Will Whatsapp help bring about the return of “tropical fascism”?


I recently went back to using Whatsapp, which like many people I find preferable to the puerility, seediness and unbounded fury inherent to Facebook. Plus Whatsapp is less vulnerable to the spread of black or grey propaganda and to the diffusion of fake news.

Or maybe I’m just not part of the right groups.

After all, while Facebook has introduced tools to report and remove bullshit news, such measures would not work on Whatsapp. It’s encrypted, for a start, so there is no way of flagging up dodgy material. It’s also more likely that participants in a Whatsapp group are acquainted with each other personally, so may be less prone to challenging one another’s opinions and risking the cohesion of the group.

Its relatively hidden nature makes Whatsapp particularly well-suited to political organisation among like-minded people. Not only is Brexit allegedly being coordinated via the app; according to a journalist who investigated it in some detail, the recent (and massive) Brazilian truckers’ strike was largely organised via Whatsapp. Its also very widely used by drug gangs to conduct and boast of their business dealings – between 2015 and 2016 judges blocked it three times in response to Facebook’s refusal to share information with state authorities. Its popularity (93% of mobile phone users are said to use it) that it may play a role in the upcoming presidential election, exerting an influence much harder to monitor and measure than that of Facebook or Twitter.

Following the successful intervention of fake newsters in the cases of Brexit, Trump and Grillo/Salvini in Italy, there is one candidate who will benefit enormously if similarly insidious tactics are used in Brazil: the far-right populist Jair Messias Bolsonaro. This ex-military man, supported by huge numbers of hyper-conservative evangelicals, is exploiting popular fury at corruption, unemployment and spiralling violent crime to prescribe extreme repression of all the usual targets: gays, feminists, supporters of affirmative action, liberals, the Left, “vagabundos” (criminals). He has repeatedly praised the military dictatorship which ended in 1985, and has said that “you can’t change anything in this country with voting and elections”, which is why he has repeatedly urged and practised the acts of terrorism in order to forward the interests of his “community” (the military).

Under relatively normal circumstances sch a character might remain marginal; with Brazil’s beloved former President Lula in prison on partially trumped-up charges, his successor impeached and what can euphemistically be described as a “technical” government in power (one presided over by a man whose own records of corruption and present conflicts of interest make Donald Trump seem like Caroline Lucas), Bolsonaro stands a very good chance of winning. He is currently second in the polls, which are led by…Lula, who can’t actually run for office, for fairly obvious reasons.

How does this relate to Whatsapp? Well, shortly before the US election of November 2016, a story went round social media claiming that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump. By November 8, it had picked up 960,000 Facebook engagements. How does that relate to Brazil? Well, according to Lucinda Elliott of the Times, 8% of those intending to vote for Lula think that when his candidacy is (as it inevitably will be) annulled, he will give his endorsement to…Bolsonaro. It’s worth mentioning that an attempted terrorist attack on Lula supporters in Curitiba was carried out by someone shouting ‘Bolsonaro Presidente!’. The two men are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Lula was even jailed under the military regime that Bolsonaro seems to want to go back to.

So why would some wannabe Lula voters think that they were allies? Well, maybe they get their news via social media. Perhaps they ignore whatever journalists and media commentators have to say, and obtain information about current affairs from their friends on Whatsapp. It’s certainly not hard to imagine a faked video or statement circulating in the run-up to the vote in which Lula appears to lend his support to Bolsonaro.

Of course, it takes resources and expertise to conduct such misinformation campaigns. Elliott went to interview Bolsonaro’s son, and saw for herself that their campaign is currently being run on a shoestring. Until recently, at least, the Bolsonaros didn’t expect or even intend to win.

I’m not an expert on Brazilian politics. I’m no journalist and I don’t live there. Some of what I’m reporting here I’ve found online, some derives from a (fascinating) discussion this week at Canning House between Lucinda Elliott and the former FT Latin America bureau chief Richard Lapper, and what follows is what you might call informed conjecture.

