Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Last Refuge Standing

Isn't it cute when the New York Times discovers populism? Like rich kids in a petting zoo. Of course, the current populism is right wing, what with our new Leninist masters and the socialization of God's free market America. The Times features a lot of this lately, which makes sense, as they've long tried to show the right how evenhanded they are, and the sad fact that there's no serious left wing alternative.

At the moment, the mainstream "left," or whatever the fuck it is, still supports their president, ever hopeful that Obama will do what they fantasize he'll do. And even if he doesn't, if he stays true to the political class that groomed and promoted him, "progressives" will remain loyal amid the grumbling, especially come re-election time.

As I've said ad nauseum, this largely uncritical surrender to Obama, however modified it becomes, hands reactionaries the populism card, making nationalism, xenophobia, and related disorders attractive alternatives -- to the degree they are alternatives. Despite all the cultural advances, some of which have been weakened or rolled back, a large chunk of white America remains mired in flag-waving bullshit. They are easily courted by the Limbaughs, Palins, and Glenn Becks who speak the same backward language, however differently these propagandists actually live. Superstition maintains deep appeal.

Whenever I hear liberals gloat over the supposed death of the right, I tighten up, because those people and their offspring aren't going anywhere. In many ways, they are much more "American" than Obama-lovin' libs. Oh, you might counter, look at all those disaffected whites who voted for Obama. Surely real change has arrived!

Uh, no. Recall that Obama and McCain were neck-and-neck as late as September. The shit economy saved Obama's ass, even though he sided, and still sides, with the criminals who created this mess. That's when his HOPE dope broke wide, because what else can you offer powerless people you want to keep marginalized? How long that meth hit will satisfy the disaffected is unknown, but as with all highs, there's an inevitable crash. And then what do you offer?

I confess I'm as guilty as anyone who mocks reactionary views. The trick is trying to explain to someone who invests in reaction why his or her position is illusory, divisive, and beneficial to our owners. I grew up around plenty of right wingers, knew a bunch more in the Army, and remain related to a fair number of those who thought Sarah Palin would make a fine imperial manager (as did I, but from a different angle). I've had countless conversations and arguments about the issues these people consider important and timeless. It's not easy, and in many cases you simply hit a wall and that's that.

Take John Rich, a country singer recently profiled in the Times. Rich is yet another right populist, writing songs about Wall Street robbing the working man, which at one time in American history was a left concern. A variety of attacks changed that equation, primarily capital using the state to crush radical working class movements and agitation. Once the smoke cleared and the bodies dragged away, working class populism drifted steadily rightwards, where it remains. So for Rich to sing about fat cats ripping us off is okay, in fact encourged, since the rest of his message serves the very class he ostensibly distrusts.

Rich's "Raising McCain," which he performed at McCain rallies, pushes the reactionary myth that the US was the real victim of the Vietnam war.

“He got shot down/in a Vietnam town/fighting for the red, white and blue.”

Actually, McCain got shot down while bombing civilian areas in the North, killing who knows how many Vietnamese citizens. He didn't fight for the flag, but for those invested in the Grand Area concept of US economic and military supremacy (designed and led by Democrats, remember). That McCain made it out of Vietnam alive is amazing, given his crimes against the Vietnamese people. Imagine how a Vietnamese pilot, who had bombed Washington, killing countless civilians, would be treated if he were shot down and captured by Americans. Better, imagine how the United 93 hijackers would be handled had that plane somehow made a crash landing. It would be brutal.

In Rich's “The Good Lord and the Man,” about his combat-decorated grandfather, we hear:

"When I see people on my TV taking shots at Uncle Sam/I hope they always remember why they can

"’Cause we’d all be speaking German, living under the flag of Japan/If it wasn’t for the good Lord and the man."

Dissent is a gift from the military, which you can but really shouldn't express. Not if you love America like God does. The idea that Germany, much less Japan, could ever occupy the United States is ridiculous. The Pacific war was about access to and domination of markets, while suppressing nationalist movements, a service Japan's former clients tried to deliver for the US in Korea and Vietnam. And if Rich wants to thank someone for defeating the Nazis, he can tip his hat to the Soviet Union, which bore a huge brunt of the fighting and dying.

Somehow, I don't think that John Rich or his audience would embrace these points. Looking at the present culture, why would they?