Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It is election day and very soon we will bid farewell to Bush Jr. his cabal of cretin-esque Neoconservatives, some of the best bad guys we've seen in a while. So as a going away present I thought I would present this video. A good friend of mine originally showed it to me for the obvious humor potential (what is up with that part where the rocket fucks the American flag!?), but after watching it a few times (and downloading the insatiable tune) I began to realize that it was best summation of Neoconservatism and the "accomplishments" of the Bush administration I have ever seen. Here is why:
1. National Greatness: let's start with the simplistic patriotism and gratutitous ammount of flag waving, all predating Fox News, nonetheless. In the very beginning it quickly and effectively sets up the American narrative: the war for independence, the Constitution, a couple of great Presidents, the diversity of our landmass, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Vietnam war. Nevermind certain contradictions like that Jefferson owned slaves or MLK Jr. opposed the Vietnam war, the point is that it was all uniquely American and America rules!
2. Creative Destruction: you can't have progress without blowing up a few buildings, crashing airplanes (hey, McCain...), bicycles or beating the snuff out of a few guys. Despite the fact that the phrase 'creative destruction' can be traced back to Bakunin and Nietzsche, here we are interested in arch-Neoconservative, Jacobin, democratic revolutionary Michael Ledeen's use of the phrase. To be fair, Ledeen probably got it from the futurist writtings of F.T. Marinetti while he was cutting his teeth with the Italian security services co-opting fascisti wild boys and making sure that the Great American Empire would righteously castrate an independent Europe (see previous post).
3. Natural Rights: the key to Hogan's Wilsonian ideology can be found in the lyrics, "I am a real American/Fight for the rights of every man." Despite that Hogan's glory is uniquely American, his duty and destiny extends far beyond our borders. Every true American, the song implies, must not simply take their freedoms and rights (which are given not inherent) for granted. No, he or she must ensure that every human being in world has these rights protected as well. Hence the precondition for imperial intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and anywhere else this particular notion of the Rights of Man is threatened. Also, notice Hogan's tearing up a photo of tinpot dictator Gaddafi, predating the obsession with other insular wannabe Bonapartes like Saddam and Chavez.
4. The last point more has to do with the medium rather than the message, though as McLuhan taught us, the relationship between the two is often closer than we think. So here we see Hogan's patriotic demagoguery amid throngs of flag waving simpletons who just love being duped by the spectacular theatrics of it all, just like people during election season. Again, Hogan's antics predate a key part of Neoconservative methodology: Idiot Populism. Reagan's clean cut cinematic bluster started it all but he was still a bit too obviously corporate for the sans-culottes who make up the small town GOP rallies. Bush's ranch hand persona took it step further and he pretty much sealed the deal with the flight suit, if only for that pesky issue of his unofficial AWOL from the armed forces. The final stage of this phenomena was, of course, the rabid mobocracy of McCain/Palin rallies which got all manners of semi-literate yokels in a tizzy about Obama bringing some sort of socialist caliphate stateside. Of course, legitimate fears about Democratic Party big government intervention into the lives of small town citizens couldn't be properly exploited because the GOP is just as guilty as their 'rivals' in this respect. Who could forget the Bush administration's creation of the Ministry of Information. Even leftists like David Michael Green have noted that:
at least now we can finally answer our pregnant question: Which American president has been the most socialist of all, apart from FDR and LBJ? The (really, really) surprising answer is: George W. Bush.
Monday, November 3, 2008
The New York Times Style Magazine is a generally a good read as it has pretty models, often showcases the elegance and aesthetics of better, past times as well as whatever vapid, cosmopolitan crap du jour the ruling classes are eating up. In the Men's Fashion Fall issue, there was an article on the paninari, subject of the great Pet Shop Boys song. For those who don't know (and I didn't until I read the article, I thought the song was just about buying Italian brand clothes in NYC), this was a subculture of Italian kids who emerged as a reaction to the darker or crustier groups such as Punks and Goths and whose "fashion choices were a way of socializing and publicly embracing appropriation- specifically, the American dream as defined by the quick and easy pop culture culture of the Reagan era. (For an Italian of a previous generation, a slow death would be preferable to a diet of foil-wrapped hamburgers, French fries and Cokes.)
What really caught my eye is the youth second to the far right of the picture with the Celtic cross tshirt and upon closer inspection (see close up) an Iron Cross on his pant leg. Given that this picture was snapped in Italy during the late 1970s or early 80s, it can well be assumed that this symbolism was supportive of certain ultraviolent neofascisti groups operating during the time as part of a dirty war against various far left gangs, the Brigate Rosse being the most famous. Of course, it later came out that the whole Blacks vs. Reds conflict was wholly superficial as generally both sides were being controlled by the CIA and NATO as a part of the last rampart of World War III, i.e. the [not so] Cold War, in an effort to protect Western Europe from Soviet invasion. Now while American and Western European anticommunist tactics played no small part in the downfall of Stalinist tyranny, the outcome was pretty inevitable given the crapshack of economic theories the USSR was founded on, not to mention the eternal truth of all totalitarianisms: they are their own wost enemy.
Of course, the whole dichotomy of the Cold War, that it was between two different economic systems: Free Market Capitalism vs. State Socialism/Communism was utterly false. As we all know, capitalism in the West is hardly based on free enterprise and a lack of government intrusion. Instead we see corporate welfare and a litany of laws designed to complicate and prevent any upstart small businesses from flourishing or the individual worker from selling his labor to the highest bidder. As for the USSR and other supposed socialist countries, as anyone with knowledge of theoretical socialism (either Marxian or non-Marxian) will tell you, the USSR and China are what is more properly defined a state capitalism as the industries within these countries were owned either fully or in part by the state apparatus and controlled by party bureaucrats. So while the fall of the Soviet Union and its various satellites led people such as Francis Fukuyama to declare victory for free market capitalism as part of a neo-Hegelian interpretation of the "End of History", as we have since seen (in addition to my previous remarks on the lack of truly free markets and enterprise) with such recent events as the Wall Street bailout, it is really state capitalism which is evolving and becoming the dominant, world wide economic system.
But getting back to the youth in the picture, what I find most amusing about the whole scenario is that certain elements, in fact the most radical sections, of the rightist terror gangs operating during the Years of Lead considered themselves disciples of Julius Evola. As such, they saw themselves as not simply fighting against just Commies but also against democracy, capitalism and the most levelling and tyranically banal aspects of modernism. They wanted to create a hierarchal, spiritually pagan and autarkic order to replace the most profane aspects of Western liberal democracy, in short everything the paninari stood for. Of course, the Gladio operation wasn't simply about protecting Western Europe from Soviet imperialism out of some heartfelt love of liberty and desire to protect those with whom we share a common heritage. It was also about imperialism, but of the order of Scrooge McDuck capitalism and the shiny barbarism of consumer culture. As I've mentioned in previous posts, a healthy, strong and independent Europe was viewed with suspicion from the State Department and their corporate friends as the cases of Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland seemed to prove the possibility of having a burgeoning upwardly mobile society while still providing such basic amenities as free health care and education. Of course since the victory of American domination over Europe we've seen these once socially democratic governments turn against their citizens with the most absurd, politically correct laws imaginable while accepting the most destitute and parasitical sections of the Third World, inevitably putting such a strain on the social services as to make them essentially worthless. There is no doubt that this will accumulate into a socio-economic crisis of Malthusian proportions within only a few years. End of History or civilization as we know it? As Rosa Luxemburg put it: Socialism or Barbarism? I think we all know which one is coming...