We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Source of Barack Obama’s Power to Trick Us Comes from Our Willingness to Be Tricked

Click here to access article by Matt Stoller from Naked Capitalism. 

The author provides a valuable service to readers by deconstructing the mythology about President Obama as the chief executive officer of the United States. It's clear that he is more of an acting president in the theatrical sense. Or, to put it another way, he performs as any public relations officer in a corporation: to make the corporation look good. 

Unfortunately, the author focuses too exclusively on Obama; and by doing so tends to preserve the mythology about power and function of the president. This tends to obscure the real source of power in the US, contributes to the conventional mythology of political power, keeps the public in ignorance, produces cynicism and apathy. 

But this author is not unique in that respect. Just this morning I have run into a number of articles in which authors have complained about Obama policies as if they were his policies. The fact is that nearly all presidents have served as merely public relations officers. I say nearly all because occasionally a real member of the decision-making elite is elected to office such as George H. W. Bush. The last president who was determined to pursue a foreign policy at odds with the power elite was John Kennedy--and you know what happened to him!

The real power elite are the decision-makers well connected with the top banking and Wall Street institutions and their political operatives in the secret agencies such as the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the FBI. 

Fortunately, the author in the final two paragraphs makes an attempt to generalize a bit, but mostly in the context of a critique of American exceptionalism. Here is the way he begins:
This alternative narrative is a hard truth to hear, because it carries with it an implicit rejection of American exceptionalism.  Yes, American institutions are no better, and in many ways are more malignant, than those of many other countries.  Yes, our political leaders, our press, our military leadership, operate in service to sociopathic aims.