What abyss are we talking about? – Remarks
The essay published by Timothy Snyder in the New York Times Magazine on January 9 has a beautiful title, even if it is not very original1. Reading the text, however, was a little disappointing for me. Snyder writes:
Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump was our post-truth president. When we let go of the truth, we cede the power to those with the wealth and charisma to create the spectacle for it. Without agreement on certain basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts about us, then we tend to wallow in enticing abstractions and fictions. Post-truth uses the rule of law and invites a regime of myth.
I obviously agree with this last point; that said, that does not explain anything. What needs to be explained is why much of American society “believes” in consistently false claims.
By the way: Does Snyder think Trumpists literally “believe” Trump’s words?
In the book Did the Greeks believe their myths? (Did the Greeks believe their myths?), Paul Veyne wonders about the meaning of the word “belief”. His conclusion is that the strength of mythology does not lie in literally believing a metaphor, forgetting the parentheses before and after the metaphorical utterance. Mythological belief (like memetic contagion) also today allows a kind of pragmatic coherence in the life of “believers”. It gives meaning to the world of those who listen to such a mythology, in the midst of a world that has lost all meaning.
For example, believing Trump’s claim “I won the election” is not a semiological error. It is rather a strategy of asserting oneself identity. When liberals talk about “fake news” they miss the point altogether, because those who share a mythology (or meme) do not seek factual truth, as a sociologist would. Instead, they consciously or unconsciously use the force of the false utterance as an exorcism, an insult, a weapon.
The most important question to ask is not why Trump is lying, but rather why so many people vote for him in the first place. What are the conditions – economic, political, semiological, etc. – who produce this vote and this act? The solution to the problem isn’t to impeach the Orange Man (again), or to ban him from Twitter (too late, Mr. Dorsey, too late). Rather, it is about allowing people to think and choose in a way that is not clouded by humiliation and resentment.
The American crisis is not generated by the perverse effects of mass communication. It is generated by the contradictions that emerge from the racist nature of the most violent country of all time.
The key to understanding current events in the United States is found in a sentence President George HW Bush spoke at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. This summit was dedicated to discussing and finding impending climate change. ways to reduce the effects of the economic crisis. growth on the environment.
“The lifestyle of the American people is not negotiable,” the president said.
The American lifestyle can be summed up in one statistic: The average American uses four times more electricity than the average non-American. white Americans, some of whom were impoverished by the financial crash of 2008, of which only the financial class emerged victorious; who feel humiliated by fifty years of ignominiously lost criminal wars; who worry about the coming loss of demographic dominance – desperately cling to what little they have left: their SUVs, their weapons and the right to eat huge amounts of animals. Endangered by globalization, their privilege is quickly fading, so they are ready to follow a führer who promises to make America great again.
What happened on January 6 in Washington was not an insurgency or a real coup. It was an episode, both burlesque and criminal, of the American Civil War between white nationalism and liberal globalism. Both globalists and nationalists are expressions of American capitalist supremacy. This civil war will last and spread, and luckily for humanity, it will consume American power.
If you want to understand the ongoing civil war, you should read an article by American journalist Thomas Frank, published in The diplomatic world:
At a barbecue restaurant near my family’s home, a man reportedly walked in wearing a bright red Trump hat but without an antiviral mask. When the kid at the cashier (the kid gets paid $ 8.50 an hour, note the paper) asked the man to cover his nose and mouth according to local rules, the man pulled his shirt up like Clint Eastwood in an Italian western to let the kid see he was carrying a gun.
This illustrates the prevalence of a rampant Civil War in the fabric of American daily life, which will continue to explode periodically as it did on January 6. This low-intensity warfare will become the norm, and gradually it will drag the police and the military into the fray.
The abyss is not semiological, but cultural, social and racial. White supremacy is the central foundation of American identity because the United States is based on genocide and slavery. Trump is not a malignant exception, but the genuine soul of white America. This is the abyss, not the spread of ridiculous lies that only white liberals take seriously.
The 13th Amendment did not abolish slavery in the United States. He simply legalized it, so the cotton fields were replaced with mass imprisonment.
This is the abyss that Timothy Snyder fails to see.