By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: CJ Hopkins, pondering his next satirical masterpiece.
Downloadable SoundCloud podcast (also at the bottom of this page), YouTube video, as well as being syndicated on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, RUvid and Ivoox (links below),
CJ, thanks to Patrice Greanville, I learned about you and your work, when he posted on The Greanville Post (www.greanvillepost.com, https://www.greanvillepost.com/?s=cj+hopkins) your recent article about identity politics (https://www.greanvillepost.com/2018/10/08/who-doesnt-love-identity-politics/). I reached out to you and you kindly agreed to be on my show.
CJ Hopkins is a writer and playwright, based in Berlin, Germany.
He can be reached at, firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as here,
His book and plays can be had here,
His website, where you can buy his books and see his journalism,
- CJ, please tell us about yourself, as much as you’d like, past and present, your generation growing up and your professional life.
I grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s, in front of a television set.
2. Please tell us about the arc of your awareness that what you were taught at school and in the US media is what I call the Big Lie Propaganda Machine. Was it a slow evolution or did a particular experience or a series of happenings cause you to have an epiphany?
I can’t remember ever not being aware of it. It’s pretty hard to miss.
3. Has your journey to the white light of truth caused you to lose old friends and alienate you from your family, or have they been accepting of your work and lifestyle?
I don’t know about the white light of truth, but I’ve been the way I am all my life, so my friends and family accept that. I have probably alienated a few old friends since Trump got elected. As you know, most of my political satire is aimed at global capitalism, and global capitalist ideology and propaganda, which a lot of liberals, and even some folks who consider themselves leftists, misinterpret as support for Trump. Popular political discourse has been dumbed down to the level where anything one says is immediately categorized as either pro-Trump or anti-Trump, and, increasingly, fascist or anti-fascist. According to that simplistic mindset, if you’re criticizing the corporate media, and the neoliberal “Resistance,” as I’ve been doing, you must be a Trump supporter, if not an outright fascist. This is a dangerously infantile way of thinking, of course, this kind of “good-versus-evil” hysteria that usually prevails during times of war, when an enemy needs to be demonized and no space for complexity or critical thinking can be allowed.
4. Why did you choose to live in Berlin, say compared to other European capitals, New York, LA, etc.
Berlin in 2004 reminded me of San Francisco in the late 1980s, before the dotcom boom. It was poor but sexy … that was the official motto, actually. It has gentrified a lot since then, but it’s still a major European city where artists can live and work. New York has become a hyper-expensive playground for the super rich. You can’t create any type of meaningful art in that kind of environment. London is basically the British version of New York, with shittier weather.
5. Tell us about your book, “Zone 23”.
It’s a darkly comic dystopian satire about being human, all-too-human. It’s set in the post-catastrophic future, in a smiley, happy, corporate-controlled society where all dissent and non-conformity has been pathologized, and the human race is being genetically corrected in order to establish everlasting peace on Earth. It’s the story of two protagonists who are rebelling against “normality,” and the Hadley Corporation of Menomonie, Wisconsin, the corporation that runs the area where they live: Taylor, a “Class 3 Anti-Social Person” who lives in one of the Gaza-type “quarantine zones,” and Valentina, a “Normal” who flips out after she finally gets pregnant with one of the “genetically corrected” babies. It’s sort of an Orwell/Huxley/Burgess meets Vonnegut and Joseph Heller type thing.
6. Tell us about a favorite play or two that you wrote.
My three main full-lenth plays are Horse Country; screwmachine/eyecandy, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Bob, and The Extremists. I’m kind of tired of talking about them after all these years, but folks should check the reviews out on my website, or buy them and read them … They’re all published. They’re not at all normal plays, but more like subversive performance events. I was influenced a lot by Brecht, Artaud, the absurdists, and the experimental theater of the 60s. I wanted to fuse that experimental work with popular entertainment forms, like vaudeville, game shows, political talk shows. People have called Horse Country “Abbott and Costello on acid,” which I think is a pretty fair description. screwmachine/eyecandy is a late/capitalist version of The Bacchae.
7. Tell us about your website, where you publish your work. Why is it called the Consent Factory?
I have no relationship to the Consent Factory (which is a creepy half-think tank/half-consulting operation), other than that I own it, and they publish all my columns. I am unaware of any of their evil neoliberal activities (which are described on their “About” page), nor would I be disposed to discuss any such evil activities, were I, in fact, to be aware of them. My guess is that the name has something to do with Manufacturing Consent, the seminal work by Herman and Chomsky.
8. Patrice Greanville calls you The Greanville Post’s “in-house pundit”, and that you are. Your website is a farcical send-up and your articles are outrageously funny. I could see you writing satirical plays in Ancient Greece or postwar scripts in the Theater of the Absurd. “Who, what, when, where, how, why” inspires you? Your muses?
The classical satirists, sure, but probably mostly George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Orwell, Heller, Vonnegut, Dickens, the Situationists, Monty Python, et al.
9. Are you a member of the, “If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry”, school of thought?
Satire, if not comedy, generally, is mostly sublimated rage and depression.
10. Are you more motivated to write because of all the evil you see in the world, or the potential for a more just and equitable future for humanity’s 99%?
Maybe, but it’s possible I just have a problem with authority. I wish I could say that I saw “potential for a just and equitable future for humanity’s 99%,” but I don’t see much at the moment.
11. Your resources and sources? What is your daily tableau of internet news and commentary?
I scan the major corporate media outlets and Twitter on a daily basis, mostly to identify the propaganda of the day.
12. What is your take on Donald Trump?
I have always considered Donald Trump a repulsive, narcissistic ass clown. This was my take on him during all the years I lived in New York City, and it hasn’t changed since he became president.
13. How do you compare him to Obama, Bush, Clinton and his other predecessors? How is he different? How is he the same? Do you think his winning was planned by the elites or was it a mistake? Is he for or against the deep state? Is he supporting or unraveling Western empire? Note: he made a number of anti-imperial promises during the campaign.
I think Trump ran for president because he thought it would be fun and would get him a lot of media attention. I don’t think he expected to win. It was definitely a mistake, and a mistake which the global capitalist ruling classes are determined not to see repeated. The “Trump-is-Hitler-and-a-Russian-intelligence-asset” propaganda campaign is designed to make an example of him. The message is, “this is what happens when you run for the presidency, and win, without our approval.” He isn’t a significant threat to the global capitalist ruling classes. If he was, they would just kill him.
I’ve described the historical moment we’re currently experiencing as a neo-nationalist insurgency against global capitalism (e.g., in my 2017 essay Tomorrow Belongs to the Corporatocracy). Trump is just exploiting people’s dissatisfaction with the brave, new, global capitalist world that has been taking shape since the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.
14. What do you see happening in the last half of his presidency?
More of the same, but maybe with endless congressional investigations thrown in to further demonize and delegitimize him. Trump, meanwhile, will continue to exploit popular frustration with global capitalism and its ideology without ever challenging global capitalism itself. The destabilization and restructuring of the Middle East will continue, as will the privatization of virtually everything.
15. Do you think he’ll get reelected?
I seriously doubt it. The global capitalist ruling classes need to put down this populist insurgency as quickly as possible. That means demonizing and making an example of Trump. Regardless of how Wall Street is doing, and whether Trump lets the deep state boys have their way with Iran, and so on, the global capitalist ruling classes can’t have billionaire bozos becoming president without their approval. They need to spank him thoroughly, to discourage that kind of thing in the future.
16. For me, he seems to be doing more than anyone who can, to dismantle Western imperialism and colonialism, albeit in an outrageous way. If this theory is correct, is this what the deep state wants? Maybe to declare martial law/Continuance of Governance (COG- like after 9/11), similar to what has been done in France, since Francois Hollande was president, a country now under a permanent state of emergency, with Macron dismantling France’s socialist services by executive order, even though he has a legislative majority.
I don’t see how Trump is dismantling Western imperialism (i.e., global capitalism). If he were, they would just kill him.
17. I have two nationalities, French and American, so I take Europe seriously. I find its obsequious kowtowing to Uncle Sam’s every whim incredibly depressing. With few exceptions, Europe has no foreign and economic policies (not since Charles De Gaulle, anyway), other than Washington’s. What do the European citizens you know say? Do they have any solutions to Brussel’s super state corruption and neoliberalism?
Most of my European friends are pro-EU. The AfD is scaring a lot of people here, and the Brits I know aren’t Brexit fans. The main problem is that the Left hasn’t been offering any viable alternatives to either neoliberalism or neo-nationalism, so people are faced with an either/or choice, and are choosing neoliberalism over neo-nationalism, understandably. I’m interested in the new Aufstehen movement, and other “populist” leftist initiatives in Europe. If the Left has a future, it’s going to need to be a “populist” future.
18. It seems like instead of moving towards socialism, the lurch is towards nationalism and fascism. Or do you also see a rise of interest in socialism and communism? I just interviewed David Rovics, who tours regularly on the Old Continent. He sees a hollowing out of the middle ground in Europe, with moves to both political poles.
Again, it’s that either/or choice thing. People are being offered a choice between global capitalism and neo-nationalism. Capitalism is essentially a values decoding/recoding machine, which eradicates any and all despotic values (e.g., traditional, cultural, and religious values), and replaces them with exchange value, rendering everything and everyone a commodity. It has been doing this aggressively and unopposed since the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. It has taken a while, but people are becoming increasingly unhappy living in a world where the only operative value is exchange value. Many of them are rather attached to their traditional cultural, religious, and societal values, and want to live in something resembling a society, as opposed to in a global marketplace where nothing means anything and everyone is an interchangeable commodity with a slightly different “identity” brand. At the moment, the neo-nationalists are offering the only clear alternative to global capitalism’s value-less ideology, and a lot of people are choosing that alternative. If the Left wants to challenge global capitalism in this post-Soviet Union age, and eventually draw people away from neo-nationalism, it needs to acknowledge and address people’s desire for meaning and values in their lives.
19. Do you acknowledge that Western elites/the deep state pull off false flags, like 9-11, fake chemical attacks in Syria, MH17, mass murders/shooting/terrorist acts in the West, etc.? If so, how important are they in brainwashing the masses?
Of course they do. But which specific events are false flags, or to what degree, doesn’t interest me very much. Propaganda and official narratives don’t depend on deceiving people … they depend on demanding allegiance to an official narrative. If someone published photographs of Dick Cheney personally blowing up the towers on 9-11, it wouldn’t change a thing. People parrot propaganda and believe official narratives, not because they have been duped, or haven’t learned “the truth,” but because they want to conform to the ideology of those in power and enjoy the benefits of doing so, or at least not be punished for not conforming.
20. Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Have you no sense of decency, sir?
Thank you, CJ, for participating in this interview today…
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