In 1971, Gil Scott-Heron famously proclaimed that the revolution will not be televised. In 2020, we can definitively conclude that he was wrong. Not only will the revolution be televised, it will be livestreamed on Periscope, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. You will be forced to stay at home and self-quarantine, brother. You will be able to plug in, turn on and pig out on Uber eats and Doordash. Not only will you be able to lose yourself on skag, but all the other opoids being shipped in from China as well. You won’t need to skip out for beer during commercials because it’ll be delivered to your doorstep by Drizly. Because the new season of the revolution will be streaming on Netflix and you’re binge watching it with your nonbinary, polyamorous partner. The revolution will be delivered to you overnight by Amazon Prime. The revolution will show you leaked nude photos of J Law, Kim Kardashian, and Ariana Grande. The revolution will be brought to you by Hulu and Disney + and will feature the world’s first differently abled, queer, body positive, atheist Muslim POC superhero. The revolution will give your mouth, butt and abs sex appeal because you’ve been working out to Andrea Rogers’ xtend barre workout app. If it doesn’t make you look five pounds thinner, just use a better filter and post to Instagram. The revolution be viral. There will be lots of cute selfies and photo bombs. There will be pictures of George Floyd, Eric Garner and Michael Brown on instant replay and available as ringtones from Google Play. There will be slow motions and still lifes of AOC, Alyssa Milano, Shaun King, Rachel Dolezal and Jussie Smollett strolling through the streets of Ferguson wearing custom #BlackLivesMatter facemasks that they’ve been saving for just the proper occasion. Black Mirror, Westworld and The Walking Dead will no longer be so damn relevant because the real world surpasses the horror of these shows by several orders of magnitude. Women won’t care about whether Dick got down with Jane because Dick is her biggest patron on her Only Fans account. Black people will be looking for a brighter day because the revolution left their businesses looted and ransacked. The revolution will be hashtagged, contact traced, surveilled, scanned, barcoded, sanitized, searched, unmasked, leaked, deep faked, socially constructed and socially distant. There will be highlights on Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, The View, SNL, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Meet the Press. There won’t be pictures of Antifa throwing bricks or pipe bombs, but there will be photos of pro-2A citizens because those are the people you really have to worry about. There will be a powerful post by Billie Eilish and Greta Thunberg denouncing the usage of #AllLivesMatter and in support of veganism to combat the #ClimateCrisis. The theme song will be written by John Legend and Justin Timberlake and sung by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Lizzo. The revolution will be right back after a message about white privilege, white supremacy, and how white people just need to use their power to be better allies. You will have to worry about Alexa in your bedroom, a surveillance drone above your park, and robotic police dog in your neighborhood. The revolution will not go better with Coke, but it will go better with Pepsi. The revolution will not put you in the driver’s seat, but you can call an Uber. The revolution will be livestreamed, tweeted, posted, and retweeted. The revolution will be screencapped, brothers. Because nothing is live.
The Netflix “documentary” is a dubious phenomenon and perhaps even an oxymoron. If Netflix’s partnership with the Obamas doesn’t send up a red flag over their institutional priorities, then I suppose you’re exactly the target demo for their products. That said, it doesn’t mean that they’re not well made or devoid of interesting content. As long as you go into it knowing you’re getting an approved narrative, there’s still value to be gleaned.
American Anarchist is William Powell’s look back on his manifesto of paramilitary sedition, The Anarchist Cookbook. The Cookbook has gained infamy for being an alleged inspiration for every atrocity from Columbine to the Oklahoma City bombing. In addition to its white hot revolutionary rhetoric, it has instructions for everything from homemade surveillance and explosives to hallucinogens and firearms. Charlie Siskel spends the entire film acting like some kind of puritanical grand inquisitor trying to extract penance and contrition from Powell.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that Charlie Siskel has assumed the mantle of the pious, reformed nu-Left of the post-Obama world. Where yesterday’s radicals openly embraced revolutionary violence, today’s version doesn’t necessarily need to resort those tactics anymore. They have institutional power. They’re running the universities, the media and Silicon Valley. And most importantly, they run all the major metropolitan areas. Sure, you’ve got some Bernie bros who like to larp as neo-Bolshevik “revolutionaries” in their local Antifa chapter. But now that Coronachan has been rolled out, the necessity for that kind of controlled opposition has likely run its course.
Speaking of controlled opposition, this brings me to my central thesis about Powell, the Cookbook and this film. I suggest that the Cookbook was intentionally released as a long range psychological operation in order to infiltrate and coopt opposition groups. If the subversion and psychological warfare deployed in other countries described by spooks like Miles Copeland Sr. are applicable to the dawn of the counterculture in the US, then it’s entirely reasonable that Powell’s book was part of that long range effort.
Why do I believe that? Because Powell fits the pattern we find in a significant majority of the academic, celebrity and revolutionary class. He is a child of the global establishment. His father, William Charles Powell, was director of the Press and Publications Division [emphasis mine] of the U.N. Office of Public Information. But he was rebelling against his father, you dumb conspiratard! Exactly. Rebellion against the establishment was and is the pathway to the eventual conquest of the establishment. Do you think for one minute that a stooge like Bernie Sanders was ever serious about his “revolution”? Of course not. But man! Did that shit ever go over like gangbusters with the kids! For two election cycles no less!
The two questions that were largely unexplored in the documentary were the Constitutionality of the Cookbook as well as its historical connection to the revolutionary ethos of the founders of the United States.
We now know beyond a shadow of doubt that the Left doesn’t give a single shit about the First Amendment. It applies to their unlimited exercise of speech, but the rest of us can pound sand. Anyone who has a rudimentary knowledge of the 60’s knows that the sanctity of free speech was at the center of the Left’s civil disobedience crusade. If we’re to adopt the naive assumption that the Bill of Rights is still universal and inviolable and Marbury v. Madison is a legitimate decision, then the SCOTUS precedent regarding the 1A we must honor is the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision. Is The Anarchist Cookbook “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” or is it “likely to incite or produce such action”?
Good question. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but it seems like it is.
However, if we take the case that the Cookbook is unconstitutional, then doesn’t that put us at odds with the revolutionary ethos of the Declaration of Independence itself? Isn’t an instruction manual culled from military field manuals exactly the kind of material to which your citizens are entitled if “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” a tyrannical government?
