Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rall to Arms

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)

"(W)e've seen since the economy melted down, that neither the Democrats nor Republicans nor any third party is poised to step in. In terms of passive resistance, the American left has been very peaceful since the early 70s, since the Kent State shootings and where has it gotten us? Millions of people marched against the war in Iraq. What did it do? The tanks rolled in just the same." - Ted Rall on Dylan Ratigan's program.

I'll admit that Ted Rall is a somewhat amusing cartoonist. He's not a laugh-out-loud funny cartoonist like The Far Side's Gary Larsen or raunchy funny like Sam Gross or dead-on insightful and hilarious like Dilbert's Scott Adams or Tom Tomorrow. But Rall is a political cartoonist who excels in revealing the absurdity and corruption in politics today with a weary irony and dry wit that borders on the dessicated.

Rall, of course, isn't a mere cartoonist. He also writes political screeds, many of them informative, on The Smirking Chimp and elsewhere.

Still, imagine my surprise when I went to Raw Story before dawn this morning and found out that Rall had advocated violent revolution at the invitation of, in the middle of the Keith Olbermann controversy, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, the weak musketeer in the Four Horsemen of the Liberal Apocalypse consisting of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell.

The Anti-American Manifesto is the name of Rall's newest book (even though it came out a month and a half ago) and it makes for an interesting counterpoint and perhaps even an extended postscriptum to George W. Bush's own book that was released yesterday, Decision Points.

The good thing about Rall's proposal is that 5th columns, whether liberal or conservative, have a miserable track record in American history. They may change history, like presidential assassins, or even alter the very face and role of government, such as 5th columnists Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But our government and the democracy that renews it every two years has never come close to being overthrown if you exclude the war of 1812 that set most of Washington, DC on fire and made President James Madison flee the Capitol.

But Rall, and Ratigan, seem to think it's time to recreate history 200 years later.

First things first: Shame on MSNBC's producers and Ratigan himself for playing up the violent overthrow of the government angle. Even a radical like Rall concedes that the violent overthrow of the government is a last ditch scenario. The only difference between Rall and the Tea Baggers, and right wing mouth-breathing bloggers such Red State's Moe Lane take note, is that Rall regards violent overthrow as a last resort whereas Tea Baggers tend to look at it as a first resort and reach for their ammo boxes when they don't get their way at the ballot box.

Secondly, this is what Publisher's Weekly had to say about Rall's book:
When it comes to what follows, Rall, like many revolutionaries, has less to say: "We must take the chance." His revolutionary rants and belief in a green, egalitarian world are compelling, yet a stubborn truth remains: most Americans don't want to revolt, a fact about which Rall seems oblivious, making his Manifesto inadvertently ridiculous. While the cartoonist is right about much of what is wrong with America today, it's hard to take this seriously. For once, the joke's on him.

Which is probably the most spot-on analysis of Rall's book. Indeed, even in the extremely unlikely event that the government and Wall Street and the entire corporate structure is overturned: What will we replace them with? Anarchists, by their very nature and by the very definition of the word anarchy, are pre-doomed to failure for the very reason that Man is an inherently political animal that not only needs but wants to be led by those who are fit to lead.

Rall is an idiot to think that a liberal movement that was cowed 40 years ago after a relatively minor exercise of federal power at Kent State, a nation that mustered a mere 40.3% voter turnout last week during a critical midterm election, will somehow be able to heave itself off its Laz-E-Boys and away from their Apple laptops and overthrow the very apparatus that has made the United States the titan it is in the world (albeit one that's on one knee).

But Rall's call for revolution is a clarion call that the current political and corporate model is plainly unsustainable. He points out the things that have poisoned our nation both ecologically and politically: The Wall Street hegemony; the BP oil spill; Chronic unemployment and the current administration's chronic inability to deal with it; political corruption at the highest echelons of government; the simultaneous subversion and silencing of the voice of the people.

The people have been forgotten and Lloyd Blankfein and other "captains of industry" proved in the fall of 2007 that one whisper from a lobbyist or CEO speaks louder than a million screams in the wilderness. You're damned right something has to be done, especially when the government has InfraGard (the real "invisible hand" of corporate industry), which means our "democratically-elected" government won't even have to get its hands dirty if and when the revolution happens.

