|10-09-2008, 10:11 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Interesting discussion of the Bush Legacy
Assume the Fetal Position!
Von Frank Schirrmacher
04. Oktober 2008 Maybe the worst isn't what George W. Bush took from us. The worst is what he gave us. All the farewells from him, from Washington, from America are nothing but losses of our illusions, helplessly postponed. And the losses themselves are an illusion. For we won't be able to free ourselves from the core of things he leaves us. Conceptually, Bush has put democracies into slavery by using its constitutional vocabulary, be it „freedom“ or „dignity of man“, as instrument of his exercise of power. Farewells from the loyalty to the United States, from its apotheosis of the good life and its might, as we can read in all newspapers? Instead, we have received something we cannot say farewell to: the shameful experience of a deep unfaithfulness towards ourselves, the overwhelming feeling of powerlessness, a dislocation of identity unknown in the annals of free societies.
When Bob Woodward spoke to Bush eight months ago, in one of thoses talks lasting for hours, he noticed something new. The president who wants to tell his story begins to forget his story. He constantly asserts in the course of the conversation that he cannot remember some details. „I assure you I am not sitting behind my desk, forever overwhelmed by Iraq. A president has to do a lot of other things“, says Bush.
All is one, elevated and at the same time devalued
Woodward explains that Bush no longer saw a way to change the story through action. „A lot of other things to do“, except the one that counts - that is nothing else but the the admission of complete failure. Bush converts the layering of viewpoints that he used to make the world believe in a policy of irrefutable priorities into a succession of viewpoints. He hopes unlike any other politician after World War II that his story won't be told by considering its meaning and its end, but by looking into his appointment calender.
He has a lot of other things to do: dedication of a train station, G8-summit, flower exhibition, declaration of war, lowering of taxes, destruction of the constitution, anniversary of boy scouts - it is the desperate desire for a historiography from the perspective of the valet. All is one, elevated and at the same time devalued. And therefore forgotten, as is this talk he had with a close adviser in summer of 2006, when he asked her „What do you hear out of Iraq? How is life now for the people of Baghdad?“ and she answered: „It is hell, Mr. President“.
He still had „to ride at other rodeos“
For years Bush has forced the whole world to dwell in his head, to interpret each and all of his intentions, to devour his personal logic, to flee his resolutions, and to fear his memory because it was, as he himself confessed, a memory that didn't forget any humiliation. He seemed to be a case for the youth psychologist, and similarly for his staff members when he interrupted important meetings with the rude remark that he still had „to ride at other rodeos“.
But what it meant for his contemporaries to be forced endemically into his thinking apparatus was noticed first by inhabitants of the deepest depths, those literary intellectual beings that illuminate the night with their own glow. At the same hour that George Bush, roping the world into his thinking process with words like democracy, freedom and self defense, established an interior surveillance system reaching like a thought police into every library and every laboratory, the novelist John Berger predicted a reeducation towards fear, a vegetative state in which the body knows already what the brain doesn't even guess: „The pain to live in the contemporary world.“ Berger described precisely what constituted the essence of power of this administration: „Ideology apart, its power is based on two threats. The first is the intervention from the sky by the most heavily armed state in the world. One could call it Threat B 52. The second is of ruthless indebtment, bancruptcy, and hence, given the present productive relations in the world, starvation. One could call it Threat Zero.“
A mathematical operation that is left for us
We have now entered Phase Zero. It is about to become a historic event. To multiply with zero is a mathematical operation that is left for us by this president. The only problem is that it is applicable not to him alone. What stock owners sense when they don't own anything any more after years of accumulation holds also true for our thinking and acting. Bush has multiplied freedom, democracy, prosperity with zero. With borrowed ideals, he has devalued these ideals.
„We've never seen a presidential meltdown like this. This is a terrible loss, and a dangerous one, for the whole world is watching“, wrote Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan's former head speech writer, the other day in the Wall Street Journal.
