Monday, February 6, 2017

Super Bowl LI: Le Pen and Anarchism Beckon

Many times during the bizarre first-ever overtime Super Bowl I found my eyes looking past the television to the snow beginning to fall outside the window, particularly during Lady Gaga's "Cirque du Soleil" halftime extravaganza. Featuring drones, a truncated opening salute to the Fatherland, twists and turns in an acrobat's harness, the usual horde of "Rhythm Nation" dancers gesticulating to supermarket pop, and a faceless throng wiggling glow sticks beneath the parapet, I preferred to watch the trees turning white.

The game itself was bizarre because the Falcons so completely manhandled New England in the first half plus parts of the third quarter that I thought we might be in store for a delicious blow-out of the celebrated, super-historic Belichik-Brady Patriots. Then the Falcons returned to earth. The young, fast defense lost its legs and MVP quarterback Matty Ice reverted to his playoff form of prior seasons and melted. New England won the toss to begin overtime and promptly drove down the field and scored the game winning touchdown. Atlanta's defense was so cooked at this point it looked like a walk-through drill at practice. Depressing.

Never before has a team come from so far behind, the score was 28-3 in the third quarter, in the Super Bowl. Superficially, since Trump has a tight bond with Belichik, Brady, Gronkowski and owner Bob Kraft, one would have to conclude that the outcome is a hardy reaffirmation of Trumpism.

My assessment that a Trump administration cannot be sustained might have to be amended. It appears that Trump is already making adjustments, trimming his sails, currying favor with the deep state. He is settling in for the long haul. And it is likely he will get a boost from France this spring.

Predictions for the second round are now of a Le Pen-Macron contest, which is basically a recapitulation of the U.S. general election. Macron is the stand-in for Hillary and the enervated neoliberal center; Le Pen, Trump, and waving the flag of a nostalgic nationalism. Macron, the former Rothschild banker, in fact is campaigning against Trump ("Marine Le Pen Echoes Trump’s Bleak Populism in French Campaign Kickoff," by Adam Nossiter):
The populist Ms. Le Pen, 48, offered up a forbidding dystopia in urgent need of radical upheaval, much like Mr. Trump did. The boyish Mr. Macron — he is 39 and has created a nonparty political movement that has suddenly caught fire — spoke of “reconciling” France and of “working together,” and repeatedly addressed more than 10,000 supporters in a giant stadium as “my friends.” France would certainly stay in the European Union, in his view, and there would be none of Ms. Le Pen’s war on globalization.
The crowd spilled onto the grounds outside the stadium, forcing many to watch Mr. Macron on huge screens. He took a backhanded slap at Mr. Trump, promising refuge in enlightened France to American scientists, academics and companies “fighting obscurantism” at home. They would have, “as of next May,” the date of the presidential runoff, “a homeland, and that will be France,” Mr. Macron promised.
The candidates both present themselves as outsiders — Mr. Macron served in the Socialist government but is not a Socialist, while Ms. Le Pen’s party has never held power — but the crowds at the two rallies were a study in contrast. Judging by a dozen-odd interviews, Mr. Macron’s group was peppered with teachers, doctors, academics, civil servants and men who described themselves as “heads of companies.”
In contrast, Ms. Le Pen’s crowd was full of factory workers and former soldiers, and it adored her thundering opening line: “I’m against the Right of money, and the Left of money. I’m the candidate of the people!”
We know how this game ends.

That's why there has been a steady moan in the media about the fate of Germany in this new Trump world of ours. This morning's installment is Max Fisher's "Germany Prepares for Turbulence in the Trump Era." Some Christian Democrats are calling for a massive militarization of Germany to counteract a perceived U.S. retreat from confrontation with Russian.

What gets left out in all this "whither Deutschland?" hand wringing is an acknowledgement that prior to the 2014 coup in Kiev Germany's development was moving eastward. Obama's New Cold War ended that.

What we have to keep in mind is that the refulgent nationalism presently cloaking the West is brittle and thin. It was on display in pregame to the Super Bowl. It is a brazen celebration of militarism -- a live video feed of soldiers watching the game in Kuwait; a flyover of Air Force fighter-bomber jets; Tom Brady mouthing the words to the national anthem for the Fox TV cameras; a superannuated G.W. Bush wheeled out to midfield for the the coin toss -- that is razor thin in its superficiality; it is all held together by a consumerism that is rapidly growing dim, captured beautifully by a Nina Simone recording played to a Ford commercial.

Make no mistake about it. It is a doomed society.

A glimmer of this was captured in a surprisingly balanced report on the blossoming of anarchist support in the United States. Found on the front page of The New York Times last Friday, Farah Stockman's "Anarchists Respond to Trump’s Inauguration, by Any Means Necessary" notes that
Anarchists also say their recent efforts have been wildly successful, both by focusing attention on their most urgent argument — that Mr. Trump poses a fascist threat — and by enticing others to join their movement.
“The number of people who have been showing up to meetings, the number of meetings, and the number of already-evolving plans for future actions is through the roof,” Legba Carrefour, who helped organize the so-called Disrupt J20 protests on Inauguration Day in Washington, said in an interview.
“Gained 1,000 followers in the last week,” trumpeted @NYCAntifa, an anti-fascist Twitter account in New York, on Jan. 24. “Pretty crazy for us as we’ve been active for many years with minimal attention. SMASH FASCISM!”
The movement even claims to be finding adherents far afield of major population centers. A participant in CrimethInc, a decades-old anarchist network, pointed to rising attendance at its meetings and activity cropping up in new places like Omaha.
“The Left ignores us. The Right demonizes us,” the anarchist website It’s Going Down boasted on Twitter. “Everyday we grow stronger.”
Little known to practitioners of mainstream American politics, militant anti-fascists make up a secretive culture closely associated with anarchists. Both reject social hierarchies as undemocratic and eschew the political parties as hopelessly corrupt, according to interviews with a dozen anarchists around the country. While some anarchists espouse nonviolence, others view property damage and even physical attacks on the far right as important tactics.
While extreme right-wing groups have been enthusiastic supporters of Mr. Trump, anti-fascists express deep disdain for the Democratic Party. And it is mutual, by and large: They amount to the left’s unwanted revolutionary stepchild, disowned for their tactics and ideology by all but the most radical politicians.
The neoliberal center is kaput.

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