FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama-Clinton: Siamese Twins of Reaction

Language is corruptive, giving legitimacy to present-day power relations, screening out critical meaning and analysis as fortifying existing power. Thus, liberalism, already in the 18th century code for a propertied-society valuing exclusive appropriation of wealth is stretched in 21st century America into a Cold War mental set that sanctions capitalism down the line, its militaristic underpinnings of survival and growth, and the commodification of the individual, socially regimented to represent the integration of patriotism and consumerism. From the standpoint of human freedom, there is little to choose between it and its supposed antithesis, conservatism. Both, as practiced in the US, lead to alienation and war, one needful of the other to stomach the national aspiration of global hegemony.

What brings on this seeming tirade? Simply, the hollowness and moral emptiness of the present Administration, which, by default, allows its presumed opposite to have credence, gain support, and participate, as a joint-partner, in the stimulation of false consciousness leading to an unqualified acceptance of capitalism in its true complexion as the systemic historical vehicle for inequality, expansion, aggression, reproducing within the society the features projected onto the world: a regimentation of sameness in thought and practice, an ideology of greed and selfishness interlaced with mistrust of Others, a compulsion to barbaric acts when viewed as the advancement of self-interest.

Obama’s recent seeming concessions to environmentalism, as though cleansing his bloody hands of armed drone targeted assassination, is a case in point: policy is unitary, setting aside national monuments not offsetting the nuclear modernization of America’s destructive force, its engagement in regime change, its mounting of global paramilitary and related operations, its drive—despite reports of national income gains—to increase/intensify wealth-differentiation, and with it, the basis of status, power, and ideological acceptance, all leaving not-so-pristine forests and lakes and atmosphere, sullied by the stench of war crimes, domestic hardship, a people of bitterness disguised as superiority.

But why single out liberals (for our purposes here, Democrats) when a presumed greater menace lies on the horizon, or rather, is conspicuously present: Trump and Republicans? I revert to the 1940s, a more straight-talking time, when words had their designated meaning. Confronted with The Donald, we would have characterized him as a political douchebag, dumb in all things save wealth acquisition, and on that score, beneath contempt for chasing the dollar as a private God, warmed-over fakery his stock-in-trade, altogether detestable were the society not already in conformity with his self-image. But it is, or is becoming so; and here we see the convergence of the Obama-Clinton and Trump syndromes, slightly alternative paths to the same destination: contemptuous of all that does not serve wealth and wealth-making.

The world’s people are so many inanimate integers to be plotted, victimized, abandoned when it suits, herded into settings and situations where profits can be extracted from them, looked down on and condemned so that they become habituated to subordination, a procession fed into the maw of capitalism. Could Putin and Xi possibly be any worse, either to their own people or the larger world? In fact, Putin and Xi are vital to American interests, inducing a patriotic response to any who might dissent from America’s hegemonic claims. Invoke the devil, to silence the worthy. Democrats and Republicans alike are skilled practitioners in red-baiting, and with rare exceptions, like the New Deal, always have been (with Wilsonian liberalism leading the charge in modern times). This is to say, Obama-Clinton, by articulating so well and so subtly the Right, legitimate Trump, who might, given substantive alternatives, stand out instead as the Clown Prince of Native Fascism. He doesn’t, because they, too, are playing on the same court, giving him ample wiggle-room to score at will.

Obama-Clinton extends the range of Reactionary politics, society, and governance, and makes them respectable, Trump merely polishing the rough edges. We await the verdict, not with trepidation, however, but with disgust. Anyone who can see light between the two candidates is a better observer than I—and parenthetically, I still want, for the sake of consistency and conscience, to see more done with foreign policy from the third parties. This is no time to be single-factored in agitation and presentation of an agenda. If policy is unitary, for all sides, issues are interrelated. One cannot speak on behalf of the environment, and simultaneously fail to make distinctions on the international scene. I realize this is unpopular to say, but Putin is not Obama-Clinton, and does not merit the demonization presently accorded him to make the American Left appear more patriotic. And even if he were equally reprehensible (a good 1940s word, like douchebag), America has its own problems to straighten out and rectify.

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.

January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
Paul Cochrane
Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria
Tom Clifford
China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older
Greg Grandin
How Not to Build a “Great, Great Wall”
Ted Rall
Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame
John G. Russell
Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring Out of LAUSD Headquarters
Patrick Walker
Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Uniting for a Green New Deal
Matt Johnson
The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three
January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail