nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Here’s an example of the uncritical journalistic hype over the nuclear lobby’s new filmic advertisement

(Low on facts – high on uncritical enthusiasm)

A new documentary puts fresh, young faces on the old debate over nuclear power, Grist , “…….. David Schumacher’s new documentary, The New Fire,…. profiles young people working to invent better versions of nuclear power plants. There’s the couple with a simple reactor design who started the company, Oklo. And there’s the Bill Gates-backed TerraPower. …..the movie serves up hope and enthusiasm……..

I discovered these young people starting companies to build nuclear reactors. It was so audacious. They were so heroic and charming and just completely iconoclastic. They shattered the standard image of nuclear engineers……
I’ve had people come up to me and say this has totally changed my mind. At the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, this couple approached me and said, “We started a chapter of the Sierra Club downwind of Three-Mile Island.” These are folks who would have been young adults at the time [1978, when the Three Mile Island plant had a partial meltdown]. “So we’ve been very anti-nuclear, but this film really changed our minds.” ……
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October 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The dubious nuclear politics of of Fallout video games,

The ambivalent nuclear politics of Fallout video games, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Cameron Hunter, October 17, 2018 The late French filmmaker, François Truffaut, once claimed “There’s no such thing as an anti-war film”—referring to the adventure and thrill of combat, the (usually) clear-cut heroes and villains, and the opportunity for the film-maker to indulge in spectacular pyrotechnics and loud, cinema-shaking explosions of sound. And the loudest and most impressive explosion of all is the nuclear mushroom cloud.

The same may be proving to be true of video games—perhaps even more so.

Just like war movies, video games have frequently exploited the exciting and dramatic aspects of war. Yet, unlike movie-goers, gamers do not passively consume their media; instead, they make choices and influence the narrative. The result is a medium that trades heavily on visceral, simulated experience. And what could be more visceral than up-close and personal exposure to a nuclear strike?

Trading heavily on its nuclear theme, the Fallout video game series has so far teetered between satirizing the Bomb, and reveling in its power. But now it may be toppling over that fine line.

These games are almost certainly the most well-known (and well-loved) media that deal with nuclear weapons today. Fallout must therefore be taken seriously as an influence on the real-world politics and culture of nuclear weapons in the 21st century.

…..As the series has progressed, the developers have given the player more and more access to their own nuclear weapons. A franchise that began by mocking nuclear technologies now appears to be actively encouraging nuclear use by the players in the brand-new Fallout 76.

…….. perhaps most important of all, these sanitized representations risk teaching a misleading version of humanity’s nuclear predicament to a massive audience. https://thebulletin.org/2018/10/the-ambivalent-nuclear-politics-of-fallout-video-games/

October 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons join the other cruel killing methods now pitched as games – entertainment

The Nukes of ‘Fallout 76’ Are Where Power Fantasies Hit a Breaking Point, Waypoint, 16 Oct 18  Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman’s weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.The nuclear blast has cast a long shadow over the 20th century. When the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, annihilating somewhere in the range 200,000 human beings in the blast and the aftermath, the new era was inaugurated. That era was defined by the fact that a single bomb dropped from a plane or delivered via an intercontinental ballistic missile could destroy an entire city, poison the land, and assure that target of the nuclear attack was harmed on a fundamental level. They were a way of projecting that a nuclear power like the United States or the Soviet Union would be able to wound an enemy so profoundly that the enemy could never recover. They were the ultimate existential threat.

I say “were” because I am talking historically, but they remain a viable political option. This is perhaps why the recently-deleted tweet from Gamespot was so strange and troubling. It said this: “This is what a nuke looks like going off in Fallout 76, and it’s pretty @#%$^@ epic!”…….

I am not surprised that nuclear devastation is being pitched as a gameplay feature in a video game. I don’t see it as being substantially different from all of the other horrors that we have made fun through the interactive power of video games. Our main mode of engaging with beings in video games remains killing them with blades, guns, and the protagonist’s own hands. I am not morally outraged by this. Instead, the frivolity of it, its “epic” implementation, just makes me feel so tired.