In a range of countries around the world over the last few years the far-right has risen to (or close to) power. None of these cases has happened in isolation. For anyone who is still paying attention, the links between key elements such as Russia Today, Wikileaks, the Kremlin, the Mercers, and AggregateIQ, trace thick lines across the map of the world, from the UK to the US to Italy, France, and beyond. We now know for certain that one way in which the machinations of the global far-right alliance operate is via the enticement of hate-rich but cash-poor politicians such as Salvini and Le Pen into the megalomaniac pretensions of (most obviously) Vladimir Putin and Steve Bannon and his backers. Where the objective is not to actually seize power, it is to cause maximum disruption to the stable order of liberal democracy.

I wrote somewhere here last year that Trump is the sort of deranged demagogue which for many years the CIA imposed on Latin American countries, a central casting character from a magical realist novel, and thus his victory could be seen as a case of chickens coming home to roost. Those chickens have now let the coop and are flying round shitting all over the place and making enough of a racket to wake up the whole farm.  Bolsonaro has even been described as a “Tropical Trump”. If Trump’s backroom buddies around the world haven’t yet noticed what’s going on below the equator, it can only be a matter of time before they do so, and if they haven’t yet realised that Whatsapp, by far Brazilians’ favourite form of social media, represents a more powerful tool for election manipulation than Facebook and Twitter, then, well, I guess I’ve just pointed it out for them. Remember to give me appropriate credit at the end of October.

A couple of caveats are obviously necessary. Firstly, I’m not an expert in any meaningful sense. I’d be happy to be set right on any aspect of this. Secondly, there is also a chance that the Left (ideally, Marina Silva) could, Obama-style, use social media to its own advantage – Silva’s party is, after all, called ‘Rede’ (Network). I suspect, though, that the attachment that we progressives have to an increasingly forlorn institution formerly known as the truth might limit the effectiveness of her viral appeals.

As someone smart pointed out at last night’s event, who would want to be Brazilian President at this moment in time, with the economy sluggish as a midday cachaça drinker sleeping off a hangover, and staggeringly violent drug gangs taking over where the state has failed? It would appear to be a poisoned cálice. Maybe even only someone who wants power for its own sake, another Duterte, could relish the challenge ahead. hat said, Brazil’s situation is not all that different from Mexico’s, where at least the leading candidate for the Presidency is not, for once, and for all his faults, a violent reactionary fanatic. If AMLO should (and is allowed to) win in Mexico, that might change the international picture somewhat. He could conceivably turn out (very unexpectedly) to demonstrate some of Lula’s trademark political acumen, and there could be a limited repeat of the wave that bought Morales, Correa and Kirchner to power. None of those names exactly inspire confidence in 2018, but anyone remotely progressive would surely any one to a man who would make Donald Trump seem like Carmen Miranda. Personally, for what its worth, I think Marina Silva would make an ideal Brazilian President. Whether news of my endorsement will set Brazilian social networks alight remains to be seen. It’s worth remembering, to be fair, that my powers of political prognosis são uma bosta.

(P.S. I now see that someone else (a professional journalist working for an actual news organisation, no less) has had much the same idea. Maybe, er, read that instead.)

Twitter hot take on Trump’s (ahem) “summit”


Neither Fox News nor Russia Today

Two bald narcissists fighting over rather more than a comb.

I still occasionally come across people who proclaim themselves to be ‘on the right economically, but on the left socially’.  Such people, who wring their hands at the spectacle of homelessness while supporting the whole-scale destruction of public housing, occupy the category of those who, to borrow a phrase I can’t track down,  welcome the means but bemoan the ends. Tellingly, it’s never the other way round: no one is ever ‘on the right socially, but on the left economically’. Those who believe in enforced inequality, rule by unaccountable elites, the denial of public services, etc, recognise laissez-faire economics as the perfect tool to realise their nefarious goals. That’s what being on the right is all about.

Speaking of tools, here’s another: Russia Today, and all who sail in it: Sam Delaney, Max Keiser, Jonathan Pie, the former journalists formerly known as John Pilger and Glenn Greenwald, the failed politician George “oh ffs” Galloway, the unashamedly far-right cheerleader Neil Clark, the ongoing train wreck of Craig Murray’s attempts at self-promotion at any cost, and so, so many others. With its puerile conspiratorial nonsense mixed in with the odd morsel of anti-neoliberal critique, RT is essentially Fox News for people with a Noam Chomsky book (which they’ve never actually read) in pride position on their bookshelf, nestled between the dog-eared copy of ‘Da Vinci Code’ and a pristine edition of ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’.

