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19 July 2008
Putin or Chávez?

Which kind of strongman will be best for post-democratic America?

I’m already bored senseless with the presidential election. I assume Obama’s going to win, but either way we need to look past 2008.

Let’s look at Congress, which has a 9% approval rating. Let’s bear in mind that about 85% of incumbents are guaranteed reelection. Tell me again what kind of democracy this is supposed to be?

While Obama is unquestionably a better choice than McCain, there’s little hope that his presidency will be anything other than a disaster. As powerful as the president is, he can’t do anything without Congress (except start an unconstitutional war). And Congress is worse than useless. Since Obama isn’t close with the Democratic hackocracy, he will have less support in Congress from his own party than did Clinton.

As despicable as Bush’s administration has turned out, you’ve got to concede that the little ogre has a point. The president has no choice but to ignore the constitution, because Congress is incapable of governing.

When the Democrats took over at the start of the 110th Congress, there was hope for change. Amazingly, the 110th Congress was actually worse than the 109th. Other than their usual business of borrowing huge sums from foreign governments to stuff in the pockets of their already-rich buddies, our national legislators accomplished essentially nothing except for two more years of the war the Democrats pledged to end and an escalating handover of imperial power to the security gulag.

If there was any doubt that democracy in America is an empty word, it’s obvious now. No matter how unpopular Congress becomes, it is structurally incapable of anything other than looting the treasury for money to hand to the patroons. That was bad enough when it meant sucking the last pennies out of the piggy banks of the middle class. It’s far worse when the money has to be borrowed on a scale where it will never be paid back. (Of course, we all know that the U.S. will default on its debts to its own citizens before it stiffs international creditors. As the likes of American Airlines have showed us, pensions were another promise that American corporations never had any intention of keeping, and we’re being well primed for the day when the government sends all the Social Security dollars we’ve coughed up our whole working lives to money heaven. China, Japan, and the Gulf states will be paid back in highly depreciated dollars, but Mom and Dad will get to starve out their dying breaths in the street.)

But let’s not waste any sympathy on Joe Hummer and his t.v.-addled suburban family. Sure, they’ve been deliberately kept ignorant, constantly told they live in the greatest, most beautiful, richest country on earth, that the U.S. will butcher Muslims by the millions for their delectation, that they can rule the world from their La-Z-Boys and their only duty as citizens is to shop, shop, shop. Except on Sunday when they are to pray to a God that loves killing and greed. But even a populace as craven, selfish, and cynical as America’s shouldn’t have been fooled all the time.

Anyway, regardless of whose fault it is, the United States has become like parts of Latin America two generations ago. Its population is too politically stupid to participate in a democracy. Plus what passes for political discussion takes place on television (inherently fascistic), rather than in print media (which foster democracy). It’s time to get real: Even the minimal democracy that this nation possessed at one time is over.

Congress plainly cannot govern and the two-party system, heavily weighted toward incumbency and utterly corrupted by plutocrats, guarantees that Congress will never be able to govern. That might not be so bad if it meant Congress was unable to continue showering money it doesn’t have on people who don’t need it, but we know that trillions are going to be handed out to the wasteful, greedy, and criminal until we can’t borrow another renminbi. Congress’ only apparent purpose is to race toward economic ruin.

It will be a tragic turn in the history of this once great nation, but it seems inevitable that its half-witted inhabitants will eventually tire of the total dysfunction, corruption, and criminal incompetence of legislative government. They will demand a strongman.

Of course, the fiction of constitutional government will be maintained, much as the Roman Senate continued to meet well into the Middle Ages, even though Rome was an absolute monarchy ruled by the Pope.

In our time, two regimes stand out for their concentration of power in the hands of a popular strongman while maintaining a polite fiction of democratic rule: the Russia of Vladimir Putin (the real power behind the figurehead president, Medvedev) and the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez.

We progressives should continue our quixotic quest for better government, human rights, and a cleaner environment. But let’s also recognize that the ballot box will never again enable such goals to be achieved. We should realize that a miseducated, heavily propagandized, superstition-riddled citizenry is incapable of self-government and, to the degree that it’s capable of any political thought whatsoever, it will demand a soft dictatorship.

We need to ask ourselves which sort of strongman we prefer: a soft fascist like Putin or a communist fellow traveler like Chávez.

The disinfotainment media will lionize the American Putin as the savior of capitalism. Unlike Putin, though, our American strongman will not preside over an energy bonanza. Rather, he will suck the last drops of blood out of the working (formerly middle) class.

At that point, an American Chávez will follow the American Putin just as Castro followed Batista.

Perhaps the best outcome for what used to be the United States of America will be the liquidation by force of the wealth of its upper class, to be redistributed to people who currently have no hope of a decent education or health care. It’s hard to see beyond a future of abandoned suburbs, a ruined economy, millions of sick people with no medical care, fetid shantytowns, and junked SUVs out to the horizon. Under those conditions a disheartened but even more stupid and neglected people will demand that a big man take charge. We should not allow romantic ideals about democracy and republican government to distract us from the reality that the U.S. is headed for a strongman regime because our system cannot produce a legislature that can govern. We should be positioning ourselves to ensure that whatever Leviathan arises will smite our enemies, rather than ourselves. The government is already in the business of torture, mass surveillance, mass incarceration, and deceit. Since none of that ugly apparatus is going away, prudent strategy requires Americans to figure out how they can be on the side of the winners, no matter how brutal. We can expect the new strongman to imprison many millions more. We can whine about how the Bill of Rights no longer applies but, let’s face it: Americans are programmed to obey a man with a gun. For most of them, it seems, thinking is just too difficult compared to the ease and comfort of following orders.

There is probably no alternative to a full-bore police state with masses sent to concentration camps. We can only hope executions are kept to a minimum, but obviously a lot of people are going to be tortured. It’s pretty to think about fixing democracy through elections. Meanwhile, every citizen needs to think about his or her position in the post-democratic America of this new and disastrous century. Let’s be ready for street action that will make it more likely that the right people—financiers, media barons, inciters of religious hatred—are the ones locked up. It’s them or us, and they have no scruples.

Turn over another new leaf:
25 March 2008
Extinct Specie of Bear

Wall Street firm was, in fact, infirm.

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