Monday, April 20, 2020

What's Next? A Look Into the Middle Distance

The Sack of Rome in 1527 by Johannes Lingelbach

by Thomas Neuburger

Diverse pathes leden diverse folk the righte way to Rome.
—Geoffrey Chaucer, A Treatise on the Astrolabe

The following offers a brief look into the middle distance, a view past the immediate future — the next few weeks or months when the virus will run its predictable, consequential course — but not so long a view as to reach the logical next phase of human history, the reduction of the species by the ravages of the “Jackpot,” as William Gibson called it: the big one, the global climate crisis and all that will bring.

What's missing from a view of the inevitable immediate and the collapsing distant is what gets us from here to there, from the virus in our faces to the emerging climate to come. The future's unknown, but much can be deduced. In that vein I offer these reflections on the few years or so. From this we learn that despite all that is uncertain, despite the many branches of our path, all roads may yet lead to Rome.

On the 2020 nomination: Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee or he will be replaced as unfit — not unfit for the job (he's already unfit for that) but for the job of appearing to be fit for the job. A middle path is to give the VP nomination to his heir apparent and hint that the Party will be in charge, but these are roughly equivalent alternatives. Corporate Democrats will offer a corporate candidate.

On the 2020 election: Trump will beat the Democrat (not certain, but likely in my opinion) or the Democrat will win the White House (much less likely). If Biden is the nominee after all, the election will turn on the votes of Democratic Party loyalist voters — most will turn out — added to the independent anti-Trump vote, who may or may not turn out in sufficient numbers to stem the incumbent tide. In that case, the election may well turn on incumbency.

If someone other than Biden is the nominee, the election will turn on Sanders-supporting independent voters, who will likely look at the substitute nominee, a person who received no primary votes and won no delegates, and ask, “Who is this person? Where was he when the primary was actually happening? Oh, nowhere; that’s where I thought he was.”

In other words, a more-competent-than-Biden alternative will have an even bigger hill to climb than Biden would have had, and his or her odds of losing to Trump will be significantly increased. The impression of increased competency won't increase support among Party loyalists, whose votes are guaranteed in any case, but an out-of-the-blue corporate candidate will increase the resistance of non-Party-loyalist and Bernie-got-screwed independents. Many will stay home, more than would have stayed home for Biden; others will revenge-vote for Trump under the principle, "I don't like the knife in my chest, but I hate the one stuck in my back."

In none of these cases will much of anything change after the election, at least not once Covid has run most of its course. The need for a radical restructured economy will be waved away — by the corporate Republicans as too much "government interference"; by corporate Democrats who control the post-Sanders Party, as “irresponsible” and “unaffordable” given the glut of spending on the virus crisis itself.

In other words, whether Biden is the nominee or not, his promise that nothing will fundamentally change will indeed be kept by whoever is elected. Trump, if president, will do what Trump will do, or something worse. The Democrat, if president, will do what the Party always does, serve its donors while trying to placate workers they've abandoned. In neither case will workers see relief.

The rebellion against both parties’ corruption will continue as before — or as it would have continued had Coronavirus not worked its interrupted the course.

If Trump is the next president, his Republican critics (they do exist) will be moved to silence by the thought that at least “their guy” is in power. Angry independents though, and newly bankrupt Sanders-supporting Democrats, will not depart so quietly.

In fact, they will not depart at all. They will conclude, instead and correctly, there’s no electoral path that will change their lives.

If a corporate Democrat (the only kind still standing) is the next president, his Democratic critics will be guilted into silence by the shame-selling corporate press. Angry independents though, newly-bankrupt Sanders-supporting Democrats, and all struggling Trump-supporting Republicans will not depart so quietly.

In fact, they will not depart at all. They will conclude, instead and correctly, there’s no electoral path that will change their lives.

Thus the non-electoral portion (to steal a line from My Favorite Year) of this decade-long rebellion will begin, with all that this implies for endless populist promises not kept, multinational billionaire bailouts purchased and passed, and the clash of the newly-desperate against the muscular force of federal, state, local and judicial machines, all charged with keeping the “peace” at the expense of the people. 

