|Demonization: Isomorphisms and the Eternal Return of the Same (Plane of Immanence)||Ressentiment and the Mechanisms
Matthias Grünewald,The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1515, Panel from the Isenheim altarpiece: oil on wood, Musee d'Unterlinden, Colmar
page is chronological but not historical in the naive sense.
The heading for this column--Demonization: Isomorphisms and
the Eternal Return of the Same (Plane of Immanence)--suggests
the theoretical context for viewing the contents of this page.
The theoretical page is Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of
When I first encountered the Luther text years ago, I actually thought it was fraudelent. Alas, I was wrong.
from Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543): see Wiki entry
I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects exercise a sharp mercy toward these wretched people . . . They must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set in, proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish. They surely do not know what they are doing; moreover, as people possessed, they do not wish to know it, hear it, or learn it. There it would be wrong to be merciful and confirm them in their conduct. If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God's wrath and be damned with them. I have done my duty. Now let everyone see to his. I am exonerated."
|Lionel B. Steiman, Paths to Genocide: Antisemitism in Western History (Macmillan Press, 1998), is about more than anti-Semitism. It could as easily be titled The Mobilization of Ressentiment for Political Purposes in Western History.||
from The First Crusade: A New History, Thomas Asbridge (Oxford, 2004)
A central feature of Urban's doctrine ws the denigration and dehumanization of Islam. He set out from the start to launch a holy war agasinst what he called 'the savagery of the Saracens', a 'barbarian' people capable of incomprehensible levels of cruelty and brutality. . . . These accusations had little or no basis in fact, but they did serve [Pope] Urban's purpose. By expounding upon the alleged crimes of Islam, he sought to ignite an explosiion of vengeful passion among his Latin audience, while his attempts to degrade Muslims as 'sub-human' opened the floodgates of extreme, brutal reciprocity. This, the Pope agued, was to be no shameful war of equals, between God's children, but a 'just' and 'holy' struggle in which an 'alien' people could be punished without remorse and with utter ruthhlessness. Urban was activating one of the most potent impulses in human society: the definition of the 'other'. Across countless generations of human history, tribes, nations and peoples have sought to delineate their own identities through comparison to their neighbours or enemies. By conditioning Latin Europe to view Islam as a species apart, the Pope stood to gain not only by facilitating his proposed campaign, but also by propeling the West toward unification. pp. 33-5
"Two forces seem to have been at work, stimulated by the crusading message that Urban had shaped. Characterising Muslims, the expedition's projected enemies, as a sub-human species, the pope harnessed society's inclination to define itself in contrast to an alien 'other'. But tapping into this innate well-pool of discrimination and prejudice was akin to opening Pandora's Box. A potentiallly uncontrollable torrent of racial and religious intolerance was unleashed." p. 85
remarkable excerpt from Walzer's "Puritanism as a Revolutionary
Ideology" provides the playbook for today's right wing. Read
in conjunction with Thomas Frank's concept of the Plen-T-Plaint in What's the Matter With Kansas.
Eternal return of the same.
as a Revolutionary Ideology, Michael
Walzer, History and
Theory, Vol. 3, No. 1 (1963), pp. 59-90
About the Puritan saints Walzer writes of " . . . their almost Manichean warfare against Satan and his worldly allies, their nervous lust for systematic repression and control." p. 63
"They felt themselves to be living in an age of chaos and crime and sought to train conscience to be permanently on guard against sin. The extent to which they would have carried the moral discipline can be seen in the following list of offenses which merited excommunication in one seventeenth-century congregation:
-for unfathfulness in his masters service
-for admitting cardplaying in his house . . .
-for sloth in business.
-for being overtaken in beer.
-for borrowing a pillion and not returning it.
-for jumping for wagers . . .
-for dancing and other vanities.
Had the saints been successful in establishing their Holy Commonwealth, the enforcement of this discipline would have consituted the Puritan terror." p. 64
"The persecution of witches, of course, was not a vital aspect of Puritan endeavor, but the active, fearful struggle against wickedness was. And the saints imagined wickedness as a creative and omnipresent demonic force, that is, as a continual threat." p. 79
from Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648 -1815 (Viking, 2007).
