Let’s say you’re one of the ruling elites operating the nation for the benefit of the oligarchy. What’s the best way to distract the populace from your self-serving dominance in a blatantly neofeudal system?
1. Provide modern-day versions of Bread and Circuses to distract the commoners from what actually matters: “the golden age of TV” and binge-watching; a cultural obsession with glorifying oneself via selfies posted on Facebook and Instagram; tweeting outrage and indignation on Twitter; a corporate-state media which magnifies insignificant events into social crises, political “leaders” who intentionally inflame polarization and conflict and so on.
Combine all these distracting circuses into one 24/7 system-overload, and what do you get? A populace so distracted, so stressed, so emotionally dazed that they are unable to focus on the predatory exploitation of the ruling elites, much less figure out how to change the neofeudal status quo.
2. Divide the populace with calculatedly divisive cultural issues and turn the commoner class against itself: with no middle ground and no shared class identity allowed, the populace is easily sliced and diced into angry, disaffected tribes who blame whomever media propaganda has targeted as “the other” for the nation’s woes.
The Ruling Elites loves political correctness, for it serves the Elite so well. What is political correctness? Political correctness is the public pressure to conform to “progressive” speech acts by uttering the expected code words and phrases in public.
Note that no actual action is required. This is why the Ruling Elite loves political correctness: conformity is so cheap. All a functionary of the Ruling Elite need do is utter the code words (“hope and change,” “we honor diversity,” “thank you for your service,” etc.) and they get a free pass to continue their pillaging.
Those placated by politically correct utterances accept symbolic speech acts as substitutes for real changes in the power structure. This glorification of symbolic gestures–virtue signaling via social media, the parroting of progressive phrases, etc.–is as cheap as the mouthing of PC platitudes. Everybody gets to feel validated and respected at no cost to anyone: the progressives feel smugly superior because the Ruling Elite now feels compelled to parrot “progressive” speech acts in public, and the Ruling Elite is free to pillage without any demands for a radical restructuring of the incentives and distribution of the nation’s wealth and income.
The rise of “progressive” speech acts and political correctness parallels the decline of the fortunes and incomes of the bottom 90%. While the “progressives” focus on cheap symbolism, the laboring classes are being gutted by the centralized financialization that rewards the few at the expense of the many.
Hillary and Trump are symptoms of a fatal condition: politics as it has been practiced for 70 years is dead.
As my friend G.F.B. observed, the key development was not the nomination of insider-Hillary or outsider-Trump–it was the enormous success of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, a campaign that arose outside a Democratic Party establishment that tried to suppress or destroy Sanders’ campaign at every turn, a campaign funded not by the Goldman Sachs of the world that funded Hillary but by tens of thousands of small donations from the citizenry.
Who drew the mass crowds of enthusiastic supporters? Bernie, not Hillary. Who inspired thousands to donate small sums that quickly accumulated into millions of dollars? Bernie, not Hillary. Who won primary after primary despite a virtual Mainstream Media blackout and a Democratic Party establishment that relished plunging a poisoned blade into Bernie’s campaign at every opportunity? Bernie Sanders, not Hillary.