Change is not going to come from existing institutions, writes Caitlin Johnstone. It’s going to come from people using the power of their numbers.
By Caitlin Johnstone
The world’s first laboratory-grown presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg met with boos and chants of “Wall Street Pete” at a recent Democratic Party event in New Hampshire for taking a dig at the revolution-minded rhetoric favored by Bernie Sanders and his supporters.
“We cannot risk dividing Americans’ future further, saying that you must either be for a revolution or you must be for the status quo,” Buttigieg said. “Let’s make room for everybody in this movement.”
This is a talking point that the tightly scripted and focus group-tested Buttigieg has been repeatedly regurgitating all month, so it’s worth taking a look at.
Pete is just the latest model in a long line of CIA-funded counterrevolutions pic.twitter.com/PBAbIIzoxP
— BERNIE BEATS TRUMP (@CANCEL_SAM) February 9, 2020
Claiming that it isn’t necessary to choose between revolution and the status quo is claiming that you can change the status quo without any kind of revolution. You are saying that the establishment which has created and reinforced the status quo can now suddenly, for some strange and mysterious reason, be counted upon to change it. That the status quo will change the status quo.
Anyone who has paid attention to U.S. politics for more than a few years already knows that this is objectively false. From administration to administration, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office or who controls the House or the Senate, the status quo has been adamantly enforced along a rigid trajectory toward ever-increasing military expansionism, exploitative neoliberal economic policies, income and wealth inequality, police militarization, mass-scale imprisonment, Orwellian surveillance programs and increasing restrictions on journalism and free speech.
Change is not going to come from those institutions, it’s going to come from the people using the power of their numbers to force important changes that those institutions do not want to make. And Pete Buttigieg knows this. And so do the spooks and oligarchs who are backing him.
It is very appropriate that a military intelligence officer with ties to the CIA, who is beloved by intelligence/defense agency insiders and who appears to have been groomed by national security mandarins from the very beginning of his career, should be actively working to kill a revolutionary zeitgeist. After all, backing counter-revolutionaries is a favorite CIA activity.
#PeteButtigieg just mocked @BernieSanders @OurRevolution and then everyone started shouting. #WallStreetPete-(Source: Fiorella Isabel) pic.twitter.com/FYkxIPw612
— KaeySonPoint (@KaeySonPoint) February 9, 2020
Progressives already got suckered into forfeiting their revolutionary spirit in exchange for flowery prose and empty rhetoric the last time they elected Pete Buttigieg for president, back when Pete Buttigieg was named Barack Obama. It was literally the exact same script they’re trying to recycle with Puppet Pete: a plucky young underdog with a knack for sparkly verbiage overcomes the frontrunner in Iowa in a stunning upset, then rides the momentum from that initial victory on to the Democratic nomination.
And now we’re seeing the Democratic Party officially award Buttigieg the largest delegate count in Iowa, after a massive scandal and despite countless unresolved discrepancies in the numbers, and establishment narrative managers are now preparing their heartwarming David-and-Goliath stories about the small town mayor knocking out the big bad socialist frontrunner for a second consecutive time in New Hampshire in defiance of the odds and polling expectations. If that falls through they’ve got Nevada, where shit really started to get crazy in 2016, and where they’re preparing to implement a brand new caucus app which they keep trying to say is not an app but a “tool” made for iPads (which is the thing that an app is).
All this to install a man who has managed to pack an astonishing amount of corruption and scandal into a relatively brief, small-scale political career.
That’s what not choosing between revolution and the status quo looks like. It looks like continuing the status quo.
Which is why it’s so dumb when Buttigieg says “Let’s make room for everybody in this movement.” Movement? What movement? You don’t get to call it a “movement” when its entire agenda is to prevent any movement. Use a different word. “Let’s make room for everybody in this inertia,” or “Let’s make room for everybody in this stasis” or something.
