Norman Finkelstein: Was Obama an Intellectual Fraud?

to just
09:15
just let me enter a footnote but just in
09:18
a site
09:20
it was very interesting to watch who
09:22
pulled it off
09:24
when he establishes his first campaign
09:26
team
09:28
it’s proof axelrod and gibbs
09:31
they’re all white
09:33
then
09:34
he assembles the team of writers
09:37
he has eight writers
09:39
and lyd makes the point
09:42
they’re all white males
09:46
it’s very striking wouldn’t it strike
09:48
you
09:50
yes it has
09:52
of eight writers
09:54
eight
09:56
including
09:57
around three who just did comedy
09:59
sketches because he was going on like
10:02
you know the
10:03
washington press club comedy night you
10:06
know
10:07
he couldn’t find one black writer
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through comedy yeah i think that was a
10:11
really interesting point that you made
10:12
that apparently none of the black
10:14
comedians kind of passed muster to join
10:16
to join the team and yes it’s something
10:18
that i you know people have commented on
10:20
and that you know as i listen to
10:22
the kind of
10:24
crooked media
10:25
podcast
10:27
family
10:28
where a whole lot of people are have
10:30
very lucrative careers now as the host
10:32
of positive america etc because they
10:34
were his speech writers
10:37
and thinking about
10:38
how none of those opportunities befall
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any any black people or any women in
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part because that’s not who barack obama
10:45
to keep around him and put words in his
10:46
mouth it’s really striking in his inner
10:49
circle there were two blacks
10:51
valerie jarrett
10:53
who for all intents and purposes might
10:55
as well have been white well why do you
10:57
say that professor finkelstein well
10:58
first of all
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valerie jarrett just physically let’s
11:02
start with the physically okay but
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that’s but never how race operates in
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america okay okay let’s start there and
11:09
then say finish there
11:12
when her child was
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born
11:15
the hospital administrator put the child
11:18
down as white
11:19
i went to law school with her child in
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fact actually
11:22
one of the most notable moments of i was
11:24
very quiet one all year she was a year
11:26
or two ahead of me and one of the most
11:29
notable moments of my 1l experience was
11:31
a
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professor feldman who’s in the news for
11:33
other reasons not so charmingly right
11:36
now uh called on her and called her mrs
11:38
gray which is about the biggest
11:39
impression i ever made on anybody in
11:41
that class
11:45
so
11:46
and she grew up
11:48
and actually her her mother when her
11:50
mother
11:51
gave birth to her the administrator put
11:54
down white so just at that level at that
11:57
level but you’re right it’s that’s you
11:59
can call it a trivial level because we
12:01
have the one drop rule
12:03
in the united states okay correct she
12:05
she had nothing to do with black people
12:10
why do you say that well because she was
12:11
the mascot for richard daley
12:14
when richard daley when she when the
12:16
richard daley administration came along
12:18
in chicago he appointed her on every
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board
12:22
she was the head of the chicago housing
12:24
authority she was the head of the
12:25
chicago transit authority she was the
12:28
the head of the the chair of the stock
12:30
exchange they just used her for
12:33
everything when she was the head of then
12:35
she became part of this habitat company
12:38
a private public um co-op cooperative
12:42
she was
12:43
she was a one-person gentrification
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machine so i think
12:48
all the black neighborhoods chicago but
12:51
that’s different
12:52
when i challenged the idea that you said
12:54
quote you know she has nothing to do
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with black people but that’s those are
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this is this is the thing you know i i
13:00
all i do is sit around critiquing
13:01
identity politics
13:03
but there’s a
13:04
but it’s a very
13:05
when she is the only representative of
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black people in his inner circle
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she is the only one except for reggie
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love right i understand that but you
13:17
can’t that is not the same thing the
13:19
problem with valerie jarrett is that she
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doesn’t have good politics that connect
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with what the bulk of black voters want
13:26
and need not because she’s light-skinned
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right that’s not the issue and not
13:31
because of what her personal connection
13:33
is no and it’s also not because you said
13:35
she has nothing to do with black people
13:36
i know nothing about her personal life
13:38
who she hangs out with how she grew up
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or how much she has anything to do with
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black people so what i’m i’m not
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disagreeing with the substance of your
13:45
critique of valerie jarrett but i’m just
13:47
cautioning you to be careful especially
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since you aren’t black frankly something
