Obama, MLK and Hegemony (A Departure From My Ongoing Series)

Obama, MLK and Hegemony (A Departure From My Ongoing Series)

Chris Bowers posted a very important frontpage story here at MyDD last night, "The Two Obamas and Me, Part One".  In it, he drew a distinction between the Obama who first attracted widespread, enthusiastic netroots and grassroots progressive support, and post-Senate election Obama who has often reiterated rightwing stereotypes of the left, in order to position himself more favorably.

In the course of the comments, some counter-arguments were raise, many knee-jerk and fatuous, but some serious, and deserving of serious replies.  Chris himself has said he will have more to say, and so I make no attempt to speak for him, or answer all the serious objections raised.  Instead, what I want to do is add a perspective to reinforce where Chris is coming from, as I understand him, which is the same place I'm coming from on this.  That perspective is the subject of an ongoing series I'm doing on hegemony, a complex concept that is nontheless deftly summarized as "a dominant ideology in drag as common sense."

In my view, the concept of hegemony is most useful in clarifying where Obama stands, and what he stands for.  He is, in my view, a hegemonic figure in drag as a counter-hegemonic figure.  Jump to the flip if you're interested in why.

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Hegemony Is The Enemy--Intro

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect.

With the election behind us, the task before us is enormous, more enormous than most folks realize. Political scientists describe American political history in terms of a series of "party systems," which are divided from one another by decisive breaking points, known as "realigning elections." The last universally agreed upon realigning election happened in 1932.  While things have changed enormously since then, the Republicans were never able to dominate the political landscape with sweeping congressional majorities the way that Democrats were.  The New Deal Party System crumpled, but did not fold.

And yet, that system is held in universal disdain by the punditocracy, even as evidence and rational discourse is held in disdain by the media generally.  What has happened is the elite repudiation of the New Deal--an accommodation with the working [and middle] class necessitated by collapse of capitalism--even though the people still support it.

The elite repudiation can be understood in terms of the concept of hegemony. Whole books have been written about it, but basically it's a $10 word meaning "a dominant ideology in commonsense drag." This post sets up a series on hegemony, devoted to clarifying the battles ahead.

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Gates Gate? -- Is Rummy's Replacement Even More Scandalous?

Republished from Random Lengths News

Is Bush's nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld another scandal just waiting to happen? And why don't the Democrats seem to care?

Over two decades before the Bush Administration first thought about politicizing intelligence to build a phony case for war against Iraq, Ronald Reagan's CIA director, William Casey, played a trailblazing role in politicizing intelligence within the CIA, vastly inflating the threat posed by the Soviet Union, and blaming it for a wide range of terrorism it had nothing to do with. His right hand man was Robert Gates, President Bush's appointee to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.

But Gates did more than politicize intelligence. His involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, selling weapons to the terrorist-supporting Iranian government to illegally fund the terrorist Nicaraguan Contras--came close to getting him indicted.

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Hegemony Is The Enemy--Prelude--Milton Friedman

Cross-posted From Patterns That Connect

With the election behind us, the task before us is enormous, more enormous than most folks realize. In a pre-election post, I raised the issue of realigning elections, wave elections that fundamentally alter the party system from one era to another. A single wave election will not do it, I argued. Past history shows we need two in a row.

But even a party system realignment will not be enough to save us--not from such looming threats as global warming, for example. In this series, I argue we must grapple with something deeper than even bringing about a party realignment: we must grapple with the power of hegemony-a high-faluttin word that basically boils down to meaning a dominant ideology in drag as common sense.  The recent death of economist Milton Friedman provides an opportunity for a glimpse at the workings of hegemony, as I'll explain on the flip.

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Liberalism is the "True Conservatism"

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

(Begun in mid-October. Completed today.)

Ever since the Bush regime began noticeably sputtering near the beginning of its second term, a growing chorus of conservative voices has grown increasingly distressed, and as it has seemed that Bush's failures would come to tar an entire movement, the cry has increasingly gone forth that Bush is not a "true conservative." There is a problem in that claim, of course: it was not Bush alone, but his entire Administration, and the Republican majority in Congress, and at times a majority of conservative court appointees as well who were jointly responsible for the increasingly disastrous direction that the country has taken.  If Bush was not a "true conservative," then neither, one would think, were any of the other major players in the conservative movement of the past 30-plus years.


