Monday, 11 December 2006

FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTENT?

I’ve been reading obituaries of Jeane Kirkpatrick, who was President Reagan’s ambassador to the UN. This lady had a far more formidable intellect than the drippy Condoleezza Rice, and made a lasting impact on the rightward swing of US foreign policy in recent decades. She was an implacable foe of Communism, which she increasingly unrealistically envisaged as a monolithic worldwide conspiracy, even while the USSR was tottering to its doom.

She also, and more significantly, favoured USA support for authoritarian regimes in South America in crushing any populist dissent on the ground that demands for greater human rights and social justice were Communist-inspired. In an essay on “Dictatorships and Double Standards” which first brought her to Reagan’s attention, she argued that while totalitarianism was abhorrent, most rightwing dictatorships were reliably pro-American. Their leaders might favour the rich and keep the masses in poverty, but "because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to the ordinary people".

That is a remarkable phrase, and does much to clarify transatlantic bemusement at what many Europeans perceive as American purblindness to the basic role of a social security system in a healthy democracy. The United States is a great nation; I have had many delightful American friends, and am not at all “anti-American” - although I am very anti some entrenched American attitudes and assumptions. On my only visit to the Land of the Free – admittedly many years ago – I glimpsed the sides of the USA that they don’t usually show you on television. I don’t think I have ever seen such pathetic shanty-town slums cheek by jowl with vulgarly ostentatious wealth [gold-plated fittings in lavatories and so forth] as was then commonplace in many American cities.

Presumably the miseries of traditional life borne by the poor are acceptable to many rich and powerful Americans because they are “familiar.” These worthy folks' horror of anything that smacks of “socialism” blinds them to the claims of social justice.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just could not stand that woman. Simple.

anticant said...

Nor Maddie Halfbright. Still less the Rice Maiden. Come back, Eleanor Roosevelt - all is forgiven!

Anonymous said...

Can hardly add to your article and the postings which followed without appearing to be severely anti-crumpet. So, I won't.
My problem is that, sometimes, I can hardly express the level of disdain I have for these people.
Almost tired of trying. Almost, but not quite.

buthwatif said...

And no doubt Pinochet's now standing right behind her in the queue at the Pearly gates.

RIP

anticant said...

I thought Pearly Gates was the chap who has taken over from Rumsfeld.

gingerwaster said...

This woman was evil. Actually I read a piece not long ago by Alexander Cockburn on counterpunch which describes her neatly :

"Another 80-year old, Jeane Kirkpatrick, apparently saw reason in her fading years. Her friend Jack Kemp says that she would meet him on the way to church and lament the folly of the US attack on Iraq. This ur-neo-con would, so Kemp said, denounce the younger neocons like William Kristol.

I had to endure a servile interview with Kristol by NPR's Deborah Ames, in which he held forth on her fine distinctions between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.

Since the point of Kirkpatrick's distinctions was to give intellectual buttress to crude imperial functions like cheering on Guatemalan mass murderers practicing genocide on Mayan Indians, Kristol at least reminded me of what a disgusting creature Kirkpatrick was, at least in the decades when she had measurable influence on U.S. foreign policy, in the Reagan years.

As with all the Commentary crowd in the late 1970s the only intellectual challenge they ever offered was the matter of deciding whether they actually believed all the drivel they were writing. Kirkpatrick was one of the irksome, because she tricked out her absurdities with pretentious references to Hobbes and Kant, thus tipping off the rubes that here was a Great Mind at work.

I remember her at the Republican convention in New Orleans in 1980. Conservative queen bees like Kirkpatrick and Schafly had, in their proximate physical aspect, an undercurrent of erotic violence ­- Jeane was surely a closet case -- that didn't really come through on camera. Rooted under the rostrum in the Superdome, peering up into Kirkpatrick's flaring nostrils I could see planes of her face that were normally flattened out in the bland imagery of videotape.