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that that’s who he chose
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it’s right something
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if the leading intellect black
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intellectual in the united states is i
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think clearly hands down is cornell west
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and it’s very striking that obama
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couldn’t find any place for cornell west
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in his administration that tells me
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something
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it tells me something but he finds a
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place from valerie jarrett and the only
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other person is reggie love and reggie
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love it was just
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he was the gopher
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oh obama wants an exotic meal can you
14:27
get it for him obama needs a new pair of
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shoes can you get it for him that’s how
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reggie loved it i actually i i liked
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reggie loves memoir because he didn’t
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give
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he used a memoir to talk about himself
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which i i kind of like even though of
14:42
course there’s the praise for obama but
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it tells you something i don’t know why
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you wouldn’t want to see that
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that the people i don’t need
14:52
i don’t think that you are hearing what
14:53
my criticism is
14:56
does it bother you that does it bother
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you
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that valerie jarrett sings the praises
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of al sharpton
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yes that is a substantive critique of
15:06
valerie jarrett valerie jarrett being
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light skinned her daughter being
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perceived as white as a kid it derails
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the rest of your argument that’s the
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point i’m trying to make
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it’s not helpful no i’m i’m telling you
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i’m telling you as someone who is
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sympathetic to your argument and who is
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perhaps the
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person outside of
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the reeds who has written most critique
15:30
of identity politics on the left that
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there are aspects of what is written
15:34
here that even alienate me and force me
15:38
into a defensive posture that is
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unnecessary
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and you cannot you cannot you can choose
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not to care professor finkelstein that’s
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completely you’re right but we we could
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be talking about
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we could be talking about the
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substantive things that we agree with
15:53
but we keep getting derailed because of
15:56
these kind of assigns that do wait i’m
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sorry if i could just finish the
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sentence
16:00
that do open you up to i think
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legitimate criticism that this isn’t
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about the substance but it’s about a
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personal animus for barack obama and i
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personally don’t have a personal animus
16:12
barack obama beyond the extent to which
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he has failed to stand up for the
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promises that he made to the american
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people who are suffering
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at a historic level right now and
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particularly because he’s a black person
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who traded on
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his blackness in order to convince
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people without a lot of substance as
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you’ve written so persuasively
16:30
to invest in him and to trust him with
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the future and the fate of the most
16:36
historically marginal you know one of
16:37
the most historically marginalized
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groups in this country that is my beef
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with barack obama but when you say
16:42
things like i don’t find him interesting
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that’s fine you don’t have to i
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personally find him to be very
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interesting and deeply compelling and i
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i mean like the whole phenomenon i find
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to be fascinating
16:53
but the i it begs the question you know
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why is it relevant whether you find them
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interesting and i find them just
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uninteresting i said i don’t think it’s
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relevant but it comes up you end up you
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said it i didn’t say it you said it and
17:06
those kinds of asides and those frogs
17:08
and detours i would put to you i would
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put to you
17:12
set you up to be written off and set all
17:14
of your critique to be written off
17:16
as a personal vendetta as opposed to a
17:19
substantive analysis which i think is
17:21
very much here and that’s all that i it
17:24
is that i’m flagging
17:25
because
17:26
um
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i don’t like
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identity politics
17:32
why not
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why
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yeah i mean i don’t either but i want to
17:36
hear i’m interested in hearing
17:38
your
17:38
analysis because
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i know enough young people
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not from the elite schools
17:47
but
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young people who are
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struggling
17:52
very hard
17:54
now
17:55
i had a wonderful life
17:58
not in terms of professional success
18:01
but enable
18:03
in terms of being able to do with my
18:05
life
18:06
what i wanted to do
18:08
you set a goal as a child a youth
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and then you
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are able to realize it
18:16
i had a friend richard herskowitz
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he loved film
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he became a film uh impresario festivals
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organizing festivals
18:26
larry spivak he was in the school band
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the orchestra leader
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he became the leader of the greenwich
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orchestra
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then there’s the whole slew who became
18:37
doctors
18:38
that was their goal and there were quite
18:40
a few just money in wall street
18:43
this generation
18:47
they
18:49
it’s the very rare person outside the 20
18:52
the 20 will make it
18:54
the 80
18:55
who i know
18:58
they’re not going to see anything in
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their lives it’s very hard for me to
19:01
tell them that
19:02
i um
19:04
often they’re asking me what do you
19:05
think i should do where do you think i
19:07
should go
19:08
i don’t even know what to counsel
19:09
anymore
19:11
because i don’t see any prospects at all
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so
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to me
19:18
this identity politics
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it’s a complete and total
19:24
diversion
19:27
from anything meaningful
19:29
and substantive
19:32
for the young people i know who are poor
19:36
who live four to a room
19:39
in new york
19:40
or four to an apartment in new york
19:43
who struggle each month
19:46
to make the rent
19:48
who keep down
19:50
three dead end jobs
19:53
with no job security no vacation no sick
19:57
benefits nothing nothing
20:00
and then
20:01
juxtaposed to that
20:04
is this idiotic
20:06
identity politics
20:09
which
20:10
so far as
20:12
the young people i know
20:14
has absolutely no meaning
20:17
no
20:18
substance
20:20
whatsoever
20:22
so i just want to make sure i understand
20:24
what you’re really
20:25
one last thought sure
20:27
it was very striking to me
20:31
the
20:32
juxtaposition of the obama campaign
20:37
with the bernie campaign
20:39
the obama campaign was just
20:42
elect obama it was just all focused on
20:46
electing this person president
20:49
the bernie campaign
20:51
was entirely focused on his platform
20:55
everybody the moment he thought bernie
20:58
you thought first medicare for all
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student debt
21:03
abolish tuition
21:05
jobs
21:06
and infrastructure
21:08
it was an identity politics campaign
21:12
juxtaposed against
21:15
a class politics
21:17
it was a very in my opinion
21:21
a very striking juxtaposition
21:25
most people like bernie not because they
21:27
had any particular
21:29
affection for him
21:31
but because they trusted him they knew
21:33
this guy’s been in politics for 40 years
21:35
he’s been saying the same thing since
21:37
the 1970s
21:39
so they figured okay the guy is the real
21:41
thing he’s the real deal uh that’s the
21:45
kind of politics
21:46
that’s always interested me
21:50
i care i care about the fate of humanity
21:53
i do
21:54
i don’t much care about abram x candies
21:57
um
21:59
hair
22:01
it doesn’t much interest me