While the United States Secretary of the Treasury, as if to outline this implosion, literally fell to his knees in front of his country's representatives and while the president „spoke like a man who was a mere commentator, not the leader in the crisis“ (Noonan), the world observes and knows that those who pretend to be healers have caused the disease. Now „House members, many of whom I suspect can't balance their own checkbooks“ decide about the world's economic future, wrote Thomas L. Friedman, columnist of the New York Times, in a dramatic plea. „I've been frightened for my country only a few times in my life: In 1962, when, even as a boy of 9, I followed the tension of the Cuban missile crisis; in 1963, with the assassination of J.F.K.; on Sept. 11, 2001; and on Monday, when the House Republicans brought down the bipartisan rescue package. But his moment is the scariest of all for me because the previous three were all driven by real or potential attacks on the U.S. system by outsiders. This time, it's our own failure.“
Incompetence as a political variation of a policy of arbitrariness
The western societies have anticipated many things but not this attack from the inside. It is downright incredibly comprehensive, from the rhetorical preparations for the war with Iraq to the climate policy, the attack on the constitution, the surveillance of all intellectual and scientific endeavours and ending in the implosion of the financial system. The gigantic mountain that is in this system of fear the threat from the outside, emerges as emotional dislocation of fear of the innermost. By now the declaration of war against terror shows the traits of a forceful challenge to the traditional European idea of mankind.
This president leaves behind all of the world's democracies in a deeply traumatized state, and you ask yourself, what person or what event of the last sixty years could have done the same or if it could have happend outside the democratic realm. In contrast to China, Russia and Bin-Laden-Terrorism, all profiting from Bush's reign, democracies always encountered in the person of Bush the „king's two bodies“; he was Bush, but he also was the representative of the idea of freedom and democracy. He has taken away this deference to the existing, and as he took away, he gave something back: Mistrust of others and himself, lack of comprehension towards foreign law and foreign happiness, incompetence as a political variation of a policy of arbitrariness.
Above all in Germany, in a country whose gratefulness towards the liberators of 1945 has become historic, the whole extent of moral ruin will show itself only after Bush's departure. There were many people, and many intelligent people who believed him und followed him for a while when he shored up his Iraq policy with talk about weapons of mass destruction and referrals to the Third Reich. While the intellectual left may feel itself vindicated in the catastrophies of the existing order and draw from it lessons for the course of history, the German bourgeoisie that came together in the great people's parties of the years after World War II hasn't developed a utopia that pointed appreciably beyond the American dream and the primal confidence in its democratic guaranties. The removal of this vanishing point is, as Russia and China demonstrate, not at all the end of capitalism. The threat now is the lasting division and regression of democracy and capitalism, a disruption that originated in Bush's misuse of the political rhetoric of freedom. In the worst case scenario this won't be any more the world of western cosmopolitanism whose liberal foundations belonged to the greatest achievements modern societies have to offer. Without any irony Friedman advises them: „Assume the fetal position!“
Bush hasn't just taken, he has given back
Bush begins to forget. And a disturbed world hopes that an Obama is enough to heal the wounds. But if the world doesn't understand what wounds it has inflicted on itself, it won't advance any more to the optimistic, happiness seeking and in the end even loving ego that slumbers embryonically in the innermost core of our democratic and social ideals. „In the interminably repetitive speeches, announcements, press conferences and threats, the recurrent terms are Democracy, Justice, Human Rights, Terrorism“, John Berger writes. „Each word in the context signifies the opposite of what it was once meant to mean. Each has been trafficked, each has become a gang's code-word, stolen from humanity.“
But Bush hasn't just taken, he has given back: a changed reality of the constitution, freedom deformed and happiness destroyed. Shaken by the financial crisis, the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley announced in The New York Times a few days ago the preliminary „end of ideas“. Maybe this last, quasi materialistic ruin of ideals is the endpoint. Bush multiplies us with zero. The European societies must painstakingly learn again to count together one and one to be able to begin anew.
|10-09-2008, 10:27 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hot Springs, Ouachitah
I just pulled nickel out of the ATM, I'm expecting a "holiday" today.
Bush betayed us. Now we pay even more.
Last edited by watermock; 10-09-2008 at 10:36 PM..
|10-09-2008, 11:26 PM||#3|
Mo' holla fo' yo' dolla!
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: In a bunker in an undisclosed location
Bin Laden doesn't have to plot new ways to destroy America: all he has to do is sit back and watch Bush do the job for him.
|10-10-2008, 02:12 PM||#5|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: London, ON
Man, I don't think it has ever happened before that a sitting president has not been involved with campaigning for his party at all. You know you have fallen far when your own party disowns you before you leave office.
|10-10-2008, 02:32 PM||#7|
Some days it's not worth
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Portland, OR
|10-10-2008, 02:38 PM||#8|
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Twixt Hell & Highwater
The German language lends itself to hyperbole so readily. Dude needs to chill. The "Bush Effect" was bad, but it will wear off.
|10-10-2008, 02:42 PM||#9|
Join Date: Apr 2004
|10-14-2008, 04:52 AM||#11|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
He should be happy if he makes it out of office alive.
Not that I'm threatening him of course. I love the guy.