Thursday, August 27, 2009

the weirdness 

Glenzilla goes off the reservation in a comments section:

Most of all, I’m currently under contract to write two books, one of which is a comprehensive examination of Chomsky’s life as a public intellectual as a means of understanding how America’s dominant media controls and narrows political debates.

I gotta say, even though I already know exactly what will be in it, it should be an interesting read. Greenwald's metamorphosis, er...radicalization, over the last eight years from a constitutionalist legalistic liberal to someone who can follow a chain of thought through to its logical conclusion has been...what? emblematic? interesting? encouraging?

Meanwhile Matt Taibbi, also someone I generally consider one of the good guys even in spite of his picket-line crossing on The Daily Show, comes up with this headscratcher:

There are some days when it almost seems like the national press is making a conscious effort to prove Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent gospel. If the national commercial media really did exist solely to perpetuate the attitudes of the political elite, and to create phony debates around unthreatening policy poles, endlessly pitting a conservative/reactionary status quo against an “acceptable” position of dissent — if that thesis were the absolute truth, then you’d see just what we’re seeing now in the coverage of the health care debate.

Um, yeah Matt. It's almost like that. So close. So very close. Well, except the part about "conscious effort", "gospel" and "absolute truth". I honestly can't tell in this passage whether he's trying to distance himself or embrace the "gospel". Maybe he's cleverly slipping it in to a mainstream publication while not wholeheartedly advocating it thus giving himself room for plausible deniablity should he be accused of Chomskybot-ism? Very mysterious. Whatcha tryna say here, Matty?

At any rate, two swallows do not a summer make, however perhaps one may indulge a hope that they portend a trend. It's near axiom in radical circles that hard-times and repressive reactionary leadership will galvanize the somnambulent mass into social struggle. Although if contemporary American history is anything to go by, the reverse may actually be closer to the case. The 60's didn't really get into gear until it became clear that Kennedy had no interest in reversing Eisenhower. Similarly, the Clinton bait-and-switch made the actual state of affairs eminently clear to at least enough people to shut down the WTO talks in Seattle. The scales had fallen so far that Big Labor and Big Student were united for the first time in nearly two generations.

On the glass-half-full model, let's view Greenwald and Taibbi as an encouraging sign that prominent dissenters are pushing their critique ever leftward as the Obama Presidency continues to "fail" rightward.


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