22:04
is uh
22:06
these are fashion shows
22:08
this is not scholarship
22:10
it’s not politics
22:13
it’s
22:14
tamika mallory doing cadillac
22:17
commercials
22:19
it’s
22:20
patrice coolers
22:23
buying her four homes and then taking
22:25
the money and run
22:28
it’s also
22:30
beyond the scam
22:33
it’s really destructive
22:37
i was out every night
22:39
during the george floyd demonstrations i
22:41
was the only one over there was nobody
22:44
over
22:44
[Music]
22:45
there was literally over 30 at the
22:47
demonstrations because it was jaren
22:48
covert
22:50
so i was the only one
22:53
not for my age cohort
22:55
for four decades
22:58
after 35
22:59
three decades
23:01
and what was most striking to me
23:03
a veteran as it were of demonstrations
23:08
i had never seen
23:10
such anger among the whites the young
23:12
white people
23:15
it was not this kind of no bless oblige
23:18
solidarity with black people no
23:21
it was solidarity
23:23
however
23:25
it was we’re all in this together
23:29
and it was very striking
23:31
let’s say the
23:32
uh barclays center
23:35
which is the big center in downtown
23:37
brooklyn
23:38
here were the cops lined up
23:41
and here were
23:42
the demonstrators
23:45
and
23:46
there would be the white women
23:49
and there was such a fierce
23:52
anger
23:54
they were screaming it was not the most
23:56
sophisticated
23:58
of the of slogans they were shouting
24:00
nypd sucked my dick nyc
24:04
so angry
24:07
and
24:08
you you could see
24:10
it was the rage against the machine
24:14
that the police were the symbols
24:16
of this whole
24:18
system
24:21
that left them with no future
24:24
a futureless future
24:26
and there was real potential there
24:29
it was real
24:31
black and white
24:33
solidarity
24:35
as i had never before seen it
24:38
and it was very
24:40
inspiring
24:42
to see it because it wasn’t fake it
24:43
wasn’t the martha’s vineyard
24:47
it wasn’t performing
24:48
it was real
24:50
because a lot of these kids you know how
24:52
do you find a place in new york there
24:54
are three people they need a roommate
24:57
so a person comes along they randomly
24:59
choose them there is like a co-op
25:01
screening you know what i mean
25:03
so you have
25:05
every different type living together
25:08
a black person a white person a gay
25:10
person the trans person through living
25:12
together
25:13
there was a real sense of
25:15
community there you know recognition
25:17
that blacks are getting shafted more
25:19
than
25:19
everybody else but we’re all getting
25:22
shafted by this system
25:24
and the identity politics wrecks all
25:27
that it destroys it
25:30
by
25:31
by
25:32
balkanizing
25:34
the
25:36
solidarity
25:37
creating this competitiveness
25:40
who is the most oppressed
25:43
among the group
25:45
who should get bumped to the head of the
25:47
queue
25:48
it’s such a destructive
25:51
politics
25:52
i was a maoist
25:54
in my youth i made many errors
25:57
i’m perfectly willing to
26:00
acknowledge them
26:02
but there are things about that period
26:04
that i look back and they make sense
26:07
mao’s famous slogan was unite the many
26:09
to defeat the few
26:12
unite the many to defeat the few
26:15
the slogan of identity politics is
26:18
disunite the many to enable the few
26:21
to create enough divisions
26:23
fragmentations
26:25
and so forth
26:27
uh it’s a very destructive
26:30
and at the end of course the whole
26:32
identity politics in the george floyd
26:34
demonstrations what do they what
26:36
happened instead of putting forth a
26:39
slogan which could have united people
26:41
the obvious slogan was
26:43
justice meaning justice against the cops
26:45
and jobs because all these people don’t
26:47
have work
26:49
instead of justice and jobs
26:51
it came to
26:52
pummeling
26:54
statues of
26:55
whomever they were pulling down
26:58
and if you were if you attended those
27:00
demonstrations i don’t know if you did
27:03
by the third week the first week it was
27:06
50 50 50 black 50 not black
27:11
by the third week it was about 80 10 80
27:15
white
27:16
the black people sort of
27:18
it wasn’t going anywhere and they
27:20
started to disappear
27:22
and then the whole craziness with the
27:24
statues started
27:26
and then the whole thing just fizzled
27:27
out
27:29
i had there right well i think that the
27:30
i mean there’s a lot to be said about
27:32
those protests and we’ve said some of it
27:33
on the show i would dispute that it
27:35
fizzled out i think that there were a
27:36
lot of things that happened there was
27:38
the media turned on the protests and
27:41
started characterizing them
27:43
as kind of unhinged and violent and that
27:46
the ongoing protests were direct
27:49
um
27:50
there was going to be a direct trade-off
27:51
between the george floyd
27:54
movement policing movement
27:56
and
27:58
joe biden’s electoral chances and that
28:00
deflated some energy out of it and there
28:02
was an unwillingness of figureheads as
28:04
you’ve pointed to to actually stick that
28:06
landing and create any real use it for
28:09
any real leverage in an electoral
28:10
context in the middle of a journal
28:12
election and there was a lot of there
28:13
was a lot going on there
28:15
but um i want to bring this back uh
28:18
to
28:19
the subject to hand and ask you then
28:23
in a broader critique of identity
28:24
politics why is it that you felt the
28:27
need to write a chapter on barack obama
28:30
especially if to your point the younger
28:32
generations let’s say the under 40 crowd
28:35
is pretty woke and hip to
28:38
the
28:39
failures of obama
28:42
and doesn’t need need the pitch who who
28:44
is this who is this for hey youtube
28:47
don’t forget this is a podcast to get
28:49
full episodes including ones that are
28:51
behind a pay wall go to patreon.com bad
28:55
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video
29:03

