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The Politics that Dare Not Say Its Name. Some notes on American Entropy.

“You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan”

— Lennon/McCartney, Revolution

“Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear.
We are waiting for Godot to come”

— Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

 

 

Joe Biden recently pissed off the left of center Democratic base by telling a story about his ability to work with gangsters.

In this case he was referring to a pair of unrepentant Confederate segregationists who held seats in Congress in the 1970s.

Biden’s point was that ugly compromise is the DNA of American politics.

Ugly compromise was there at the beginning when the anti-slavery (slave owning) aristocrats agreed to allow slavery in order to achieve a more unified nation after the revolution.

They knew they were kicking the can down the road but it was as they saw it either, fight a civil war in 1800 and lose the country, or have a country and fight a civil war later.

Fast forward a hundred years after the civil war and Jack Kennedy, a Catholic new money aristocrat with a gangster fascist father, needed votes in the South. Bribes could only go so far – mostly in West Virginia, Illinois, and to the press barons – and the rest required the services of another gangster – LBJ.

Disgusted by the man’s barbarism the Kennedys were faced with a dilemma which JFK summed up as: I’d rather Lyndon was inside our tent pissing out then outside pissing in.

History of course is full of this sort of thing.

Sometimes it is pure cynicism and sometimes it is pure stupidity or cowardice.

Sometimes it’s evil but still the lesser of two evils.

Sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

For example, consider Egypt.

Egypt is and has been for some time a canal that owns a country.

There is nothing else there that matters to the world except as a museum.

We mean this in the coldly cynical sense.

There are a lot of places you can get dates and a handful of things like assorted precious metals and gems.

What matters though is the canal.

The current regime is of course a ruthless sadistic tyrany engaed in domestic programs of torture, and murder.

No one is exactly in favor of it except for the sadists – a not inconsiderable minority – but, what is the alternative?

The obvious answer is a revolution leading, in theory to an elected government with all of the usual systems of “checks and balances.”

Of course getting there is not easy and the truth is a revolution would in all likelihood lead to a civil war that, given Egypt’s size, make Syria pale in comparison.

And would lead to the closing of the canal.

Which would lead to it needing to be reopened by force.

And that would mean a force comprised of some European troops and a lot of Americans.

This trap is systemic.

It is in place around the world.

The gravitational weight of centuries of culture, including entrenched political and social norms and class antagonisms, and centuries of assorted imperial schemes has created a kind of entropy.

Want to do something about the awful situation in Myanmar?

Ok, what’s the plan?

Want to do something about the awful situation in Baltimore?

Ok, what’s the plan?

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the We’re not Nancy Pelosi Gang all correctly want to do something about the awful things.

They have plans.

They want to break up the banks and the tech giants and reign in the Military Industrial Complex, provide universal health care, erase unjust debt, provide adequate housing, affordable education, save the environment and of course are quite obviously a lot nicer and a lot smarter than the malignant troll currently squatting over the country.

One of the things no one ever asks them – and certainly they don’t answer questions they aren’t asked – is exactly how they propose to accomplish all of that.

Once you grant their premise, as any reasonable person would, that those plans are essential for saving the country if not what we charitably call civilization, you’re left with the implied truth of their criticism of the system.

It’s corrupt.

The corruption is systemic and massive.

America is a corporate dictatorship.

Vast pockets of the country are dominated by bigots and loose affiliations of racist and fascist cadres.

And then there’s the moral hermaphrodites led by corporate liberals.

And then there’s the tens of millions of people who don’t care.

And then there’s the loose cadres of professional thugs inside the system who have for decades been perfectly willing to set off a bomb somewhere in order to provoke a crisis that upends plans to stop engaging in imperial adventures.

And then there are similar forces in other countries who launder their billions through financial networks that are based in New York and London and Zurich and Tokyo.

So, assuming we end up with a President Sanders or Warren or Buttigieg or Harris, exactly how are they going to make things change?

The obvious counter argument is, well, see they will have long coat tails and there will be a sweep in the House and at least a workable balance in the Senate.

Except, the electoral map is corrupt, easily manipulated, and contains sclerotic pockets of reactionary resistance.

Which means you’re looking at a big circle in which you begin with Bernie and end with Mitch McConnell and Wall Street.

In order to achieve an FDR size landslide one needs two things: For the economy to collapse and for the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor.

While one of those is likely the other is not.

And so what one has is, what one has had in this country since the beginning: how the sausage gets made.

Step one: Beat the animal to death.

It is significant that neither Sanders nor Warren or any of the other would be saviors ever actually discusses just how they propose to get around these obstacles.

It’s just a constant repetition of their plans – all of which are good if not essential – and well, hand gestures and smiles.

While it’s true that there is something essentially sinister about Biden’s apparent triumphalism and his apparent masturbatory pleasure in how he can get along with goons and fascists, the fact is, that’s right out of the Founding Fathers, JFK, FDR playbook.

Because, what’s the alternative?

Violence.

And violent revolution.

Asked way back in 1968, by high church fascist, William F. Buckley, if he was a liberal, the then young-ish and still dangerous Norman Mailer said, he was not a liberal. And then added: The problem with liberals is that they go through life terrified someone will accuse them of being a leftist.

America’s massive, pervasive and successful brainwashing program has achieved its desire results. Socialism is a dirty word in this country.

A lot of people like to point out that millennials identify as “socialists” or at least are willing to say they don’t like capitalism.

But of course no one ever asks them to explain exactly how they propose to seize control of the means of production or the banks or anything else.

And if they were asked, given that they are products of America’s vaunted education system they would probably say something with as much depth as what you can find on a car’s bumper.

Within their orbit you also find the tepid if self righteous opposition led by people like The Young Turks, The Majority Report and their remoras, who have publicly stated their support for Bernie and Warren, their contempt for Biden and how while they want universal healthcare and “free” education, they still want their iPhones and they still want capitalism.

After all, someone has to pick the cotton and there’s a lot of people in China and Mexico so, ya know, let’s have a “revolution” – via text, Twitter and YouTube.

The smartest writer in the UK, Will Self, said a while back that inevitably, he ends up asking his lefty friends if, in the end, they are willing to kill people in order to achieve a new socio-political system.

The answer, inevitably is, no.

At the end of the Long March when the revolution consisted of Mao, three or four other people, a cigarette and a cave, Mao in full psychopath mode, said the situation was simple and in their favor.

One third of the country, he said, is against us. One third is indifferent. And one third supports us. Therefore we must kill two thirds and we will be victorious.

Despite soft peddling the truth, the facts are that the Continental Army did not fight the British with buckets of water.

People died.

Had the British caught Washington, or Franklin or Jefferson, they would, as Franklin said, all have been hung together.

The truth is, there is not one single example anywhere in the world of significant change occurring without violence.

The violence is either a wide spread revolutionary plan or it is a preemptive plan enacted by the ruling class or it is a provocation by one or the other, or it is a product of the situation like the Archduke’s car having a problem, or the German’s deciding it’s better to have Lenin piss inside Russia than be inside Russia pissing into Germany – at least to begin with.

The people who run Wall Street are never going to quietly accept having the banks nationalized or even broken up into smaller factotums answerable to powerful independent federal control.

Never.

And if confronted with a powerfully mandated federal hammer, they will respond as they always have – subterfuge, propaganda and violence.

The liberals will never admit that the opposition is fascist precisely because it would require them to either admit to being indifferent or supporters of fascism or, would require them to stand in opposition and risk violence.

And neither will the left of the center except in general terms which they throw at low hanging fruit like Steve Bannon.

And when we say “Wall Street” we mean, the loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires who run the world.

It’s a revolution, says Bernie Sanders.

Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so.

For a look at the entrenched and authentic opposition to Progressive reform:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/31/corporation-london-city-medieval

For a look at the petulant highpoint of “the opposition” at its hysterical best:

Watch

 

Update 6/27/19

From today’s Guardian on the second Democratic Party debate:

“If Roe v Wade makes it to the Supreme Court and is struck down, what would Bernie Sanders do about that as president?

Sanders defends a woman’s right to choose. He says he’d never nominate any justice who wouldn’t defend Roe v Wade. He completely ignores the question.”

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8 comments on “The Politics that Dare Not Say Its Name. Some notes on American Entropy.

  1. “Asked way back in 1968, by high church fascist, William F. Buckley, if he was a liberal, the then young-ish and still dangerous Norman Mailer said, he was not a liberal. And then added: The problem with liberals is that they go through life terrified someone will accuse them of being a leftist.”

    That is true for many liberals, probably most. But I’m one of those confused and malcontented liberals, somewhat of the Painesian persuasion, although with more pessimism than idealism.

    I’m liberal by circumstance, not by choice. It’s simply the world I was born into. I don’t know how not to be a ‘liberal’, in the way I don’t know how not to be ‘white’. Realizing it is a socially constructed identity isn’t particularly helpful. Nor is realizing that most liberals or pseudo-liberal reactionaries and authoritarians are full of shit.

    I know liberalism has failed, as all of civilization is in a death spiral heading straight for the ground. I’m shaped by liberalism in a liberal society in a liberal age dominated by a liberal paradigm. It just is what it is. As far as I’m concerned, we are all liberals at this point and we will all suffer the consequences of liberalism. There is no escape, no alternative but to crash right through it.

    I make no claims of a ‘plan’. And I put no faith in the plans of others, except as rhetoric to help stir up the shit. I’m in favor of pushing liberalism to its extreme, until it finally goes over the edge. Let’s get this behemoth moving, even if downward is the only direction it can go. The only meaningful plans will come when we reach bottom and everything becomes broken down to the essentials.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      “Liberal” like many other designations exists on a spectrum.

      I would not classify you as being even remotely close to a liberal like Pelosi or Biden or Clinton or Obama – even though on some issues you’d probably agree with them even as you vehemently disagree on others.

      The Mailer comment also loses some of its context at a remove of fifty years. 1968 ish of course is a flash point and Eugene McCarthy vs RFK and LBJ with buzzards circling his political corpse don’t have the same visceral vibe now that they did then.

      There’s an article in today’s GRD that accidentally makes my point. Eugene Robinson attacks Biden and trips over himself while doing it.

      He makes the case (which sounds identical to arguments against JFK in the early 1960s vis civil rights) that Biden’s chummy/cross the aisle bi-partisanship approach is too expensive for everyone who’s not in the club.

      And he’s not wrong.

      Same argument people made to JFK in 1960-63.

      The problem isn’t that they’re wrong rather that they are correct – but then what?

      The moment someone raises the specter of large scale civil unrest/violence the machinery of the coma asserts itself and says oh that’s hysteria and fear mongering.

      Because the media is brain dead and collaborationist no one will point out the obvious similarities between the mass shootings here and the Freikorps violence in Germany between the wars – not only because it’s true but because then you would have to discuss how the NRA and its attendants are essentially neo fascist terrorists.

      That in turn requires calling out McConnell et al as crypto-confederates etc.

      And we walk full circle.

      Biden knows they are fascists and thugs. (well, maybe he knows)

      He also knows that the alternative to giving them a public hand job is raising the temperature to explosive.

      The entire counter myth around JFK is to be found in this dilemma.

      “Conspiracies” are dismissed because they require designating entire segments of the country as fascist.

      That requires fighting them.

      That requires admitting that the issues that were backed into the national DNA at the beginning are still with us.

      Living in Baltimore I ran into it all the time though it took years to realize what I was dealing with.

      White bigots – perfectly nice in every other regard – whose grandparents had worked the rails and were in the 21st century psychologically right out of the middle of the 19th.

      Politics is psychology for dummies and a few idiot savants.

      Obama told the truth once when he said something about bitter people in Ohio clinging to god and guns.

      Then he had to apologize.

      Because the truth is the “South” hasn’t gone anywhere and neither have the Northern bigots whose grandparents were against emancipation because free slaves would work for less than poor Whites.

      I agree there is no escape. Biden’s nostalgia mantra is kicking the historical can down the road.

      They all do it.

      Jefferson did it and god knows Biden is not Jefferson.

      Because none of them wants to be Lincoln.

      Hell, Lincoln probably dint want to be Lincoln.

      Probably the crisis will truly emerge when the environment collapses and destroys the illusions of the system.

      Never mind refuges from Central America.

      Refuges from Florida and Louisiana etc are going to upend everything.

      When Lower Manhattan becomes a submarine things will get truly crazy.

