Why the Mainstream Left Must Abandon its Love Affair with Non-Violence

The Takeaway

Non-violence is just one tactic in affecting change. Where and when to apply nonviolent tactics and where and when to apply potentially violent ones depends on the context of the situation. While causing harm is morally wrong, it is understood that morally justified harm can often be done to prevent a potential greater harm in the future.

This is truer now than other social conflicts when one side celebrates a narrative of power and violence as a means to an end.

The Argument:

Let’s talk about two kinds of ‘violent’ protest – ‘defensive violence’ and ‘offensive violence’. Defensive violence is primarily what this argument covers – that is to say, they may hit first, but we hit back.

Offensive violence is covered to a lesser extent by the thought process below. I don’t think we’re in a situation where we need folks pre-emptively seeking out racists and punching them.

My main argument is in the defensive use of violence, that is, willingness to punch when punched.

I’ll admit there’s a huge gray area in between – it’s silly to argue that you have to wait to be punched to punch them. But at the same time, a defensive use of ‘first strike’ violence often implies a very well founded belief violence is about to be done to you, so you have the right to strike first. I think if you’re at a rally with Nazis and they have clubs, helmets, and guns, you should believe they intend to use them against you.

What’s with the Mainstream Left’s Struggle with Violence?

Can I Punch a Nazi?

Nearly a decade ago… Wait, no, only a few months. Sorry, it seems like it’s been that long. Anyway, a few months ago, we saw a well-known fascist punched on camera.

Some on the left celebrated this as a bit of a catharsis for all the rage brewing, whereas others got out their scolding scowls and decided that while racism, fascism, and authoritarianism is wrong, it’s more important to ensure other lesser leftists know it is morally inferior to take joy in someone else being hurt.

Oh, I won’t get into it too much, but this sanctimonious infighting over who’s the most enlightened probably had a lot to do with why we lost the election, BUT I DIGRESS…

The point is that for some reason, a complete asshole having a sore jaw was a cause of moral concern between folks on the left. This faded a bit as the gravity of the national situation sunk in – even the most enlightened pacifist liberal now thinks there are bigger fish to fry than whether or not a nazi gets punched.

The nation also turned its lonely eyes to Bob Mueller.

Sheet Cake and Clowning Around

Then Charlottesville.

An otherwise “lone wolf, mentally disturbed” young white man tried to kill a whole bunch of people using the most recent terrorist tactic de jour – ramming his car into a group of them. Only for once, the right didn’t go for the “lone wolf, mentally disturbed” narrative. This guy was a racist asshole and he was trying to kill innocent bystanders.

Murderer.

For the first week, there was some righteous worship of those who counter protested the white supremacists in Charlottesville, and the left was united in its message that anything is justified to interrupt the ascension of authoritarian, racist power.

Unfortunately, some leftists were only able to maintain their boner/ladyboners for justice for about a week before they remembered how much pleasure they derive from telling the rest of us what to do.

Tina Fey actually encouraged people to not show up, and eat cake instead.

She’s going for a laugh so I wouldn’t take it too seriously. But still, I can already hear murmurs of folks around me asking themselves “If someone gets hurt, is it worth it? Doesn’t showing up to counter protest just get more media coverage for the alt-right?”

Or take the New York Times opinion piece – using the tired condescenion of “you’re doing it wrong”. Instead of violence, we should be making fun of Nazis so that they’re ashamed and go home.

Both of these arguments are countered at the bottom because I don’t want to interrupt my flow. But suffice to say, we’re having a debate over whether it’s okay to punch a Nazi again.

The Thoughtful Left

I want to take a moment to point out that at its heart, the debate over violence is a good thing, and is one of the strengths of the left. The left tends not to rush headlong into anything. While my arguments are mostly aimed at the correct use of certain kinds of violence depending on the context, they’re not aimed at the careful deliberation of such.

That should be celebrated. That the idea of causing harm makes us uncomfortable is a good thing – but it should not make us so uncomfortable that we put prevention of harm above all other social goods.

That’s cowardice.

Non-Violence Is Better Than Violence?

Let’s talk about why it is we think nonviolent protests are better than violent protests.

What Makes Non-Violence Powerful?