Steve Bannon Is a Fan of Italy’s Donald Trump

He’s crisscrossing Europe because he believes it’s a bellwether for the United States. The scary thing is he could be right.

MILAN — Italy is a political laboratory. During the Cold War, the question was whether the United States could keep the Communists from power. Then Italy produced Silvio Berlusconi and scandal-ridden showman politics long before the United States elected Donald Trump. Now, on the eve of European Parliament elections likely to result in a rightist lurch, it has an anti-immigrant, populist government whose strongman, Matteo Salvini, known to his followers as “the Captain,” is the Continent’s most seductive exponent of the new illiberalism.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, has been close to Salvini for a while. That’s no surprise. Bannon is the foremost theorist and propagator of the global nationalist, anti-establishment backlash. He’s Trotsky to the Populist International. He sensed the disease eating at Western democracies — a globalized elite’s abandonment of the working class and the hinterland — before anyone. He spurred a revolt to make the invisible citizen visible and to save Western manufacturing jobs from what he calls the Chinese “totalitarian economic hegemon.”

Now Bannon is crisscrossing Europe ahead of the elections, held Thursday through next Sunday. He’s in Berlin one day, Paris the next. As he explained during several recent conversations and a meeting in New York, he believes that “Europe is six months to a year ahead of the United States on everything.” As with Brexit’s foreshadowing of Trump’s election, a victory for the right in Europe “will energize our base for 2020.” The notion of Wisconsin galvanized by Brussels may seem far-fetched, but then so did a President Trump.

Polls indicate that Salvini’s League party, transformed from a northern secessionist movement into the national face of the xenophobic right, will get over 30 percent of the Italian vote, up from 6.2 percent in 2014. Anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic parties look set to make the greatest gains, taking as many as 35 percent of the seats in Parliament, which influences European Union policy for more than a half-billion people. In France, Marine Le Pen’s nationalists are running neck-and-neck with President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-Europe party. In Britain, Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has leapt ahead of the center-right and center-left.

Salvini, whose party formed a government a year ago with the out-with-the-old-order Five Star Movement, is a central figure in this shift. The coalition buried mainstream parties. He is, Bannon told me, “the most important guy on the stage right now — he’s charismatic, plain-spoken, and he understands the machinery of government. His rallies are as intense as Trump’s. Italy is the center of politics — a country that has embraced nationalism against globalism, shattered the stereotypes, blown past the old paradigm of left and right.”

For all the upheaval, I found Italy intact, still tempering transactional modernity with humanity, still finding in beauty consolation for dysfunction. The new right has learned from the past. It does not disappear people. It does not do mass militarization. It’s subtler.

  • It scapegoats migrants,
  • instills fear,
  • glorifies an illusory past (what the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman called “retrotopia”),
  • exalts machismo,
  • mocks do-gooder liberalism and
  • turns the angry drumbeat of social media into its hypnotic minute-by-minute mass rally.

Salvini, the suave savior, is everywhere other than in his interior minister’s office at Rome’s Viminale Palace. He’s out at rallies or at the local cafe in his trademark blue “Italia” sweatshirt. He’s at village fairs and conventions. He’s posting on Facebook up to 30 times a day to his 3.7 million followers, more than any other European politician. (Macron has 2.6 million followers.) He’s burnishing the profile of the tough young pol (he’s 46) who

  • keeps migrants out,
  • loosens gun laws,
  • brandishes a sniper rifle and
  • winks at Fascism

all leavened with Mr.-Nice-Guy images of him sipping espresso or a Barolo.

His domination of the headlines is relentless. When, during my visit, a woman was gang raped near Viterbo, his call for “chemical castration” of the perpetrators led the news cycle for 24 hours. Like Trump, he’s a master of saying the unsayable to drown out the rest.

“I find Salvini repugnant, but he seems to have an incredible grip on society,” Nathalie Tocci, the director of Italy’s Institute of International Relations, told me. No wonder then that the European far-right has chosen Milan for its big pre-election rally, bringing together Salvini, Le Pen, Jörg Meuthen of the Alternative for Germany party and many other rightist figures.

A nationalist tide is still rising. “We need to mobilize,” Bannon told me. “This is not an era of persuasion, it’s an era of mobilization. People now move in tribes. Persuasion is highly overrated.

Bannon gives the impression of a man trying vainly to keep up with the intergalactic speed of his thoughts. Ideas cascade. He offered me a snap dissection of American politics: blue-collar families were suckers: their sons and daughters went off to die in unwon wars; their equity evaporated with the 2008 meltdown, destroyed by “financial weapons of mass destruction”; their jobs migrated to China. All that was needed was somebody to adopt a new vernacular, say to heck with all that, and promise to stop “unlimited illegal immigration” and restore American greatness. His name was Trump. The rest is history.

In Europe, Bannon said, the backlash brew included several of these same factors. The “centralized government of Europe” and its austerity measures, uncontrolled immigration and the sense of people in the provinces that they were “disposable” produced the Salvini phenomenon and its look-alikes across the Continent.

“In Macron’s vision of a United States of Europe, Italy is South Carolina to France’s North Carolina,” Bannon told me. “But Italy wants to be Italy. It does not want to be South Carolina. The European Union has to be a union of nations.”

The fact is Italy is Italy, unmistakably so, with its high unemployment, stagnation, archaic public administration and chasm between the prosperous north (which Salvini’s League once wanted to turn into a secessionist state called Padania) and the southern Mezzogiorno. Salvini’s coalition has done nothing to solve these problems even as it has

  • demonized immigrants,
  • attacked an independent judiciary and
  • extolled an “Italians first” nation.

A federal Europe remains a chimera, even if the euro crisis revealed the need for budgetary integration. Bannon’s vision of Brussels bureaucrats devouring national identity for breakfast is largely a straw-man argument, useful for making the European Union the focus of all 21st-century angst.

The union has delivered peace and stability. It’s the great miracle of the second half of the 20th century; no miracle ever marketed itself so badly. It has also suffered from ideological exhaustion, remoteness, division and the failure to agree on an effective shared immigration policy — opening the way for Salvini’s salvos to hit home in a country that is the first stop for many African migrants.

Salvini grew up in Milan in a middle-class family, dropped out of university, joined the League in its early days in the 1990s and was shaped by years working at Radio Padania where he would listen to Italians’ gripes. “What he heard was complaints about immigrants, Europe, the rich,” Emanuele Fiano, a center-left parliamentarian, told me. “He’s run with that and is now borderline dangerous.”

The danger is not exit from the European Union — the government has come to its senses over that — or some Fascist reincarnation. It’s what Fabrizio Barca, a former minister for territorial cohesion, called the “Orbanization of the country,” in a reference to Viktor Orban, the right-wing Hungarian leader. In other words, insidious domination through the evisceration of independent checks and balances, leading Salvini to the kind of stranglehold on power enjoyed by Orban (with a pat on the back from Trump) or by Vladimir Putin. “The European Union has been ineffective against Orban,” Barca noted. Worse, it has been feckless.

Another threat, as in Trump’s United States, is of moral collapse. “I am not a Fascist but. …” is a phrase increasingly heard in Italy, with some positive judgment on Mussolini to round off the sentence. Salvini, in the judgment of Claudio Gatti, whose book “The Demons of Salvini” was just published in Italian, is “post-Fascist” — he refines many of its methods for a 21st-century audience.

Barca told me the abandonment of rural areas — the closing of small hospitals, marginal train lines, high schools — lay behind Salvini’s rise. Almost 65 percent of Italian land and perhaps 25 percent of its population have been affected by these cuts. “Rural areas and the peripheries, the places where people feel like nobody, are home to the League and Five Star,” he said. To the people there, Salvini declares: I will defend you. He does not offer a dream. He offers protection — mainly against the concocted threat of migrants, whose numbers were in fact plummeting before he took office because of an agreement reached with Libya.

The great task before the parties of the center-left and center-right that will most likely be battered in this election is to reconnect. They must restore a sense of recognition to the forgotten of globalization. Pedro Sánchez, the socialist Spanish prime minister, just won an important electoral victory after pushing through a 22 percent rise in the minimum wage, the largest in Spain in 40 years. There’s a lesson there. The nationalist backlash is powerful, but pro-European liberal sentiment is still stronger. If European elections feel more important, it’s also because European identity is growing.

As for the curiously prescient Italian political laboratory, Bannon is investing in it. He’s established an “Academy for the Judeo-Christian West” in a 13th-century monastery outside Rome. Its courses, he told me, will include “history, aesthetics and just plain instruction in how to get stuff done, including facing up to pressure, mock TV interviews with someone from CNN or The Guardian ripping your face off.”

Bannon described himself as an admirer of George Soros — “his methods, not his ideology” — and the way Soros had built up “cadres” throughout Europe. The monastery is the nationalist response to Soros’s liberalism. There’s a war of ideas going on in Italy and the United States. To shun the fight is to lose it. I am firmly in the liberal camp, but to win it helps to know and strive to understand one’s adversary.

Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.

People often vote against things instead of voting for them: against ideas, candidates and parties. Democrats, like Republicans, appreciate this whenever they portray their opponents as negatively as possible. But members of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture.

.. Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. I’m not talking about the possibility that jokes at the 2011 correspondents’ association dinner may have pushed Mr. Trump to run for president to begin with. I mean that the “army of comedy” that Michael Moore thought would bring Mr. Trump down will instead be what builds him up in the minds of millions of voters.

.. Some liberals have gotten far out ahead of their fellow Americans but are nonetheless quick to criticize those who haven’t caught up with them.

.. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.

.. Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided — these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language and a very different one to police other people’s. The former can set an example. The latter is domineering.

.. This judgmental tendency became stronger during the administration of President Barack Obama, though not necessarily because of anything Mr. Obama did. Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors.

.. college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.

.. It was during these years that the University of California included the phrase “America is the land of opportunity” on a list of discouraged microaggressions.

