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Shadi Hamid's Lesson in Regime-Change Propaganda
Learning the secret sauce of how regime-change propaganda works may make us more immune to it in the future.
Shadi Hamid, part-time propagandist for US regime-change wars and part-time writer at The Atlantic regurgitated an article entitled “Americans have lost sight of what Fascism means” Many academics politely explained to him what was wrong with the article. However, an academic muting the word “Shadi” seemed to upset him and tweeted an extremely unhinged rant, which culminating in this priceless tweet.
If we were to use his logic, this means that anyone who didn’t swear allegiance to the Third Reich would be inherently unreliable in analyzing the phenomenon of fascism. Of course, if Mr. Hamid had subscribed to our wonderful podcast and newsletter, he would have absolutely understood fascism. Fascism is an economic, political and social phenomenon that can arise under certain objective conditions that one can study.
Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, in his prison notebooks furthered the idea of both “hegemony” and “manufacture of consent.” The capitalist state has two spheres of existence: political power which is achieved through force, and cultural power which is achieved through the institutions that the capitalists build either using the state or independently. The cultural power provides a massive “misinformed consciousness.” Through the misinformed consciousness, capitalism self-perpetuates.
They continuously use the power of these institutions through culture, media, propaganda, educational to further their own interests. Gramsci also noticed that as long as the cultural power remains intact, the bourgeoise state does not need to use physical force to subdue the population.
Within this framework, the job of people like Mr. Hamid is pretty obvious: to maintain the false consciousness at any cost. Not only does Mr. Hamid misinform people about the true nature of fascism, he is preparing the public to accept a new Cold War with China.
The primary tool of a regime-change propagandist is chauvinism by implication. The simple logic of the chauvinist goes as follows: In my rightwing bourgeois dictatorship, which is all I know, therefore all that there is, the police violently repress anti-racism protesters, therefore Hong Kong protesters must be good leftwing freedom fighters, no further research necessary.
In the US, the protests were a result of organic outrage after the police choked a man to death on video and protesters had only been protesting for a week, when Sen. Tom Cotton, whose ancestors owned slaves, invoked using the anti-slave insurrection law.
In Hong Kong, however, the protests began for a different reason. While on vacation in Taiwan, a man murdered his pregnant girlfriend, then dragged her body in a suitcase and dumped her into the ocean. He left Taiwan and returned to Hong Kong. He told the Hong Kong Police how he murdered his 19-year-old pregnant girlfriend. Taiwan asked Hong Kong to extradite this man so he could stand trial over murdering his pregnant, 19-year old girlfriend. Hong Kong did not have any provisions for extradition. The Hong Kong executive body decided amend their fugitive act to create a provision, on a case-by-case basis, for extraditing individuals from countries that did not have an extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
In response to this bill, Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), an umbrella group funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, called for a protest against this bill. Unlike the US, the Hong Kong executive council listened to the demands of the protesters and withdrew the bill on June 15, 2019.
However, the protests still continued and their demands changed. Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon and one of the main funding sources for the “pro-democracy” NGOS, met with John Bolton.
To understand the egregiousness of the whole operation, imagine the following situation: Let’s say that China created an organization called “National Endowment for Communism and created NGOS for “Communism promotion” in the US, would these groups be allowed to operate at all in the US? Forget about organizing protests. Do you believe these NGOs would be able to keep their offices open?
Joshua Wong, one of the “student leaders” of the protest, has been seen jet-setting around the US, meeting with Nancy Pelosi, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and more.
Despite what the US media reported, these protesters openly admitted that they were trying to incite a “Tiananmen-square” like crackdown. Unable to do that, they turned increasingly violent. They targeted a trade-union building.
The “pro-democracy” protesters kidnapped and tied up a reporter who was merely reporting for a website.
They beat up another reporter.
They set fire to buildings.
In September, they put water into a train card reader in their protests.
The protesters set a man on fire after he said, “we are both Chinese. Let’s discuss this.”
The protesters publicly-made petrol bombs and used them all throughout the city.
The Hong Kong protesters also killed a poor street-cleaner with a brick. They had an arsenal of improvised homemade weapons.
In December, Neo-Nazis from Ukraine flocked to Hong Kong to “help” the protesters. The protesters made homemade bomb at a school that the police had to diffuse. Later, police in Hong Kong, also seized the largest cache of weapons in Hong Kong’s history. The protesters had stored in a university. Most of these weapons were insecure and endangered the lives of the university students. Universities decided to shut-down for weeks to make sure it was safe again.
Throughout all this, the Hong Kong Police killed 0 people. 19 people were killed by the police during the George Floyd protests.
Now, given this context, I hope we can see the difference between the two editorials in New York Times: Tom Cotton’s and Ms. Regina Ip. Hopefully, we can also understand why one editorial generated outrage while the other did not.
PS: Check out this hilarious video made by our friends at The Grayzone on Shadi Hamid.
In other news, this week, I appeared on Macro and Cheese to talk about Centrism. Check it out