Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Speaking Truth to Non-Power

I'm boycotting President Obama's State of the Union address tonight – not because he's not appealing; in fact, he's the first president in decades who hasn't made me wince, and who I could stand listening to. And it's certainly not that he isn't intelligent, or even that at least some of his intentions aren't good. It's that, basically, he – like so many of his predecessors – is simply a puppet, and a tool of the established power structure. What this means is that he won't say anything that they disapprove of – and believe me, this speech is probably one of the most heavily-vetted in history. I suppose I shouldn't complain, since our “system”, such as it is, still values the opinions and approval of the “little people”, in some way. A completely totalitarian or fascist system wouldn't give a damn how people felt, or what they thought, as long as they obeyed orders. So in that sense, one could say that “public opinion” is the last vestige of democracy, even if it amounts to no more than a tool of the power structure. Since any important election is fixed – not necessarily in terms of outcome but in terms of who is allowed to run for office – and since all domestic and foreign policy matters are worked out in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms – the ability to openly express most, if not all, opinions constitutes an interesting remnant, and one which seems to be tolerated by the Regime, since it doesn't really have any impact on the agenda. There is, let's admit, a bit of subtlety in a government that lets people say pretty much what they like, and go through the charade of voting, but then proceeds to do whatever it damn pleases – this is something a bit new in history, since up to now it has usually been the case that freedom looked free and slavery looked like slavery – as I discussed a few posts back. But now we have slavery that looks like freedom – or at least is represented as such – and this seems to contribute more to the convenience and efficiency of the Regime than brute force would (not that that is entirely lacking either). Again, it's the soma of the modern world – a delicate combination of anesthetic and intimidation, along with institutionalized ignorance (the media, public schools, etc.) and plenty of creature comforts and distractions to ease the pain. And let's admit, even notoriously brutal, totalitarian regimes have found it necessary, from time to time, to mount a podium and harangue the citizenry about how good life is under their rule, and how miserable things are everywhere else – and therefore unquestioning obedience is called for, “or else”. Ideas retain their power because every citizen cannot be supplied with a whip-wielding taskmaster 24 hours a day. Sooner or later we must have some level of belief and confidence... or, failing that, intimidation and fear combined with resignation... but not to the extent of total despair, which might cause people to simply lay their burdens down (unless they belong to the class that had no burdens in the first place). No, that would be a bit much even for the connoisseurs of misery, of whom the 20th Century saw such great numbers. And so it is, from day to day, the choice of the Regime as to how much of the total motivation of the citizenry falls in the “carrot” vs. “stick” column – and also how much of the “stick” is made up of fear of known enemies (e.g. communism), unknown enemies (e.g., “terrorism”), or the government itself – not to mention that new crop of fears based on known and anticipated environmental disasters – a source of fear that has now reached levels not experienced since the Black Plague. (The 19th Century had tuberculosis, the 20th had cancer, and now we have a veritable market basket of plagues and afflictions that “only the government” can fend off.)

So what is Obama going to talk about tonight? Will there be any surprises? Of course not. The “hope and change” parade float has been looking pretty flaccid of late, and I doubt if he can do much to re-inflate it. Of course, he will trot out the usual list of ills, and the usual suspects – mainly you! The citizen! -- but his proposals will already be colored with the pale hues of doom and futility. As an example, one of the more earth-shaking proposals will be a “freeze on government spending” for – are you ready? -- “non-defense discretionary” programs. Do you realize how little those add up to, in terms of the total budget? The vast bulk is either defense (formerly – and more honestly -- called “war”) or entitlements (which are not discretionary, i.e. no power on earth can do anything but add more). So a freeze would be working at the margins, and would not even begin to tackle the real problem – and yet that's all he can offer. He certainly can't offer to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan (and wherever else we choose to go next) because he has been told, in no uncertain terms, that those efforts are off the table, non-negotiable, and are not to be touched. Can he stop the “bailouts” and the “economic stimulus plan”, even though those programs are rife with corruption and based on fraudulent premises? No – even though, as he and his subordinates claim many times a day, he “inherited this mess” -- because he has now asserted ownership and stewardship over those plans and, at least by implication, the entire economy. Can he change course on health care? Not in any significant way, since that mountain of programs has already accumulated a vast army of vested interests that will not allow it to be neglected for one moment longer. And speaking of vast armies of vested interests, how about all the programs dedicated to ending “global warming”? Unh unh – that ship has sailed. Whether global warming is entirely a hoax, or at least a hoax in some major respects, the die is cast – we're going to be pursuing that particular snipe hunt for decades to come.

