04 December 2006

The Monstrosity of American Party Politics

Some of you might recall the enthusiasm I expressed over the victory of the democratic party in November. Indeed, for me these days the entire goal is to find a way to be a bit optimistic and affirmative in a world of critical and political theory that strikes me as having become fashionably pessimistic and self-indulgent. As in all things, optimism is quickly diminished when confronting the corruption of party politics. Nancy Pelosi has decided to bar labor representatives from meeting with freshman representatives to discuss the economic direction of the country, thereby giving the middle finger to labor in the United States. I think this is a lethal error, and that moves such as this account for the rising tide of religious fundamentalism in the United States. It is not by mistake that the same demographic that once made up the labor movements of the past is today aligned with the religious right. The rise of Christian fundamentalism can be plotted against the attack on labor movements in the United States, starting in the early seventies. In the face of globalization and perpetual layoffs, and a lack of political representation, the only option seems to be one of becoming Stoic and turning towards God. No wonder we are inhabited by such apocalyptic visions. It's as if the United States has become Heideggerian, believing that "only a god can save us now".

For years I have heard the same argument over and over again: "The democratic party may not be the best, but there's no alternative. If you vote otherwise, then they will lose and things will be even worse than they are now." This line of reasoning is an example of a forced vel of alienation-- "your money or your life!" --and insures that nothing changes or is ever done. Concerted efforts need to be made to organize and create genuine alternatives to this status quo, and the spectre of this argument or line of reasoning needs to be demolished.

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Blogger Bones said...

I worked on capitol hill for many years. The idea that either party is better than the other at being fair is just hogwash. Majority preservation is the top priority of whichever party is in the majority.

December 06, 2006 10:11 AM  
Anonymous N. Pepperell said...

I've been meaning to comment, but have been having my standard collection of odd site access issues... I have a long-standing interest in how we can understand waves of religious movements in recent history - the topic always makes me think of Marx's offhand observation: “One may recall that China and the tables began to dance when the rest of the world appeared to be standing still – pour encourager les autres [to encourage the others].” Glossed by the editors: "The defeat of the 1848-49 revolutions was followed by a period of dismal political reaction in Europe. At that time, spiritualism, especially table-turning, became the rage among the European aristocracy. In 1850-64, China was swept by an anti-feudal liberation movement in the form of a large-scale peasant war, the Taiping Revolt." Personally, I think it's possible to specify the particular form taken by religious revivals at specific historical moments more precisely, but the observation that the disappointment of political hopes may channel energies into... other directions has generally seemed plausible to me...

December 06, 2006 12:38 PM  

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