Mikey D. Has Still Got it

Mike Davis was on Against The Grain last Wednesday and he did a brilliant interview. He spoke at length about the economy, about the insane right-wing anti-immigrant sentiments in Southern California, and of course how this all relates to the environment.

On this election eve I find myself remembering one part of the interview in particular, in which Davis described many Obama supporters as a sort of “cargo cult“, or group of people who believe that something will happen that they have absolutely no objective reason to think could come to pass.

What he means is that people are hoping Obama is a sort of liberal “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, a person who cannot reveal his true agenda or beliefs at the moment, but once becoming president will be free to enact  the progressive or even radical changes that they desire.

I have not seen a shred of evidence to make me believe that without serious changes in the political climate, Obama will not due the bidding of his masters. The wars will be continued and the economy will continue to be handled by neoliberals who will allow thousands of homes be foreclosed upon and let the financial sector off the hook as best they can.

But as Davis points out in an amazing essay called Can Obama See The Grand Canyon?, we can’t expect a New New Deal because this is 2008 and not 1932:

First, we can’t rely on the Great Depression as analog to the current crisis, nor upon the New Deal as the template for its solution. Certainly, there is a great deal of déjà vu in the frantic attempts to quiet panic and reassure the public that the worst has passed. Many of Paulson’s statements, indeed, could have been directly plagiarized from Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, and both presidential campaigns are frantically cribbing heroic rhetoric from the early New Deal. But just as the business press has been insisting for years, this is not the Old American Economy, but an entirely new-fangled contraption built from outsourced parts and supercharged by instantaneous world markets in everything from dollars and defaults to hog bellies and disaster futures.

………

Second, Obama won’t inherit Roosevelt’s ultimate situational advantage — having emergent tools of state intervention and demand management (later to be called “Keynesianism”) empowered by an epochal uprising of industrial workers in the world’s most productive factories.

If you’ve been watching the sad parade of economic gurus on McNeil-Lehrer, you know that the intellectual shelves in Washington are now almost bare. Neither major party retains more than a few enigmatic shards of policy traditions different from the neo-liberal consensus on trade and privatization. Indeed, posturing pseudo-populists aside, it is unclear whether anyone inside the Beltway, including Obama’s economic advisors, can think clearly beyond the indoctrinated mindset of Goldman Sachs, the source of the two most prominent secretaries of the treasury over the last decade.

If his analysis sounds like a bucket of cold water thrown onto an enthusiastic moment, I’d urge you not to look at it that way.

Instead take it as a frankly realistic if grim assessment of the work we have in front of us. As mentioned above, we need a dramatic re-arrangement of the political reality on the ground or nothing will change for the better, and it is our immediate job to do just that.

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3 Responses to Mikey D. Has Still Got it

  1. kay martinez says:

    As Michael Moore said the other day on Democracy Now–“Will Obama lead us to the Promised Land? No. What he will do is provide a tourniquet to stop the bleeding…” He was talking, not about the economy, but all the other issues-civil liberties, militaristic foreign policy, etc
    Perhaps he will provide at least a fertile soil for the “dramatic re-arrangement of the political reality on the ground”. That is, if they don’t steal the election, and if he has enough support in the Congress to be able to do anything.

  2. Herb says:

    Being able to change things…even with your own party in control of the house or senate seems to be very difficult. To many self interest groups and self-interest senators at play no matter who the president is! Sad

  3. Megan says:

    It is certain that we as a nation have so much work ahead of us to even attempt to create a place where we can safely raise our children and grow old . But, this election was a landslide yell for change from what has been going on. We have seen engagement politically not only from those on the activist left or right – but from the apathetic middle – and loudly Americans elected a man who is half Kenyan, was raised in Indonesia and is named Barack Hussien Obama! There are faults, things to be wary of, but the loudness of his victory – the huge shift from an administration that flat out refused to even acknowledge that those folks not on the fortune 500 count for more than cannon fodder to one that was elected by a popular movement shows that there are more of US than THEM out there and hopefully WE continue to take Obama to task to remember who elected him and why. I totally hope with my feet firmly in the trenches that this is change!

    As the greatly missed Studs Terkel puts it:

    “With optimism, you look upon the sunny side of things. People say, ‘Studs, you’re an optimist.’ I never said I was an optimist. I have hope because what’s the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven.”

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