The contemporary infirmity wherein the catastrophic state of the globe is first reduced to the present state of the union which is in turn explained according to ever more labyrinthine accounts of Russian maleficence is in some sense trivially easy to diagnose. Red Scare politics, which had more appeal for liberals than we like to recall, has retained its popularity even after the death of Soviet communism—not least because it offers the satisfying fantasy wherein individuals with corrupt souls can be purged from fundamentally decent institutions and democracy can function properly again, thus excluding the intolerable possibility that this present world is the one democracy hath wrought. It is the Democrat’s version of Make America Great Again. Correspondingly, what really amps up the libidinal fervor around the New Red Scare is that Mr. MAGA was part of it all, thus promising that America could be made great again by tossing out the guy who promised to make America great again. It is an ironic inversion worthy of a mid-list novel.
This is not to dispute that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections and that the current president was a half-witting participant. OK, let’s talk about that.
Among all facts ever, ranked by interest, we will have to agree that the revelation of Russian meddling ranks very low. You would need a vast crowd–sourced virtual encyclopedia to keep track of election meddling by, for example, the United States. It’s what nations do if they have the capacity. There is no way that a person could find this significant because no one in the world is that naïve.
The question of whether the president is in thrall to an alien power is more interesting. The story we have is this: that Candidate Trump was in negotiations to build a tower in Moscow, a plan that is the concrete (so to speak) basis for explaining why he wished to curry favor with the Russian power elite up to and including the Russian prez. This makes far more sense than the once-again libidinal fantasies about Trump’s fondness for Putin or pee tapes or whatever. (My god the sex lives of these conspiracists must be tedious.)
So you have a guy who is involved in big-money business dealings with some Russian dudes, with whom he must then enjoy good relations, and because this isn’t consonant with being president he makes moves to hide it. One can make infinite nail-and-yarn diagrams about who knew what when, because we know that is the magic spell against bad presidents, but it sort of comes down to this. Trump is in thrall to an alien power because of the compulsions of intersecting profit schemes that require not just mutual interest but political intervention which must in turn be concealed because of a peculiar social pretense, one lacking in any material reality, that there both should be and is a separation between the political and the economic.
Which, like, no shit. What we have just described is the political-economic arrangement in which we live. My dudes, all capitalists are in thrall to an alien power and that alien power is capital itself. It is not the same as wealth. It is the great and entangled set of relations that both compel and allow for the increase and concentration of wealth. It may involve personal relationships and it is easier for us to grasp when it does. Mostly it does not. The wage that a textile worker can demand is shaped by the rates of textile workers thousands of miles away whom they will never meet, by the unemployment of people they will never know, and by the development of new machines they may never use. And yet all of this action seems to be coordinated to deliver profits over there and misery over here, over and over. No wonder we keep on misrecognizing this situation as a conspiracy.
But it is not, except in so far as society itself is a conspiracy. It is, however, an alien power. It structures our actions from a distance, after all. It exists outside of us but it passes through us, using us for its own sustenance. It can never come to rest, must always increase itself or cease to exist, and thus the capitalist must seek whatever deals can allow his capital to expand, and do what it takes to make that happen. Rex Tillerson, who came and went through the sphere that we like to pretend is
This is not a brief on behalf of Donald Trump. He is