janan.ganesh@ft.com on ‘The Politics of Absolutes’. Almost Marx comments

Mr. Ganesh never ties of speaking in platitudes, under the guise of valuable insight, the paragraph below is a telling example of this unimpressive political strategy.

The calls for political civility run up against another limitation. They are essential as far as they go, but they only go as far as exterior behaviour. The underlying problem in modern politics, in the US and elsewhere, is an excess of intellectual certitude. The basis of democracy — of civilization — is doubt. A person who is reasonably confident that their ideological programme is correct is unlikely to harm anyone to advance that programme. A person who is absolutely certain might.

In present American political climate this seems more like what? The failure of the Neo-Liberal Elite, to somehow fix the  catastrophe they have made, has proven futile? The wan attempt at Keynesian Interventionism, allied with its successor ‘Austerity’ have proven futile. The 99% are caught in a web of debt as servitude, to utterly corrupt Banks and their apologists. While the 1% flourish as in The Gilded Age, except now the Oligarchs are named Zuckerberg, Bezos and the notorious Tax Evader at Apple Tim Cook. While the elusive ‘Self-Correcting Market’ remains the unrealized myth of the Free Market Swindle!

Mr. Ganesh fails the mention one of the pervasive problems of American Life: the Cult of Toxic Masculinity. From the Mayflower to the present this toxicity has rule American life and politics. Look to the Iconic Founder George Washington. The bourgeois respectable notion of  ‘displacing its Native inhabitants’ is academic code for genocide!

Iroquois Indians called him Conotocarious, or “Town Destroyer”. We know him as George Washington, America’s premier Founding Father. Could this really be the same man? In his magisterial The Indian World of George Washington, Colin G. Calloway answers with a definite yes. Establishing the new nation and displacing its Native inhabitants went hand in hand, he argues, and Washington took part in both endeavours.


Or look to American popular culture as in ‘The Birth of a Nation’ the D.W. Griffiths movie based on the novel ‘The Klansman’ and it glorification of racist violence against blacks! Add to that list John Wayne’s cowboy epics, and his Vietnam propaganda film of ‘The Green Berets’ , the revenge films of Charles Bronson steeped in violence ,even sadism. The ‘Dirty Harry’ films of Clint Eastwood. And their precursors the films of Sam Peckinpah ‘The Wilde Bunch’ and ‘Straw Dogs’ . Mr. Ganesh’s ignorance of American culture, both political and popular, makes him an utterly unreliable even, an inept  commentator. He  relies on Pseudo-Delphic platitudes as a defense of his ignorance of a  country he fails to grasp in all of its various, confusing historical/political/cultural  iterations!

Also  look to the the novels of Norman Mailer, particularly ‘An American Dream’ a novelistic  expression of his  misogyny.  And the continuing debate between Gore Vidal and Mailer provide a measure of insight on the intransigence of this Cult of Toxic Masculinity.

To engage in reductivism, for want of both space and patience with  Mr. Ganesh’s self -congratulatory rhetoric: look to the cultural/political despair of the victims of the failed Neo-Liberal Swindle, for manifestations like the Opioid Crisis, The Proud Boys, Charlottesville and the Know-Nothing Trump and  even Jair Bolsonaro. 

Any real hope for a viable future lies with Left-Wing Social Democrats, in the American political context, a New-New Deal. The patient reader will be rewarded by Mr. Ganesh’s  flaccid apologetic for Trump, in his antepenultimate  paragraph. With the proviso that the notion of ‘at relative peace’ is self-serving agitprop!

The US is nearing a decade of economic growth. Unemployment is under 4 per cent. The country is at relative peace with the world. If politics is as raw as it is now, we have to entertain the prospect that it will become worse in the event of a souring domestic or international context.

Almost Marx




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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