Those ‘radicals’ who shared lazy, cynical fake news memes against Hillary Clinton and argued that the two were equatable are the true owners of this supremely dismal, unprecedentedly depressing, unavoidably despair-ridden historical moment. They also own Orbán, Salvini and every other lifelong racist scumbag fondling the reigns of actual political power. When Sean Hannity burbles on (inanely, but by no means inconsequentially) about the “Deep State Crime Family“, that’s their worldview on display in all its subversive sophistication. When any journalist with a moment to spare glances into a Jeremy Corbyn Facebook group and see countless links to videos expounding the hidden truth about Soros, the Rothschilds and that evil Mr Fagin, that’s the result of hard work done by millions of people who thought they were somewhere on the left, only to find they had become deeply embedded into a global movement led by some of the very worst people on earth, that their perspective had been coloured, colonised and co-opted by the far-right.

Of course, there’s always sunken cost theory to explain why, when people (who also happen to inhabit a bubble of outright misinformation) have invested so much into their propagation of an ideological viewpoint, they can’t simply back out and instead seek out information which demands a nuanced understanding and which may force them to question their faith in the official unofficial narrative. I have long argued that the degree of cognitive dissonance necessary to function in an age of both environmental collapse and hyper-consumerism suggests that our civilisation is by and large psychotic. But what self-respecting creature with even the minimum amount of conscience and mental capacity can nod sagely as sneering government officials trot our their standard denials of chemical attacks, according to a script seemingly composed by a particularly obnoxious and sadistic six-year-old bully? Of course, facilitating and then dismissing the gassing of civilians isn’t merely naughty, it’s absolutely evil. Anyone who feels a kneejerk urge to believe the denials of Assad and his Russian sponsors deserves to have their nose tested in much the same manner: a not-so-gentle tap in the middle of the face with a distinctly non-medical hammer.

So do I defend the imminent “allied” airstrikes? It’s certainly not wise for the British or French Governments to join a coalition led by a witless psychopath (aptly described as an “evil Forrest Gump“) who will do literally anything to hang onto the power he should never in a million years have been granted. But I’m not going to join any demonstrations against it, joining hands with all manner of Wikileaks apologists, raising my voice for peace with useless idiots like Brian Eno and other public “intellectuals” who can’t even tell the difference between left and right. While Putin is a prick, and Trump his arsehole, Assange is the perineum that runs between the two. Maybe that’s why he (reportedly) stinks so very badly. (It’s not streaming internet and a laptop he needs, but running water and some shower gel.)

Here are two useful analogies which may, by some miracle, make some sort of impact on the conspiracy-addled brains of those who, without meaning to, have become foot soldiers in an army of arseholes and pricks. There was once a Korean couple who were addicted to a computer game in which they brought up a baby. The got the highest-ever score in the game: their infant was well-fed and more than adequately cared-for. They also had another baby, an offline one, which died of neglect in the most horrifying circumstances. The internet is, in essence, a tremendously compelling form of entertainment, but the consequences of all that fun – imagine online trolling and mischievous meming as the computer game, democracy and human rights as the dead baby – are unavoidably catastrophic.

In another time and place, in Britain during the Cold War, the far-left sect known as the Socialist Worker’s Party used the slogan ‘Neither Washington nor Moscow, but international socialism’. We’re a long way from the latter, and heading in exactly the wrong direction (btw, if you happen to be in the SWP: the Brexit stage door led not to the left, but to the far right). If you still think that Putin is some sort of master strategist/anti-imperialist hero, remember that it was very much his genius idea to put Trump in the White House in the first place. For those who made excuses for Russia’s puppitry, a moment’s honest reflection would have revealed that one of the greatest risks was that Trump’s inevitably pathetic and hamfisted attempts to ‘prove’ that he wasn’t a mere marionette would lead to a catastrophe even worse (get this!) than seeing a woman enter the White House (do tell us again the one about how Hillary Clinton and the “Deep State” were secretly planning to start a world war – I could do with a fucking laugh). Hence, if Putin’s your man (and RT’s your news source of choice), Trump’s your boy (and Sean Hannity is among your allies). You’re on the side of both Washington and Moscow, and this is very much your nuclear war. Cheers, pricks.

