[-empyre-] Trump - Populism / Roy Cohn - McCarthyism

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Mar 11 19:27:23 AEDT 2017

There's so much of interest here. You say 'So far clarity eludes me.' - 
and I think that this is the cruxroads of the matter; it eludes all of us. 
At one point decades ago Marx seemed to provide it, albeit in a form that 
was deconstructed, revised, etc. And the 'elude' implies a search or hunt 
for that clarity - not a releasing or letting go, but perhaps a horizon 
where we feel the world might make sense, albeit through Irigaray, 
Derrida, Kristeva (at least for me). Then, perhaps, letting go -

Nature is critical, a balance; there are studies indicating as well that 
being there (wherever and however one might envision it) is necessary, not 
only for health, but for renewal (studies of children back this up as 
well). It's necessary as unnecessary, it might be that release allows one 
to elude eluding. And you say as well 'I hate my own defeatism, but it has 
a seductive quality as "realism" and "solidarity."' - which also relates, 
I think, to depression and elusive healing; I'm depressive, and on the 
worst days, I find that depression, being in that state, is not only 
seductive, but comfortable for me, and that's the problem (the elusive 

I remember going to Prospect Park and watching northern shoveler ducks 
work together in a disk formation, endlessly turning; together they fed, 
churning up the water in unison. (I've seen long-tailed ducks work in 
unison as well, diving and singing.) Somehow that gives me hope.

We do hope, as well, that others will respond to these posts, post their 
own experience, in the light of coping and political action; as usual the 
daily headlines are brutal..

Thank you, Maria.