Things that are more real than Pete Buttigieg:
– Milli Vanilli
– boobs in LA
– smiles at a Martha's Vineyard cocktail party
– the Gulf of Tonkin incident
– Bryan Williams' helicopter crash
– Joy Reid's time travelling hackers
– Epstein's suicide
— Caitlin Johnstone ? (@caitoz) February 10, 2020
As I’ve said many times before, I’m interested in this presidential election not because I am under the delusion that presidential elections tend to change things, but because the attempts to manipulate it, and the public’s response to those manipulations, could shake something loose that actually might. If enough people in the world’s most powerful nation wake up to the fact that they don’t have the kind of political system they were taught about in school, if they realize that everything they’ve been told about how their government operates is a lie, if they realize their lives have been made so unnecessarily difficult by a ruling oligarchic class with a vested interest in keeping them impoverished and distracted, well, then we’re looking at an actual transformative force.
Then we’re looking at the possibility of a real revolution. Not a violent revolution; those always result in a continuation of the same ills under a different system, and there’s nothing revolutionary about that.
I’m talking about a real revolution. One where people begin to open their eyes to the reality that their entire understanding of what’s going on in the world has been the result of mass psychological manipulation throughout their entire lives at the hands of the school system, the billionaire-controlled news media, and the political establishment. One where people open their eyes so wide to the power of narrative control that they become impossible to propagandize. One where people begin weaving their own narratives. Their own understandings of the world. Built not for the benefit of the powerful, but for the benefit of the people.
We’re seeing a lot of movement already in 2020, and it’s just getting started. I see the potential for a lot of light to reach a lot of new areas between the cracks which open up in that movement. And I see the guardians of the status quo having a harder and harder time maintaining the state of stasis. Their increasingly ham-fisted manipulations, such as installing a jarringly phony puppet like Pete Buttigieg, say a lot about their desperation.
Find ways of forcing them to overextend themselves and overplay their hand. Let’s show everyone what they’re hiding behind the puppet theater.
Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on Facebook, Twitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a book, “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”
This article was re-published with permission.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
Please Donate to Consortium News.
Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive or rude language toward other commenters or our writers will not be published. If your comment does not immediately appear, please be patient as it is manually reviewed. For security reasons, please refrain from inserting links in your comments, which should not be longer than 300 words.
At this level of power and tyranny you’re going to have to organize into guerilla warfare, destroy their police/military, their enforcement, offensive, defensive component, before the infrastructure can be eradicated and the perps destroyed, before any progress toward freedom with dignity can be attained for mankind.
As many have pointed out, no matter how hard Buttigieg trie to be the perfect corporate Ken doll——he fails. Many have pointed out that in the first debate, when he accused Tulsi of something( I suppose he felt he had to as she was a female in the military-)—but she calmly refuted his points, His face was unmovable granite—except for his eyes, which blinked faster and faster, and almost looked as if those eyes were going to explode out of his face. A very telling moment—for me it shows that criticism is not well taken with Pete—and of course, there’s that other one, Trump, by name who suffers from the same tragic flaw. Perhaps I am wrong and he’s not a Ken doll, but a paper doll without much structure or any real fortitude.
Those in power want to keep it. Only those who genuinely do not want power can win peace. But power, manifested as interest, has been present in every conflict of the past – no exception. It is the underlying motivation for war. Interest cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics – everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interest. It is power, not any of the above concepts, that is the cause of war. For more on this search: Never Forget the Ghosts of History – WordPress, for the free e-book and accompanying essay.
At the top of the apex,power and money are one and the same.
How long ago when Ms. Johnstone’s following description would have seemed liked puffed-up hyperbole and now is plain for everyone to see? It’s been a while. From her article:
“the status quo has been adamantly enforced along a rigid trajectory toward ever-increasing military expansionism, exploitative neoliberal economic policies, income and wealth inequality, police militarization, mass-scale imprisonment, Orwellian surveillance programs and increasing restrictions on journalism and free speech.”
When the maturation of the republic’s fruits that ends in rot.
Ms. Johnstone sees hints of awakening and I hope she is right.
