New American Magic Realism

By Saswat Pattanayak

Now that some time has passed since the United States stopped rejoicing a routine election fanfare necessitating short term relief from the economic war the capitalist government has unleashed upon the media consumers, one needs to critically attend to the repercussion of the events that passed by.

Not only Bush-McCain administration was unacceptable to the American people, they were equally unwanted by the corporate czars. Fixation on Iraq had to shift gears as not much excitement was left following brutal murder of Saddam Hussain. The military-industrial complex, tired of its “reconstruction” missions in Iraq (despite the profitability factor that leads them to continue seizing the land to this day) needed to focus elsewhere. And the new war mission needed to find a new leader. A differently appearing, yet positioned similarly in direction, an attractive personality, with a deceptively mixed agenda needed to be given charge. From nullifying the necessity to contain electoral budgets to promoting imperialistic expansions in the “post-war” period, from conveying an impression of rendering public service through recreation of “big government”, to facilitating spending of the public money for further private monopolistic accumulation – the corporate America needed a government that will prevent collective anger from taking a revolutionary turn.

In the history of last one hundred years, every time American military has invaded a foreign land, popular resentments inside the country have threatened the very basis of capitalism. Democratic Party, that holy cow banner maker of pacifism has suffered the worst of public anger. Be it during the time of Woodrow Wilson or Harry Truman or John F Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, each Democratic President has faced numerous protests from peaceniks inside the country. Sometimes, the peace lovers have even turned violent in their demonstrations in order to appeal to the consciousness of their favored self-proclaimed world leaders.

Today, the scenario is no different. President Barack Obama has raised the military budgets to unprecedented levels during the most unusual time of economic collapse. His seeking of $75.5 billion for the wars is a supplemental-spending request. Wall Street Journal reports that the president is increasing the budget as well as the force in Afghanistan by more than 20,000 new recruits (totaling American presence to 58,000). And despite the reinforced corporate presence in Iraq, sustained military assault on Pakistani civilians, significant infiltration into Afghanistan, reliance on Japan to silence North Korea, breadcrumb diplomacy in Latin America, there have been no rigorous criticism of the administration. In fact, there have been no demands from the publicly pacifist sections of the society either. No “Bring our Boys Home”. No “War is Over” narrative.

Such misdirected are political sentiments and such doleful are peace education that amidst the wave of celebration surrounding new American leadership, basic tenets of radical protests have been buried within frameworks of false hopes and unnecessary optimism. In deeply myopic stance of understanding progressivism, left intelligentsia has fallen for the media engineered leadership wheel. Absent from the conversation is the proposition that singular heads elected in modern western democracies are best leaders money can buy. These leaders obliged as they are to the military industrial complex must necessarily sustain the very system that lifts them up to a level worthy of glorification.

The series of gratitudes showered by President Obama to his election is a symbolic validation of the virtue of White House irrespective of its everlasting dark ages. Declaration of America as land of the infinite possibilities in wake of recent results is a celebration of wealth accumulation that must decide fate of aspirants preaching race blindness. Drawing parallels of an electoral victory for a person of color as a probable end of race discourse in white societies is normalization of privilege denial.

The issues that are being projected as resolved with the new president’s arrival are the very issues that are problems of the future. Like Wilson, Obama continues to be a fervent anti-communist publicly bashing the philosophy. Like Truman, he is yet another proud “War President” cheering the onslaughts in Iraq by his troops. Like Kennedy, Obama is an interventionist who minces no words before deciding to target yet another sovereign country. Like Johnson, he drafts one policy for North Korea while creating another for China (LBJ’s infamous speech goes on to validate American quest to combat Korean communism while not intending to attack Chinese communism). Like Carter or Clinton, Obama’s peace pledges have been convenient in form and impractical in content. Be it the lingering silence over Israeli show of strength in Middle East or American lingering show of strength in South Asia.

Liberal media takes fancy in comparing Obama with Bush and scoring brownie points. Where they need to make a substantial headway instead is in comparing Obama with Kennedy and Clinton. That is, after the necessary critical historical scholarship has gone into researching the so-called Cold War and why President Obama inherits an unenviable experiential heritage. The ease and comfort with which Obama proclaims moral world leadership to bomb Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the skillful oratory that carves his presence among capitalist bigwigs at G-20 summit are necessary consequences of the system that allows him to preside at the helm. Obama’s espousal at the London summit that “In America at least, people don’t resent the rich; they want to be rich. And that’s good,” was not merely his support for Wall Street monopolists. It is fundamental a philosophy for the growth of capitalism at the cost of oppressing the majority poor.

The usual resentments associated with such sick statements advocating Wall Street riches and bonuses have been declared dead. The otherwise anger resulting from hawkish mentality of world leadership while bombing civilians in the guise of locating a hooligan has been voluntarily suppressed. The necessary methodically critical analyses of imperialistic world leaders have been shoved to irrelevance. The hegemony is ideological this time. Self-censorship is the icing. Normalization, in the Gramscian sense, has come to stay. Hope is the magic. And the realism.


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