Image Source: Korean Exposé.
Three gigantic scandals currently challenge propriety and public service in politics. They raise the question of how the Internet is transforming government and the exercise of power. They also confirm a theme which I have considered here, namely, that futuristic technology is breathing life into old, mythical traditions, and not all of those traditions are nice or easy to manage. At the heart of all three scandals sits WikiLeaks, demonstrating that Julian Assange is a shaman in his own right. This post does not speculate on the truth of the scandals, but assesses what they mean for what is left of civil society and government. Warning: read no further if you are a minor or if you want to avoid offensive content.
One of the most primal Millennial fears is that magic has been mixed with politics. This is evident in the first scandal in South Korea; it involves mass protests against the influence of Choi Soon-sil over the country's president, Park Geun-hye. Choi is the daughter of a dead cult leader, self-proclaimed future Buddha, and spirit channeler connected to Park's father. The scandal is so huge that the president is on the verge of resigning. You can see discussions on the scandal here, here, here and here.
On 26 November 2016, 1.3 million people protested in Seoul against the Choi-gate scandal; South Koreans fear that the President has become victim of a 'psychic conspiracy.' Video Source: Youtube.
What is more sinister is that Choi is also accused of acting like a Korean Rasputin, a shamanistic interloper, who has bewitched the president so that she may control power herself. Korea Exposé:"Ms. Choi’s previously hidden power over the president suddenly came under intense scrutiny when investigations began into two charitable foundations, Mir and K-Sport, both created in the past one year. In the case of Mir, the Ministry of Culture and Sports approved its establishment overnight; normally it takes a month. The country’s top companies donated to them nearly 80 billion KRW through the Korea Federation of Industries, the leading business lobby."
At Pagans We Are, American teacher and film-maker, Joey Rositano argues that the media do not understand shamanism and are portraying it incorrectly. Rositano moved to Jeju province in South Korea to teach English in 2007. In 2014, he premiered his documentary about worship at Jeju Island's shrines, entitled, Spirits; you can watch trailers and related videos of his trips to local shrines, here. On 26 November 2016, Rositano gave a TEDx talk on Korean shamanism in relation to the Choi-gate scandal. In 'Choi-gate,' mass protests confirm lingering fears of powerful spirits and those who claim to control them. The mythical world trespasses bizarrely into the secular, rationalized realm of government."Shamanism has been one of the most sensational, and compelling, aspects of this scandal. Was Park Geun-hye really bewitched by the shamanistic, self-proclaimed priest, Choi Tae-min? Did his religion, the Church of Eternal World (youngsae-gyo) really preach that the Maitreya (Future Buddha) could bring salvation and bodily healing? Did Choi Tae-min really call himself the Maitreya, as an opposition lawmaker has claimed? More importantly, what exactly did Choi’s religion preach?Unfortunately, these questions have yet to be answered through any real evidence."
American teacher and film-maker Joey Rositano has documented the shamanistic culture of Jeju provice, South Korea. Video Source: Youtube.
Caption for the above video: "Giuseppe Rositano has spent the last 18 months investigating the traditional religious practices of Jeju Island, South Korea. While some of the ceremonies that fall under the classification of Jeju 'musok' are supported by Unesco or government entities, most of the folk stories and ritualistic practices associated with Jeju's several hundred shrines are being neglected. In many villages only a handful of individuals still practice the art of the shrine religion. Giuseppe's goal was to record the telling of the shrine legends in the voices of the remaining islanders, most of whom are in their 70's, 80's and 90's, who learned the stories as children in the form of oral traditions passed to them from their parents and grandparents. Jeju's shrine stories are but one example of such oral traditions that are being threatened around the world. In this clip, Grandfather Jin Sung Gi, the founder of Jeju's modest Folkore Museum comments on the present situation of Jeju 'musok' culture. His outlook on the preservation of this faith's traditions is positive. He, himself, has done a great amount to produce a record of musok's legends."
An acclaimed, audacious artist, Martina Abramović, noted for intense and arcane performances, is named in a huge Internet conspiracy theory, Pizzagate. Image Source: pinterest.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, another scandal is emerging with a similar complexion but possibly a different meaning. The Internet's latest American conspiracy theory, 'Pizzagate,' is a volcano waiting to erupt. Snopes pinpointed the start date of this conspiracy theory. It began with a post from Reddit user u/DumbScribblyUnctious on subreddit r/The_Donald on 4 November 2016. It was, however, discussed by Trump's supporters in the alt-media for at least two weeks before that.
I have never seen a meme go viral so quickly. The Pizzagate theory hypothesizes that there is an international pedophile ring in Washington DC. The most extreme theories speculate that the ring harbours occult cannibals who eat spirits in rituals with bodily fluids, or maybe real body parts. It accuses the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, pro-Democrat charities, a bookstore, and NGOs of being connected to Satanic practices to enhance governmental power through ritual pedophilia, sex slavery, and child-trafficking in the USA, UK, Europe, South America, and above all - Haiti. You can see the theory summarized here, and dismissed here.
If it is true, then it is horrific and could bring down huge parts of America's liberal political establishment. If the allegations are false, then the fact that accusations like this can gain traction is terrifying. Either way, welcome to Trump Land. As one anti-Trump journalist put it: Trump World: Aliens, Fluoride, Pizzagate.
Pizzagate is based on hearsay about dead journalists, accusations from dead men and dead women, weird art exhibitions, and one hospitalized celebrity. More serious evidence appears to come from WikiLeaks' leaked e-mails of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, some of which are oddly worded. Although on close examination, the e-mails don't prove anything.
The leaked e-mails may also involve a Russian attempt to undermine Americans' confidence in their government, not that the Americans need help in that regard. Russian (or non-Russian) hackers may or may not have tampered with WikiLeaks e-mails. Even if the e-mails are authentic, it is possible to circulate the information in such a way as to create the conspiracy theory. English-speaking Russian government trolls, posing as Americans, are known to fan the flames of American rumours, conspiracy theories, and scandals in online forums.
The scandal focuses on an oddly-influential pizza place owner in DC, James Alefantis, whose private life and business, along with nearby businesses and charities, lie at the centre of the theory. Alefantis allegedly posted pictures like this, this and this on his account, where his and others' comments seem to incriminate him. Quips about Linda Tripp's Christmas shop in response this photo sound authentic and non-hacker-ish. Alefantis apparently posted photos of himself with others, digging tunnels under his restaurant to adjacent properties(?).
Almost everything on the Internet can be faked, and this is why we need encrypted ways of confirming provenance of sources and changes to them online, about which I have written here. I cannot confirm if Alefantis did post these photos or not. I never saw his now-private Instagram page. Snopes asserted that these photos did not come from Alefantis's account. A supposed mirror site of Alefantis's Instagram page is here. The words and symbols allegedly used in Alefantis's Instagram comments and that of his followers echo content in the Podesta e-mails, and the theorists believe these are symbols and code words used by pedophiles. Even his name (which conspiracy theorists think is an alias) has been interpreted in a way similar to the Luciferian reference at the end of the 1987 film, Angel Heart: James Alefantis sounds a lot like the French sentence, J'aime l'enfants.
None of this proves Podesta's or Alefantis's guilt in any crime or involvement in a child slavery ring. Alefantis has spent almost a month in the court of public opinion, trying to clear his name. As anti-Clinton libertarian free speech advocates are so fond of pointing out, freedom of speech means that one should be allowed to say nearly anything as long as it does not harm the public good. They should concede that that principle also applies to Clinton's supporters. If Alefantis's account was hacked and the pictures faked or altered - or if he did post the photos but is guilty only of circulating risqué, offensive content within a limited circle of like-minded libertines - his situation shows how the fairly free use of social media can be twisted to turn any one of us into monsters. That is, one day, you could be Alefantis, no matter how upright you are or are not. Any e-mail you write, or any video or picture you post, could be used against you. You can have a spotless online and offline profile by everyone's standards, and it can still be hacked to incriminate you.
Several artists are mentioned in this scandal. Artists may portray or comment on certain horrors, but that does not mean they depict them because they advocate or identify with those horrors. Even if they do, only certain expressions are deemed hate crimes or illegal.
Abramović in Vogue Ukraine (August 2014). Image Source: A Stairway to Fashion.