America: Your political stability is secondary to the survival of the human species


Although I don’t come from nor live in the US, I have written before about how much I enjoy visiting and meeting its people. What follows is written in a spirit of friendship as well as frustration.

I see that #howtofixtrumpinfivewords is currently trending. Here’s my suggestion:

Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy, Trump.

This is the thing: I don’t understand why Donald Trump is still alive. I can’t work out how, in a country which has so many weapons and where people are supposedly so attached to the constitutionally-hallowed ideals of Freedom and Democracy, no one has had the courage to act in accordance with those values.

The US is known as the Land of the Brave. Well, America, that’s not how it looks from the outside. I’m getting the impression that your population is made up of 280 million cowards. Maybe you’re all hoping that some aggrieved Haitian or Salvadoran will redeem you. Well, that would make sense. Contract the jobs you can’t be bothered to do out to some ‘shithole’ third world country.

I guess you’re concerned about the possibility of another civil war. Well, I’m worried about a world war. I’m terrified about a planet run by and for criminally insane demagogues with genocidal racist belief systems and access to infinitely destructive weaponry. This is something you have to stop happening. At this point, it doesn’t really matter how you do it. This has gone too far. Trump speaks and acts in your name.

I had an odd thought today: how many movies have I seen, stories have I read, conversations have I been part of on the theme of if-I-had-a-time-machine-I’d-go-back-and-kill-Hitler. Well, here we are. What do you need*? More target practice? Are you waiting for someone with a loudhailer to shout ‘action’? Do you think that people in the mid-’30s put all their hopes in the mid-terms, or prayed that the judicial system would stave off tyranny? Would that have been enough?

There’s a press conference taking place right now in the White House. Various correspondents are reporting on Trump’s (predictably) hypocritical words about MLK. They don’t seem to have realised that the event is being broadcast live, so their on-the-spot reports are moot. Keen to preserve their precious status as insiders, they’re silently expressing their dissent via Twitter. Hence, no one has had the courage to make a scene.

America: forget Twitter. That’s Trump’s chosen medium. It suits him perfectly – regardless of how many seditious hashtags trend, he comes out winning within his bubble, and so do you. It’s no more real than shadows on the wall of a cave, and as forms of protest go it’s only slightly more meaningful than shouting at the TV – in fact, the very best moments on Twitter can usefully be compared to the joy of doing so collectively. If you insist on restricting your political activity to social media, you will always lose, even as you believe otherwise. You need to be braver.

How then should you respond? Take a risk: put up posters, distribute leaflets and form a resistance group in the area where you live. Put social media to good use by connecting with other such groups to organise a massive march on Washington. This will require direct occupation, confrontation  and personal danger, and you need to make sure you don’t face it alone.

Please, don’t sit and wait in hope that November will bring the nightmare to an end. Historically, for the sake of the past and the future, and geographically, on behalf of all of us who don’t live in the US and whose own struggles and life chances are being jeopardised in your name, you have no right to be so blasé and passive.

Alternatively, try taking your cue from Hollywood, from all those movies that preach political violence as a form of redemption. So many heroes and superheroes risking their individual lives and freedom for their ideals, blasting their enemies to smithereens in the process. It doesn’t happen very much in real life, but maybe something like it needs to happen now. Perhaps one of those individuals who argued, against the pleading of their more circumspect peers, that it ‘didn’t matter’ who won the election might like to, you know, step up and try to redeem themselves. America is, after all, in desperate need of a hero.

*Some have argued in response that such a suggestion is ‘immoral’. Well, here’s a short extract from a conversation that has never, ever taken place:

Person 1: You know what I’d do if I had a time machine? I’d go back and kill Hitler.

Person 2: But that would be immoral/might lead to a catastrophic outcome/etc.

I Melania Trump show you 2018 calander, yes?


For the last few months I have, I know not why, been receiving emails direct from Donald J. Trump, all begging for two things: praise and money. In addition to flattering comments on his racism, his outright corruption and the success of his rapid weight loss regime, he’s also very keen to recieve campaign dollars so he can carry on his important life’s work in support of pedophilia, climate breakdown and global war. Although that might sound a little cynical, I should add that he is careful to address me as ‘Friend’, which would make it all okay except for the slightly disturbing fact that every single one of his actual friends has at some point been investigated for sexual assault.

