18 October 2011

The Washington Post: If you don't get it, sometimes you write for it.

Anne Applebaum has a piece in today's Post that goes a long way toward highlighting the real problem of the supposed "liberal media": they stop at corporate liberalism and think that they represent the limits of rational thinking.

In her critique of the protests, which utilizes the now dominant trope of mainstream media both right and center (there is no left mainstream media) that the protesters "don't have a program/don't know what they want," Applebaum believes the protesters, by exercising their rights under our democracy, are in fact undermining democracy. It's a profoundly conservative argument that usually comes from knee-jerk reactionaries and those who think that anyone who protests inequality in America should "see what it's like in [name your third world dictatorship]," as though those are models we really aspire to.

It's essentially a lack of vision. Applebaum cannot see around her belief in theoretical democracy to understand the critique is leveled at a gamed system, a democracy that unfortunately has come to resemble more and more, as V.I. Lenin put it a century ago, a "political shell for capitalism" (State and Revolution 14). Applebaum actually -- and in proof of what many a deconstructionist might argue -- admits what she can't admit, recognizing in the Occupy movement a coherent message that the process is broken: "national democracy cannot command the allegiance of a billion-dollar global hedge fund, with its headquarters in a tax haven and its employees scattered around the world," she writes, but she simply can't sustain the critique, because that would call into question all the "economic and spiritual benefits" of globalization (I assume she alludes to her ability to purchase cheaply the products of child/slave/prison labor and her ability to take those products with her to a spiritual retreat in some ancient ruins).

Unable to think beyond the boundaries of our corporatized democracy, Applebaum retreats, after throwing a gratuitous dig at the Occupy movement's claims of solidarity with and affinity to Arab Spring, into a laughable conclusion:
“Global” activists, if they are not careful, will accelerate that decline. Protesters in London shout,“We need to have a process!” Well, they already have a process: It’s called the British political system. And if they don’t figure out how to use it, they’ll simply weaken it further. 
One could have said as much about the American colonists. They also "already had a process," it it also was called the "British political system." The fact of a process's existence isn't the point. Serial killers "have a process." The issue is whether the process works.


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Lenin, V.I. State and Revolution.1917. New York: International Publishers, 1932. Lenin does a fairly good job of describing our current situation: "A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and therefore, once capital has gained control [...] of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly that no change, either of persons, or institutions, or parties in the bourgeois republic can shake it" (14).


1 comment:

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