When the detonation of a nuclear weapon is made into a game mechanic and declared “pretty @#%$^@ epic,” I see this simply as a symptom of how insulated games are from the world at large. While films have all the same ways of depicting violence that games have, I have a hard time thinking of a non-satirical film that revels in the absolute annihilation of nuclear war. Dr. Strangelove points out how inept the leaders of the Cold War were, but it obviously does not see the detonation of a nuclear weapon as a fun or optimal output.

Our biggest video games have made executions, stabbings, headshots, and eviscerations completely ordinary. A year without any of those things would be a shocking anomaly, a true blow to the entertainment economy, and it would mean that most of our most profitable game franchises did not release an entry. And now nuclear weapons have been absorbed into this system that sees everything as a potential mechanic and a way of entertaining and maintaining players. In Fallout 76, detonating a nuclear device is just a way to generate more gameplay. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, it is robbed of any significance beyond its mechanical function. ……..

All of our blockbuster games tend toward making the player feel powerful. They want to be fun, to embrace the player, to allow them to feel like they have agency in relation to the world around them. As far as I can tell, there is nothing than will not be sacrificed or compromised in the drive to accomplish that goal. Our biggest games, like the Fallout games, are simply after their players feeling strong. Anything that keeps players from feeling strong must be minimized……..

No matter who you are, no matter how powerful you think you are, the reality is that nuclear war will either destroy you or make your life unlivable in its current shape. This reality is fundamentally at odds with how the design of blockbuster video games work. That means that taking nuclear weapons seriously in a blockbuster game is impossible……..

The problem with video games and nuclear weapons doesn’t have anything to do with nuclear weapons themselves. They are simply a human evil, the ultimate symbol of what kind of nightmare we are willing to bring to bear on one another in our quest for dominance and violence. The problem in the relationship between video games and nuclear weapons is video games.

Unlike our friends over at Motherboard, there is not a part of me that finds joy in the adoption of nuclear weapons as yet another thing that is horribly violent and played for laughs in a game. It is impossible for me to think about nuclear weapons without thinking about the shadows blasted into stone at Hiroshima. I think about the rotting flesh of The Day After. I think about the unfathomable human cost of nuclear weapons, which includes the cancers grown under the aegis of environmental drift of radioactive particles………https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/7x3qjz/fallout-76-nukes-bad-nuclear-weapons?utm_source=wptwitterus

October 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, Education | Leave a comment

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Nuclear and Caithness Archive in Scotland – central site for British nuclear records

Wired 8th Oct 2018 Seventy years of British nuclear history lie behind these concrete, stone
and aluminium walls. Since opening in February 2017, Nucleus, the UK
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Nuclear and Caithness Archive,
near Wick, Scotland, has been gathering thousands of records, images and
plans about the UK’s civil nuclear industry.

More documents are being transferred from 17 archives across the UK, as the NDA plans to house them
all in this single purpose-built location. The archive contains documents
dating back to the 1950s, and some are classified as Top Secret. Records
are kept in triplicate: a copy on paper, a microfilm and a PDF version, to
reduce wear on the originals.
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/nucleus-archive-uk-nuclear

October 9, 2018 Posted by | culture and arts, UK | Leave a comment

Fukuhima academic team establishing an archive of nuclear disaster lessons

Fukushima prof., residents seek to establish an archive of nuke disaster lessons, Mainichi  News,  KATSURAO, Fukushima, 16 Sept 18 — A Fukushima University professor and his team are gathering materials for an archive project to pass on the lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in this prefecture in northeastern Japan.

In a March 2017 plan finalized by the Fukushima Prefectural Government, the archives will be inaugurated in the summer of 2020 at a cost of approximately 5.5 billion yen in the town of Futaba, which has been rendered “difficult to live” due to radioactive fallout from the triple core meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011. The facility will have a total floor space of 5,200 square meters with areas for exhibitions, management and research, storage, training sessions and holding meetings. The design was modeled after a similar center in the western Japan city of Kobe that was built to store records of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, but with more focus on the nuclear disaster than the quake itself.

