An anarchist's take on the "social safety net", which is, like Penelope's shroud, forever woven and unwoven while everyone sits around getting drunk on the host's booze: when contemplating the necessity of a safety net, it is perhaps worth asking if the highwire act is worth it to begin with.
Friday, January 27, 2012
So if I'm right -- if my liberal friends want to believe that the State is not just an emanation of the fundamental conflict of Many and Few, and this is why they have to keep believing, in turn, in the essential goodness of the Democratic Party -- then we push the question back a step: Why do they want to believe this fairytale about the State?Always a pleasure to see a writer I admire moving in the direction of dread anarchy, and I'll offer an answer to that ultimate question, which is that the question begs its own answer as surely as the inevitable answer begs the question. Why is the state? Because it is. Through all the dross, the thousands of years of philosophy and speculation, all the justifications and genealogies and taxonomies and myths of origin, no one has ever come up with a tale about the state that in its most fundamental essence goes one step beyond the old mountaineer's motto: because it is there. It is, when you think about it, an awfully curious ontology, and there is a certain poetic justice in the fact that the man who formulated it was murdered in cold blood by the very inanimate inevitability that he sought to surmount. How's that for a metaphor for the state?
As for the Democratic party, MJS wonders how anyone can believe in it--that is to say, not simply recognize its existence but imbue it with some quality of transcendence, or, well, what would we say in this spiritually denuded age?--some values, perhaps. Actually, I fall rather in line with some of the most-cracked crackpots of the so-called Right on the question: in an age in which the transcendent is at best a purchasable commodity, what else is there but the hierarchy of a kind of secular mother church? Fairness, moderation, equality, merit--the Donk treats its various political commitments like objects in a catechism. These outward expressions of an inner state are really all about a sick sort of grace. The often-remarked condescension of liberals is intimately familiar to anyone who's ever spent a few weekends in the pews.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
My boyfriend, who is in every way a better judge, arbiter, and possessor of taste than I am, and who therefore pays exactly no attention to politics except when forced into uncomfortable proximity by my own retrograde little fetish, asked best: "Why does he talk like that?"
While I was always bothered by Obama's fatuous grandiloquence back in the aspirational days of his campaign, it seems to me in retrospect an almost charming affectation, like Bush's phony drawl--a put-on so regularly worn that it becomes habit, and what, after all, is authenticity but the habituation of the self to its own autobiographical invention? If he never achieved anything even remotely resembling actually compelling oratory, he managed, nevertheless, to do a pretty good impression of an actual orator. If not a great performer, then at least a competent mimic.
But having taken office, he forsook pantomime for pedagogy, and every word he uttered, even when he attempted to crank up the emotional amplitude, came out clipped, sour, and disapproving; the giddy televangelism of his campaign was replaced by a pale parson right out of Samuel Butler; the change is especially glaring when he attempts to work in the word "folks," which has evidently wholly supplanted the tired "people" as the collective noun of choice in the political lexicon, though Barack Obama saying "folks want to get back to work" is like Bill Moyers saying "truck nutz on my F-150" or Tim Tebow saying "I am a heterosexual"--not so much inauthentic (see above) as implausible given the observable characteristics.
Did he say anything interesting? Jobs, mortgages, jobs, business, taxes. I seem to recall some generic bellicosity toward Iran and I definitely remember hearing that hoary Albrightism, "the indispensable nation." I have always enjoyed that phrase. It suggests a single, sad bag of Cheetohs resting lazily between the coil and the glass, refusing to fall into the hopper, and a single, sad, very fat man banging a futile palm against the other side of the vending machine.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I imagine a gang of uncomfortable rookie cops in some half-dark cafeteria multipurpose room like boys in sex ed while an orientation officer exhorts them to pay close attention before firing up the reel-to-reel and running a grainy version of The Third Jihad. No, really.
The thing was produced by the Clarion Fund, a crackpot propaganda arm of the crazed Jews who run Aish HaTorah (Fire of the Torah, no really), an institution dedicated to a particularly aggressive brand of Zionism. The Clarion Fund is pretty hysterical; it seems mostly to produce pornography for American Christian Zionists; its 990 filings are a gas:
Monday, January 23, 2012
In any event, I am happy to see that the advocates of democracy see it in the same light I do: as the final, bloody, catastrophic end of an aspirational selfhelpism gone completely mad with power.