We Were “Deceived and Gaslit for Years”, All in the Name of “Democracy”

Then “poof”, it collapsed overnight

The Editor at Large for the Wall Street Journal, Gerry Baker, says: ‘We’ve been “gaslit’ and deceived” – for years – “all in the name of ‘democracy’”. That deceit “collapsed” with the Presidential debate, Thursday’.

“Until the world saw the truth … [against] the ‘misinformation’ … the fiction of Mr. Biden’s competence … suggests they [the Democrats] evidently thought they could get away with promoting it. [Yet] by perpetuating that fiction they were also revealing their contempt for the voters and for democracy itself”.

Baker continues: The Cancer Industry: C... Sloan, Mark Best Price: $10.19 Buy New $12.75 (as of 05:04 UTC - Details)

“Biden succeeded because he made toeing the party line his life’s work. Like all politicians whose egos dwarf their talents, he ascended the greasy pole by slavishly following his party wherever it led … Finally—in the ultimate act of partisan servility, he became Barack Obama’s vice president, the summit of achievement for those incapable, yet loyal: the apex position for the consummate ‘yes man’”.

“But then, just as he was ready to drift into a comfortable and well-deserved obscurity, his party needed a front man … They sought a loyal and reliable figurehead, a flag of convenience, under which they could sail the progressive vessel into the deepest reaches of American life — on a mission to advance statism, climate extremism and self-lacerating wokery. There was no more loyal and convenient vehicle than Joe”.

If so, then who actually has been ‘pulling America’s strings’ these past years?

“You [the Democratic machine] don’t get to deceive, dissemble and gaslight us for years about how this man was both brilliantly competent at the job and a healing force for national unity – and now tell us, when your deception is uncovered, that it’s ‘bedtime for Bonzo’ – thanks for your service, and let’s move on”, Baker warns.

“[Now] it is going horribly wrong. Much of his party has no use for him anymore … in a remarkably cynical act of bait-and-switch, [they are trying to] swap him out for someone more useful to their cause. Part of me thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. I find myself in the odd position of wanting to root for poor mumbling Joe … It’s tempting to say to the Democratic machine frantically mobilizing against him: You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to deceive, dissemble and gaslight us for years”.

Something significant has snapped within ‘the system’. It is always tempting to situate such events in ‘immediate time’, but even Baker seems to allude to a longer cycle of gaslighting and deception – one that only now has suddenly burst into open view.

Such events – though seemingly ephemeral and of the moment – can be portents to deeper structural contradictions moving.

When Baker writes of Biden being the latest ‘flag of convenience’ under which the ruling strata could sail the progressive vessel into the deepest reaches of American life – “on a mission to advance statism, climate extremism and self-lacerating wokery” – it seems probable that he is referring to the 1970s era of the Trilateral Commission and the Club of Rome.

The 1970s and 1980s were the point at which the long arc of traditional liberalism gave place to an avowedly illiberal, mechanical ‘control system’ (managerial technocracy) that today fraudulently poses as liberal democracy.

Emmanuel Todd, the French anthropological historian, examines the longer dynamics to events unfolding in the present: The prime agent of change leading to the Decline of the West (La Défaite de l’Occident), he argues, was the implosion of ‘Anglo’ Protestantism in the U.S. (and England), with its entailed habits of work, individualism and industry – a creed whose qualities were held then to reflect God’s grace through material success, and, above all, to confirm membership of the divine ‘Elect’.

Whereas traditional liberalism had its mores, the decline of traditional values triggered the slide towards managerial technocracy, and to nihilism. Religion lingers on in the West, though in a ‘zombie’ state, Todd avers. Such societies, he argues, flounder – absent some guiding metaphysical sphere that provides people with non-material sustenance.

However, the incoming doctrine that only a wealthy financial élite, tech experts, leaders of multinational corporations and banks possess the required foresight and technological understanding to manipulate a complex and increasingly controlled system changed politics completely.

Mores were gone – and so was empathy. Many experienced the disconnect and the disregard of cold technocracy.

So when a senior WSJ editor tells us that the ‘deception and ‘gaslighting’ collapsed with the CNN Biden-Trump debate, we should surely pay attention; He is saying the scales finally fell from peoples’ eyes.

What was being gaslighted was the fiction of democracy and also that of America declaring itself – in its own scripture – to be the trailblazer and pathfinder of humanity: America as the exceptional nation: the singular, the pure-of-heart, the baptizer, and redeemer of all peoples despised and downtrodden; the “last, best hope of earth”.

The reality was very different. Of course, states can ‘live a lie’ for a long period. The underlying problem – the point Todd makes so compellingly – is that you can be successful in deceiving and manipulating public perceptions, but only up to a point.

The reality was, it simply was not working.

The same is true of ‘Europe’. The EU’s aspiration to become a global geo-political actor too, was contingent on gaslighting the public that France, Italy and Germany et al could continue to be real national entities – even as the EU scooped up all national decision-making prerogatives, by deceit. The mutiny at the recent European elections reflected this discontent.

Of course, Biden’s condition has been long known. So who then has been running affairs; making critical daily decisions about war, peace, the composition of the judiciary and the boundaries of state authority? The WSJ piece gives one answer: “Unelected advisers, party hacks, scheming family members and random hangers-on make the critical daily decisions” on these issues.

Maybe we have to reconcile to the fact that Biden is an angry, senile man who yells at his staff: “During meetings with aides who are putting together formal briefings, some senior officials have at times gone to great lengths to curate the information in an effort to avoid provoking a negative reaction”.

“It’s like, ‘You can’t include that, that will set him off’ or ‘Put that in, he likes that,’” said one senior administration official. “It’s very difficult and people are scared sh*tless of him.” The official added, “He doesn’t take advice from anyone other than those few top aides, and it becomes a perfect storm because he just gets more and more isolated from their efforts to control it”.

Seymour Hersh, the well-known investigative journalist reports:

“Biden’s drift into blankness has been ongoing for months, as he and his foreign policy aides have been urging a ceasefire that will not happen in Gaza whilst continuing to supply the weapons that make a ceasefire less likely. There’s a similar paradox in Ukraine, where Biden has been financing a war that cannot be won – yet refusing to participate in negotiations that could end the slaughter”.

“The reality behind all of this, as I’ve been told for months, is that Biden is simply ‘no longer there’ – in terms of understanding the contradictions of the policies he and his foreign policy advisers have been carrying out”.

On the one hand, Politico tells us: “Biden’s insular senior team are well acquainted with the longtime aides who continue to have the president’s ear: Mike Donilon, Steve Ricchetti and Bruce Reed, as well as Ted Kaufman and Klain on the outside”.

“It’s the same people — he has not changed those people for 40 years … The number of people who have access to the president has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller. They’ve been digging deeper into the bunker for months now.” And, the strategist said, “the more you get into the bunker, the less you listen to anyone”.

In Todd’s words then, decisions are made by a small ‘Washington village’.

Of course, Jake Sullivan and Blinken sit at the centre of what is called the ‘inter-agency’ view. This where policy mostly is discussed. It is not coherent – with its locus in the National Security Committee – but rather is spread through a matrix of interlocking ‘clusters’ that includes the Military Industrial Complex, Congressional leaders, Big Donors, Wall Street, the Treasury, the CIA, the FBI, a few cosmopolitan oligarchs and the princelings of the security-intelligence world.

All these ‘princes’ pretend to have a foreign policy view, and fight like cats to protect their fiefdom’s autonomy. Sometimes they channel their ‘take’ via the NSC, but if they can, they will ‘stovepipe’ it directly to one or other ‘key actor’ with the ear of one, or other, Washington ‘village’.

Nonetheless, at bottom, the 1992 Wolfowitz doctrine which underscored American supremacy at all costs, in a post-Soviet world – together with “stamping out rivals, wherever they may emerge” – still today remains the ‘current doctrine’ framing the ‘inter-agency’ baseline. Theory of Money and Cr... Ludwig von Mises Best Price: $2.46 Buy New $8.54 (as of 06:40 UTC - Details)

Dysfunction at the heart of a seemingly functioning organization may persist for years without any real public awareness or appreciation of the descent into dysfunctionality. But then suddenly – when a crisis hits, or Presidential debate misfires – ‘poof’ and we see clearly the collapse of the manipulation that has confined discourse to within the various Washington villages.

In this light, some of the structural contradictions that Todd noted as contributory factors to western decline become unexpectedly ‘illuminated’ by events: Baker highlighted one: The key Faustian bargain: the pretence of a liberal democracy operating in tandem with a ‘classic’ liberal economy versus the reality of an illiberal oligarchic leadership sitting atop a hyper-financialised corporate economy that has both sucked the life from the classic organic economy, and created toxic inequalities too.

The second agent of western decline is Todd’s observation that the implosion of the Soviet Union rendered the U.S. so cock-a-hoop that the latter triggered a paradoxical unleashing of global ‘Rules-Based Order’ expansion of empire versus the reality that the West was already being consumed from its roots upwards.

The third agent to decline lay, Todd argues, with America declaring itself to be the greatest military nation on earth – versus the reality of an America that has long rid itself of much of its manufacturing capacity (particularly the military capacity), yet elects to clash with a stabilized Russia, a great power returned, and with China which has instantiated itself as the world’s manufacturing Behemoth (including militarily).

These unresolved paradoxes became the agents of western decline, Todd maintained. He has a point.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.