Monday, September 02, 2002

We're just starting to see American progressives coming to grips with the fact that the 'election' of George Bush wasn't just politics as usual, an unfortunate turn to the right but nothing different than the elections of, say, Nixon or Reagan. This Bush junta (I keep using this word to signify a government by generals and big business as English really doesn't have a word for it, most English-speaking countries not having experienced it) represents a complete paradigm shift in American governance. It is not just a particularly right-wing government, it is really a new type of government entirely. To call it 'fascist' or even 'neo-fascist' really doesn't help us to understand it, although it certainly has similarities to past fascist governments. Try to imagine someone even as bad as Reagan getting away with the things that Bush gets away with every day. Even at his worst, Nixon couldn't imagine the kind of state that Bush and Ashcroft are heading toward, and he certainly couldn't imagine being able to do whatever he wanted without the slightest hint of criticism. If you read the transcripts of Nixon's tapes, his thought processes, though twisted, seem to come from an entirely different time. Bush's junta has been planned for years (and if saying that it has been expressly planned for years makes me a 'conspiracy theorist', I'd prefer to be so labelled than to be thought to be blindly stupid). It involves the complete control of all media outlets, the complete corruption of both political parties, the complete emasculation of progressive politics by the subtle corruption of identity politics until all progressive politics can sneeringly be labelled by the right as 'liberalism', the creation of complete forms of political philosophy generally called 'neo-conservatism' or even 'conservatism' (which it definitely is not) to provide the facade of legitimacy to a philosophy which is basically the celebration of psychotic worship of greed and selfishness, the promotion of political power in the hands of people who have insane views on religion (in what other country would the phrase 'born again', which appears to be an attempt to avoid guilt by mocking God and lying to yourself, be a term of praise?), and the complete control of the judiciary by an extremely aggressive and single-minded use of the ability to appoint and/or approve. As I have said before, it appears that those in power have decided that their ability to make money the old-fashioned way, by running businesses and making profits, is coming to an end, and the time has come to strip the country of all its portable assets and head for a no-tax island somewhere. The rest of the world is starting to see American foreign policy as simply the calculation of the extent to which various countries can be looted for the benefit of the junta. These calculations have reached their nadir in the case of Iraq, where the United States is apparently going to have a war and kill thousands of people, against the wishes of every other legitimate country in the world (Tony Blair appears to have lost his mind), simply to steal the oil of Iraq to line the pockets of American oiligarchs. Of course, all this change is going to lead to domestic unrest, and the AshKroftian security state is being created to deal with this unrest, Kamp by Kamp, with all opposition snowed under the fake 'war on terror' (and people who dream of Ashcroft being replaced will eventually have to face the nightmare that he's not going anywhere). I think the most characteristic aspect of the new 'American way' is its extraordinary aggressivity and single-minded pursuit of the selfishness of the tiny percentage of people which the junta represents, and the glee with which class warfare is being fought on their behalf. So what does this leave the opposition to all this evil to do? As Anis Shivani asks: "What is the role of the liberal opposition during a fascist dictatorship?" It seems to come down to two choices:

  1. You can leave. Of course, during the European bout with fascism many liberals fled to the United States, where they, particularly the liberal Jews, reinvented U. S. high and popular culture. Canada benefitted greatly from the influx of draft dodgers during the Vietnam debacle. Fleeing to Europe or Canada (though Canada may not be far enough away) may be the only option. It won't be that difficult a decision, for it won't be long before the U. S. simply isn't habitable for any one with a conscience.

  2. You can fight. But if you do decide to fight, you have to realize that the usual liberal niceties no longer apply. You can't negotiate with poisonous snakes. These people rightly perceive you as a pushover, and as a victim. They will stop at nothing to ensure that their greed and selfishness prevail. It is no longer possible to play around with identity politics. The supporters of the junta are fighting pure, unadulterated class warfare, and are fully aware that they are fighting class warfare.

I don't know what Americans feel about leaving, but it won't lead to any improvement in the United States itself. It should be fairly obvious that the political option won't work, as the whole system has been too corrupted for too long. I assume the war on Iraq will be timed to provide maximum political mileage to Bush, with voters expected to vote with patriotic spirit for the party of the Commander-in-Chief (and the body bags to start returning after the elections). There isn't going to be any mass protest, as the majority of the population is so innocent of the facts that it feels everything is going well. Even the old standby, civil disobedience, won't work unless the message of the civil disobedience is widely communicated, and the controlled media will ensure that the message will be hidden. It may seem crazy, but the only thing that will break the junta is the impeachment of Bush. Even if it didn't succeed, the operation of the impeachment process takes so much energy out of the President that it makes it difficult for him to do anything except try to manage the process (remember what it did to Nixon and Clinton). The only thing that will impeach Bush is the role of the junta in September 11, either the terrible negligence (or worse) in allowing it to happen, or, what is more likely but also more difficult to prove, actual involvement by part of the junta, with the tacit approval of the President (think of the odd relationship between Nixon and the Watergate burglars), in the events of September 11 in order to use the fact of the terrorist attacks for domestic and foreign goals of the junta and the people it works for. This isn't a hopeless case. New evidence and excellent analysis is coming out every day, and there is still much important work to do on the data we already have. I have three comments:

  1. Progressives have had an almost allergic reaction to so-called 'conspiracy theories', and have never wanted to have anything to do with them. This may be a reaction to the fact that the paranoid style in American politics has tended to be right-wing lunacy. I personally feel that if the system is run in a generally conspiratorial manner, it is dangerous to try to pretend that the conspiracy doesn't exist. Failure to come to grips with the conspiracies in the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, and incidents like Watergate, the savings and loan scandal, and Iran-Contra, has played the major role in getting the system into the mess it is in today. I would go so far as to say that it is impossible to understand the class structure of society without the use of the tools of the conspiracy theorist. If you want to continue to believe in coincidences, perhaps you should move to Sweden.

  2. Remember it was Nixon's misuse of the office of the Presidency to attempt to cover up the role of his associates in the Watergate burglary (in particular, by attempting to manipulate the FBI and CIA), not the burglary itself, which led to his downfall. It also required the connivance of certain members of the elite, using The Washington Post as a weapon, to play the evidence out in such a way as to lead to the end of Nixon's Presidency (remember, Watergate was a right-wing coup). Progressives have to hope that there are still some members of the elites who hate the junta (and I think that there are signs that such people are beginning to operate).

  3. There are three areas of danger to Bush: 1) the non-reaction of the U. S. military to the attacks, which is either extraordinary incompetence, or intentional; 2) the fact - and it is a fact - that Flight 77 didn't crash into the Pentagon, which proves, in and of itself, detailed foreknowledge of the nature and the timing of the attacks, not to mention one hell of a cover-up (remember Nixon); and 3) at the deepest level, and the most difficult to prove, political connections between al-Qaeda and the junta, to the extent that we should see the events of September 11 as a joint operation of al-Qaeda and elements of the junta.

This is starting to sound like a manifesto, and maybe it is.