Another good question. It seems like it is.
It also casts doubt on a purely libertarian worldview which places negative liberty as the highest virtue. There’s simply nothing that binds anyone to the Non-Aggression Principle when generic liberty is placed at the apex of the value scale. Objective moral truth and virtue must be paramount.
So if we have material that’s potentially unconstitutional, yet at the same time, completely consistent with the revolutionary ethos of the country’s foundation, what appeal remains for the paleoconservative, reactionary, or run of the mill law and order civic nationalist?
Even if there is a proper secular response to this question, I suspect we’re past the point of having a mature discussion about it in the political arena.
The Trump presidency has precipitated a period of massive upheaval and transformation in the progressive establishment. Setting aside the spasms of selective outrage, acts of political sabotage and the reflexive posture of juvenile recalcitrance that define its outward manifestation, one of the most significant developments of the past few years has been the public deposition and crucifixion of one of its most revered patron saints: Harvey Weinstein. Woke revisionists will cast him down the memory hole as a relic of a bygone era, but there is simply no denying the vaunted position he once held in the progressive power structure. Measured in Hollywood terms, he was nothing short of a King Midas. When his name was invoked by the most admired celebrities at every awards ceremony, it was spoken with gushing praise, gratitude and affection. If it weren’t on the Obama White House archive channel, there’s little doubt in my mind that YouTube’s content monitors would scrub every last bit of footage of that time Michelle Obama publicly thanked him and called him a “wonderful human being” in 2013.
The story of the downfall of Harvey Weinstein is fascinating for a number of reasons. Not the least of which being that Hollywood celebrities enjoy a tacit immunity from public scrutiny and an unearned mantle of moral authority. Hollywood never hesitates to arouse moral indignation with its films, shows and documentaries, but it never seems to train its camera eye inwards. They’ll have us believe that the real predators, hypocrites, racists, dumbshits and deceivers are out there in flyover country wearing MAGA hats or are simply white men who have conservative views. Never the woke beautiful people who wear Versace on the red carpet and gush over Billy Porter’s gender neutral outfit. LOL. As if, amirite?! While the feminist wing of the woke intelligentsia has been ginning up outrage over sexual assault on college campuses for years, sexual predation in Hollywood wasn’t even part of the public discourse prior to Harveygate. Given all these things, you’d think that Ronan Farrow’s account of his attempt to bring the Harvey Weinstein story into the light, Catch and Kill, would be one of the most important pieces of investigative journalism in the modern era.
It may be, but there are reasons to be suspicious of it as well.
Since the Weinstein revelations have come to light, Hollywood and the progressive establishment have adopted a very strident posture of would-be piety and puritanism around the issue of sexual assault. Female celebrities virtue signal their manufactured solidarity with matching gowns while the men dutifully don their #TimesUp pin on their lapels. The woke Twitter brigade immediately went to work deploying facile hashtag slogans like #MeToo and #BelieveWomen. In other words, hashtag slogans that are meant to be construed in one narrow rigidly politicized niche. As the current indifference towards Tara Reade’s allegations amply demonstrates, allegations of sexual assault are to be accorded automatic credibility except if the perpetrator is a Democrat.
You are a fraud. This is about holding the media accountable. You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie. The corrupt DNC is in on the smear job of Tara Reade, so are you. SHAME https://t.co/B7NHK4k09K
While one would hope that people like Rose McGowan, Annabella Sciorra, Mira Sorvino and the numerous others who’ve suffered from Weinstein’s predatory behavior would take some kind of comfort in his conviction, the Hollywood establishment has weaponized Weinstein’s downfall in a way that feels completely calculated. Herein lies my fundamental beef with Farrow’s account. Something about it smells fishy.
Though Farrow certainly deserves credit for bringing this story to light, we must first consider that he is not a politically neutral actor nor is he an outsider who’s trying to bring the whole system crashing down. Farrow is a progressive establishmentarian through and through. Besides his elite pedigree, he worked in the State Department under Hillary Clinton. Specifically, under the tutelage of Richard Holbrooke and CIA veteran, Frank Archibald. He is engaged to former Obama speechwriter, Jon Lovett. His former employer, NBC, is known mostly for its cozy relationship to the national security complex. When one takes into account the various voices throughout the network, they can hardly be considered an unbiased platform when it comes to their reporting.
With credentials like these, one must consider the possibility that he is a controlled asset and this entire affair is and has been stage managed to some extent to serve a larger agenda. Specifically, to propagandize the media establishment itself as a self-policing entity. As a person who is intimately familiar with the tactics of the progressive establishment, one of ways they maintain ideological fidelity is by using journalism as a limited hangout. First and foremost, they are able to normalize corruption and deviant behavior within their own ranks. Second, they are able to affect a pretense of transparency and reform while casting aspersions on the political opposition. By selectively exposing and purging the corruption within their own ranks, they are able to maintain a posture of self-reflection and resume the daily business of opportunistically politicized outrage. Farrow proves himself exceptionally skillful at this task throughout the book.
Farrow tips his hand early on. He begins by rehearsing the manufactured outrage of now infamous Billy Bush/Trump exchange that was spiked by Farrow’s employer, NBC. Farrow describes this fumble as a loss of “one of the most important election stories in a generation”. (p. 6) Right away, Farrow has poisoned the well in two key ways. He reinforces what is now considered definitive proof of Trump’s moral turpitude while he simultaneously presents NBC’s journalistic malpractice as equal opportunity. We’re to believe that the top brass of NBCUniversal were just as skittish about going after Trump as they were a powerful progressive like Harvey Weinstein. Sure, Ronan.
The pattern continues throughout the book. Events are framed in such a way as to subtly reinforce progressive articles of faith. Every good story needs villains, and aside from Weinstein himself, Farrow sets up Phil Griffin and Noah Oppenheim as the unscrupulous stooges who were instrumental in spiking his story. While I don’t dispute that this is consistent with factual record, it is awfully convenient that the anecdotes Farrow chooses to use to illustrate their dubious moral character correspond perfectly with standard progressive bromides. Griffin has no compunction about airing a selectively edited segment with Gwen Stefani which made her sound ambiguous on vaccines (pgs. 176-177). Can’t have the proles getting any weird notions about vaccines, can we? But how about that dirty Phil Griffin? Imagine him being so cavalier as to permit a selectively edited clip of Gwen Stefani to air which might give people a….God forbid….different opinion on vaccinations. What a science hating degenerate. This is NBC not Infowars, Phil! The last thing we need right now anti-vaccine propaganda!
