The feral style of American politics

Thomas Friedman, American journalist, columnis...

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Other than giving goats the evil eye to try to kill them and making money disappear and then reappear in the pockets of Afghan drug lords, the CIA does not have many super powers. But apparently every once in a while they peek into a crystal ball and somebody from the future sends them a fax about what life is like in 2025. The CIA did this in November 2008, but seeing as that was kind of a busy news month, it passed under my radar. Luckily for me, Michael T. Klare published a quick post about the report on TomDispatch.com last week, so IT SHALL AVOID SCRUTINY NO LONGER.

Klare’s post is ominously titled “The Great Superpower Meltdown.” GUESS WHAT THE CIA THINKS IS GONNA HAPPEN! According to the CIA–who is wrong about literally everything, all the time, forever, but maybe now they’re on to something?–the outlook is not good. Not good, that is, unless you believe that the beginning of the end of the American Empire is something to be cheered on. The report states [via Klare’s article]:

“Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor [in 2025, its] relative strength—-even in the military realm—-will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained.”

OH SHIT FUCK! Let’s use all our bombs now before the Chinese repossess them to pay off our historic debt to them! Also–“will decline”? It turns out NOFX was right!

The CIA’s prediction has long been obvious to anyone with a limited sense of history or economics, but also runs contrary to what virtually all American foreign policy post WWII has assumed the world will look like. And nothing exemplified the ahistorical assumption of unending American dominance more than the neocon ideology of the last 10 years.

We are a nation constantly at war, with a military infrastructure so vast it has become self-perpetuating. We have seen the world as our playground from which we can take as we please, but those days are coming to an end. American hegemony is in quick and inevitable decline, but don’t expect the blood-thirsty, war-loving media and political classes to go down without a slap-fight.

You can almost see Thomas Friedman’s wild eyes desperately searching for a sewer rat to chew on for relaxation. Last week, that American Savage rose to new heights of delusional crypto-fascism with this cough-syrup inspired nonsense:

“My last guiding principle: We are the world. A strong, healthy and self-confident America is what holds the world together and on a decent path.”

Those two sentences honestly boggle the mind. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with all reasons why I disagree with that quote as much as is possible to disagree with any series of words in the English language, so there’s no need to go into that now. More interesting, and I believe more illustrative of what we’ll likely see from the 99% of the Establishment class who adhere to the doctrine of American Exceptionalism, is what Friedman follows the above quote with.

“A weak America would be a disaster for us and the world. China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan. I don’t.”

Think about what’s happening here. “China, Russia, and Al Qaeda,” are all posited as aggressors of an equal level. They lie in wait for Our Destruction–maybe even together! Oh god! Maybe?! I don’t know!

In 1964, Richard Hofstadter published his seminal essay, “The Paranoid Style In American Politics,” in which Hofstadter explained his choice of words this way:

“I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.”

(Frank Rich also saw fit to mention that essay in his latest column.)

My guess is that as time goes on and America’s god-given status as The Greatest Nation Ever is shown to be the hideous lie it has always been, this paranoid style will become feral.

You can already sense now in the Teabaggers’ movement the faint stench of the cornered dog. Glenn Beck’s show-tears are better understood as the foam of a rabid animal, they simply come from a difference facial orifice. Michele Bachmann’s bizarre obsession with the global dominance of the US Dollar, as Andrew Leonard has correctly argued, has nothing to do with economic policy, and everything to do with insecurity.

Though it’s unlikely any of the Teabaggers have read the CIA’s report, the decline it predicts is already creeping into the zeitgeist. It’s that creeping insecurity, more than Obama, that has driven the ‘baggers and Beck into the feral rage that will only increase over the next two decades. They have been driven out of the domesticated dwelling of rational thought, only to return to the primal forest of superstition and tribalism.

What we’re seeing in their “movement” is the failure of nationalism to provide a lasting personal identity. Over the past 80 years, every American has been told for his or her entire life that we are special, we Have God On Our Side, and we will never suffer the fate of every other empire that has ever existed. As that fate becomes more and more clearly inevitable, expect those whose livelihood or identity is tied to American Exceptionalism more and more to resemble the cornered dogs they are.

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