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July 31, 2013

Obama's Eternal Critique

"Critique" has a specific meaning and I intend that meaning. As Marx said of his plan for an endless critique of the German social order, so as to undermine it, and permit the conditions for revolution:

War on the German state of affairs! By all means! They are below the level of history, they are beneath any criticism, but they are still an object of criticism like the criminal who is below the level of humanity but still an object for the executioner. In the struggle against that state of affairs, criticism is no passion of the head, it is the head of passion. It is not a lancet, it is a weapon. Its object is its enemy, which it wants not to refute but to exterminate. For the spirit of that state of affairs is refuted. In itself, it is no object worthy of thought, it is an existence which is as despicable as it is despised. Criticism does not need to make things clear to itself as regards this object, for it has already settled accounts with it. It no longer assumes the quality of an end-in-itself, but only of a means. Its essential pathos is indignation, its essential work is denunciation.

Italics in original but bolding added by myself.

Obama's intellectual godfather, Saul Alinsky, denied ever having been a member of the Communist Party, not out of a repudiation of its beliefs, but due to a belief that any ideology which professed to have all the answers would result in intellectual sloth and ultimately great crimes.

My point isn't so much that Obama is a Marxist per se, which people can argue about, but that he is steeped in the intellectual folkways of Marxism, a proposition that seems more difficult to deny.

And the chief tool of Marxism is critique. From his days as a college radical, to his days as a community organizer, to his incredibly brief term in the Senate where his main contribution to politics was allegedly high-minded attacks on George Bush, Obama's main -- or only -- intellectual skill has been that of critique.

Endless critique. Its essential pathos is indignation, and its essential work is denunciation.

And I mention all this because Obama, finding himself in a position of ownership of an miserable economy which only seems to be capable of horrifying us still further, per a Washington Post blogger, his primary response is indignation fueling an unceasing denunciation.

Which is strange... because it is his economy, and people generally do not indignantly denounce their own works. And yet here we are, with Obama furiously denouncing this economic enemy-of-the-state, the GDP terrorist Barack Goldstein Obama. Charles Krauthammer (video at the link):

I find it astonishing that he goes around making speeches in which he deplores the state of the economy, the growing income inequality, chronic unemployment, staggering middle class income, and it's as if he has been a bystander, as if he's been out of the country for the last five years. It's his economy; he's the president.

He's talking as if this is the Bush economy, I don't know, the Eisenhower economy, and he just arrived in a boat and he discovers how bad the economy is. This is a result of the policies he instituted. He gave us the biggest stimulus in the history of the milky way, and he said it would jump start the economy. The result has been the slowest recovery, the worst recovery since World War II, and that is the root of all of the problems he's talking about, the income inequality -- the median income of the middle class of Americans has declined by 5% in his one term. So who's responsible for that? Those were his policies. He talks about this in the abstract and he actually gets away with it in a way that I find absolutely astonishing, it's magical. This is his economy and he's pretending he's just stumbled upon it. And the policies he proposes are exactly the ones he proposed and implemented in the first term.

And yet, even so, his primary tone is indignation, and his primary message is denunciation. Rush Limbaugh:

Obama has positioned himself as an outsider…That’s one of the reasons why the constant campaign. So he doesn’t appear to be governing, so he doesn’t appear to be part of Washington. So he appears to have this mysterious, powerful bunch of forces that are opposing him and stopping him from creating jobs and stopping him from giving people proper health care…but he is constantly out there fighting.”

“And he does that by constantly campaigning and never seem to be governing."

Have I struck upon some key insight, or am I Just a Blogger (TM) looking for a quick connection between a couple of news items to churn some easy content? Well, probably a little of Column A and a lot of Column B.

Nevertheless, I don't think it's particularly debatable that Obama is only comfortable in the position of the Outsider Launching a Critique Against an Unjust System. An Unjust System, I should say, that he apparently Has Got Nothin' At All to Do With.

Even though he is, and has been, for going on six years now, the ultimate insider, the most powerful man in the world, and the Primary Economic Indicator of the United States of America, Barack Obama continues to play at the role of the Alinksyite organizer standing outside the factory and leading chants and correcting misspellings on other radicals' placards.

If one were uncharitable, one might say he does so because he never learned to actually do anything else.

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posted by Ace at 12:16 PM

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