The USA: Scarecrows on the March

The USA: Scarecrows on the March español

Atilio Boron

Translated from the Spanish by Machetera

Those rulers whom the gods wish to destroy are first overwhelmed by a crisis, then coaxed into promising the suffering a radical and effective cure for the maladies of the age and finally damned because their policies are lukewarm and ambivalent.  Obama was a victim of these vicious and vengeful gods who decided to give him an exemplary thrashing in this Tuesday’s elections, taking away control of the House of Representatives, a number of governorships, and reducing the Democratic majority that remains in the Senate to its absolute minimum.  More seriously, the doors to the loft that holds the worst scarecrows in U.S. society, the angriest and most agitated of them all, were thrown open wide, catapulting a number of them to the Senate or the House thanks to a vote from a public that has grown increasingly imbecilic thanks to the patient work of the great media of mass confusion.  For some time now they’ve been working to turn a large part of the U.S. population into those “trained thugs” of which the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci spoke.  Thanks to all this, the U.S. public has accepted as valid and reasonable, affirmations that would have provoked incredulity or hilarity among the most backward and superstitious people in medieval Europe.

The catalogue of idiocies contained in the statements from the Tea Party is endless, above all, if one considers that in previous polls, 88% of the people polled had openly criticized the U.S. economic situation and the government’s poor performance in confronting it.  Despite this, that “it’s the economy, stupid,” as Bill Clinton’s campaign put it, the slogans of the ultra-rightwing cave-dwellers ranged from strenuous denunciations of Obama, accused of being “Anti-Christian” or a “Muslim in disguise” who wanted to destroy the American way of life, and even going so far as to say, as Sharron Angle of Nevada did, that for rape victims, a pregnancy could be viewed as “God’s plan.”  Then there’s the unimpeachable Christine O’Donnell, the frustrated senatorial candidate for Delaware, who practically went hoarse proposing two new – and formidable – tools to combat the economic crises that through their efficiency will probably gain their creator the next Nobel Prize in Economics: sexual abstinence and the persecution of the blazing legions made up of the disciples of Onan, their minds clouded by their solitary erotic practices.

Other fanatics, like Joe Miller of Alaska, wanted to build a Berlin Wall to stop the entry of immigrants, and Rand Paul, now a Senator for Kentucky, admitted that he didn’t totally support the 1964 Civil Rights Act, that was a decisive step forward in the social and political integration of African-Americans.  That people such as this should have become protagonists in the U.S. political process is an extremely clear indication of the moral and political decay eating into American Rome.

And of course, it’s bad news for the rest of the world, starting with Latin America, because if the militarization of the international scene and the paroxysm of U.S. military spending has turned this planet into a very dangerous place to live, the gang of hyper-extremists with the Tea Party at their nucleus can only make things worse.

Who is responsible for this deplorable situation?  Of course, it follows long-term structural tendencies that have come to affect U.S. society.  There’s a reason this country chose presidents like Reagan and Bush Junior in the past.  But in the near term, the responsibility falls again on Obama’s presidency and the incurable ideological limitations of “progressivism.”  If in Italy this trend opened the doors to the tragic-comedy that is Berlusconi, and in France to Sarkozy, in the United States, Bill Clinton’s “third way” and Obama’s hollow reformist phraseology (remember “yes, we can”) and its absolutely predictable failure resulted in a violent swing of the pendulum toward the extreme right.

The thing is, how can one effectively confront a crisis with a team of economic advisers led by Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, themselves mentors of the complete deregulation of the financial markets during their successive terms as Clinton’s Treasury Secretaries, and CEOs and operators of the speculative giants located on Wall Street?  The White House’s answer to the crisis only served to rescue the huge oligopolies, leaving millions of U.S. Americans to their fate.  Why wouldn’t they react with despair after feeling abandoned by their government?  Why wouldn’t they throw themselves into the arms of this gang of delirious survivors from the Mesozoic era, promising paradise on U.S. soil through the slaughter of Hispanics and Asians, the castration of onanists, the persecution of homosexuals, and the exaltation of the civic and republican virtues of sexual abstention?  Why, in the face of a confused, contradictory and timid government, wouldn’t they call for an end to Obama’s “socialism” and a return to the golden age of free markets?

In less than two years, the highly celebrated Obamamania was reduced to smithereens.  Its timid feints at reform remained just that: financial reform, supposedly designed to regulate the schemes and crimes of Wall Street’s “white collar” pirates, did nothing for anyone: too little too late, just like the reform of the health system.  Luke-warm reforms only serve to irritate the rich and powerful while demoralizing the poor.  True: no-one asked Obama to build socialism; but it was naïve to try to resolve the capitalist crisis without being willing to force any of the large capitalists to foot the bill.  Instead, a consensus was reached on measures to “exit the crisis” alongside the people that produced it, and so it was.  And to top if off, “social networks” (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) were confused with being appropriate tools to build political power and do battle with circumstantial enemies. They might have, and do serve to crystallize the momentary mood of large masses and call them to large public demonstrations.  But to fight the capitalists, quite a lot more than that is needed.  And Obama doesn’t have what it takes.

Argentinean sociologist and author Atilio Boron is a friend of Tlaxcala.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity.This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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