Slavoj Zizek: Trump’s GREATEST TREASON is the betrayal of populism
In his erratic grasping at power, outgoing US President Donald Trump is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. The undemocratic electoral system needs to be dismantled, but he doesn’t have the good of his supporters in mind. When the district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the US demand to extradite Julian Assange, many Leftist and liberal critics commented on this decision in terms which recall the famous lines from T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral: “The last temptation is the greatest treason / To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” In the play, Becket is afraid that his “right thing” (the decision to resist the king and sacrifice himself) is grounded in a “wrong reason” (his egotist search for the glory of sainthood). Hegel would have answered to this predicament that what matters in our acts is their public content: if I do a heroic sacrifice, this is what counts, independently of the private motives for doing it, which may be pathological. But the refusal to extradite Assange to the US is a different case: it was obviously the right thing to do, but what is wrong are the publicly stated reasons for doing it. The judge fully endorsed the US authorities’ assertion that Assange’s activities fell outside of the realm of journalism, and justified her decision purely on mental health grounds – she said: “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man, who is genuinely fearful about his future.” She added that Assange's high level of intelligence means he would probably succeed in taking his own life.
Media Cry Wolf for Third Time on Afghan ‘Bounties’
First it was Russia (FAIR.org, 7/3/20). And then Iran. But now it is China that has supposedly been placing bounties on the heads of US soldiers in Afghanistan—according to information received by outlets like the New York Times (12/30/20), Axios (12/30/20) and CNN (12/31/20). There were, however, some serious flaws with the story. Firstly, all three original reports relied heavily upon hearsay from anonymous spies—or “senior administration officials,” as CNN and Axios called them. This is problematic, as it is precisely the job of state intelligence agencies to deceive and mislead. In 2019, former CIA Director Mike Pompeo (and Trump’s secretary of State) boasted of his organization: “We lied. We cheated. We stole. We had entire training courses [on] it.” These officials are among the least credible sources, journalistically speaking, that a reporter is ever likely to encounter. That none of them were willing to attach their names to the claims should make reporters doubly skeptical. (Some outlets did hint at the sketchy nature of the allegations in their headlines; Axios called the intelligence “Unconfirmed,” Business Insider—12/31/20—said it was “Unverified,” while the New York Times and Fox News—1/1/21—went with “Uncorroborated.”)
Communists Like My Uncle Fought to Expand American Democracy. Fascists Fought to Destroy It.
My late uncle, LeRoy H. Wood, spent years in a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, for what he did in Washington, DC. Roy was convicted of “conspiring to teach the advocacy of the overthrow of the US government by force and violence.” No, Uncle Roy was not a billionaire who incited a mob to storm the US Capitol with Molotov cocktails. He did not shut down a session of Congress as it completed the final stages of an electoral process. He did not encourage those plotting the assassination of political leaders. Rather, Uncle Roy was a leader of the Communist Party in Washington in the early ’50s. He worked out of the organization’s bookstore there; the “evidence” against him was the pamphlets and books contained therein which talked about the necessity of a future beyond capitalism. The real “crime,” though, was his work in the militant struggles for unions, racial equality, and working-class empowerment that were at the heart of the Communist Party’s work.