Rall's book is nothing more than an extended blog rant that offers no realistic solutions or even realistic means for achieving those progressive ends. After all, the overthrow of the Roman Empire (not at the hands of fat, lazy, complacent Romans but the barbarians of the North, the precursors of today's ever-ravenous Wall Street tycoons) resulted in a centuries-long Dark Ages. The overthrow of the Romanovs resulted in 72 years of misery, death and poverty for the Russians. And the overthrow of a United States, while superficially attractive to some of us, would result in a power vacuum in the world that would just lead to the supremacy of the two most populous nations on earth that have already done more than their part to hollow out the United States like the opportunistic parasites they are.

There's also the inherent absurdity that a cartoonist, a guy who gets paid to draw pictures and amuse a few people, would be at the vanguard of a bloody, world-changing revolution, which automatically flies in the face of one of the most cherished hallmarks of liberal antiquity: Nonviolent change at all costs.

Still, when all is said and done and when used copies of Rall's book get put up for sale on for a penny and $3.99 shipping, after it's been relegated to the dustbin with 99.9% of the books that have ever been sold by brain-dead literary agents and published by equally brain-dead publishers, one has to admit that Rall's book, if nothing else, serves as an almost Cassandra-like warning that, according to Yeats, "the center cannot hold" and that we must change course either through consensus in the interests of mutual survival or revolution of one sort or another.


At November 10, 2010 at 2:03 PM, Blogger Reaganite Republican said...

We can’t get these two put in jail for fomenting violent class warfare on national TV!

Look for the Black Panthers to turn it up a notch now too, then- why not, nobody’s stopping them

What these goofy armchair revolutionaries forget tho is most libs are scared of guns… and our side not only loves them and is armed to the teeth... but who do they think has been buying up all that ammo for the last two years...?

Bring it~

At November 10, 2010 at 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your wrong about one thing. The Romanov's needed to be overthrown. It's one of history's no brainers. They got Russia involved in the WWI meat grinder and couldn't figure out a way to withdraw, they were disgusting tyrants and worse than that they were incompetent tyrants.

Counter history is always fun, but I have no reason to believe that a Czarist Russia armed with modern tools of oppression would have been better than the Soviet Union. I do know that no revolution was needed against the German Junkers for them to bring us Hitler's Third Reich.

You can't compare the United States today with Czarist Russia though. US imperialism is disgusting, but it won't motivate comfortable US citizens to overthrow the state. (It will continue to motivate "terrorism" though, so that will be fun.)

At November 10, 2010 at 3:18 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Dude, I'm a former Navy Seal. This is one liberal who doesn't run from guns. In fact, I'm obsessed with them. I wish to God I could afford to own several of them. Consider me Hunter S. Thompson with slightly less talent and lots more restraint.

But what I left out, since it wasn't very germane, was all the right wing idiots like you who foment violence on TV over nothing more than a black man getting elected president, the kind of morons who bring loaded automatic weapons to health care town halls given by the President when their ministers openly wish for his death.

Mouth-breathers like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle who advocate sedition and "2nd amendment remedies". To use your own metric, how come they're not in jail?

Or is it a case of it being OKIYAR?

At November 10, 2010 at 3:23 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

How was I wrong? I didn't say the overthrow of the House of Romanov was a good or a bad thing (although I can't countenance a women and her five children getting chopped up with machine guns). But under Communists like Lenin and especially Stalin, things got worse. Under the Romanovs, the working was merely neglected. Under the Commies, the working class was outright abused. I fail to see how they had enjoyed a better and higher quality of life after the Romanovs. My point was merely that dictatorships that come after revolutions often if not always have a miserable track record and those 72 years of Soviet history, I'm sure, bear out what I'm saying.

At November 10, 2010 at 4:46 PM, Anonymous Dylan's da man! said...

JP -- I mean, Flanigan -- how can you label Ratigan "the weak Horseman"? More than anyone else on MSNBC, he calls "fraud" on the corpofascist bankster takeover of the American government. The dude knows his economics. His rantanalysis cuts to the core of the moneycorruption that has driven the U.S. to its sorry state. He's not a Democratic partisan like the other three -- he slams both sides of the "red-blue" divide (in which there are no blue players, except for Kucinich, RIP Feingold/Grayson). If the Teabaggers would follow Ratigan's lead instead of Glenn Beckkk's delusions, they might amount to something more than a bunch of misguided nut-lickers.

At November 13, 2010 at 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CARTOON RALLy? REMEMBER the "absurd" Austrian CORPORAL! The Bushists have Already Brought WORST!!


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