(CJ Opinion) — I just want to briefly document some of the ways I’m seeing the 2015/2016 anti-establishment sentiment of Trump’s base being hijacked and re-routed into supporting some highly conspicuous pro-establishment interests this year.
In 2016 and 2017, much of the anti-establishment sentiment on what passes for America’s political “left” today was co-opted and re-routed into supporting longstanding establishment agendas against WikiLeaks, Russia, and Syria. I watched many Bernie Sanders supporters I’d fought alongside in 2015 and 2016 succumb one by one to the establishment Russiagate mind virus; it felt like watching a zombie apocalypse unfold, infection by infection.
Fearmongering about Trump was used to herd people who support peace into cheering for ancient neoconservative agendas against Russia, making everyone terrified of a country they’d previously never thought much about using still-unproven and plot hole-riddled claims about hacking and election meddling. This in turn was used to create narratives about “Russian propaganda”, which was used to poison the well against anyone who questioned the warmongering establishment Syria narrative. It was also used to turn people against WikiLeaks who had supported it since its publications about Bush administration war crimes, and in the case of Berners even during the 2016 DNC/Podesta email drops.
In exactly the same way, I’ve been watching a lot of Trump supporters herded into supporting longtime neoconservative agendas they would surely have claimed to oppose in 2016. Because of the establishment psyop known as “QAnon” and Trump’s near-total abandonment of the anti-interventionist platform he campaigned on, a good chunk of Trump’s base who in 2016 would never have been on board with attacks on WikiLeaks or another regime change agenda in the Middle East are now fully on board with both of those things.
The WikiLeaks Twitter account has criticized the QAnon phenomenon multiple times, initially because of false, damaging rumors among Q enthusiasts that WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange was no longer at the Ecuadorian embassy, then later because of its calls for regime change in Iran, which of course brought the wrath of the blind-faith Q followers down upon them and widespread rumors that they are now “compromised”. This despite the fact that the transparency advocacy organization has always since its inception stood in opposition to US regime change interventionism, and the fact that it would have every incentive in the world to oppose the false narrative that Assange no longer needs assistance being freed from his arbitrary detention at the embassy.
Anti-WikiLeaks sentiment among the MAGA crowd escalated much further when the outlet published a searchable database of the LinkedIn information of ICE agents. Because of the right-wing support for US policing institutions, as well as their support for tight immigration control, this brought about a blind, irrational backlash from Trump supporters. The word “doxxing” has been absurdly thrown around despite the fact that the database consists solely of employment information that ICE agents had already made public themselves.
This sentiment appears to arise largely from the impression Trump supporters may have gotten from their casual WikiLeaks support in 2016 that every single thing WikiLeaks releases contains earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting information. In reality the database simply makes it a bit easier to bring transparency and accountability to a faceless, nameless, powerful government organization. Not every WikiLeaks publication is a major bombshell, but the assumption to the contrary by right-wing casual observers makes it seem as though they’d provided a vast amount of information on ICE agents that didn’t exist anywhere previously.
The support for interventionism in Iran has been even more disappointing. CIA agents ramped up covert operations in Iran last year, just like they did with Libya and Syria, and now just like in Libya and Syria we are seeing protests across the country, some of them highly suspicious-looking. Just as with Libya and Syria, it is entirely likely that we will soon see violence of suspicious origin erupt as a result of these protests, and just like with Libya and Syria we can then expect to see widespread condemnation of Tehran and loud calls for western humanitarian interventionism.
Instead of remaining vigilant about these very real risks, many Trump supporters who’d kept their skepticism goggles firmly in place during Russiagate and Syria interventionist propaganda have removed them completely due to sheer partisan hackery, and now they’re loudly cheering on the Iranian protesters. Critical thinking is completely dead in those circles. They regurgitate party lines in support of a longstanding neoconservative agenda against one of George W Bush’s “Axis of Evil” countries, then claim they’re doing it because “Trump is fighting the deep state.” Ridiculous.
Back during the Bush years, it was very easy to funnel America’s political right into their proper pens using the echo chambers of Fox News and AM radio. Karl Rove could issue a decree at some think tank round table on Monday morning and it would be standard water cooler conversation among US conservatives by Tuesday afternoon. In today’s modern media environment things are much more difficult to control, so they’ve had to come up with new means of manipulation like QAnon, Trump’s Twitter account, and the various young MAGA pundits who understand the new media environment. And, while there do remain critical thinkers on the American political right, for the most part this establishment propaganda system seems just as streamlined and effective as during the Bush administration.
Opinion by Caitlin Johnstone