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The (Clown) Show Must Go On

August 8, 2015

In fact, it couldn’t stop itself if it wanted to, and it can’t change. It is its own thing. It’s on a mission, and it’s on a roll—indeed it’s on a role. It’s Fox “News” and it’s a professional clown billionaire.

[8/10 Brief update on fox and clown.]

Its mission is to make money, for the clown, and for the fox, the billionaire, Rupert Murdock (whose biographer, by the way, when asked about Mr M’s view of the role of a “social conscience” in broadcasting, replied that he had seen no evidence that Mr M has a “social conscience” * ).

I take it that Mr. M’s ringmaster, Roger Ailes, Republican TV consultant beginning with Nixon, realized that television competes best for audience (and thus money) as an entertainment medium. Mr A, a man on a political mission, with an ideology that is agreeable to Mr M, as a billionaire, showed Mr M that a sizeable and very loyal audience could be gained by offering entertainment that consists of social and political propaganda, thinly disguised as news—that is, as the kind of information and commentary that had been established on TV, by reporters such as Edward R Morrow and Walter Cronkite, as a thing of high seriousness. **

This available audience consists of conservative Americans who are socially and politically passionate and committed, and can be activated. I take it that in large part, these are people who work hard, and therefore need a relatively passive form of entertainment for relaxation.

Many do not make much money, so they are financially on edge. They feel neglected, even oppressed; and they feel that people who do not work hard, and who often are immoral or even criminal, are trying to take away what little they do have, in the way of money and status, faith and value system—indeed, their country. They feel as though things should be, and could be, much better, if they had their way.

Many are poorly educated, and lack information and ability to reason. Their thoughts are best expressed in slogans. Their imagination is informed and activated by images and stories of people who are put-upon and who look just like them, and by heroic images and stories of people like themselves, or powerful persons who appreciate them, who fight back.

They are attracted to, and entertained by, rebels. In-your-face-rebels. Inside/Outsiders like themselves, the pure who are being supplanted by the impure, but who reverse the power relationship that oppresses them, by disempowering their oppressors, belittling them, putting them in their place (Mexico, for instance), and voting them out of office. (You’re fired.)

Thus the billionaire Trump (who has looked good in post-debate polls among Republicans).

They are attracted to a clown leader. Someone powerful, who has made it big, who exudes self-confidence, who speaks his mind and takes no shit from no body, who understands society and politics the way they do, who will champion them, and who understands the importance of entertainment, as a solace and as a weapon.

Someone who can wear the mask, yet appear to be totally genuine, authentic, like themselves, benevolent and true.

To my mind, the two prime examples of such a leader are Mussolini and Hitler. They are the extreme, in my knowledge, and thus the most revelatory examples of the clown-bully who makes a desperate electorate feel empowered, indeed invincible.

And since I strongly suspect that there are supremely wealthy Americans who would like to institute fascist (American-style) government in the United States, and who intend to use the Republican Party and its candidates to do so, in 2016, I’m particularly concerned at this time.

Let’s be clear: I do not think, nor am I saying, that Donald Trump is anywhere near the sociopathic clown that Mussolini was, or the psychopathic clown that Hitler was. Nor does he have the kind of Party apparatus supporting him that those two megalomaniacs had (although I think the materials are available, if someone were to try to build with them). ***

Nor are the conditions in the United States today as desperate as they were in Italy and Germany after WWI—and that might save us.   The diversity of our population might help too, since it would be harder to sell the image of an ethnically singular (“pure”) national volk; and we don’t have a state religion, so it would be harder to sell the image of a nationalist mysticism.

What interests me, however, are (1) people who imagine life and themselves in such a way that they are vulnerable to such propaganda in media, (2) the kinds of images and stories that appeal to those imaginations, including clownishness, and (3) how the entire Citizens United apparatus of campaigning, including many $100,000,000s in donations by billionaires can deliver those images and stories, as media packaging for candidates.

Indeed this page is not about Mr. Trump, it’s about the imaginations of a formidable group in the Republican electorate, and the wealthy people (including Mr T) who use the entertainment industry to manipulate them.

It’s a molding of the imagination—much of it happening on a subconscious level in the minds of very irrational voters.

* I don’t have a citation for this; I heard the biographer interviewed on the radio, maybe two years ago. Of course he could be wrong.

** 16% of viewership for the 8/6 debate, best ever for Fox News.

*** Here’s my own megalomania: I believe that our struggle is for democracy, human health, all sentient beings on our planet, and soul; and I believe that we can each make some small contribution to that struggle—we don’t have to struggle for Being, because it does just fine, including, in some very small part, our struggle (how many other planets are providing a supply of free oxygen? Water?).

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