Friday, October 02, 2009


Rising Above Politics, Joe Bageant.

"Sure, they may kick a lot of Republicans asses out of office next election. Big friggin deal! For my people, the same feudalist deal is on the table as ever: work hard, kill when you are told to, trust your betters, and everything will be all right. Plenty of highly politicized leftists and their meeker kin, the last hopeful Democrats, came up as hard as anyone I've described here. The Democratic Party definitely doesn't want them showing up like bikers at a cocktail party and talking real populism. Because there ain't no big money campaign contributions behind populism.

Look at it this way: Black America suffered lynchings, police dogs and fire bombings just to shit on the same toilet seats as white Americans like you and me, and ultimately waste their lives in front of computer monitors next to us on the same electronic plantation of the gulag global economy swallowing America and the rest of the world.

And so, still I ask (and who am I to ask anything?): Are there any progressives or leftists willing to come out here into the hinterlands and offer the first step. True populist hope? Spell it out in "see-spot-run" language? Talk about our bad teeth and why our elderly parents are rotting in pisshole nursing homes owned by ex-car dealers and attended by imported Asian physicians who barely speak English? Or the dynamics of hopelessness that drive the meth epidemic out here?

It will take an entire lifetime of commitment amid a crumbling world. And it will continue to crumble around us even as we work. There will be not one ounce of glory or acknowledgement or public reward. But it lies there before us, the first fearful and questioning stone on the pathway to the liberation of mankind.

True populist politics could give us a quarter turn in the right direction. Genuine socialism could put us on the approximate path to justice. Eco-politics cannot save us from the inevitable, but at lest it can teach us to deal with our limitations as a species upon this earth. But one begins the journey at the start of the path, not the promised land at its end."

---- I used to like Joe's catchy rants. Now they seem predictable and rehashed. In large part the populist/socialist "movement" fails for the simple fact that its representatives are bullshitters pushing a heart-warming tale about the "liberation of mankind." They can't save their own teeth or tend to aging parents - but they can start you on the path to the promised land.

I can remember when "liberal" was the thing to be - now it's "populist" - the club which typifies the common man. Populists can pander as well as any pol - all they need do is denounce the status quo and make generous promises - like all pols, a populist claims to believe in the virtue and wisdom of the common man, especially those common enough to qualify as candidates for Springer-type talk shows.

Number one problem for - populist progressive liberal left - is they are always looking for a gimmick, and always using the same gimmick as everyone else - to break the "feudalist deal" the Democrats and Republicans stick you with, promise.

Joe uses the "true populist politics" phrase - that's the catch isn't it? Proponents of anything always use "true." In its "true form" true capitalism, true socialism, true communism, yadayada. What a wonderful world it will be as soon as we get that "true" ism.

Let's look at some "see-spot-run" language.

Bad teeth? Meth does that. So does sugar, liquor, lazy lack of routine brushing, maybe a cleaning at the clinic now and then, a lifetime commitment to our own health, you think? My grandparents rarely if ever saw a dentist - yet they had their own teeth for 80 years. What they didn't have was access to junk, they brushed with baking soda on their fingers; floss was a broom straw. I see kids today as young as 4 with rotting baby teeth, sucking on a soft drink with a bag of chips. And that is the fault of ... ? Capitalism? Hopelessness?

Look at those elderly parents in "pisshole nursing homes." Why is that? No one wants to bother with mom or dad? Have these unfortunate nursing home clients simply been labored to death by the economic gulag? Today is the disposable generation - accustomed to shrugging off any inconvenience; throw-away parents, throw-away kids, throw away teeth...

My dad was a hopeful man regardless of circumstances; hope for me, hope for my brother. He worked in the field all his life, drank a 6 pack of beer once a year listening to the World Series on the radio - he considered it a luxury, an indulgence. He drove a tractor until he was 79 - left the field one day, mentioned some chest pain and died, his mind still sharp, his body a little stooped and slow. When I was 16 I nursed my mom for months, dying of cancer. A nursing home never occurred to us, or the neighbors who sometimes helped.

Yes yes, I know, one of the excuses today is that people have to work and have no time or skills to care for aging/ill parents. Yea, as if we didn't have to work "in the old days", back then we were all born with time and money and the skills to nurse our dying loved ones.

Imported Asian physicians who barely speak English? Yep. But I speak to Americans who have been here in the 'hood for 400 years and can't understand half of what they mutter. Knom'whu'mm'sain'?

Dynamics of hopelessness driving meth epidemic? Which came first, the meth or the guvmint check? Does anyone see the correlation between the "welfare" state and the drug epidemic?

Hopelessness - having no expectations of good, of success. Who are you expecting to give you and your children hope - yourself or the government? What makes you believe anyone or the government should move the stones on your path?

Yep Bubba, populists will be wise and virtuous, handing out hope and success - probably in a voucher.

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