The mainstream media dismissed the story as 'fake news' and stepped up their campaign against alt-right false reporting. Reddit, Facebook and Twitter have banned some discussions on this scandal as a witch hunt. And there is a witch hunt: on WeSearchr, there is a real USD $2000+ urbex bounty posted to urban explorers to determine if there are tunnels under Alefantis's restaurant:
Probe into Pizzagate discussions, and you will not go far before you encounter racism and anti-Semitism of the type that inspired mass murders and pogroms. The medieval ritual murder myth is alive and well in the 21st century in Washington. For centuries, false child-killing mythologies have sparked extreme anti-Semitic violence, culminating in the Holocaust. Based on an attachment to this leaked e-mail (which is dismissed elsewhere as fake), there is also a frightening thread of homophobia in this story, which dehumanizes homosexuals and depicts them as Hannibal-Lechter-type occultists and Luciferians."PizzaGate Urban Explorers League Ultimate ChallengeAre there satanic pedo tunnels under your walnut pizza kid's hangout spot? DunnoGoal of BountyThis is a serious bounty, not a joke.First: please absolutely do not bother business owners or do anything even remotely illegal for this mission. This is not a prize to see who can harass some guy the most or who can get in the most trouble. This is a purely journalistic investigation.The goal of this bounty is to establish the presence of tunnels underneath or very close to being underneath Comet Ping Pong Pizza and/or Besta Pizza in Washington DC.Please make sure you check with local law enforcement and several lawyers before attempting any Urban Exploration on your own. I'm posting this because Urban Exploration can be a fun and exciting hobby, but I absolutely can't condone any breaking of the law, so please make sure you don't do that. However, the bounty will be paid in any case, even if you break the speed limit or illegally park your bicycle.WhyThis bounty is important because Urban Exploration is a fun and cool way to spend your time. Almost as much fun as playing ping pong with an egg on it, or with beans on it.RequirementsI want hard proof showing underground tunnels anywhere within ~800ft of Comet Ping Pong Pizza. They don't have to be precisely under CP:PP, if they're under the pediatric center or the pedo bookstore, that's fine too, just so long as you find some tunnels that aren't marked on the map.Proof must be in the form of videotaped exploration, starting on the street and showing at least enough stuff on the street so that we can figure out where you started from, and then going in the tunnel and showing whatever the hell is inside, as far as you can before encountering a locked door or other sort of obstacle. No points for poking your camera in a hole."
At the same time, Trump has his own gay supporters, including head troll Milo Yiannopoulos. This conspiracy theory sheds light on the madcap tasteless satire of the Twinks4Trump project from gay conservative, Lucian Wintrich. If you would wonder why twinks would support Trump, maybe Pizzagate would tell you.
Before the Savile scandal was blown open, no one respectable believed allegations of high-level sexual abuse and pedophilia, concealed by the mainstream press in the UK. If the Pizzagate story is true, would you really want to be the pro-Democrat journalist or law enforcement officer who automatically denied it or covered it up on partisan grounds? When the MSM, Internet leaders, and police clamp down on the theorists, and label them as neo-Nazis, this only fuels the flames for alt-news sleuths (some of whom fit the racist alt-right label, some of whom do not). They read Snopes's debunking of Pizzagate (here). To them, the denials confirm the scope of conspiracy, not the falseness of the material they are investigating. Conspiracy theorists ask why the local police or FBI will not investigate a rumour about abused or murdered children.
Bloomberg concluded that Pizzagate is a vicious, Trump-sourced, anti-Clinton smear campaign. The Pizzagate campaign could be a down-and-dirty populist attack on Washington Democrats as Trump followers ready themselves to move into the capital. The leaks have turned up other eye-openers as well, which support the notion that the scandal serves Trump's purposes as he moves into politically hostile territory to take office: during the US election, the District of Columbia voted 92.8% for Hillary Clinton.
Pro-Trump advocates criticize the liberal establishment they expect to displace by mirroring them. They mimic destructive labeling: Call us racists? We'll call you pedos. On 8 October 2016, Yiannopoulos borrowed a page from Maria Abramović's book and bathed in pig blood at the conservative pro-Trump New York art show #DaddyWillSaveUs. His disgusting event spoofed Abramović's work and made fun of her high reputation in liberal artistic and Democrat political circles. To compare, her 1997 video is here; his 2016 video is here.
OED's word of the year (2016). Video Source: Youtube.