If the state was one master-noun of eighteenth-century political discourse, the nation was another. Indeed, as a source of inspiration, it was the more potent. For although the state was an ambitious, omnivorous, hyperactive agent, the blood it sent pulsing round the body politic was very much on the thin side. While a dedicated enlightened absolutist such as Frederick the Great or Joseph II might wish to dedicate his life to its service, most Eurpeans found it difficult to work up much enthusiasm for such an abstract entity. The nation, on the other hand, proved to be brimful with motivating force, for it triggered both positive and negative responses to a self-generating dialectical progression. For every virtue a nationalist ascribed to his own national group, there was a corresponding vice to be denigrated in the 'other' against which national identity was defined.
This kind of mutually supportive national prejudice was of long standing by the eighteenth century. In the Middle Ages, satires singled out, for example, the envy of the Jews, the cunning of the Greeks, the arrogance of the Romans, the avarice of the French, the bravery of the Saxons, the bad temper of the English and the lasciviousness of the Scots. As the German scholar Winfried Schulze has cogently argued, the humanists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries advanced these simple stereotypes much further by integrating simple prejudices in national historical narratives, especially foundation myths, for 'just about every culture and every religion has its own creation myth, its own equivalent of the Book of Genesis' (Colin Renfrew). (306)
To detect the continuing ground-swell of submerged hatred of past wrongs and hopes of future vengeance, it is the oral tradition of nationalist ballads and epics that need to be examined, for 'if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation', as the Scottish patriot Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (1653? — 1716) put it. That this is not an impossible unertaking has been shown by Vincent Morley, who has demonstrated just how ubiquitous and popular ws the long historical poem variously entited 'Tuireamh na hÉireann' ('Ireland's Dirge') or 'Aiste Sheáin Uí Chonaill' ('Seán Ó Conaill's Composition'), first composed in Kerry in the middle of the seventeenth century. This offered all the essential elements of a fully fledged nationalism: a foundation myth (the migration of the Milesians to Ireland from Spain), a mythical hero (Fionn mac Cumhail and his warrior band, the Fianna), special assistance from God (the arrival of St Patrick), cultural achievement (the monasteries), an alibi for failure in the face of foregn invasion ('the betrayer Dermod' was just the first of many), and — above all — a gnawing sense of grievance in the face of foreign oppression (Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Cromwell, etc.). (314)
The targets of the London rioters  were often national or religious minorites. Attempts to allow the naturalization of Jews in 1751 and again two years later, for example, provoked waves of popular anti-Semitism. The most estructive episode of the enire century was the 'Gordon Riots' of 1780. directed against the Catholic Relief Act. (326)
Unfortunately for enlightened intellectuals, more often than not 'the people' proved to be not just unenlightened but positively reactionary, just as likely to riot against attempts to remove discrimnation against Jews or Catholics as to demonstrate in favor of 'Wilkes and Liberty!' In the Habsburg Monarchy they were far more likely to turn out to greet the Pope, as more than 100,000 proved in April 1782, than to welcome the enlighened reforms Joseph II was trying to thrust down their throats. Indeed, what prompted Joseph to put the brakes on his liberalization of the public sphere toward the end of his reign was the awful realization that it was not being used to propagate enlightenment, as he had hoped, but rather to incite conservative resistance to his reforms. As so often before and since, it was the reactionaries who proved the more adept at exploiting the written word, not least because their arguments struck a much more responsive chord than those of their progressive opponents. (334)
reductive, Manichean, this thinking is less noteworthy,
perhaps, for its particulars than for its general form. It
precisely this tendency to view society as a battleground between
opposing camps that stands as a hallmark of the
model of politics so fundamental to subsequent European history. . .
. Dividing the world between good and evil, between the pious
the profane, anti-philosphes saw their struggle as a cosmic war in
which the winners would take all.
from Darrin M. McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightement: the French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 48-52
What were the elements of this emergent right wing vision? The fundamental importance of religion in maintaining political order, a preoccupation with the perils of intellectual and social license, the valorization of the family and history, the critique of abstract rights, the dangers of dividing sovereignty, and the need for a strategic alliance between throne and altar . . . Even more fundamental was a Manichean readiness to divide the word in two: bewtween good and evil, right and wrong, Right and Left.
Yet to say that the anti-philosophe discourse fulfilled an ideological function is not to assert that it offered a fully developed political platform. Rather it provided a "symbolic template" through which to construe a perplexing and rapidly changing world, a number of "authoritative concepts" and "suasive images" by which they could be grasped.
By invoking this mythic golden past . . . anti-philosophes revealed signs of a romantic, qasi-utopian yearning for wholeness and social unity that would characterize a strain in far Right thinking for years to come.
Reactive, reductive, Manichean, this thinking is less noteworthy, perhaps, for its particulars than for its general form. It was precisely this tendency to view society as a battleground between opposing camps that stands as a hallmark of the bipolar, Right-Left model of politics so fundamental to subsequent European history. . . . Dividing the world between good and evil, between the pious and the profane, anti-philosphes saw their struggle as a cosmic war in which the winners would take all.
This is why Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense is a plane of immanence. This is the "history" page, the assemblage of excerpts from works of historical scholarship. But there are always those modes of understanding that we label theory implicit in any attempt to understand anything. The seperation is artificial, and justified only provisionally, if it helps us to get to a more powerful synthesis. The theory stuff is found in Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense: Theory.
Church and the Popular Front: the experience of Salamanca province," in
Martin S. Alexander and Helen Graham, eds., The French and Spanish Popular
Fronts (Cambridge University Press, 1989)
Catholic polemicists writing during the Civil War had no difficulty in blaming the Popular Front for the tragic end of the Second Republic. One of the innumerable tracts put out by Catholic apologists in support of the generals' rising [Franco] baldly stated that the Popular Front was essentially evil, 'a monstrous conglomeration of anti-Catholic political parties' whose tyranny was manifested in its persecution of the 'sacred institutions' of the family, relgion and property. Manipulated by international masonry, it intended to deliver Spain to Soviet communism thus betraying both the fatherland and the Catholic religion. (p. 79)
This appeal for united action was given greater weight by the presentation of the Popular Front as the Church's declared enemy, a nihilitic alliance of the forces of evil. The right was firm in its intentions to cauterize all 'unhealthy' elements in the Spanish state. In 1933 Gil Robles had announced the need to purge the fatherland of 'judaising freemasons'. In 1936 he broadened this considerably, saying on the eve of the elections that the party wanted primarily
to eliminate the sowers of discord who leave the fatherland broken and blood-stained, to eliminate in the realm of ideas that suicidal rationalism which, killing the great universal ideas of Catholicism and the fatherland, had broken with those supreme factors which made up the soul of the nation.
The CEDA [see Wiki entry] called on all its supporters to work against 'anti-Spain', 'against the revolution and its accomplices', obscure figures commonly understood to be marxists, fremasons and Jews. In similar vein, the Dominican Father Carrión published an article in his Order's journal which spoke of those three forces aligning themselves against Spain. Jewish marxists, expelled from ghettos all over the world, came to Spain where 'they settle down and sprawl about as in conquered territory'.