Farrow offers up another story about Noah Oppenheim which casts him in an equally dubious light. In Oppenheim’s case, it’s even worse because as writer for the Harvard Crimson, he had the temerity to…..wait for it…..mock feminists. The horror. What a terrible piece of shit, that Noah Oppenheim. Clearly, someone who mocks feminists would be exactly the kind of misogynistic dirtbag who would spike a story which exposed a serial predator like Harvey Weinstein. Only bad people mock feminists. Very bad. Bad Noah Oppenheim.
The ultimate destruction of Farrow’s credibility is found on page 19. When describing the collusive relationship between Dylan Howard, The National Enquirer and Donald Trump, Farrow weaves together a patchwork of references which paint the perennial cliché that political conservatism is the sole province of sensationalism, corruption and unhinged conspiracy mongering. There’s a safe containing secret dirt on Trump. There’s a conspiracy theory about Ted Cruz’s father’s link to the JFK assassination which was purportedly advanced by Roger Stone. And there are those “sycophantic” headlines which painted Trump favorably and highlight Hillary Clinton’s “supposed treachery”. Because the media establishment are never sycophants when it comes to progressive politicians. Right, Ronan?
Got that, conservatards? Her supposed treachery. The predations of Harvey Weinstein would never have come to light if not for the fearless reporting of Ronan Farrow, but somehow, this allegedly unbiased alumnus of Hillary Clinton’s State Department didn’t have an ounce of curiosity around his former boss. Either that, or we’re to take his claim at face value because he’s obviously a brave and scrupulous man. She did ostracize him for pursuing this story, after all. I mean, he believed Meryl Streep when she claimed that she had no knowledge of Harvey’s predations. Meryl was totally oblivious.
Despite the book’s presumed focus on the Weinstein revelations, Farrow revisits this entire guilt by association tactic by revisiting Dylan Howard and his loyalty to Trump. The title of the book is a reference to the manner in which publications would buy a story only to bury it. Farrow has the absolute gall to assert that the Enquirer is uniquely guilty of spiking unfavorable coverage of Trump in order to sway an election. As if Silicon Valley, the entire mainstream media complex, academia and Hollywood weren’t all in the tank for one party. What a joke.
There are other reasons to believe that this book is a stage managed psyop and a highly refined piece of propaganda. Weinstein hired agents from Black Cube, a private intelligence firm which employed former Mossad operatives. Farrow eventually received help from a Deep Throat-style informant from within the agency who leaked the details of Black Cube’s contract with Harvey Weinstein. Their assignment was to prevent the release of Farrow’s piece and any subsequent harm to Weinstein’s reputation. Because private intelligence operations often operate outside the law, and their assignment from Harvey Weinstein was both illegal and amoral, it sure makes Black Cube, and private intelligence agencies in general, seem like pretty bad actors.
Farrow poisons the well even further by recounting the efforts of Black Cube operatives working on behalf of the……wait for it…….TRUMP ADMINISTRATION to spike the Iran nuclear deal that was struck by the angelic Obama administration. So remember, proles. Just because this makes Harvey Weinstein and his progressive cohorts look really bad, always remember that there are people that prop up these dirtbags who are even worse. After all, they also work for Blumpffft.
But wait! Isn’t it true that Ronan Farrow got help from a Black Cube informant? They can’t be all that bad if they helped brave and intrepid Ronan Farrow. If it weren’t for Sleeper1973, we might never have known the extent of Weinstein’s misdeeds!
This is exactly why I believe this book is ultimately a sophisticated piece of propaganda. As Anthony Sutton and numerous others have revealed, intelligence operatives thrive precisely because they are able to pit groups against one another through carefully controlled dialectics. Through the deliberate deployment of a left/right paradigm in perpetual conflict, intelligence operatives are able to manipulate public opinion and cultural consensus. I believe that like every other espionage novel or film, clandestine operations are cast as both heroes and villains.
Seen from this perspective, Catch and Kill confirms several very powerful insights about the real machinery of power behind the global progressive establishment. The primary one being that this is a class of people who are completely amoral and have weaponized morality purely for the purposes of manipulating public opinion. The entire system seems upheld through private surveillance, sexual blackmail and NDA’s.
The chances that Catch and Kill has reformed Hollywood in a meaningful way are minimal to nonexistent. They’ve certainly ramped up their virtue signaling and doubled down on the fake piety, but has this book fundamentally changed the culture of Hollywood? I’m going with No.
Ronan Farrow’s account has the appearance of a brave and principled piece of investigative journalism. Perhaps it is. Given that the very media establishment that allegedly blacklisted him after going to the New Yorker with the Weinstein story have heartily embraced him and showered him with glowing coverage and awards, what are the chances they tacitly sanctioned this entire release from the start? I’m going with High Probability.
Generally speaking, the artists who garner the praise of the cinematic establishment are those who stare into the barren soul of modern man and render its depravity in painstaking detail while hopefully, but not necessarily, offering a small glimmer of redemption in end. This is especially true of the films of Ingmar Bergman. This is a difficult tightrope to walk because the joke is that there is no real redemption in secular modernity. There is, at best, a competition of wills over some presumed “greater good”.
The praise that is accorded to Bergman is warranted for a few important reasons. First and foremost, his passion for the storytelling potential of cinema is genuine and awe inspiring. He appreciates the importance of crafting intimate and emotionally honest character portraits. The Serpent’s Egg meanders a bit, but for these reasons alone, Bergman commands your attention.
The Serpent’s Egg is a story of an American Jew living in Berlin in the twilight of the Weimar Republic. Most people will read this film as another spin on #NazisBad. Don’t believe them. Bergman has bigger fish to fry.
