Crystal Ball Gazing
I could wait for tomorrow to say I-Told-You-So but it's more fun to stick my neck out. Obama will send thirty thousand more in a staggered deployment despite Michael Moores heart-felt pleas: "with just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people...into cynics...you will destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions placed in you."
Actually, the only hope shattered was the one I had that after the capitalism movie Moore had finally developed a more sophisticated analysis of systems, but alas. He reminds Obama of "This great civilization we call America" ( the whole thing is a bit melodramatic) but he is infected with Americanism much like Beak. The question is: Will they become "cynics", apathetic, paralyzed, etc? OR will they become realists,ie mature, careful in their analysis, awake, even invigorated with new understanding? In other words; Radicalized?
Another question: Were Moore and other "progressive populists" responsible for building false hope to such a point that a debilitating crash was inevitable? Obama is also recognizing the new Honduran coup-supported President. He is also doing his usual head-fake end around on climate goals for Copenhagen and health-reform is an expensive gift to capital from the workers. Death by a thousand cuts. Here is what I wrote about enthusiasm loss in regards to a local graduate seminar studying the phenomenon:
“ During a visit to the University of Montana Oct 8 White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina spoke briefly about the political fire ignited among America's youth by President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign.” So begins an article about a group who is trying to analyse, in the words of one of it's members, “What happened? Where did all the enthusiasm go and why did it go away?”
“Messina offered no explanations why the passion subsided so rapidly.” Not surprising when we consider his role in maintaining ruling class control over a population trained to believe it participates in a democracy. This training has two parts; on the one hand drilling in the notion that “democracy” only applies to the political sphere and not the economic, and on the other, reproducing the belief that “politics” consists of voting every-so-often for a “representative”. These well meaning grad seminar students are perplexed about peoples apathy. “They do have an opinion, they do care. The weird thing is it doesn't translate to people doing stuff.” It's time these innocent students understood the role of ideology in reproducing class power and the role of the state in mediating that power. Armed with this understanding they would recognize that Jim Messina is steeped in “Americanism”, that powerful but strange ideology which is “detached and partially hidden” and which in a bi-partisan manner denies it's own existence. He is a high ranking member of “political society” and knows perfectly well how it is infiltrated by the ruling class and exactly where the revolving door to the business elite is.
The point is, Obama's and Messina's “Change We Can Believe In” has nothing to do with power. The “mass movements” this form of change advocates is all about Twitter feeds or Facebook pages, joining non-profits and paying monthly dues so you can get a newsletter which tells you to call your Congressperson. It is online donations to MoveOn.Org and filling out surveys. The young journalism students are “disappointed in the Democratic Party” because they fail to understand that it's role is to keep people from demanding change and that working within it's structure is the opposite of taking risk and using direct action, be it in the workplace or on the streets. Power rests in the mass refusal to join and the mass refusal to absorb “Americanism” or any other form of Market ideology. So the question for the graduate seminar is, how much “enthusiasm” might there be for a General Strike which demanded single-payer health insurance, or CO2 reductions or an exit from Iraq and Afghanistan or an end to Israeli settlement building or coal mining or don't ask-don't tell? How much “political fire” might be generated if they abandoned the Democratic party and demanded workers take control of workplaces and banks be nationalized and higher education be free for everyone? More than they have ever considered possible, I'm sure!
Happy Seattle WTO Anniversary!