the 44th President of the United States...Bara...

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I posted earlier in the week about my pessimism, melancholy anyone?, surrounding the election of Obama.  Simon Critchley has an excellent piece over at Adbusters which draws on similar arguments i tried to make but then foes further.  Critchley is a better thinker and writer than I am so I strongly suggesting more time there than here.

Besides the better explanation he actually offers an ethic to conitue on, whereas at the time of writing I was only able to offer a negative criticism and not a way out of the impasse.  Cricthley draws on Badiou to try and make politics distant.  Instead of relishing in the political victory we should strive for the same progressive victories in every facet of our lives but without the penetration of the state.

I will leave you with a section from the Critchley piece which best sums up my melancholy, better than I could defend it to be good-liberal friends:

The second possibility is the reverse, namely that the popular force that has been mobilized around Obama’s presidential campaign simply exhausts itself in its governmental victory. On this view, once Obama has been elected, citizens can switch off politically and sit back and watch how well his administration does. Politics becomes reduced to a spectacle of media and governmental representation. Furthermore, this possibility is undoubtedly the one favoured by the Obama campaign itself, which explains the somber, slightly disappointed tone to Obama’s speech on the night of his victory: ‘The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term’. On this view, the rhetoric of change (‘Together we can change the country and change the world’) was simply what it took to get people mobilized. Once the victory is secure, there must be no further mobilizations at the popular level. All must henceforth be mediated through the apparatus of government. Politics as the experience of a people suddenly present to itself and aware of its awesome power has to die at the precise moment when a representative government is elected.

This is perhaps the tragedy concealed in the events of the late evening of November 4th: as I walked to the subway at about 10 p.m. a vast United States flag was being unfurled in Union Square; there were spontaneous parties in the streets of my part of Brooklyn, and many others can testify to much more exotic, collective experiences. This was a moment when people, no longer cowed by the power of the state and held in check by the police, suddenly become aware of their power and the power of their activity, which is nothing less than the activity of liberty. At such a moment, no force can stop them and a demonstration or street party erupts into being. This is collective joy. There is the potential for a political moment here, but it is a potential whose actualization is denied by the very representative process which is being celebrated. At the moment when people become aware of their power through the activity of the vote, they are simultaneously rendered powerless by the representative process. Liberty slips from the hands of those who have suddenly become aware of its power. In the face of such human fireworks, it is not surprising that Obama cancelled the firework display planned to accompany his victory speech. The message is clear: ‘The victory is yours. But when you’ve finished celebrating, dancing and crying, return to your homes and be quiet. Thanks to you, the business of government is ours and we will take it from here. We’ll let you know how it goes. P.S. Please don’t take popular sovereignty too literally’.

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I am sad. Not as most people are: I am excited to be living through a time that might be historical. It is that very quality which makes most nervous, but not me.

What makes me sad is that the obvious solution to the bailout, turning the risky mortgages into secure mortgages, is finally being discussed by one of the two presidential candidates. Sadly it is the very one candidate I do not want saying it. It should be the Democrat that is calling for a mechanism to stop people from being kicked out of their homes. The next president will have near complete autonomy over how to distribute the bailout funds and it is McCain that is finally seizing upon that as reason for preference. I will still lobby for Obama because his Supreme Court justices will still be of more significance, but I am saddened by Obama’s willingness to follow Paulson into this morass.

This match is easy to call and predict: An Evening with Kevin Smith (KS). I do not know why I placed Emanuel’s Gift (EG) in my queue and after seeing the movie I am still not sure. EG was the good liberal movie whereas there are times in KS that an actual sophisticated argument against the sentimental-driven documentary is made. That level of nuance already makes a winner easy to determine. All of this is without backsliding into the Disney-is-evil debate that has, sadly, become too prominent.

The reason why KS is so engaging, it is almost 4 hours long and I did not even notice, is summed up by C.K. Ogi over at Amazon.com:

Smith is one of the best story tellers our society has. He really has a gift for just starting a story, leaving no stone unturned, and just engaging you into what he’s relating. His story about writing the script for Superman will have you in tears. Another good one is his encounter with Prince. Smith has an easy-going, self-depricating style that’s combined with a smart guy who LOVES the heck outta movies.

EG however is not good story telling. It is sentimentalism at its finest. The movie makes us sad and yet also happy that this young man was able to rise beyond the usual outcome for Ghana’s disabled bodies. The movie leaves some unanswered questions, especially those that would make us as privileged people in the developed world uncomfortable. If we ever needed proof of sentimentalism’s ability to move or prevent movement this was it. I discovered the following quotation on PopFeminist and it smacks of its appropriateness:

Sentimentality is the feather duster in the junkyard of the human condition. It is a fundamentally inadequate method of handling the plights of our country, but emotive and earnest enough to obfuscate the material circumstances of injustice with personal feelings and alleviate its weeping participants of the burden of real change.