Arno J. Mayer, The
Persistence Of The Old Regime : Europe To The Great War
(Pantheon Books, 1981)
Scholars of all ideological persuasions have downgraded the importance of preindustrial economic interests, prebourgeois elites, predemocratic authority systerms, premodernist artistic idioms, and 'archaic' mentalities. They have done so by treating them as expiring remnants, not to say relics, in rapdily modernizing civil and politial societies. They have vastly overdrawn the decline of land, noble and peasant; the contraction of traditional manufacturing and trade, provincial burghers, and artisanal workers; the derogation of kings, public service nobilities, and upper chambers; the weakening of organized religion; and the atrophy of classsical high culture. p. 5
As for the class formations of this precorporate entrepreneurial capitalism, the owners of small workshops were the backbone of the indepenedent lower middle class. In turn, proprietors of medium-sized as well as larger plants, especially in textiles and food processing, constituted a bourgeoisie that was predominantly provincial rather than national and cosmopolitan. This bourgeoisie, including commercial and private bankers, acted less as a socal class with a comprehesive political and cultural project than as an interest and pressure group in pursuit of economic goals. (20)
from Michael W. Miles, The Odyssey of the American Right (Oxford University Press, 1980)
Republicanism did not abruptly or entirey disappear in 1932. Stripped of many of its working-class and black allies, uncertain even of the allegiance of the metropolitan upper class and many farmers, classical Republicanism retained the loyalties of unreconstructed Republicans in the provincial Midwest--the core of the American right wing in subsequent decades. The cultural traditions of political Republicanism and white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism were decisive, usually in combination with economic interest but sometimes against it. Small business was the nucleus of reactionary Republicanism. (viii)
The basic impetus of this core constituency was to restore the old laissez-faire capitalist order and its foreign policies of protectionism and Pacific First. (viii)
Over the question of the New Deal, the Republican Party ultimately split three ways. The "Western Progressives" tended to support the Roosevelt Administration on domestic social policy, although many later opposed intervention in World War II. The "Eastern" wing at first opposed the New Deal, but once the reform wave had passed, adjusted to the new order and, in addition, endorsed the "internationalist" foreign policies of the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations. Actually, this "Eastern" sentiment was metropolitan in character and sometimes found an echo in Republican constituencies in the larger cities outside the Northeast [What's the Matter with Kansas; Luebke]. As the Progressives either moved out of the party in support of the New Deal or in some cases moved to the right in opposition to it, the "regular Republicans" in the Midwest and the West consolidated their control of the party apparatus and became the nucleus of right-wing Republicans for the next two decades. This tendency was strong in the rural areas, small towns, and smaller cities of these regions and in the provincial areas of the Northeast as well. (4)
Like its Red variation, the creeping Socialism theory attempted to organize all of social reality to conform to the resentments of provincial Republicanism. If there was some satisfaction in the knowledge that East European immigrants, and in particular Russan Jews, were the carriers of the red infection, there was an equal satisfaction in the knowlege that the Eastern upper class and the metropolitan intelligentsia had once again succumbed to their deranged Anglophilia which this time involved Socialist subversion. Both Communism and Socialism became symbols for whatever oppressed and displeased the Republican right. Anti-Commjunism and anti-Socialism could serve as outlets for petit-bourgeois resentment of the upper class or provincial envy of metropolitan opportunities. (27)
|Lionel B. Steiman, Paths to Genocide: Antisemitism in Western History (Macmillan Press, 1998), is about more than anti-Semitism. It could as easily be titled The Mobilization of Ressentiment for Political Purposes in Western History||Kim
Revolution: Businessmen, Intellectuals, and Politicians Against the New
Deal, 1945–1964,￼Enterprise & Society,
Volume 7, Number 4 pp. 686-694
"Historians frequently treat the conservative movement in the United States as a populist cultural conflicts over the civil rights, feminist, and gay rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s. During the postwar period, business and labor are thought to have been unified on basic political and economic questions, the common cause of the Cold War overriding conflicts in an era of economic expansion. My dissertation suggests that this unity has been overestimated by historians and that in fact many businessmen remained sharply critical of the political economy inaugurated by the New Deal. Instead of looking at conservatism primarily as a populist revolt driven by the cultural conflicts of the 1970s, or as a social movement, historians need to be aware of the elite components to organizing against liberalism."
from Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: the Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (W. W. Norton, 2009), pp. 142-3
Failing to get support from businessmen in the months leading up to the [1964 Presidential] election, the Goldwater campaign decided to try a new tactic: finding ways to translate the conservative message into rhetoric that could mobilize working class voters. Even though Goldwater's low-tax, non-union vision for economic growth won the support of some union members in Arizona, Cliff White [who conceived and masterminded the conservative dominance of the 1964 Republican National Convention and its nomination of Barry Goldwater for President] thought that his surveys about reactions to the civil rights movement indicated the potental for success with a different strategy--one that focused on fearrs of racial integration and on a broad call for morality in politics.
