A Wave of Sadness and “Direct Ideology”

So, there is it is. Arguably, we now have definitive proof that Americans have an historical memory of give or take two years. They are, apparently, mad at Obama or the dems or something to that effect. I bet one hundred dollars if you asked most of those who voted against democrats why, they couldn’t tell you a coherent answer. Even the American right-leaning Economist is on my side on this Obama thing. Seriously. But, even that supposition misleads: we cannot forget the role of the media in creating this mess. They’ve done it before after all. But, what’s really interesting to me is a specific victory speech, pointed out to me by Graham, by fake eye doctor Rand Paul.

So, I’m guessing we already knew some of the vague things Mr. Paul was going to say: government—bad, business/free market—good, leave people alone, etc. etc. But, when Graham and I chatted about it all, I realized just how an incredible piece of ideology Rand Paul is—that is, not in what he represents or embodies, but he actually is ideology, the pure personification of it. “I have a message he says,” before pausing and tilting his head confidently. “We’ve come to take our government back.” He goes on, “Government cannot create prosperity. We are the creators of that prosperity. . . .  Without understanding that, we cannot protect and defend our liberties.” Really? As Graham pointed out to me earlier, what does that even mean? Like he’s going to take it, anoint it and send it on its way? Indeed. It really doesn’t make logical sense. It’s also, as Graham astutely observed, steeped (get it?) in the rhetoric of faith that enthralls so many supporters of economic liberalism (see Karl Polanyi for the best treatment of that). I could also rehash his stance in defense of segregation and refusing civil rights to non-whites, but that’s been done. “I think there’s more to this outfit than meets to eye,” to quote Gandalf the Grey.

At his core, Rand Paul is perfectly representative of Žižek’s ideology par excellence for he appears to speak openly without hiding anything. From that clue alone we know we are all the more in its presence. His strategy creates the illusion that there is nothing there except the truth. He is like the talking Mouth of Sauron from Lord of the Rings except he speaks the ideology of the free market.

The third book of the triligoy reads, “and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: ‘I am the Mouth of Sauron.’” It is noteworthy that the Mouth of Sauron has forgotten his own name; he has become so immersed in his ideological diplomatic function that he has lost all sense of reality or individuality. Rand Paul’s ideology likewise hides in plain sight. He has forgotten that he is first a citizen of the Unites States of America which has powers to regulate aspects of human society. His ideology though obscures this: it is the elephant in the room which everyone has gotten used to. In his ideological worldview, the state and the “free” market are somehow magically separated. The government only holds “us” back. This is all the more depressing when we think about just how recent the Great Recession hit because of a lack of regulation. Lack of historical memory indeed.

Even The Economist is on Obama’s side though they do not grasp quite why so many Americans are so mad. Their headlining editorial points out in their most recent issue:

[T] rage directed at Mr Obama is overdone. Consider the main reason why American are angry: the economy. The slow pace of job re-creation is primarily the result of consumers and companies trying to rebuild their finances. Mr Obama is guilty of promising that the pain would be over sooner than was ever likely. But he did not cause the bust, and deserves more credit than he is getting for steering America clear of a much worse fate, especially considering the constraints of a political system designed to make big changes difficult. He was right to go for a big, bold and immediate stimulus plan. He has been right to resist, with minor exceptions, calls for a wave of protectionism. He is guilty of having no credible medium-term plan to reduce the deficit. But then nor do Republicans; and it was they, after all, who oversaw the tax cuts, the entry into two wars and the financial collapse that are the source of most of America’s gigantic deficit.

Wow. Now, I have minor squabbles with some of those points like the protectionism bit, the promising about how bad things would be, and providing a sole reason why American are so angry. But, Mr. Paul could learn A LOT from this simple paragraph. It was business which dug ours and their grave and who are slow in rebuilding. It is the government which is helping all that prosperity and greatness he loves to talk up so much from disappearing completely into Great Depression 2.0. And, he fails to see that conservatives are more liable for the huge deficit than the left. In all, he has forgotten his own name; he has become what I am calling “direct ideology.”

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