Commentary of the Week: “Fake News, Fake Democracy” (December 8-14, 2016)

commentaryoftheweekBy Michael Nevradakis

Following in the footsteps of voters in Britain, in the United States, and even to an extent, voters in Greece, Italian voters vociferously said no to neoliberalism recently, in a referendum which was a pure power grab by the country’s second consecutive non-elected prime minister, Matteo Renzi, a favorite of his European Union and Eurozone paymasters. Just like British voters in the referendum on Brexit, just like American voters who in many senses rejected Hillary Clinton and all she represented more than they voted for Donald Trump per se, just like Greek voters with their own confused and muddled but resounding no in July 2015, Italian voters put a stop to attempts by an non-elected prime minister to consolidate power and to subvert the country’s democratic political system, forcing Renzi’s bluff, as he had pledged prior to the referendum that he would resign if a “no” vote prevailed.

The problem though is that two can play this game, and in the European Union in particular, the word “no” is a favorite—just as long as it’s Brussels and Berlin that are using it. And they are. The oh-so-democratic EU is now pulling out all the stops to overturn this latest unfavorable referendum result, pressuring the Italian president to ask prime minister Renzi to “postpone” his resignation, to stay in office so he can ram through his EU-supported austerity budget for 2017 first, prior to making good on his promise. In Britain, we’re seeing the government there drag its feet on moving ahead with Brexit, and we saw three two-bit punk judges, as Paul Craig Roberts described them in this week’s Dialogos Radio interview, claim that a referendum result is non-binding for the British Parliament. Of course, we all know what happened with the Greek joke of a referendum in July 2015. Not only was the question muddled, unclear, and confusing, but the “no” result—whether it was a no to the EU and the euro, a no to austerity, a no just to the particular austerity package being proposed, or a no to the entire political system—was crumpled up and thrown in the EU dumpster. The third and most onerous austerity agreement to date followed, and now the faux-leftist SYRIZA government is busy preparing memorandum agreement number four for Greece.

For some of us though, none of this is a surprise in the slightest. Three years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the EU institutions and NATO as part of an academic program I was nominated to attend. And it is at these face-to-face group meetings with Brussels bureaucrats and technocrats that we were told directly, straight from the horse’s mouth—and apologies if I am insulting horses, who are beautiful creatures—that the EU wishes that it could govern many parts of Italy directly from Brussels, and that Italy’s previous unelected prime minister, the bankster Mario Monti, was “the best thing that ever happened to Italy.”

This is the European Union that so many people still consider democratic, that the fake intellectual impostor Noam Chomsky says would be a huge disappointment if it dissolved, the same European Union which won a Nobel Peace Prize while participating in war and carnage in the Middle East, the same European Union which has imposed inhuman austerity measures that have been found to violate the basic human rights and decency of what are supposedly equal EU citizens in countries like Greece. But no—and there’s that word again—the neoliberal EU and Eurozone train must keep chugging along, and we such things as democracy will not be permitted to stand in the way. The same EU whose trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, has said that she “does not receive her mandate from the European people.” The same EU whose unelected president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said that “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.” The same EU which is wholly dominated by Germany, whose apparent finance minister for life Wolfgang Schäuble, who apparently is also acting as finance minister of Greece and Spain and Portugal and Italy, has said “[e]lections change nothing. There are rules.”

And throughout all of this, we’ve seen the international media, including the U.S. media, which is doing a fantastic job keeping the American people woefully and blissfully unaware of anything going on outside the country’s borders, sell this image of the European Union as this warm-and-fuzzy force for peace, as the one factor that is responsible for European countries not waging war against each other over the past 70 years. Never mind that they are waging war—but since it’s with non-European countries or is in the form of economic warfare, it doesn’t count. And the biggest cheerleaders of all are perhaps not the major outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, but those oh-so-progressive, oh-so-hip and edgy media outlets targeting the young and supposedly enlightened. I’m talking about Vice News and sites like Gawker and Slate and even satire websites like The Onion, not to mention media stooges such as Jon Stewart and John Oliver, all of whom have done a fantastic job of associating Brexit voters with racism and xenophobia and anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton with racism and xenophobia and sexism as well, and who earn their corporate media paycheck each day by repackaging the same neoliberal propaganda in easy-to-eat, organic, farm-to-mouth pieces for the Starbucks and Whole Paycheck generation.

Case in point, the supposedly “feminist” website Jezebel, which recently published an absolutely hysterical article claiming that WikiLeaks, through its recent tranche of leaks, is attacking, quote, the “last bastion of liberal democracy in Europe,” Angela Merkel’s Germany. Even more amazing was reading the comments section and seeing comments, supposedly all from young women in their 20s and 30s—the target audience for Jezebel—suddenly taking the side of U.S. and German intelligence services at the expense of WikiLeaks. I may have my own doubts regarding WikiLeaks, completely unrelated to all of these issues, but this issue serves as a case in point for the media propaganda campaign.

Ah, but we have the Washington Post running to our rescue, desperately attempting to save us from ourselves, publishing for us a nice, convenient, and anonymous list of so-called “fake news” sources, apparently under the employ of the so-called “Russian menace.” And what, may I ask, constitutes “fake news”? Apparently, as far as I could crack it, any website that is critical of Hillary Clinton, Barack “Hope and Change” Obama, or U.S. foreign policy, makes the cut.

What does this show us? It shows us that “the system”—the neoliberal system, whether we are talking about its candidates, such as Hillary Clinton; its institutions, such as the European Union and NATO; or its media “presstitutes,”as described by Paul Craig Roberts and which includes the likes of the Washington Post and the fake-progressive outlets like Vice and Gawker and their stooges like Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee and John Oliver, will viciously and vociferously stop at nothing to protect the system and will not hesitate to brand you and I racists and xenophobes and purveyors of “fake news” if that’s what it takes. And apparently, here at Dialogos we, too, are purveyors of fake news, through our association with Mint Press News and through our past association with Truthout—both of which made the Washington Post’s anonymous list.

Thus far, the Washington Post has refused to retract its anonymous, slanderous list. Apparently, retractions are only acceptable when they have to do with retracting the democratic vote of the people and when the result is unfavorable to the powers that be, as was the case in Britain and Italy and Greece and the United States. But as I said before, two can play this game. If reporting the truth means that we are purveyors of “fake news,” then we are proud to be reporting such “fake news.” And in response, we promise to retract “real news” like the Washington Post, from our reading lists, and call upon you to do the same as well.

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