Friday, June 13, 2008

Small Change

So Sen. Barack Obama has all but officially clinched the Democratic party's nomination for president. Change is under way! You know...Change! C-H-A-N-G-E! Chaaaaaaange!

Change! Change! Change! Change!

Following the eight years of massive war, inflation and expansion of police state tyranny that has characterized Bush's turn as almighty lord high emperor, which his fellow Republican John McCain appears to want to continue without so much as even a purely cosmetic alteration, that is the sacred unisyllable mantra chanted repeatedly by the Obama campaign.

How 1992.

It is perhaps quite understandable that many people, battered and dazed by the abusive juggernaut bearing down on them especially hard over the last several years, are tempted to hope against hope that this guy, this one guy, could be, somehow, "different" or "better." It would seem that amnesia and willful blindness are the primary symptoms of Battered Subject Syndrome.

For just as Bill Clinton merely continued the polices of Bush, Sr., but only more so, and with a lot smoother talk and a more charming persona, I have no doubt that Barack Obama, if elected, would merely continue the wars, inflation and abuses of individual liberty that were typical under Bush, Jr., but with the alluring seduction of high-sounding poetic rhetoric expounding supposedly high ideals presented as being far greater than any one individual. I couldn't sum up Obama's tired, retread, pathetic bumper sticker excuse of a platform and the predictable enthusiasm for it from the usual gang of idiots any more succinctly than the great Arthur Silber:

"Jesus God, deliver us from The Stupids. Every time the quality of public discussion in this country descends to previously unknown depths of superficiality, triviality, irrelevance, misdirection and outright lying, I think: 'At least, it can't possibly get any worse than this.' I'm always wrong, every single damned time. The determined lunkheadedness and ignorance of most Americans truly knows no limits. The current orgy of The Ugly Stupids does offer one grimly amusing and fully deserved bonus: most of the major 'progressive' writers and bloggers have been fully revealed as the putrid, nauseating crapfest those fourteen of us with open eyes and basically functioning minds have known them to be for some time. I have laughed very, very hard as I watched many of the major progressive bloggers enthusiastically advance the central storyline of this primary season pushed by...yes, that's right: Matt Drudge. The destruction of Hillary (and Bill) Clinton has been one of Drudge's most fervent and frequently announced desires, lo these many years. And progressive writers and bloggers are such wonderfully compliant dumbasses. Many of them joyously leaped to destroy Hillary Clinton, in precisely the ways and utilizing the exact terms that Drudge encouraged them to use.

"I hope you have a good appetite for heaping helpings of irony, sprinkled with bloody bits of cranial goo gathered from the progressives' teeny tiny, imperceptible brains. You're going to get a lot of it in the next five months. If Obama is elected, you'll get it for the next four or eight years...

"...[L]et us draw a distinction between the candidates' biological identities and what we might term their functional identities. McCain is a white man; no issue arises there. I am well aware that Hillary Clinton is biologically a woman, as I know that Barack Obama is biracial in hereditary terms. By 'functional identity,' I refer to the role all these candidates have chosen to play, in cultural and political terms. (Please note that what follows is not intended to mean that Clinton has not been the target of misogyny or that Obama has not been the target of racism. They have both been the targets of viciously irrational beliefs, for it is not a question of either-or on this point...) Because all three of these politicians have chosen to engage in national politics at the highest level, they have no choice about enthusiastically adopting all the indicia of the ruling class, for indeed they are the ruling class. That is, they have no choice if they want to win. And all three of them assuredly want to win (even if one of them seems to be out of the running for the moment, but much can happen between now and November, and even between now and August).

"Reflect for just a moment about what it is they want to win so desperately. Each of these three persons wants to be the most powerful ruler in the world. Given the nature of the weapons that will be at their disposal, they want to be the most powerful ruler in all of history, with the power to fundamentally transform human history and perhaps even to end it in significant part. Even if you believed that you acted righteously, with justice and truth on your side (let us set aside for the moment how one can believe that the power to murder millions of innocent people can ever be thought to be right or just, although I do not believe such considerations should ever be set aside), would you want power of that kind? If you would, I hope never to meet you. For any person who actively seeks the power of life and death over just one other human being, let alone millions of people, is deeply, irrevocably damaged in psychological terms. If we use the term 'normal' to designate those goals and motives that can generally be described as supportive of individual life and happiness, no one who wants to be president of the United States is remotely close to normal. When you consider the years of relentless, soul-destroying ambition that are required to approach the office of president, together with the indefensible compromises, the endless lies, and the constant exercise of power over others in less extreme forms, anyone who deeply desires to be president verges on a constant state of insanity.

"Yet one of these terrifyingly deranged people will, in fact, be the next president. Many Americans are excited, even thrilled, about the prospect, which tells you a rather important fact about most Americans, actually many important facts. I have numerous reasons for
dreaming of a stateless world. There are others, but these are among the most critical of them."

