Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WHODUNIT? WHUDTHEYDO?

Matt Taibbi (“Economic Realities Are Killing Our Era of Fantasy Politics”, www.alternet.org/story/91927) quotes Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders that “the middle class is disappearing; in real ways we’re becoming more like a third-world country”. It’s too true. And the U.S. is becoming a 3rd-world country not only because the middle-class hasn’t got the financial substance to keep itself going anymore (all the money’s gone up the ladder to the megarich) but because – like a classic third world backwater – this country no longer has much left of the industrial and skills base to change this queasy slide to bananaless-banana-republic.

Taibbi quotes Sanders’ urgent solution: “Corporate America is going to have to reinvest in our society”. Well, yes, that would be good – and if corporate America hadn’t disinvested, then We wouldn’t be in this mess now. But who’s gonna make corporate America do it? Congress? A bunch of panderers who no longer even read the bills they pass?

I think there’s always been an unspoken ‘contract’ between the citizenry and Congress: they’d only pass laws they’d read and debated and concluded were good for the common weal, and we would follow the laws and respect the legislators and do our best to make things work. That contract has been broken, and it was first broken quite some years ago: Congress (starting with the Democrats 40 years ago) took advantage of our trust, passed all sorts of whackjob laws for its own political gain, and then cynically prostituted itself to the big-money interests while the little folks – bethumped by words and impossible and toxic laws – played the role of donkey, with no option but to accept yet another load in the basket, and clop along the hot, dusty, and increasingly pot-holed road.

And lest anybody want to console themselves with the thought that it’s only been the Republicans doing this and only for the past 8 years, William Greider’s opinion is that “the Democrats were in collusion virtually every step of the way, and sometimes they led the way”. And not only in collusion with the post-9/11 intelligence and war and eavesdropping and torture stuff, but for decades before that with allowing the country’s (and the middle-class’s) economic base to erode away, to the economic benefit of the uberbucks bunch .. and the Dems themselves, who got their cut packaged as ‘campaign contributions’ through PACs and other sewer-conduits. (‘Nightmare on Wall Street’, www.alternet.org/story/92286). What the Dems have done in abetting the civil-liberties and foreign policy messes of the past 8 years is only the second half in a game they’ve been playing for decades now.

And not only in economics: the symptoms and dynamics of “war psychosis” as described by Sir Michael Howard were introduced into Our domestic national politics by the Democrats in order to further the revolutions of their fancied Identities 40 years ago. To arouse within the citizenry “an immediate expectation and demand for spectacular military action against some easily identifiable adversary, preferably a hostile [but not too powerful] state …” Take out ‘military’ and substitute ‘legal’ or ‘criminal’ action; substitute ‘group’ for ‘state’ .. and you’ve pretty much got the gameplan that has been going in Our midst for the past 4 decades. And that means that it had been going on for 30 years before 9/11 came along.

And just as “the Bush regime decided to formulate and implement a foreign policy that placed a premium on unilateral military action … deliberation, debate, and diplomacy were jettisoned …”, so too for decades before that the Democrats indulged the Identities’ demand that public deliberation and wide-ranging debate on social changes be jettisoned in favor of unilateral government action in the service of the Identities’ assorted agendas. And as that happened time after time, for decades, The People’s ability to maturely become informed, deliberate individually and communally, and achieve such consensus as was possible went by the boards. The People’s maturity regressed to processing information without critical thought, or regard for proportion, context, or even consequences. And now, politically, societally, economically, as well as militarily … it’s all hit the fan at once, in this Year of Grace 2008. (‘A Kinder, Gentler Imperialism?’, http://www.counterpunch.com/).

So Our politics has indeed been a “fantasy” for a long time; and now so is Our money and Our military and – to a frightening extent – Our maturity. Let’s leave ‘moral and spiritual integrity’ out of it, just out of a decent respect to readers with heart problems.

And all this has contributed to the ‘militarization’ of civil culture. The military is one of the last bastions of American institutional culture where – to some extent at least – a decent respect for actual realities has to be maintained simply to get its job done. It has hardly escaped the past 40 years unharmed in that regard; and to observe things military for years here has been to be continuously reminded of Wehrmacht generals trying to fight the war in the Ukraine and telling Berlin that it would be far better to cooperate with the mostly anti-Soviet Ukrainian population than to shoot them and make enemies-in-the-rear out of an entire populace; No said Berlin, that is politically incorrect – shoot them all because they are only Untermenschen and – besides – we want their land and resources for ourselves. Ach. And the consequences of the Party’s political correctness blew back in their millions.

The military is also one of this country’s last bastions of at least a modestly coherent identity as American. So many in this country see themselves and are only invested in themselves as ‘victims’. And the feminists (of that so-soviet Second Wave, certainly) see themselves not as Americans first but as ‘women’, and with a primary allegiance not to other Americans (half of them the hated and sex-maniacal ‘men’) but to ‘women’ oppressed around the world (by even more ‘men’). No wonder that in a nation whose society is wracked by – for all practical purposes – a civil war (along gender lines rather than regional or class lines) then there is a strong undertow pulling many toward the military ethos if for no other reason than to keep a grasp on some sense of being ‘American’. Thanks, Dems.

Of course, it’s just icing on the cake that the culture of ‘manly’ Southern militarism, justly bashed into nostalgia by Mr. Lincoln’s Grant and Sherman and those eerily-strong-souled boys in blue, came seeping back, as the glow of a truly civil American cultural and social and political community receded under the fiery clouds of Identity-ism in all its forms. So now if anybody among Us wants to identify as 'an American' it’s the military way or the highway. We might as well look at American culture prior to ’68 the way we look at European culture prior to 1914: the lamps are going out all over, and we shall not see them lit again …

Thanks, Dems: you created Identities, de-created 'American' identity, and re-created the Confederacy. Nothing do-nothing about your congresses. No sirreee. The South wound up winning the thing after all. Meanwhile in foreign adventures the imperial Security State hides behind 'the troops' and in domestic adventures the policed-up Nanny State hides behind 'the victim'. I think the Nanny State is going to wind up killing as many folks - one way or another - as the Security State, and the Nanny State will have wreaked more damage on the Constitution to boot. And yet, like the Security State on the Eastern Front, it meant so well. The hot ironies!

Good sweet frakking Divinity! What has happened to Us? Where do We go from here? August is coming, and if it’s anything like August of ’14, or August of ’39 …

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