      “pushing Liberalism to its extreme”

      Careful, someone might accuse you of being a leftist;-)

      Here’s the GRD piece – and notice how Robinson falls into vague points about where and for what you erect a barricade and say this far and no further and of course offers nothing in terms of what to do about the fascists – as in – what happens after you confront them? Have them arrested? Shot? Declare martial law? Sick the Hoovers on them?

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/23/joe-biden-washington-democrats-chummy-politics

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with everything you said. And for that reason, I’m a liberal. My way of talking is sort of a rhetorical strategy. But it isn’t superficial or misleading. I really do identify as a liberal. It is how I was raised. As I was infected at a young age, I’m a host and carrier of the disease. So, I embrace my condition.

        I take liberalism as seriously as is possible, deadly seriously, more serious than most other self-identified liberals. I accept it for what it is, demanding nothing of it other than for it to be pushed to its ultimate expression and furthest endpoint. I want to see liberalism bloom like algae, until we all suffocate.

        I want to finally experience liberalism in all of its glory. Let the liberal dream reign supreme, to the point where every last one of us is driven to insanity. It is a beautiful dream, whatever else one might say of it. I want to find out what this liberalism is capable of, what is its essence. How many licks does it take to get to the center of liberalism? One, two, three… crunch!

        Humor aside, it’s a scary thought. What will we find at the end of the yellow brick road? Even liberals don’t know. But one day this liberal age will finally come to its conclusion, its apotheosis. And then we’ll find out. We’ve been working toward this achievement for centuries, maybe even millennia if one considers the Axial Age to be the starting point.

        A lot of hard work has gone into this. And here we are. One suspects that America, in all of its idealism and failure, is the greatest embodiment of the liberal dream to ever come along. Here we are. Now that we have the liberal dream by the tail, what will we do with it? We dare not let go.

        Understandably, many find this to be a fearful prospect, causing them to recoil. And the powers that be will do their best to explain that this situation is a good thing — more of the same. I agree. Yes, more of the same, and more still, more, more, more. Let’s go for it! Joe Biden understands the liberal dream, as few others do. He has the courage to leap right into the madness, where those like Nathan Robinson fear to tread.

        Liberalism and fascism. They are like chemical agents that can only be set in motion by their being combined. Out of that chemical reaction, it’s anyone’s guess what will emerge. The world war era was the beginning of this process. Everything is set, prepared, and ready to go. Put your safety goggles on. This experiment might get messy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rauldukeblog says:

        Well it may be “liberalism” but it’s a jazz infused Beat sort of liberalism you’re describing which connects to the more emancipated Evangelical/Liberation theology/Hippie side.

        None of that is meant in a derogatory manner. And let’s not get bogged down in technical meaning/definitions as I’m using the words with a kind of approximate sense.

        Liberalism of course contradicts itself. Freedom but how much and how does one contain it without violating its tenants? Well if you’re Nathan Robinson et al you say this far and no further but then add a lot of caveats and write vaguely about vague ideas.

        Messy indeed;-)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve gone so far as to call American ‘conservatives’ just another variety of liberal. They are on the reactionary end of the spectrum. But still well within the liberal paradigm.

        They are defined by it in reacting to it. There is nothing to conservatism other than this reaction. Even many liberals are pretty far down on the reactionary side.

        The entirety of mainstream politics of both parties is dominated by the reactionary. Even so, it is liberalism itself that motivates them all. There is no way to escape it. Reaction brings one full circle back into the heart of the liberal dream.

        It’s all the same difference. I happen to be on the opposite side of the spectrum, of course. More radical, emancipatory, progressive, etc. Still, I accept the reactionaries as my liberal kin. We are all in this together. We are brethren in the Church of Liberalism.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. rauldukeblog says:

        Quite right.

        Vidal , more snarky, if still essentially correct, said there is one party in America – the property party with a liberal (sic!) wing and a conservative wing.

        Of course the fascists have always been there but now they are out in front along side the cynics and the evangelicals and the crypto-confederates.

        It’s a heady brew;-)

        Liked by 1 person

      5. To summarize:

        The Liberal Dream is dead!
        Long live the Liberal Dream!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. rauldukeblog says:

        Be alert! The world needs more Lerts!;-)

        But yes, contradiction being the central point of existence, liberalism is all about contradictions.:-)

        Liked by 1 person

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