Slightly put out to be the recipient of such missives and disappointed never to have gotten a reaction to my admittedly less-than-friendly responses (sample reply: ‘Fuck off, you fat racist piece of fucking shit’), I marked the sender as ‘spam’. More recently, however, a new email arrived, this time from Melania Trump. It offered me, as a ‘valued supporter’, a very special something: an exclusive peek at her 2018 calendar. I’m not suggesting that you rush to Amazon and order an advance copy; after all, since I myself looked at it two days ago my eyes have felt kind of itchy, any sense of optimism I was feeling about the new year has dwindled and I’ve been suffering from a deep-seated and persistent feeling of nausea. For that reason, and also because of the copyright issues involved, I’m not going to share the actual photos with you, but I would like to give you a flavour – not a pleasant one, admittedly, more medicinal if anything – of what the calendar contains.

Cover: Melania Trump sits looking out of the White House window wearing a white ballgown and an expression on her face suggesting that she’s thinking of jumping through said window. In the background her husband Donald Trump can be seen shouting angrily at the television. The words ‘Melania Trump 2018 Calendar’ are written in cursive script, but the word ‘calendar’ is misspelt.

January: Melania Trump sits looking out of the White House window wearing a red ballgown and an expression on her face suggesting that she’s thinking of jumping through said window. In the background her husband Donald Trump can be seen shouting angrily at his Samsung Galaxy S3.

February: A winter landscape. Melania Trump strolls a tree-lined avenue accompanied by members of her immediate family. Her lip is curled up in a disdainful manner and she is holding the hand of her son Barron, who appears to have been crying. Her husband Donald is looking at his Samsung Galaxy S3 with an expression of considerable anger. Security guards follow at a safe distance.

March: Surrounded by cherry blossom trees, Melania Trump sits naked astride a horse.

April: Surrounded by silk sheets and rose petals, Melania Trump sits naked astride a security guard. On the bedside cabinet a Tiffany’s security pass is partly obscuring what appears to be a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’.

May: Melania Trump looks on disdainfully while her husband makes a speech. Her husband is mocking a military veteran with facial disfigurement suffered at the service of his country. Every single person in the room is wearing an expression of extreme discomfort.

June: Melania Trump is pictured in a formal pose with her family in their home in Slovakia. The photo is rendered in sepia tones. The oldest man in the photograph is wearing a military uniform with a number of medals on it, including at least one eagle symbol. The walls of the room are bare except for a framed photograph of Jozef Tiso. No one in the photograph is smiling.

July: A beach scene, in which Melania Trump is lying on a sunlounger in a bikini. She has a contemptuous expression and a pair of mirror sunglasses, and is surrounded by security guards. Her husband is several metres away, seemingly shouting into his iphone. Also present is their son Barron, who appears to have been crying.

August: Melania Trump stands next to her husband, President Donald Trump, and their Chinese counterparts. They are standing on a red carpet and Donald Trump is holding up a cheap bookmark he has been given by the Chinese President as a mark of their two countries’ friendship. He is beaming with pride. Melania Trump is wearing a disgusted expression on her face.

September: Melania Trump enjoys afternoon tea with a select group of her closest friends, consisting of the wives of Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. Roy Moore’s wife has a spiteful expression on her face and appears to be telling an anecdote. No one in the photograph is smiling.

October: Melania Trump descends from Air Force One. She is preceded by her husband, Donald Trump. Neither of them is smiling. Through the plane window you can just make out the face of their son, Barron Trump. He appears to have been crying.

November: Melania Trump sits next to her husband Donald Trump at what appears to be a formal banquet. Donald Trump has his eyes closed and looks like he is in the act of relieving himself. Melania Trump looks like she is aging ten years for every second she spends in the company of her husband.