“Change is not going to come through existing institutions” thereby emulating resort to 2nd level binaries reiterating resort to the linear, facilitating “Revolution & Status Quo Aren’t Mutually Exclusive”, better worded as “Transcendence and momentary stasis are co-terminous moments in lateral processes facilitating transcendence of the linear since a revolution is a linear process of revolving.”
Not necessarily true. Revolution can be diametrically opposed to the status quo; and in this scenario-is.
“Opposites in diametres, ergo A at zero degrees and B at 90 degrees or notions of left/right, are positions in linear spectra/frames as are binaries.”
Or the circular A at zero degrees and B at 180 degrees or notions of left/right, are positions in linear spectra/frames as are binaries.
I wrote this comment on another website, before I read this article, so apologies, but it was encouraging to see that I’m not the only one that is creeped out by this guy.
Pete Buttigieg reminds me of all those old movies, where a bunch of mustache-twirling billionaire oligarchs get together and say … how about this guy, he’ll go along with whatever we want, yeah, yeah, we’ll make him the next President. He is a totally artificial, manufactured candidate. If you told me he was a hologram I would believe it. Of course the most mysterious part is the fact that there is no way in God’s universe that he could ever be elected. So, what is his purpose? It’s baffling. If you were really into convoluted conspiracies, I would say he is a creation of Trump’s supporters, since his nomination would result in a McGovern 2.0 landslide for Trump. Probably he is just there to block Bernie’s path, and allow a Hillary Clone (used to be Biden, now Klobuchar) to win.
I’d say your suspicions are spot on – he’s a creature of the Dem party elite who want a way to sidetrack Sanders campaign so he doesn’t get the outright 50.1% of delegates to win on the first ballot. The Dem party elite are more interested in keeping their jobs/status than in allowing the people to raise their choice via the primaries into the Dem party candidate for the Presidental contest in Nov.
Tom, the Democratic elites feel they are entitled to control party policies and candidates at every level, including giving ultimate power to super delegates rather than allowing only elected pledged delegates to decide the matter, because the courts once ruled that the organisation is a private corporation rather than a public accommodation owned by the American people. So a bunch of “share holders” (campaign contributors) run American politics rather than the people. Remember the other critical court decisions on our “democracy:” i) money is the legal equivalent of free speech, and ii) corporations [which have all the money] are people [just like any other citizen]. That in a nutshell is the system that determines who runs America.
Love what you write, Caitlin. Thank you.
“Not a violent revolution; those always result in a continuation of the same ills under a different system, and there’s nothing revolutionary about that.”
Gotta disagree w/you on that Caitlin: CUBA.
W/out doubt a violent rev. Would you say that the horrors of the Batista regime and the ones before it continued under Fidel, Che and the rest? Even today?
Frankly Caitlin you have more faith in people than I do. Not saying that there aren’t plenty of people who like the programs that Sanders says he wants to install (none including an end to terroristic warring against poorer countries that won’t accept US hegemony, determination about how they should govern themselves, mind). But as always, what amazes and depresses me (but does not surprise) is the many well-educated, liberal (which equals capitalist), progressive (whatever that means) comfortably/well off Dem party voters who would vote for Sanders, would, if he (once again) is ousted by the DNC machine, then vote for Warren or Klobuchar perhaps even Buttigieg… (or Biden…).
Of course, the majority, if not all of them believe the Russiagate bullshit, are Russophobic, Sinophobic and probably also Iranophobic; and they are not – really – against what we are doing and have done to countries like Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and the rest. It’s all happening over there. Shrug of shoulders. And they seem to refuse to recognize the connection between the dollars spent on all of this (along with the obscene tax cut for the oligarchs/plutocrats) and their purported support for M4A and other needed socio-economic changes for the poorer in the US, nor to recognize that the grotesque US MIC plays a huge part in the destruction of many ecosystems around the world even as they loudly (and rightly) condemn the Strumpet’s destruction of what minor environmental protections that have existed in the US.
But then they also seem to ignore the role that the Congressional Dems have played in the financing of the MIC and the tax cuts to those millionaires-billionaires – inconvenient perhaps?
