Sunday, January 11, 2004

The $64 Question Answered

Politics is about hating; and grownups understand how easy it is to become addicted to the pleasures of anger, especially during elections. Precisely because we all understand this, it’s easy to represent a perception of real danger as mere hysteria. In the current conjuncture, the pundits deploy this meme every time somebody raises their voice against the regime in Washington. Hence the numerous denunciations of Bush hating, mostly emitted by voices still squeaky from eight years of Clinton hating. But are these guys right? Is the situation of 2004 the same as the situation of 1992 with signs reversed? The short answer is No.

I’m perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that I’m wrong in everything I see about me, but at some point self-doubt is simply self-indulgent. In normal times it makes sense to hold your own beliefs lightly because in normal times politics is about ways and means, not about fundamental values. We live in a revolutionary situation. The current regime holds both international and constitutional law in contempt as a matter of policy. As every nation on earth has learned, America’s word is worthless since we do not honor treaty obligations if we find them inconvenient. The Bush administration is obviously quite willing to lie and kill for principles conveniently indistinguishable from private interests, and it certainly has no shame in manipulating a cowardly and ignorant population by fear and propaganda. The world despises us for very good reasons, and one of these days it is going to find a way to get even with us for our arrogance and unintelligent selfishness.

In retrospect it’s all going to be very clear, I’m afraid, though the increasingly anguished complaints of “hysterics” such as Chalmers Johnson, Arthur Schlesinger, Paul Krugman, George Soros, Immanuel Wallerstein, Joseph Steglitz, Kevin Phillips, and Hans Blix are unlikely to be heard for the time being by a nation of frogs who are already, if not completely boiled, at least al dente.

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