The most obvious reasons are that MLK and Gandhi are heroes, and we want to duplicate their tactics. We feel as if practicing any form of violence would betray their message.

Similarly, when we see those practicing nonviolence on TV being brutalized, our heart goes out to them. We’re convinced that the non-violent protester is on the right side. Similar to Christian Martrys convincing others to jump into the colosseum with the lions, the act of refusing to ‘stoop to their level’ hits us at an emotional core.

Let’s respond to these thoughts.

First, let’s put MLK and Gandhi in context. MLK was a gun owner. Both had more violent synergistic movements to their flanks. Neither Gandhi nor King employed non-violence as simply a means to ‘be above it all’. Rather, they cunningly employed the tactic because of the context of their situation.

In both cases, you had a large state actor who’s oppression of a minority was relatively obscure. Similar to how there appears to be a ‘spate’ of cops shooting black men even though it’s actually been going on forever (smart phone cameras brought it out of obscurity), in King’s case particularly, he knew that television cameras would elevate his message of white, state sponsored oppression to everyone in the country.

Gun toting blacks reinforced the image of a violent underclass with mysterious aims, even though all those who carried arms were entirely within their rights to do so. Instead, to portray the black struggle as the struggle of innocence against an oppressor – broadcast around the world – was the way to bring attention to their plight and get the white American voter so disgusted with her government that she would in turn demand change.

This is key – nonviolent protest works best against state sponsored oppression when the oppression is not well known. And it works because it makes the oppression well known.

How is that different from our situation?

Well, first, the police in Charlottesville were out gunned. They stayed on the sidelines and performed surgical operations the best they could. They were not the oppressor. Second, more than two-thirds of the country is squarely against the protests in Charlottesville. They are already sending their time, prayers and money towards that cause. There’s no silent majority left to convince.

Even if it’s the case that non-violence is a contextual tactic without a perfect fit for the context in Charlottesville, we still have not established why violence may also be a contextual tactic as well, and what its effective context is.

First, let’s get into who we’re up against, as it will make the context for violence more clear.

A Short History of Fascism

Fascism Means Power

There’s a bit of an argument over what exactly “fascism” means. I think the easiest way to boil down fascism is to look at the symbols.

To fascists, power is everything. Power is all there is in life. This explains the interrelationship between social Darwinists and fascism, and the fascination with eugenics. The strongest shall survive. Anyone who believes otherwise is dreaming.

You can see this in their language and symbols today – the alt-right’s favorite insults are “cuck” and “snowflake”. Cuck they use on someone who’s been duped to betray the truth (as they see it), and they use it to make an analogy to a man who’s been tricked into raising another man’s child. Snowflake is used for much of the left – a tragically delicate and elegant natural phenomenon whose existence is ultimately temporary and whose structure is horrifically fragile.

Snowflakes shatter or melt. Fascists stay strong.

The symbol of the “red pill”, unfortunately, borrowed from The Matrix is another great example – some people are “red pillers” or alphas – those who swallow the bitter truth that all that there is is power and dominance. Everyone else is a “blue piller”, or beta – those who will be dominated and subjugated.

Power means Racism, Sexism, and Classism

The fascination with power explains the complementarity of racism, sexism and classism with their political philosophy.

Whites currently have the highest political stature in the United States. A fascist looks at that and says “it must be because Whites are the most powerful”.

They’d be disgusted to see any efforts to change that – letting the weak have stature is the opposite of what fascists believe. The powerful are powerful for a reason.

Likewise, a man’s ability to dominate a woman is all a fascist needs to understand that society itself should be organized with men routinely excercising power over women.

You can especially see the ties to sexism in the ‘red pill’ subculture. There, all other men are divided into alphas and betas. Alphas will routinely bed dozens of women because they know how to show dominance over them. Betas may or may not have significant others, but if they do, its only because they’ve allowed the woman to have control over them.

Gamergate was another great example of this in action. Many men wishing to show themselves as ‘true alphas’ felt offended that … well, honestly nothing really actually happened. Suffice it to say, these men all believed that their games were being taken over by feminists. Since they already felt like their lack of sex lives was proof that what was theirs was taken from them, their games being infiltrated by feminists was too far.

