to cost a hell of a lot of money, and involve restriction of personal liberties – another modern perversion of the English language as business jargon infiltrated the political classes.) The ‘War on Terror’, Patriot Act and expansion of Guantanamo Bay traded privacy and humanity for speculated security. We all got used to being spied on, after being metaphorically waterboarded by images of terrorists at every airport, of bombs in every backpack, of jihad on every street with a non-white face in. They hated us and our ‘freedom’, we were told. You’re either with us or the terrorists, the chimp screeched.

But, if we flash forward to the present, upcoming US election, with the two most derided and unpopular major candidates in living memory standing, we see that this was directly caused by ‘Citizens United’, another Dubya abomination of allowing the Koch brothers and Goldman Sachs to effectively select the President themselves through unlimited bankrolling. Donald Trump is the result of both Citizens United and the nurturing of crackpot Tea Party extremists infiltrating all levels of the Republican Party, while Hillary would not be where she is without Citizens United, who allowed her to see off the strong challenge of Bernie Sanders.

It sums up Bush’s legacy that his reign was book-ended by 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown; the two most profoundly catastrophic and traumatic events in recent history, which ensured that the heady optimism of 1999 was paranoid fear by 2008.

So don’t talk about Trump as if you don’t know how his presidency would turn out. We already have an idea what happens when you put a braindead, greedy buffoon in the White House, and its nauseating legacy will stretch out for decades.

It’s November 9th 2016, and huge underdog 3rd party candidate Ronald McDonald has won the US presidency by a landslide. Thanking his ‘ever-growing army of canvassers on the streets at night’, he strolls into the White House and immediately sets about construction of golden arches over it.

Despite not being in the Presidential race until the last fortnight, President McDonald attributes his astonishing rise to power to his family-friendly visibility, his comparable trustworthiness, and his pledge to give all serving military personnel one free coffee and breakfast egg McMuffin a month. Some mention the fact that he shares the first name with a former Republican Presidential favourite, and his last name with one of his vanquished competitors, as being another psychological boost, as voters seem to like familiarity.

Breathing a huge sigh of relief at having someone credible in the White (and Yellow) house, the American public go back to sleep, but not before controversy stirs, when McDonald does not wear a suit to his inauguration ceremony; instead choosing to don his usual clown outfit. Some wags in the media suggest this means he will fit right in.

His first few months certainly prove eventful, whether it’s naming the Hamburglar as his Attorney General, or basing his foreign policy of ‘reconstruction’ on three new restaurants in Aleppo. Despite these hiccups, his approval ratings soar at the introduction of a new ‘Red, White & Blue’ burger, and free miniature American flags with every Happy Meal.

Some scoff at this state of affairs, but others realise how much of a bullet they dodged, when they put their trust in the clown with the best hair.

It’s getting a bit tiresome seeing people sharing negative memes and articles about Donald Trump, often people who’d not shown the slightest inclination towards political debate before. We all know he’s an entitled buffoon, who’s been cushioned from the fall-out of his obnoxious views and behaviour by his extraordinary wealth, but he won the Republican ticket, and talking as if America should just decide to suddenly disqualify him because he’s a bad person is the same kind of thinking Trump applies to throwing people out of his rallies, and plays into the very credible notion that the Establishment is limiting debate and choice to suit their own agenda.

You can’t make Donald Trump sound worse than he is by sharing details of his numerous bankruptcies, infidelities and moronic quotes. His voters seem to be made up of those who hate the Establishment, those who hate Hillary Clinton, and those who hate everyone. Wagging our collective finger at Trump’s behaviour will not sway these voters’ resolve. My problem with this election trail is that the level of political discourse is descending to Brexit level. “He is an asshole!” “She is a criminal!” Cue audience boos and hisses. American tv loves trash-talking. They have it in most sports, especially boxing, and even the kind of crap that broadcasts here about auctioning stuff from storage garages has to have juvenile trash-talking. But thinking Americans don’t want that. They want issues, they want policies, they want reassurance that things will change for the better.

I’d like to hear Clinton reassure us she’s not just a trigger-hungry chickenhawk, bought and paid for by Wall Street. I’d like to hear optimism and vision. But no. She concentrates on slagging off Trump for being Trump, like berating a lion for eating antelope. You know what they say about never arguing with a moron because they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience? That’s what Trump is doing to all of us. And he may just win.

It’s difficult to tell who is more deluded. The Brexiteers who are reduced to posting news articles about the looming economic catastrophe prefaced with comments like “the sky hasn’t fallen in yet, has it?”; or the Blairites in the PLP, who, rather like a sinister mafia figure, have decided that Jeremy Corbyn has to resign forthwith, or there will be ‘trouble’.

Just what part of “it’s not 1997 any more” do they not understand? They seem to believe they can energise new members by turning around and telling them their vote for leader was misguided, and they need to pick again until they get it right, because big money donors don’t want a potential PM who may impose slightly more onerous tax and anti-corruption regulations on them. Apparently ‘democracy’ is only important when the Neoliberals are running things.

“Jeremy only represents the politics of protest” I hear the drones say. Is that not the whole point of politics? The Blairites’ pitch for the party is that nothing need change? Then why bother challenging the government at all? Why would people vote for the status quo with a red tie? Again, it’s not 1997 any more.

“Labour needs to listen to its voters, not preach to them”. Like when the Blairites acknowledged that ‘Leave’ voters in the North had been ‘left behind by globalisation’, rather than just being xenophobes? Okay, so what are they offering these people, besides ‘listening to their concerns’? What policies are up their sleeve to appease these voters? Jeremy seems to have a few involving regional investment, devolution, and real living wages, yet all I’ve heard from the Blairites is the same empty paternalism we’ve come to expect from zombie MPs like Tristram Hunt. He’ll ‘listen’ to you, he’ll pat you on the head condescendingly, he might even choke a little as he tells you how much these downtrodden rely on a strong Labour Party to lead them out of this horrible Tory nightmare…and then he will implement the square root of nothing, as the big money donors and Rupert Murdoch dictate the agenda.

Maybe Chilcot can finally wash away the last vestiges of the Blairites’ credibility, and show that they stand up for all the wrong things and the wrong interests. I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn can rescue UK politics, only Proportional Representation can do that. But he is infinitely preferable to the arrogant “do as we say and it’ll be alright” school of authoritarian politics that the PLP Neoliberals have decided to brandish like a club to keep the ‘wrong’ voters “on message”.