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Biden Will Fail to Bring Back 'Normal' Politics. What’s Needed Now Is a Populism of the Left

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/13/biden-will-fail-bring-back-normal-politics-whats-needed-now-populism-left


This is a very good examination of the situation, but there 2 two points to be made.

  1. Those who identify as democrat left populists are just as shortsighted and nationalistic those who

are right populists. The ardent belief in the Russiagate and their embrace of the NSA and CIA crap

shows this very clearly.

  1. Biden’s history of warmongering corporatism. With Biden’s election the likelihood of war is almost

a guarantee. There is a long history of trying to save the economy through war and Biden would rather

cut all other social programs in service of more war, rather than vice versa.


I have problems with this article. Saying that Trump looked all too right in promoting fake news is troubling. “Evidence-free narrative” of collusion with Russia is not really true. There was collusion between senior Trump campaign people and there was Russian election meddling. It would have been ridiculous and truly awful if the media had not spent some time on this. And what about the endless mainstream media coverage of e-mails? That went on and on and on… In fact, it lost the election for Clinton. Then there’s actually a comparison between “election fraud” talk now and in 2016 when we who pay attention knew that republicans had been doing everything in their power for decades to undermine democracy. While true that our system is rigged toward elite power, he neglects to mention that it is also rigged towards rural voters. And of course Trump gave the wealthy tax cuts, but also gave farmers huge amounts of welfare. I also don’t buy the idea that the media buried political stories embarrassing to Biden. For one thing, mainstream media to some extent has realized that their endless over the top e-mail silliness was an unfair mistake. Thinking that a President Sanders banging his head against a wall would help seems unlikely.

I am a fan of Jonathan Cook, nice to see his pieces featured in CD’s.

Much of his analysis in the article consists of things that we have rehashed here and on other progressive forums.

He ends with:

We can reclaim politics—a politics that cares about the future, about our species, about our planet—but to do so we must first reclaim our minds.

It would be nice to see J.C. write a piece that focuses on how we can “reclaim our minds.”


Cook writes (my bold):

If Trump could lead the world’s only superpower for four years, how hard can it really be? He showed that those tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists might be right after all: maybe the president is largely a figurehead, while a permanent bureaucracy runs much of the show from behind the curtain. Were Ronald Reagan and George W Bush not enough to persuade us that any halfwit who can string together a few cliches from a teleprompter will suffice?

Trump took things to a whole new level on a fast track trajectory to authoritarianism that is out of the bounds of W. or Ronald Reagan given his sociopathy.

Cook does not address this important dynamic that is happening in the u.s. which includes the very real and very large cult like following of trump supporters.

The cult of trump: A cult is a magnified power complex.


Ruth Ben Ghiat’s take on trump: (h-ttps://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-and-the-authoritarian-turn-in-republican-and-american-politics-by-ruth-ben-ghiat-2020-10)

"we must look to models of authoritarian “personalist rule,” whereby power is concentrated in one individual whose own political and financial interests usually prevail over national interests. Under these regimes, loyalty to the leader and his allies, and participation in his corruption, rather than expertise or professional experience, are the primary qualifications for government service.

Trump’s success in domesticating the political class is all the more notable when one considers that most other despots founded or had already risen to prominence within their own parties."

Cook writes:

"The neoliberal “normal” isn’t coming back because the economic circumstances that generated it—the post-war boom of seemingly endless growth—have disappeared."

I would add it is not coming back because of stable climate collapse due to AGW and ecosystem destruction which Cook discusses as a “Gordian knot of globe-spanning self-harm urgently needs unpicking.”

How do we “unpick” this Gordian knot? Would have liked to see Cook discuss this as well for the bottom line is if we are indeed destroying our life support system all of this will become irrelevant (i.e. neoliberal normalcy etc.)


Good analysis from an excellent writer - making it even more depressive to see an upward way. The author ends with “we must first reclaim our minds.” Living in the US, among students of one of the nation’s prime universities, I just don’t see it. A related good article from Hedges, in 2008 or 2009, titled “America the Illiterate,” comes to mind. It predicted much of went on in 2016.


The (coitus intensifier) Orange Guy is the Sara Palin of today. Palin was very popular with the wrestling crowd, raising lots of money for the Tea Party and the shame of John McCain. She claimed she was God’s plan.

The huge problem with your belief in Russiagate is that Trump managed to lose the election to Biden despite Russia’s alleged meddling in U.S. elections. What the anti-Russia crowd never mentions is that, despite their hysteria, the dastardly Putin was unable to convince millions of people, especially with his alleged powers of mind control, to vote for Trump.

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Hedges also wrote a book in 2009 which connects to what you have written called Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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The collusion and meddling was 4 years ago. It has little or nothing to do with the 2020 election. The “mind control” came from places like Fox and Limbaugh.

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Those are not “democratic left populists,” those are neoliberal stooges, and that is not what Cook is promoting as left populism.


