The Dawn of Fetishism
by Guy Walker
by Guy Walker
This man wants to rule the world.
After the initial depression-induced hilarity fades from watching a Republican Governor who is running for President do push-ups in a miasmic display of retarded cryptofascism, and you are left wondering what obscenity did you just witness, wondering if you should call your children to come inside and lock all the doors, if you should drink a handle of whiskey immediately, if you should punch a wall, or even worse, post it on your Facebook page . . . after all that fades, you are still left wondering, How did we degrade the body politic into such an androgynous ass of failure? How did this man (if what he is can be called a man) corral the masses to elect him as their guardian and governor?
I wonder sometimes if Jefferson and Paine feared the inevitable collapse of Reason, if they knew the Dawn of Fetishism was near the horizon. My elders tell me it’s always been bad, we’ve always been dissatisfied and antagonistic towards the State, that my despondent routine is nothing original . . . even Plato believed all existing governments were cheap corruptions of virtue, and beyond redemption. In Greek, The Republic can also be translated as The Ideal State . . . Plato was a philosopher of idealism, of unachievable Arcadias, unmolested landscapes for Pan. Given this pretext, humans are flaccid emerald-nutted slaveholders, dressed as clowns, twirling in their tents. Bobby Jindal doesn’t have a chance at winning the presidency. But his cruel attempt at trying to be fun and relatable isn’t the exception. Ted Cruz did impressions of characters from The Simpsons; he also grilled bacon wrapped around the barrel of a machine gun as he fired it, saying that this is how Texans grill bacon. Donald Trump hailed his elephant-killing sons as great Americans. Jeb Bush sung “Slow Jam The News” with Jimmy Fallon, as The Roots played the harmonies and Jimmy Fallon did his predictable almost-laughing side-act, in a sort of new-age nostalgia for dystopia.
The cartoonish perversion of politicians’ attempts at being fun and relatable through social media is the caliginous simulacrum of retardation. They treat us like children from the 1990’s, sucking on popsicles in front of Nickelodeon. Are we supposed to laugh? Are we supposed to turn to our girlfriends, and discuss how his relatability now outshines the entire GOP’s misogynistic platform? But then again, Jindal and others are speaking directly to us; they are articulating a very sullen modernity of performance and fetishism, projected through Buzzfeed videos and emojis. Guy Debord calls it “the principle of commodity fetishism” that dominates our society. The tangible real world of women, men, poverty, heartache, literature, police killings, Sibelius, death, incest, enormous fields of wild flowers, they are all exchanged for this awful fraudulent world of viral videos and listicles. Videos such as this impose themselves onto our reality, like a cave of shadows and shackles. But they are self-imposed. More Huxlian than Orwellian, a kind of self-imposed fetish with stupification and apathy. Every time I open Facebook I regret it. Another video of a raccoon eating grapes at the dinner table, or a cockatoo screaming into a cup. The world disappears into a sempiternal feed of viral commodity, of tufted caricatures flexing their Botox brawn. The man smiling like a pedophile and then doing push-ups against Buzzfeed employees is no longer the man who hates gays, hates women, hates Mexicans, defunds public education, requires schools to teach intelligent design, refuses government funds to expand Medicaid, votes to extend the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (rejecting provisions under the Geneva Convention), among various other fascist attempts of governing. He is no longer that man. He is an intangible abstract détournement who has nudged the United States a little further towards the edge, into the Abyss of Fuck. Jindal isn’t even interesting enough to talk about. He, like Trump, is so ugly that it has caused him to hate the world. But it is interesting to examine how far we have come: Howard Dean was ruined when he screamed a little too flamboyantly back in 2004, whereas today, Donald Trump can call Megyn Kelly “bleeding from her eyes, bleeding from her wherever,” and somehow get away with it. This is the man who owns Miss Universe. When he called Rosie O’Donnell a fat pig and a disgusting animal, the attendees of the debate roared with enthusiasm. They loved it. In the secondary GOP debate, with the lower-polling candidates, one of the questions was to describe Hillary Clinton in two words—a question that can only serve baseless name-calling. It’s a performance of cruel perversions, like the rape of Reason under a melancholy dawn.
The principle of commodity fetishism is the force on the other side. It allows insane men and women to come to power, to become fascists, to star in viral videos as they do it. There is nothing real anymore. Modernity itself seems fraudulent. Even sex is becoming a sordid wet humping, a pornographic imitation of what we saw on PornHub. Fake people with fake profiles ensue. A girl who I apparently slept with made a fake profile on Facebook and contacted at least several women I’ve slept with recently and told them to no longer fuck me. My love life totally sucks now, and I totally want her back, whoever she is. But this is the sort of unprovocative simulation of lust and ownership that Baudrillard wrote about, in that symbols and signs are now the content of the world, and they act and react merely as a simulation of reality. There are no actual bodies doing anything, no mad mad dancing in the middle of the night . . . just a peasantry of emojis and asses on Instagram.
Bernie Sanders is right, in that it’s the billionaire class that needs reform, it’s the bankers who were never prosecuted, it’s the blatant assault of wealth and power in this country that has ruptured stability in America. And the growing momentum of support for Sanders is coming from people’s awareness of this. There is more awareness that Hillary Clinton is a fiscal conservative, and always has been, that she has accepted bribes from the fossil fuel industry and terror regimes around the world. Even Eric Holder has now returned to a job at the corporate law firm Covington & Burling. And the everlasting War on Terror follows the One Percent Doctrine that Cheney established, in which he described if there were even a one percent likelihood of Pakistani scientists helping al-Qaeda develop a nuclear weapon, US intelligence has to treat it as a certainty, and respond accordingly. This thinking has spread to all forms of conquest and threat. If a cop fears there is a one percent chance a black man has a gun, he sees fit—necessary even—to shoot him dead. In contrast, it’s been reported incessantly that 97 percent of scientists agree with anthropogenic climate change. That number is in fact false. Of the 69,406 authors named in the peer-reviewed scientific articles regarding climate change, a total of four of those authors rejected any human influence. Less than one one-hundredth of one percent. It’s an assault on reason, yes, but the force from the other side, the force that makes any of this possible, is that of commodity fetishism. Bernie Sanders can’t say people are terrible for their obsession with the trite and shallow. And he can’t advocate for any barrier against this freedom. Because we are free to worship the trite, and no freedom of this sort should be taken away. But I know of no reasonable explanation why hard work is so hard, why it’s easier to gaze at butts on my phone or at the strip club than it is to write a symphony. But so it is.
No one said it better than Louis-Ferdinand Celine:
“The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself.”