FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama and Keystone XL: A Bastardized Legacy

Obama’s rejection of the pipeline extension for transmission of a portion of Alberta tar sands oil on November 6, already the subject of three solid critical articles in CounterPunch, reveals the political and ideological nihilism of his presidency and actions of his administration, an effort at legacy-building when all else has failed. How could it be otherwise, for who wants a legacy of being known as point-man of the American Corporate System (which he is!), obfuscation in the name of liberalism his signature method of operation, deep-seated impulses—even when not showing cause, as though wired into his make-up and belief system—toward war, intervention, regime change, and feelings of power through personal approval of drone assassination, covert action, persecution of whistleblowers, mass surveillance, an identification with the purposes of US global hegemony given practical meaning in the reliance on force and exultation of all things military? When one begins with that context, the archetypal capitalist front man, it is difficult to take seriously his rejection of this pipeline project as other than planned deceit to burnish his image, at the same time attempt to silence his environmentalist critics, and fend off opposition to further contamination of the atmosphere.

Obama’s record on climate control (like so much else in the 2008 campaign, he made promises about taking strong action on the environment, yet did not introduce plans to use the EPA to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants until mid-2014) is inseparable from his larger treatment of corporations, as in making the security and profitability of US business near-absolute under the provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There are no soft spots in his economic policy; the welfare of major industrial-financial enterprises is possibly second to, and even then interrelated with, militaristic expansion, itself less for its own sake than as the basis for market end investment penetration in an American defined and guided international political system. US multinationals of practically every description are fully intended to operate as vehicles of national power (privatization as the simulacrum of American Exceptionalism) and furnish impetus for the further tightening of the structure of advanced capitalism, in both cases complemented by a strong military underwriting the principle of globalization.

What has this to do with oil, natural gas, coal? Extraction, like consumerism, becomes a god-given right (and rite!) to the superior among individuals, corporations, nations, an instrumental approach to life and statecraft alike which reflects the amoral core of capitalism, the mindset of plunder and take no prisoners. Of course there is concern about energy independence on the level of policymaking, but that hardly explains the lies about the effects of fracking, methane, the turn in strategy to ever more dangerous methods and sources of supply, all pointing to the rapid acceleration of factors promoting climate change. It is as though the nation under Obama intends the outcome, takes pride in self-deception, values denial as an expression of loyalty to capitalism, and ridicules science as faintly socialistic. Only the poor would suffer, marginalized already, and therefore not to be considered. Do I exaggerate? Let’s go back to 1950, Theodor Adorno and colleagues, in The Authoritarian Personality, use the f-scale [fascism] to show the unitary character of the human personality structure, the interconnectivity of ideological views when it comes to attitudes toward the individual, society, and government.

Obama cannot obliterate fellow humans through drone assassination and pursue constructive policies on global warming. He cannot pretend to putting in place environmental safeguards when the entire infrastructure of delivery systems (with the lone exception) with the attendant risks ignored has now been constructed, even including ports for the export of oil. What is here lacking is a moral conviction that the affirmation of life requires social justice broadly conceived to apply to nature as well as persons, that respect for one, to be authentic, necessarily entails a respect for the other. By his leadership, fusing Wall Street and militarism, he proves incapable of addressing societal problems, for whether oil or natural gas, the emissions’ floodgate is wide- open; pollution goes with consumerism as the genius of American life. Obama is content to go along with the tide, a legacy of spoliation and carnage perhaps altogether fitting for the role the US has set for itself in the world.

More articles by:

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.

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail