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July 02, 2011


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Great post Jodi! Let me see if I understand the logic (although I think I'll be adding my own rambling thoughts to it).

The reason why the Republicans (and to a lesser extent the Democrats) achieve electoral success, despite constantly performing poorly when in power, has two discursive components. First, they promise in advance that they will fail, because government is ineffective and inefficient. If they succeeded to govern well for the majority or the "people", they would actually fail in their promise to fail. This becomes a vicious circle ... maybe a little bit of the logic of Zizekian drive at work.

Second, they actually appear to simultaneously succeed, in that as long as Wall Street, which is a proxy for the corporate elite, does well, their average American supporters believe the nation's doing well. When Wall Street doesn't do well, like during the financial crisis, the fetishized logic is that the government didn't fail enough at its job of (non)governing.

The circular logic is what keeps Americans voting for the Republicans, despite the fact that said Americans are unable to attain their coveted enjoyment. But maybe the next failure will finally return that enjoyment which was stolen ...


I might add that the last sentence I wrote - that maybe the next disaster will return the stolen enjoyment - is a similar logic to Marxists who get partial enjoyment out of anticipating that "this collapse" may be the big one, THE collapse that brings on communism. I think your analysis would be useful to apply to far leftist thought as well, to see what kind of structural fantasies have to be overcome on the Left (or heightened, I suppose).


This is a great post - a terrific analysis of the Republican strategy and fantasy. But it still leaves the larger question of what role do the Democrats serve in this farce? Obama and the dems have failed to such a degree for the "rest of us" that Michelle Bachmann has a legitimate chance to become President (you may disagree but I am in Minnesota, she has a real shot). You would think political self interest would be enough for the dems to do more with the power they had. And I realize ideology is powerful, especially in the Zizekian sense of "knowing very well that the system is broken, but nevertheless we cannot take extreme measures because of some bullshit reason I can't think of at the moment..." I find this explanation unsatisfying and wonder what you think - are they merely necessary in order to maintain the illusion of political choice? And if so, where does that leave us? To say Communism is the answer I think is to beg the immediate question of what to do here and now but I can be convinced otherwise.:)


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