Statues Fall Amidst Civil War: The Coup vs. the Woke Revolution
By: Alastair Crooke
In earlier articles, I noted that America has been skirting the precarious cliff-edge of ancient antagonisms, dating back to the Civil War – Red versus Blue. The two irreconcilable visions of American life: on the one side, the ‘Federalists’, who partly have morphed into cosmopolitan ‘Sorosites’, and claim the moral high ground on matters of life; and on the other, a tradition of state co-sovereignty, dating back to the 1871 (the Articles of Confederacy). That divide remains. It is – as it has long been – aside from the FDR era, an overarching frame. Yet, to further roil and complicate an already heady complexity it seems now, that further ‘wars’ are unfolding.
These new complexities raise, inter alia, a key question: Is that dark ‘billionaires’ network of some twenty-odd, influential globalists, who sit at the apex of the ‘deep state’ pyramid, still capable of ‘controlling’ events; or are events slipping from its hands – at least partially? We just do not know – but as the unfolding U.S. dynamics become ever more complex, it is possible that events could indeed be accelerating ahead of them.
Whilst the Federalists were ultimately to triumph on the issue of slavery, they failed on the core issue of Federalism: The South did ‘win’ a bit, despite military defeat. The U.S. states today remain ‘co-sovereign’ with Washington – the U.S. is no unitive nation state. This is the outer matryoshka to today’s stacking conflicts. This never settled divide is re-igniting – perfidy, fear and possible vengeance are in the air.
However, if the Reds ‘won’, in keeping the Feds at least partly at arms-length, through retaining a modicum of distinctive, state identity, they lost the subsequent ‘cultural war’ – and, lost it badly. “The culture wars are over” – the conservatives lost, and the liberals won, Harvard Law Professor Tushnet wrote in 2016. And, though it might have been otherwise, cultural compromise was eschewed: It ended with a liberal, ‘scorched-earth’ play. The earth that was ‘scorched’ was that of the conservative Right. And they feel it deeply.
Conservatives had believed that they could turn back the tide of aggressive 1960s liberalism by voting for conservative Republicans. White Evangelicals and Catholic “Reagan Democrats” came together to support GOP candidates who vowed to back socially conservative legislation, and to nominate conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the ultimate verdict on that political strategy was clear: It failed miserably, yet this cultural conflict has not been abandoned. The next ‘round’ of combat was hesitantly entrusted to Donald Trump.
This is the next matryoshka – and that layer has just exploded in a completely unexpected way. The triumphant victors of the culture war – the Liberals – are being overthrown – not just ousted, but forced into public humiliation and down on their knees. Not by their old adversary – the old-style (i.e. Burkean) conservatives. Here lies the shocker – because it is by the younger, ‘woke’ generation of 20–30 year-olds. As senior New York Times Editor, Bari Weiss, explains :
“The civil war inside the NY Times [that culminated in the sacking of the opinion editor for accepting an OpEd written by Senator Tom Cotton, is a ‘war’] between the (mostly young) ‘wokes’ – versus the mostly 40+ year-old liberals. It is the same one raging … across the country. The Old Guard lives by a set of principles we can broadly call civil libertarianism. They assumed they shared that worldview with the young people they hired, who called themselves liberals and progressives. But it was an incorrect assumption. The New Guard has a different worldview”.
“They call it “safetyism” in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically ‘safe’, trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech. I’ve been mocked by many people over the past few years for writing about the campus culture wars. They told me it was a sideshow. But this was always why it mattered: The people who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them. I’m in no way surprised by what has now exploded into public view.”
“Cotton’s OpEd, and the choice to run it … The question is: does his view fall outside those limits?”
“Maybe the answer is: ‘yes’”.
“If the answer is ‘yes’, it means that the views of more than half of all Americans are unacceptable. And perhaps they are.”
Shocking? Wait – that’s only the half of it. If we stop there, we are missing the wood for the trees. As a comment from the influential American Conservative Magazine, notes:
“If you listen to the rhetoric related to the unrest of the past two weeks, you’ll see there’s a distinct ideology at play: that of Identity Politics/Social Justice Warriors. Let’s call it the Woke Ideology, embodied by the 1619 Project, Safe Spaces, etc. Among its fundamental tenets is that race/gender/sexuality is the bedrock of individual identity, and that the American system is flawed at a fundamental level.
“Think of it this way: In the 1960s, the civil rights marchers pointed to our national ideals enshrined by our founding documents and rightly accused America of not living up to our self-professed ideals. They shared the values of those who opposed them, and a productive conversation and policy transformation occurred …
“Today, the Woke Ideology points to our national ideals and accuses the ideals themselves as being racist and corrupt. That is a huge, huge difference and we cannot ignore the importance of that difference. They are playing on a different plane — they are more invested in the [main] “text” than they are in the subtext”.
“Right now, the Woke Ideology is leveraging the good faith support of racial justice to advance its illiberal cause. There is very little accepted room between being “part of the problem” and going full “1619”. Just ask the liberal Mayor of Minneapolis – watch in real time as he realizes that there isn’t interest in policy solutions among the mob, only ideological purity. If you don’t commit to defunding the police, you are the enemy in the eyes of these adherents”.
As we watch Democratic leaders, corporate CEOs, and others being individually ‘called out’ to admit to America’s racist ‘essence’ and to get down on their knees, it is not simply the case that conservatism cannot exist in a country that has ceded control to Woke Ideology; for it is the case, too, that neither can liberalism. This new cult of the woke is neo-Trotskyite. Recall how the Trotskyites in the 19th Century ‘called out’ Russians to concede that Russia’s history, Russia’s spirituality, its culture, and its intellectual legacy, had been abuses of the people. These abuses were to be erased, so that a redeemed, internationalist Man, could take their place.
Yet, this sudden manifestation of the ‘church of woke’ reflect too, another stacking to our matryoshka. We can view it as a sideshow (and perhaps it will fade somewhat), yet, no matter how much Americans (like the commentator above), claim that racism has been corrected through a revisiting of America’s founding ideals, today’s protests, and their scale, show that it remains another side to the U.S. civil ‘war’ – this time racial – that is far from settled.
Initially, Anglo-Protestant individualism in the U.S. ran counter to any collective Black culture or identity emerging (slaves were deliberately widely dispersed, to avoid such coalescing). And though today’s identitarian politics was supposed to offer the flexibility to choose one’s identity, irrespective of concrete genetic factors, the outcome plainly is not working: It does not lend authenticity or belonging when crafted within radical individualism.
For these young ideologues to gain control sufficient to re-write America as a completely different ‘idea’ (as the Bolsheviks, similarly had hoped so to do), will require maintaining everyone in anxiety, in fear, and seeking ideological approval – on pain of losing (at minimum) one’s employment; and of suffering public disgrace. Many will scoff that it cannot happen here (wherever that be), but consider Weiss’ words: “I’ve been mocked by many people over the past few years for writing about the campus culture wars. They told me it was a sideshow. But this was always why it mattered: The people who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them. I’m in no way surprised by what has now exploded into public view”.
We have been here before. We saw ‘statues falling’ with Cromwell’s illiberal ‘model army’ in the 1630s. Those who objected were burned alive.
So where does this take us? Well, it seems that the putative Putsch against Trump by the ‘dark syndicate’ didn’t quite go to plan. It almost did – the Floyd killing sparked a genuine anger and response, and into this turmoil was inserted tradecraft and organisation (i.e. strategically placed bricks, crowd animators and one or two provocateurs). Looting started. It was all quite textbook.
Trump is well known to be viscerally ‘law and order’. And he almost went the full-Monty, ‘strongman’ act – he was on the cusp of deploying the U.S. military. Senator Cotton set the meme: “Let’s see how these anarchists respond, when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street”, he warned on Fox News.
And on cue, the military – serving and retired – jumped in, to reminded Trump about the Constitution, and to walk back military deployment, beyond that of the state National Guards. Trump symbolically was imprisoned in the White House (behind high fences); he was being taunted by the DC local authorities, and was inside fuming. But he didn’t take the bait. Perhaps he understood: You don’t have a ‘collective’ of serving and retired senior military leaders suddenly disavowing a President, unless given ‘a nod’ that they might be needed to step in – and take over.
The looting was ‘switched off’ as Trump dialled down his rhetoric, but on the other side of the ‘coup’ equation, the dismantling and de-funding of the city police forces, continues apace – now with a police-free “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” springing up in Seattle.
Would the ‘deep state’ want this? Let’s go a little deeper: Posit that a group of ‘influential billionaires’ have come to own the majority of American media. They control that by influencing who is hired, promoted and fired, throughout their networks. They also control a raft of tax-exempt foundations and NGOs which engage in many philanthropic activities and good works, but the big pools of money are focused particularly on medicine, biosecurity, the environment – and the technology of artificial intelligence. The syndicate’s sub-net reaches far. To be asked to assist it, in some small way, is seen as a privilege. It is for the greater good of the world – but might coincidentally, give a lift to one’s career path. To oppose, is to be not forgiven, or forgotten.
Here is the point: Most of the co-optees will be ‘40+ year olds’ who are well established in their careers and in the bureaucracy. It is precisely these whom the woke, neo-Trotskyites are targeting. They will be made to choose. And were we to recall history, it was those Russian liberals, who idealistically joined in by ‘taking the knee’, who were the first to be executed.
If you are 40+, will you risk your career by not kneeling, or kneeling, as Nancy Pelosi did? It is not clear what they will decide, but the woke ideologues will likely split the U.S. Blues into Old Guard and the new, ‘soft totalitarians’. This complicates matters for the ‘dark syndicate’. They are going to have to battle for control of their sub-net with the illiberal, woke ideologues – another stack to the matryoshka doll.
So, does this improve Trump’s chances for November? In one sense, it will: dismantling the city police will bring him not only the Law and Order constituency, but many Old Guard liberals who may see the woke ideology as more than just an attack on the police, but rather on America itself.
But, as one member of the ‘mega’-rich hinted darkly (before Minneapolis), the U.S. economy is over-heated. It is not easy to keep an over-cooked economy boiling at this intensity for long – and still there are long months yet to go until the elections.
Yes, it is the economy again: Can it be kept at the boil, and if not, will the ‘blame China’ meme successfully inoculate the President? Nobody knows.
And in which direction will Wall Street’s ‘grand-poohbahs’ fall? Their interest is financial and system-control preservation. It is true that Trump has his hand on the money-printing spigot, spitting out trillions. And that has huge attractions, particularly at the moment when, one of history’s biggest transfers of wealth is unfolding – but for how long is this mode of infinity ‘printing’ sustainable? The unpredictable Coronavirus phase two may partly dictate.
Maybe the long mooted crab-like, sideways shuffle out of dollars, and into some new digital currency – birthed by a World Central Bank will be overtaken by events – and is off the options list, for now. Possibly, the compromise for the grand-poohbahs will be both to take the knee, and to plug into Jerome Powell’s pumping cash pipeline: Trump stays on? Maybe. But does he possess the depth of character sufficient to defuse these deep diverse vectors pointing toward civil disturbance?
About the Author: Alastair CROOKE
Former British diplomat, founder and director
of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.
The above article (Statues Fall Amidst Civil War: The Coup vs. the Woke Revolution) was originally created and published by Strategic Culture Foundation and is republished here with permission and attribution to author Alastair CROOKE and strategic-culture.org.
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