December: A family Christmas. Barron Trump is sitting in the middle of a huge pile of presents, most of which are unopened; he appears to have been crying. Melania Trump is smiling as she admires a very expensive necklace in a gilt-edged mirror. Her husband Donald Trump is shouting at a gigantic television screen, while on the wall a large coffee stain is dripping onto the expensively-coiffured carpet, where lies the remnants of a high-end coffee pot. A few feet away, amidst the wrapping paper and already forgotten presents, there are the remains of a Samsung Galaxy S3.  The TV screen shows an image of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Hannity condemns “Trump, sorry I mean Obama” as “sick, pathetic and obsessed”

Fox News host Sean Hannity has launched an extraordinary attack on ‘President Trump, sorry I mean President Obama’, calling him ‘obviously sick, pathetic, and twisted in this obsession with President Obama, sorry I mean President Trump’.

Hannity also claims that he recieves nightly phone calls from the White House during which ‘President Trump, sorry I mean Obama’ appears to be ‘either very drunk or on some sort of drugs’. He reports that the calls, which sometimes go on for several hours, reveal ‘Trump, sorry I mean Obama’ to be a man wracked with self-doubt, desperate for approbation, and, above all, profoundly out of his depth in his new role. Hannity stated that he is ‘worried’ for the president’s state of mental and physical heath, and pleaded with him to turn instead to a competent professional.

‘President Trump, sorry I mean Obama, you must stop calling me’, he pleaded directly to camera Thursday night. ‘I know you have an enormous amount to deal with right now, what with Mueller’s investigation about to knock on your door any second and the creeping suspicion that everyone in the world is looking at you and either laughing or crying with rage, incredulous that the American people could have entrusted the machinery of world government to someone so patently corrupt, obviously temperamentally unstable and catastrophically ignorant of the most basic aspects of what political power entails. But I have a family and a very high-pressure job. I need to sleep at night, not listen to the bitter, self-pitying, incoherent ramblings of an inebriated madman’.

Hannity also explained that ‘President Trump, sorry, I mean President Obama’ has an abiding obsession, one which ‘seems to be consuming him from inside, like a particularly malevolent cancer’, with the notion that he is ‘not nearly as well-suited to the job as his predecessor, President Trump. Sorry, I mean Obama. No wait, Trump’. According to Hannity, ‘Trump’s, sorry I mean Obama’s’ entire political agenda, right from the moment he was inaugurated in January this year, from Climate Change to North Korea to the Middle East, has been determined by a pathological need to destroy and thus emulate the achievements of his widely-respected counterpart. His fixation on ‘President Obama’s, sorry I mean President Trump’s legacy’ is said to be such that he is unable to face up to basic facts about his own situation, automatically projecting every criticism that is made of him ‘directly back onto Obama. Sorry, I mean Trump’. Hannity claims that even those within ‘Obama’s, sorry Trump’s’ inner circle now instinctively copy this behavior, to the point that in any statement that emerges from the White House or is made by his supporters in the media ‘you might as well just replace the name Obama with Trump, and vice versa. That’s how insane things have become. It’s very confusing and frankly puerile’.

Asked after the show to specify which media figures are guilty of such behavior, Hannity refused to comment, saying only that he ‘hoped that Melania, I mean Michelle, can hide the president’s iphone so I can get a good night’s sleep for a change’.

Is Donald Trump on opioids?

If you google ‘Trump on opioids’ you get lots of news reports about his initiatives on the issue – he declared it a national emergency, but then did nothing else whatsoever for months, and he has now appointed Kellyanne Conway, who looks uncannily like the ‘After’ photo in an ad warning of the dangers of crystal meth addiction, his opioid czar. If you google ‘is Trump on opoids’ you find only one link, to someone casually making a daft quip on Twitter.

Without wanting to cause offence to anyone affected by the crisis, I think his inaction on the issue may be a tell. It’s also possible that his alternating bursts of euphoria and irritability, his very evident mental confusion both on and offline, his weight gain and his public slurring of words, his sniffiness and bizarre water fixation may all be somehow connected with reports that he has a quack doctor in New York who prescribes him whatever medications he needs to keep him (after a fashion) able to function. There are, after all, many things that connect Trump with Michael Jackson, from his 1980s ubiquity to the myriad rumours regarding various forms of abuse to which he’s subjected other people in his life. Trump has similarly spent pretty much his entire life immune to the consequences of his actions. Perhaps when his wife promises to give a voice to families suffering from opioid addiction, she’s unaware of the ironies involved. Maybe the thing that does for him will be whatever he’s taking to numb the pain and guilt he surely must suffer if he’s not actually, as all available seems to suggest, some sort of inhuman monster.

