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Three Lessons for the Left from the Mueller Inquiry
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Here are three important lessons for the progressive left to consider now that it is clear the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russiagate is never going to uncover collusion between Donald Trump’s camp and the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election.

Painting the pig’s face

  1. The left never had a dog in this race. This was always an in-house squabble between different wings of the establishment. Late-stage capitalism is in terminal crisis, and the biggest problem facing our corporate elites is how to emerge from this crisis with their power intact. One wing wants to make sure the pig’s face remains painted, the other is happy simply getting its snout deeper into the trough while the food lasts.

Russiagate was never about substance, it was about who gets to image-manage the decline of a turbo-charged, self-harming neoliberal capitalism.

The leaders of the Democratic party are less terrified of Trump and what he represents than they are of us and what we might do if we understood how they have rigged the political and economic system to their permanent advantage.

It may look like Russiagate was a failure, but it was actually a success. It deflected the left’s attention from endemic corruption within the leadership of the Democratic party, which supposedly represents the left. It rechannelled the left’s political energies instead towards the convenient bogeymen targets of Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Mired in corruption

What Mueller found – all he was ever going to find – was marginal corruption in the Trump camp. And that was inevitable because Washington is mired in corruption. In fact, what Mueller revealed was the most exceptional forms of corruption among Trump’s team while obscuring the run-of-the-mill stuff that would have served as a reminder of the endemic corruption infecting the Democratic leadership too.

An anti-corruption investigation would have run much deeper and exposed far more. It would have highlighted the Clinton Foundation, and the role of mega-donors like James Simons, George Soros and Haim Saban who funded Hillary’s campaign with one aim in mind: to get their issues into a paid-for national “consensus”.

Further, in focusing on the Trump camp – and relative minnows like Paul Manafort and Roger Stone – the Russiagate inquiry actually served to shield the Democratic leadership from an investigation into the much worse corruption revealed in the content of the DNC emails. It was the leaking / hacking of those emails that provided the rationale for Mueller’s investigations. What should have been at the front and centre of any inquiry was how the Democratic party sought to rig its primaries to prevent party members selecting anyone but Hillary as their presidential candidate.

So, in short, Russiagate has been two years of wasted energy by the left, energy that could have been spent both targeting Trump for what he is really doing rather than what it is imagined he has done, and targeting the Democratic leadership for its own, equally corrupt practices.

Trump empowered

  1. But it’s far worse than that. It is not just that the left wasted two years of political energy on Russiagate. At the same time, they empowered Trump, breathing life into his phoney arguments that he is the anti-establishment president, a people’s president the elites are determined to destroy.

Trump faces opposition from within the establishment not because he is “anti-establishment” but because he refuses to decorate the pig’s snout with lipstick. He is tearing the mask off late-stage capitalism’s greed and self-destructiveness. And he is doing so not because he wants to reform or overthrow turbo-charged capitalism but because he wants to remove the last, largely cosmetic constraints on the system so that he and his friends can plunder with greater abandon – and destroy the planet more quickly.

The other wing of the neoliberal establishment, the one represented by the Democratic party leadership, fears that exposing capitalism in this way – making explicit its inherently brutal, wrist-slitting tendencies – will awaken the masses, that over time it will risk turning them into revolutionaries. Democratic party leaders fear Trump chiefly because of the threat he poses to the image of the political and economic system they have so lovingly crafted so that they can continue enriching themselves and their children.

Trump’s genius – his only genius – is to have appropriated, and misappropriated, some of the language of the left to advance the interests of the 1 per cent. When he attacks the corporate “liberal” media for having a harmful agenda, for serving as propagandists, he is not wrong. When he rails against the identity politics cultivated by “liberal” elites over the past two decades – suggesting that it has weakened the US – he is not wrong. But he is right for the wrong reasons.

TV’s version of clickbait

The corporate media, and the journalists they employ, are propagandists – for a system that keeps them wealthy. When Trump was a Republican primary candidate, the entire corporate media loved him because he was TV’s equivalent of clickbait, just as he had been since reality TV began to usurp the place of current affairs programmes and meaningful political debate.