The fundamental delusion of the scientific materialist paradigm is the underlying belief that man’s moral defects can be quantified and stripped out through Pavlovian conditioning. The Serpent’s Egg may not be Bergman’s greatest film, but it is worth watching because it is the one film I’ve seen thus far which casts a bright light on the clinical and pathological architecture of this mindset.
Nowadays, we hear a constant drumbeat of feigned outrage and manufactured moral panic from the progressive establishment over the existential threat of a resurgent “fascist” sentiment in Europe and America. The shills who promulgate these concerns focus on bumper sticker moral transgressions like “racism” and “nationalism”, but anyone who has dedicated five minutes of genuine introspection over the real aims of the post-Enlightenment liberal project can easily see that Bergman is revealing something that is not limited to the national socialist mindset of pre-WWII Germany. When the behavior scientist Hans Vergerus confesses that the privately funded research in which he was engaged is destined to become global, it is among the most blood curdling lines ever uttered in cinema.
Deep state assassin plays surrogate father for his deep fake GMO clone who’s trying to ruin his retirement.
I always feel a little bit dirty for being taken in by a film like this because you know that’s when its psychological toxins are taking root. Like Doctor Sleep, Gemini Man exceeded my minimal expectations. It is another piece of deep state chic about a super soldier assassin who is being targeted by his genetically engineered clone. The main gimmick here being the seamless integration of CGI effects on the Will Smith double.
When Henry and Junior finally meet, there is some genuinely compelling psychodrama as Henry tries to appeal to his conscience and his capacity for free will. It’s subject matter that has plenty of precedent in sci-fi, but it’s capably handled here. I was almost encouraged when Henry tries to dissuade Junior from pursuing the deep state assassin life and raise a family. But alas, I was let down in the final confrontation with Clay Verris, the bad surrogate father who raised Junior from the time he was just a test tube specimen.
Verris wanted to create an even better version of Henry. A soldier with all of his killer acumen and none of his defects, vulnerabilities, fears or doubts. This required filling the deficits of Henry’s single mother upbringing and being the father he never had. That means showing him…get this….love and affection. Scandalous. I think you can imagine what happens to Verris. I suppose it’s a form of cosmic justice since it wasn’t true, unconditional paternal love, but from a symbolism perspective, it’s another swing of the wrecking ball against the edifice of fatherhood.
Ramona Flowers turns in a likeable performance as another nu school archetype of feminine Wokegnosis. Academic smarts, combat capabilities, yet desexualized and semi-maternal all at once. All the checkboxes are filled out, but there’s just enough real humanity and vulnerability to make her engaging. Together, she and Henry form the kind of quasi-alchemical, artificial parenthood that the establishment hopes to normalize.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Every Hollywood film is a clever mixture of art and propaganda. Gemini Man is noteworthy because it is further proof that Hollywood is specifically propaganda for military black operations, espionage, mass surveillance and media, eugenics, artificial intelligence, and all manners of superweapons. It’s a big deal because the MSM narrative insists that the idea of a “deep state” is just a conservatard talking point. From a Hollywood perspective, it is normative to see portraits of espionage and black operations as heroic. Yet, they’re also telling you that these forces are the very first boots on the ground in any unstable region of the world deposing leaders, fomenting dissent and training death squads.
Not only does Gemini Man want you to believe that the black ops assassin is a great guy who is just doing his patriotic duty, it wants you to believe that he’s the guy who’s going to thwart the plans of people like Verris who take things a little too far. When Henry and his pals raise a glass, they toast to “the next war which is no war.” Don’t you want to believe it?
The film was shot at 60 fps as opposed to 24. While this was probably sold as a cutting edge effect, it is also probably includes the latest piece of hypnosis tech. This is also probably the test film for a new generation of deep fake technology. May God have mercy on our souls.
Growing up in the secular liberal paradigm requires you to take lots of assumptions both as a priori truth and unquestionable articles of faith. First and foremost being an ironclad assumption that society must progress. There is an unswerving belief that we remain shackled by social values that are both antiquated and deeply ingrained. These attitudes are a consequence of ossified institutions which perpetuate outmoded ways of thinking underpinning a vast array of pernicious, omnipresent structures of “oppression”. The only way forward is to demand change and remake the system. Smash it and rebuild if you fancy yourself a radical. Following closely behind these beliefs are three corollary beliefs; true progressivism is the ideology of the underdog, the system is fearful of change, and that all progressive political advocacy is good, true, pure and right. Anyone who stands in the way is just motivated by hate, ignorance, fear or bigotry. Probably all of the above.
In 2020, Progressivism is the ideology of the ruling class. Once effectively able to affect a pretense of working class legitimacy, the modern liberal establishment is unabashedly global, cosmopolitan, and aristocratic in temperament. Most importantly, they’ve gotten filthy rich. Once comprised of labor unions, blue collar workers, and various bleeding heart middle income urbanites who could convincingly exploit grievances against the 1%, the modern liberal establishment is clearly the plutocracy it once opposed. Comprised of pretentious academics, judicial activists, NGO’S, non-profit sector denizens, media elites, effete celebrities, sports tycoons and their overpaid, preening athletes, Silicon Valley moguls, hedge fund and private equity barons, Wall Street titans, intelligence professionals, bureaucrats who inhabit every level of power from the municipality up to the UN, IMF and World Bank, and legions of annoying professional activists in every corner of cultural influence, the progressive establishment is anything but an embattled underdog.
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Needless to say, if you subscribe to this worldview, you aren’t likely to question the success or failure of yesterday’s policy victory nor the underlying belief that today’s cause célèbre is anything less than a moral imperative. Christopher Caldwell’s new book, The Age of Entitlement, is a look back on the entire spectrum of legislative and cultural reforms of the 60s and the ways in which they ushered in an entirely new social compact and subverted constitutional precedent. What’s fascinating about his analysis is that he reveals that these changes were so sweeping, they continued their inexorable march through every power structure regardless of who occupied the White House or which party held a Congressional majority. While conservatives may feel a sense of vindication and triumphalism by the Trump presidency, The Age of Entitlement should make anyone with traditional sensibilities deeply concerned.
