Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Cue the Angry Mob!"

One of the challenges facing 24/7 cable news saturation is that twenty-four hours is a hell of a lot of time to kill, especially if the emphasis is on image and not substance. Image is so much fluff and it’s difficult to make it sound weighty. The same is true of spin. Calling black white is easy; making it entertaining is not. One way to hype it up is through dazzling graphics and giant touch computer screens. The quick cut from scene to scene is necessary when what is being shown reveals little. Dazzle ‘em and they might not notice how vacuous it all is.

Another way of filling empty time with empty content is a parade of corporate shills and lobbyists, dragging their gravitas behind them, who are presented as impartial “experts.” Ex-politicians make excellent filler since the emphasis is on their past service and not their current service to a corporation or trade group.

As they say, “Out of the mouths of babes,” and the shills are no exception. Often what they say is revealing by what is not said. It’s called political analysis, though the analysis is as selective as it is slanted.

During the 2008 economic meltdown, “expert” Bernard Whitman appeared on Fox News to “analyze” the collapse of AIG. What wasn’t mentioned was that Whitman has worked for AIG to “develop, test, launch, and enhance their consumer brand.”

During the show, Whitman made a comment that is typical of our oligarchy’s response to public anger when he said, “The American people were understandably outraged about AIG. Having said that, we need to move beyond anger, frustration and hysteria to deal with the brass tacks of solving this economy (emphasis mine).”

Umm, Bernie, aren’t anger, frustration and hysteria the solution to solving our economy, along with torches and pitchforks? There are times when an angry mob can really stimulate systemic reform.

Some may find such a statement irresponsible, to which we reply, “So, what has responsible behavior done for us lately, besides tank an economy and mired us in two-plus unnecessary wars.” Face it, responsible behavior is an enabler for preserving the status quo.

Those who hold power never yield it willingly. Power only changes in the face of anger, frustration and hysteria. There is much about the Tea Party that disgusts me, especially their bigotry and xenophobia. But at least they’re pissed, which is more than I can say for progressives.

As frustration over the corruption flooding the Beltway increases, any fringe group that seeks to shake things up looks appealing. The danger is, of course, that one’s frustration becomes so intense that one compromises one’s principle just to join the mob.

“Stay cool!”

“Don’t be irrational!”

These are the mantras our oligarchs preach to the unruly mob. Reason has been degraded until it is little more than a tool for the protection of the status quo.

Progressives are “reasonable” and in being so they lend their tacit support tour oligarchy even as they criticize it. This “reasonableness” is why the Right has high jacked the Main Streeters that should be in the progressive camp.

The corporate state is an open wound leaking blood and pus; it’s going to take some strong medicine to staunch the flow.


Ivan Hentschel said...

"Reason has been degraded until it is little more than a tool for the protection of the status quo."

This is the most important line in this piece. Nearly every action our government has taken since the '08 meltdown has been a knee-jerk reactionary act of placation, masked as "reason".

"... it’s going to take some strong medicine to staunch the flow." This the second most important line. Progressive calm rationality is only socio-political cod liver oil, forestalling any revolution required to upend the status quo.

Politicians like Evan Bayh are jumping ship (like rats) because they sense an end to the supply of placating cod liver placebos. We could use some good old-fashioned emotional gunpowder instead of the vanilla pudding status quo palaver we get from inside the beltway.

We ae the product of our own ho-hum, hum-drum passivity. We should either do something or stop complaining. It is time to turn the status quo on its' head and see what falls out of its' pockets.

Case Wagenvoord said...

Agree. It's time to turn up the heat.

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