By Phil Rockstroh
African Wild Dog. Image from Wellington Zoo
It is laughable (in a weeping outright sort of way) that Obama and his fellow Democratic Party supporters and apologists can’t find a more resonant campaign theme than, “We carry out the agendas of the national security/bankster/militarist state (i.e., the one percent) while appearing to be less crazy than Republicans.”
The notion of even possessing a preference as to whom should be president of this crumbling, faux republic…is a bit like asking what color uniform one would prefer that the crew tasked with rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic should don as they go about their duties.
In times such as these, when escaping into one’s comfort zone is no longer a viable option, one is advised to evince the audacity of hopelessness, because the act leaves one desperate enough to embrace this daunting proposition:
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
Although, for the present and foreseeable future, the propitious aspects of the sentiment will not hold true for Bradley Manning…whose plight displays the punitive, hyper-authoritarian nature of late U.S. empire. As is the case with Manning, in a national security state, few acts will cause one to lose his freedom in a more rapid manner than to reveal the secrets of lawless, ruthless power.
Apparently, Bradley Manning guarded secrets of his own…not shameful ones–but traits that would cause him to become subject to derision if revealed.
Manning desired to practice transvestism. This U.S. Army private was privy to illusion. Innately, he grasped how being coerced into suppressing one’s secrets damages one’s soul. Manning merely harbored the desire to practice a bit of gender bending; in contrast, the operatives of empire demand that they be allowed to bend and twist the world itself towards their exploitative ends.
To live in empire–in the service of its imperial military or in the thrall of the pursuit of careerist vanity and consumerist compulsions–is to live a selfish lie, day in and day out.
Rupaul (Andre Charles) averred, “We all came into this world naked. The rest is all drag.”
We all make choices as to what form of drag we practice. Does my lie promote the truth? Is my act educational, entertaining or edifying? Does it allow me to inhabit my true self yet transcend my narcissism? Does my act and attendant actions bring balm or does it deliver more suffering than necessary to a world where it is impossible to escape suffering?
Ask yourself and those around you these questions in regard to Private Manning and the operatives and denizens of U.S. Empire.
On the subject of identity, authentic or dubious: Even after being an almost constant public presence for more than half a decade, Barack Obama’s true nature and authentic identity remains elusive. After all this time, he still seems less man than marketing rollout, less of a political leader than an object lesson in product placement. The situation is like having the role of chief executive of the nation filled with a disposable razor or a heavily hyped iPhone application.
The U.S. presidency, as is the case with almost all aspects of life in the corporate consumer state, has become increasingly dominated and defined by commercial/public relations-type legerdemain. The constant commercial come-ons of the media hologram mask its hollow core; the proliferation of weightless lies serves to overwhelm the gravity of perilous times.
Obama’s nebulous nature works to ensure the continued irrational ardor of his supporters, who, against all evidence, insist on clinging to fantasy and projection regarding the president’s much in evidence anti-democratic tendencies; hence, progressive types seem prone to project their own redeeming qualities on the blank slate that Obama creates and deploys as his public persona–a method similar to that used by con artists who exploit the decency of their marks to achieve their criminal ends.
Apropos, this indefensible, Bush-era type of deceit connecting 9/11 and the invasion and occupation of Iraq:
“The war in Iraq will soon belong to history. Your service belongs to the ages. Never forget that you are part of an unbroken line of heroes spanning two centuries — from the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your grandparents and parents who faced down fascism and communism, to you — men and women who fought for the same principles in Fallujah and Kandahar, and delivered justice to those who attacked us on 9/11.”– President Obama speaking to troops at Fort Bragg, N.C., December 14, 2011
In this instance, the shape-shifter Obama morphs from hollow man to Death’s slick, narrow-ass, public relations representative.
I’ve noticed that debates with Obama’s apologists have a very similar trajectory as those with Republican partisans. Because partisans are hard pressed to explain away the affronts to truthful discourse and good governance displayed by the politicians they support, any attempt to engage them in debate involving the merits (or lack thereof) of the policies of said politicians (e.g., their unwavering support of the 1% and U.S. militarist imperium)–quickly devolves into volleys of ad hominem attacks launched from the ranks of their supporters.