As the election approached, the New York offices of Citizens for Goldwater-Miller . . . saved a survey of forty white ethnic voters in Queens--mostly first- and second-generation Americans, some recent immigrants, mostly lower middle class--that a supporter sent into the office. About half were for Goldwter and half either for Johnson or still undecided. The issues the Goldwater supporters felt most strongly about were "rising crime" and "fear of integration"; even Johnson supporters were agitated about these problems. Nearly everyone opposed busing children from one neighborhood to another to integrate the public schools. "Most of those voting for Johnson thought Goldwater was right with respect to the 'racial issue,' but thought he was anti-union or would weaken social security," according to the survey. The most striking aspect of the poll was the finding that the economic elements of the conservative program--"'right-to-work' and voluntary social security"--made an "almost universal negative impression" on the Queens voters. But these cold be trumpoed if the Republicans changed their platform to capitalize on racial fears. And that's eactly what the Goldwater supporte suggested. "Signs should not simply read 'Vote Goldter' but rather 'Make our meighborhood safe again. Vote Goldwater.' Or 'Streets must be made safe again. Vote Goldwater' or 'Don't experient with our children. Keep neighborhood schools. Vote Goldwater' or 'Our children want education--not transportation. Vote Goldwater.'"
The letters coming into the Goldwater campaign offices from political allies and supporters made similar suggestions. In September one political consultant wrote that on Long Island the busing program was known as the LBJ program, for "Let's Bus Juveniles," and suggested that "race riots" might sway New York City voters. Another Goldwater supporter, a Wall Streeter who wrote to the campaign while on a business flight, argued that "much more must be done to exploit the white backlash," saying that whites feared that "Negroes will move into their neighborhoods." The white backlash, he declared, "was the biggest single reservoir of votes that Goldwater can tap into but you will have to get more to the point, if you are going to get these votes."
T Carter, From
George Wallace to New Gingrich:
Theoretically, it might be possible to separate race from the social issues. Theoretically. In reality, fears of blackness and fears of disorder were the warp and woof of the new social agenda, bound together by the subcounscious connection many white Amerians made betweeen blackness and criminality, blackness and poverty, blackness and cultural degradation. 42from Lisa McGirr, Piety and Property
from E. J. Dionne, The Religiious Right and the New Republican Party, p. 377
. . . in the wake of Goldwater’s defeat Reagan and other conservatives had refashioned their discourse, moving away from tirades on socialism and communism and toward attacks on liberal “permisiveness,” “welfare chiselers,” and “runaway spending.” 365-6
National political contenders like Nixon and Wallace picked up on the discourse of “morality,” “law and order,” “welfare chiselers,” and “liberal permissiveness,” and rode a tide of popular middle- and lower-middle-class resentment toward the social changes of the decade. 366
Free marketeers, the senior partners in the conservative coalition, have been at the cutting edge of recent historial change. Religious conservatives, while obtaining new access to the corridors of power, are still waiting to see their concerns over abortion, homsexuality, and obcenity reflected in pubic policy.” 370
Reagan proved himself to be very much a man of the Old Right . . . Although Reagan could speak as movingly about traditional values as he spoke about everything else, his priorities were elsewhere: in cuts to domestic programs, in reductions in marginal tax rates, and in large increases in military spending . . . In the meantime, abortions continued, women kept flooding the workplace—and not a word of prayer was recited in the schools to petition the Almighty to turn these trends around.”
from Thomas Frank, What's the Matter with Kansas: the Plen-T-Plaint
"As culture war, backlash was born to lose. Its goal is not to win cultural battles but to take offense, conspicuously, vocally, even flamboyantly. Indignation is the great aesthetic principle of backlash culture; voicing the fury of the imposed-upon is to the backlash what the guitar solo is to heavy metal. Indignation is the privilege emotion, the magic moment that brings a consciuosness of rightness and a determination to persist. . . . Everything seems to piss conservatives off, and they react by documenting and cataloguing their disgust. The result is what we call the plen-T-plaint, a curious amassing of petty, unrelated beefs with the world. Its purpose is not really to evaluate the hated liberal culture that surrounds us; the plen-T-plaint is a horizontal rather than vertical mode of criticism, aiming instead to infuriate us with dozens, hundreds, thousands of stories of the many tiny ways the world around us assaults family values, uses obscenities, disrespects parents, foments revolution, and so on." 121-3
|Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism||
"I want my country back!"