A fascist believes that when things go against the ‘natural order’, force and violence are entirely justified in re-establishing this natural order. After all, their belief is that the only natural order is the one which force and violence establish in the first place.

This Goes Back for Ages – Plato’s Republic

Early in Plato’s Republic there’s an argument over “might makes right” versus other forms of government.

Fascism may be the most recent embodiment of this philosophy – might makes right – but it has been with us since the beginning.

It’s in fact in these terms that I will make my main counter argument against a solely non-violent means of protest.

This is because while the actual contradiction to ‘might makes right’ is that ‘might does not make right’, there’s a strong counter argument that must be dealt with.

If ‘might does not make right’, why do we see so many instances of the mighty committing wrongs and getting away with it?

In other words, to truly defeat the argument that ‘might makes right’, we have to establish that right makes might. That is a society organized as justly as possible will be more mighty than a society less justly organized.

What Fascism Is Not: The Use of Force

Nowhere to be found in fascism is the idea that only they may use force. Instead, an important distinction should be made – a fascist believes “there is only force”.

A non-fascist believes “there are other things than force”. Pacifism is not the opposite of fascism!

To sum up, facism is at its root, the social darwinist belief that the powerful are powerful for a reason, that power is all there is, and that violence and force are the only legitimate means to distribute power.

They believe “might makes right”.

To counter act them, counter protestors must establishright makes might“.

To spell this out – counter protestors must show that by having a society in which racism, sexism and classism are increasingly stampped out, society will be more powerful. They can demonstrate this by showing that their own groups, who disavow racism, sexism and classism, can organize more effectively and if required, do more harm to the fascists than the fascists can do to them (i.e., the counter protestors must demonstrate they are more powerful).

This is the only way to convince a fascist. You must show them that their methods will lead to weakness.

Theory and Practice

A great example of this in practice is shaming, which probably needs to be used very carfully since you’re going to get a whole lot of innocents caught up in it. But cameras on the ‘front lines’ of these protests and a lack of fear in capturing folks faces and getting them on the internet so that they can lose their jobs and friends has been devastating to the alt-right.

This isn’t necessarily ‘punch a nazi’ sort of violence, but it is pretty close to an electronic vigilantism, and it works.

It, along with other intimidation tools, keep white supremacists’ turnout low. If they fear the counter protestors, they won’t show up. If they don’t show up, they can’t get news coverage. If they can’t get news coverage, they can’t up recruitment.

While taking pictures and shaming people online isn’t exactly the ‘punching’ kind of violence, it does require that folks show up to rallys, it requires people get close enough to get good pictures, and both of these things are going to risk getting hit with a beer bottle.

If you have to punch a nazi to get a good picture of him, then it’s probably justified.

Speaking of which, that leads to the second role defensive violence can play – punching a nazi gets great ratings.

Turnout on the counter protest side must be large and we must not get fatigued. Keeping people moralized gets harder and harder as this struggle goes on. While many things inspire people, to a certain degree we must acknowledge our lesser tendencies and admit that – you know what, seeing that nazi punched felt good, and it makes me have more energy to keep doing this shit day in and day out.

We all know in our hearts this is a struggle over what power means and how its used. And when someone who advocates for the use of force to subjugate people of color, women and anyone who isn’t a particular kind of Christian has force used to subjugate him, well, that’s the best kind of satire.

To spell it out – nothing proves the powerlessness of a Nazi quite like punching him.

Finally and very practically, violent and non-violent protest intermingle and compliment each other. MLK would have a harder time without Malcolm X. Likewise, there are already plenty of examples in Charlottesville where antifa were able to run security where the police couldn’t.

Protecting clergy, running a perimeter, and meeting violence with violence when nazis push through nonviolent clergy are all ways that boost the non-violent protestors means of getting things done. Security boosts turnout as people feel more safe, and the knowledge that a group of antifascists is only a few yards away might help you keep up the courage to keep your non-violent human chain up a little longer against fascists who are very willing to punch, mace and kick you.

What about the future?

Naturally we might think Charllotesville is a one off. I’d like to think that in future events, the national gaurd may show up and provide the security the counter protestors need.

