GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

November 26, 2012


Filed under: GA — adam @ 8:05 pm

For a while I have tried to figure out how to define Barack Obama politically. “Socialist” is not quite right—he and his party are much more likely to coopt corporations than to take over ownership (and responsibility) for them. But he’s not a typical European social democrat either—how could he be, given that he only barely includes the industrial working class as part of his coalition? He’s not a New Deal liberal, or even a McGovernite either—he’s not just to the far left of particular American concerns like racial justice, individual liberty, civil rights, social welfare, etc.—he is too interested in seemingly odd cultural issues, like sticking it to the Catholic church, gay marriage and defending Mohammed from “defamation.”

The problem is that Obama is ushering in a new form of rule, which we can call “victimocracy.” Rights, under this regime, are defined by one’s claim to victimization, or by having oneself deemed an honorary victim, and legitimate arguments are those which defend some approved victim (not, for example, Coptic Christians in Egypt) against an officially designated oppressor group. The “race, class and gender” mantra that has been parodied for decades now as a symbol of the excesses of the academic left has been completely and unironically mainstreamed—indeed, the President’s successful re-election campaign was run according to that template and had no other content. The victimocrat regime is currently holding in jail Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a man who has committed no crime, for the sole purpose of committing the US to a victimary narrative of the Islamic war against the West—well, against everyone other than them. An organ of the mainstream left, the Washington Post, has gotten on-board with the “argument” that all criticism of Susan Rice, the UN Ambassador and possibly next Secretary of State is racist and sexist, perhaps unless proved otherwise, and, by extension, the views of white men (especially from the South, that land of quintessential white maleness) are a priori discredited. “White male” (or “old white male”) is code for conservative—George Soros and Warren Buffett have exemptions from white maleness, because they have (I hope I am remembering the phrase correctly) “renounced their privilege.” But the code is interesting as, unlike other demonizations, like “bourgeois,” or even “Jew,” this one takes in the whole of what has been taken as normal and normative in our social order.

This seems to be the “revenge” that Obama offered his voters and, in truth, it might, for a while, provide for a very focused and consistent style of governance. Fiscal policy (to which groups and industries to direct loans, bailouts and subsidies) foreign policy (do I need to specify?) and law enforcement can all easily be run victimocratically. It might be a stable and somewhat less than totalitarian rule—the government need only appoint (many are already in place) official guardians of the interests of each and every designated victim group. As for who will guard the guardians?—asking such a question, I imagine, would just be a sign that your white maleness is showing.

Well, I’m working on another post now, and I just wanted to unveil this new category for the political scientists to mull over. I would assume that on some level, the American people have come to realize that victimary discourse must be allowed to play itself out until the end, which may or may not match the 70 years it took Communism. There is no resisting victimocracy—in the name of what—equal rights? Patriotism? Social peace? American interests? Prosperity?—only the white males/whales of the left’s Ahabist imaginary could possibly imagine that any of these categories contain other than victimary content. Whose interest? Whose prosperity? Whose peace (sans justice, no less)? Etc. In the end it must all crash, but in the meantime and in the aftermath, there is only one plausible response (actually, it’s just the least implausible): exodus.

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