Things are much better now that Biden is President

US public in general feels that under President Biden things are back to some sort of normal.
Keywords: US, Biden, Trump, Media, Ideology, Social Media, Civil Society, Consent, Twitter, Narrative, Pandemic, WHO
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I heard this, almost exactly in those words, from two different Indian-Americans: one, a spiritually-inclined female cousin, and two, an apolitical old friend.

I was startled, and reminded of the old rock ballad from Crosby, Still, Nash and Young (Our House , from the album Deja Vu, 1970):

Our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard

Life used to be so hard

Now everything is easy ’cause of you…

If only it were that simple! If only!

I asked my friend to elaborate. Said he, “Even when the virus situation was getting worse, [Trump] was the most dividing factor… ”

Then I asked two old classmates, in California and New York, whether all this was true, and their answers suggested that, yes, on the face of it things were quieter and somehow normal.

One said, “Things are better in the sense that we are not subjected daily to Trump’s antics / theatrics and the media’s constant over-the-top, breathless and extremely irritating bloviations about them (from both the pro- and anti- Trump factions)…”

The other said, “I too feel that things are better overall. It’s certainly quieter… P.S. People like us are caught between the Woke and the Proud Boys”

Not Indian-Americans alone: I get the feeling that the US public in general feels that under President Biden things are back to some sort of… normal.

Is that true, or is it an illusion? I once wrote about how Indians have been conditioned to seek the illusion of progress, Potemkin-style, rather than actual progress. I wonder if Americans have been gaslighted similarly with something that looks like normalcy, but isn’t quite.

This may be a classic case of “manufacturing consent”, per Noam Chomsky: the US public is being told what to think. I encountered this when I was a US resident: the instant demonization of Saddam Hussein, who had been “our ally” when he was fighting the Iran-Iraq war, or the overnight projection as a rogue of Panama’s Manuel Noriega, a long-time US ‘asset’, who was overthrown and jailed in the US.

In other words, opinion can be manufactured instantly in the US. And today, there are remarkable mechanisms to do so: not only the mainstream media (that Chomsky blamed), but even more so, the large social media platforms. Interestingly, I heard Shiva Ayyadurai claim that Twitter is an asset of the US government in subverting the US First Amendment and denying Freedom of Expression.

Social media are turning out to be positively evil. Belying fond hopes for the democratization of information flows, Big Tech is providing platforms only for pamphleteers and propagandists, with narratives to spin. (They defenestrate those who do not adhere to the approved narrative).

I am reminded of Hermann Hesse’s Nobel-prize-winning masterpiece The Glass Bead Game (1943). He called our time ‘the Age of the feuilleton’: the word translates to ‘gossipy novel in installments or newspaper supplement’, which is arguably the nature of social media. The reference comes from the point of a view of a more enlightened future century, that looks askance at the present as a time of primitive, superficial political cultures and narratives,

Hesse predicted the discourse would be manipulated: he wrote when fascism and propaganda were rife; but he didn’t imagine the nexus between government, Big Tech, and a pseudo-academic nihilistic movement of ‘wokeness’ that worships ‘critical race theory’, and ‘cancels’ things and people at will.

In the case of the Wuhan virus, the feuilletons demonstrated the extent to which this nexus can do suppressio veri expressio falsi: they shut down any discussion of the possible lab origin of the pandemic.

The feuilletonistas, which now include once-upon-a-time respectable entities like the Lancet, the WHO, the US CDC and FDA, have shown that they dance to agendas that are plainly visible. They have little credibility left. The mainstream media have long lost any integrity, especially those in the Anglosphere such as the NYTimes, WaPo, the Economist, the Financial Times, et al.

We are now aware of the massive cover up of the interactions between Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the funds flow. There is very little clarity on the US Government’s role in encouraging or funding gain-of-function experiments in Wuhan, which may have ended up killing 600,000 Americans and almost 4 million globally. This omerta is hardly ‘normal’.

Media have deplatformed anybody who goes against their agendas eg. an upstate New York doctor, Zev Zelenko, who used inexpensive Hydroxychloroquine, and wrote a retrospective paper (peer-reviewed and published) analyzing the 100% recovery rate among several hundred patients. He was unceremoniously booted off Twitter. Another low-cost, off-patent drug, Ivermectin, has similarly been canceled.

Inflation is beginning to heat up, which will take its toll. Many have lost their jobs. In the middle of this, I am told the latest Economic Impact Payment handout (the largest of the lot) arrived with a personal letter from Biden; earlier handouts just came with a drab Income Tax cover letter. This is a neat trick from the Indian National Congress playbook, taking credit for taxpayer money.

On foreign policy, Biden’s recent summit with Vladimir Putin suggested that instead of worrying about the existential threat from China, he is back to fighting the Cold War all over again. The Deep State, always Atlanticist, is obsessed with it.

In Afghanistan, the headlong rush for the exit means that Pakistan, through its proxy the Taliban, has now beaten both the Soviet Union and the US, and will deliver the region on a platter to China.

The race problem hasn’t gone away: a young black man was shot to death by police again last week. More horrendously, a Puerto Rican couple were dragged out of their car and shot dead in Chicago. But there were no #BLM riots, nor anything about #LatinoLivesMatter. There was total radio silence from the media.

I wonder if all this is indeed the ‘New Normal’. If it is, we should adjust. But if it’s only an illusion, then beware of the gaslighters.

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Rajeev Srinivasan

Rajeev Srinivasan is a management consultant and columnist. He focuses on strategy and innovation and has taught at several IIMs. He is an alumnus of IIT Madras and the Stanford Business School.

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