Monday, January 14, 2008

Surrealistic crossroads

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3.7.10
Written well before the '08 election. Not too far off base in its expectations: "This can be the final victory of everything the '60s generation, myself and some others excepted, have made of the once-honorable word 'liberalism': ultra-race-consciousness having replaced race blindness, reverse discrimination having replaced discrimination, Third World cultural takeover having replaced the melting pot, 'sensitivity' having replaced free speech."

I underestimated the radicalism of the eventual victor and our present incumbent, a paper moon sailing over a Marxist sea.
But still:

"If I read the signs right, though, there is a growing resistance to that apotheosis, or apocalypse. Maybe this election will show that Utopian symbolism has become so smug that when the smoke clears it won't know what hit it. (Hint: what hit it will be a majority of the American people.)"


I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, "Save me if you please."
— Robert Johnson

They say that every palm reader and fortune teller divulges to the eager client: "You are at a crossroads." Politicians like to do the same. It's a bulletproof prediction: each of us, every moment of our lives, is at a crossroads. Thousands of decisions, great and small, determine our future.

The '08 presidential election, at the moment, feels less like a crossroads than a drug psychosis. It's a surrealistic melange of everything spooking the Republic in our time: religion, from Mormonism to Islam and back again, with stops at the evangelism tent; feminism; race; wars, past, present, and future; Third World colonization of the United States, by invitation; the brink of economic debacle as the great national credit card is near maxed out.

I'll admit to being a headline reader and news skimmer, so maybe I have missed something, but I cannot recall a presidential election year that seemed so vaporous and dreamlike. Except for Ron Paul, no candidate appears to have any ideas (as opposed to ideology, but even the ideologies seem blurry), proposals, stands. It's about glittery abstractions, each hungry seeker of the ovoid office riding a horse named Change, while neglecting to spell out what that change might consist of and how it might be brought about.

There seem to be no people running for president. There are only symbols, loosed from the depths of the national collective unconscious. Who we choose isn't supposed to be about the individuals asking for our vote, but about how we perceive ourselves. We're calling forth our Inner President.

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The question is whether our Inner President is a symbol of Feminism Triumphant, of Strong on the War on Terror triumphant, or of Racial Nirvana triumphant. Interestingly, just now, our bien-pensants of the media have decided that Racial Nirvana rather than Uterine Nirvana is best for us, whether we know it or not (but they'll live up to their responsibility to make sure we know it).

Writing in The Washington Post about "Obamamania," David Greenberg — despite a few reservations — seems to speak for those who see Barack Obama as an avatar of St. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Peter Pan.
Many of the voters and pundits who were thrilled by Obama's compelling Iowa speech 10 days ago remain intoxicated, heady with the hope that he can deliver not just "change" -- any candidate running would do that -- but a categorically different kind of change from Clinton or the Republican candidates. So what explains the magic?
What explains the magic is those, in and outside the media, who have given up on reason and analysis, and can relate only to show business — of which magic is one form. Ideas are a bother, require too much sifting and too many "talking heads" to try to comprehend. A symbolic savior, now that's more like it.

But what is it we need to be saved from? Why, America itself, of course. Our history is our shame.

The Obama phenomenon, then, stems not from what he has done but who he is. As the social critic John McWhorter has written, "What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land." He is the great white hope. … At the same time, Obama doesn't threaten or discomfort whites. He doesn't strike them as wronged or impatient, or as the spokesman of a long-subjugated minority group or even as someone particularly culturally different from themselves. As much Kansan as Kenyan, Obama does not descend from families who suffered American slavery or Jim Crow. His family tree has fewer slaves than slaveholders, fewer chains than Cheneys. ["Fewer chains than Cheneys"? What a desperate reach for cleverness.]
So, let me see if I can sort this. Electing Obama would be a ringing symbol that racism, which now rules our land, will no longer rule our land beginning this November. We will elect a Kansan-Kenyan who doesn't "threaten or discomfort" whites, who are normally threatened and discomforted by blacks, because Obama is only symbolically black. He's black or white depending on which way you look at him, like those optical-illusion drawings in psychology textbooks where the foreground and background switch. But voting for this black-white candidate is going to be racism's kiss-off.

It's a symbolic thing. I wouldn't understand.

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But maybe I do, actually. I think this election is the culmination, the high-fever moment, of the political correctness and social Marxism that have marched through our institutions for the past 40 years like General Sherman through Georgia. So far, it's only been a bureaucratic and ideological trend, but this is our chance (so Greenberg sees it) to ratify it through our quadrennial presidential poll.

This can be the final victory of everything the '60s generation, myself and some others excepted, have made of the once-honorable word "liberalism": ultra-race-consciousness having replaced race blindness, reverse discrimination having replaced discrimination, Third World cultural takeover having replaced the melting pot, "sensitivity" having replaced free speech.

If I read the signs right, though, there is a growing resistance to that apotheosis, or apocalypse. Maybe this election will show that Utopian symbolism has become so smug that
when the smoke clears it won't know what hit it. (Hint: what hit it will be a majority of the American people.)

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So maybe we are, in a fashion, at a crossroads. One road leads to the enthronement of intimidation and the drastic reduction of individual liberty, a small price (so our betters in the media believe) for the symbolic refutation of a racism that defines us. There is another road too. It leads away from anointing individuals for representing the overcoming of supposedly deep-dyed national sin. Its importance is not where it leads to, but what it leads us through — reality, which free men and women must shape as best they can.

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6 comments:

-J said...

Outstanding piece, Rick--just what I'd've said, were I more articulate. Thanks.

OT: Has anyone seen VA? Last post is three days old, and, from my browser anyway, it appears the "Comments" option has been disabled. (I know she was upset about hostile comments, but didn't hear that she'd decided either way.) One wonders if the Compassion Gestapo came and got her in the night.

Rick Darby said...

-J,

I've been wondering myself. But she has posted entries in the forum as recently as today, so if she is being held by the Compassion Police in a cell at Equality Central, she has tapped out messages through the walls.

David said...

Reminds me of my old post, Dog Language and Political Language.

-J said...

Ahh, forgot about the forum. Haven't been there yet--out of sight, etc. Thanks so much for the reminder and for the news that she's still visible.

Flanders Fields said...

Very good post, Rick. I'm enjoying the magic show from afar this time, and this time I'm happy that is the case. I would hate to be wrongly classified as belonging to that group of "Americanistas" who are running.

james c said...

Agree with -j, an outstanding post.

Obama, for the Philip K Dick fans, is a Palmer Eldritch figure. Promising so much redemption via a massive collective hallucination. But the reality will be quite the opposite. And then hopefully 'the fever will break'.