The Rising Tide of Hate Speech
no, the other one
General Michael Hayden is a former director of both the CIA and the NSA, a person who has had considerable power in the the United States. This is what he thinks of Americans who disagree with him about politics and culture:
We used to talk about the growth of the domestic surveillance state, and facilities like the NSA’s Utah Data Center, and the apparent fact that the national security state stores our emails, phone calls, and communications metadata for years. Whistleblowers like the former NSA analyst William Binney have said that the NSA is the warehouse for a “turnkey totalitarian state,” storing extraordinarily dangerous data with safeguards against abuse that can be discarded by leaders who simply wish to discard them.
And the NSA has been run by people who think Americans with guns and Bibles are indistinguishable from Islamist suicide bombers.
Of course, the threat of authoritarianism no longer resides in systems and structures; now it only resides in personalities, and can only come from the “authoritarian playbook” of individual politicians. The point of endlessly locating all threats of authoritarianism in the body of a single Scary Orange Man is that it ends all discussion about the actual sources of burgeoning authoritarianism in a metastasizing security state.
But there it still is, growing in size and power, led by people who are increasingly unguarded about how much they hate the people they govern. The repellent flood of loathing for the “dull, white, pasty” Ireland pouring out of the Irish government, in recent days, is an extraordinary illustration of an ordinary reality. See this: the Irish government hates the Irish. An Algerian immigrant of long residence in Ireland stabbed three Irish children, which angered a bunch of bad, far-right people who lack the sophistication to embrace the stabbing of children, who rioted. Faced with popular anger over a vicious attack on very young children, the Irish government is vowing to crack down on…the people who are angry about the vicious attack on children.
Appalling details here of what it means to “modernise” laws against a feeling, growing the security state on the premise of resisting hatred and extremism. I forget which reader here used the phrase “hugs fascism,” but let’s put it to use.
One of the first things I wrote here, back when I could count my subscribers on one hand, was a long description of the path by which a “new” elite, now more than a century old, began credentialing themselves for their status by a process of opposition:
The separation in is how we get to 2021 – the stratification and deracination of self-aware elites. The late Christopher Lasch, a socialist historian with what are now regarded as conservative cultural instincts, spent a long career describing the social history of this newly made American gentry class. The self-consciously created status group of people separated from the common mass of Americans, he wrote, “include not only corporate managers but all those professions that produce and manipulate information – the lifeblood of the global market.” (Robert Reich calls them “symbolic analysts.”)
The key to elite status in the cultural aristocracy that emerged from the Gilded Age, Lasch argued, was that they defined themselves against their unfashionable countrymen: “The new elites are in revolt against ‘Middle America,’ as they imagine it: a nation technologically backward, politically reactionary, repressive in its sexual morality, middlebrow in its tastes, smug and complacent, dull and dowdy. Those who covet membership in the new aristocracy of brains tend to congregate on the coasts, turning their back on the heartland and cultivating ties with the international market in fast-moving money, glamour, fashion, and popular culture. It is a question whether they think of themselves as American at all.”
That very large cultural wave has built to its maximum height and strength, and now it needs to break. Or be broken. The political class is the group of people who hate, who vow to crack down on their own countries, who rant about the repulsive backwardness of their countrymen. “It is a question whether they think of themselves as American at all,” or whether they think of themselves as Irish at all, and so on. Their existence is invariably and adamantly oppositional. They hate; they are hate, embodied and given force by authority. The degree to which the political class credentials itself through a process of contempt is something that needs sustained attention, because the danger that comes from the operationalization of that contempt is intolerable. We are increasingly governed like occupied countries.
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