Professor Kenji Yaginuma of Fukushima University’s Fukushima Future Center for Regional Revitalization and his team are visiting places affected by the nuclear accident and collecting testimonies of residents, documents, pictures and images for the project…………
Yaginuma’s team is collecting just about anything that shows the daily lives of residents before the quake, or items that show what happened in the disaster and the ensuing nuclear accident, as well as materials indicative of post-disaster situations………..https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180912/p2a/00m/0na/028000c

September 17, 2018 Posted by | culture and arts, Japan | Leave a comment

In the Anthropocene, the day of peak consumption of stuff will eventually come

September 12, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts | Leave a comment

Japan might sue journalist over his coverage of Fukushima, in Dark Tourist series

Japanese authorities mulling legal action over Kiwi journalist David Farrier’s Fukushima coverage in Dark Tourist series, https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/entertainment/japanese-authorities-mulling-legal-action-over-kiwi-journalist-david-farriers-fukushima-coverage-in-dark-tourist-series  Kiwi journalist David Farrier has come to the attention of authorities in Japan a segment of his Netflix series Dark Tourist, filmed in Fukushima.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government and the Reconstruction Agency are looking to take legal action over the video over concerns it will stoke “unreasonable” fears of radiation in the Fukushima Prefecture, the Japan Times reports.

A senior official from the prefecture said they were “examining the video content”.

In the episode, Farrier is filmed taking a tour of areas affected by the 2011 meltdown of a nuclear plant in Fukushima where he suspects a meal served from a restaurant in Namie, a town in Fukushima Prefecture, has been contaminated by radiation.

It also shows the journalist enter a no-go zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant without permission from authorities, reporting from an abandoned game arcade, and tourists on a bus becoming distressed over rising radiation levels without information about the vehicle’s location.

The show has the journalist travel to different locations around the world associated with grim historical events, including the footsteps of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee, and voodoo rituals in Benin, West Africa.

September 3, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, culture and arts, Japan, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Black Mist Burnt Country: art under the nuclear cloud of Maralinga

https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/black-mist-burnt-country-art-under-the-nuclear-cloud-of-maralinga-20180823-p4zz7i.html, By Karen Hardy 24 August 2018 On September 27, 1956, the British exploded an atomic bomb on Pitjantjatjara land in South Australia. The place would become known as Maralinga, which means “thunder” in the now-extinct Garik Aboriginal language.

Black Mist Burnt Country tells the stories of the atomic tests in Australia in the 1950s and ’60s, revisiting the events and locations through the artworks of Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists across the mediums of painting, print-making, sculpture, photography, video and new media.

Now showing at the National Museum of Australia, it has been touring with great success since September 2016, opening then to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first test at Maralinga.

Curator JD Mittman, from the Burrinja Dandenong Ranges Cultural Centre, grew up “under the nuclear cloud” in Germany during the 1980s and when he came to Australia he was surprised to learn there had been atomic tests here.

In the collection of the small community arts centre he found a large canvas work by Jonathan Kumintjarra Brown entitled Maralinga Before the Atomic Test.

The question for me was what did ‘after’ look like?”

When he began his research he was surprised to find so many works concerning Australia’s place in the nuclear race.

Artist Arthur Boyd participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations in the 1960s and his Jonah on the Shoalhaven – Outside the City (1976), features a tiny mushroom cloud, blending biblical imagery with contemporary landscape and personal symbolism.

Sidney Nolan’s Central Desert: Atomic Test (1952-57) is part of a classic series of desert landscapes Nolan began in the late 1940s. He added a mushroom cloud on the horizon at a later date.

“This exhibition doesn’t look at any one artist’s body of work,” says Mittman, “but displays how varied the approaches were, how different the perspectives were, and what the original stories were.

“Every generation has taken a different approach.”

There are large canvases by Kumintjarra Brown, one Frogmen, shows three men in masks and protective suits, another Black Rain tells the tragic story of a group of Anangu people who were found huddled together, dead, in a crater near the bomb site.

Mittman says it’s important for Australians, particularly generations who may not have even heard of the testing, let alone those of us to whom Maralinga is a familiar word but were unaware of such details as then prime minister Robert Menzies did not even consult cabinet when he gave permission to begin the testing.

“And it’s not just a story of the past,” he says.

“There is great concern among the indigenous community, and I don’t want to speak on their behalf, about the ongoing repercussions of the testing on country.

“And it’s even more than that, the multi-media work from Linda Dement and Jessie Boylan builds a bridge between the past and the present. “There are 15,000 warheads in the world at present, many of them on planes, in submarines, ready to strike within minutes.

“The Cold War might have ended but the nuclear threat has not gone away.”

He says it’s somewhat fitting that the exhibition opens in Canberra in the same week the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons protest arrives in Canberra heading to parliament to urge politicians to ratify the nuclear weapon ban treaty.

Black Mist Burnt Country at the National Museum of Australia until November 18.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, culture and arts | Leave a comment

Energy politics – why renewables are winning over nuclear power

Why are renewables suddenly trouncing nuclear energy?  City Metric, By David Toke,   31 May 18 

June 1, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, politics | Leave a comment

The young technology emperors have a miserable opinion of humanity – and so prophesy nuclear doom

The real reason tech billionaires are prepping for doomsday

A misanthropic view of humanity guides the tech aristocracy — and it’s trickled into their vision of the future, Salon, JASON RHODE MAY 12, 2018,

If you pay attention to what Silicon Valley’s best and brightest are up to, you know about tech survivalism. The digital elite are preparing for the Apocalypse, and have been for a while.

As Evan Osnos wrote in his New Yorker feature, “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich,”

Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.

The Guardian noted that the end-of-days obsession could be traced back to a single source, a sort of ur-text of rich-guy panic: a 1999 book called “The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive during the Collapse of the Welfare State.” It was written by James Dale Davidson, a private investment advisor, and Lord Rees-Moog, a British newspaper editor.

You can probably already guess at what the book says. More or less, it’s a pastiche of extolling the virtues of how the rich are superior, how they’re persecuted by the state, and how digital realms can and will liberate them and make them sovereign individuals. It’s a familiar trope: Ayn Rand had John Galt spewed the same list of self-serving ideas 60 years ago in “Atlas Shrugged.”

That an elite caste of people would find inspiration in these kinds of ideas is unsurprising. But there’s a more obvious reason that rich people are doomsday preppers: because that ideology mirrors their politics and their sociological views of people.

Aristocracy is the faith that a few individuals are better than the herd. Aristocracy justifies great wealth. Aristocracy says that most humans are inherently evil and will turn on each other. The mob needs strong rulers to stay sane. If authority breaks down, the rabid animals will run wild.

And the tech industry is a special subset of rich people. Our society runs on technology. Very few of us understand it, or build it personally; we rely on a select priesthood to handle that necessity. These conditions guarantee an elitist mindset. Even if Silicon Valley wasn’t wealthy, they’d still be stocking up on Krugerrands and beaver pelts. The money just gives them more space to indulge Ahab-like paranoia.

Additionally, the digerati tend to view human beings as automatons: easily exchangeable and swappable data points, resources to be exploited. If I wanted to design a system to deliberately turn out an alienated, distanced elite, I’d build Silicon Valley.

To use the language of philosophy, tech-bro survivalism is overdetermined. Imagine you’re an obscenely wealthy app magnate. Even if you’re skeptical about Armageddon, you probably already believe you’re a separate species from the rest of mankind. Letting everyone else go to hell is second nature.

……..Aristocracy is the faith that a few individuals are better than the herd. Aristocracy justifies great wealth. Aristocracy says that most humans are inherently evil and will turn on each other. The mob needs strong rulers to stay sane. If authority breaks down, the rabid animals will run wild.And the tech industry is a special subset of rich people. Our society runs on technology. Very few of us understand it, or build it personally; we rely on a select priesthood to handle that necessity. These conditions guarantee an elitist mindset. Even if Silicon Valley wasn’t wealthy, they’d still be stocking up on Krugerrands and beaver pelts. The money just gives them more space to indulge Ahab-like paranoia.

Additionally, the digerati tend to view human beings as automatons: easily exchangeable and swappable data points, resources to be exploited. If I wanted to design a system to deliberately turn out an alienated, distanced elite, I’d build Silicon Valley.