Of course she was talking about "national security" with her lips puckered into a moue of cruel delight as she foretold how Dukakis and the Democrats would leave America bound helpless beneath the Russian jackboot. The only jackboot I could keep in mind was hers: Jeane lashing savagely at the cuffed and whimpering body of effete liberalism."

http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn12092006.html

In the end, sharks congregate around the feeding grounds, so it's hardly surprising that right at the top of society, that's where you'll find the really successful gangsters, despite all the Hollywood romanticizing and aggrandizing of criminal mafias which helps to legitimize the organized official violence of the state in the eyes of the gullible.

I was extremely surprised to discover quite recently that the Mafia - or Cosa Nostra - in the US consists of 200 members. If this information is true, it shows to what extent we have been fed blue meanies.

zola said...

Gingerwaster : Are you a Private Eye?
No disrespect here.

anticant said...

Yes, Gingerwaster is a walking Private Eye. I wonder how many of those 200 Mafiosi are also leading Neocons, some even members of the Bush administration? This is an increasingly likely ultimate scenario. It already seems to be happening in Russia.

anticant said...

Re "flaring nostrils" and all that, I remember once peering up at the more intimate parts of Mary Whitehouse, grsnd dame of prudery, as she sat on a platform wearing one of the shortest miniskirts I've ever seen.

zola said...

Is that Mary as Whoresome as in Wow?
Or is it .....
Why did you gaze into that caven?

zola said...

Come om now Anticant : admit it.
You enjoyed peeking up er legs.
Wish I ad been there.
Would av given er one I would.

anticant said...

Couldn't tear me eyes away. It was so incongruous.

zola said...

Nice one Anticant : Tis so strange to peer into the two-lips is it not?

But forgive me I did not mean to insult the Whitehouse Virgin Mary I just wanted to fuck it all.

zola said...

Sorry : should have been more open with that "Private Eye" thing.
News headline = COCKBURNS INSIDE OF VIRGIN MARY ( as Anticant watches it all happen)
That is disgusting ?

anticant said...

Zola: Please! Do exercise some quality control over your droppings into my burrow. I have some little cousins who may peep in now and then to see what I'm up to, and I wouldn't want them to find the place littered with poo.

zola said...

As you know Anticant : No offence meant.

Like to meet yer cousins though.
Are they also with this Private Eye thing?

Remember OZ too i do.
Connection?

anticant said...

I too remember OZ - I knew the mother of the boy [Viv Berger] whose "Gypsy Granny" cartoon caused all the fuss, quite well. She was also on the NCCL executive -chair, I think, at the time. Which does make you wonder whether there was a personal/political spite motive underlying the prosecution.

gingerwaster said...

Zola

OK, gotcha now. Way too subtle for me. I occasionally eyes me privates, just to make sure everything's still in place...but couldn't think of anything else.

butwhatif said...

Speaking of old women who some find sexy, Thatcher's probably going to take a trip stateside some time soon, so she can hoist her own skirt up, and piss all over Kirkpatrick's grave.

At the time of the Falkands/Malvinas rumble, JK advocated to Reagan that the US stay neutral, so as not to lose the support of the dictator. Not Thatcher. The other one.

Anonymous said...

Now that The Lion has awoken, I can see that some very interesting stuff has gone on.
Mary Whitehouse as a sex symbol?.
In my lifetime, I never thought.

zola said...

But is this gingercatwasterweasel to be trusted I ask meself.
Could be a troll under a veil and with slit eyes.
Come on Gingerpuss - let me ave a sniff under your clothing.
Something fishy .....

gingerwaster said...

Zola

No you bloody well won't... The ginger cat's not an odorous old dominatrix, unlike the aforesaid 3 pussies. Whose graves I would gladly water, after having pooed on those of the Masters of War.

zola said...

I begin to believe you Ginger.
Everyone must begin somewhere.

gingerwaster said...

Well, occasionally I entertain fantasies of being abused by a dominatrix. Trouble is, the fantasy may be fun, but the reality is not. Yikes. Ask any Latin American... they've been under the whip for decades.

Anonymous said...

Trusted? I recognise the spray of the GingerWaster and am comforted that he is not one of the blue meanies.
(Having said that, I do have a bad cold which only copious quantities of the Water of Life will cure).