Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, December 17, 2007

More on "Positivity" (This Time Via Krugman)

Let’s be blunt: pundits who say that what voters really want is a candidate who makes them feel good, that they want an end to harsh partisanship, are projecting their own desires onto the public.

And let's be even more blunt: These desires of these pundits reflect their position as privileged incumbent interests (what some in the emerging p2p-democracy of the progressive Netroots like to call, The Villagers) in a catastrophically unjust and violent society, the United States of America. They do not reflect the desires of the pundits to be objective, judicious, public intellectuals.

Some of them would have us believe the latter, obviously. Some of them may even have bamboozled themselves into believing it (after all, their authority, position, perquisites, and lifestyles all depend on it).

But you can't endlessly carry water for proven liars on matters of war crimes and the violation of civil liberties and claim to represent or even to respect objectivity, you can't facilitate outrageous Republican partisanship while denigrating Democratic partisanship and claim to represent or even to respect judiciousness, you can't claim to represent or even to respect the role of public intellectuals in democratic societies when you call any intellectuals who struggle to understand the causes of terror appeasers of terror, war critics traitors, defenders of consensual multiculture unprincipled relativists, anybody who works for peace or basic decency or fairness in the world ridiculous creatures, everyday people who testify to their ideas and opinions online "angry bloggers" to be dismissed out of hand and so on.

Corporate media is clearly the mouthpiece for corporate interests, and the beneficiaries of corporate conduct are not one and the same as the interests of everyday people. It is not surprising that Krugman's comment appeared in the context of a near-endorsement of John Edwards as against Barack Obama:
Mr. Edwards [said], “Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.”

This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a “big table” that would include insurance companies and drug companies.

On Saturday Mr. Obama responded, this time criticizing Mr. Edwards by name. He declared that “We want to reduce the power of drug companies and insurance companies and so forth, but the notion that they will have no say-so at all in anything is just not realistic.”

Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that “us” includes the insurance and drug lobbies?

[I]t’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms…

As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate.

Obama's much vaunted "positivity" amounts, yet again, to negativity as seen from the perspective of those who desire change in the actual distribution of access to knowledge, authority, and law, rather than "change" in people's expressed attitudes towards those distributions.

The harsh partisanship of this era -- so bemoaned by pampered Villagers and Obama's audacious hopefuls (including, no doubt, the anti-gay bigots among them) -- reflects the access of the actual diversity of the country's citizens to speech with a wide hearing and manageable political organizing via digital networks.

Progressive change is "positivity," if that vapid term is to have any useful meaning at all. And the expressions of discontent and testimonies to injustice that drive that change (however "negative" their details, however "negative" the feelings they occasion, however "negative" the demands for redress will feel to those expected to pay for them to the cost of their unearned privileges, and so on) contribute to that positivity.

There is nothing more negative than the charge of negativity from the complacent beneficiaries of injustice to those who would struggle together to change the world for the better.


david hayes said...

Someone more partisan and angry than Krugman? Didn't know it was possible...

Anonymous said...

"Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate."

Let's hear it for some truth-telling. "Change you can believe in." That's the slogan on Obama's signs, it's so ironic that this actually means the kind of change that will not threaten or change the status quo in this country.

Angry? Yes, I'm angry that my country and my party has been taken over by paid for corporate advocates. How do you negotiate with an amoral for profit entity responsible only to share holders and debt holders?

The question isn't: are you angry in this country?

The question is: are you angry enough that you will be a patriot and start telling the truth and fighting for what your country is all about?

- mbair, guerrilla vlogger