To use the language of philosophy, tech-bro survivalism is overdetermined. Imagine you’re an obscenely wealthy app magnate. Even if you’re skeptical about Armageddon, you probably already believe you’re a separate species from the rest of mankind. Letting everyone else go to hell is second nature.

…….. Tech-preppers think Doomsday will mean a war of all against all. But there’s no evidence of this.

………What are the tech-preppers really worried about? Not death by fire, quake, or ice. Not the rising seas, or the zombie plague, not the return of Christ or rogue comets. Seen clearly, the calamity that the wealthy fear is democracy returning to the United States. Every tall tale they tell involves the specter of the mob.

The tech-preppers understand, at a deep level, that their ill-gotten gains are predicated on an unjust system. Deep in the brain, where reptile impulses live, tech-bros know hoarding is wrong. Human beings — even very wealthy human beings — have a bone-deep sense of injustice. We know a freeloader.

Why don’t we give them the world they want? I invite the tech-preppers to fully indulge their fantasies: leave, and never return, never darken our doors again. Instead of frustrating their hobby, we should enable it. To your scattered bunkers go, await the end of days. https://www.salon.com/2018/05/12/the-real-reason-tech-billionaires-are-prepping-for-doomsday/

May 18, 2018 Posted by | culture and arts, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear scientists not so well aware of the risks – theme for April 2018

Research has found disturbing differences in the attitudes of scientists in different areas, to health and environmental risks of the nuclear industry.

It is even more disturbing that policy-makers and politicians prefer to support  and value the opinions and work of the very scientists who are least informed and least interested in those risks.

Politics and Scientific Expertise: Scientists, Risk Perception, and Nuclear Waste Policy, Richard P. Barke Hank C. Jenkins‐Smith.   – To study the homogeneity and influences on scientists’perspectives of environmental risks, we have examined similarities and differences in risk perceptions, particularly regarding nuclear wastes, and policy preferences among 1011 scientists and engineers. We found significant differences (p0.05)in the patterns of beliefs among scientists from different fields of research. In contrast to physicists, chemists, and engineers, life scientists tend to: (a)perceive the greatest risks from nuclear energy and nuclear waste management; (b)perceive higher levels of overall environmental risk; (c)strongly oppose imposing risks on unconsenting individuals; and (d)prefer stronger requirements for environmental management.

On some issues related to priorities among public problems and calls for government action, there are significant variations among life scientists or physical scientists. We also found that–independently of field of research–perceptions of risk and its correlates are significantly associated with the type of institution in which the scientist is employed. Scientists in universities or state and local governments tend to see the risks of nuclear energy and wastes as greater than scientists who work as business consultants, for federal organizations, or for private research laboratories. Significant differences also are found in priority given to environmental risks, the perceived proximity of environmental disaster, willingness to impose risks on an unconsenting population, and the necessity of accepting risks and sacrifices. more https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1539-6924.1993.tb00743.x

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Christina's themes, culture and arts | 2 Comments

Nukespeak: The language used about nuclear weapons helps make the idea of using them “clean’and “acceptable”

The antiseptic language of Nukespeak cleans up the very dirty business of nuclear weapons https://www.jsonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/02/27/nukespeak-cleans-up-language-nuclear-holocaust/378235002/ Paul Carroll  March 1, 2018  The first nuclear explosion, in the New Mexico desert in July 1945, came from a massive spherical bomb with radioactive plutonium at its core. It was playfully called “The Gadget.”  

March 3, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK government funds £7.5 million National College for Nuclear

Carlisle News and Star 7th Feb 2018, The £7.5 million National College for Nuclear is due to be officially
opened today. The college, at Lillyhall, near Workington, will train
thousands of technicians and engineers to support Britain’s future
nuclear programmes, create cleaner energy and provide a highly skilled
workforce.

