Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!

A Reply to Publius on Greens & Dems in 2004


Friend Gaius Publius,

I send you greetings from across the wine-dark web. As ever I welcomed the arrival of your epistle in CounterPunch, this time called “Candidate Dem and Citizen Green“. Because by now you’ve moved on to other pastures, I’ll remind you that in that chronicle, you spoke about the curious outcome of a poll conducted by Steve Perry, proconsul of the site Bush Wars, which you sought to understand through a rehearsal of not yet ancient history. I join you there, in spirit, across the vasty depths of time etc.

The scene you lay out is familiar from Chomsky and Vidal. I too agree with the drawing of its contours. Crudely, the U.S. consensus, broadly understood as the inertial sway of longstanding military, economic, and ideological commitments, render the person and even party of the president almost meaningless. It’s a structuralist view Foucault would approve of-the discourse speaks even the exceptional man.

I know. Chomsky and Vidal would say I misrepresent them, and rightly so, if for no other reason than the pessimism and passivity it implies. After all, if people make no difference, as in the dusty idea of historical inevitability that once caused oohs and ahhs on the runways of European Marxism, why bother? Yet both go on speaking as if their actions do matter. So let’s assume the choice we make isn’t wholly irrelevant. Then which will it be, discussion or disguise?

To answer that I need clarification, and to get it, let me characterize what you lay out by implicit tropes I think I perceive in the piece. Disguise entails a few victories amid defeats in a maddeningly drawn-out process, with mostly tacit acceptance of U.S. foreign policy and possibly even movement away from progressive domestic goals. Here, the world goes on, leadenly, dully, oppressively, beating down the dreams of significance.

Discussion, because of its extremism, more effectively brings out, as a character from Monty Python might say, the violence inherent in the system. Because of that, it may promise emotionally satisfying leaps through explosive movement rather than incremental adjustment. In this story the plot takes a decisive turn when the dormant conscience of a culture awakens when confronted with its own depravity. (Cut to Tiresias and Oedipus.)

No wonder discussion looks better. It’s dramatic, cataclysmic, big, whereas disguise is just one petty episode after another, with no hope of release. The question is, which is likelier?

The unconscious of language may lend us a figurative hand. The word “progressive” presumably comes from the idea of progress, advance toward a more perfect union, the realization of better standards of justice, peace, and pleasure. Also inescapable, like an uncanny overtone or the return of the repressed (if I may allow a nod to a properly repressed Freudian magic act), is the notion of the gradual, the shaded, the-progressive. To which the only sensible pomo American reaction is: quel drag! That’s not rock-and-roll. That’s work. That’s the daily grind. That’s accepting a limited capacity to affect the badness of a bad old world.

At this juncture, please imagine the tune with the lyric “Do you believe in miracles?” That’s because behind each so-called rational judgment a story lurks, with disguise and difference belonging to different genres, even centuries (diguise/18th/picaresque; difference/19th/romance), though we can leave that as a suggestive parallel rather than an academic’s deus ex verba. What we can say, as a would-be script doctor, is that disguise is all middle without an ending, while difference is boffo box office, especially with the right special effects, as long as we fade out before the hero must pull out the broom and shovel to clean up the tremendous mass of excrement left behind after all that excitement.

Either way, they’re stories, and sooner or later we’re back in the harsh sunlight, in a world that often as not serves shit for breakfast (though after a while it sort of tastes like chicken). Which would I pick? That would be telling. And like you, I decline to loosen that last veil occluding an august mystery. And then there are the vicissitudes: I’m awfully moody, and all literature is finally occasional, no? Plus my agent would never forgive me. The real money is in the sequels.

Semper parodus,

J. Alfred Don Quixote Rasselas Brown

J.A.D.Q.R. Brown can be reached at:


Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Cesar Chelala
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again