("The language and symbols of an authentic American fascism . . . ")
change and demonization
the Iraq war and demonization
Climate Change Deniers (analysis of database* provided by http://www.desmogblog.com/)
Right-wing GOP Senator Inhof, in his attack on the UN report on global warming, cited sixty experts disproving global warming and climate change. A preliminary analysis of this dataset revealed the following: A first subgroup of the Sixty consists of people directly connected to extractive industries and their service organizations and political fronts. Almost all of the peer-reviewed articles in "the Sixty" were written by this group. A second group consists of quirky individuals with pet theories (i.e.: cosmic rays cause global warming, not greenhouse gasses). A third group consists of individuals with little or no expertise in climate change. Overall they have few peer reviewed pubs, they are very old (often retired), they are almost all Anglo Saxon in descent and attached to universities in the Anglo Saxon fringe of Canada, western and southern USA, New Zealand, Australia, and Great Britain. In addition, the three with the highest profiles (inst affil & pubs) were also connected to the tobacco industry's denial of the health hazzards of smoking.
Compare this with: the IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis: Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors
This list of climate change scientists is enormous. More important, when you do Google searches on each one and obtain their vitas--degrees, institutional affilation, and publications--one finds a young to middle-aged, cosmopolitan group drawn from the world's major universities, in stunning contrast to the group of sixty climate change deniers summarized above.
These are provisional categories and may be changed. The oveall picture however is clear. When we compare this matrix of right-wing scientists with two other similar groups, one involved in the Terry Schaivo battle of the experts and the other involved in the Dover school boards battle over evolution and creationism, we notice a similar pattern of fraud (Judges' comments), intellectual marginality, and a marked ethnocultural provincialism and homogeneity.
The above provisional conclusions were arrived at when desmogblog.com had a database of 60 climate change deniers. Now that number has been multiplied several times over. This would be a good student project. For purposes of such an analyis I suggest the following categories:
from Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella, Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment (Oxford Univeristy Press, 2008), p.p. 188-89. (Emphasis added.) See Carter, p. 78 n. 37
Limbaugh's attempts at gender-based "humor" are of the locker room variety. As the California gubernatorial recall was heating up, Limbaugh informed his followers that Leutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante--"whose name loosely translates into Spanish for 'large breasts'--leads the Terminator by a few points" (August 18, 2003). A photomontage on the Limbaugh website shows a photograph of Schwartzenegger's head and shoulders from his Pumping Iron days as a body builder. A naked woman has been transposed onto his shoulders. Over her breasts is a sign reading BUSTAMONTE. When Madonna endorsed General Wesley Clark, Limbaugh reported that she had "opened herself" to him. Why the vulgarity in this message does not alienate the churchgoing conservatives in his audience is a question for which we have no ready answer.
theater of ressentiment (I'm not sure how to integrate this into my work, but I am sure what Rozik has to say should be taken into account, and is of great importance)
Eli Rozik, The roots of theatre: rethinking ritual and other theories of origin (University of Iowa Press, 2002)
"As thought, mythos never appears on its own but is always coupled with a logos--a thematic contextualization--which enables its assimilation into the system of values and beliefs of the society within which it is articulated." 312
"The basic relationship between the audience and the fictional world thus ceases to be, as commonly conceived, one of watching a world of others with whom the spectator can identify or not and becomes instead a confrontation with the spectator's own inner being, including conscious and/or unconscious layers, in the shape of a (usually metaphorical) mytho-logical description. Such a relationship cannot be understood in terms of identification, since it is the spectator on two different levels: being and self-description.
"The combination of mythos and logos indicates that the ultimate aim of drama based on myth is to provide an opportunity for a culturally controlled encounter between the spectator and the deeper layers of the psyche and to integrate disturbing unconscious contents into conscious discourse. When integrated into a drama, it becomes a complex object of experience that enables the spectator to confront the unconscious self with the shield of culture and even to make such a confrontation enjoyable.
"A dramatic fictional world based on a myth may, therefore, be an opportunity not only to confront suppressed contents of the psyche but also to indulge in a suppressed method of representation. Theatre may provide an opportunity to experience both within the context of a cultural permit. Mythos, logos, and theatrical iconicity thus create a legitimate collective way of facing the unconscious: this is the arena where culture meets and subdues nature." pp. 312-3
on the origins of the Iraq war
Wars "whose mainsprings are essentially political and internal fail to acquire a well-defined project." p. 138
"As for wars of primarily partisan and internal dynamic . . . . at the outset even the minimal external objectives of wars that are sparked internally have a tendency to be singularly ill-defined."
Sound familiar? Why can't we ever get a straight answer about our purpose in Afghanistan?
Rationale for the Iraq War
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Throughout late 2001, 2002, and early 2003, the Bush Administration worked to build a case for invading Iraq, culminating in then Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 2003 address to the Security Council. Shortly after the invasion, the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies largely discredited evidence related to Iraqi weapons and, as well as links to Al Qaeda, and at this point the Bush and Blair Administrations began to shift to secondary rationales for the war, such as the Hussein government's human rights record and promoting democracy in Iraq. Opinion polls showed that the population of nearly all countries opposed a war without UN mandate, and that the view of the United States as a danger to world peace had significantly increased. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the war as illegal, saying in a September 2004 interview that it was "not in conformity with the Security Council."
Accusations of faulty evidence and alleged shifting rationales became the focal point for critics of the war, who charge that the Bush Administration purposely fabricated evidence to justify an invasion it long planned to launch.
Foreign policy in this case is a function of internal domestic political considerations, not the rational calculations that would flow from "diplomatic and external" considerations. War in this case is a tool used by conservative elites in the mass mobilization of the forces of ressentiment, and whose purpose is above all political theater. (And consider, in this regard, Wilbur Cash's concept of the proto-Dorian convention. Given the primitive processes of identification with the chief*, one can see why a black man becoming President is a profound psychic shock to the ressentiment demographic subset.)
*Wrangham and Wilson, "Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees"
A. Elites in the Political Economy: research projects
my own work on the KE led to the need to differentiate among elite formations both in terms of types of elites and in terms of the geographical locus of elites
1. Strategic-hegemonic elites (KE, Sec Bloc, Commodities in Int'l Trade)
2. Provincial & regional elites (E.g., Mellon and Coors; see Ungar, Miles and
3. local elites (Miles and Carleton)
Use FEC data, Open-secrets,whitehouseforsale.org to identify different kinds and levels of elite formations
What are the Stakes in the Democatic
The historical, sociological, and cultural differences between the campaigns of Obama and Clinton are fundamental.
The Obama campaign's center of gravity is in the milieux of insurgent secular and mainstream Protestant cosmopolitans: the sociotechnical formation that is the essense of advanced capitalism as a society. That these people are better educated and more highly paid that the Clinton milieux attached to the old agrarian and industrial sectors is only a by-product of their essential location and role in the making of an advanced capitalist society. (Snide comments about latte- and wine-drinking elites miss the point entirely.)
The Clinton campaign's center of gravity is in the two oldest and most provincial segments of the Democratic party: the white fundamentalists rural south, and the catholic working class, centered in the northeast. (MAPS)
The Clinton campaign turned to the same culture of ressentiment that is the GOP's staple resource in its attack on the progressive insurgency represented by Barack Obama, while the Obama campaign was characteristically progressive in its rhetorical maneuvers, emphasizing reason and fact, on the one hand, and a common identity that transcended race, gender, and class, on the other, avoiding the kind of identity rhetoric that is the essense of Clinton's (and the GOP's) appeal.
The Clinton campaign is based on the two major declining sectors of north america: rural whites and blue collar catholics; the Obama campaign, on the rising sector of a modern knowledge-based society. This is the dynamic, long-term aspect of this campaign that is completely missed by talk of who has more votes, or who is more electable.
May 7 to 11
on connecting with the (white) working class:
Talking heads discuss success of candidates in connecting--ie, stroking egos, appealing to deeply-held prejudices, shmoozing around in bars and bowling alleys. The language implies the patron-client, lord-peasant relationship. The successful candidate, inplicitly, is the one who best manipulates the materials of everyday ressentiments and petty concerns. It is not that you have to show that you are one of the people. On the contrary, the very status of the patron/lord is crucial to the effectiveness of the good ole boy maneuver. Beneath today's populist rhetoric is a politics of psychological dependency. Ironically, Obama's "aloofness" is in part a consequence of the Progressive appeal to reason. We expect our politicians to shmooze and to stroke; we resent attempts at complex rationality, prefering instead simplistic appeals (the gas tax holiday). Thinking, in this context, is anathema.