The National College for Nuclear will have hubs in Cumbria and
Somerset and facilities which include virtual, simulated laboratories. It
is one of five national colleges being established by government as part of
its Industrial Strategy.
http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/business/75-million-National-College-for-Nuclear-due-to-open-today-0a0f3e9b-7c2d-4320-8b08-55c9b28c51d6-ds

February 9, 2018 Posted by | culture and arts, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The new media landscape allows Donald Trump’s lies and brutal language to be “normal

Challenging Trump’s Language of Fascism TruthOut  January 09, 2018By Henry A. GirouxTruthout | News Analysis   “…………Analyzing the forces behind the election of Trump, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt provide a cogent commentary on the political and pedagogical power of an old and updated media landscape. They write:

Undoubtedly, Trump’s celebrity status played a role. But equally important was the changed media landscape…. By one estimate, the Twitter accounts of MSNBC, CNN, CBS, and NBC — four outlets that no one could accuse of pro-Trump leanings — mentioned Trump twice as often as Hillary Clinton. According to another study, Trump enjoyed up to $2 billion in free media coverage during the primary season. Trump didn’t need traditional Republican power brokers. The gatekeepers of the invisible primary weren’t merely invisible; by 2016, they were gone entirely.    

What is crucial to remember here, as Ruth Ben-Ghiat notes, is that fascism starts with words. Trump’s use of language and his manipulative use of the media as political theater echo earlier periods of propaganda, censorship and repression. Commenting on the Trump administration’s barring the Centers for Disease Control to use certain words, Ben-Ghiat writes:

The strongman knows that it starts with words…. That’s why those who study authoritarian regimes or have had the misfortune to live under one may find something deeply familiar about the Trump administration’s decision to bar officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from using certain words (“vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based”). ………. 

how language is used as a tool of state repression. Authoritarians have always used language policies to bring state power and their cults of personality to bear on everyday life……….

Under fascist regimes, the language of brutality and culture of cruelty was normalized through the proliferation of the strident metaphors of war, battle, expulsion, racial purity and demonization. As German historians such as Richard J. Evans and Victor Klemperer have made clear, dictators such as Hitler did more than corrupt the language of a civilized society, they also banned words. …….

it is crucial to interrogate, as the first line of resistance, how this level of systemic linguistic derangement and corruption shapes everyday life. It is essential to start with language, because it is the first place tyrants begin to promote their ideologies, hatred, and systemic politics of disposability and erasure. Trump is not unlike many of the dictators he admires. What they all share as strongmen is the use of language in the service of violence and repression, as well as a fear of language as a symbol of identity, critique, solidarity and collective struggle. None of them believe that the truth is essential to a responsible mode of governance, and all of them support the notion that lying on the side of power is fundamental to the process of governing, however undemocratic such a political dynamic may be.

Lying has a long legacy in American politics and is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes. Victor Klemperer in his classic book, The Language of the Third Reich, reminds us that Hitler had a “deep fear of the thinking man and [a] hatred of the intellect.” Trump is not only a serial liar, but he also displays a deep contempt for critical thinking and has boasted about how he loves the uneducated. Not only have mainstream sources such as The Washington Post and The New York Times published endless examples of Trump’s lies, they have noted that even in the aftermath of such exposure, he continues to be completely indifferent to being exposed as a serial liar.

In a 30-minute interview with The New York Times on December 28, 2017, The Washington Post reported that Trump made “false, misleading or dubious claims … at a rate of one every 75 seconds.” Trump’s language attempts to infantilize, seduce and depoliticize the public through a stream of tweets, interviews and public pronouncements that disregard facts and the truth. Trump’s more serious aim is to derail the architectural foundations of truth and evidence in order to construct a false reality and alternative political universe in which there are only competing fictions with the emotional appeal of shock theater.

More than any other president, he has normalized the notion that the meaning of words no longer matters, nor do traditional sources of facts and evidence. In doing so, he has undermined the relationship between engaged citizenship and the truth, and has relegated matters of debate and critical assessment to a spectacle of bombast, threats, intimidation and sheer fakery. This is the language of dictators, one that makes it difficult to name injustices, define politics as something more than rule by the powerful, and make and justify real equitable rules, shared relations of power, and a strong democratic politics.

