Tag Archive: obama: Social Memory Complex

Abstaining for Change
Why I will not vote for Barack Obama this year

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. I didn't do so because I believed the hope and change hype. Since Obama changed two key positions almost immediately after winning the nomination (telecom immunity and caving to AIPAC on Iran) I had long abandoned such naivete. Instead, I voted for Obama because I thought at least he would be restrained and judicious in charge of the imperial war machine. The attitudes of the Bush years seemed more important to repudiate than the actual policies, and everything seemed to indicate that, while he wouldn't depart too much from Bush's war policy and domestic police state, he would at least go about it in a more measured, less bellicose manner.

I think after three years of Obama at the helm, we can safely put to rest any notion that he's any substantively different. Need I list the reasons? Composing "kill lists" for drone strikes that target any "military-age males" and kill scores of innocents. Duplicity on withdrawing from Iraq. Doubling down on Afghanistan. Waging a war on whistleblowers while indeminfying torturers and other criminals. Corporatized health care for all. Continuing and extending bailouts for corporate America. Crackdowns on medical marijuana despite his campaign rhetoric. The NDAA and indefinite detention of suspected terrorists.

Just as it is unwise to be reflexively partisan when voting, it's unwise to be a reflexive voter at all. I am not the kind of anarchist who believes voting is inherently evil or violent. You have to weigh each opportunity on its own, unique merits, surveying where you can make the most difference. Even when you choose to participate, most of the time the real opportunity has nothing to do with the office being contested or the people contesting it. Because the state is tied up so intricately in the civil society we want to liberate, and engaging those people is the real task anyway, we have to meet them where they're at.


Written on Sunday, June 03, 2012
Tags: election, 2012, obama, voting, democrats, liberalism, progressivism

Guess the journal, liberals

Which anti-American, anti-war magazine published an article that frames Obama's foreign policy decisions in the following "blame America" terms?

The sad truth is everything we are seeing we have already seen. Despite presidents who come and go, permanent war is a hallowed American institution. Start if you will with the War of 1812, the invasion of Mexico, and the carnage of a Civil War. Move to the mass murder of Native Americans and theft of their property, the killing, torture, and prison camps in the Philippines, then the blood-drenched 20th century. The 21st likewise dawns red. It never changes. Doves protest, hawks rule, ordinary people pay the penalty. All wars are "just."

Hint: it's also the same magazine Time called "the most anti-Bush magazine of the [past] decade."

Here's the answer. The biggest element missing from the anti-war movement is the anti-war part. Instead, you get a coalition of exotic interest groups around culture war and identity politics. Wake up - that's a language neocons speak easily (as long as the criticism can be focused beyond our borders; see the women's rights arguments for the Iraq invasion).

But as the article goes on to explain, there's a rich history of antiwar conservatism (see Bill Kauffman on this topic) rooted in American traditions and sensibilities. And it took a monumental upset in the conservative movement to override the prejudices and side projects of the modern, liberal, supposedly anti-war characters in this country. Shameful.

Written on Monday, March 15, 2010
Tags: liberalism, conservatism, foreign-policy, obama, bush