This is a blog, not a fake news site. I’m not pretending I have any inside information on Trump’s habits or medical proclivities – despite having read quite a few articles on the subject over the last few months, I’m still not even sure what exactly the term ‘opioids’ actually refers to*. I’m just innocently raising a question that I’m surprised not to have seen asked elsewhere.

The facts remain: opioid addiction is rife throughout the United States. In the words of Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America is ‘awash’ in the stuff. At the same time, its President is clearly deeply unstable in myriad ways. Maybe there’s more to Trump’s claim to be a man of the people than we previously suspected. 

*In an earlier version of this post I even misspelt it.

Why isn’t Britain First listed as a terrorist organisation?

Although definitions of terrorism vary and often conflict, you’d be hard-pressed to find any that didn’t contain the notion of political violence combined with the threat of further political violence. Just before the Brexit referendum, a member of the British parliament, Jo Cox MP,  was shot and stabbed to death by a political activist. We know he was a political activist because he had been photographed campaigning with the group Britain First, and it was the name of that organisation that he shouted as he murdered her. In court he shouted slogans calling her a traitor.

Of course, there are no documents proving that Thomas Mair was a formal member of Britain First. In much the same way, there doesn’t seem to be such as thing as an Isis membership card. Both organisations seem to recruit principally via the Internet, where affiliations are notoriously fickle and rarely formalised. Mair’s proximity to the leadership of Britain First is much more remarkable than that of any number of European-grown Islamic terrorists is to the leading figures in Isis. No media outlet automatically absolves Abu-Bakr Al Baghdadi when one of his distant disciples ploughs a truck into pedestrians in Catalonia or shoots up a Parisean theatre. Much like both Isis and the EDL, Britain First is an online operation spilling onto the streets. Those who create its violently hateful propaganda are responsible when someone responds to their exhortations to murder ‘traitors’.

Yet somehow, in the furore about Trump’s retweeting of three fake videos posted by one of the group’s leaders, the terrorist angle hasn’t been mentioned. This is odd, given the irony that in supposedly making a statement against terrorism, Trump was promoting it. He won’t face any action by Twitter, as he is their number one star player. Given that Twitter more or less did the decent thing by removing and decredentialing other far-right hate preachers a couple of weeks ago, a concerted campaign to get Britain First removed from the platform might succeed, and would cause huge embarrassment to Trump – or, given that he seems immune to such emotions, his cause.

It’s also important to expose Nigel Farage’s links with BF. Although he has now denounced them as neofascists, Golding et al were very open in the past about their connections, even boasting in this video of attacking anti-UKIP protestors on his behalf. Anyone who was unfamiliar with Britain First but who still finds Farage’s shtick amusing also needs to be reminded that in the wake of the referendum he boasted that it had been won ‘without a shot being fired’. We don’t need to delve into his apparent family history in the National Front to see that his disassociation from the explicitly nazi movement is disingenuous at best. If Trump hadn’t come across Britain First before, it’s no thanks to Nigel Farage, who surely has Golding and Fransen among his email contacts, along with Robert Mercer and Julian Assange. In any game of Six Degrees of Separation starting from any figure in the international fascist movement, Farage’s name won’t take too long to crop up. His comment about the referendum being won without a shot being fired was an implicit statement of allegiance to a terrorist organisation which murdered an elected MP in order to stop her campaigning to help people fleeing war, in many cases fleeing from ideological fanatics who, as it happens, also use violence as a means to achieve political ends.

‘#GOPedos!’: Republican Party to change name, campaign on pro-pedophile platform

The news that Roy Moore’s support in the run-up to the December senatorial election has actually risen since the pedophile allegations may have shocked and horrified some. The Republican Party, on the other hand, is trying to turn the situation to their advantage not just in Alabama, but also nationally.

‘Some of us feigned the usual concern about what he was alleged to have done’, said a party spokesman Wednesday. ‘As you will have noticed, the strategy adopted by all leading Republicans was to say that if he was found guilty, he should step down. It was obvious that there would be no criminal trials, especially before voting opens, so we knew we were pretty safe’.

