Friday, July 22, 2016


1. It's been over a week since an abortive coup attempt appeared to take place in the strategically pivotal nation of Turkey, and even though increasingly disturbing developments have been taking place on a seemingly hourly basis ever since, we still essentially don't know shit about what really happened.

Upon first learning of the coup, I took to Facebook to state my belief that not all democracies are equally democratic, and not all military coups are equally militaristic. I wrote that we might all soon be wishing that the Turkish coup had succeeded, and that all that was left to do was wait and see. 

Today, even some of the most mainstream journalistic sources are open to the possibility that President Erdogan and his increasingly tyrannical AK Party cronies launched this deadly, false flag coup themselves, in order to manufacture a pretext for a speeding up of their ongoing crackdown on any dissent or opposition, no matter how slight. 

Of course, the ever growing chorus of Vladimir Putin fanboys in the "alternative" news media are having none of it; for them, the failed coup was obviously launched by Americans terrified of the recent Russo-Turkish detente.

In any case, if you'd like to learn more about exiled Turkish billionaire cleric Fethullah Gulen - the man whom Erdogan and his cronies are accusing of being behind the coup - check out this mini-dossier I wrote on the subject over at our sister blog, Useless Eater, over five years ago. Tuns out it's still relevant!

2. Speaking of coups, counter-coups, and questionable parapolitical shenanigans, have you ever wondered what a humour-impaired Communist cultural critic might think of Star Wars? It starts off, as all good pseudo-intellectual takes on Star Wars must, with an explanation of Joseph Campbell's highly influential theory of the "monomyth", before proceeding thusly:
But all this assumes that Campbell’s story really is universal and absolute, something that precedes culture and ideology. Which it isn’t: it’s the product of an antisemite’s ecumenicalism, the kind of syncretic cultural milkshake that Umberto Eco describes as the first condition of fascism. 
Look at the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars, really look at them, and try to see anything like a radically democratic revolution against tyranny. What is the class composition of these rebels? Of the ones we know, there’s one member of a hereditary royal family, one petty criminal, one former ruler of a privately owned city, and one adopted child of rural landowners (and, possibly, slaveholders) who is also the scion to an ancient religious order of aristocratic knights. 
At the start of A New Hope, we hear that the Alliance has growing support within the Imperial Senate, and Imperial Senates aren’t usually very fond of proper revolutionaries. Consider the Alliance’s tactics. Every time we meet the rebels, they have built themselves a base on some deserted planet, where they’re stockpiling heavy arms. 
As any good student of Mao knows, a revolutionary movement can only succeed if it wins the trust of the people; holding territory is a game played by the State, not those trying to overthrow it. We never see the rebels being sheltered from Stormtroopers by grateful peasants (while they do ally with the Ewoks, it’s with a fully colonial sense of entitlement); we never see Alliance propaganda being passed around in secret by the oppressed; we never see any indication that this armed faction has any kind of popular mandate whatsoever. It’s not just infantile bourgeois ultraleftism — Blanquism in space. 
At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, we see for the first time a full Rebel Alliance fleet; vast blobby spaceships to rival the Empire’s. Aren’t warships expensive? Who’s funding these people? Consider that when we see that fleet, it’s positioned outside the Galaxy. There’s a name for groups like the Rebel Alliance. Not freedom fighters, but Contras, right-wing death squads.

Fun stuff, n'est ce pas? And if you thought the above was goofy, just wait until you get to the part where the author, Sam Kriss, declares his preference for the sequel trilogy!

3. And lastly for today, I am pleased to announce that the most brilliant satirical mind of the "fin de millennium" media milieu is, at long last, working on a new project: his second full-length film, after 2010's excellent and tragically under-appreciated Islamic terrorism satire, Four Lions. No word yet on the topic, but considering Morris' track record, it's pretty much guaranteed to be a work of genius.

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