Thursday, July 08, 2010

Tea Time: the sense behind the nonsense

No better proof of a dysfunctional -- and broke -- system of government than the U.S. Congress passing additional funding for the Afghan war -- $300 billion thus far -- while simultaneously denying the unemployed an extension of benefits -- and then taking a 10-day Independence Day vacation. Arnaud de Borchegrave

It is irrefutably clear to us that if we do not make substantial cuts in the projected levels of Pentagon spending, we will do substantial damage to our economy and dramatically reduce our quality of life.  US Reps Ron Paul and Barney Frank

"Today it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism" Slavoj Zizek

David Seaton's News Links
At the end of the Second World War the United States was the only industrialized country that had not been bombed into rubble. As they rebuilt and reequipped themselves, the world's demand for all the goods that America could produce was infinite. That simple fact is at the heart of America's phenomenal post-war affluence: the good jobs with high pay and all that came with it. The story of America's perceived decline is no more than the story of the rest of the world's development. This is not difficult to understand, it is pure logic.

Logic is not a painkiller.

People are in pain, their self-image and self-esteem are being shredded at an accelerating rate in this crisis.

A system that was considered almost maternally friendly has been seen to have become predatory, hostile... eating its young. The effect is that of being caught up in a natural disaster: fear, panic, malaise, anger, paranoia are the reigning emotions. To address them in an aseptic technocratic manner is politically tone deaf.

People are suffering right now and their emotions are right at the surface, on the boil. They must be expressed. Only the Tea Party expresses them, they have the field to themselves

Since because of the Cold War, left-wing populism, with its echoes of "class warfare", has been extirpated from the USA, the only populism remaining is right-wing populism... So that is what we have right now. People who once would have supported Huey Long, now support Ron Paul or Rush Limbaugh. The important thing is express the hurt and anger.

Many commentators dismiss the Tea Party movement's disparate mixture of people that runs from socially tolerant libertarians to Christian "right to lifers" as not making much sense. They miss the point totally.

Not making any sense is part of their attraction.

Movements of this type don't have to make sense, in fact they often work better if they don't make sense. Wonkish, technocratic logic short circuits the emotions and gives them no outlet; it is totally inadequate in the face of the situation, in the same way as an forensic surgeon's autopsy findings would not be read at a funeral instead of a preacher's eulogy of the dear departed.

"No-drama Obama" is exactly the wrong tactic to take.

It was the emotions that he stirred that carried him into the White House and strangely enough this power to move people seems to have deserted him as soon as he achieved his goal... like a curse out of a fairy tale.

This loss of the power to move people seems to have left him naked and unprotected facing the obviously race-driven hostility of the right.

You have to ask yourself why a centrist president, seemingly beholden and in thrall to every sort of corporate lobby and special interest is being called a "socialist"?

This makes no sense, why is Barack Obama being called a "socialist" of all things?

Because, although the word "socialist" is an insult in much of America, it is considered much more politically correct and acceptable than the "N" word.

That simple.

America is the land of the euphemism, where "enhanced interrogation techniques" stands for "torture" and "collateral damage" stands for dead women and children spread over a foreign landscape.

When Foxy Tea Partiers say, "I want my country back", what they mean in sanitized, Amspeak is "get that c**n out of the White House!". For these people to have an African-American in the White House is the final stake through the heart of their tattered self-image. There is no way that president Obama could ever please them except by applying for the position of White House butler. Trying to triangulate this emotional stew, to find some mythical center for himself is a fool's errand. That center might exist for a white president like Bill Clinton right now, but it  certainly doesn't exist for a black man named Barack Hussein Obama.  He must give his base as much emotional food as his mere existence gives his enemies or his presidential charisma will disappear like Cinderella's horse and carriage.

Obama might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.

Just as the mere sight of his his face charges up the right:  it is foolish of him to cool off his supporters with flat technocracy. He must strive to give them what they thought they would get when they voted for him.

They could forgive him failing in the effort and still love him, but they will never forgive him not making the effort.

During World War One, a French general was accused of taking his army "to the Rubicon".... and instead of crossing the Rubicon, of simply passing out fishing poles and inviting his soldiers to fish.

Like the French general in the story above, Obama has arrived at the banks of the Rubicon and instead of crossing it has invited his base to sit down and fish. DS


Anonymous said...

I have had friends here in the US makes comments like, "Hehe, those tea partiers are pretty whacky, eh?" I respond simply that, "The proles have realized that something is wrong". They may be poorly educated, they may be xenophobic, they may have zero ability to properly analyze or contextualize the information and disinformation available to them, but they are beginning to understand that America has well and truly become the Homeland...and they are beginning to get upset.

And, that is OK with me.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Anything that get the political juice flowing is positive now, even if a lot of it has a whiff of fascism about it.

Brandon E.M. Savage said...

"At the end of the Second World War the United States was the only industrialized country that had not been bombed into rubble."

Umm... look up... WAAAAY up... I missed the part in my Canadian history class where my country was a) not "industrialized" or b) "bombed into rubble" after the second world war...

I know that's hardly the point of the article, but given the context of WWII where you guys sat around until you "had" to be there, and we were there from the start, maybe this isn't the best time to forget that Canada exists.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

They say that the way to out a Canadian in a room full of Americans is to say, "I can't see any difference between Canadians and Americans", the Canadian will always say, "wait a minute!".

Anonymous said...

the Canadian will always say, "wait a minute!".

... and the Americans will says "wut's uh Caniduh?"

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the kid in that NY Times article you linked to (about capitalism "eating its young) turned down a $40k per year entry level job because he felt it was beneath him. According to the article, he has no debt, lives rent-free at home with his parents and his grandparents picked up the tab for his college education. Not the best poster child for the depressed, downtrodden twenty-somethings. There was a fairly robust discussion about that article on Fark (, the consensus being that what he needs most is a smack to the head.

Anonymous said...

David, that is a spot-on analysis right up until you presume that obama is not achieving exactly what he was meant to achieve: maintaining the status quo. What he had to say to get elected has nothing to do with his real goals or those of his "sponsors". Come on, you know better than this. There is only one party in the U.S.: the corporate/war party. Nothing short of a collapse of the two party system will ever bring about real "change". And even then...
The whole false narrative of left vs. right in the U.S. is nothing but a media sponsored smoke screen.