The handful of corporations that own the US media – and much of corporate America besides – are there both to make ever-more money by expanding profits and to maintain the credibility of a political and economic system that lets them make ever more money.

The “liberal” corporate media shares the values of the Democratic party leadership. In other words, it is heavily invested in making sure the pig doesn’t lose its lipstick. By contrast, Fox News and the shock-jocks, like Trump, prioritise making money in the short term over the long-term credibility of a system that gives them licence to make money. They care much less whether the pig’s face remains painted.

So Trump is right that the “liberal” media is undemocratic and that it is now propagandising against him. But he is wrong about why. In fact, all corporate media – whether “liberal” or not, whether against Trump or for him – is undemocratic. All of the media propagandises for a rotten system that keeps the vast majority of Americans impoverished. All of the media cares more for Trump and the elites he belongs to than it cares for the 99 per cent.

Gorging on the main course

Similarly, with identity politics. Trump says he wants to make (a white) America great again, and uses the left’s obsession with identity as a way to energise a backlash from his own supporters.

ORDER IT NOW

Just as too many on the left sleep-walked through the past two years waiting for Mueller – a former head of the FBI, the US secret police, for chrissakes! – to save them from Trump, they have been manipulated by liberal elites into the political cul-de-sac of identity politics.

Just as Mueller put the left on standby, into waiting-for-the-Messiah mode, so simple-minded, pussy-hat-wearing identity politics has been cultivated in the supposedly liberal bastions of the corporate media and Ivy League universities – the same universities that have turned out generations of Muellers and Clintons – to deplete the left’s political energies. While we argue over who is most entitled and most victimised, the establishment has carried on raping and pillaging Third World countries, destroying the planet and siphoning off the wealth produced by the rest of us.

These liberal elites long ago worked out that if we could be made to squabble among ourselves about who was most entitled to scraps from the table, they could keep gorging on the main course.

The “liberal” elites exploited identity politics to keep us divided by pacifying the most maginalised with the offer of a few additional crumbs. Trump has exploited identity politics to keep us divided by inflaming tensions as he reorders the hierarchy of “privilege” in which those crumbs are offered. In the process, both wings of the elite have averted the danger that class consciousness and real solidarity might develop and start to challenge their privileges.

The Corbyn experience

  1. But the most important lesson of all for the left is that support among its ranks for the Mueller inquiry against Trump was foolhardy in the extreme.

Not only was the inquiry doomed to failure – in fact, not only was it designed to fail – but it has set a precedent for future politicised investigations that will be used against the progressive left should it make any significant political gains. And an inquiry against the real left will be far more aggressive and far more “productive” than Mueller was.

If there is any doubt about that look to the UK. Britain now has within reach of power the first truly progressive politician in living memory, someone seeking to represent the 99 per cent, not the 1 per cent. But Jeremy Corbyn’s experience as the leader of the Labour party – massively swelling the membership’s ranks to make it the largest political party in Europe – has been eye-popping.

I have documented Corbyn’s travails regularly in this blog over the past four years at the hands of the British political and media establishment. You can find many examples here.

Corbyn, even more so than the small, new wave of insurgency politicians in the US Congress, has faced a relentless barrage of criticism from across the UK’s similarly narrow political spectrum. He has been attacked by both the rightwing media and the supposedly “liberal” media. He has been savaged by the ruling Conservative party, as was to be expected, and by his own parliamentary Labour party. The UK’s two-party system has been exposed as just as hollow as the US one.

The ferocity of the attacks has been necessary because, unlike the Democratic party’s success in keeping a progressive leftwinger away from the presidential campaign, the UK system accidentally allowed a socialist to slip past the gatekeepers. All hell has broken out ever since.

Simple-minded identity politics

What is so noticeable is that Corbyn is rarely attacked over his policies – mainly because they have wide popular appeal. Instead he has been hounded over fanciful claims that, despite being a life-long and very visible anti-racism campaigner, he suddenly morphed into an outright anti-semite the moment party members elected him leader.

