Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Few Symptoms

A specter twice-removed, a meta-specter, haunts the US. First the fiasco with banks: it’s socialism, the right cries out, suspecting that Bush and Paulson have, in their enormous ineptitude, accidentally gone communist, sucked into some strange wormhole that unites the far left and the far right of the political continuum. . .

But then the plot thickens: the uppity Democratic candidate is secretly a Marxist; he wants to redistribute wealth; his first, middle and last names are an anagram of anti-American terror; the color of his skin a secret semaphore of racial solidarity and frightening Gospel music. . .

And so the established parameters of ideology collapse. One is reminded of Jameson’s claims at the end of The Political Unconscious that even the most reactionary ideology is utopian since it responds to, and therefore records, the drive for an egalitarian world. . . Now that these old, mouldering ideologies emerge from the rag-and-bone shop of middle class ressentiment, now that free-marketeers are departing the Republican Party for the conspiratorial melodrama and confused monetarism of the Libertarian Party, we must attend to the empty space their charmed circle of hysteria marks out.

Yes, of course, the bank “nationalizations” are nothing more than glorified governmental loans that force no writedowns of worthless or near-worthless fictitious capital nor direct the streams of available funds to the real economy; of course, Obama—surrounded by the deregulator and ex-Chairman of Citibank Robert Rubin, by the shock doctor Lawrence Summers, by the former Fed Chairman who induced an artificial recession in 1981 to kill off working-class power and with it inflation—is about as much of a socialist as Clinton. . . Still, the right is crying out for a worthy enemy. It looks at the empty spot called socialism, that ghost of the ghost which once haunted the US, with wistfulness. Up, socialists, wherever you are! Someone’s calling you!

1 comment:

zunguzungu said...

There certainly is something remarkable about how US politics seem to be converging on an empty center; every time McCain mangles a metaphor ("grow the pie"? Are you serious?) he just re-establishes how impotent the specter of "redistribution!" is. That would seem to imply that a marxist perspective should be finding more adherants, though search me for what form it'll take. But, like Billy Bragg, I'm still waiting for the great leap forward.

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