But I also know that the fascists are working just as hard to identify cities with small police forces that may lean more friendly to their cause. They’ve proven they can show up en masse in Charllotesville without too much notice. There’s a very real possibility that the police will be outgunned again and the only ones willing to confront white supremacists will be clergy, clowns and antifa.

Police and the national guard are great if you can get them. But Charlottesville, if anything, shows that we’re up against a movement who’s intentionally trying to target places where the police turnout may not be high enough to stop them.

Counterarguments

“If someone gets hurt, is it worth it?”

Don’t be a wiener. Heather Heyer does not want you to stay home.

“Doesn’t showing up to counter-protest just get more media coverage for the alt-right?”

First, the media is your friend in this. While I think they could do a better job of not covering the alt-right so much, remember that 99.9% of journalists are on the counter protestors side.

Second, remember that counter protestors get plenty of coverage too, and this increases turnout and donations to places like the ACLU and ADL.

“Instead of violence shouldn’t we just…”

This isn’t an either or. Except in the rare case of someone having too little room in their car to bring a baseball bat or a clown wig, both tactics such as satire as well as defensive violence can be used and we should be willing to use them.

Antifa can and has run security for nonviolent groups, whether they be clergy using traditional non-violent means or satirists.

If you show up with the funniest and most biting satircal sign, you’re probably just going to get maced. If there’s a bunch of folks in gas masks who are willing to go get maced in your stead, then you can hold your sign up for the whole protest and photographers can get some hilarious shots.

You’ll have both done your parts.

“Doesn’t harming them just play into their narrative?”

Their narrative is on storm front and info wars. Their narrative is fake news and propaganda. Whether you show up or not, they’ll photoshop pics of Antifa being there and causing a ruckus. Might as well actually cause a ruckus if that’s what they’re going to believe either way.

They aren’t listening to CNN or the NYT. They’re listening to people who are saying you’re all controlled by jewish masterminds and helping black men steal their women. These guys are nuts. Thinking that you can hurt their propaganda machine by your actions is giving them too much intellectual credit, as what you do or don’t do is in the real world, whereas their propaganda has no ties to the real world.

Eventually, you have to serve some pizza, even if a bunch of nuts think you keep a pedophile cage down in your pizza parlor’s basement.

“In Engineering, Merit matters more than Gender or Race”

To get it out up front, I’m not going to link to anyone’s rant. But the rant, and its arguments are somewhat well known. I think it’s important to take some of the arguments head on.

Let’s look at the classic referenced in the title,

In Engineering, Merit matters more than Gender or Race

What about outside of engineering?

The argument seems to make the implication that the statement ‘merit matters more than gender or race’ only applies, or most applies, in engineering. Which in turn, seems like a subtle attack on non-engineering fields.

I believe everyone thinks merit matters more than gender or race – although many feminists will take that to mean the exact opposite of what misogynists mean.

It’s pretty offensive to just assume that unless you are in engineering, you’re in a field rife with gender and racial privilege – and not the good ole’ boy white male kind we’re used to. In other words, that engineering is still white and male dominated, and that it is alone in believing ‘merit matters more than gender or race’ seems to imply that other fields are less white and male dominated is due to gender or race mattering more than merit.

In other words, engineering is sacrosanct, and we must keep it that way, lest we turn into the humanities where black women excel only due to their gender and race, rather than their merit.

If Merit matters more, why are gender and race predictive?

Right now, the field is very empirically white and male. That’s the context in which the statement “In Engineering, Merit matters more than Gender or Race” is said. If that’s true, why can you walk into Google and find mostly white men?

There are two conclusions you can draw – the first is that you’ve arrived at a contradiction and that if it’s true that in engineering, merit matters more than gender or race, then we have a problem that we can make certain assumptions about the distribution of race and gender that appear to imply it does matter.

The second, and this is the conclusion drawn from our precious little alt-right snowflakes, is that white men are just better at engineering in general and that they are there based on their merit

A different, more productive world

Let’s say that it’s true – in engineering, merit matter more than gender or race. And let’s also say that since we find mostly white men in engineering, we need to fix that, what does that mean?

It means that until we see 50/50 parity of men and women in engineering, we’re almost certainly keeping some brilliant engineers out and escalating some bad engineers in. If there are 100 engineering jobs, and we let our implicit bias mean we only hire men, then we miss out on the 50 best women for the job and instead take the 50 next best men.

This same argument works across racial boundaries too.

There’s no reason to assume that gender or race is predictive of ability, which means engineering talent – a priori – is probably diffusely distributed amongst the population. To find yourself in a shop that doesn’t reflect that more general distribution means that somewhere along the way, someone was chosen due to their race (white) and gender (male) rather than their merit.

And whats worse, someone with a lot of engineering talent was shut out.

This is Bad for America

We’re in a productivity slump. We have a resurgent and hostile Russia, a growing and ambivalent China, and a widening wealth gap in our own country which leads to lower growth, lower hapiness, and lower productivity.

We absolutely cannot afford to keep our best engineering talent out of the bull pen because we don’t want to offend the old guard and give them any inclination that perhaps they got where they were today because of their race or gender.

It’s not about quotas or political correctness, it’s about standing the fuck aside and making room for the better engineers that have been on the outside this whole time. Because we can’t afford to employ lesser engineers anymore.

Secret Russian Deals Right After Inauguration

See this Business Insider Article

What does this mean?

Let’s recap a few things:

  1. The Trump administration had multiple opportunities to coordinate with the Russians through Flynn, Sessions, Kushner and others. We don’t know that they did anything inappropriate though…
  2. The Trump administration attempted to set up ‘secret backchannels’ to the Russians. We don’t know that they intended to misuse them though…
  3. The Trump administration outwardly coordinated with Russian intelligence on mass media, asking them to further hack Hillary’s emails. We don’t know that the Russians cooperated and communicated back though…
  4. We know that in broad stances, the Trump administration has played into Russian strategy – attacking democracy at home, supporting Christian Nationalism, disrupting Nato and pissing off our allies. We don’t know that they did these things because the Russians asked though…
  5. We know that Russia interfered in the election specifically to help Trump win and Clinton lose. We don’t know that they sent communication to the Trump administration about this though…
  6. We know that Stone and Manafort have a history of working with dictatorships and the scum of the earth. We don’t know that they’d work with Russia though…

And now we know the following:

7. The Trump administration was going to shut down sanctions, return Russian assets, and otherwise wipe out the punishments levied on them after the election. We don’t know that Russia asked them to, though…

So, good bayesians, with all of the above as our priors what are our confidences on the following beliefs:

  1. Trump colluded with the Russians
  2. Trump did not collude with the Russians

For the second to be true, we’d basically have to believe that items 1 through 7 were massive fucking coincidences.

  • That Trump had multiple opportunities to talk, secret back channels even, but never actually talked about what Russia was doing to the emails. Never coordinated.
  • That Trump received something from Russia, and he plotted to give something back both concretely and strategically, but there was no actual quid pro quo agreement on these deals. They were all apparently random events.
  • That we know the people in Trump’s campaign have done all this before, have played dirty games, but this time they played by the rules.

What are the odds?

How to get some Context around this Mess

I have two documentaries I’d highly suggest, as they have given me a lot of understanding of the context around this mess we’re in, and answered a lot of questions I previously had a hard time answering.

Frontline: Trump’s Road to the White House

My key takeaway from this was what Frontline speculated was Trump’s ultimate motivation to run, and win. Trump had won before but had primarily done so to boost his media empire and get free press.

This time was different though – he wanted to win. Frontline implies he wanted to win due to a slight from President Obama. Trump is a man who fears embarrassment over everything else. And he’s a man who sees ‘winning’ as meaning – do whatever it takes.

My key takeaways:

  • Trump admits he hasn’t changed or grown much since the first grade. We can either believe his story that his Father was so harsh that he had to come up with coping strategies, or read between the lines and see his life as so easy as it never has forced change. He’s been a lying, bullying blowhard his whole life.
  • Trump sees money and fame as the only signs of success. He has no rich inner life. He’s ruled by jealousy, fear of embarrassment, and grudges. He surrounds himself by folks that are similar. He sees morality or sentiment as a sign of weakness.
  • He’s not a very good businessman, primarily running his real estate and casino holdings into the ground through just plain bad management. He rarely had any idea what was going on, would routinely hire yes-men to hide things, and saw very little as his fault. He’s incapable of learning.
  • His decision to run for President was due to a perceived slight from President Obama.
  • He has a win at all costs mentality when he decides to win. This is important, as described below.

Netflix: Get Me Roger Stone

This is a deep dive into one of Trump’s favorite confidants, political ‘operative’ Roger Stone. You have to keep a skeptical eye to Roger’s story of himself, full of embellishment, disinformation, and tactical lies to convince you that he’s important. It’s his personal brand, and it’s how he convinces a certain segment of society he’s worth his consulting fees despite the fact that he doesn’t have a great track record and has a tendency to ‘wing it’.

Like Trump, Roger has a take no prisoners approach to ‘winning’. He’s only now, in his 60’s, developing an actual political philosophy. Much of his life was devoted to ensuring his ‘team’ win at all costs, often at the expense of their own values. Roger, like Trump, is quite possibly a high functioning sociopath, which would explain his difficulty understanding common notions like ethics and values.

Purely armchair psychology here, but I’d also speculate that a lot of Stone’s perceived slights at ‘Washington Elites’ probably come from him constantly feeling like an outsider due to his sexuality in a repressed culture and age.

My key takeaways:

  • Stone, Manafort, and others literally invented the idea of a slimy lobbyist in the 80’s. Their firm was notorious for taking on dictators and other strongmen and lobbying on their behalf to Republican leaders. Why? Because no one else would take those clients, and they were willing to pay absurd fees to get heard. Stone and Manafort have been taking blood money for decades.
  • Stone places himself at various points in history and weaves a tale that he has been instrumental in nearly all Republican wins since Nixon. He builds a brand that he’s the dirty trixter that you know you’ll eventually need. He has a strong brand, but I think his desire to be hated by society comes from an inward struggle. He wants to ‘be himself’ but doesn’t feel comfortable doing it – feeling rejected. So he’s embraced rejection everywhere.
  • Like Trump, he identifies wealth and fame with success and has no problem doing whatever it takes to acquire those things.
  • Manafort – unlike Trump and Stone – seems to only be attracted to wealth.

The Context

The problem I’ve been having with this whole Russian fiasco is identifying with a person who could ever possibly betray their country like that. It’s just something so incredibly foreign to me.

Criminology 101 recommends establishing the following heuristic while investigating a crime – Means, Motive, and Opportunity.

Trump, Stone, and Manafort had the means – they had personal wealth, and through Manafort and Stone, a history of pretty despicable connections through their lobbying efforts. No one disputes this.

In terms of opportunity – again, very well established. Manafort worked with Russian loyalists in Ukraine, Stone admitted that he was in direct contact with Guccifer 2.0, and Trump has Russian investments and made frequent trips to Russia for things like the Miss Universe Pagent. He also kept around lackeys like Flynn and Carter Page who have also made frequent contacts with the Russians.

But motive? Here my problems are two-fold – first, who’s evil enough to work with our main rival on the world stage to gain political power, and who’s stupid enough to think they’d get away with it?

I mean, sure, Trump is not the sharpest tool in the shed. But Manafort seems like a reasonably smart guy – why would someone like him do it, and why would someone like him think he could get away with it?

This is where the documentaries above really illuminated things for me.

First, who’d be willing to work with Russia to gain political power?

Trump responds to grudges. He makes enemy lists. He’s frequently done illegal things to get back at folks that he perceives as having slighted him. The biggest embarrassment of his adult life was when Obama roasted him. You can see from the video that Trump is doing nothing but thinking about how he’s going to get back at Obama, and you can tell he’d be willing to go to any length to do so.

Stone also responds to grudges, but more importantly, he has a history of working with strongmen. He’s used to working with horrifying characters and not having any issue with it. He sees it as his strength. It’d be very hard for someone like him – especially when he has no inner moral conscience – to realize when he’s crossed the line from unsavory contact to all out Treason.

Second, who’d be stupid enough to think they won’t get caught?

Trump and Stone quite literally are probably stupid enough to think they’d get away with it. They both drastically overestimate their own importance and intelligence, and it gets them in trouble very often. Trump has attempted to micromanage his own communication for awhile, convinced that his press secretary and other advisors are failing him.

And of course, when he makes things ten times worse, he’s incapable of assigning blame to himself and claims that the media is intrinsically unfair. He’s incapable of learning, of growth.

