Sunday, April 13, 2008

Do Republican voters believe in progress?

People sometimes think I have an unnecessarily dystopian view of the future. Brazilian development: favelas, palm trees, ten percent of the population owning seventy five percent of the wealth. To what alternative view could one realistically subscribe? It's possible to isolate, within the spectacle, a "vision" of exogenous "waves of progress": the specific basis of trickledown economics. I recall at university this being pushed as the dominant view: that which is actualised, the most modern, the most scientific. It's worth asking to what extent this view is accepted.

America's CEO

I don't pretend this is especially scientific, but I think the recent recent Republican contest in the U.S. approximately gauges assent to neoliberal ideas (against a limited pallette of alternatives) within a bloc of the population important for the manufacturing of consent: America's middle class. Support for Romney could be taken to more or less track approval of these ideas as explanation, narrative, packaging. Support for the other two main candidates would track dissent from this.

For no good scientific reason I'm persuaded that for most people Romney's very comportment radiates the "stable waves" of neoliberalism:

"your boss is a worker like you. He just works more productively. This work benefits everyone. You ought to vote for your boss"

(My paraphrasing. And I think it's right to stress this aspect of his campaign. It's surely a mistake to think Romney's neoliberalism is polluted in some way by a militarism in contradiction with it, or at another level, his mormon beliefs.)

I suspect the failure of these ideas to be adequately persuasive is testified to by thousands of now useless "America's CEO" mugs, caps and mousemats piled up in a warehouse somewhere in Michigan.

But what on earth can the platforms of McCain and Huckabee represent if they are obliged to depart from the dominant ideas of the dominant classes whose interests they aspire to serve?

Again, rather subjectively, McCain strikes me as a proponant of disaster movie rhetoric; the whole thing in The Towering Inferno, security guards improvising a useable system, the bourgeois system having melted into air. An odd relation with bourgeois civilisation and it's institutions, this imagination exceedingly pleased by the thought of setting up a control checkpoint in MOMA or the central library; making up a barricade from a Richard Serra installation or amid an Ice Age diorama: "The Museum's under control Maam". A reified pragmatism, basically.


traxus4420 said...

the way i see it, republicans have about 5 rhetorical 'faces,' which they move between as needed:

1) Romney-esque bootstraps neoliberalism

2) religious revivalism

3) Randian "free-the-Aryans" libertarianism

4) aw-shucks "did i just bomb that tharr" bumpkinism

5) this hard-nosed pragmatism in the language of the disaster movie that you associate with mccain

The important thing is that the strategies 1) pretends to intellectually justify be allowed to determine policy while 2), 3), 4), and 5) work PR. 2) and 4) placate the faithful/confound the opposition while 3) and 5) name the Other.

I think just as a general rule 1) works the best in the mouths of pundits and journalists, not the president.

5) may be more useful now that all america's enemies are either inhuman (global warming, the recession, arabs) or fellow republicans. you can't say anyone's not trying hard enough, ergo everything is overcome by inexplicable forces of destruction that must be stopped at all costs public and private.

traxus4420 said...

maybe 'inhuman' just means a threat that crosses race, gender, and class boundaries. the richest 1/10th of 1% doesn't count, obviously.

catmint said...

I like your system better. It's a rich seam of comedic possibilities, the GOP.

I've been reading C Wright Mills' Power Elite today, from 50 years ago and it seems so prescient. The way these contradictions go on being contradictions. He says something like the right wing politicians are spared a certain amount of hypocrisy. and today the British Prime Minister, Brown, is on TV undergoing the indignity of being seen to be taking instruction from the CEOs of the big banks.

That's by the bye, still don't vote for the GOP.

Le Colonel Chabert said...

the right wing politicians are spared a certain amount of hypocrisy.

but now a certain rung of true believers, or bad faith pseudo true believers (performers in public, relying on the ability to run their routines), are a little miffed.

the confidence of the out in the open self interest has breached some kind of barrier, so the propaganda support and functionaries are left a bit wrong footed, while the protagonists can show a real neo-Mussolini + white shoe firm machismo; it is fascinating, and painful, for example, to watch the looks that Bernanke has on his face while being lectured by throwback conservative libertarian - the image of midwestern republican extremism once upon a time - Ron Paul. Rick Santelli, a cnbc guy who reports from the nyse trading floor, another very familiar, but urban, rockerfeller republican type (financial industry striver, upwardly mobile, loves the action) said the other day about the bear stearns bailout "we might as well put a hammer and sicle on the flag".

Le Colonel Chabert said...

this rung of people, core republicans, who always supported republicans in their actual own enlightened self interest, not naively, not distracted by "cultural and values" branding, straightforwardly for the bottom line, are now perplexed and floundering.

catmint said...

this is a better contradiction. I suppose Ron Paul's aware his suggestion is preposterous in the context of the current order. The logic of the dollar currency for Kosovo though, for instance, underlines that the administration understand the disutility of a general resort to the printing presses.

catmint said...

... the euro I guess but same principle