.. Champions of inclusion can watch what they say and explain what they’re doing without presuming to regulate what words come out of other people’s mouths. Campus activists can allow invited visitors to speak and then, after that event, hold a teach-in discussing what they disagree with. After the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states had to allow same-sex marriage, the fight, in some quarters, turned to pizza places unwilling to cater such weddings. Maybe don’t pick that fight?

.. Liberals can act as if they’re not so certain — and maybe actually not be so certain — that bigotry motivates people who disagree with them on issues like immigration.

.. Without sacrificing their principles, liberals can come across as more respectful of others. Self-righteousness is rarely attractive, and even more rarely rewarded.

.. many liberals seem primed to write off nearly half the country as irredeemable.

.. But it is an unjustified leap to conclude that anyone who supports him in any way is racist, just as it would be a leap to say that anyone who supported Hillary Clinton was racist because she once made veiled references to “superpredators.”

Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.

Why Trump Lies

In modern Russia, the administration is comfortable using lies to muddle their people. If you push out several completely contradictory stories, the truth becomes buried, or at least discredited along with the other clearly untrue stories. If you make an effort to shed doubt on the news outlets, NGOs, and individuals who use facts to show when a statement is demonstrably untrue then it becomes harder for people to settle on one single statement as being true, in amongst a series of statements that are not. People are naturally inclined to trust authority, so when the government makes an official statement it carries weight against an individual or single news outlet.

This approach was perfected under Communism, especially Stalinism. At various points, whilst millions were starving, industry and the economy were collapsing, even up to the denial and then underplaying of the Chernobyl disaster, the government would state that reality was one way, when it was really the complete opposite. Audacious lies are harder to deal with than small ones.

.. Currently, when the Russian government denies something that is demonstrably true, or makes a statement that can be proven not to be true, there can be a number of reasons why they do this.

1. Telling a lie because you believe it

Putin is notoriously cut off from the world. He does not use the Internet, and receives very short briefings from a close circle of people around him. Those people are unlikely to want to upset him, or contradict him. Being surrounded by people who depend on your favour to remain in position, or even remain alive, means you increasingly get less and less real information. It becomes an extreme version of the echo chambers we’re all becoming trapped in by Social Media algorithms.

.. under Stalin the KGB was brilliant at collecting intelligence, but useless at analysing it. When people reported intelligence that was counter to the world view of Stalin, they generally ended up dead. So increasingly the intelligence was edited, or mis-interpreted to support the existing set of beliefs of the leader.

So it is possible, and some pundits suggest this, that Putin actually believes the world view the Russian government expresses through its propaganda, much as Stalin’s Russia really believed the country was riddled with foreign spies, and was at constant threat of invasion — assumptions that history have shown us were completely wrong.

With Trump we have to consider some assumptions. He has been rich and powerful for a long time. Therefore, he is likely to have been surrounded by yes-men who only enforce his world view and opinions rather than challenging them. He does not brush shoulders with reality on a daily basis, living the life of a billionaire. He also does not read, and watches a very narrow spectrum of media. Now he is President he is even more cut off from the world, and instead of taking advantage of a state machinery that could leave him amongst the best informed people in the world, he has eschewed Intelligence briefings, and other input from independent sources.

.. It would be fair to say that Trump is not highly educated, well read, or particularly well informed. This applies to most of his Cabinet, which is noticeably unqualified and poorly educated.

.. On top of this many of them are religious fundamentalists, which clouds their interpretation of facts with an ideology that is not open to challenges. The same applied to Stalinist Russia, when the Communist ideology came before facts and could over-rule them.

2. Telling a lie aimed only at your core constituency

Another way to interpret Trump’s lies are to conclude that he knows they are not true, and he knows we know they are not true, but that they are not aimed at us.

When the Russian government claims, for example, that it is clear a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down the MH17 passenger plane over Ukraine, it’s possible they know that we know this is not true. But the lie was told to foreign media like the BBC so that it can be played back to their own people in Russia and used to undermine reports of evidence that it was a Russian army missile that brought the plane down. They don’t care that we know it isn’t true, because the message is not for us. It is for their own people, and for those confused enough to have their belief in the official investigation findings undermined by a bare faced lie.

In effect, the messages are broadcast to everyone, but only one specific audience matters.

.. So with Trump, when he says the New York Times is failing, he may not care that we all know that is a blatant lie — factually not true. He could just be speaking to his core voters, whom he knows will not see any counter argument and may believe him. It is important to him that they don’t trust any media that will criticise him.