That Arthur always has a way with words. Go and read the whole thing.

Over at Antiwar.com, Justin Raimondo conceded that his initial enthusiasm for Obama has given way to disgust following Barack Christ Superstar's demonstration that he can pander to AIPAC with the best of them:
"I have to say I was wrong – dead wrong – about Obama. In my eagerness to find a bright spot in a rapidly darkening world, I grasped on to his alluring rhetoric and his at-times trenchant critique of the Bush foreign policy, like a sinking man holding on to a life-jacket. But looking for hope in all the wrong places doesn't create opportunities for peace – it only prolongs our illusions."
Unlike Justin Raimondo, I never had any illusions about Obama to begin with. And unlike Arthur Silber, I don't get too worked up over the fact that it appears as though a great number of people in this country are about to fall for yet another phoney-ass "Change-Change-Change" mantra yet again. After all, I would expect nothing else.

It would seem fairly obvious, I think, that if one were to survey American history spanning, oh, say, the past 100 years or so, a few things would jump out at them, such as, oh, say, the ongoing recurring pattern of war. (Of course, wars and a lot of other disturbing trends stretch much further back in American history, but challenging the long-term memory of most Americans too much occasionally proves to be a bit overwhelming.)

The U.S. government plunged this country into one war after another throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st. There were some periodic breaks, to be sure. Even a war machine has to slow down enough for maintenance every now and then. (Though even during those periods of "peace time" it was often used by its owners for small scale warmongering, lest any foreigners get the fancy notion that they were about to be left alone in peace.)

One other thing that may sort of leap out at ya is the pattern of massive economic booms and busts that oddly seem to be as recurrent as the foreign wars. One would think that, at the very least, others may get a notion to start asking some questions about these and a whole host of other issues too numerous to mention here.

But it would seem that a majority of people still choose not to ask too many questions, nor rock the boat too much. Questions, after all, can lead to some very scary places as many folks may find out that they have wasted most of their lives believing a pack of lies and fairy tales. Worse, it may actually dawn on them that inestimable numbers of other human beings were unnecessarily and avoidably annihilated due to the popular faith in superstitions they themselves helped to propagate. Better to keep living the fairy tales than to experience the painful discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

But people--the "ordinary" people, the workers, artists, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs--can change. That option is open to everyone. Individuals can indeed alter their ways of thinking and behavior. It is possible for one to admit that one is only human and prone to error, renounce the errors committed in the past, and chart a new course. Likewise one's neighbors and by extension one's community. Keep in mind that this is exactly what the John McCains and Barack Obamas of the world do not want. They want instead to perpetuate the illusion of dependence, that power-based relationships--of ruler and the ruled, governor and the governed, oppressor and the oppressed--are actually necessary in order to arrive at some kind of "common good" that is impossible to achieve without their highly specialized arcane knowledge and alleged expertise.

Our fellow humans inhabiting the geographical region commonly known as America continue to play along with the ruling elites' bipartisan shell game that keeps them subjugated and impoverished largely because they believe there are no other options before them. Conditioned from birth that they are mere mortal subjects in need of someone to direct them from above and thus ill-equipped to beat a different path, they feel an inexorable attraction toward somebody, anybody, to point them toward some path, any path. This, of course, is a recipe for enslavement and exploitation. Look to self-styled "leaders" for guidance, and the only kind of "change" you'll ever make is to veer onto a path of self-destruction.

This merely highlights and reinforces the fact that the most effective tools the libertarian activist can use are persuasive argument and exemplary behavior at the most local level possible. As the McCainiacs and the Obamites wage their irrelevant, superficial, non-sequiter arguments over whatever fate each would like to forcibly impose upon the entire country and mindlessly chant their vapid slogans, the truly committed libertarians get down to the work of real change--being a good and involved neighbor in the mutually respectful conception of that term, participating in and thereby helping to influence the local community to take a more voluntarist and humane path. Most importantly, the local libertarian is unafraid to engage others in dialogue that questions and critically examines all of our most dearly held preconceived notions.

This method seems to most to be a frustratingly laborious task with very few immediately apparent results. But being a movement opposed to the very idea of power itself--rather than merely seizing control of power--necessitates such a highly localized strategy. The kind of change necessary to evolve a more peaceful society in which human beings can flourish to their fullest potential unobstructed can only spring upward from a million different gardens.

A lot of small changes can one day add up to one mighty revolution.

2 comments:

Mike said...

Great post, I've linked your site now.

The only thing that mutes the horror of what you describe here is the probably unintended juxtaposition of "Chaaaaange" alongside your South Park icon, which brought "Night of the Living Homeless" immediately to mind.

Robert Kaercher said...

Thanks, Mike!