By Brian George
("The Vanguard of a Perpetual Revolution" is probably still a work in progress. I will be posting the current version in four sections over the next week or so.)
This essay is intended to be viewed as a kind of political/ cosmological landscape; I do not write about politics, as such, and have little interest in advocating a particular position. On the one hand, there has never been an election since 1972 in which I have not voted. For me, politics is the “art of the possible”—as reductive as this seems. On the other hand, my imagination must have room to move, and I believe that the future is—even now—being created far outside of the framework of contemporary debate.
I will, when all is said and done, most probably be voting for Obama—unless he is challenged by a more courageous Democrat in 2012. But this will be only one scene out of one act of a play that is being performed at the forefront of a microscopic stage—lit by arc lights that switch on and off—behind which stagehands move throughout the wings and passageways and catwalks of an inconceivably large theatre.
Full disclosure: During the last election season I was a Hillary supporter, and was none too pleased by the way Obama treated his opponent. Since he took the oath of office, I have been pleasantly surprised by his sense of presidential bearing. For the most part, however, he has followed the course—the course of happy-face “corporatism,” tweaked now and then by timid lip-service to ideals—that I foresaw in 2008.
In 2000, before the Supreme Court handed the election to George Bush, and the media chimed in to proclaim that the coronation was “inevitable,” I had the sense that I was watching a kind of time-lapse train wreck—whose first casualties would be unspeakable, and whose ring of disaster would continue to expand. In 2008, this sense of almost physical dread once again took over. Still, it is not for me to judge, since there is no way to determine what is actually going on, and the president, too, may be no more than a bystander.
He is the headlight that illuminates a prescribed cone on the tracks. It is not a job that I would wish upon anyone—not even my worst enemy, or a god.
Once, on the dark horizon, a light no bigger than a pinhead had appeared. That light called memories, like a force-field, from the past.
Mile after mile, past the freight-yards of abandoned factories, past the Quonset huts of those who dream of a new Ice Age, past hermetically sealed databanks and armed compounds of the superrich, past the silos where a way of life was murdered: the light from the horizon grew steadily larger as it came. It had promised to be all things to all people. Until, in the final act, the light that spilled from the pinhead was enormous—but it had no power to turn left or right.
Resources are finite, energy is not free—not yet!—and the USA should no longer be regarded as a “commonwealth.” It is a soon-to-be post-industrial wasteland, still leaking plumes of smoke from its oil rigs, dump sites, and reactors, in which seeds have now been bioengineered to yield only one year’s grain, not more—in a frontal assault against the past 4.5 billion years of evolution—and that is ripe for plunder by the top one percent of investors. It is the plaything of a network of oligarchs who do not need any government—as they have been, for three decades at the least, a law unto themselves. The supposed “New World Order” is a stage-set, made from cardboard, and as disposable as any other.
Obama, as the shadow inside of a cone of light that was once projected by an ancient pinhead, is perhaps even more of an image than an actor—even now. His options are limited, but he does possess one form of potentially catalytic power: the power of the Bully Pulpit. He can speak, and then later on do what he says—and not the opposite, so that, as the Mongols in the time of Genghis Khan said, “His word is iron.”
Such iron words may yet allow him to forge a weapon for the Kali Yuga.
He has the power to speak honestly, to stand up for what he believes (whatever that might be), to fight—not only when it is practical, but also against overwhelming odds—to take the initiative in framing every issue, and to then sell his vision to the American public.
At a time of converging crises, he could use this power far more effectively than he does.
Illustration: Brian George, Baby, black sun, butterfly and bindu over New York, photogram, 2004)