Monday, November 26, 2007

Part of the Machine

Well now, I've got some advice for you, little buddy
Before you point the finger you should know that I'm the man
If I'm the man, then you're the man, and he's the man as well
So you can point that fuckin' finger up your ass

-- Tool, Hooker with a Penis

I think IOZ has the right idea, in what to make of a Joke Line, if perhaps a bit harsh on Greenwald:

I mean, not to suggest that the state is only a network of power structures, needless to say, best understood holistically and organically, not as a machine but as an organism, simultaneously divided against itself and unified in the common purpose of survival and growth, capable of mediating internal tensions and disagreements to that point, able to acquire new skills and competencies, adaptive and intelligent, sometimes rational and sometimes reactionary, instinctively but not universally territorial, with some physical centers of great importance and others of vestigial uselessness, a totality of abstract powers ideated and actualized by the collective action of human beings, themselves only the material functionaries of a self-perpetuating, self-referencing, self-defining, self-circumscribing, suprahuman entity. How do you like them fucking apples, Gleen Greenwald? To look at the state of human affairs right now and conclude that the real problem is that people like Joe Klein are willing to swallow a government line, when obviously the very purpose of the entire economic sector for which the Joe Kleins of the world toil is precisely to mold, variate, amplify, and disseminate a very particular kind of information, is to find yourself not only missing the forest for the trees, but the trees for one moldy leaf rotting in a puddle on the lee side of a dank Appalachian hill.

This is an existential problem I find myself mulling more and more frequently. Obviously, there are substantial differences in the platform various bloggerses have at their disposal, from a ginormous one like Greenwald has, to inconsequential bit players such as myself. But collectively, it's fair to say that most of us try on some level to sift uncomfortable facts from convenient fictions, to parse truth from truthiness.

And how's that worked? No matter how many people show Klein up for the tendentious hack he frequently is, he changes nothing. Indeed he, like many "respectable" journamalists, since reputation is their currency, coasts on his status as pseudo-moderate organ-grinder for Time, favorably comparing it with those who dare to call him on his bullshit. He'd rather be gulled by people who reify his importance, than be taken to task by his readers. And as angry as the common folk claim to be about things in general, they don't seem to be in much of a rush to do anything meaningful to disengage from the system which supports and nourishes their ideological foes.

BriarPatch sums up the predicament quite well:

The precarity movement seeks to diagnose and challenge the way that work is organized under neoliberal globalization. It speaks primarily to the forms that work increasingly takes in an era of closed borders and liberated capital—increasingly part-time, temporary, contract to contract, and imported from afar. But it also addresses the broader conditions of life that accompany this shift: people are uprooted, indebted, living pay cheque to pay cheque, with an increasingly thin safety net to catch them if they fall, and at greater threat of natural and manmade disasters in a world that is rapidly pushing its environmental limits to the breaking point. From the closing of women’s shelters to the proliferation of food banks, from the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble to the fallout from the overheated Alberta economy, risk and uncertainty are replacing human rights and prosperity—except, of course, for those who profit from risk and uncertainty.

There ya go. It has to have occurred to Greenwald that Klein's chronic obtuseness stems from his paycheck essentially depending his not understanding the more problematic aspects of the issues he writes about. We could all devote our energies to fisking every column from the rented-establishment-scrivener claque, and precious little would change. They'd just continue to insist that we were cyberstalking them, mischaracterizing their professional judgment and spotless credibility. And most of that never breaks out of the usual choir-preaching radius of influence in the first place.

It's going to take more than simply reiterating to the world at large that they are being mis- or disinformed by credulous bozos, people like Klein who earn a living by keeping their (and our) natural predators at a short-arm's length, that kind ol' Br'er Fox really just wants to help all us chickens, if only we'll stop our unserious clucking. It's going to take more than reminding them of their own roles in their predicaments; on some instinctive level at least, most people know. They've done the cost-benefit analysis and have, in the aggregate, decided to stay the course and just continue grousing about it while they drive to strip malls to scrounge a deal on more toys.

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