At the center of his critique is a sweeping indictment of the Civil Rights movement. Specifically, the Civil Rights Act of ’64 and its subsidiary revolutions, feminism and the so-called “counterculture“. While Caldwell isn’t the first to go after these sacred cows, he is taking a different tack than Thomas Sowell and Paul Gottfried did in their analyses. The Age of Entitlement is useful in the sense that it provides a serviceable narrative to describe the massive cultural and institutional transformation ushered in under the banner of civil rights. What’s less useful about the book is that it offers no remedy nor any refuge for anyone who claims the mantle of conservatism of any kind.
Not only does it shed a light on the origins of today’s demagoguery disguised as activism, it exposes these reforms as simultaneously the most sweeping in the history of the republic and the biggest failures in terms of creating a more harmonious relationship between blacks and whites and men and women. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 created a bureaucracy of judicial activists, academics, and compliance apparatchiks so vast, the net effect was nothing less than a complete disassembly of constitutional norms of free association in favor of a police state mentality which looked for bigotry and discrimination even if there was none to be found.
Even if Trump secures a second term, the Right must contend with the cultural reality that the outworking of the liberal worldview has wrought. As Seraphim Rose argues in Nihilism, the underlying presuppositions of liberalism have become unraveled and its hollow core is exposed as never before. Caldwell argues that the new Civil Rights compact set the old constitutional norms in opposition to the new ones. It might be tempting to say that all that’s required is a reset of old fashioned constitutional principles, but who really believes that this is a tenable proposition at this juncture?
The country would therefore become an economic part rather than an economic whole, rendering nonsensical, at least for a while, all kinds of inherited cultural and political beliefs about sovereignty, national independence, and social cohesion.
Political conservativism is built on the liberal operating system. It can only work for a while as long as the assumptions of the premodern mindset remain intact. In other words, it assumes that there are objective moral principles and that there are transcendent truths to which we and our leaders are bound through the nation state. However, at this point in time, nothing can be taken as a given nor can any inherited tradition be considered exempt from the bonfires of revolution. If a society can no longer agree on what is shared or held to be sacred, then you’ve got a social malady that extends far beyond the purview of any legislative remedy. Christopher Caldwell has done a fantastic job chronicling the unraveling of 20th century democratic capitalism, but it does not answer the question of where to place your ultimate faith in the tumultuous years that lie ahead. And I daresay that may require an appeal to a higher power.
There is an unquestionable overabundance of woke agitprop coming from Hollywood these days, but between this and the 2018 “documentary” by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the cinematic love letter to Notorious RBG has become its own subgenre. I went in expecting epic cringe and it didn’t disappoint. It is the veritable hymnal for the feminist catechism that I expected.
However, the film seems to be running at cross purposes with contemporary sensibilities. On one hand, it is refueling the feminist grievance industry by attempting to portray the world of 2020 as completely unchanged from the world of Harvard Law School in 1956 when RBG was one of six women in her class. As Sam Waterston’s Erwin Griswold confers with his team in preparation for the Charles Moritz case, Mimi Leder absolutely wants you find this cabal of white men who bloviate over the sanctity of the family loathsome and omnipresent. Down with the patriarchy! When Marty toasts Ruth’s new professorship after being turned down at law firms, you’re supposed to feel the revulsion and disappointment on Ruth’s visage as he refers to her as “mom”. Fuck motherhood man! Garbage collection gender equality NOW!
Yet, at the same time, there is something decidedly unwoke about this film. While the film centers around RBG’s quest for redress of Charles Moritz’ denial of a caregiver tax deduction, the film already feels out of step with the cutting edge of the feminist ideological vanguard. In her arguments to the 10th circuit judges, RBG says that sex is an immutable biological reality. Whoa! Ease up there, Hitler. DIDN’T YOU READ JUDITH BUTLER, RUTH?
But none of that matters. If anything, it’s proof that the progressive ruling class doesn’t take anything it says seriously. They’re all just different shards of ideological weaponry that can be deployed when necessary. As is usually the case with the best works of propaganda, it’s very clever about how the message is delivered. As a newly radicalized Jane Ginsburg tries to femsplain to her unwoke mom that Atticus Finch was a role model attorney, Ruth shoots her down by appealing to THE PENAL CODE as evidence of his unethical behavior. Ah, but why is Ruth Bader Ginsburg putting everything on the line for Charles Moritz? BECAUSE THE LAW IS WRONG. So the lesson is that the law is the ultimate authority until it’s politically inconvenient. Because every woman must have an equal opportunity to work street sanitation or fulfill her lifelong dream of working an oil derrick.
As Ruth and Marty arrive at the 10th circuit courtroom for the climactic trial, Mimi Leder hovers over the quote inscribed on the wall. It reads “Reason is the soul of the law”. Sounds great, right? Standard Enlightenment rhetoric. It’s the stuff of which the American Revolution was built. It’s supposed to be the kind of lofty ideal on which which every American can agree. But who really thinks America in 2020 can agree on what “reason” means? Or who possesses the capacity to exercise it properly? Let alone believes in the existence of a “soul” within the law. RBG is the ultimate progressive power fantasy because she embodies the You Can Have It All feminist dream. She has a devoted husband and she’s a game changing crusader for Womyn’s Rights. She’s a mother and an educated career oriented woman. But Mimi Leder isn’t interested in whether or not this is attainable or desirable for everyone. Like everyone else in the progressive ruling class, the fantasy of ideological purity is the overriding priority. This is just as much a slice of a decades long social engineering experiment carried out by the progressive establishment as it is the story of a pivotal case in RBG’s career. Academia and the ACLU are just as important to this story as RBG herself. When Kathy Bates’ Dorothy Kenyon admonishes Ruth to “change minds, then change the law”, this feels like a page from the ruling class playbook. As a footnote, there is also what appears to be a nod to the Pentagon’s role in the development of artificial intelligence in the judicial system; a job that would later be outsourced to Silicon Valley.
Just like the Cohen and West “documentary” from 2018, Mimi Leder also isn’t interested in looking back and taking stock of what the legacy of the feminist establishment has wrought. It’s painting RBG’s career as an unquestionably righteous neverending battle while simultaneously subtly denigrating marriage and motherhood. If equality is your highest ideal, then that necessarily entails that the hierarchy of values that once defined the social order will be equalized as well. When sex becomes recreational, then you shouldn’t be surprised or appalled by an entire generation of infantilized men or the dissolution of chivalry. And yet, that’s exactly the grift Leder and the progressive ruling class is attempting to pull off in this film. Just be sure to tweet SLAY KWEEN as you watch RBG do her slo-mo march up the SCOTUS staircase.
When Apocalypse Now was released, it was heralded as a scathing indictment of the amorality of the Vietnam War. The war that divided America and defined an entire generation of alleged revolutionaries had finally been seen through the unflinching gaze of one of cinema’s greatest artists. In the wake of the release of Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut, the cinematic auteur himself has come clean and said that he doesn’t see it as an antiwar film. This is precisely the feeling with which I was left upon reviewing the film. It reveals the hot war in Vietnam as the merely the overt flipside to the domestic psychological degradation and debasement of the American soul being perpetrated through the media and the culture. If anything, Apocalypse Now reveals the savagery, futility and moral vacuum of modern warfare as its own form of psychological propaganda. The decadence and hedonism that had been unleashed in the counterculture were the exact same tools that were used to keep the ground forces numb to their own pain, loneliness and guilt. Sex, drugs and rock and roll weren’t the signifiers of rebellion that gatekeepers of culture would lead us to believe. The narcotic nihilism of The Doors’ “The End” playing against the symphony of destruction in the film’s opening isn’t really a lament. It’s a psychedelic sedative that’s meant to inoculate you to the juggernaut of inhumanity to which you are about to be subjected. These were the new chains of enslavement deployed by social engineers who had built their careers perfecting the means by which to erode the foundations of a healthy society. The combat was simply the laboratory in which the ideas were tested and the means by which the process was hastened.
Apocalypse Now makes this abundantly clear throughout the film in several different ways. The most obvious of which is the scene that Coppola himself concedes is a glorification of aerial combat. Lt. Colonel Kilgore revels in the fact that the Vietnamese are terrified by the sound of Wagner blaring over the helicopter squadron’s loudspeakers as they mercilessly slaughter the terrified civilians. The combination of aural psyops and aerial bombardment feels less like a rebuke and more like a celebration of American military dominance. Hell, you can even find articles discussing the possibility of video game adaptations. The practice of musical psyops has been extended into the era of Middle Eastern warfare with the only significant difference being the switch to heavy metal instead of 19th century operatic pagan mysticism. Same idea, different expressions.
The role of the media in advancing the domestic propaganda effort receives emphasis as well. When Willard arrives at the beachhead where Kilgore’s division is stationed, he is immediately met by a television crew directed by Coppola himself. In a meta moment, he instructs Willard to look like he’s engaged in combat. It’s a brief but highly effective scene because Coppola is revealing that the footage that would eventually be culled by Ken Burns and repackaged as hard hitting documentary was arguably just as stage managed as the fictitious effort you are viewing.
Despite the prevalence of Domino Effect narratives promulgated by the political class and official histories, Coppola goes one better by suggesting that the Viet Cong were yet another enemy created by the US government in a century that would be defined by wars fought for the express purpose of taking down manufactured boogeymen in service of the expansion of the Pax Americana. When Willard visits with the French colonists, he is given a lecture on American proxy warfare by Gaston de Marais.
Gaston de Marais: You Americans. In 1945, yeah, after the Japanese war, your president Roosevelt didn’t want the French people to stay in Indochina. So, you Americans implant the Vietnam.
Willard: [to Hubert] What’s he mean?
Hubert: Yeah, that’s true. The Vietcong were invented by the Americans, sir.
Willard: The Americans?
Gaston de Marais: And now you take the French place. And the Vietnam fight you. And what can you do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Later in the film, Kurtz’s sardonic reading of a Time magazine article suggests the naked and sanitized deception and the media were routinely peddling. The mention of Sir Robert Thompson’s affiliation with the neocons of the RAND Corporation simultaneously hints at the technocratic administration of the war effort while foreshadowing the eventual controlled release of the Pentagon Papers. As films like Wag the Dog and Network have so brilliantly illustrated, Hollywood has been completely forthright about the media’s rank mendacity and captured allegiance on numerous occasions. You need people as skillful as Steven Spielberg who can churn out agitprop like The Post to make the shills in the media seem heroic. This is ultimately what I believe Coppola was saying with Dennis Hopper’s drug addled photojournalist. Despite Kurtz’s murderous megalomania, Hopper remained enthralled by his poetic mystique. Hardly the behavior of an allegedly objective chronicler of America’s long term commitment in Vietnam.
Apocalypse Now offers what can now be seen as a fleeting moment in the ongoing politicization of sex. Once upon a time, liberals were actually promoting sexual liberation. They still do, but it’s been overshadowed by a lot of #MeToo moral grandstanding. Libidinous displays of female sexuality were simultaneously hailed as evidence of the liberated modern woman as well as a way to stick it to the conservative prudes. Coppola brings this to the forefront by portraying what amounts to a DOD sponsored strip show featuring Playboy playmates. Not only does it show how liberalism actively promotes sexual degeneracy, but it reveals Playboy as one of many forms of legal prostitution embedded within the entertainment complex.
If this seems like it’s a world away from the current cultural moment, it’s because liberals are a clever bunch. They carefully tend to the maintenance of both sides of the dialectic by deploying assets who can push the opposing perspective. They’ll happily peddle a former stripper like Cardi b in the mainstream while the entire feminist media complex will breathlessly extol the bravery of the #MeToo “movement”. Don’t believe me? Just ask feminist extraordinaire Gloria Steinem about her stint as a CIA asset and Playboy bunny.
Much like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now is a study in the real dynamics of American power. In one of many of Willard’s voice overs, he puzzles over the seemingly arbitrary decision to take Kurtz out. Kurtz was being groomed to take his place in the highest echelons of the American power structure. Because he had made the decision to step out of line and build his own cult of personality, he became a liability. His decorated status also made it necessary to make Kurtz’s retirement a black operation. It couldn’t be conducted through official channels because it would have been bad PR. It’s not about upholding any sacred honor or fixed morality. It’s about the preservation of the power structure at any cost.
Coppola also strongly suggests the link between the occult and the deep state. Kurtz had taken his considerable military training and transformed himself into a cult leader. I also believe that the appearances of Sir James George Frazer’s Golden Bough and Willard’s discovery of a newspaper article about Charles Manson were not accidents. Kurtz ended up being sacrificed at the altar of the death cult that bred him. His only transgression was carrying out his training without the sanction of his superiors.
In the paganistic final scene, Willard is immediately recognized as the new cult leader simply by virtue of slaughtering Kurtz. Three years after the release of Apocalypse Now, screenwriter John Milius directed a little sword and sorcery film called Conan the Barbarian starring a bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the film, he seeks vengeance against a cult leader who murdered his family. The final scene of Conan is deeply reminiscent of the conclusion of Apocalypse Now. The exact same premise of the gritty Vietnam War drama is effortlessly transferred over to the pulp fantasy epic. Hollywood doesn’t have a lot of tricks up its sleeve. If they’re recycling the same idea in two major motion pictures, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s a message they’re deeply invested in promoting.
When he’s at his best, Steven Spielberg’s filmmaking gifts are so impressive that you almost overlook the propaganda he smuggles into his movies. Even a blatant piece of agitprop like The Post still managed to sustain my interest. Ready Player One is not quite up to the level as his 80’s classics, but it’s a welcome return to his blockbuster sensibilities. Spielberg is calling upon a considerable reservoir of technical and cultural resources for Ready Player One because he’s trafficking a pretty dubious message in very appealing cinematic wrapper. Besides being positively overstuffed with pop culture meta references, the film is a glimpse into the digital slave state currently under construction. Spielberg needs to call on every dark power at his disposal because he is asking the viewer to sympathize with yet another multicultural collection of youthful rabble rousers who also happen to be brave revolutionaries fighting for the right live in a digital fantasyland. That’s right, folks. It’s not about smashing the oppressive control grid and restoring order and virtue. It’s about saving it so we can chill with our online homies in between cockroach burgers, DMT vape hits and energy drinks made from recycled sewage water.
The film contains so many different references to other films and properties, but I would argue that one of the primary templates is one of Spielberg’s own creations: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Instead of a quest for a literal Holy Grail, Tye Sheridan uses his virtual avatar, Parzival, to acquire a digital Grail in the form of three keys. The winner of the contest would gain control of the global virtual playground known as the Oasis. As the Hiram Abiff/Steve Jobs virtual temple builder, Mark Rylance’s James Halliday is the object of Wade Watts’ obsession. You see, folks. Halliday was just another misunderstood science nerd who had a hard time being in the real world. We should view his contribution to a society full of braindead, antisocial dopamine addled tech junkies as an admirable achievement.
In contrast to the corporate fascists at IOI Corporation, Wade’s obsession with Halliday is earnest! The goons at IOI don’t really give a shit about what made Atari’s Adventure so great. Ben Mendelsohn’s Nolan Sorrento doesn’t really play Robotron while chilling to Duran Duran. Wade gets it, man. Wade is the Charlie Bucket to Halliday’s Willy Wonka. The good hearted kid who rose above his broken upbringing and found real connections by playing the vidya.
The pop culture overload of Ready Player One is designed to be part of the appeal, but when Wade tries to bond with Artemis all he can do is regurgitate pop culture references. It shows you how pernicious it is because it feels both sad and contemptible. I enjoy pop culture just as much as anyone, but Ready Player One is essentially showing you that the synthetic reality of pop culture is the material of the cyberprison system that’s being constructed all around us. When Samantha/Artemis is captured, she is forced into a containment cube and electronically sealed into a VR helmet. Spielberg is telling you point blank that VR is the limitless utopia, but it’s also the means by which mental and neural enslavement is achieved. The thirst for being able have virtual sex in the Pandoran jungle will ultimately supersede any impulse to live in the real world. Because the real world just sucks, man!
Spielberg tries to have it both ways though. Thankfully, he does give you a rare and sweet romance between Wade and Samantha (heterosexuality?! GASP!), and you are led to believe he’s affirming life in the real world. But it’s a trick. Wade only shuts down the Oasis for two days out of the week.
Just as we witnessed in his seminal blockbusters, there is fairly overt Masonic and occult symbolism in Ready Player One. Isaac Weishaupt has identified the most prominent symbolism in the film, but I think there are two that warrant emphasis. The demonic image on Aech’s van can be read another signifier of the film’s Luciferian subtext. In this case, I propose that the meta reference is the key. The Face of the Great Green Devil contains a sphere of annihilation in Dungeons and Dragons lore. In other words, your character will be destroyed if you fall or climb in. I suggest that the entire Oasis is itself a giant sphere of annihilation. A digital Tomb of Horrors.
The real kicker is the entire reference to The Shining. In order to obtain one of the keys, the heroes enter a simulation of Kubrick’s Shining. The normies will read it as an homage, but I suggest that Jay Dyer’s analysis of the film is relevant here. In the original, we see the appearance of Jack Torrance’s image in a vintage photo at a party attended by elites. In Ready Player One, Torrance’s image is replaced with Halliday’s. Why is this significant? Assuming that Kubrick was revealing the occultist practices of the global elites, the inclusion of a tech mogul in Torrance’s place seems pretty consequential. Given that a connection between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein has just been revealed in mainstream media outlets, it seems like confirmation.
The ending is meant to have the same triumphant feeling as Charlie Bucket’s acquisition of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but Halliday’s final line feels more cynical than sweet. We’re meant to see Wade as the clever and principled extension of Halliday, but Wade is really a lab experiment. He’s not congratulating him for his ingenuity. He’s thanking him for willingly submitting to his global social engineering experiment. Spielberg is counting on the same thing from you.
Patton is such a great film that you can simply enjoy it as pure cinema. All of the praise heaped on George C. Scott’s magisterial performance is entirely warranted and lives up to the legacy of its formidable subject in every way. Like every man who holds a position of power, he was complicated and difficult, and the film does an excellent job of giving an unvarnished portrait. However, I believe that at this stage of American history, we must also take a step back from its ostensible role as a vehicle for WWII propaganda and consider its deeper significance as both a sketch of the male warrior hero archetype and a representation of bygone military ideals.
