Charles P. Pierce and others have been making solid points about our inability to talk seriously about what happened in Charleston last night. Or, more specifically, about the unwillingness of mainstream politicians to confront the central story here. Hillary Clinton did broach the subject in a speech Thursday, but mainly in the context of guns and collective action. (“This time we have to find answers together.”) Still, one could see how this story and its aftermath might help define her campaign in a constructive way.
Charleston may also define the GOP race, but for very different reasons. What is clear, in the Right’s confused, unseemly response to the shooting, is how the refusal to meaningfully discuss racism — or to address the party’s well-honed use thereof – has been largely institutionalized in the GOP. One result is that the Republican party has no meaningful or honest way to discuss tragedies like this, and so is left to explain it as a purely random act of evil or as an attack on Christianity (which, apparently, is the best Fox can do); or as an occasion for yet another proactive defense of the Second Amendment — responses that, one suspects, will haunt Republicans for the next 16 months.
But the GOP is paying another price for its refusal to refute or even acknowledge the legacy of its Southern strategy. More and more, the GOP is the party of the dark family secret — an institution whose denial of a huge moral error is slowly robbing the party not only of its legitimacy as an American party, but also of its basic ideological functioning: this is no longer a party capable of saying what it is really about, or, importantly, of fielding candidates who reflect, and can argue for, the functional conservatism that was once at the party’s core, and which this country desperately needs. Rather, the GOP is a party so denatured by its own lack of courage and moral center that it now wanders the political streets muttering like a homeless person. One needn’t look too hard to see a direct line between the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina statehouse and a GOP “presidential” field made up in large part by narcissists, incompetents, and ass clowns.
Ok, admit it — you’re a little queasy about the recent “Paddle in Seattle” protests against Shell. It’s not that you questioned their cause: the Arctic is highly sensitive, the risks of an accident are high and Shell’s record in the Arctic is hardly inspiring. Nor did you doubt the effectiveness of a flotilla of tiny Davids standing up — okay, sitting down — against an oily Goliath: Shell’s operational window in the Chukchi Sea is so narrow that any delay in the port permitting process could cause Shell to rethink the whole project.
Rather, what bothered you was the small-picture feel to the campaign. Even if Greenpeace and others involved do stop Shell from wintering its Arctic fleet in Seattle, the victory will be short-lived. As soon as oil prices rise, Shell or a rival will be back for the billions of barrels under the Chukchi. Why? Because, what is actually driving this drama isn’t oil-industry greed, or even the wimpiness of the Obama administration. It is our own insatiable appetite for crude.
Put another way, unless the zeal we saw on Elliott Bay can somehow be channeled toward the more complicated, and less glamorous, task of curbing that demand, the “Paddle for Seattle” will ultimately be less political action than performance art.
Read the whole article in Crosscut.com
Colin brings his thoughtful interview style to the book. Listen here.
On November 12, I had the privilege to guest host on “Surveillance”, Bloomberg’s morning show, with Tom Keene, Scarlet Fu, and Brendan Greeley. Co-bantered with former Reagan budgetmeister David Stockman. Intimidating, exhilarating, and edifying all at once. You can watch it here.
Read the excerpt on Alternet
Something profound and disturbing happened between the 1970s and the present. “The consumer marketplace effectively moved inside the self, and is now inseparable from not only our desires and decisions, but also our very identities.” It is a big statement but Paul Roberts makes a persuasive case that even as the market allows us to instantly gratify our desires through computer technology and easy access to credit, the increasing emphasis on short-term self-interest at the expense of long-term social cohesion is leaving us anxious and insecure. Our response to which is to buy more stuff. This unprecedented power to shape our identities at an individual level, says Roberts, leaves us unable to make sacrifices for the common good. The Impulse Society is a compelling analysis of an unprecedented economic phenomenon and its psychological and social consequences.
Sydney Morning Herald