Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Suckers are a bore

Looks like Greenwald agrees with me, instead of vice versa! No, not really. But what he writes here is what I (and other people of course) have been writing since Year One of Obama. There is nowhere for the loyal progressive to go. Obama will not only not listen to them, he will actively work against them in order to gain credibility as a moderate.

I've already listed the consequences for the upcoming Presidential election. There is now nothing that progressives in the U.S. can do, at the national level, that will not hurt them in the near term. Oppose Obama, and they get blamed if he loses, derided as of no account if he wins. Support him, and get less than nothing if he loses, and he returns to hippie punching nonstop if he wins. "Hippie punching" is a good descriptive phrase, but in more serious terms this means starting wars, killing and torturing people, and generally shredding civil liberties, as well as completely failing to do anything about global warming.

A lot of Greenwald's article is well-worn themes (to me, anyways) about how the GOP didn't force Obama into this, and how Congress didn't force Obama into this. When he e.g. refuses to close Guantanimo, it's because he doesn't want to, not because he can't. He's a failure as a President both on the principled and pragmatic levels. Where I disagree with Greenwald is where Greenwald writes that a rational politician would of course kick his base when it brings a benefit and no cost. I know that Greenwald is writing rhetorically, but that is "rational" in the same way as a lot of short-term economic thinking is rational. Politicians don't obtain long-term success for their policies by alienating their base.

What can progressives do at this point? Well, the two readers of my blog know what I did -- I became some kind of anarchist. (I'll write more about that sometime, after delicate spousal negotiations about what we can do with our joint resources towards what is essentially a side interest of mine.) This does as much nothing as continuing to be a progressive does, but it at least does not involve being a sucker.

I've seen some progressives come up with various Rube Goldberg plans -- support Obama later, but not now, or do electoral politics only at the state and local level. I know of precisely one jurisdiction, Wisconsin, where state politics seems worthwhile at the moment because of its ability to send a general message. Otherwise? Well, maybe.

A lot of the discussions that progressives and the left generally are having strike me as the same "failure is not an option" nonsense that (digby, was it?) criticized so trenchantly around the Iraq War. Failure is certainly an option. "Failure is not an option" is one thing that people who suffer from terminal diseases say on their way to acceptance. The U.S. in particular is well on its way to failure on a variety of levels, a failure that Obama has only exacerbated by failing to provide a real choice.

If failure looks likely, then really all you can do is hope for a lucky break. If that break comes, do you want it to be wasted by absorbing whatever energy there is right back into the support of some other Democratic pol, who will use it to maintain the same failed system? Or, if we're reduced to hoping for a break, why not hope for a larger one?

The title of this post is from one of my poems, written during the Bush era, but even more relevant now. Don't blame Obama, enablers. Of course people look up to a successful con. Just decide to not be a sucker next time.

No use to blame the con men
We're heard it all before
Everybody loves a con
But suckers are a bore


  1. I've been positing some ideas about the abject amoral agenda of the very wealthy lately. Assuming that they (the one percent solution), for the most part, operate in their own best interests, it seems likely that they are fully aware of many factors contributing to both their increasing share of the wealth and the decreasing chances of any hope for the masses. It is quite clear, that many of them are promoting a political agenda, across the spectrum of local to federal polity, that attacks government at its core.

    When i account for the natural impact of these decisions, i am left with neo-feudal lords of capital ruminating on grand estates across the globe, free of any encumberment of taxation, regulation, restraint of any form, etc. The world is a shambles otherwise, with pronounced global climate change, increasing rarity of healthy water and air, massive die offs of species, and all the rest. I am left with wondering how this is considered, in any regard, as a positive in the ledger of the rich.

  2. I should be reading your blog, spyder. I added it to my blog list.

    The problem with your question, though, is that it is one of those with more than one good answer.

    1. They aren't competent. This is fairly apparent in any activity that we actually observe them at, so I don't believe that they have some kind of super-competent cadre behind the scenes. They are, generally, people who have inherited wealth who believe their own propaganda, and they don't know what's a real positive in their ledger and what isn't. It's not even that they are responding to short-term self-interest; they're just twits who reflexively attack poor people because poor people aren't like them.

    2. In disaster capitalism, disaster is a positive. If what you're after is power, then one path to it is shrinking the pie while defending the size of your slice. Increasing rarity of healthy air and water? Not for the 1%. As long as things don't get bad enough so that society entirely breaks down, a big chunk of money to a single person now outweighs, in terms of that person's particular interest, nearly any amount of generalized pain for society later. Because money now means that you don't share the pain later.

    I'd guess that it's some mixture of the two.

  3. Damn, now i have to work on my blog more, mostly because i haven't since the end of last year. I'll get right to that. Thanks for the add.

    Agree that is a mixture of the two. A few years ago, i had the time to do a NaNoWriMo novel. Among the plot lines was one wherein the very wealthy were forced by natural circumstances to live in shielded burbclaves to avoid the toxicity and heat of the external environment. They were protected by systems of various levels of security, but inevitably it came down to paying top dollar to other human beings to actually guard the portals. I went on ad nauseum about this arrangement, arguing that at some point, that relationship must break down (interesting to see if Quadaffi's will collapse around him). Some human will say enough.