Daily Archives: April 4th, 2017

Lipstick Fascism: Lana Lokteff and the Women of the Alt-Right

Samantha Miller writes for Jacobin:

When we imagine the alt-right insurgency, we likely envision an army of Richard Spencers: angry white men with fashy haircuts marching under the banner of Pepethe Frog. But this image leaves out a sizable and increasingly vocal segment of extremist right politics: women.

Like their male counterparts, these white-nationalist and neofascist women reject what they call the “domination of cultural Marxism,” portraying leftists as the children of Karl Marx and Lena Dunham, trying to turn the United States into an anti-white cesspool run by Jewish interests that promote race-mixing, feminism, and hedonism.

These alt-right women put a feminine spin on the movement’s patriarchal and xenophobic rhetoric by emphasizing traditional gender roles and old-fashioned ideals of beauty. They promote the mid-century nuclear family, dreaming of emulating Obergruppenführer John Smith’s all-white, American Nazi family on the science-fiction show The Man in the High Castle.

In this, the alt-right seeks to naturalize what is not only oppressive but also conventional, reminding us that, as shocking as its recent explosion onto the political landscape has been, their ideology is largely recycled.



Europe’s False Choice

Podemos MEP Miguel Urbán writes for Jacobin:

Last weekend marked the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the European Union’s foundational agreement.

The party for the occasion was all set, except for one thing: EU elites were confused about which tune to play, caught between celebrating past conquests and focusing on the word of the moment — speed. Which is to say, a Europe going at two or more speeds, depending on who we’re asking.

Today Europeans need neither empty exercises in nostalgia nor discussions about who should go down the fast track and who down the slow one. The key question is not how fast we should go, or in what vehicle (be it a more federal one or a more inter-governmental one), but what direction the European project is headed and who it’s leaving by the wayside.

The celebrations in Rome were marked by the publication of a white paper in which European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker established various possible scenarios for the EU’s future — keep the current rhythm, step on the accelerator, apply the brakes, or go into reverse. Not a word was offered on the substance, the policies, that would define these routes. Nothing on youth unemployment, the migration crisis, cuts, violence against women, or climate change. In an umpteenth display of ignorance, Europe’s elite closed their eyes to the crises affecting the continent and the concerns of those experiencing them.


The Roots of the European Union

Oisín Gilmore writes for Jacobin:

[…] The sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome provides an opportune time to look back at the EEC’s founding, and to clear up some common misconceptions.

First, the oft-told story of Jean Monnet as the driving force behind the EEC and European unification is just plain wrong. This narrative is relayed by both the European Union’s opponents and supporters. As the European Union’s partisans tell it, Monnet was the great visionary who guided Europe out of an era of war and strife and into an era of peaceful cooperation. According to the European Union’s opponents, Monnet was the elitist cosmopolitan who undermined European democracy by transferring power away from national parliaments to a distant bureaucracy.

Both versions of the story are wrong. Monnet simply did not matter that much. Most of his initiatives failed or only half succeeded, and he had little involvement in the EEC’s creation. The real impetus behind the EEC was economic: namely, the need to reduce tariffs to facilitate the expansion of European trade, and thereby increase European growth.

The specific form the EEC took, however, wasn’t inevitable. It reflected the changed political situation in postwar Europe. While many European liberals simply wanted to reduce tariff barriers, the shifting political context necessitated that workers and farmers receive at least some protection from the vagaries of trade. It’s that context which has changed in the ensuing decades, leaving us with a profoundly undemocratic European Union.


Emmanuel Macron’s Rothschild Years Make Him an Easy Election Target

Anne-Sylvaine Chassany and Arash Massoudi report for the Financial Times:

When Emmanuel Macron told friends in 2008 he was joining Rothschild, the prestigious investment bank, the then 30-year-old civil servant was warned it could scupper a future career in politics.

“You’re conscious that banking is not any kind of job? And Rothschild not any kind of bank?” said one friend to the man who, nine years later, would become frontrunner in France’s presidential election.

Mr Macron shrugged off the warnings and learnt the ropes of debt restructuring and mergers and acquisitions, earning €2.9m and a nickname — “the Mozart of finance” — for his role advising Nestlé on its $12bn acquisition of a unit of Pfizer in 2012. At Rothschild he found himself at the heart of French business intrigues, acquiring the codes and jargon of a world where careers largely depend on having attended the right elite university.

Now, with France still scarred by the global financial crisis, Mr Macron’s four-year investment banking stint has made him an easy target for rivals in a presidential contest fraught with scandals and populist jabs.


Putin Derangement Syndrome Arrives

Matt Taibii writes for Rolling Stone:

So Michael Flynn, who was Donald Trump‘s national security adviser before he got busted talking out of school to Russia’s ambassador, has reportedly offered to testify in exchange for immunity.

For seemingly the 100th time, social media is exploding. This is it! The big reveal!

Perhaps it will come off just the way people are expecting. Perhaps Flynn will get a deal, walk into the House or the Senate surrounded by a phalanx of lawyers, and unspool the whole sordid conspiracy.

He will explain that Donald Trump, compromised by ancient deals with Russian mobsters, and perhaps even blackmailed by an unspeakable KGB sex tape, made a secret deal. He’ll say Trump agreed to downplay the obvious benefits of an armed proxy war in Ukraine with nuclear-armed Russia in exchange for Vladimir Putin’s help in stealing the emails of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta.

I personally would be surprised if this turned out to be the narrative, mainly because we haven’t seen any real evidence of it. But episodes like the Flynn story have even the most careful reporters paralyzed. What if, tomorrow, it all turns out to be true?

What if reality does turn out to be a massive connect-the-dots image of St. Basil’s Cathedral sitting atop the White House? (This was suddenly legitimate British conspiracist Louise Mensch’s construction in The New York Times last week.) What if all the Glenn Beck-style far-out charts with the circles and arrows somehow all make sense?

This is one of the tricks that keeps every good conspiracy theory going. Nobody wants to be the one claiming the emperor has no clothes the day His Highness walks out naked. And this Russia thing has spun out of control into just such an exercise of conspiratorial mass hysteria.


White House Meeting With Egypt’s Tyrant Highlights Key Trump Effect: Unmasking U.S. Policy

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Image result for White House Meeting With Egypt’s Tyrant Highlights Key Trump Effect: Unmasking U.S. PolicyWhat Trump is achieving by opening the White House doors to Sisi is not ushering in a new policy but rather clarifying and illuminating a very old one. This Trumpian effect — unmasking in all its naked ugliness what D.C. mavens prefer to keep hidden — is visible in multiple other areas.

Exactly the same thing happened last week when Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, announced that the U.S. would no longer condition transfers of arms to the regime in Bahrain on human rights improvements. The outrage over this announcement utterly masked the fact that Obama continued to lavish the same Bahraini regime with all sorts of weapons and other forms of support even as it imprisoned dissidents and violently crushed protests. Just compare the reaction of one Obama speechwriter to Tillerson’s announcement to the actual reality of his boss’s conduct.

There are, of course, instances where Trump is imposing genuinely new destructive policies, such as his deportation crackdown, increased civilian massacres, and the rollback of vital regulations. But in the case of Egypt and Bahrain, the only new aspect of Trump’s conduct is that it’s more candid and revealing: rather than deceitfully feign concern for human rights while arming and propping up the world’s worst tyrants — as Obama and his predecessors did — Trump is dispensing with the pretense. The reason so many D.C. mavens like Diehl are so upset with Trump isn’t because they hate his policies but rather despise his inability and/or unwillingness to prettify what the U.S. does in the world.


Trump Meets Egypt’s el-Sisi, Amid Wave of Repression, Jailings and Extrajudicial Killings in Egypt

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak with Sharif Abdel Kouddous about President Trump’ meets Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House today, even as el-Sisi faces widespread criticism for human rights abuses in Egypt. (Democracy Now!)

‘Dark money’ Is Threat to Integrity of UK Elections, Say Leading Academics

Carole Cadwalladr reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Dark moneyAn urgent review of “weak and helpless” electoral laws is being demanded by a group of leading academics who say that uncontrolled “dark money” poses a threat to the fundamental principles of British democracy.

A working group set up by the London School of Economics warns that new technology has disrupted British politics to such an extent that current laws are unable to ensure a free and fair election or control the influence of money in politics.

Damian Tambini, director of the media policy project at the LSE, who heads the group made up of leading experts in the field, said that new forms of online campaigning had not only changed the ways that political parties target voters but, crucially, had also altered the ability of big money interests to manipulate political debate. “There is a real danger we are heading down the US route where whoever spends the most money is most likely to win. That’s why we’ve always controlled spending in this country. But these controls are no longer working.”


Tabloids ‘Worse For Vocabulary Than Not Reading a Paper’

Judith Burns reported for BBC News in November 2014:

Image result for TabloidsReaders of tabloid papers have smaller vocabularies than people who do not read newspapers, suggests a study.

The University of London’s Institute of Education compared vocabulary test scores and reading habits of 9,400 British people born in 1970.

The researchers analysed data collected at the ages of 10, 16 and 42.

As well as the tabloids finding, they said childhood reading for fun boosted vocabulary throughout life, while highbrow fiction helped adults further.

The research team drew on the 1970 British Cohort Study, which collects information on a group of people from England, Scotland and Wales who were born in the same week.