Over the weekend I got into a heated discussion with Colin about this topic, and then it happened again the day after. Someone on reddit asked Why are so many on the left seemingly dismissive of the Russia investigation?
I don't know how to articulate this challenge without it seeming personal, so I'll just be frank: I think your claim that "free elections" should take precedence over health-care and living wages is completely insincere and hollow.
Radical centrists tend to talk big game about the utter necessity of free speech, and free organization, and so on, but when the reality about the myriad ways in which democracies have been rigged against the poor and in favor of the rich are brought up, they are dismissed in various "Hanlon's Razor" ways.
Chomsky articulated this when the Russia story very first broke: Not even the absolute worst thing Russia is accused of doing to the US (leaking e-mails + hacking tallies + manipulating social media) could compare to what the US has done dozens of times around the world for decades. I never feel like that point lands for liberals, though, because they quickly invoke how the US is good and does it for democracy and other bromides
So I actually prefer the obverse point: Where's your outrage at the ways in which Billionaires, the DNC/GOP, the NRA, Saudi Arabia, and Israel manipulate your democracy? For example, take this story: Houston Suburb to Harvey Relief Applicants: Don’t Boycott Israel. It's so honestly absurd and flagrant that it is beyond parody, and yet it doesn't make a splash.
The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post are routinely derided by both right-wingers and radical centrists both as ultra left-wing insane outlets helping prop up the causes of SJW-dom... and yet the only person that could remotely be called a socialist in their entire employ is Elizabeth Bruenig. How is this fair to socialism? To Bernie Sanders, who is currently the most popular politician in America? Where's the furor for "free democracy" when their voices are (softly) silenced by cash buying bigger soapboxes and bigger loudspeakers? Maybe you don't think this is part of democracy at all?
It all really boils down to this: The substantial conflict of the world isn't the clashing ideologies and geopolitical interests of major states, but the steady repression of the most marginalized by the most privileged and powerful.
The prediction from left-wingers was that Russiagate would be used primarily not to fix democracy or restrain republican legislation, but to silence left-wing voices. And so it has. Outlets routinely report how "the russians helped Bernie Sanders/Black Lives Matters/Anti-Fracking activists/Standing Rock". People like David Frum and George Bush, whom liberals and leftists despised due to the Iraq War, are rehabilitated and taking selfies with Ellen Degeneres. Moreover, it's not just perception, it's actual material money-funneling. As Adam Johnson points out, these two "bipartisan" agreements just occurred:
- increases military budget $80B from $606B in 2017 to $686B in 2018––an increase of 13%––largest since 9/11 & 70% greater than ENTIRE Russian military budget ($47B)
- pledges $1.2T to "revamp" nuclear arsenal–$200B more than Obama asked for in 2016
And the NYT is still stoking fires, today, that not enough is being done to oppose Russia, calling it a "strategic void". "Russiagate" is being used, exactly as you juxtapose them in your own post, to funnel money away from health-care and into the CIA/FBI/Military.
Some good follow-up reading, pick your poison, since I'm sure people will find ways to ad-hom Taibbi:
- Corey Robin: Forget About It
- Matt Taibbi: Russiagate may have been aimed at Trump to start, but it's become a way of targeting all dissent
- Jackson Lears: What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking
- Corey Robin: The Question of Russia and the Left
- Seth Ackermann: Russiagate Can't End Well for the Left
- Citations Needed: Russiagate Year 3 Part 1 | Martial Posture & Part 2 | Activist Tarnishing
Let me go further and speculate upon some ways in which I believe that virtually everyone in power profits from the Trump presidency + Russia narrative:
- MSNBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo, etc. are generating better ratings than they have in ages.
- Democrats, rather than being discredited due to ineptitude and losing ground, are now stalwart defenders of Good America with an inflamed base. Any investigation into their own wrongdoing is completely shelved.
- The GOP has full control over Trump. The slightest misstep from him, they can immediately impeach him with cause and be hailed as heroes of the republic (McCain, Ryan, etc.).
- The military/FBI/CIA as outlined above.
- Rich people everywhere, who benefit as large capital-owners/non-laborers from the actual pro-rich legislation Trump is passing (including the entire congressional political class + media punditry, regardless of their public positions).
- Advertising companies like Facebook and trashy data science consultancies like Cambridge Analytica are now imbued with absolutely magical powers! Pay FB 100k and you can swing the American election, imagine what your business could do with 1k!
- Putin himself is now considered an incredibly powerful strongman back in his own country, a mastermind that runs half the planet. Fuel to the cult of personality.
- Unpopular politicians with dumb policies all over the world are now blaming Russia for meddling in their elections. Absolute trash hypocrites like Trudeau and Macron get to point to Trump and say "at least we're not him".
Basically the only people who are fucked are Trump and his cronies (which is, admittedly, awesome) and the actual left-wing ("it's not time for this divisiveness, ally under the banner! you're all dupes!"). It's an incredibly useful distraction that dominates the news-cycle and pushes things like the West Virginia teacher strike completely to the sidelines.
Some friends liked it so here it goes.