But the language of fascism does more that normalize falsehoods and ignorance. It also promotes a larger culture of short-term attention spans, immediacy and sensationalism. At the same time, it makes fear and anxiety the normalized currency of exchange and communication. Masha Gessen is right in arguing that Trump’s lies are different than ordinary lies and are more like “power lies.” In this case, these are lies designed less “to convince the audience of something than to demonstrate the power of the speaker.” For instance, Trump’s endless tweets are not just about the pathology of endless fabrications, they also function to reinforce as part of a pedagogy of infantilism, designed to entertain his base in a glut of shock while reinforcing a culture of war, fear, divisiveness and greed……..http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43159-challenging-trumps-language-of-fascism

January 12, 2018 Posted by | culture and arts, Reference | Leave a comment

The language of fascism and Donald Trump

Challenging Trump’s Language of Fascism TruthOut  January 09, 2018By Henry A. GirouxTruthout | News Analysis   George Orwell warns us in his dystopian novel 1984 that authoritarianism begins with language. Words now operate as “Newspeak,” in which language is twisted in order to deceive, seduce and undermine the ability of people to think critically and freely. As authoritarianism gains in strength, the formative cultures that give rise to dissent become more embattled along with the public spaces and institutions that make conscious critical thought possible.

Words that speak to the truth, reveal injustices and provide informed critical analysis begin to disappear, making it all the more difficult, if not dangerous, to hold dominant power accountable. Notions of virtue, honor, respect and compassion are policed, and those who advocate them are punished.

I think it is fair to argue that Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future is no longer fiction. Under the regime of Donald Trump, the Ministry of Truth has become the Ministry of “Fake News,” and the language of “Newspeak” has multiple platforms and has morphed into a giant disimagination machinery of propaganda, violence, bigotry, hatred and war. With the advent of the Trump presidency, language is undergoing a shift in the United States: It now treats dissent, critical media and scientific evidence as a species of “fake news.” The administration also views the critical media as the “enemy of the American people.” In fact, Trump has repeated this view of the press so often that almost a third of Americans believe it and support government-imposed restrictions on the media, according to a Poynter survey. Language has become unmoored from critical reason, informed debate and the weight of scientific evidence, and is now being reconfigured within new relations of power tied to pageantry, political theater and a deep-seated anti-intellectualism, increasingly shaped by the widespread banality of celebrity culture, the celebration of ignorance over intelligence, a culture of rancid consumerism, and a corporate-controlled media that revels in commodification, spectacles of violence, the spirit of unchecked self-interest and a “survival of the fittest” ethos.

Under such circumstances, language has been emptied of substantive meaning and functions increasingly to lull large swaths of the American public into acquiescence, if not a willingness to accommodate and support a rancid “populism” and galloping authoritarianism. he language of civic literacy and democracy has given way to the language of saviors, decline, bigotry and hatred. One consequence is that matters of moral and political responsibility disappear, injustices proliferate and language functions as a tool of state repression. The Ministry of “Fake News” works incessantly to set limits on what is thinkable, claiming that reason, standards of evidence, consistency and logic no longer serve the truth, because the latter are crooked ideological devices used by enemies of the state. “Thought crimes” are now labeled as “fake news.”

The notion of truth is viewed by this president as a corrupt tool used by the critical media to question his dismissal of legal checks on his power — particularly his attacks on judges, courts, and any other governing institutions that will not promise him complete and unchecked loyalty.  For Trump, intimidation takes the place of unquestioned loyalty when he does not get his way, revealing a view of the presidency that is more about winning than about governing. One consequence is myriad practices in which Trump gleefully humiliates and punishes his critics, willfully engages in shameful acts of self-promotion and unapologetically enriches his financial coffers. ………

With the rise of casino capitalism, a “winner-take-all” ethos has made the United States a mean-spirited and iniquitous nation that has turned its back on the poor, underserved, and those considered racially and ethnically disposable. It is worth noting that in the last 40 years, we have witnessed an increasing dictatorship of finance capital and an increasing concentration of power and ownership regarding the rise and workings of the new media and mainstream cultural apparatuses. These powerful digital and traditional pedagogical apparatuses of the 21st century have turned people into consumers, and citizenship into a neoliberal obsession with self-interest and an empty notion of freedom. ……….

Trump appropriates crassness as a weapon. In a throwback to the language of fascism, he has repeatedly positioned himself as the only one who can save the masses, reproducing the tired script of the savior model endemic to authoritarianism. In 2016 at the Republican National Convention, Trump stated without irony that he alone would save a nation in crisis, captured in his insistence that, “I am your voice, I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order.”……….

There is more at work here than an oversized, if not delusional ego. Trump’s authoritarianism is also fueled by braggadocio and misdirected rage. There is also a language that undermines the bonds of solidarity, abolishes institutions meant to protect the vulnerable, and a full-fledged assault on the environment………

Trump is the master of manufactured illiteracy, and his public relations machine aggressively engages in a boundless theater of self-promotion and distractions — both of which are designed to whitewash any version of the past that might expose the close alignment between Trump’s language and policies and the dark elements of a fascist past.

Trump revels in an unchecked mode of self-congratulation bolstered by a limited vocabulary filled with words like “historic,” “best,” “the greatest,” “tremendous” and “beautiful.”  As Wesley Pruden observes:

Nothing is ever merely “good,” or “fortunate.” No appointment is merely “outstanding.” Everything is “fantastic,” or “terrific,” and every man or woman he appoints to a government position, even if just two shades above mediocre, is “tremendous.” The Donald never met a superlative he didn’t like, himself as the ultimate superlative most of all.

Trump’s relentless exaggerations suggest more than hyperbole or the self-indulgent use of language. This is true even when he claims he “knows more about ISIS than the generals,” “knows more about renewables than any human being on Earth,” or that nobody knows the US system of government better than he does. There is also a resonance with the rhetoric of fascism. As the historian Richard J. Evans writes in The Third Reich in Power:

The German language became a language of superlatives, so that everything the regime did became the best and the greatest, its achievements unprecedented, unique, historic, and incomparable…..

Trump’s language, especially his endorsement of torture and contempt for international norms, normalizes the unthinkable, and points to a return to a past that evokes what Ariel Dorfman has called “memories of terror … parades of hate and aggression by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Adolf Hitler’s Freikorps in Germany…. executions, torture, imprisonment, persecution, exile, and, yes, book burnings, too.” Dorfman sees in the Trump era echoes of policies carried out under the dictator Pinochet in Chile…………

Trump’s fascistic language also fuels the rhetoric of war, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, anti-intellectualism and racism. What was once an anxious discourse about what Harvey Kaye calls the “possible triumph in America of a fascist-tinged authoritarian regime over liberal democracy” is no longer a matter of speculation, but a reality……..

Trump’s language is not his alone. It is the language of a nascent fascism that has been brewing in the US for some time. It is a language that is comfortable viewing the world as a combat zone, a world that exists to be plundered. It is a view of those deemed different as a threat to be feared, if not eliminated. Frank Rich is correct in insisting that Trump is the blunt instrument of a populist authoritarian movement whose aim is “the systemic erosion of political, ethical, and social norms” central to a substantive democracy. And Trump’s major weapon is a toxic language that functions as a form of “cultural vandalism” that promotes hate, embraces the machinery of the carceral state, makes white supremacy a central tenant of governance, and produces unthinkable degrees of inequality in wealth and power…….

The current struggle against a nascent fascism in the United States is not only a struggle over economic structures or the commanding heights of corporate power. It is also a struggle over visions, ideas, consciousness and the power to shift the culture itself.

Progressives need to formulate a new language, alternative cultural spheres and fresh narratives about freedom, the power of collective struggle, empathy, solidarity and the promise of a real socialist democracy. We need a new vision that refuses to equate capitalism and democracy, normalize greed and excessive competition, and accept self-interest as the highest form of motivation. We need a language, vision and understanding of power to enable the conditions in which education is linked to social change and the capacity to promote human agency through the registers of cooperation, compassion, care, love, equality and a respect for difference…….

In the end, there is no democracy without informed citizens and no justice without a language critical of injustice.  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43159-challenging-trumps-language-of-fascism

January 12, 2018 Posted by | culture and arts, politics, Reference, USA | Leave a comment