However, subsequent events in Alabama have convinced party chiefs that even that approach may have underplayed their hand. ‘We had no idea how well pedophilia would go down with the evangelicals. Since it was revealed that he almost certainly sexually harassed underage teenagers, their support for him has gone through the roof. The data we’re receiving suggests that if the reports about him abusing children had come out a few weeks earlier to allow for more voting registrations from self-declared ‘christians’, he would have got over 90% of the ‘religious’ vote! It’s pretty clear that he should have campaigned as a pedophile candidate right from the start!’

Senior figures in the Republican Party are now planning to clean the slate of non-pedophile candidates for the 2018 elections. Any sitting congressman who does not currently have child abuse charges hanging over their head has received a memo requesting that they ‘pull out all the stops’ to get their name linked with pedophile activity ‘by the end of January at the latest’. The party is also buying up advertising space across all ‘Christian’ TV networks and investing massively in social media ads targeting ‘evangelicals’ as part of a concerted effort to rebrand itself with the slogan ‘#GOPedos’. Faces such as Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, who research has revealed to fit most people’s image of what pedophiles look like, are to be pushed to the fore, and looking forward to 2020 a number of videos are being prepared which will confirm what we’ve all long suspected about Donald Trump. The party is also ‘keeping a close eye’ on how Trump’s tweeted support for a British terrorist organisation plays with his base, and may adopt an explicitly pro-violence platform should the president’s explicit admission that yes, he is basically an actual nazi serve to firm up his support amongst the worst people who have ever lived.

No actual Christians were available to comment as we went to press.

Trump has effectively abolished the role of President

Although Robert Mugabe was a tyrant, he was also apparently a stickler for constitutional procedure. He did everything by the book – while others cheated in elections and persecuted opponents on his behalf, he made sure that he appeared to be above reproach, partly by regularly rewriting the book to suit his requirements. The facade was thus paper-thin, but even as he clung to power he did so on the understanding that his position was above board.

Although Donald Trump has shown himself to have autocratic instincts, he’s clearly no Mugabe. As Khizr Khan pointed out, it’s unlikely that he’s even familiar with the Constitution, and debatable whether or not he’s au fait with the distinction between the Senate and the Congress. (Neither am I, but I’m not even from the USA, let alone President of it.) His actions have confirmed again and again that he does not appreciate the separation of powers, but rather believes himself to be in total and unimpeachable authority over not just the executive but also the judicial and legislative branches. His governing medium is is not formal procedure, but Twitter, and he tweets not in the name of Potus, but Donald J. (as in, juvenile) Trump.

The office of the President has existed since 1789. The holder of the office embodies the role: he or she is not more powerful than the State. Myriad checks and balances pertain to the position, restricting any attempt to impose absolute power. He or she is subservient to the Republic. There are numerous problems with this setup, all sorts of loopholes and imbalances which could if exploited maliciously be used to topple the whole edifice from within. The most explosive element would be a potus who was ignorant of and thus careless with the rights and responsibilities of the role. The current Republican Party, insofar as their intention was to detonate the structure of American democracy and install one or another of their kind in power in aeternum, chose well.

How can we be sure that this is the case? In his recent tweet regarding the release of the three college basketball players, Trump, in his customary but still staggeringly infantile way, confirmed that he does not believe in the office to which he was elected. He insists that it was he, not the White House or the State Department, that chose to intervene on behalf of the players. The notion of himself an incumbent in an elected office rather than as absolute ruler does not even occur to him.

Thus, any talk of the Republicans stealing the Presidency is misplaced. As things stand, the role of president is in abeyance. Trump regards himself as a dictator, with limitless power. This indicates that attempts to remove him through constitutional means will fail. Mugabe was at last persuaded to remove himself from an role that he ultimately respects. Getting rid of a man who doesn’t recognise that he’s only playing a role will be impossible – Trump is not going to give up being Donald Trump. As Lacan said, the madman is not only the beggar who believes himself to be King, buy also the King who believes himself to be King. (Note Trump’s prominent use of that word in the aforementioned tweet.) Trump will either die, or must be made to die, on the throne.