… I always appreciate a long essay, especially when we’re talking about very complex issues. I stopped reading however at the end of paragraph four, with his reference to ‘halfwit’s.’

“… Were Ronald Reagan and George W Bush not enough to persuade us that any halfwit who can string together a few cliches from a teleprompter will suffice?..”

… I am no fan of Ronald Reagan, or George Bush (Sr or Jr), however the author shows a very real halfwit bias of his own when he exposes his would-be audience to what promises to be a hate filled rant, as he obviously prepares to preach to the choir. I don’t mind a little ‘testifying’ to the choir myself -every now and then. But I don’t need seventeen pages of it. A few paragraphs will do just fine. If you’re gonna’ give me seventeen pages, you better give me something to ponder. You better give me some substance. Thanks, but no thanks…

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Superb, thanks for continuing to run Jonathan Cook’s astute analysis here. We do need left populism, class conscious mass movement organizing to exercise popular power and confront established power centers.

The Sanders campaign and the emergence of The Squad have provided some electoral and media legitimacy to such analysis and organizing. The Sunrise Movement, the Movement for Black Lives, organizing for immigrant rights and justice, etc. have given millions of young people the experience of imagining and acting to create a truly reorganized and better society and economy.

We need to take our imagination and our organizing forward and build the strength of our movements, as we face not just the massive crises of justice, ecology, and political economy that we have inherited, but also face the established power structures that cling to the systems that generate these crises.


Interesting piece. I mostly like Cook’s points, but find some of the analysis slightly skew.

Neoliberal politics were not a direct response to the post-war boom (the war in question being WWII, since we are talking about a boom). It is a response to the decline and expected evaporation of that advantage. It is a move to conserve dominance by hollowing out the resources of the empire and its populations.

An authentic faith in growth would promote spending in health, education, and welfare. An anticipation of failure and difficulties in retaining control promotes investment in violence and the maintenance of hierarchy through coercion.

As such, insofar as one can call neoliberal politics normal, they have not particularly left during the Trump years, and they will double down with Biden, a team player working with the rest of the major thieves.

But this means that the collapse that Cook is writing about is indeed in progress. Insofar as there is a neoliberal normal, that is what constitutes it: economy blossoms; corporations harvest as economy falls; corporations redirect liquid investments to other economy. The ruins of an economy makes for a small setback to financiers with international resources. The fall of the States is apt to make a bigger blip than that of Chile or Argentina, but we are looking at the same principles and even some of the same people at work.

Cook’s descriptions work well in most aspects, and we do need a left populism. To date, though, this has not jelled within the United States, though the BLM protests were significant and underreported, as usual. There are movements in China. Evo is back in Bolivia. Maduro has resisted usurpation in Venezuela, so far. Lula is out of jail and Bolsonario is flailing in Brazil.

Awkwardly, we have just witnessed two failures to bring left populism to the Democratic Party. Since 2015, Bernie Sanders has been a lightning rod bringing much of the left together. But reactionary control of the Democratic Party has made this a blind alley, and neither Sanders nor many other venerable left thinkers have been willing to recommend the obvious and walk back out. They have endorsed the neoliberal right against their ideologies, and they predictably will in '24 as well.

Because we want a different result, we need a different path. Either it will in some way be electoral, or it will not.

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The article needs to be more specific. Cook contrasts democrat and republican politicians. He does not

specify what I was saying and/or what you are pointing out.

I have yet to meet a democrat who does not believe the crap about Russiagate. That is my point.

Democrats are supporters of neoliberalism, whether they face it or not, no matter how populist

they think they are.

Many democrats reading this article would assume that they are the left populists.

They are not. That needs to be made clear.


While there has certainly been plenty of speculation about “Russiagate” that is sometimes over the top, still, if you think it is all “crap” then you are blind or worse.

Name one credible proof of any of that blather.

It was created by a complicity between the democrats and the “intelligence” agencies and it

is the most cynical effort to reinvigorate hostilities between capitalists and socialistic nations.

It is loaded with proclamations of “high confidence” assessments and those sorts of propaganda

are how they started their various wars.

Making people feel terrifyingly insecure through unsubstantiated innuendos is a preferred tool of

propagandists when their scam has no basis in reality.

Provide proof.


Yes, yes, yes. Isn’t it ultra sad that so many fine Americans working for Trump were convicted of illegalities with Russian involvement. Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, George Papadopolous, and Rick Gates. And, yes, yes, yes, I watched the movie The Plot Against the President and I understand that it was all very naughty of justice officials to bother such fine and upstanding Americans. It’s all so very sad, isn’t it?

And yet that is not the impression that one would make after reading this when you opine that:

“There was collusion between senior Trump campaign people and there was Russian election meddling.”

Again, you have no evidence to back up that specious assertion.


Excellent point as he, as expected, is unable to provide any credible evidence of Russian meddling during the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

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