FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Praetorian Guard of Capitalism

by NORMAN POLLACK

Obama’s “Hidden Hand” political strategy in his second term (Peter Baker, in NYT, July 16) merits notice for its utter phoniness (and NYT/Baker gullibility), as though a low profile, designed to convey the velvet glove of measured yet steady reform, has changed anything in his presidency, which from the start has raised sophisticated corporatism, with its full antiradical implications, policies, consequences, to a high art.  Obama’s legacy—it’s too late for him to worry about this now—will be defined by his treachery as a leader and putative tribune of the people.  In retrospect, Nixon and Bush 2 appear as mere choirboys in comparison, not because of Obama’s “smarts” (he has the brashness of a hustler, which passes in our day for intelligence), but because he can use liberalism as a backdrop for the pursuit of consistently reactionary policies, domestic as well as foreign.  Liberals and progressives, especially, have been taken in, the latest enormous crime being massive surveillance which, once revealed, is allowed to become yesterday’s news, attention shifting instead to Snowden’s apprehension—an example where the real criminal seeks to pin the label of “criminal” on the one who exposes the crime.  Liberals/ progressives sit on their hands (perhaps that’s where Obama’s team got the idea of the “hidden hand” as the latest selling point to cover up a record which hardly needs covering up, so far has radicals’ rigor mortis set in) while data mining, Espionage Act prosecutions, the whole range of civil liberties made mincemeat of, all constitute only one area of manifold and fundamental abuses: the liberalization of cynicism, to render it palatable to the groupies, while the haute crowd of bankers, militarists, defense contractors, national-security advisors, DOJ apologists for international war crimes, and, as they say in the Shakespeare plays, diverse and assorted other characters, laugh in their teeth.

The “hidden hand” fits perfectly with Obama’s (and all of Washington’s, now that he has set the tone, and shown how easy it is to get away with it) compulsive-obsessive regard for secrecy, itself entwined with not only the over-classification of government documents (leading to a state-secrets defense for what amounts to as judicial immunity), but also surveillance per se, the need for control, the perhaps still greater need for acting with impunity, as with targeted assassination, without fear of discovery.  What a bunch of miscreants on which we, as a nation, have bestowed the public trust!  It gets worse, the further one probes: taxation, or the lack thereof, of corporate, banking, and individual wealth; deregulation, nonregulation, outright favoritism—take your pick, as economic concentration moves along, and the Boeings, GEs, Monsantos, Morgan, Chases, are doing very well, thank you; stonewalling and utter stupefaction when it comes to climate change; above all, a gargantuan military apparatus, and missions enough planned or secretly executed to please the most discerning connoisseur (aka, maniacal devotee of  murder, mayhem, and lethal instruments of terror), with little at all remaining to maintain a social safety net worthy of the name.  Under Obama, militarism = planned impoverishment.  Or if not planned, nevertheless operationally the result; for the country is suffering big time, as corporate profits swell, infrastructure crumbles, education is neglected, cities decay, private equity funds blossom, all amid the inhumaneness and colossal waste of military outposts spread worldwide, naval forces steam to the Pacific, Special Ops forces gain purchase on practically every continent, a veritable merry-go-round as the music spins in tarantella fervor the tune of counterrevolution.  The Obama Administration is the New Praetorian guarding the welfare of global capitalism, with a special nod to what is quaintly termed the US national interest.

My New York Times Comment to the Baker article (July 16) follows:

The “hidden hand” approach to presidential leadership is just one more public relations gimmick to distract attention from the substantive content of Obama’s record and policies. This was a failed presidency from Day One, when it became apparent that ’08 campaign rhetoric (replete with teleprompter, the Axelrod writing stable, and Americans’ desperate wish to turn a corner) was plain hooey. The appointment of the Geithner-Summers team of Clinton-Rubin deregulators was the tip-off to acceptance of market fundamentalism and Wall Street rampages with impunity. And the coziness of Obama’s relations with the CIA, JSOC, and the intelligence and military communities made clear an aggressive foreign policy (pace, Nobel Peace Laureate) composed of the Pacific-first geopolitical strategy, an escalation in paramilitary operations, and, with John Brennan and “Terror Tuesdays,” the extreme ugliness and ruthlessness of embarking on a personal course (far exceeding his predecessor) of armed drones for targeted assassination.

Obama carries on, with some new faces (e.g., Rice, Powers), and new slogans, such as humanitarian interventionism, but on his watch, and with his essentially nihilistic, opportunist mental framework, we as a nation are closer to fascism than at any time in American history.  Whomever constitute his “admirers,” presumably liberals and progressives, merely confirms that radicalism is dead in America, the victim of its own shallowness and false consciousness.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University. His new book, Eichmann on the Potomac, will be published by CounterPunch/AK Press in the fall of 2013.

 

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious madness in Ulster
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail