Thursday, October 23, 2008

Grim reflections on American politics

Now that Obama is far ahead in the polls, all we have to worry about is whether the Republicans steal the election or somebody shoots him, right? At the very least he will be better than McCain, right?

IOZ is a loud and aggressive skeptic, especially about the Democrats and "progressive politics," and he is not averse to throwing around profane language and imagery to the point that you just want to dismiss him. But today he outlines in complete seriousness concerns that I share about the prospect of an overwhelming Obama victory and a successful Obama presidency. the reluctant Obama supporters, the hedging anti-imperial types, McCain's bellicosity is the central issue, and they delude themselves into believing that the principle danger of a McCain administration is that he would "start more wars." That may or may not be true, and given the current political climate, any Republican administration, particularly his, would be hamstrung by the factional corridor politics of the American imperial court in Washington. The characteristic of McCain's jingoism to bear in mind, though, is that it actually represents the unintegrated, incoherent mindset and world-view of most ordinary Americans; an unstirred suspension of nationalist pride, cultural ignorance, fear of otherness, and flag-waving military pride. None of these is good, but they all occur simultaneously in minds prone to dissipation, inaction, indecision, and fear of consequence.

Obama, meanwhile, has all the marks of a man with an integrated and coherent view of the central issues to the maintenance of American hegemony, and he should be expected to pursue the project of American dominance with more focus and more success. I won't make bones about it. By the standard American-history-text measures, I expect an Obama presidency to be a successful one, surely at least a gradual reversion to mean. This will please his partisan supporters and most progressives (read: Restorationists), who will remain blithely oblivious to what precisely it represents: the more skillfully executed subjugation of other peoples to the needs of the American empire. To those who claim to oppose the American imperial project, that should be the focus of opposition.

Meanwhile, over at the Group News Blog, Sara Robinson casts her eye on the significance of Sarah Palin's upgrade of her wardrobe to "American aristocracy" standards. This is about as clear a critique of the current American situation as I have seen since Phil Paine said much the same thing, oh at any of a number of times in the past:

What's coming clear now is that the American rich don't even pretend to care about how any of this looks any more. They think they're so entitled to their riches that they're even beyond the reach of history, let alone a mob of disgruntled peasants. They've got gates and Cayman bankers and private security and Blackwater, if need be, to handle that kind of thing. It's just not an issue any more.

Thing of it is: whenever people get to thinking that way, that's just about the time that history boomerangs back on them, hard -- usually in the form of a mob of disgruntled peasants. Photos like this [of young Piper Palin apparently with her own Louis Vuitton Montorguiel PM handbag] are the sign of a reckoning at hand.

I am not sure that I agree with the last paragraph, in large part because I'm not sure that the "peasants" would win such a confrontation. And, as we've seen since at least the time of Reagan, the American public has a vast penchant of self-delusion.

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Anonymous Retired Tourneyer said...

IOZ appears to be an actual surviving Leftist, a species I had thought all but extinct in America outside small pockets along the West Coast (Albion, CA for example). And clearly demonstrates why they died out...

And you're absolutely right about Ms Robinson's hoped-for "reckoning." Perhaps because you are a historian, and know how rare it is for the peasantry to successfully challenge the aristocracy...

Many people of my generation really, sincerely believed that a Revolution was at hand in the Sixties. It took quite a while for them to realize that it wasn't happening... and I wonder how many of the current calls for a "reckoning" are coming from those frustrated revos.

11:55 AM  

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