I will not rehearse again how implausible these claims are. Simply look through these previous blog posts should you be in any doubt.

But what is amazing is that, just as with the Mueller inquiry, much of the British left – including prominent figures like Owen Jones and the supposedly countercultural Novara Media – have sapped their political energies in trying to placate or support those leading the preposterous claims that Labour under Corbyn has become “institutionally anti-semitic”. Again, the promotion of a simple-minded identity politics – which pits the rights of Palestinians against the sensitivities of Zionist Jews about Israel – was exploited to divide the left.

The more the left has conceded to this campaign, the angrier, the more implacable, the more self-righteous Corbyn’s opponents have become – to the point that the Labour party is now in serious danger of imploding.

A clarifying moment

Were the US to get its own Corbyn as president, he or she would undoubtedly face a Mueller-style inquiry, and one far more effective at securing the president’s impeachment than this one was ever going to be.

That is not because a leftwing US president would be more corrupt or more likely to have colluded with a foreign power. As the UK example shows, it would be because the entire media system – from the New York Times to Fox News – would be against such a president. And as the UK example also shows, it would be because the leaderships of both the Republican and Democratic parties would work as one to finish off such a president.

In the combined success-failure of the Mueller inquiry, the left has an opportunity to understand in a much more sophisticated way how real power works and in whose favour it is exercised. It is moment that should be clarifying – if we are willing to open our eyes to Mueller’s real lessons.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, Neoliberalism, Russiagate 
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  1. jo6pac says:

    The demodogs win or lose this round to be used as a fund raiser. They love money but hate power were they might have to help Main Street in the New Amerika.

  2. Altai says:

    A shorter article could have been:
    Don’t listen to neocons, ever!

    Though I suppose that’s just good advice for everybody.

  3. Samantha says:

    Lesson #4: Don’t trust establishment media, whether right or left. Choose independent, honest sources: https://swprs.org/media-navigator/

  4. Haven’t you figured it out yet? Leftists don’t give a damn about any real-world results either positive or negative. For them, “It’s the thought that counts”, it’s their morality and holy narratives that must be worshiped at all costs. The resultant fallout is unimportant.

  5. onebornfree says: • Website

    J. Cook says: “And that was inevitable because Washington is mired in corruption.”

    You don’t say.

    So this means what? That “we” need even more government? Another saviour? More mob rule [i.e.”democracy”]? A US version of Corbyn?

    You’re kidding, right?

    This just in:

    “Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be “reformed”,”improved”, nor “limited” in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature.” onebornfree

    “Dreams [Matrix Blues]”:

    “Dreams, you’ve been hanging on
    To dreams when all your dreaming should be done
    Dreams, about the way the world could be
    You keep dreaming , despite reality

    “Dreams, that governments will keep you free,
    Dreams, that they ain’t just war and slavery…”

    Regards, onebornfree

  6. Anon[253] • Disclaimer says:

    Quite a humorous article.

    Really did not need to be so verbose.

    Ok, so we have known since the 60’s that Capitalist’s Pigs were and are PIGS! And that “Greed Kills” just like the anti-Drug Commercial “Speed Kills”. Now we both more extreme Capitalism destroying the very fabric of human society at all corners of the Globe and an Amphetamine Crisis (Meth is believe its called) that is hollowing out the lower middle class.

    Progress is what the Elites might call it.

    Identity Politics, Racism and LGBT are used as hammers to decimate those having honest thoughts about what is normal, not normal of just plain #ucked Up. (Really has put off this Left leaning liberal minded Old Guy permanently.)

    Now we know Hillary is a Rabid Criminal Scumbag Serial Killer but because she has a twat she escapes the Rule of Law because #metoo might have a shit fit.

    We also know that Barry is also a Rabid Criminal Scumbag Serial Killer but because he is only half white, he escapes the Rule of Law because Black Lives Matter might have a shit fit.

    Yes Mueller was a Circus Act from the Getgo and not a very good one either since a significant # of us have had to eat enough BS in our lives that we don’t need to taste it, just the look and smell are enough to tell us what it is.

