January 30, 2012

The Creator predicted that Obama would a) fail to resolve America’s socio-economico-political crises, and b) would be a one-term President. The first has been fulfilled in spadefuls. The second may yet not be. It’s legitimate to ask why the Creator got it so wrong.

Let’s first review Obama’s accomplishments. He has continued his predecessor’s policies in withdrawing troops from Iraq while retaining colonial control of that country. He has continued his predecessor’s policies in transferring wealth from the public to the private sector, especially through “bailouts” of otherwise-unviable financial and manufacturing industries. He has continued his predecessor’s policies in attempting to dominate the world’s petrochemical supplies while extracting domestic petrochemical reserves at great speed and environmental cost. He has continued his predecessor’s policies in using U.S. military might to opportunistically use instability in countries to bring them under more direct control from Washington. He has also continued his predecessor’s policies in terms of the torture, detention without trial and murder of political opponents (although with a somewhat more energetic, mean-spirited and vigorous edge to his actions). These, which are to a great extent Obama’s main achievements, are things which the doorman at the White house could have accomplished.

So, what’s new? Well, he has passed a bill which, in the middle of his second term, will supposedly start ensuring that all Americans have health insurance. Which they will have to pay for, and since the bill was drafted by the health insurance companies, they will have to pay a great deal, ensuring that the bill will not, as it was supposed to, reduce health costs, but will instead further impoverish the poor — the very poor, of course, will end up getting healthcare, but then they could go to emergency rooms before. This is a modest improvement at best, and we don’t know how much of a real improvement it is (and since it is probable that the funding for the modest improvement no longer exists, there will be no real improvement at all).

He has, in cooperation with the Republican Party in Congress, passed a bill which mandates restraint on public spending. In other words, he has legally compelled the U.S. government to practice austerity, thus more or less guaranteeing slow economic growth and eliminating all likelihood of radical activities to improve economic or social well-being.

And, er, that’s about it. Gone a bit further down the George W Bush road, done something which might have been good but certainly isn’t very good and maybe is bad, and tied the U.S. government to a concrete lifebelt. Those are not accomplishments to go into an election with. So maybe the Creator was right to anticipate that Obama would not do well. Indeed, Obama is doing very badly indeed with the left, with black Americans, and with the activist “grassroots army” which supported Obama in 2008. On the other hand, he commands the unflinching support of the Democratic Party organisation, which has discouraged any primary challenges, so that Obama goes into the election without debate or discussion.

The main reason why the Creator anticipated that Obama’s first term would be an epic failure, however, was that the Creator assumed that Obama would be extremely weak on the economy. On the contrary, he has been strong on the economy, persistently redistributing wealth from poor to rich. By sequentially pouring public cash into private pockets, he has managed to keep the stock and bond markets from collapsing; indeed, they are flushed with the bright pink skin which comes from regular blood transfusions. As a result, the possessing class is quite happy with the state of the economy. As a result, Obama has retained the support of the Democratic wing of the possessing class, although the Republican wing of the possessing class is unhappy with him because he hasn’t poured enough public cash into their pockets.

Of course, the average Democratic voter is unhappy with the way things are — until recently the official unemployment rate was consistently above 9%, though it has now fallen to 8,5% — if it carries on like this, by the end of Obama’s second term, the unemployment rate will be only 1,5% higher than the worst unemployment rate under his predecessor. However, it’s unlikely to carry on like this — the forecast is for a slowdown of the current anaemic global economic growth. So Obama has alienated the blacks and the liberals (by doing nothing for either group after hijacking their support), while the workers have no reason to love him (in fact, the more unionised the worker, the more likely they are to be suspicious). Many blacks and liberals will sit the forthcoming election out. Some workers will actually consider shifting to Republican. The huge banking sector which turned to Obama in desperation in 2008 is fat, happy and has returned to its Republican roots. So Obama would be doomed, if it weren’t for his opponents.

What’s happened to the Republican Party is much more interesting than what’s happened to the Democrats. Like all social democratic parties, the Democrats have hollowed out to nothing. With no ideological content, they are purely an instrument to promote the financial gains of their party leadership. The Republicans, on the other hand, are a conservative party and, like all conservative parties, they have actual ideological values. In fact, they have, broadly speaking, two sets of ideological values. The one set, which might be called conservative conservative, says that the main goal of conservatism is to make money for the rich. The other, which might be called radical conservatism, says that the main goal of conservatism is to punish the movement’s official enemies — women, dark-skinned people, foreigners, leftists, workers and so forth — and to promote policies which hobble and disempower these enemies as much as possible. Since radical conservatism loves plutocracy, the two sides can get on quite well — but conservative conservatives do not generally hold all the opinions of radical conservatives, and therefore the two sides are in an uncomfortable alliance, especially since the conservative conservatives have all the money and usually have the final political say.

