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Glad Tidings: To Us, a Fate Is Given

2016 beckons, America burrowing down into political Hell, its constitutional vestiges of freedom neglected and all but shredded, as the presidential campaign moves to a second stage, the first being to weed out and eliminate substantive disagreements between the parties over imperialism, unilateral global dominance, and their home-front complement, xenophobia and ethnocentrism. Whence the source of this structural-ideological Reaction? My nominee is an advanced stage of capitalist development in America senile whose inner workings have created widespread wealth-status-power discrepancies in the domestic context then projected outward through militarism and market-investment expansion as its systemic driving force to preserve a degree of cohesion in the polity, economy, and world position of the US. America is nothing if not overly-synchronized, all three interrelated, mutually dependent, polity shaking down from the mid-19th century into a hierarchical structure, the more class-ridden as it proclaims its own classlessness, economy, reciprocally entwined with class structure, acting as a complement of hierarchy through producing extreme wealth concentration and endemic under-consumption and unemployment among the laboring classes, finally, world position, the object of military-political-ideological striving for power and hoped-for corrective to a congealed capitalism, its hardening arteries premonitorily signaling economic breakdown and depression.

America conceives itself in a life-and-death struggle for survival, hence renewed confrontation (add China to Russia, as the major adversaries) beckoning a New Cold War, hence the tensions in the American mind-set taking the form of a pervasive fear-hysteria over terrorism, the anti-immigrant feeling stoking sub-rosa racialism and/or mistakenly implied radicalism, and a drive for the cleansing spirit of patriotism. Ironically, being on top of the global heap instils anxieties about becoming displaced, which is taken to be the struggle for survival. Exceptionalism gives rise to a paranoia over displacement, thereby driving America further into the rock-bottom of political Hell, present happenings, e.g., drone assassination, covert action, regime change, the war-criminal activities of servicemembers, recently come to light, each typifies the controlled sadism commensurate with maintaining pride of place in the international system and together pointing to an aforementioned senility characteristic of declining Empires.

Santa’s sled is laden with lethal weaponry of death. It doesn’t have to be this way, Christmas itself even fully secularized has the potential for affirming life through showing consideration for others, particularly the weak and disadvantaged among us, concretely taking the form of a social transformation equalitarian in spirit, character, and condition. But that appears beyond our ken, where hegemony trumps harmony and peace, capitalist social organization with its numerically tiny ruling group trumps commonwealth (savor the word, as the wealth shared in common, including its environmental as well as social-justice significance!), where contempt for privacy via NSA massive surveillance trumps respect for the individual’s freedom of thought, political security, and human dignity, and where heavy-handed consumerism trumps a life of the mind and sense of uncluttered purpose. Accordingly, the synchronization is now complete, added to polity, economy, world position, we see war, intervention, and the debasement of the human being into a fear-struck, hate-ridden, agent of destruction aimed at all coming within our purview, perhaps most of all, ourselves.

Too pessimistic for the Holiday Season? Tell that to Obama, who has finessed America into a war-provoking posture under liberal auspices (liberal as, not only resistance to, with intention of destroying, radicalism, in truth, its historical function, but liberal also as the liberalization of proto-fascism, to give the State internal powers of repression, external powers of militarized expansion, and sublime dedication to the fortunes of capitalism itself, through what I have been describing in these pages as the interpenetration of business and government for the promotion of monopolistic self-regulation and greater wealth-concentration)—Obama frankly my villain du jour, more so than Clinton and Trump, because he has dressed a socially inhumane system to which his own measures have contributed mightily with a patina of tarnished gold to cover over the demise of whatever democracy in America remained, both at home and abroad. Wall Street may be an overworked symbol which, worse, has led to simplistic thinking and the consequent remedies affecting the American structure of power, but it will do in a pinch until we take the measure of capitalism’s systemic foundations in generating prodigious wealth and ramifying, octopus-like arms reaching into, and corrupting, the heart of the nation’s identity as a free people. Morgan, Chase is free, Monsanto is free, the new genre of US arithmetic is free, i.e., billionaires emerging from myriad dung heaps of finance and industry, yet the average Joe or Jane Doakes, in direct correspondence, is NOT free, partly through his/her fault in allowing such a system to arise and cheering it on by endorsing the Obamas, Clintons, Trumps, of this (unseemly) world, but beyond their, really our, passivity, there is a structure of power grinding on, taking full command of what might politely be termed the sources of knowledge and organs of opinion-formation, directed to a fast-enclosing social order. What is to be done?

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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.

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