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Dupes, or accomplices?

By Michael J. Smith on Monday May 24, 2010 02:54 PM

One of the reasons it's been so hard post anything here lately is that it seems so otiose. I mean, every day the Obama administration is providing actual tangible concrete evidence that we -- those of us who share to any degree my values, anyway -- have nothing good to expect from it. (One word: Bagram.) What glossing, what explication, what exegesis, does the bald daily newspaper record require? Comment, as they say, seems utterly superfluous.

Yet none of my Obamaphile friends is willing to admit that he or she was taken for a ride.

Perhaps they weren't. Perhaps I was wrong about what motivated them. Before the installation of the current Emperor, I thought they were indulging in wishful thinking. Then for a while after the installation, when the administration's arguably still-latent physiognomy became unmistakably patent, I thought they were being stubborn -- after all, nobody likes to acknowledge that he's been schnookered.

But it's gone on too long. I'm starting to think that Obamaland is the country they want: which is to say, a vile violent brutal empire and police state run by people who don't have hick accents and vulgar prejudices, top-notch smart people from good schools; People Like Us, in other words. It's starting to seem that my friends' objections to Bushery were entirely objections to style rather than substance.

Which of course raises the question: What can one say to people like that? Hadn't one better save one's breath to cool one's soup?

Perhaps I'm still running on autopilot under some old CP notion of "progressive" peoples and social formations being somehow aligned, at least in part, with real substantive social change. It seems pretty clear now that this is a very mistaken idea. The "progress" that "progressives" are interested in is progress toward a universal color- and gender-blind panopticon, a world where the Scholastic Aptitude Test confers imperium over all the legions and all the surveillance cameras.

The resulting quandary explains a lot about this blog. If the people who are likely to read it are the people least likely to be persuaded by anything you have to say -- then the note of mockery, so often deplored by some of our commenters, is about the only note left to strike.

But then too one wants to find somebody to talk to, someplace to look for bloody-minded antisocial impulses that one might help stir up. Hence, I think, the interest that people like Alex Cockburn (and, si licet magnis componere parvos, me) have in libertarians, gun nuts, Tr00thers, climate "denialists": all the people who are, from the enlightened "Progressive" point of view, the wretched refuse of the earth -- the ineducable, in fact. The ineducable are maybe just the people you want, for reasons nicely dissected by Al in an earlier post.

Comments (18)


It was for the court appointments, I am reliably assured by Obamists in my province. Both the ones the O-man would make and the ones that Senator Mac would not be able to make. The contrast was too obvious to admit further discussion. ha ha ha

The oil volcano trumps everything political, not that it isn't quite political.

Agreed, MJS. Coded social tolerances, to cover industrial neo-feudalism.


Progressives are typical Americans. They believe in manifest destiny more than they believe in anything else. They are also snobs. They can sneer at Palin for drill baby drill but say nothing when Obama does just as she suggests. Dumb is bad, smart is good, even if smart amounts to committing the same acts.

Save the Oocytes:

I had a disturbing conversation today with a young Latina who had grown out dreads to express her cultural identity, and felt they were no longer needed once O became president; a sea change, she felt, had occurred. When I asked her if she still felt that way, she said that she knew a lot of people didn't anymore, but she still did. She said that where before she'd judge political figures based on their actions, now that Obama is president she listens to their rationales, and realizes that governing is difficult. I told her my criterion for the Obama administration is "What if W did it?" and she replied that that was the opposite of the way she thought now.

It was weird to hear this sort of thing openly admitted, the idea that a Dem doing literally the same things as Bush did seemed reasonable because he was a different person. It reminded me of Nietzsche:

I abhor the man's vulgarity when he says "what is right for one man is right for another. Such principals would fain establish the whole of human traffic upon mutual services, so every action would appear to be a cash payment for something done to us. The hypothesis here is ignoble to the last degree; it is taken for granted that there is some sort of equivalence in value between my actions and thine.

We spoke and agreed about the ratchet effect and the continuous rightward shift of the US government. I went through (part of) the litany of Obama's sins, and talked about the signs Obama wasn't "one of us" that were detectable during the campaign and before, and got a sympathetic reaction—"yeah, admiring Reagan... talking about the 'excesses' of the '60s... disturbing"—but don't think I converted her. There's some sort of disconnect. Identity politics captured her.

Save the Oocytes:


Copied that quote from online, as I couldn't remember it...

Al Schumann:

I find the Democratic dead-enders' approach typical of people who have been through a lot of low level trauma (more accurately, I do when I'm feeling kindly disposed). There's a beaten, apathetic quality to them; going through the motions, although the motions include some energetic hysterics too.


i must have missed the clue bus here

ohbummer has flung up into the heavens
the first draft outline
of the great corporate reformation
with the passage of this hi fi bill
he will have overseen two huge reformation projects

the health and the fire sectors
probably the two vital sectors
in the economy most in need of a course correction
which looks to be headed
for a serious down size
once enough corporates
realize the full impllications
of the undeniable proposition
"since asia builds hu caps cheaper
then we can why bother "

that leaves us with info tech and prisons

both seem to be peerless ops

what more can we ask of this emperor ???

he has his obligations of office
for a first term
i'll settle for
a slow but steady wind down
of the iraq-afpak gigs
and no "new" battle fronts
in the 100 year antimusselmen crusade

I find, folk who are still into Obama are liberals who profit, or imagine they profit, in some way from the status quo--a characteristic of much of my family. Sensitive people who have good jobs (i.e., as "professionals" rather than workers) and good career prospects; be it in medicine, finance, design, non-profit management, academia, IT etc. Working people have, in my limited experience, consistently been "conservative" if not (in the case of my rural NV home town) "libertarian". And, I would add, that if the Revolution comes, as far as the white constituency is concerned, it will be "rednecks" not liberals/progressives who will be its principle agents.



i agree with this take of yours
the american multi national wage class
needs its euro-settler core at least seriously split b4 a class rising
will "happen"
and i agree that core has yet to feel the full push to the wall

i also agree the wage class must erupt into rebellion --at the work place --
b4 serious unheavel will commence

add that up and you are not where we are today

but precisely because we aren't there today
we also are not in for a bout of classic
reactionary wage class-mittel stand
(ie job class ) mobilization

"the instinctually libertarian "
elements within the job class
are expressing the will to be free
to become an independent self sufficing
and admired soul

the organized horde instinct
the nationalization of the wage class type movements
ie classic "fascism"
requires the qualitative move
from protolynch mob to weekend brown shirting

and to emerge this requires
a protracted interval of disorder
where the "state" from time to time
really loses control
of key streets and job sites

periods arise locally
where only naked force
can restore a semblance of local civil order

this phase of social life
can not be experienced
"just on television"

it must be right b4 your eyes
there in your community
or right there in "the next community over"

think of the silly
"black menace"
of the high 60's/low 70's
that collective hallucination
never materially turned the corner
into main frame suburbia
the tide broke short
of the "heart land" streets of white america
safe heavens even if absurdly "threatened "
in the minds of milions
still existed for most mittel stand folks
and their blue collar kulack brothers and sisters of "the white nation"
traditional non martial symbols of "us"
still held the high ground
if not quite the balance of power
in white majority wage/job class neighborhoods


the professional class by definition
is non exploited
if they have a job
its comopensation is still governed by the opportunity to go into inmdependent practice
or at least "free " lance
okay if they're "professional " line managers
that option is more remote

the great american start up

the ole cow hand's fool's gold

of "a working ranch of my own "

like serious long term weight loss
start one up
retains enough plausibility
to hyponotize millions in the mittel stand
and below

-- i note "direct sell"
pyramid scheme multi level marketing
ever since the present crisis idle-ized millions is once again in a spontaneous boom (u must live among the commercial riff raff like i do alas
to know this of course)---
like mother earth

our society prolly possesses undetected
reserves of resiliance
at least as likely to prevail as the sudden giddy liberatory moment when the state collapses in on itself
after a sudden mass rising
turns to insurection
a rebellion becomes a revolution

Al Schumann:

Owen, I agree with your take on PW's take. Completely. I also find it hard to reconcile with your previous comment on the FIRE and healthcare reformation. Both look like maintenance moves to me; a reaffirmation of the status quo, with a tidily packaged and well obscured set of passive aggressive enforcement mechanisms; more of the same Clinton/Carter neoliberal bilge.

The design has already proven effective. Teabaggers and Pwogs exchange incoherent ridicule and misplaced animosity. If anything, they're even more ineducable than they were before. The tension from that is dissipated through baffled powerlessness at the results of the state's malign neglect.

Al Schumann:

Owen, never mind. Your follow up reconciles it for me.


"one wants to find somebody to talk to, someplace to look for bloody-minded antisocial impulses that one might help stir up"
painfully true and shamefully obvious
in my case


" si licet magnis componere parvos"

still flattering old alex eh father S ???

that pink toff is a bit of a spent round i'd say
prolly has been
ever since his glorious days
leading up to that peerless
paths of glory moment :

his "turfing"
from the village people weekly bugle
for .....
--pause gather your fibers--
persistent willful anti zionism

i now subscribe to his news letter
like holding a single voting share
in a giant trans ocranic corporation
entitles me to deeply evaluate
top mangement
"in public fora "

gun nuts
climate "denialists"

these are not the lawless resolutes
anyone seeks out
to raise righteous cain
yes it's perhaps more fun
then playing father gapon
trailed by batheic rag dolls
dirty dozen rallying charisma
is no substitute for effective organizing
it ois an act of self indulgence
whether your alex or the great kropotkin


Al ...st Al once again opens doors for me

"Both look like maintenance moves to me; a reaffirmation of the status quo, with a tidily packaged and well obscured set of passive aggressive enforcement mechanisms; more of the same Clinton/Carter neoliberal bilge"

after reading that the key difference
--in my mind-- became clear as crystal

the key difference
--that is
between both carter clinton
on the one side
and ohbummer on the other --

this time corporate amerika needs to
progressively reform itself for real

we are in another fairly swift period of qualtative transformation
like the one that gave birth to the modern oecd
social democratic welfare state

now as the center of a global empire
amerika must do this ass end to upside down and with the maximum of half measures smoke and mirrors
all conducted in new speak of course

example of new speak from the prior transformation
we called social democracy
new deal liberalism

when in fact as the neoliberals vaguely comprehend
all that is core liberal is in fact contradicted by social democracy

"The "progress" that "progressives" are interested in is progress toward a universal color- and gender-blind panopticon, a world where the Scholastic Aptitude Test confers imperium over all the legions and all the surveillance cameras"
that is true liberalism

merit liberalism
our pwog fellow popular fronters
are the left merit liberal faction
of the professional class

they look at ohbummer "realistically"
as one of them that has bent but not broken
despite the duties of office
as commander of the death star
and the armada without borders

the most god aweful words on earth:

"i'm a merit liberal and i'm here to help"

I'm not sure this post doesn't give Obama's ordinary sheeple quite a bit too much credit. In my experiences, the great majority of Obama fans are just about as well informed about the fit between what their guy says and what their guy does as Reagan folks were back in the 1980s. I think these people do want what Obama sold during his pre-11/08 marketing phase, and simply assume they're getting it, albeit perhaps in time-release form. But almost invariably, they don't actually know the facts of the matter, and don't care to look. Too busy, and too well indoctrinated, partly by lazy leftism, mostly by the standard garbage about the difficulty of the Presidency and the sincerity of the Dimbot Party.

If I'm right, that's a powerful argument why this blog ought to keep chugging through the facts of the matter, if not speed things up.

None of this is to deny that the Yglesian/Kosnian blogotards aren't utterly hopeless.

"I mean, every day the Obama administration is providing actual tangible concrete evidence that we -- those of us who share to any degree my values, anyway -- have nothing good to expect from it"

I suspect that "we", those who share your values, have nothing good to expect from just about any administration or political body. The gnosis is always getting busted and those who give a shit about anything are the first to get nothing for their concern.

Life's a bitch yeah?

Solar Hero:

You all seem so nice, and so worried about how to communicate with these pwogs -- I wonder if it's a generational thing.

I just call them good Germans and ask them how they can sleep at night.

Fuck Nietzsche, you never know if one or another particular aphorism is serious, ironic, mocking, etc.

"Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you." - William Blake

True story: I was booed at Esalen in October 2008 for my views on Obama -- as he has turned out even worse than I predicted (I really didn't think he'd be Bush III) and all those idiots now just hang their heads when I see them. At least two of them quit the Democratic Party.

Guys, your blog gives me the sustenence to keep going like this -- stop whining about how base the population is, and keep de-legitimizing the Democratic Party.

Linda J:

"...keep de-legitimizing the Democratic Party."


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