Obama’s Macabre Politics

Tibor R. Machan

Over the last few weeks, indeed since his victory at the polls, I have been listening to President Obama’s speeches quite regularly. I wasn’t surprised one bit at his ready exploitation of the Connecticut schools shooting. As one of his hacks, Emanuel Rahm, said a few months ago, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” And more government control of the lives of American citizens is, as I can figure it, the priority of this president. He believes we are a tribe that he rules and whatever chance he finds he will use to make sure everyone does what he envisions is the proper thing to do. Give up your weapons, let the feds be the sole armed group in the country! Treat all wealth as public, collective, and basically abolish private property rights, mostly by way of the constant increase of taxation. Don’t respect anyone’s right to use and dispose of resources but assume full authority over these and set the priorities for what to do with them.

I suppose there is still some semblance of liberty left in the country–mostly having to do with the free flow of opinion and the permission to engage in a great variety of artistic expression (although judging by what kind of works seem to gain the approval of the elite media even this may reasonably be doubted).

If you check the president’s inauguration speech accepting his election to a second term as president of the country, there is in it evidence of a decisive tone of postmodernist political thinking, the road to confusing the public. That is to say, no rhyme or reason can be found in the political ideas Obama has chosen to lump together. There is in the pile a bit of this, a bit of that, a bit of yet something else–socialism, capitalism, fascism, authoritarianism, welfare statism, feudalism, and nearly every other identifiable political viewpoint.

It is almost as if he and his team is deliberately advancing an incoherent agenda, one that will leave the American people with no guide to what to expect from his administration of the American government. There certainly is no loyalty to the central element of the American political tradition, namely the doctrine of individual rights. Indeed, if anything, that is one feature completely missing from Mr. Obama’s political stew. We must all comply with his vision of a human community, a vision the centerpiece of which is that “we are all in it together,” that we are one huge tribe or hive of people who individually are hapless and indeed worthless. But even this collectivist political alternative is buried in mishmash so it’s hard to identify it and so it certainly doesn’t commit Mr. Obama to having to defend it with a coherent political argument.

The philosophical guidance to this kind of political thinking has had serious proponents, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing original about it. Indeed, it is a kind of chicken coming home to roost situation–the founders being the likes of the ancient sophists featured in Plato’s dialogues and the more recent irrationalists such as Paul Feyerabend (check his book Farewell to Reason) and Richard Rorty (whose essay “The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy” is very helpful essay for grasping Mr. Obama’s way of thinking in which the population’s unavoidably hotch potch viewpoint is endorsed as against the aim to forge a rational public philosophy).

I do not know if Mr. Obama has read all these and other irrationalist and post-modernist thinkers and consciously follows them but as a self-proclaimed (but much disputed) radical “pragmatist” the way he presents himself in his most recent political proclamations suggests very strongly that he is being deliberately obscure. Why?

My guess is that his goal of top down control of American society is taken by him to benefit from leaving his audience, indeed the entire American public, baffled as to just what is best in political matters.

The only explicit school of politics this approach comes close to is fascism in which the society’s leadership if left in the hands of a charismatic ruler, like Mussolini or Hugo Chavez. Do Mr. Obama’s supporters realize this about him and his ideas? I do not know.