Friday, March 14, 2014

Left - Right Chasm Destroying US Democracy

Americans appear to live in a bubble. As I noted in my first blog here, some things US politicians do are so far in the left field that one would normally inquire about theirr sanity. Carter's mission to save the hostages in Tehran, Reagan's "joke" about outlawing the evil empire, Madeleine Albright's radio appeal in ridiculously accented SerboCroat to the people of Serbia to topple Milosevic, Dick Cheney travelling to Baku to convince Aliev to stop selling oil to Putin,  these are all exhibits, not of simply bad judgment but an astounding lack of  grasp of how the world operates.  There seems to be a large blind spot in the Americans' view of the world (and their own place in it), which sometimes translates into what the British socialist historian E.P. Thompson described as "dangerous craziness".  I am mentioning the political affiliation of the eminent academic to make a point : my best guess is that most Americans would instantly dismiss such a view of themselves as coming from an ideological adversary and/or an avowed America-hater. It is the property of their cultural blind spot that any negative view of America - or aspects of it - can be explained  by envy or a hostile animus to democracy.  There is no valid external view of the US if it is critical.  Write an op-ed piece to NY Times criticizing American "exceptionalism" and you are a KGB thug even though you cried at the funeral of Soviet dissident because you recognized him as a great Russian patriot.

    Problem is, Solzhenitsyn, who defined the archetypical Russian patriot's attitude to communism, distrusted America about as much as Putin does.  Why ?  It is simple.  If you are an American University graduate you would be revolted at a Saudi cleric's green light to marrying off a nine-year old. But you can't understand why the rest of the world is revolted by American politicos with average personal wealth in millions going berserk over a piece of legislation which guarantees that when a person is sick the first concern of a health-care industry would not be the prospect of making money off him or her.  You can't understand the revulsion because you are an American Idiot, who does not grasp the external view of himself.  You can't grasp why caring for the sick and helpless cannot be just another business, the same way a religion-obssessed paedophile can't grasp that a nine year-old is not a piece of ass. 

    There is yet another problem that compounds the issue.  If what passes for the liberal point of view these days had a corrective effect, perhaps there would be hope for America. But it doesn't. All it does is provide an irreconcilable alternative political fantasy. In the US foreign policy this projects as the absurd "humanitarian" wars, in which a part of country can be cleansed ethnically from people falsely accused of practicing ethnic cleansing, or a dictator in a country with a quarter of its population displaced by internal strife, accused of violating laws of war, at a moment he appears to be winning. 

   Domestically, of course, this supplies the run-away political platform which does its part in shredding the political fabric of the country.  For example, it was absolutely unnecessary and politically destructive for an American president to weigh in on one side of issues like gay marriage, the so-called Zero-ground Mosque in New York City,  or even inserting himself into an open judicial process in the trial of a killer of a black teenager. 

  I have attached Robert Reich's "Treason" pamphlet above as an example of the complementing demagoguery.  Note the hyperbolic narrative designed to set off political rage: "a small group of extremely wealthy people [seeking] to systematically destroy the US government",  "finding and bankrolling new candidates",  "intimidating or bribing many...senators and block all [sic] proposed legislation",  "taking over state governments",  "running a vast PR convince...of certain big lies", "buying up the media, so the public cannot know the truth".  It is not just the conservatives but also the majority of liberals who should be turned off by this inane rhetoric. How is this different from Vyshinski's denunciations during Stalin's Moscow show trials of 1930's ?  The GOP are painted as mad dogs, wreckers, enemies of the people.

   I call Reich's conspiratorial scenario inane because it promises no effect other than fostering a climate of distrust and loathing. It is not that it is completely false view of the political Right in the US, it is just that is articulated in a manner to that it ceases to be a  a political viewpoint within a civilized political dialogue. Instead it becomes an ad-hominem harangue whose sole purpose is to declare a dissenting political platform repugnant and destructive.        

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