Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To a Better Next Year

One good thing about the 2000s was the expansion of the blogosphere - the quality of available commentary has never been better, and we can access expertise and insight that otherwise would have been limited to a particular college lecture hall or small-circulation speciality magazine.  So here's to folks I unambivalently celebrate as creators - Ted Newton and his conceptualization of hypertext, Tim Berners-Lee and the universal resource locator, and the thousands of others who put the Toile together as they say in French.

On the decade itself, Krugman's Zero Decade pretty much sums it up for me so nuff said.  Zero economic progress, intellectual suspension between paradigms, no answers to 1990s questions about how to have a productive economy and decent, sustainable life without monopoly rip-offs and exploitation of the global South - actually questions barely asked by the ones in power.  The gap between intelligence and leadership seems as large as ever in my lifetime, and I'm old enough to remember Richard Nixon.

On the absence of establishment intelligence in the United States, Jane Hamsher puts it well:
the right, whose numbers are relatively small and whose views are generally far outside of the main stream, has dominated politics for the past 30 years because they made an alliance with the corporations. It’s only natural that Democrats have sought power by replicating that model, even at the price of destroying the illusion that they’re the “party of the people” and fracturing the support that put Obama in office.

The Democrats are trying to secure their political ascendence by tying up the money, no different than Tom DeLay did. But whereas the Democratic Party represented a net to collect and unite those disaffected with the kleptocracy of George Bush, the actions of the Democrats since securing the White House this time around have dimmed the hopes that the Democrats present a real alternative.

The Bush Republicans flogged social issues in order to obviate the need for populist economic measures. They satisfied the base by treating them to a banquet of God, guns and gays while they looted the taxpayer trough. The Democrats, however, are making a sacrifice play on social issues and enabling corporatism by triangulaing against their own base.  . . . the White House positioned themselves as “centrist” after the widely popular public option was dispensed with, simply because it was something “liberals” seemed to want too.  What they’re forcing, however, is a situation where there is no place for populist liberal discontent to rationally go.
Hamsher ends by seeing a populist alliance opposing "kleptocracy"of the republocrats, but given the 2-party lock this can only be a domestic "war that will last for years."

On the coming War Decade, one need only extrapolate from Glenn Greenwald's piece on the Five Wars and the absence of clear thought about what to do. See also Juan Cole's Top 10 Middle East Crises, which are a fitting epitaph for the decade overall.  Obama seems even more manipulable than Bill Clinton by any accusatory nonsense the Right can dream up about his lack of masculine will to kill the terrorists and their infinite threat.  I'm also old enough to remember the Cold War, when the hysteria could at least base itself in a opposition to a real superpower, the Soviet Union, and its utterly unconquerable unappeasable ally, Red China.  Today's global mobilization against a crazy college dropout who lit his pants on fire only to be subdued by his fellow passangers, all of whom landed safely, and this deranged young man's several dozen committed al-Qaeda allies in Yemen, is frankly pathetic.  Some sorryass superpower we turned out to be, shouting and ranting and flagellating ourselves in public over a security lapse, and making ourselves feel better with threats of world war. 

The worst part is the shock and rage each time that someone obsessed with the US presence in the Muslim world tries to kill some Americans.  What exactly do we expect?  Either we are trying to rule the Muslim world by supporting dictatorial governments and reactionary monarchies everywhere, deploying dozens of military bases and advising local governments in the arts of political repression, scrambling for resources in competition with Europe and Asia, and backing Israel no matter how much it colonizes and mistreats its neighbors, in which case a portion of the affected populations will naturally try to kill us.  Or we will try to get them not to kill us by creating relations of economic equity, sustainable development, and political democracy with real local control (and hence disagreement with U.S. policy and favoring of local rather than U.S. businesss).  Can we grow up enough to even see that there is a choice here?  Not very soon, since the rage that suppresses thought is in sync with the loss of collective intelligence we suffered during the Cheney Years.  Obama doesn't have the chops to escape.

Hopefully, however, we do. Happy New Year no matter what.

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