Friday, June 22, 2007

Dig This

Digby, the much-beloved liblogger of the Kos/Atrios/Lake Dog On Fire crowd, delivered a speech recently at Take Back America, a conference for those liberals who believe there's a constitutional republic somewhere under the massive corporate boot that is America, and she, as we say in comedy, killed. Even The Nation ran Digby's text, and it has fast become a kind of manifesto for the '08 election and the seemingly inevitable coronation of Hillary. None of this is surprising. Online libs routinely employ political fantasy in their efforts to elect more Dems, regardless of what those Dems actually stand for in the real world. But what did surprise me was how taken my pal Jon Schwarz was with Digby's sermon. He should know better -- does know better -- but then, Jon weeps when reading "Watership Down." Such a sensitive soul has no chance in this rancid political environment.

Max Sawicky, on the other hand, saw Digby with clear eyes, and he continually shows that there are liberals who understand that this is a radical time, and that mush-mouthed pieties about "the American experiment" are not only useless, they are dangerous. If he keeps this up, Max will be must-reading once the Presidential Sweepstakes really gets rolling -- not that he isn't already must-reading, of course. For some reason, Max reminds me of Frank Zappa, with his mix of dry, sarcastic humor and direct political bite. But I believe Zappa was a Keynesian, so it's not an exact comparison.

While listening to Digby drone on and on and on about the wonders of liblogging, I felt like Joseph Cotten in "Citizen Kane", playing with his ripped program while enduring Susan Alexander's tin-eared opera singing. Then I had a vision of me seizing the stage armed with an AK-47, and forcing those present to listen to my speech:

"Hello, friends. Some of you may know me, but if you don't, you'll know me after tonight. I don't want to take up a lot of your precious time, but after listening to Digby's 6th Grade civics lesson, I feel the need to add my thoughts. And thanks to a rather loose interpretation of the Second Amendment [waves weapon], I get to do just that. Thank you.

"There's a film that I'm sure many of you have seen. It's called 'Network', and though it was first released about 30 years ago, there is much in it that remains very pertinent today. I'm thinking primarily of the scene in which the head of the corporation that owns the fictional network explains global political reality to his top star, who has urged his massive audience to protest and stop a financial deal between the US and the Saudis. As the character Arthur Jensen put it:

"'You think you've merely stopped a business deal -- that is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance. You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today!'

"'There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today . . . The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business.'

"Beautifully put, both by Paddy Chayefsky who wrote it, and by Ned Beatty who delivered it. And of course, the next Dem president will serve this enduring reality, especially if it's Hillary Clinton.

"I quote from that film, not only because it speaks to us more strongly today, but because on Digby's site, she features the image of Peter Finch as Howard Beale, the man to whom reality must be explained. Yet, when Digby posts about 'reclaiming' America, she appears to genuinely believe that there is an 'America' that can be reclaimed. This is childish nonsense, and as I said earlier, dangerous, because it furthers the fantasy that keeps us locked into this fixed system, a system owned and run by those who do see the world as it actually is, and operate accordingly. We will never even begin to break free of this system if so-called 'progressives' insist on speaking a mystical language, one that can be and is regularly ignored by our rulers. By doing this, we are essentially policing ourselves for their benefit. We may not, in our lifetimes, seriously undermine, much less dismantle, the corporate stranglehold on the planet. But we sure as hell have no chance if we cannot even identify what it is that holds us down, and speeches like Digby's, while all nice and good, helps to keep us obedient and docile to this system.

"Digby should be writing greeting cards, not political speeches.

"Well, I see that the SWAT team has arrived, so I gotta split. You've been a great audience. Take care, and God bless."