Saturday, January 21, 2017

Democracy Dumpsterfire

The pomp,the ceremony, the solemn rituals of fireworks and Bibles and "the peaceful hand-over of power" have concluded and a diverse array of white folks- hard working, hardly working, a few getting dividend checks, a few their disability checks- are enjoying a brief moment in the sun. Bumper sticker companies will re-set the type from Obama to Trump. Red baseball caps versus pink pussy hats.

And of course the opposition will enact its own rituals of stubborn defiance. Black blockers in hoodies "taking the streets". Angry housewives going to rallies. They will be asked to join things, sign things, send money and call their representatives. To re-engage as citizens in civil society, a pretty picture not just at odds with our obscene reality, but actually propping up the dangerous illusion.

I miss Hunter Thompson and his brutal willingness to pull back the curtain and expose the grotesque sausage making, the carnivalesque, morbid excess of power and those who enjoy (joissance) it. Tragically flawed himself, he could paint unflattering portraits of "actually existing" humans and not be accused of being politically uncorrect. In these times, displaying a bit of shaedenfreud that Kentucky coal miners "will get what they voted for" is to invite the ire of repentant liberals with no dirt under their own fingernails. But isn't this the most offensive form of condescension? "Forgive them, they are but children and know not what they do; voting against their own interests is sad but so 'understandable' (by us). Fuck that. Ignorant is ignorant, whether you went to Harvard or listen to Lee Greenwood.

Which is the perfect segue into this interminable, banal debate between "identity politics" and "class consciousness". Hillary versus Bernie blah blah. Except it's bullshit; Hillary is a tool (so sad) and Bernie was not prepared to take capitalism straight on. Talking about "billionaires" and "re-building the middle class" is not a radical critique. We see this playing out in less Kubuki form in France where "third way" fake socialist Hollande is challenged on the left by actual socialists and on the right by actual neoliberals. Unveiled political economy and a debate about ownership. How refreshing!

Rebecca Solnit believes just such an insurgency is possible in the USA. She, like Michah White, calls on "wild-eyed young radicals to take over the Democratic Party." But meanwhile there are hundreds of thousands of Women Marchers out there today, mobilized by social media all across the country, calling for what, Medicare for all? Nationalize the energy sector? Occupy the factories? No. They want their rights protected (including property rights) They will hear all about "Indivisible" or "How To Use Tea Party Tactics" to win back power. Maybe someone will mention Our Revolution. Planned Parenthood will get lots of donations. The Democrats will settle back onto their yoga mats, smartphone at the ready, so they can call their congressman in between posture changes.

Ken Ward, one of the Valve Turners facing 30 years in prison says "I think protests are absolutely inconsequential. Trump will welcome them. We need a totally different approach."


  1. I would also like to ask Ken Ward (brave as he is), if his action won't end up being inconsequential? Harsh? Yeah, probably, but I wonder in all honesty if there will be consequences for power stemming from his action.

    Today, I was struck by the Groundhog Day feel of it all. I know it is different and Trump is scarier (surreally so) than even W., but what will tomorrow bring from their slogans, anger, and protest?

    On another note, psychologically speaking, I think The Donald is very insecure and that ratings and praise matter to him. I think he is someone who will not be able to withstand ridicule, shaming, tarring and feathering.

    At the same time, I think we will see some crazy times ahead with the most conservative cabinet ever.

  2. I agree that Trump represents a high point in a profound "shift in the structure of experience" but his (and the other insurgents of the Right globally) populist band-aids for the crisis of capitalism will not stick for long.
    People experience the crisis as economic and cultural dislocation but try to express it through hollowed out "democracy". Through a Party or personality that is out of ideas...

    Which is why I always want to bring it back to climate, a crisis no Party, not even Greens, have a solution for. When things start to turn sour for the Donald and he is no longer the alpha hyena, the pack will turn on him fast, leaving little more than a red stain and some blond hair in the dust. Even though the Republican and Davos "establishments" are set back on their heels, I still have to believe it is the Market which will actually determine his fate. And that of his America First Project. How does he "drain a swamp" which is climate chaos, insurrection, automation and continued speculative finance? Right?