The best form of election fraud would be undetectable (as with Stuxnet in Iranian computers). Iowa was comically inept, and even if errors are corrected the Iowa Democrat Committee refuses to change the Results.
NH uses paper ballots and an AccuVote system for counting and tabulating the results, with the ballots saved for auditing if very close. The only possible security flaw is a memory stick mailed to each precinct to format AccuVote with candidates’ names and position on the ballot. It was surprising that despite Bernie’s huge crowds, grass roots movement and volunteers, his being from the adjoining state (like Warren) and high poll numbers before the election yesterday, he only won by 2%? May be real, but with Buttigieg’s connections to the CIA, it would not be surprising if those memory sticks made “slight corrections” to the vote.
“The best form of election fraud would be undetectable (as with Stuxnet in Iranian computers).”
To implement how to’s you need to consider co-operators and interlocutors to attain lack of detection – a weakness for “exceptionalists” and those seeking prime agency.
In respect to co-operators re Stuxnet in Iran, the inherent rivalry and varying purposes of the co-operators facilitated detection, athough not the only aspects which facilitated detection, including assays of detection that were not necessarily divulged by interlocutors.
Secrecy is never an absolute but a function of time.
Perhaps the best form of election fraud would be holding an election under notions of representative democracy, attacking it, blaming others for the attack, thereby increasing the voters notions of the significance of elections and the “ownership” of voters in the concept of elections long enough to facilitate the short-term tactic of encouraging yet another revolution of the status quo?.
I rarely find a jot or tittle to disagree with Ms. Johnstone, but this time I can’t quite get there with her. (FYI, I voted for Bernie in the 2016 primary and Stein in the general election). Thus far the voters are not showing any great swing to progressivism. Bernie has solid numbers in New Hampshire but in 2016 he beat Clinton 60% to 38%. His current showing (with 91% of precincts reporting) show him at 25.9% this time around. His victory, in this light, looks more like a lead ballon! One would expect some momentum of good will for the bernie revolution yet the opposite appears true.
Warren damaged herself badly when she made public her alleged conversation with Bernie on a ‘woman can’t beat Trump.’ When you look at the vote split between the so called two progressive candidates, NH voters gave Sanders/Warren 35.2% and middle of the roaders Buttegieg/Klobuchar/Biden 52.6%. I see every attempt from the progressive side of the party to attack Buttegieg but to completely ignore Klobuchar. Biden is sufficiently writing is how epithet.
I’m afraid all the Buttegieg bashing is going to hand the mess to Bloomberg. Good luck with that…
I have no real clue about why the showing for Sanders is much lower this time – but would suggest three possibilities, both with the DNC machine in mind: the larger field of candidates allowed those to vote closer to their personal preferences, in that while supporting some part of Sanders’ program, they don’t support it all, or they voted for Sanders last time because they couldn’t stand HRC; they no longer trust Sanders given last time round he supported HRC’s nomination *and* has said he will support whoever gets nominated this time round.
Moreover, in the last NH polls Bernie had nearly a 10-pt lead. [Bernie ~30%, Pete ~20% and Kloberchar ~11%]
How this turns overnight into a percentage point squeaker with Bernie dropping to 25%, and Pete jumping to 24% and Kloberchar an astounding 20% suggests more data manipulation to me.
Yes, Bernie walked away with much less last night than 4 years ago: only 9 delegates compared to 15, and only 72,000 votes compared to 152,000. Either the DNC has been very effective in massaging the results, or Bernie’s “threat” to the party is vastly over-hyped (which would be a shame).
Bloomberg is an oligarch it’s true, but I would much rather see him as President than a creature like Buttigieg (who cannot possibly be elected). Bloomberg is at least a grown man, and a real person, who had to deal with the realities of governing for many years … and Mayor of NYC is no picnic of a job. With any luck Petey will fade fast, otherwise I will have to admit I have no understanding of the nature of America today.
Check out Daniel Larison’s post today, “Bloomberg The Authoritarian Oligarch.” Makes Buttegieg (who Larison gives no points to either) as a boy scout.
I guess he might skate into office under the American pseudo-sacred doctrine of too big to fail.
“Wall Street Pete” is an empty suit and I am amazed that he is getting a lot of support.
The great counter-revolutionary programme which annulled the Bretton Woods system 1944, started in the US and became a pestilence which was to spread around the world. There were, I think, three key moments in this process: 1. When Nixon took the US dollar off the gold standard in 1971, 2. When Clinton et al, repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, and, finally 3. 9/11 and all that followed from it.
It should come as no surprise that revolutions and counter-revolutions start with a bang but tend to finish with a whimper. It is a process which the great German social theorist Max Weber recognised as a shift from charismatic authority to legal rational authority. If the revolutionary impetus was left to run amok it would explode the society into anarchy. Stabilisation was therefore required. Thus US, neo-liberalism, neo-conservativism have had their day in the sun. The beginning of the long retreat has begun and it will not be stopped. Thus Cromwell was replaced by Charles II, Mao Zedong by Chou En Lai, Trotsky by Stalin, and Danton by Talleyrand: such is the logic of revolutionary change. To quote Winston Churchill, this is not the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.
Love it, Caitlin.
Your broad mindedness is what we love. This attack piece on Pete B. diminishes the message.
Even within it however, your truth shines through. Facts work better in these kind of things, from this readers perspective, without the mean.
Your speaking to the choir here, exclusively.
We all know, or at least we should remember, Gore vs Bush debates. The lock box. Trillion dollar surpluses.
Cuope d’état at the highest levels.
Hanging chads, James Baker, Karl Rove, and the supreme court make Et tu, Brute? look like child’s play.
We have known the gig is up.
Solutions and answers are the only way forward. Not questions and conspiracies.
Love your work!
Thanks so much for your frank and direct commentary. Even though I’m in Canada we’re totally dependent on what the US does to us and for us. Sad, but true.
We should pay close attention to what happens in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in this year 2020.
For Pete, the only revolution that works is McKinsey is leading the charge.
What a crock.
Cheaty Petety is a repulsive, smug little man and such a phoney, that’d he’d be laughable if he and his power-hungry handlers weren’t so dangerous. Don’t vote for this inauthentic, creepy spook-lover… talk about martial law and crackdowns on dissidents…. this guy would be every bit as much of a disaster to common decency and the common good as the smelly sniffler currently occupying the Oval Office, or the oval orifice, if you prefer. Phew! Sneaky Pete needs to go bye-bye, back to McKinsey or some other troglodyte laden lair and leave us alone!
Mayor McCheat reminds me of Marco Rubio in many ways, aside from his identity politics and party membership. Can other people see that? To see either ascend to the presidency would be catastrophic.
Spot on, as usual, Ms. Johnstone.
“Progressives already got suckered into forfeiting their revolutionary spirit in exchange for flowery prose and empty rhetoric the last time they elected Pete Buttigieg for president, back when Pete Buttigieg was named Barack Obama.” Bingo.
The most offensive thing about the candidacy of Mayor Pete is that it relies entirely upon citizens’ stupidity. And don’t get me started on the smug packaging. This sociopath seems to be reveling in lying to us all. But Gaybama isn’t fooling this voter.
Perhaps, with 2020 vision, the kabuki will be seen as theatre, the myths as cunning lies, the manipulations, all, for what they are?
Clearly, more and more U$ians ARE, finally, seeing things long believed as true, just, and “the American Way” as deceits, conceits, and oligarchic war-mongering propaganda, as fairy tales fit only for childish notions of cultural and moral superiority hiding systemic corruption, blatant greed, and vicious crimes against humanity.
The question is how much the many have invested in such belief that they identify themselves, in primitive tribal fashion, WITH the need TO believe such things?
It requires courage, imagination, critical thought AND tolerance to dare change first one’s own sense of identity and then find and encourage the COLLECTIVE fortitude to change a society and a nation.
Ponder the Pledge of Allegiance.
When first I was taught it, sixty-eight years ago, before “God” was tossed into the mix, it went:
“I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, one nation, with liberty and justice for all.”
When first it was mandated, one did not place one’s right hand upon one’s heart, one lifted that arm in a stiff arm salute rather reminiscent of what later has been known as the Nazi salute.
Let us ponder the nature and forms of the “liberty” and the “justice” it proclaims.
What liberty does enforced precarity provide the many?
What justice is available in a legal system premised on money?
Yes, the status quo represented by the pretend democracy of voting is showing thread-bare, ripped at the unseamly and rigged to obscure the private forces that control and limit it.
Yet the franchise is held to be sacred, that if you don’t use it, then you lose it.
However, as you point out, over-arching policies of war, of protecting wealth and property, of calling money, “speech” and corporations “people”, of blatant manipulation, lying the nation into wars, bailing out oligarchs and making the many pay for the crimes of the oligarchs does not change, jobs are “off-shored” communities destroyed, large portion of the public “targeted” with stop and frisk, massive and total surveillance, while financial protections like Glass-Steagall are blatantly overturned and so on, with no consequence for the authors and practitioners, even when torture becomes policy.
So yes, the political “malarkey” is increasingly evident, but it is only the surface, in fact the very means by which all other depredations are enabled.
How long might it be until those deeper, systemic, from the beginning, deceits and transgressions might be apprehended and redressed, might even be recognized for what they are?
What if it is grasped that much of the nation’s glorious “history” is but hagiographic claptrap and despicable deceit?
For that is really what is hidden beneath the shredding veneer of “politics” and “business” as usual, aka the status quo.
Will pride bow to shame?
Will humanity, compassion, empathy, and true justice be acclaimed?
Or will the “nasty, brutish, and short” view of “human nature” remain?
That is what it is about in a capitalist dominated world.
It is what Adam Smith described as the Vile Maxim of the “mercantile” class;
“All for us and nothing for anyone else.”
One might recognize that, in today’s idiom, as “neoliberalism”, which is not merely about economic but about total cultural and human domination.
Which also aligns with the U$ Military concept of Full Spectrum Dominance.
The common thread and thrust of total power.
It cannot be “fixed” just a little.
There must be sweeping and total change.
Yet, as you say, it must be non-violent even while fully realizing that those in power will go totally violent.
I like Puppet Pete. Very suitable.
But I don’t believe the existing American political system can possibly deliver any meaningful change.
It was designed that way, and it works.
You cannot possibly have America’s massive investment in military and state security and imperial schemes and have it all up for possible change every four years.
That is not the way power works.
Not to introduce unnecessary and politically debilitating quibbles at this point in USA history, but a distinction need to be made….at this time….between the concepts of “revolution” and “rebellion”. The fabled 1776 “revolution” in the evolving USA was simply a colonial rebellion against a Brit-imposed social, economic, and political system, much of which was maintained in various forms after the USA was formed and constituted. Slavery, property owners only voting, no vote franchise for women…that sort of thing. “Revolution” conjures up in USA consciousness all sorts of MSM/Hollywood images of Russian moujiks and Communist apparatchiks killing or imprisoning monarchical aristocrats and kulaks. Some of the b——ds deserved their fate. Huge changes need to be made as soon as possible in the USA’s political and economic systems, but I believe that most of these basic changes can be accomplished under the rubric of “rebellion”. There are a few…a very few….good elements in USA’s contemporary political / economic systems; don’t throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water.
He’s got a point though. The establishment ARE World Revolutionaries. Resistance to the establishment should be called the counter-revolution.
“Resistance to the establishment should be called the counter-revolution.”
Counter-revolution would be giving the appearance of moving backwards to arrive at the start point – a tactics used on ocassions by the opponents.
Ideology including “ways of seeing/perception” is immersive akin to a swimming pool – when you emerge from it you still carry water-droplets.
Consequently the purpose is to transcend the perceived “status quo”, encouraging lateral processes; not other linear revolutions of the wheel – the transcendence of social relations based on equal but different where “but” precludes equal, by social relations based on equal and different where “and” facilitates both equal and different, through lateral strategies including but not restricted to building co-operation and railroads.