Special Guest Post From Rod Bogdanižinsky
Obamaniac Radmatism (With a Double Shot of Espresso)
Hi. The other day, while skimming the latest online edition of my favorite liberal newspaper in the organic free-trade coffee shop across the street from my apartment, I came across a news item that made me shoot cappuccino out my nose, drenching my laptop screen in hot, dark liquid. While wiping it off, I accidentally closed the browser. By the time I regained an unobstructed view of my desktop, I had no way of recovering the contents of the page, which by then I had of course forgotten. Is this not the perfect metaphor for the Obama inauguration, broadcast on the high-definition television directly to my left at top volume?
The plain message of Obama’s heroic rhetoric during the inauguration speech reveals a fundamental shift in American political discourse; rather than offer the all-encompassing promise of Hope and Change (reminding us in fact of the opposite, politics as usual), he delivered a series of moral imperatives: ‘Work!’ ‘Green!’ ‘Service!’ ‘Responsibility!’ Hear that, America? See it? It’s coming. It’s here! We’re finally getting a glimpse of what Change looks like ‘on the ground.’ It’s a new way of doing business.
The temptation for the left is to dismiss Obama’s call to action as yet another empty liberal platitude. But are we not already drowning in hot, dark liquid? And when immersed in the collective struggle for breath, does not every brick resemble a life preserver?
When every paper in the country reinforces Obama’s message of service, comparing him again and again to FDR, and so on, we should forget our cynicism and radically accept these slogans as the truths of this historic event (in the Badiouian sense). George W. Bush is now being classed as a ‘radical,’ as a totalitarian ruler who ‘bent the facts to fit his ideology.’ Liberal enthusiasm for Obama, meanwhile, is usually attributed to his non-ideological, ‘pragmatic’ attitude regarding our economic and ecological crises, that he will ‘restore science to its place of honor’ and so on. But is this not precisely the reverse of the authentic situation? Obama has told us nothing about the facts of global warming (which after all are still challenged in the world of science) or the financial system (which his cabinet was involved in creating), he’s hotwired himself directly into the cockpit of America’s political soul. Let’s call it: Radmatic!
4 Noble Truths of Radmatism:
1) Get organized
2) Stay cool
3) Don’t tell it like it is, tell it like you mean it
4) Waiting kills
What this means is a new America. The old America, scared, distrustful, apathetic, is literally [the day before — Ed.] yesterday’s news. And don’t even start with how it’s because Obama’s been canonized or whatever. Such statements are merely an establishment ploy to tie his hands in advance! What he’s done is he’s gone rogue. He’s not Superman, he’s Batman. Though he looks like Bruce Wayne. He’s not David Palmer, he’s Jack Bauer. Though he looks like Kiefer Sutherland.
Obama’s war for America has climaxed in a dialectical reversal worthy of that great master of political jiu-jutsu, Vladimir Lenin (historians can say what they want about him, the man got things done). For does not this equally unlikely leader, also reviled by opponents as a ‘populist’ and a ‘totalitarian dictator,’ also abandon his throne, ‘sleeves rolled up,’ not to hear our petitions, but to petition us, from beyond the grave? To “reorganize our machinery of state,” to “drastically reorganize,” to enact “educational work among the peasants” — precisely to stage a “cultural revolution?” You bet your parachute he does.
Yes, Obama’s a president with an unprecedented ‘mandate for change,’ but it’s true: we did it. Let’s think carefully about what this means. If he creates green jobs, then we did it first. If he screws things up with Israel, we screwed them first. If he gives the banking system another bailout and then stops paying attention, that’s our monetized desire flowing from where he was. And if he forgets things sometimes, well, fill in the blank. We’re the change we wanted to see in the world. And no one else.
No, for the first time in a long time, we are the ones in charge. For too long, the world was strapped to the hood of a spaceship no one was driving. But you know what? The steering wheel’s been jammed into our hands. And we can’t let go! In Obama’s words: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” Welcome to Supercapitalism, America. If you do it hard enough, no one’s gonna ask to see your license.