President George W Bush’s government was the most radical conservative government in American history, and it was a complete disaster. Part of the disaster arose from the fact that the conservative conservatives were able to become more radical than usual, and therefore plunged the country into further dependence on deficit spending and bubble inflation — immediately after the Clinton administration, which was also fairly radically conservative, had severely damaged the country with its tech bubble. Worse, they pursued their objective of gaining power by violence and intimidation with the threat of violence — “shock and awe” — and, as a result, destroyed American foreign policy by pushing numerous American clients beyond their limits. As a result, Russia and China were seriously alienated, and the failure of American intimidation bred rebelliousness in Latin America and South Asia.

The trouble with the combined failure of plutocracy and brutality was that it could not be acknowledged, because if the Republican Party admitted that its conservative ideology is misguided, it would lose all its reason for existing and become no different from the Democratic Party. The easiest way to avoid the problem is to say that the ideology is correct, but that it has been too timidly applied. Therefore, the Republican Party had an incentive to hand things over to the most extreme radicals. When the Tea Party appeared, it is tempting for leftists to assume that because it was funded by the neoliberal Koch brothers, it was simply a corporate scam. On the contrary, it represented an important element within the Republican Party (and to a degree with all conservative parties) — queer-bashers, wife-beaters, nigger-lynchers and Commie-killers. This hasn’t gone away just because the Tea Party has declined as an organised force. But the result was an upwelling of extraordinarily ugly politics, which was also delusory politics because it was founded on the assumption that all these brutal fantasies had not been tried and found wanting already, which they all had.

But in the end, when all the politicians thrown up by this force appeared in public, they all appeared too absurd to be elected. The last two nominees standing in the Republican primary contest were ex-Speaker of the US House of Representatives and major corporate lobbyist Newton Gingrich, and multimillionaire capitalist (and scion of the house of a failed Presidential nominee) Willard Romney. Basically, then, two men who are agents of plutocracy rather than of ur-fascism. Gingrich plays to the fascist gallery, whereas Romney is unashamedly concerned with the interests of his own class, meaning that Gingrich is more dishonest (and more desperate) than Romney.

However, this means that whoever stands against Obama is also standing in modest defiance of the core interests of a big chunk of his own party. It doesn’t help that Romney was governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts and enacted a healthcare programme there rather like Obama’s Affordable Care Act. (Massachusetts is an affluent state, so this programme was quite successful there, whereas nationally it’s far from clear that Obamacare would have worked out even without the gutting of public spending following Obama’s surrender in the “deficit ceiling” battle.) In other words, the Republicans have a similar problem to Obama’s, though naturally less extreme; no Republicans are going to march off to vote for Obama, but a fair number will probably sit out the 2012 election in disgust at the failure of their candidate to embrace sufficiently disgusting principles.

As a result, it seems probable that the race is going to be surprisingly close. Both candidates will be default candidates, supported not because they have made any promises to their constituencies, but because of party allegiances. Obama will be supported because although he has governed as a Republican, he calls himself a Democrat; Romney (probably) will be supported because although he is not a sufficiently extreme Republican, he is at least not a Democrat. This is not a new development, of course, at least not in the Democratic Party which has been going down this route for many years, but it is a more extreme version of the past, suggesting a further erosion of democratic values in the United States, in which nobody has any real reason to show up and pull the handle of the voting machine.

This is very convenient for the ruling class, given that the last thing they want is an active and informed electorate voting in their socio-economic interests. It is also convenient for the Republican Party, since the values of the far right will be promoted by both candidates.

However, there is probably another reason why this is happening. The Democratic Party is desperate to cling to what patronage it can find and does not care about ideological purity — therefore it is eager to put Obama back in the White House regardless of what happens. To them, the disarray in the Republican side represents a miraculous opportunity. The Republican party’s elite, however, are painfully aware that there is a strong possibility of a further lurch towards economic crisis as a result of the plutocratic policies which Obama is pursuing. In consequence, if Obama wins this November, he and the Democratic Party will take the blame for any disasters which are virtually certain to arise, and this could so demoralise and discredit the Democratic Party as to put it into opposition for decades, as happened to the Republican Party after 1932.

So whatever happens, Americans lose. Those of us who are not Americans may be grateful for that, since a strong, free and bold America is not good for the planet.


King Hussein.       

War is a Farce which Leaves us Moaning.       

The Obamanable Truth.