    So if “The Donald” is successful in exposing the true face of the Pig all in all its a good thing. If you take the long view, the Russian Revolution was a Clusterfuck created by Jews. So is the CLustefuck that is America today. It took multiple generations for the Russians to get things sorted out and Vlad the Impailer has done quite well in my opinion. Unfortunately, most of us won’t be around in 2100 or so when whoever fixes the shitpile the world calls America today. Maybe we should outsource and see if Vlad could at be available for some weekend work.

    • Replies: @HallParvey
  7. Bravo! An excellent presentation and analysis. Spot on!

    • Agree: renfro
  8. Priss Factor [AKA "Asagirian"] says: • Website

    Conspiracy theory cooking up conspiracy theory. There was a conspiracy of deep state and media to push a conspiracy theory about Trump and Russia.
    Conspiracies blame others of conspiracies. A collusion blaming others of collusion.

  9. Anonymous[349] • Disclaimer says:

    I still think there is merit to the argument that Trump presented a genuine threat to the Establishment on the pillars of Neoliberalism: 1) trade agreements and 2) foreign military intervention. Getting out of unfair trade deals, bringing the troops home, and rapprochement with Russia were major platforms during the campaign. That is why the Establishment was so determined to obstruct and/or get rid of him.

    His biggest mistakes were a) firing Bannon who was the intellectual basis behind Trump’s movement b) firing Comey, which gave ammunition to the RussiaGate hysteria c) listening to Jared Kushner and firing Chris Christie, which guaranteed a slow and incompetent filling of administrative positions.

    He is still delivering to his base on the religious right and the wealthy by appointing conservative judges and rolling back taxes and regulations. The failure of the Mueller investigation to deliver any grounds to impeach him means he has a decent chance at reelection.

  10. This article is really hitting the Bulls eye. If everybody of those Bozos would be investigated we would find out that each and every one of them is cheating on taxes.

  11. Beckow says:

    …Trump is right for the wrong reasons.

    This is why today’s left is dysfunctional. They obsess about ‘why’s’, when all that matters is what the policies are. It is not within our power to know others’ motivation – there is a biological reason for it, our minds are ours to keep, a rather nice feature that we should cherish.

    Trump protects the labor market when he keeps the cheap Third World workers away. Either through better trade policies, or with his proposed (and still not done) restrictions on migrant cheap labor. What does it matter why he does it? Maybe he is an opportunist, maybe he has cultural reasons, maybe he doesn’t know himself. Why would any rational person care?

    We have the modern ‘left’ that wants to turn what is remaining from the West into a multi-cultural Third World sh.thole. They love it – they love the visuals, the feelings, the revenge they get on ‘white bigots’. Trump is explicitly against it. That’s all one needs to know. The belly-aching about Corbyn – another open borders fanatic – is another way to prop up the globalist neo-liberals. Corbyn in power would do nothing other than speed up the destruction of UK’s labor market. His Paki assistants would insist on nothing less.

  12. G. Poulin says:

    This idiot seems to think that the “left” and the “establishment” are two different things.

    • Agree: MBlanc46
    • Replies: @Mike from Jersey
  13. There are no lessons to be learned.
    The jew media is propaganda and lies.
    They KNOW they are spewing lies.
    That’s what jews DO.
    This is not a new discovery.

    • Agree: apollonian
  14. Today in self-proclaimed “democratic” countries “left” and “right” are nothing more than two hands of the same puppet master. Those who still believe that there is any substantive difference between Democratic and Republican party are beyond help. But as most voters are beyond help, the show of “democracy” and “elections” will go on until the Empire crashes and burns.

    Yes, Russiagate was a pack of lies from the get go. So were Iraq WMDs. Did it help Iraqis? Or Libyans, Syrians, and others murdered by “democratic” bombs and missiles? The flop of Mueller “investigation” will help Americans to exactly the same extent.

    Mr. Cook should remember that no matter how right he is, fewer than 1% of Americans (or Europeans, for that matter) will read him, as anything approaching the truth won’t ever be allowed in MSM. So, it is doomed to be confined to “alternative” media, which very few people ever read.

    Finally, talk about lessons is delusional. Hegel was right: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history”.

    • Replies: @renfro
  15. @G. Poulin

    G. Poulin,

    Spin doctoring has made concepts like “left” or “right” meaningless in modern American.

    People who I would consider “rightists” are denominated as “leftists” for the purposes of sheer demagoguery. But really these terms no longer have any real meaning in the dialogue of modern day America.

    I despise the “establishment” or “deep state” or whatever one wants to call it. But I would describe myself as a “leftist.” I am not a leftist in the sense of wanting communism but I am a leftist in terms of opposing runaway capitalism, in opposing war, opposing inequality, empowering individuals against vested interests and so on. One thing I am certainly not, is someone in favor of the “deep state.”

  16. “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyer.” – Shakespear

    • Replies: @renfro
  17. Agent76 says:

    Mar 4, 2019 Tom Fitton: President Trump a ‘Crime Victim’ by Illegal Deep State DOJ & FBI Abuses

    February 16, 2019 The FBI Came Close to Staging a Coup

    Andrew McCabe, a senior bureau official, provided the alarming evidence in a “60 Minutes” interview, writes John Kiriakou.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/02/16/the-fbi-came-close-to-staging-a-coup/

  18. G. Poulin says:
    @Mike from Jersey

    Simple. You’re yesterday’s leftist. The deep staters you despise are today’s leftists. That would make guys like you reactionaries, wouldn’t it?

  19. Forbes says:

    The Mueller inquiry was an establishment squabble between two wings (two metaphorical pigs–one adorned with lipstick, the other with its snout in the trough) that empowered Trump, yet left-wing support for the inquiry was foolhardy.

    In less than 2,100 words–and just as nonsensical…

  20. TG says:

    “It may look like Russiagate was a failure, but it was actually a success.” Well said. Kudos.

  21. Nice to see JC’s articles here . . .

  22. Russiagate is a story about greed and lust for power manifesting as treachery and corruption. As a hoax it is notable for it’s size and duration and damage done. But it is nothing at all compared to 9/11. I am impressed by the sheer silliness of Russiagate and the tenacious ignorance of those who still believe the corporate media.

    But lessons for the left? None that I can see.

  23. renfro says:
    @joeshittheragman

    “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyer.” – Shakespear

    No, first thing we do is kill all the politicians.

    With them removed we can then go after the zios, neos and vulture capitalist.

  24. Jason Liu says:

    You’re missing the most important takeaway: Should’ve persecuted the left before they gained enough power to persecute you

  25. @onebornfree

    Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be “reformed”,”improved”, nor “limited” in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature.”

    Ok, so how does infrastructure get built in a coherent manner without taxes? Are you going to pay a toll going past every house on your street?
    How about the armed forces? Are they going to arm themselves and fight for nothing, or will you return to the medieval method of dividing the loot in an orderly fashion?
    Central banks are not necessarily privately owned. What’s the difference between the Fed printing dollars and the Bank of Fred printing dollars? None, both are a promise to pay. Central banks do not have to be privately owned. The Bank of North Dakota is government owned. It’s debt to GDP ratio is low. Government owned central banks borrow against future income at 0% interest.
    There have always been taxes, it’s the price of civilization. The problem is that taxes have been shifted from import duties to consumption taxes and personal income taxes.

    Come back to the real world, old son.

  26. Cook is off base about Corbyn. It’s one thing to be balanced on the issue of Israel and Palestine, but something else again to be all in on continued 3rd world mass immigration to the UK. That is far, far, from representing the 99%.

  27. The sad, intractable truth is, wingers such as yourselves did not oppose Russiagate because it was false. You opposed it because liberals supported it. And on and on it goes. What would you do if liberals supported something that was true?

    3 guesses and the first two don’t count. You would oppose them of course.

    • Agree: renfro
  28. Anon[349] • Disclaimer says:

    Dogwhistling Shakespeare was an antijewite. God rest his soul.