On Fri, 10 Mar 2017, Maria Damon wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Like everyone here, I've been laid low by the unexpected turn in US politics. 
> I'm grateful for some of the raw confessionalism of the recent posts on this 
> cerebral-tending list, and am still trying to figure out if and how best I 
> can make a contribution here. So far clarity eludes me. I'm doing my best to 
> survive, but paradoxically I feel a bit guilty about doing the things I know 
> would be best for me: seeking solace in nature, "getting away for a few 
> days," seeking spiritual clarity, etc. Like, how dare I try to feel good when 
> others are being seized and deported, losing their health care, losing what 
> little enfranchisement they've been able to maintain after decades 
> (centuries) of struggle, and so forth. And yet I know this is the kind of 
> toxic thinking that lets the administration win. It's the vortex of paralytic 
> depression that they count on making it hard for us to resist from a source 
> of strength and optimism. I hate my own defeatism, but it has a seductive 
> quality as "realism" and "solidarity." Ugh ugh ugh.
> On 3/9/17 8:43 PM, simon wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Dear <<empyreans>>,
>> As for the T-Effect, I wonder about the -ism accompanying it, which has 
>> been globally bruited: Populism.
>> Brexit, said a friend: overnight GB became Little England; he left NZ 30 
>> years ago, only to find himself, 30 years later, on another small parochial 
>> island.
>> What I wonder about Populism is what the Left can do with it. It really 
>> wants to do without it. But, without it, it plays to a niche market, plays 
>> its tune of Moral Truisms (not to be confused with T-isms), while trying to 
>> avoid giving off superior airs.
>> Zizek has of course commented on this. (hear: 
>> http://zero-books.net/blogs/zero/zero-squared-95-zizek-and-the-double-blackmail/)
>> How strange are these reversals: the Reactionary and Moral Left! So much is 
>> hateful, should one reserve any for the de-politicisation of the Left that 
>> goes with Populism? The Left, can we afford to call the trinkets of its 
>> moralising kitsch? given the monolithic absurdity, surpassing miraculous 
>> (forget AI!), of an elected President with the emotional maturity of a six 
>> year-old?
>> Best,
>> Simon Taylor
>> http://squarewhiteworld.com/
>> PS: 
>> https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/20/roy-cohn-donald-trump-joseph-mccarthy-rosenberg-trial
>> On 09/03/17 09:06, Alan Sondheim wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Apologies for late entrance, under the weather; apologies for a poorly- 
>>> worded post as well -
>>> Like everyone, I've been following politics closely, and have been 
>>> involved in resisting. What I want to focus on here, however, is the 
>>> overall effect the election and events leading up to the election, has 
>>> had. I protested Vietnam here in Providence, and recently several times 
>>> again, I've stood on the same spot on the capitol steps, taking roughly 
>>> the same photograph. In the late 60s/early 70s, there was a sense that 
>>> 'we' had accomplished something; soon it was clear that business as usual 
>>> was returning with a vengeance. But we thought things like the voter's 
>>> rights act were here to stay. When T ran in the primaries, I was sure from 
>>> the beginning he would win - I've lived in Luzerne County, PA, and West 
>>> Virginia; I feel I understood his racism and brutality from the beginning 
>>> - his sarcasm was both typical and unnerving, and his constant slurs meant 
>>> that the 'older' news - which requires a lag for analysis - would be off- 
>>> guard constantly. T used both the oldest - insulting, bullying - and 
>>> newest - Virilian timing - means to keep himself and his rhetoric in the 
>>> news; at the same time, there was no (and still is no) coherency in the 
>>> rebuttals. I don't think he planned this as a strategy; I think this is T 
>>> to a T, but that's irrelevant. The result, however, has been as brutal as 
>>> he is - the center and left (so to speak) suddenly involved in the 
>>> appearance of a new world where racism, not tolerance, has become the norm 
>>> for many. Not only have racists come out of the closet (to the extent they 
>>> were in one), but fledgling racists have been encouraged to come forward. 
>>> As a Jew for example, I watch, now, verbal/phone/email attacks on Jewish 
>>> institutions escalate as more people join in the 'fun.' The worst of it is 
>>> that so many groups and classes have been written out of the republican 
>>> discourse, except for condemnation and tarnishing; this is clearly a white 
>>> and fundamental-christian world that not only dominates, but basically 
>>> refuses compromise, unless one or another 'ethical violation' forces the 
>>> issue.
>>> People I know are distraught; I heard from someone at CNN that everyone 
>>> there was crying election night; a psychologist I go to said her patients 
>>> have increased enormously as a result of the T-effect. There are internal 
>>> and external domains; we participate in actions of all sorts on one hand, 
>>> and try to handle our own and others' miseries (as they do us) on the 
>>> other. The external is clear: RESIST!; the internal is more problematic, 
>>> since many people's anger goes all the way down, and eats them alive - as 
>>> does the depression, anxiety, etc., all brought on by what appears to be 
>>> the suddenness of the change of direction of what I keep calling Amerikkka 
>>> - for lack of a better word to describe a new landscape, what appears to 
>>> be a new landscape. And even in writing this initial email, I find myself 
>>> holding back, correcting, not wanting to offend, wanting to be politically 
>>> correct, unsure of myself. The result for many is a kind of inextricable 
>>> knot/not; even though we have the usual 100% hindsight, we were 
>>> unprepared. So the questions might be - how do we proceed, from here, as 
>>> human beings, as _persons,_ internally as well as externally? How do we 
>>> learn to sleep at nights, to remain calm, to continue what might be 
>>> considered a project of forbearance and empathy? I keep thinking of other 
>>> examples of resistance (Sartre's writings for example, however his stance 
>>> is read), going over Arendt's Totalitarianism, Frantz Fanon, trying to 
>>> make sense of a typical mashup of daily headlines: GOP health care plan: 
>>> Ryan downplays backlash as doctors express opposition; Afghanistan: IS 
>>> gunmen dressed as medics kill 30 at Kabul military hospital; THE MEMO: 
>>> Presidential code smashed under Trump; Girl statue faces Wall Street bull 
>>> to fight gender inequality; International Women's Day: Strikes and 
>>> protests around the world; Fire at Guatemala Children's Shelter Kills 
>>> Nearly 20; To fund border wall, Trump administration weighs cuts to Coast 
>>> Guard, airport security; Why Hawaii says Trump's new travel ban is still 
>>> unconstitutional; FBI Director Says Encrypted Messaging "Shatters The 
>>> Bargain" Of American Liberty; Sen. Tim Kaine's son among several arrested 
>>> after protesters disrupt Trump rally in Minnesota; 21 times Donald Trump 
>>> has assured us he respects women; Senators ask FBI for evidence of Trump 
>>> wiretap claim; The Statue of Liberty went dark overnight; Steaks, wine and 
>>> stacks (and stacks) of paper: The Trump White House loves its props; Why 
>>> Trump's $1 trillion promise to deliver infrastructure jobs may not happen 
>>> this year; and Secret Marines group is still sharing nude photos amid 
>>> scandal.
>>> This is fast-forward news; our 'internal time consciousness' and our minds 
>>> literally can't keep up; if Facebook creates depression on a 'normal' day 
>>> of widely successful posting content - what is the result of a constant 
>>> bombardment of brutality - a bombardment which is also necessary on a 
>>> fundamental level? What is to be done?
>>> - Alan
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>> _______________________________________________
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