November 25, 2008

Democracy Ist Tott

"I didn't work all my life to be equal," a sentiment that has always run deep in the United States. For if the principle of equality predisposes us to restless activity and work in the tenacious pursuit of our own distinct standing amongst "equals," it also implies that our interests cannot be satisfied without a settled order to pursue them. Mobility thus oddly becomes alloyed to the stability of accepted norms which come to typify our middle class enthusiasms.

And insofar neo-liberalism has intensified these dynamics there has also been a deepening contempt for "the people" and all that is "common." As Jacques Ranciere puts it, "It is about the people and its mores that (we) complain, not about the institutions of power." Indeed getting on with our petty narcissism by withdrawing into celebrity spectacles and our own private lives actually reflect an infantile wish to be politically taken care of. "Just leave us alone! We want to be governed by elites so we can get on with our lives." The subtext to all the bailouts is that a healthy dosage of popular resignation is central to democratic politics because too much arousal, too much participation, on the part of the demos is simply too tumultuous, too dangerous. "The people," in other words, have neither the interest nor patience to develop their own informed opinions about such "complex" matters. Leave it to a governing class to liberate the demos.

November 20, 2008

Change Anyone?

A good exchange between Jeremy Scahill and David Corn earlier today on Democracy Now! Both these guys know their stuff but Scahill's command of facts has always been really something to behold. At the end of the interview with Amy Goodman he also stresses the importance of watching (if not pressuring) Obama NOW, just as the incoming begin to assemble - a point that a more "wait and see" approach could easily take for granted. See also Scahill's article "This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House" appearing in AlterNet, and Corn's "The Agents of Change on Obama's Transition Team" appearing in Mother Jones.