  29. @obwandiyag

    I oppose Russiagate and Liberals. Russiagate because it is false. Liberals because I am white.

  30. @Anon

    So if “The Donald” is successful in exposing the true face of the Pig all in all its a good thing. If you take the long view, the Russian Revolution was a Clusterfuck created by Jews. So is the CLustefuck that is America today. It took multiple generations for the Russians to get things sorted out and Vlad the Impailer has done quite well in my opinion. Unfortunately, most of us won’t be around in 2100 or so when whoever fixes the shitpile the world calls America today.

    Profound observation.

    One definition of an educated man is one who can hold passionately to two divergent opinions at the same time. This explains much of the observable discordance in the world today.

    The world of 2100 will have evolved from what exists today. Fearing the distant future is a waste of time. The near term is another matter. Several generations of Russians had to endure the results of the Communist overthrow of the Royals of the day. Recovery, if it happens, can be a long time coming.

  31. Rurik says:
    @obwandiyag

    You opposed it because liberals supported it.

    nope

    just look at the support from the Alt-right (your ultimate ‘wingers’) for what Ilhan Omar is pointing out. Or Cynthia McKinney or all the people who support Tulsi Gabbard. Not because of their political views, but because these courageous gals are quite simply right.

    Ironically, it is the left that goose steps to their marching orders. It is the left that supported the Russiagate hysterical farce, even when we all knew it was a pile of bullshit.

    It is the left that will support Jussie Smollett, knowing he’s a lying POS.

    It’s the left that supports Obama as he bombs Libya into the stone age, and drones villagers in Third World countries, while eviscerating our constitutional civil liberties here at home.

    ‘Is he black? Then he can do no wrong’, is their unspoken mantra. Unless of course the black man or woman is a conservative, then all support goes out the window.

    Conversely, the ‘wingers’ are first to condemn Trump for recognizing the Golan Heights, or illegally occupying other people’s sovereign nations, like Syria or meddling in Venezuela.

    All while there seems to be no daylight between the progressive left and the Cuckervative Inc. neocons.

    The left loved John McBloodstain, and heralded that fiend as if he was a great statesman.

    Whereas the only time the left heralded Trump was when he illegally fired missiles into Syria. Then Trump was ‘presidential’.

    Where are the leftist voices of compassion for the people of Yemen, eh?

    That nation is under a starvation blockade, and yet the only people I hear condemning it are guys like Paul Craig Roberts, and Pat Buchannan. With Rand Paul leading the drive to end all support for the atrocities.

    The progressive left couldn’t give a rip about them. Or the people of Syria or Libya or any of the other nations that the ZUSA has rained bombs down upon.

    All anyone has to do is read the NYT to find out what all progressive leftists are ‘thinking’ at any given moment. That’s where they get their marching orders, and then goose-step to the tune as one.

  32. @onebornfree

    This article is choosing response #2 in the tankie talking points checklist: “We just need to appoint the right TOP MEN! Once we have that, we can finally implement REAL SOCIALISM! (AKA response #1)”

  33. @obwandiyag

    Umm, you forgot your standard “stupid white people” anecdote. Trolls have to stick to their schtick or they’re just wasting everybody’s time.

  34. @Mike from Jersey

    Damn, Mike. Here I was, thinking you were one of the good guys. Damn. I’m embarrassed as shit over here.

  35. Mike-SMO says:

    Interesting although oblivious view from the Left. The Uniparty (Corruptocrats, GOPe, Cuckservatives, etc) will target any threat to their power. For them both Trump and the Identity Left are just other threats to power and profit, or another distraction to be hung from the parapets.

    Hey, Mueller was entertainment for the peasants. Political soap-opera. It accomplished nothing except keep the Uniparty out of the field of fire. Thus it was a great success.

    Sturm and Drang while, thus far, the major players have been unscathed. Next time, the “Left” could get mauled (at least trimmed) so they can be brought out for the next spectacle.

    Leftist attacks on “White” anything just allows the Uniparty to prosper in darkness. Nancy and Chuckie thank you for your senseless participation.

    Enjoy the show…

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