So really, nothing will change, and the rhetoric will not change either. The message will continue to be that the citizenry are helpless victims (although some are more helpless, and worse victims, than others), and that only the government can keep total disaster and annihilation from overtaking our republic. By which it is meant that we have to keep channeling wealth from the middle class to the wealthy (and politically connected) while keeping a few crumbs around to toss to the “poor and underprivileged”. And you will hear – I have no doubt – many references to the beleaguered middle class, and how they need a break. Don't believe it! The middle class has a big, fat bull's eye on its head at this point – put there by the liberal elites – and nothing Obama says, or seems to promise, is going to erase it. The battle, as I've often said, is not simply one of economics; it is also a class war, and a culture war, and a war of values, attitudes, and life styles – and the American middle class is slated for extermination on all of these fronts. It has already been fatally compromised, in fact, by the government's takeover, over the past few decades, of large sectors of the economy... and by its agenda-laden regulation of what remains, e.g. small business and small farming. The final blow – which is in the works even as we speak – will be health care. Once the government gets to decide who lives and who dies, it's going to have a profound effect on people's attitudes – toward government. When health care becomes a political tool, the potential for oppression is already there; it might not be manifest right away, but it will be hanging over our heads. What possible use will the Regime have for middle-class “values” when it puts the finishing touches on the two-class society of the New World Order – a totalitarian state consisting of the controlling elite and a vast, faceless mass of serfs? This is the “dystopia” that so many writers have warned us about – and I can see it coming closer each day. The difference, I guess, is that in the novels and movies (and comic strips, for that matter) it's colorful, and dramatic, and actually kind of interesting – whereas in real life it promises to partake of what has been termed “the banality of evil”. It won't be interesting, and it won't be fun, and it won't be picturesque. It will be a kind of ragged, shopworn version of the Scandinavian welfare state... you know, that system that has produced one of the world's highest suicide rates. And yet this is the bottom line of virtually everything that has been proposed and enacted by liberals ever since the New Deal – and is now being accelerated by the Obama administration. And their excuse? “Capitalism” has failed – and so collectivism is the only alternative. Will his speech tonight include some token pot shots at Wall Street, the banks, the auto industry, real estate, etc.? Again – he might be allowed to huff and puff a bit because it looks good on camera. But he knows who's really in charge, and he knows that he's been bought every bit as completely as his African ancestors might have been. And I even suspect that he is starting to resent the fact, as it dawns, more and more each day, how little power he actually has. He is showing signs of stress – but not for the reasons usually offered (“frustration at not getting his programs enacted in a timely manner”). I think it's more like: “Wow, I'm just a figurehead, aren't I? Just like “W”... just like all those other clowns. I thought I might have some real options... some real choices... but apparently not. So what do I do – blow the lid off the whole thing, and expose the massive hoax? But that would never do; I must soldier on, otherwise what becomes of my image... my legacy?”

I have yet to witness the tongue of a politician clinging to the roof of his mouth after he has delivered lines that he knows full well are complete fabrications. I guess that's just in their makeup; it goes with the job, and if they couldn't handle it they'd be in some other line of work. What it does to their dignity and self-respect is another matter. I don't think we'll find out the answer from Obama tonight, or for the next three years. Hopefully he'll wind up with more insight than Bush, who left office every bit as befuddled as he was when he went in. But that insight won't do him, or any of the rest of us, much good. He is only the most prominent captive -- the highest-ranking slave -- of the powers that be.

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