Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tom Friedman's pronouncements: if you pay attention to the content of what he says and at the same time his social position, the means at his disposal, there's a real and obvious discrepancy. He can come across like someone wearing a mink coat in a sauna. On the other hand insofar as Friedman isn't a retained spokesman of the US government*, and that his work is really reproduced through the market, one can suppose a normalising tendency prevails to some extent, such as colours the sale of commodities generally. I'm assuming Friedman's schtick becomes normalised the same way Pepsi Cola is. But of course as much as he lauds Our Western Civilisation he also exemplifies its public discourse.
It is not quite a matter of condescending to the public. There's a real affectation of a homely style but nothing to suggest that this is merely a matter of expediency. No sense of someone really calculating. This communication is fundamentally unilateral but also strives for a democratic effect, as if aiming for consensuality. And so this univocality is presented as an unfortunate result of a regrettable pervasive childishness.
It's a matter of historical record how the US government's foreign policy (which may have led to the death of one million Iraqi citizens, sanctions plus occupation, some reports suggest twice this amount) has been presented in this mawkish, childish manner. It remains to be established to what extent these apparent exercises in style actually influenced policy making.
*Friedman is independently wealthy but likes to play act a money grubbing style