Moreover, instead of hiring competent individuals to correct him, Trump tends to gravitate towards yes men like Stone. Stone is equally lacking in intelligence, or at least the ability to learn from mistakes. They quite literally may have overestimated their ability to weasel their way out of something like Treason.

They’re also both incredibly cynical (another trademark of a sociopath who thinks everyone else is just ‘pretending’ to have values and morality). They probably thought Clinton was either working with Russia, China, or someone else. They probably think everyone in Washington is bought off by one foreign entity or another, so again, they probably thought their transgression would just ‘blend in’.

This also explains why Trump believes the media is being ‘unfair’ to him – he really believes everyone else in Washington is just as fake, just as bad, and just as sociopathic as him.

But what about Manafort? He seems to be the actual brains here. While he may not have values, he seems to stay in the background enough so as not to get so easily caught like Stone and Trump. Manafort hasn’t done anything stupid like ask Russia to hack Hillary’s emails on live television, or admit on Twitter he was in active contact with Guccifer.

Here’s where the second documentary really helped me out – Stone and Manafort have been doing this shit for years. For decades. They’ve been helping out dictators and murderers since they invented it in the 80’s. They’re probably so used to not getting caught that they figured they’d get away with this one too.

My Final Insight

These documentaries as well as some reading I’ve done on what motivated the other actor in all of this – Russia – has also helped illuminate some things.

I’ll admit, I was pretty pissed when I learned that the DNC was actively working against Sander’s campaign. I bought into Hillary being just ‘more of the same’, if not completely corrupt, then at least not as inspiring as someone like Obama.

I’ve since realized that all of this was me succumbing to Russian propaganda.

Putin’s interest in meddling is to destroy the idea of moral legitimacy on the world stage. It’s important to him to tell his people that “See, the United States is no better than Russia”. To do this, he’s attempting to build a narrative that the US is just as corrupt – if not more so – than his own regime.

Selective leaks, fake news and all sorts of other propaganda have gone into this.

Recall that Russia’s first mission in meddling with our election was to cause people to lose faith in the electoral process. Their second mission was to actually get Trump elected. One sign of collusion was how quickly Trump pivoted from attempting to win to claims of ‘rigged election’ once it appeared he was going to lose.

He probably was as surprised as anyone that he won.

Russia wanted the ‘vote rigging’ story to dog Clinton’s entire term. They wanted Clinton to be seen as a corrupt politician who won an illegitimate election. They wanted people to lose faith in democracy.

Stone, Manafort, and Trump were precisely who they needed to recruit

Trump and his inner circle were the perfect recruits because they agreed with Putin’s overall argument. They believed that US politics was corrupt to the core, primarily because they knew that they were corrupt to the core.

Think of it this way – if Trump loses, which Russia thought he would – they’d have a propaganda campaign of illegitimate elections, vote rigging, and a broken democracy. That’s in their interest.

If Trump wins, however, in addition to a potential ally in the White House, they’d have the slimiest people in America in charge to prove that American politics was a farce. They’d have lobbyists for dictators running the show – pocketing the money, firing all oversight, and committing treason right in front of everyone with no one to stop them. They’d have installed the corrupt America that they wanted everyone else convinced was there.

The Propaganda Campaign is STILL ONGOING

We’re in the midst of it. The feelings you have about losing faith in our democracy, or our institutions, have been engineered by expert propagandists who have had years of experience doing this very same thing in other countries.

I think the takeaway I have with all this is that we mustn’t lose hope. Our institutions are stronger than their propaganda. Our elections, while not perfect, are absolutely morally superior to strongman tactics. Our politicians do, for the most part, genuinely believe in the American project and are not simply trying to enrich themselves.

Watch out for those who tell you otherwise. They’re buying into Stone’s cynicism. He wants everyone to be as unhappy as him.

Watch out for those who tell you otherwise. They’re buying into Putin’s plan. He wants the moral argument off the table.

Watch out for those who tell you otherwise. They’re buying into Trump’s America. He wants a narrative that benefits only his ego, at the expense of the nation.

Believe in the strength of the American project. You are being attacked from all sides that it was always a sham. It was never a sham.