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Obama's True Corruption
by Dr. Gerry Coulter
2009-05-20 09:30:59
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“The emergence of the silent majorities must be located within the entire cycle of historical resistance to the social.  Resistance to work of course, but also resistance to medicine, resistance to schooling, resistance to security, resistance to information. Official history only records the uninterrupted progress of the social, regulating to obscurity reserved for former cultures, as barbarous relics, everything not coinciding with this glorious advent. In fact, contrary to what one might believe... resistance to the social in all its forms has progressed even more rapidly than the social” (Jean Baudrillard, 1983:41).

Over the wasteland of the contemporary political soars the larger than life myth of Barack Obama. Like the social, politics has long been in decline – the former the victim of economics, the latter a victim of politicians. Like history and ethics, politics as we used to speak of it, has now almost entirely disappeared. Obama has an aura of nostalgia about him in that he makes some people want to believe in politics as it was before. Against the strategies of most politicians who provoke only indifference, Obama seeks to rouse concern and to lift politics from a condition of rule by the lowest common denominator (the later being an approach of endless fascination to American Republicans).

Along with the rehabilitation of capitalism, Obama also seeks to cure the political and to regenerate public interest in it. Is this, I wonder, a kind of retro-politics, empty of substance? It certainly is something he shares with Ronald Reagan although he appeals to a very different constituency. Of one thing we may be certain: no politician since the birth of image politics fifty years ago has better managed his image than Barack Obama. He is a master of the networks of immanence and interaction more than the old media networks which have largely emptied out faith in the political. Obama might do well to consider however that the politician’s career which thrives by the image also usually succumbs to the image. He does possess a deep appreciation for the networks of simulation – and today politics is little else.

Despite Obama’s best efforts though, it appears that what we have with him is merely a kind of politics as a game – a game which like horseracing continues on after the end, indifferent to its own death. Almost one sixth of people living in America voted for Obama, slightly more than voted for McCain. Of course many who live in America cannot vote (the under 18s, those warehoused in the country’s elaborate network of prisons, the homeless, and those who are not citizens). Yet, when we look at only eligible voters (Obama attracted just under 67 million votes) he was supported by less than one-third of those eligible to vote. What, I wonder, do the silent majority of Americans know that they are not saying? Is it not their indifference which marks precisely the site of the end of the political and perhaps the social as we have known it? Perhaps silence is how democracy now speaks. Maybe the majority of Americans no longer wish to be represented. Much of the hype surrounding Obama is the same sound which emerges every time a new leader is selected by the voting minority to bear the responsibility the populace at large refuses to hold. This is the essence of representative politics today. Politics is what it has always been – a possession of the minority, as is economics (the language of which has now almost totally overwritten that of politics).

Obama represents “the politics of hope” – but I think his hope for a return to faith in the political, long ago sabotaged by politicians, is a desperate one and in it we find Obama’s true corruption. George W. Bush’s true corruption involved his masterful ability to manage political disaffection. Today when indifference has become a kind of strategic weapon against those who believe in politics, markets, elites, and power – Obama’s true corruption is that he seeks to restore faith in politics and politicians. I suspect that the silent majority possess a hard earned skepticism of politicians that will prevent them from buying into it.


Jean Baudrillard (1983). In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities. New York: Semiotext(e).

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Emanuel Paparella2009-05-20 14:51:16
Rather than expect President Obama to walk on water and be disappointed, I suggest that both erudite doctors use their erudition by rolling up their sleeves and come to the aid of President Obama in changing our ideological bias and false assumptions, and world view. I further suggest that to expect our representatives to do the work that we are unwilling to do ourselves is not only sterile, it is in fact to become part of the general problem.

Alexander Mikhaylov2009-05-21 04:38:13
Very true, but what shall be done... exactly?

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-21 10:25:07
I think it was the philosopher Whitehead who said that theory without praxis is sterile while praxis without theory is blind. What I am saying is that both erudite doctors, judging from their writings, may suffer from the former phenomenon. More harmony between the two is needed on the part of those who pride themselves of their clever analysis with which they criticize and advise the pragmatic politicians, but they do not lift a finger to remove the burden of ignorance and bias behind much modern ideological activism. Which of course does not mean that we should engage in mindless activism based on "political correctness." To know exactly what needs to be done theory is needed first.

Bemused2009-05-23 17:23:03
Paparella might read Coulter's text with more care... It seems quite clear the silent majorites are doing fine... nothing needs to be fixed here except perhaps Paparella's beleif in the Easter Bunny?

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-24 03:17:44
Indeed one cannot but be bemused by the bemused masked interlocutor. The disrespectful mode of address seems quite familiar...

Jean Strongbow2009-05-26 06:46:47
Paparella, You are so shallow, all the time... you glide along surfaces, never penetrating... rarely interesting, frequently tiring... you remind me of old photographs of Liberace... you remind me of the glitter, the fake...

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