The Case against Obama

Dear Reader:

You know the present Pope? He lives in a palace so big, it covers most of the country of the Vatican City — his own sovereign state, recognized by the United States government. Ever notice how well he dresses — I mean, a lot of gold in the outfits, eh?

The Pope is what Obama has become. Since 1870 the former has claimed infallibility; the latter serves as a symbol of the apparent indestructibility of the elite structure in the economy and society of the United States. The former had some trouble with the charge of Nazi links; the latter once was accused of being Reverend Wright’s parishioner: both have since been repudiated. The latter once had some intent to improve the world; he was a community organizer in Chicago for a short while out of Columbia; but he found himself frustrated with the pace of change, so changed careers and attended with some distinction Harvard Law School, whence he has returned to the world a politician.

A large organization like the Roman Catholic Church — a church which the 18th-century philosopher David Hume, in conformance with British intellectual conventions, regularly referred to as “the papal superstition” — has a tendency to become more hierarchical with time. As the historian Lauro Martines showed in his great but under-appreciated book, Power and Imagination. City-States in Renaissance Italy (Knopf, 1979), the democratic institutions put in place by communal revolutions during the 14th century in northern Italy were subverted by a variety of means to preserve political power in the hands of the wealthy, in the course of the next two centuries: by the 16th century, the intellectual “chattering class” was celebrating the “humanist” dictators who had replaced the popular parties, and these paeans of praise to wealthy, tyrannical patrons of art are misrepresented down to today as monuments to democracy. The latest summary of historical consensus on the Dutch Revolt against Spain, The Dutch Republic, Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall (a volume in The Oxford History of Early Modern Europe), provides the example of the city magistrates of Holland, who, initially advanced by the 1572 Revolt into positions of power, became more entrenched by the feudal instinctual practice of passing it within the class, becoming more conservative and inflexible over the next two centuries.

By two independent measures the social mobility of residents of the United States is lower than that of any European country save England and one other. The life expectancy of non-Hispanic white male United States residents who have not graduated high school has dropped. Even before the recession, only around two-thirds of white men with nothing more than a high-school diploma were working. “Almost uniquely among rich countries,” points out a recent Economist Magazine Special Report on social and economic inequality,

American men now aged between 25 and 34 are less likely than their fathers to have a college degree.

Writing in the Guardian, Slavoy Zhizhek says writes that (not his opinion, now; he’s summarizing someone else) the election last week belonged to

all who are committed to the stability and continuity of the existing social, economic and political order – the class of those who, even when they call for a change, do so to ensure that nothing really will change. The key to electoral success in today’s developed states is winning over this class. Far from being perceived as a radical transformer, Obama won them over, and that’s why he was re-elected.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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