With Sanders out of the game — whether by choice, inability, or the sly Obama hand that puppeteered in plain sight, it matters not at all — with Sanders gone, there are no non-corporate candidates left, which leaves the ravaged with no good choice at all. If they choose to act, they will choose among bad choices, and the corporate state will do what it will do, what entrenched power always does when faced with rebellion.

So far in this drama, the people have not lain quiet; they have acted. I expect no less now. Thus we arrive at Rome by any path.

This is the middle-distance as I see it, the route for the next few years. All roads may lead to Rome, but maybe not to the empire of our minds. People forget that Rome was sometimes sacked

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At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am old enough to remember 1968. Once RFK was killed off by the existing power elite -who then blames a lone immigrant with a cartoon pistol which never ran out of bullets- the Democratic Convention nominated Hubert Humphrey as the candidate. I was not yet eligible to vote, but I remember hating that selection.

Humphrey had done some exemplary things in his past, but in 1968 appeared to absolutely support Johnson's failed quest to recolonize Vietnam (something Nike achieved without a bombing campaign). My life was definitely in danger with this choice, and not just from the Viet Cong. Remember the construction workers going after anti-war protesters? I certainly do!

Corporate Democrats might as well be Republicans for all the good they do me. So if "Corporate Democrats will offer a corporate candidate" as Biden's substitute, I will likely be asking the question posed by Mr. Neuburger: "Who is this person? Where was he when the primary was actually happening? Oh, nowhere; that’s where I thought he was” - just as Humphrey faced.

So unless the Democrats can give me someone to vote FOR, the only thing they can count on regarding my vote is that it will not go to Trump. As nothing will fundamentally change regardless of which corporate candidate wins the election, and as I want change in so many things, that is what I will vote for. It will be a protest of the "there’s no electoral path that will change my life" condition that corporatism imposes if nothing else.

It's clear that the militarized police are intended to face down 1968-style street unrest. What isn't clear is that the people will comply with that expectation. There are other ways to skin that cat.

Rome (see: Wall St.) WILL be sacked. As the "bailouts" demonstrate, the "Romans" will be the ones doing the pillaging.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always your analysis is impeccable. The seething anger is sure to grow. Attempts at suppressing it will lead only to more anger. The time is ripe for new leaders to emerge who will challenge the corporate orthodoxy. Who will be the American Alaric or Cromwell that will represent ordinary, suffering Americans? We need only wait and see.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Ten Bears said...

I stand by my initial Harris/Inslee endorsement, though Inslee/Castro looks pretty good.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TB you are a dreamer. Inslee won't be allowed to sniff the nom either. big oil will invest billions in preventing it... just like they and health insurance invests billions in preventing Bernie and gagging AOC et al.
Harris is the desperation pick -- to get back all the black voters that loved obamanation but hated Bernie. Castro? eh!

With the dearth of enthusiasm for biden and the revulsion for any and all fascist candidates, I doubt that either keeping or sacking biden would make any difference. Even Cuomo has a lot of baggage and can be goaded into overreaction by trump (like pulling all promised respirators for NY).

What the democrap party always seems to rely upon (since 1968 anyway) is their electorate being totally docile no matter what they do or how they ratfuck voters.

"So far in this drama, the people have not lain quiet; they have acted" And here is the inevitable dogmatic TN statement I have to disagree with. The people did jack shit about the florida/supreme court coup; they did jack shit about the ohio coup; they did jack shit about Moscow's bitch's supreme court coup; they did jack shit about the democrap party coup in '16 and actually played along with the obamanation coup in 2020. They went from doing jack shit when ratfucked to blithely affirming being ratfucked. only took them 20 years.

that's a trend that does not portend well for our short future. I doubt there is even a middle distance. the tatters of democracy, that we the people have destroyed by ourselves, will be gone within a decade. Maybe within a few months.

and nobody will give a flying zeptofuck.

At 3:12 AM, Blogger sink dish washing said...

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