Phrases for Thought: July 4, 2024

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

“The linkages between phases are not “right” or “wrong,” but rather suitable or unsuitable, useful or superfluous, meaningful or senseless.”

– Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute

If Biden runs and wins, we go along with an order of things established in his first term, an order of things structured and carried out by many, not just one by one person. A win means no revolutionary regime change, no one in the Democrat liberal “machine”  sent to Siberia. In the classic battle of Capital vs. Labor the Biden regime has tipped the scales to the latter, something  sixteen years of prior Democratic rule had not done, thus continuing the inequities of neoliberal economic dominance. You can expect that “Dig, Baby, Dig!” will be less of a shout out than “Leave It In The Ground!” On the culture war battlefield, you can expect Liberal iconoclasts to horrify and enrage hard shell Bible believers with ever new outbreaks of depressions and dysphoria in the “darkness at the edge of town.” (Springsteen)

If Trump wins he’s made clear as to what he intends to do in regard to retaliation, which is the big plank in his platform. If he wins, his winning ticket is his “hit list.” The real lust for this has proven beyond political pundits to handle. It’s a mass psyche psychotherapy matter.  Given Trump’s mercurial nature it’s hard to say for sure what he might do regarding anything else. There’s a good deal of Democrat paranoia here as to what he’ll do. As a real estate man he’s more interested in putting up a Trump Tower anywhere than starting a war, although his inclination seems to be to love the warmongers on the horizon. It’s all a mood thing with him. Follow the mood. No one in his regime will be there without having first bent the knee and kissed the ring. And placed his moral temper above what they may have salvaged on the way to his side.

What is certain is that Trump will do all he can to wipe out the Biden/Liberal order, which means one thing to Wall Street and another to those of Faith. He has a focus on people who get in his way more than on ideas liberals or neoliberals might have. Given the threat Capital sees in a Democrat order leaning socialist and the moral offenses felt by the religious Faithful committed by that same order, a Destroyer President computes as a good thing. He’s uncontrollable like the Kraken but his release is something the MAGA mind welcomes and the mind of Capital finds protective. He does like profit more than people. 

In a politics of spin and spectacle, clearly presented thought is like the long form essay vs. a TikTok video, dialogue and dialetic vs. TV “journalist” rants and social media cesspool spew. In a politics of celebrity charisma, of personalities and not platforms, the personal is blindly detached from a creating and supporting surround. The illusions of personal autonomy obscure the conditions and forces out of which the personal is shaped and words have meaning. 

It’s difficult to impossible to look at Biden debating and see not the crumbling person but a societal and cultural framing of discourse, practices and institutions, what Foucault called episteme. What camera can you put on that? Where’s the face? It’s like locating power. As Margaret Thatcher remarked to great effect, you as a person are clearly real but there is no such thing as society. It has no face. How easy is it, especially for the rugged individualist American, to recognize that a person has not a self created agency, is not a subject standing alone, but formed and expressing societal and cultural conditions/forces he or she lives within? Originality, autonomy, sovereignty are all embedded in the surrounding soil. 

The small percentage of Americans who don’t feel the difference between DEI and “Deep State” are marketing targets. If they show up to vote, they will decide the 2024 presidential election. Given the recent debate, it’s fair to say, that in this politics as personality contest it’s not so much Pepsi vs. Coke as bottom shelf vs. Jack Daniels. If you’re undecided now, you’re as vulnerable to a personality pitch as a pensioner is to a long term health insurance salesman. And if in the liberal view, the MAGAS don’t know the world Trump will put them in, it’s equally fair to say, that they definitely know he will destroy what they don’t like and don’t want in their world. Destruction is a world view. It’s a discourse destroying discourse, but we’ve already evacuated discourse, dialectic and dialogue from politics. Trump may be putting all that out of its misery. He satisfies that lust for destruction infecting the American mass psyche. 

The autocrat trying to practice autocracy in a self-doubting liberal, electoral democracy has to get in and get out, like Willie Sutton robbing a bank. The rule of narcissism, even practiced by the best of them, can’t eliminate opposing forces fast enough to avoid Mussolini’s end. The Liberal humanitarian DEI impulses won’t die off when Trump goes full autocrat. They’ve been coming to the boil since July 4, 1776. But Liberal guilt and “People First!” humanitarianism infected by Capitalist dividends doesn’t energize on Trotski levels. It boggs everything down to such a level that even a clear existential threat like the warming of the planet can’t be addressed effectively. The MAGAs have an energy of disruption advantage, like what Satan had in Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Perhaps something other than another Trump will rise from the ashes of the old, a return to what Biden succeeded in doing in his first term, though hardly recognized otherwise this coming election would not be bet on as a nose finish. Trump’s not original; we’re the soil from which he comes. The urge to destroy is not new either; the trick is to find a tool. The self-described Faithful see Trump as wielding the “Sword of the Spirit,” while dividend recipients see Trump as “Portfolio Protector,” dividends accruing to the right and the left, Liberals and Neoliberals both.

If you follow the money, it isn’t delayed or sidetracked by a debate performance. But real money, as Gordon Gekko tells us in Wall Street, is pleased to see politics turn to performance.

Joseph Phillip Natoli’s The New Utrecht Avenue novel trilogy is on sale at Amazon. Time is the Fire ended what began with Get Ready to Run and Between Dog & Wolf. Humour noire with counterpunches. .