The spectacle surely matters, but there’s more to it than the spectacle.
Beyonce made a spectacle of herself at the Super Bowl by mixing a paean to the Black Lives Matter movement with gestures extolling the Black Panthers. The Panthers were a criminal gang disguised as a political movement.
Within days of the Beyonce performance a decorated Vietnam veteran was eating at a McDonalds in Washington, D. C. when a group of black youths came up to him and asked whether black lives matter? Upon not receiving the answer they wanted to hear, they beat him unconscious.
The Daily Mail reports:
An Iraq war veteran whose bravery inspired two statues says he was beaten by a group of teens in Washington, DC on Friday night after they approached and asked him whether 'black lives matter'.
Chris Marquez, 30, a decorated US marine, was eating in a McDonald's when the youths walked up and started questioning him, WJLA reported yesterday. 'I felt threatened and thought they were trying to intimidate me, so I figured I'm just going to keep to my food, eat my food and hopefully they'll leave me alone,' Marquez told the station.
The youths started calling him a racist, he said, but it was when he tried to leave the restaurant that things went badly for him.
The soldier, who had survived ambushes in Fallujah at the height of the Iraq War, was taken unaware again — and this time he was unarmed and without backup.
One of the teens hit him in the head him from behind, knocking him to the floor, where the gang beat him savagely before robbing him. Marquez told police that one youth hit him in the head with a handgun.
'As soon as I walked out of the McDonald’s I got hit in the back of the head, or the side of the head,' he told WJLA. 'I just dropped to the ground, and [the McDonald's manager] says I looked unconscious.'
This incident recalls what was happening in Germany at the inception of the Third Reich. Brown shirted thugs from Ernst Rohm’s Storm Troopers were patrolling the streets of Germany, beating up anyone who looked Jewish and anyone who refused to say Heil Hitler quickly enough. One recalls that the founding father of deconstruction, Martin Heidegger, a committed Nazi himself, found the spectacles invigorating.
As you know, Hitler liquidated the group during what is now called the Night of the Long Knives.
In today’s America we are suffering through the politics of spectacle, but these are anything but innocent spectacles. The Black Lives Matter movement is about bullying, threatening and intimidation. It is about guilt tripping and terrorizing white America, the better to extort reparations. It absolves all black people, beginning with the current president, of responsibility for their behavior, be it criminal or political.
Mark Judge suggests that spectacle has a very short half-life. He argues:
Entertainment and politics have both become about spectacle, and spectacle separated from truth doesn’t have a lasting impact.
One might say that it comes and goes, like the Brown Shirts or the Red Guards. And yet, current conditions on America’s campuses suggest that the love of spectacle is alive and well and growing. Beyonce’s performance has passed into memory, but the movement it belongs to has not. Besides, we have already had a few charismatic presidents. The damage they have done has not gone away.
Judge refers to an idea offered by Christopher Lasch in his seminal work, The Culture of Narcissism:
In the last fifty years our politics have been transformed from a means of trying to maintain order to one of spectacle, political correctness, and crisis management.
As I suggested, the anti-war movement borrowed the politics of spectacle from other sources. But, it is true that no one much cares about maintaining public order any more. No one is running around saying that we need social harmony. Everyone thinks we need radical transformation.
So, politicians have an interest in looking as though they are dealing with one crisis after another. They all posture about their ability to solve these crises, but they are playing it for the drama. Politics has become theatre, with politicians being the stars. The captivating spectacle works well on the evening news.
Lasch was chagrined when the radical left brought these tactics to America in the 1960s. He wrote:
…the attempt to dramatize official repression, however, imprisoned the left in a politics of theater, of dramatic gestures, of style without substance – a mirror-image of the police of unreality which it should have been the purpose of the left to unmask.
Whether the politics of spectacle come from the radical left or the radical right, they are inherently fascistic. Those who promoted them have no answers and no solutions to any of the problems they are dramatizing. They want a revolution. Most of the time they do not even know what that means.
Those who are indulging these politics have a hidden, personal agenda. They are doing it, Lasch suggested, for the therapeutic value. One cannot help but agree.
In his words:
People today hunger not for personal salvation, let alone for the restoration of an earlier golden age, but for the feeling—even if it is only a momentary illusion—of personal well-being, health, and psychic security. Even the radicalism of the sixties served, for many of those who embraced it for personal rather than political meaning, not as a substitute for religion but as a form of therapy. Radical politics filled empty lives, provided a sense of meaning and purpose.
It’s all about the feeling, the emotion generated by these public spectacles, even the emotional catharsis produced for the participants when they see themselves on the news. And yet, there is more to it than the meaning. Those who participate also feel like they belong to a new group, a group that coheres around its own rituals and its own dogmatic beliefs.