For example, from the right, OWS activists are labeled dirty, America-hatin’ hippies who supports swarthy terrorists, yet from the liberal camp, OWSers who refuse cooperation with the Democratic Party are cast as purer-than-thou types–too above it all to sully themselves by an acceptance of the pragmatic nature of political reality.
What is the reason for this irrational response from liberals–from folks who scoff at teabaggers and religious fundamentalists for their less than sane and sanguine approach to political discourse? There is simply no reasonable way to defend the acts of our blood-sustained empire abroad and the machinations of a predatory economic elite at home; hence, the testiness evinced by the enablers of the duopolistic state.
Withal, when I post an article or FaceBook status critical of President Obama–the tone and tenure of the ensuing debate with his defenders takes on a Bush era aura. As a general rule, when the rationalizations of both Bush and Obama supporters are countered with facts regarding their dismal governance, the invectives fly. Granted, the grammar and syntax of Obama apologists is superior to that of Republican loyalists–but their fallacy arguments are every bit as dodgy.
Consequently, the policies of both parties (bulwarked by the concretized support of partisans) translate into unnecessary suffering and death–the calling card and ground level criteria of the oligarchic/imperialist state. And sorry, Obama loyalists–your man is not the lesser-of-two evils candidate: He is among his peers. In many ways, he has proven himself a more deceitful, ruthless crime boss than his predatory, Republican predecessors, in other words, the chief executive of a militarist empire.
The 1% and their advocates and operatives in the U.S. political class have thrown us to the wolves. How does one make an ally of uncertainty and keep close the verities of the heart while negotiating this howling political wilderness?
Even in this era of oversized fear and diminished imagination, there are some among us–nonconformists, creative thinkers, artists and occupiers–who welcome (rather than cower before) the metaphorical image of wolves (that are recognize as fellow outcasts). Instead of being shamed by outsider status, they have been suckled and raised by wolves–i.e., by embracing their fate of having been cast-out into the wilderness.
Nourished by the spirit of defiance, some thrive when freed from the constraints of a habitual adherence to groupthink. The dark terrain of societal abandonment becomes their natural habitat: They howl at the moon; they reject the daylight world of bland consensus; they learn to see in the dark, apprehending their own interior darkness and, as a result, gaining understanding into the hearts of darkness beating within those in power.
The wilderness of political activism, of poetry, of art becomes their home: They don’t clean-up nicely for the polite company demanded by political duopoly; they don’t let themselves be bred down (as a few domesticated wolves did) to yapping Toy Poodles, in exchange for a few food scraps.
When you’re looking at a Toy Poodle–you’re looking at a former wolf, as, for example, when your looking at corporate press members, you’re looking at folks whose ancestors long ago were journalists.
One moment, you’re loping through the woods, snout held high, smelling the scent of fresh game on the wind, but the next thing you know–you’re being led around on a leash and collar, encrusted with tacky rhinestones, and you’re salivating at the sound of an electric can-opener. One moment, you’re a child, entranced in play, hardwired to eternity–next moment, you’re sitting at work and your passions, hopes and yearnings have been shrunk down to Toy Poodle-sized agendas . . . You’re truckling for your boss’s approval; you’re counting the minutes until break time. Like domesticated livestock and unfortunate animals incarcerated in zoos, you are no longer a noble animal–you have become a Thing That Waits For Lunch.
To resist, we must cast off the fear of being an outcast. The signs bode well for us: Over the last few months, in the company of the OWS pack, I have witnessed the awakening of many…have been graced with the privilege of being in their lupine company as we howled defiant into the darkness of the corporate state night.
One must remember this: We human beings are of nature as well. Accordingly, within us lies an indomitable self, encoded with the grace and fury of the natural world, and, if acknowledged and respected, our authentic nature will awaken and arise. Then the real dogfight begins: The fur will fly, as we fight, fang and claw, to retake the lost landscape of our collective humanity, and, by extension, begin the struggle to restore health, imagination and empathy to a nation of cage-accepting, imperium-countenancing, sick puppies.