.. The same applies to his claim that Obama tapped his phones. He may know that most people will realise this is nonsense. But that core of people who only get news from Breitbart, and believe the conspiracies, will also believe this one about Obama. That in turn helps him undermine any findings in the future from investigations into his links with Russia.

If he can undermine the media that will broadcast this, and sew seeds of a conspiracy against him, he can blur any negative news about his links with Russia.

.. If this means his Tweeting is just aimed at securing that base of core voters, his Twitter feed seems slightly less insane.

.. he is able to take advantage of the echo chamber of the Trump constituency.

.. They are not trying to convince anyone new to get behind their narrative, they are just securing the narrative amongst those who already follow them.

3. Telling lies to undermine Truth

Kasaparov summed it up well in this Tweet:

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

Once truth is an undermined currency, as the Soviet Union proved, people give up caring altogether. People knew things were not true, but knowing that made no difference, and saying so was dangerous, so they stopped engaging with truth or facts.

The liberal media and Democrat politicians are talking about reaching the point where Trump’s core voters, the white working class, realise he has conned them. It is assumed that once they lose their healthcare, do not gain jobs, and see the Swamp ever more swamp-like, they will rebel and vote against him.

.. But if Trump can ensure they do not believe facts shared by the media, and do believe lies propagated by him and his supporters, then they may never realise they were conned, and may not that see things are not as good as promised. Or they will believe it is outside forces, not Trump. Blaming Obama for everything is laying the ground for that

.. In Russia, the government blames America, the EU, NATO, Russian liberals, or any other outside force for the demise of their economy, the loss of civil liberties, and indeed anything bad. Putin and the Administration are never to blame.

.. Trump will say that unemployment is up, even when data shows it is down. He will claim any success as his, and will blame China, Obama, the Democrats, or others for any failures. If that does not work, he will just rubbish any news that undermines him.

.. a natural skill of his, or whether it is a clever strategy of his advisors

.. the people around him are already skilled in manipulation of the truth. Paul Manafort advised former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych

.. Manafort will have become very well versed in Russian style manipulation of Truth through this work and will have taught Trump these lessons when he was his advisor. Then

Bannon ran Breitbart, which makes a business of manipulating the truth, and outright lying.

.. If within a few years a large swathe of the country either believes the Trump messaging, or does not trust the mainstream media, or thinks the Democrats are evil and corrupt, or just does not know what is true or not anymore, then Trump stands a chance of a second term regardless of how his first term goes.

.. To survive: read Russian novels like Master and Margherita

.. When you hear Trump lie, pause to ask yourself which type of lie it might be.

Gorka: Roy Moore’s Victory in Alabama Primary a ‘Revolutionary Moment in American Politics’

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, chief strategist for the MAGA Coalition and former deputy assistant to President Trump, told SiriusXM hosts Steve Bannon and Raheem Kassam on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily that Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Senate primary “changed American politics.”

.. For me it’s a reassertion of sovereignty and a reassertion of democracy, where the wishes of the people are actually expressed in a way that the money and the influence of the establishment totally fails.”

.. “When you look at, what’s the latest count? $30 million spent by the Swamp. For the local people’s voices just to reject that attempt by the establishment to hijack that primary, I think it really, truly is a revolutionary moment in American politics.”

.. “If you think that the Swamp is going to give back our nation without a fight, then you’re sorely mistaken.”

.. this isn’t just about the lobbyists. It’s not just about the people on Capitol Hill. The Swamp – I don’t like the phrase ‘Deep State’; I like the phrase ‘the permanent state’ – is also largely about the bureaucrats who just think they know better than anybody else,” Gorka said.

.. When you’ve got somebody who’s a GS-14 who thinks, ‘Nope, I’ve been here for 20 years, I’m going to be here after the president leaves, and I know better, and I’m just going to do my own thing,’ that’s what we have to fight as well – the idea that there’s this entrenched political elite that’s not just politicians, but also bureaucrats that think they know better,” he said.

.. Gorka agreed with Bannon’s critique that too much of the Republican consultant class thinks big campaign money is the only necessary ingredient for political victory.

“They think the politics of personal assassination, of political assassination and triangulation, is it,” Gorka said. “They’re just going to throw more money at it. They don’t need to convince you of anything. They don’t need to argue their policies. They just wish to destroy you. They just don’t get it.”

.. “As long as they don’t understand that, we are going to win every single time because you cannot buy Americans.”