None of this has anything to do with the truth. Regardless of who takes power, because of our expanding technology, the state of post-truth will get worse. Pizzagate reveals post-truth spells cast by all media, and the toll politics takes on people who enter a hall of mirrors in public life. From The Daily Dot:
One journalist wrote anonymously at Living Resistance on 24 November 2016 to ask other questions the Pizzagate rumour has raised. The journalist thought Pizzagate was partly true, given rumours of child abuse rings in Hollywood and around the late Jimmy Savile in the UK. The anonymous journalist's most compelling idea was that if we want to understand totalitarianism, perhaps politics and ideological language have confused us."Following the Brexit and Trump campaigns, U.K.’s Oxford Dictionaries selected 'post-truth' as the word of 2016, which is defined as 'relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.'"
Since World War II, various forms of liberalism (including versions of liberalism which are currently labeled as conservatism) were used as the panacea against nationalism and socialism. In western democracies, the latter two ideologies were considered, along with older forms of autocratic or monarchic conservatism, to have been sources of war and genocide, and not just in Germany. This was why liberalism, the third ideology of the French Revolutionary triad, became the dominant political viewpoint of the western establishment. Democratic liberalism was assumed to be the only remedy to world war and mass murder, the only path back to humanitarian peace and civilization.
But war and genocide are not necessarily causally linked to politics. They have appeared under National Socialism and many other political régimes. The anonymous journalist at Living Resistance wondered whether the origin of totalitarianism lay not in forms of politics, exactly, but with certain forms of states and statehood.
The anonymous journalist mused on how people can cope in a state which turns on them. This is another way of defining totalitarianism, different from the usual political analyses of fascism. The Pizzagate rumour raised the question of how to investigate crimes if the government and its law enforcement wing are internally compromised:
To speak of democide rather than genocide is to gain a different understanding of the populism now sweeping the globe. It grants insights past the political label, 'alt-right.'"We are told the work on /r/Pizzagate (and other message boards) is illegitimate because people are rushing to conclusions, or because they are being paranoid, or partisan (despite so many of different political complexions provably working together). The subtitle here of course is that the State is solely legitimate to suspect and investigate crimes.But what if the State itself is, in a systemic way, responsible for said crimes? It wouldn’t be a first; after all, democide (death by government, a word surprisingly absent from conversations) was the first cause of non-natural deaths in the 20th century.Whether one is from the right, left, or center, one cannot deny government is the number one abuser, enslaver and serial-killer in History. We may honestly disagree on the ways to eradicate the phenomenon, or we may regret that fact, but we cannot deny it."
Today's populisms are nationalist; but they are also anti-establishment without necessarily being socialist. Populists feel that their leaders and politicians have betrayed their nation-states. Despite the nationalist complexion of these grassroots movements, their sweep is a general, international phenomenon. Thus, there is a bizarre internationalism here, and it reflects the nature of the Internet and the way online communities are formed. Trump supporters and Brexiteers join other locally-oriented national populists, who are also non-socialist cyber-internationalists. Under these conditions, multinational state projects like the EU suffer. Politics becomes very strange, combining real world nationalism with capitalism and crypto-anarchism. State and communal affiliations split between nation-state loyalties and attachments to online communities. (Already, there is a so-called 'Pizzagate community.') One has real world citizenship, and increasingly, a virtual set of quasi-international communal affiliations based on individual support of certain ideas.
Fear of the state is a very Millennial idea. I have argued on this blog before that statehood and anti-statehood (or statelessness) should be the new terms for understanding Millennial theories of power. The Internet is the biggest anti-state tool ever invented. It has created a true global village. To the dismay of idealists who loved the term, the global village is not a nice place. It is anti-statist, anarchic and libertarian, a rag tag, Bitcoin-slinging wild west in the best of its parts, and a radical jihadist torture chamber in its worst parts.
Its politics mimic decentralized technological functionality in online communications. This is why central states or nation-states seek now to monitor, contain and control the Internet and its international netizens. When central state officials impose state boundaries in the real world, they conform to conventional geopolitics. When they try to do the same thing with their citizens inside cyberspace, their actions become oppressive and near-totalitarian. An example of attempted state control of citizens online may be viral disinformation memes.
With Pizzagate, no one can win. If it is true, then half the country are contented with being run by a group of ritualistic child killers. It will all be covered up; and the infant victims will never be helped. More, in the eyes of conspiracy theorists, the establishment is riddled with these cultists.
If it is not true, then one half of the country thinks the other half believes in the medieval ritual murder myth, revived by their new dictator-in-waiting. We see in this view that Trump will run America ruthlessly with false-truth propaganda. This will be politics as reality TV, filled with entertaining twists and turns: no certain ground, but lots of flash and emotion. To the Democrats, Pizzagate proves that Trump's administration will wage a relentless, chaotic assault on the national imagination.
The memes described here - inquisition-type scandals - are called 'moral panics.' They frighten and anger people so much that they stop thinking rationally. Moral panics can prompt citizens to attack other citizens, their national governments, or local authorities. Equally, moral panics can spark state crackdowns. These panics justify popular aggression and state repression, and so are precursors of totalitarianism.
This brings us finally, to the third scandal in Turkey. On 23 November 2016, The Daily Dot reported on How the alt-right's PizzaGate conspiracy hid real scandal in Turkey. According to that article, Pizzagate has confused citizens in Turkey about a pedophilia and child abuse scandal in that country.
In March 2016, in Karaman, a boy refused to go to school because he had been raped by his teacher; he claimed the teacher had showed the children "animal and people porn" films and assaulted other children as well. The scandal raged across social media. You can see related tweets at #StopChildAbuseInTurkey. The teacher's trial began in April 2016, and involved the Ensar Foundation and the KAIMDER foundation, which are linked to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Tayyip Erdoğan's government. The teacher was given a 508-year sentence, but the trial aggravated violent tensions between the government and its critics. The government-connected Islamist foundations are rumoured to run illegal guesthouses for the students, where sexual abuses took place at night.
Turkish girls protesting abuse and battery. Image Source: Independent.
The government responded, not by cracking down on the Islamist foundations connected to the scandal, but by suppressing the main children's protection NGO and closing other women's and children protection agencies. MPs supported a bill to exonerate child rapists if they married their victims, with protests against the bill persisting all year. The government withdrew the bill on 22 November 2016. At the same time, the Ministry of Religious Affairs promoted Islamic martyrdom to children. In August, the constitutional court overturned a law which categorized sex between men and children aged 12 to 15 as child abuse. Officials dismissed criticisms as western conspiracies.
Protests against the child rape bill in Ankara. Image Source: BBC.
People in Turkey are now fixated on Pizzagate rather than their homegrown scandals. Perhaps, Turkish pro-government writers hinted, that local incident in Karaman was part of an American Pizzagate conspiracy against Turkey. This allows the oppressive government to divert public attention from their efforts to legalize sex with children.
Trump, in the Daily Dot's view, is aligning with Putin in Russia and with Erdoğan in Turkey. Again, WikiLeaks appears. You can search their post-coup AKP e-mail dump here. There are further e-mails in WikiLeaks from the leaked diplomatic cables, which confirm that Obama's government funded the Islamist foundations implicated in Turkey's child abuse scandal. Or did it?
Years ago, Assange explained his mission for his organization. He asserted that nobody could improve politics unless one knew what really was really going on. Citizens cannot fix the system unless they can see the whole system and everything in it. Otherwise, they are only dealing with politicians' rhetoric and a partial picture of how things work. He aimed for "total transparency," to expose the failings of the system with the positive aim of finding real solutions to political and governmental problems. The difficulty with radical truth lies in the fact that people are more likely to believe what they want to believe.
In a 2010 interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Assange angrily dismissed the false conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job; he could not understand why people wanted to believe a fake conspiracy theory when he and his organization constantly exposed real conspiracies which no one believed. He was annoyed that people continued to believe in the goodness of negative actors, even when he proved that these actors were evil. He may have done so again in 2016. This is the ultimate irony for the ultimate truther. He risks either becoming a Cassandra whom no one believes, or a discredited Russian pawn. Because of this, Assange's post-truths might not fix politics, but they will definitely transform government beyond recognition.
Addenda (5 December 2016):
- On 4 December 2016, a gunman fired shots at Comet Ping Pong Pizza, in Washington DC, inspired by this fake news hoax on social media. See text reports here, here, here, and here. A video report is here. A backgrounder on the gunman is here.
- To contrast, relatively sober alt-news conspiracy theories about the scandal are here and here.
- See a pizzagate alt-media investigator, David Seaman, defending himself against MSM attacks here.