Or is it?

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Goodnight Gracie: Burns & Allen Lose!

Okay, so it's one night late.  I've been waiting so long to put up that headline.  Now that it's finally be called. Burns. Allen. My shortest diary ever.

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Beyond Red & Blue---The Possible Underpinnings of A November Sweep

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

I began writing this in July.  I would have looked so much more prescient if I had finished it up and posted it then!  But it contains reworkings of material I was already writing about in other posts, so the connections are obvious.

Since the 2000 election, descriptions of American political discourse and behavior is dominated by "blue" and "red", liberal and conservative as the fundamental divide, with the notion of polarization underlying and dominating all discussions.  Even those, such as during the immediate post-9/11 period, in which polarization was temporarily set aside, generally called attention to the fact of polarization by noting that it was conspicuously missing.

Looking forward to the 2006 elections, it seems unlikely to most that we could see a major, realigning election, giving Democrats decisive and lasting control over Congress. There are a number of reasons for this, but woven into all them, in one way or another is fundamental notion of a polarized, evenly-divided electorate.  But this presumption may prove false, based on two observations--the first general, the second specific. If it does  prove false, then there is considerable chance of a realigning election--one that not only shifts power to the Democrats this election, but establishes a majority that will endure for some time into the future, perhaps even growing more substantial in the 2008 election, for example.

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What A Dem Landslide Could Mean

Cross-posted from Patterns That Connect

As the once-fringe idea that Democrats could sweep to power in the House becomes the new conventional wisdom, the closing days of the campaign will be partly informed by what people think this could mean.  Naturally, those who were the last to see this coming will hog the airwaves and printspace telling us what it all could mean.  But online reality-based community is used to that noise.  So what should we be thinking instead?  My tentative answer involves a brief review of some scholarly theorizing, as well as a good hard look at election numbers since 1892, aided by a nice clean graph.

First off, of course, "don't take anything for granted" remains as true as ever.  But increasingly, people are realizing that the prospect of a massive "wave" victory can be just as motivating as fear of defeat.  Perhaps even moreso.  But what is this "wave" we speak of?  Some tell us it is rare event, that comes only once or twice in a lifetime ("water flowing underground").  This raises three questions: (1) What do they mean by that?  (2) Is it true?  (3) If so, what does that mean?

The first-take answers are:

(1) They are talking about so-called "critical" or "realigning" elections.
(2) They are relatively rare, but more like once-every-10-to-20 year events, if we count "sub-critical" elections the experts don't all agree on, but are noticeably not run-of-the-mill.
(3) This is a huge opportunity, and Dems should make the most of it.

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Foley's Follies, Public Coverups And Moral Panics

Cross-posed from Patterns That Connect

For almost a year--no, make that five years, maybe more, the GOP's top leadership hid a sex-scandal from the American people, involving Congressman Mark Foley cyberstalking House pages.  Now, over the past three days, the GOP's top leadership has been involved in a public coverup of that longterm private coverup.  It's not the first example we've seen of a public coverup by the GOP.  Indeed, the seemingly paradoxical notion--a public act of concealment--dates back, in it's current incarnation, to Gerald Ford's Watergate pardon of Richard Nixon, the man who made him President.  But unlike most GOP coverups, this one is about SEX, and for that reason, if no other, it has to be handled extremely delicately.  Like a finicky explosive, it could easily blow up without warning.

Woops!  It already has. But the GOP is still hoping against hope that they can control this thing, somehow, someway. Which means it's a good time for some historical and cultural perspective.

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FCC Hearing In Los Angeles Tuesday--Oct 3

There's a rare FCC hearing in Los Angeles on Tuesday, held in two parts.  StopBigMedia.com sez:

After months of silence, the Federal Communications Commission announced that its first official public hearing on media ownership will be held in Los Angeles on Tuesday, October 3.

The hearing will occur at two venues with an afternoon and an evening session; there will be an opportunity for public testimony at both sessions. It's critical that you turn out for either of these events to let FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the FCC Commissioners know how the media is serving your community.

This may be the public's last chance to speak out against Big Media before Martin moves to lift the last significant limits to runaway consolidation.

If you live in or around Los Angeles, it's critical that you take the time to come to at least one of the hearings.

Details on flip...

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