Anyone who’s read my reviews here knows that I am a critic of current woke trends in cinema which are generally hostile towards every form of masculine authority, strength and virtue. I find these trends a decadent and destructive affront to civilization itself. What’s patently obvious in this obnoxious trend is that Hollywood is attempting to supplant the male warrior archetype with a female replacement. In the progressive worldview, gender is allegedly a social construct, but the heroic virtues that have historically been attributed to manhood can simply be transferred over to women if we just make enough of them superheroes in movies and comics. Or something. And men must subordinate and sublimate any pride or masculine tendencies in themselves in order to accommodate this cultural shift. Because Current Year, you dumbass misogynists.
What Patton does so masterfully is remind us that America wants and needs a warrior class and warrior heroes. People need models of valor and heroism. This isn’t a suggestion that these virtues cannot be found in other realms, but the soldier is the one who will take up arms and sacrifice himself to defend his people and his country. This also entails the idea that the warrior is defending ideals that are embodied and upheld in the nation state. Patton is unequivocally fighting for America as a sovereign nation as well as the institutions charged with their preservation for posterity. When Patton delivers his iconic speech, he speaks of the American thirst for victory as a universally shared virtue amongst his countrymen. The combat unit, like the nation it represents, is a team. Individualism is just a fanciful notion promulgated by effete journalists who are stroking the egos of their Starbucks socialist target demo.
One is left with the impression that he was not a democratic globalist nor was he especially enamored of America’s role as an ally in a multinational coalition. The very idea of fighting for your country is sneered at by anyone in the progressive establishment because it implies there are ideas, institutions, symbols, traditions, and yes, sovereign borders, that require both conservation and defense from invasion. Quite simply, it implies that the nation itself is a distinct entity, has a fixed metaphysical reality and isn’t just an arbitrary social construct. For Patton, America is a place with unique people, institutions, culture and history.
The Hollywood intelligentsia sidestep this idea by focusing almost exclusively on superhero and sci-fi properties which cast the warrior as a representative of a global or intergalactic order that has transcended the quaint notion of a sovereign nation state. For progressives, the subversive is the only heroic ideal because subversion is the only value that ultimately matters in that paradigm. The progressive order is a globalized collection of deracinated individuals who inhabit generic economic zones in which cultural distinction and history has been forcibly obliterated through multiculturalism. Patton feels so radical now because it is an artifact from a time when progressives in Hollywood weren’t as disdainful of America and its military as they are now.
It’s also worth noting that this film is a portrait of a heroic white American man. Would you like to see Lin-Manuel Miranda reinvent Patton as a Mexican immigrant? I’m sure there’s a contingent of woke ideologues who would. Can you imagine Brie Larson attempting the opening monologue of Patton? Of course you can’t because it would be laughable and stupid. People can’t even stand her as Captain Marvel. Can you imagine any progressive extolling the American thirst for victory? Of course not because they absolutely despise this country and its people. Besides, it would sound too much like #OrangeManBad.
Nowadays, people will undoubtedly focus on Patton’s megalomaniacal tendencies or some idiotic revisionist claim that he embodies “white supremacy” or nationalism in its most toxic form. It was even suggested in the film after he delivered a reprimand to a traumatized soldier which landed him in the crosshairs of the media. These people can suck on it. I’d wager that the very people who mainstreamed the #PunchANazi meme wouldn’t deign to pay their respects to man who actually went to war against real Nazis.
People my age have only known cynicism and the revolutionary ethos as organizing principles. We’ve grown up in a world where honest patriotism gets conflated with democratic imperialism and military-industrial overreach. We only know a world in which the masters of war seek only to test their game theory models and then take all of their innovations of psychological warfare back home to degrade their own populations. Increasingly, we’re seeing a military-industrial complex push warfare further into the realm of technocratic innovation which would strip away human involvement altogether while moving us closer to the Skynet nightmare suggested in the Terminator series. When you can vaporize an entire country by drone bombing it from a remote location, it removes the necessity for lofty speeches about valor.
We simply don’t even know what it takes to be the kind of soldier George Patton was. We have no idea what it means to live by a soldier’s code. We have no idea what it takes to go into battle with absolute clarity of moral purpose. For George Patton, to die on the battlefield is the highest glory. Patton didn’t hold the modern view that war was an aberration. He held that warfare has been a permanent feature of civilization and saw himself as part of a lineage of military commanders going back to the earliest empires. He studied the strategy of the great military minds and he reveled in his victory over Rommel by beating him at his own game.
The one gripe I have about Patton is that it is another film which casts the struggle against national socialism as the one unequivocal moral imperative which every American should affirm and recognize for all eternity. It’s as though the Nazis were the only genocidal totalitarian regime in human history. While I’m not going to dwell on the interests who funded the war and fomented the conflict, Patton may have been on to something when he compared Democrats and Republicans to Nazis. While the progressive Left is nearly unanimous in its rote denunciations of a manufactured boogeyman of “white nationalism” or “fascism”, the horrors of communism are nearly ignored despite amassing a body count that surpasses the Nazis by several orders of magnitude. Patton’s disdain for the Bolsheviks was explicit in the film and the biographical records, but these details never get the same traction in the public consciousness the same way the Nazi regime does.
The unfortunate irony is that despite all of Patton’s bravery and grit, the American ideals for which he supposedly fought have allowed communist militias to roam American streets and terrorize American citizens with the tacit support from the media and Democratic Party. These contemptible degenerates in Antifa aren’t worthy of scraping dogshit from Patton’s shoe, but they and the media lackeys who prop them up undoubtedly see themselves as the direct equivalent of the soldiers serving under Patton. It is a supreme tragedy that the American spirit which Patton routinely celebrated and idealized has devolved into a decadent lassitude which has allowed subversive groups like this to flourish with the implicit support of the establishment.
I imagine it’s difficult for the contemporary soldier to have a sense of moral clarity about his mission in 2019. Perhaps the notion of Americanism is still sufficient, but it must be a drag knowing that you’re coming home to some ungrateful gender studies graduate who’s going to spit in your face and call you a tool of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The respect that the military are properly due has been poisoned by too many years in overseas interventions whose costs are invisible to the average American. Even after eighteen years in Afghanistan, the elites are wringing their hands over the prospect of withdrawal. What would George Patton have made of all these things? Impossible to know for sure, but I have a hunch he’d still be fighting for the America he lionized in his speeches.